Wednesday, August 10, 2016

10 Ways to Handle a Difficult Ex ? Focus on Borderline Personality Disorder

Couples in a new blended family struggle to create stability in their homes after coming from a dysfunctional life. The new family strives to achieve harmony by working out their differences. They try to weave lessons learned from the past relationship into the new household. One of the top triggers in their stress list is the difficult Ex.

Common complaints about the difficult Ex in a blended family are badmouthing, inability to stay cordial in each other’s presence, intruding on new family’s ways, standing ground on past agreements if circumstances change, uncooperative on new issues, disregard for children’s best interest, alienating the other parent, resenting the new spouse, or feeling a need to get even.

For the average couple in a new blended family, these complaints are considered necessary adjustments. But, what if the difficult Ex-spouse calls the police every other week for perceived neglect of the children? What if the Ex-spouse files legal charges when she feels ignored?

What if she comes to the doorstep demanding her rights to see the children unannounced? What if she abandons the children for a number of years and insists that it is time to be a parent again? What if she has abused the children in the past in her care verbally, emotionally and physically? What if she has some mental health issues?

Dealing with this kind of difficult Ex is very discouraging and defeating. For the new spouse, it is very emotional exhausting to get along with someone whose version of reality is different from a typical parent. A worse scenario occurs if you are dealing with a mental illness called Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Do you want to know if your Ex-spouse is just being difficult or is your Ex-spouse exhibiting classic traits of Borderline Personality Disorder?

Try to reflect on the questions below to differentiate a difficult Ex-spouse from a Borderline.

Does your Ex keep your family on their toes?

Is the person always denying your perspective of truth?

Do they often point a finger at your parenting skills?

Is all your hard work for the children criticized?

Do they act competent and controlled in some situations but extremely out of control in others?

Do they engage you in confrontation and brutally, verbally abuse you?

Memories come back vividly from the past.

Do you recall when the Ex has threatened to leave the relationship and take the children?

Do you remember the Ex-spouse freaking out in restaurants, social and family events?

Is “Let me speak to your Supervisor” a common intimidating tactic for them?

Do you think of the times when you were emotionally blackmailed?

Do the children blurt out how the Ex have physically abused them, such as slapping, kicking, and scratching them and another minute the Ex act as if nothing happened?

If you answered “yes” to majority of the questions, the difficult Ex-spouse is a Borderline.

What now?

Here are some tips for new couples in a blended family to deal with their Borderline Ex.

1. Don’t underestimate the Borderlines

Borderlines have an amazing ability to look credible. Thus, Borderlines can put together a distortion campaign in a limited period of time. If you are unprepared with facts, dates, witnesses, and family law, you are going to dive into a trap. Borderlines will threaten lawyers, counselors, physicians, police officers, government authorities, and court judges especially if they don’t side with them.

2. Keep calm.

Due to the stress that a Borderline creates, consider relaxing techniques to safeguard your sanity and health. These may include an active prayer life, breathing exercises, fitness regimen and getting away from the situation once in a while.

If they cannot get your attention with persistent calls and unexpected visits, they will move a step further and contact other people in your life. Since they cannot control their impulses, it is not difficult for them to create a public scene. The larger the audience, the better it is for them. Maintain a non-provoking stance.

2. Limit information

The Borderline has a tendency to assert and push their reality. The tremendous urge to explain will drive information out in the open. Often times, they strike “below the belt” to rile you up to react. These are frequent tactics of Borderlines to extract information. They use their own child as a pawn. Borderlines take advantage of a child’s innocence and rephrase questions to get the answers they want.

3. Educate people around you on BPD

Borderlines will try to approach all people in your child’s life. It may include contacting the child’s principal, teachers, physician, counselor, neighbors and friends. It is a Borderline tactic to drum up sympathy from eager people captivated by dramatic stories. Borderlines go to the extent of displaying uncontrollable sobbing to win over advocates to their plight.

It is important to provide others with pamphlets or resources to gain knowledge of this disorder. Otherwise, these folks will become apathetic to your concerns not knowing whom to believe. With clear expectations, everyone is prepared for the distortion campaign. Then, the imagined power of the Borderline dissipates. Borderlines are empowered if people are baffled, intimidated and threatened.

4. Don’t react

Though a lot of people will discourage you from listening to a Borderline’s complaint, their trend of thought manifests itself on their ranting. Pay attention because they will often expose their course of action. But do not react even if they get on your nerves. Borderlines are looking for signs of fear to gain control.

5. Keep a journal, keep a journal, keep a journal

One secret to winning with your Borderline Ex is by documenting events in a journal. If done on a regular basis, the Borderline’s patterns will be obvious. You will be surprised to know that the Borderline records every detail of your dealings with them as well.

6. Get your family in counseling/ therapy

It is hard enough for an adult to understand the complexities of this mental disorder. What more for your children? It is important to get a counselor who understands this disorder. Do not hesitate to have more than one therapist. The recommendations of the therapists are a critical factor in your defense. The therapists will always protect the best interests of your children.

7. Join support groups on Borderline Personality Disorder

Most victims have a tendency to isolate their families because of the embarrassment that the Borderline generates. This is exactly what the Borderline hopes to happen.

Find a support group in your local area. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has some list of support groups. One can also join online support groups on and various yahoo groups. Their discussions are dedicated to an understanding of the disorder and provide insights to other people’s experiences. It is important to feel that you are not alone.

8. Be prepared for a court battle

Since the Borderline will never be willing to compromise, a court battle is unavoidable. They think that the court system is the ultimate authority to punish you. Be proactive with your defense strategy. Get a lawyer before you need one.

Your biggest mistake is to rely solely on your lawyer for your defense. Your accurate documentation of events and testimonies of witnesses will substantiate your defense. Though the process is tedious, it is well worth the effort to assemble evidence and formulate an argument beforehand. Your lawyer can only present to the court what you provide him.

Do not hesitate to ask questions to your lawyer no matter how foolish it may seem. A cost-effective way is to compile your questions and email it to your lawyer rather than spend hours on the phone. You will be billed less and their responses will be documented for future use.

9. Keep children’s interest foremost.

Though we have an innate desire to protect the children, we must teach the children some coping skills to deal with their Borderline parent. Help them to distinguish the illness from their parent. It helps when children know what to expect.

A family must have a plan in place when chaos happens. If not, the children will be emotionally disturbed and distracted. Behavior problems will arise. It is important for your children to see that you are calm. If you panic, they panic.

10. Empower your new blended family

Show patience to your current spouse because they might not be used to this situation. At all cost, do not direct your stress to your family. When the Borderline Ex creates some tension in your life, diffuse the anxiety by treating your current spouse and family to dinner, movie and fun activities.

In conclusion, do not doubt your concept of reality. You are the rationale one. You know what is best for your children. Realize that the Borderline has no more power over you if you find the peace in the storm.

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10 Ways to Heal From a Divorce

Divorce can be a very difficult situation. I am going through it myself and have found various ways to keep strong and heal from it. I am sharing this list in hopes that others can heal during their own time of despair.

1. Become a social butterfly.

Don’t stay home and think about the “what might have beens” and “what ifs.” Get out there and socialize with family and friends. They are your greatest allies in this time of despair. I decided to reconnect with some old friends. It feels good getting together and talking about old times.

2. Create a bucket list and start acting upon it.
Create a list of goals and dreams that you would like to accomplish before you “kick the bucket.” Don’t hold back, even if you think it’s too expensive or impossible, still write down what you want to do. My list contains “going back to school to further my writing skills.” I hope to one day have a book published.

3. Write about your experience and share it with others.
Start a blog, write on a forum, or even try writing a book. Sometimes the best therapy is writing. It’s your time to get your feelings out and your personal experiences may even help others heal as well. Even right now as I am writing this, I am feeling better. It’s amazing how good writing can feel.

4. Treat yourself to some retail therapy and a makeover.
Don’t go too crazy and max out the credit cards, but take yourself out and get a makeover. It’s time to reinvent yourself and start anew. This can start with a fresh new look and wardrobe change. I went to Ross and was able to get a couple of outfits and shoes for a very good price. Some of the clothes that I already had would remind me of different events that I attended with my ex, but these clothes don’t associate with anyone right now. It’s a fresh start.

5. Go back to school.
Even if you have a degree and finished school, going back to school can be therapeutic. It gets you out of the house and gives you a chance to meet some new people. Try taking a fun elective class, such as art or photography. Make it non-stressful and make sure you enjoy the subject. I decided to get in contact with the college I used to attend. I found out that I had more credits than I thought I had, which was very encouraging. Now I’m ready to finish what I started. I also hope to meet some people who have common interests with me.

6. Start dating again.

When things are officially over, stop trying to stop the inevitable. You won’t be getting back with your ex, so it’s time to move on. Try signing up for a dating website. Take things slow and don’t rush into anything. I don’t honestly know if I want to start dating again. The thought of it is a little scary to me, because in my mind dating again means the previous relationship is officially over. It’s a little hard for me to come to terms with that right now.

7. Stay single.
For some, dating is not the answer. If your marriage was long, now might be a good time for a break from relationships. Do things, such as going to the movies or going out to eat, without having to worry about bringing along a date. I like this idea of staying single for a little bit. Having always been a relationship for as long as I can remember, I feel this might be something to try out. Maybe I’ll find I’m more productive without being in a relationship.

8. Grieve.

Don’t bottle up your emotions; let it all out. It’s better to let it all out than to keep it all in. Come to terms that it’s really over. You should feel better after you finally let it all out, and it will be easier for you to rebuild. I kept it in for a little while after I had moved out and every time someone had said “I’m sorry to hear what happened” etc., all it did was make me feel worse and almost break down. Finally, just one night I cried all night and haven’t felt the need to do it again.

9. Talk to a therapist.

Get professional help. Talk to a trustworthy professional. Depending on how you are overall dealing with the situation, this person may even be able to prescribe you a low dose of medicine that can help you cope. Let them know everything and how everything is making you feel. It feels really good talking to an outside source. They can give great advice and it’s a safe place to talk.

10. Be selfish.
Do things just for you for right now. Whether you want to start a new career, go back to school, travel, or continue the same path, it’s all about you right now. Keep your head held high and don’t look at the past, only look to the future. It’s your time to reinvent yourself; it’s your time to do what you want to do. Right now I am doing the things that I want to do. I am writing freelance articles, visiting friends, and working out to better myself — not to please someone else. It’s difficult making the switch for living for someone else to living for yourself, but in the end living for myself seems to be making me happier.

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10 Ways to Help Your Baby Learn to Walk

Walking is often thought of as a developmental milestone that starts automatically without much environmental input. Though it is true that most children will start walking on their own, kids have to learn to walk and won’t walk unless given the opportunity to do so. Consequently, there are several things you can do to help your child learn to walk a bit earlier than she otherwise would and do ensure that she’s a confident walker when she finally takes those first steps. Here are the ten best ways to help your baby learn to walk:

Don’t Use a Walker
Walkers pose numerous safety threats, even though they can be fun to babies. Walkers are so risky and have resulted in so many injuries that Canada has completely banned their sale. And, despite their name, a walker can actually cause your child to take longer to learn how to walk. Your child may not learn that she can support herself with her feet, and steps taken in a walker don’t move your child forward, so it’s harder for your child to make the connection between taking steps and moving forward. If you want your child to walk early, don’t use a walker.

Try a Jumper
As an alternative to walkers, jumpers are top notch, though they can be dangerous if your child is left unsupervised, so make sure you are right next to her when she’s in the jumper. Jumpers encourage leg strength and confidence, and also help your child learn that when she moves her legs in a certain way her whole body will move. A word of caution: jumpers should be used sparingly. If they are used too often they may actually make a child walk later. Most of your child’s motor skills should be practiced on the floor or in a playpen so that she can learn to use her muscles without the assistance of any device.

Encourage Strong Back Muscles
Though we often think of walking as primarily involving the legs, the most important muscles we use when we walk are our back muscles. You can encourage strong back muscles from birth by giving your baby ample time on her stomach. Encourage her to lift her head and neck by showing her interesting objects and making tummy time exciting. The muscle control she learns during this period can help her develop strong walking skills in a few months.

Practice Muscle Control While Sitting
Encouraging your baby to stack and reach for things while she’s sitting up can help her develop the coordination and muscle control that will ultimately help her begin walking. Encourage her attempts at reaching for things and allow her frequent opportunities to practice sitting.

Practice Coordination While Crawling
Crawling teaches your child to move his arms and legs at the same time, which is an important skill to have when he first begins walking. Encourage your child’s efforts at crawling by encouraging her to crawl across the room and even reach for things when crawling.

Encourage Independence
Walking, almost by definition, requires that your child have confidence in her own abilities and that she has a strong incentive to move toward something. Encourage this by allowing your child to explore her environment from a young age. When she points to something allow her to see it and talk to her about it. Though these skills may not seem to have anything to do with walking, they build her confidence and encourage her to reach for things in which she is interested.

Go Barefoot
Though baby shoes may be cute and socks may be a necessity when going out in the cold, putting things on your child’s feet can make walking more difficult, so go barefoot at home. Bare feet can grip surfaces more easily and shoes are foreign objects that can distract kids from walking. When your child does need to wear shoes, check her feet frequently, especially when the shoes are new, for irritated surfaces and if you see any, get rid of the shoes.

Provide Soft Surfaces
It’s easier for children to walk on solid surfaces like linoleum floors, but you may be concerned about falls. A good intermediate compromise is walking on carpet. Your child won’t be tripped by moving rugs and can easily grip the carpet with her feet.

Practice Pulling Up
When babies start cruising and trying to walk, they love pulling up on surfaces. Show her how to bend her knees to return to a sitting position. This is a critical step in learning to walk and can also help her to avoid falling in a way that can hurt her.

Let Him Push Something
When your baby is able to stand up, try giving her a light stool or box that won’t collapse but is light enough to push. He’ll feel safe balancing on it but is likely to take a few steps forward pushing the object. Be sure to be there to catch him in case of any falls or missteps.

Learning to walk is an exciting development in any child’s life. Be sure to provide encouragement and support, and to never let your child walk out of your sight. Allowing your child to practice walking without someone nearby to help and support him can result in head injuries and dangerous falls.


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10 Ways to Be a Better Leader in a Small Business

Small businesses are the backbone of the United States; success and failure in small businesses in America happens every day. Being successful in small business is important; handling yourself as a leader in small business is what many people strive for. Consider the following hints to be a better leader in small business in your own business and in your small business community.

Listen to Your Team: The only way the leader of a business will become a business leader is by getting your workers vested in the business. However people usually don’t care about something they think doesn’t care about them. For that reason listening to your team is one of the most vital components to getting to your overall goal of being a business leader. In small business particularly, the metric is that much closer. So making sure you have a team who cares is job number one; to that end, make sure you care about your team and they will care about you! Caring starts with listening.

Challenge Your Team: Once you’ve got your team in place, you can’t let them get too soft around the edges. For this reason always challenging your team is key to being a better small business leader. Setting goals for yourself and for your team, then exceeding these goals and setting new goals is a sure fire way to being a better small business leader.

Address Issues Swiftly: Decisiveness and action are also key points to being a better small business leader. Make sure that you are able to collar an issue, deal with it, and move on so that small potatoes doesn’t overshadow your larger small business successes.

Handle Yourself Judiciously: Swift in response, thoughtful in consideration. If you are going to be a successful small business leader you quite literally have to be able to walk that tight rope which has lackadaisically phoning in your title on one hand and aggressively jumping the gun on the other. Always use your better head in business.

Employ Empathy: Caring compassion is another key component to being a small business leader. Showing empathy at just the right moment will not only show that you’re a strong individual but will also show the outside world that you have a human side to you too.

Challenge Convention/Respect the Enterprise: Another delicate balance for the successful small business leader is being able to push the industry while still respecting it. To that end, challenging the convention you’ve encountered is the only place where new ideas come from. At the same time you don’t want to be labeled a lunatic and have everyone around you lose respect for the good work you have done.

Be Suspicious of Competition: You always have to be mindful of what “the other guy” is doing. To that end, a little bit of careful suspicion never hurt anyone.

Enjoy Your Competition: Taking your competitive hat off every once and a while and just being able to appreciate what your business contemporaries can do is good too. Being able to watch, appreciate, and indulge in your competition does also may give you the impetus to the bigger picture of being able to do what they do smarter and better.

Inspire Your Industry: You have a radical idea which will change your industry; don’t hold it back, set it free and allow your good work to elicit even greater ideas from your contemporaries. Inspiring your industry is the only way to go from being a good leader to being a great leader in small business.

Inspire Your Customers: The last and perhaps most important component to being a better small business leader is to inspire your customers. Customers are the thrust which pushes your business to infinity and beyond so making sure to inspire and challenge your customers with the works you do is central to your end of being a better small business leader.

While some of these rules are able to be bent, the core principles behind them; honoring yourself, your business, your work force, and your competition; are unshakable. So get out there and figure your way through; try things outside your comfort zone, surprise yourself, try, fail, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back to the business of doing business. You’ll be among the small business leaders in your sector in no time!

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10 Ways to Celebrate Geek Pride Day

If you’re a geek – and really, who isn’t? – you might be wondering how to spend Geek Pride Day this year. Luckily for you, there are lots of ways to have a great time on this geeky holiday. Whether alone or with friends, there’s no shortage of entertaining things to do. Here are 10 ways to celebrate Geek Pride Day.

Geek Pride Day – Throw a party.

Get together with your fellow geeks and have a good time. Go MST3K on some bad movies, watch the series finale of Lost or do whatever it is you and your best pals do when you get together. Check out my article for more Geek Pride Day party ideas.

Geek Pride Day – Schedule a movie marathon.

Select a pair or trio of your favorite movies. Try the original Star Wars trilogy, the first two Star Trek movies, or the Twilight films – anything that qualifies as a guilty pleasure. If you’re feeling ambitious, pop in all three Lord of the Rings movies. Pop some popcorn, put something fizzy on ice and settle in for some movie magic.

Geek Pride Day – Catch up on your reading.

Reading is a guilty pleasure of geeks around the world. Get comfy with a thick fantasy novel or a stack of your favorite comics. Remember that new comics come out on Wednesdays, so get your reading up-to-date the night before.

Geek Pride Day – Get your game on.

Video gaming is a preferred geeky pastime. Spend a few hours with your favorite MMO, RPG, RTS or FPS. Whether on handheld, console or PC, work your way through an old favorite.

Geek Pride Day – Play lazer tag.

Or painball. Or skeeball. Go go-kart racing or sing karaoke. Head out with friends, and have a good time. Bowling, miniature golf and billiard games are activities that can be enjoyed by groups of any size.

Geek Pride Day – Make cookies.

Foodie blog The Kitchn rounded up some scientifically delicious cookie recipes back in February. Try edible lab mice or petri dish cookies – these cookies look like a fun and educational “experiment” for the little geeks in your life, too.

Geek Pride Day – Blind yourself with science.

Take a trip to a local science museum, aquarium, zoo or planetarium. Get out and see science in action.

Geek Pride Day – See a new movie.

There are almost always movies in theaters to delight the geeky crowd. Check out Clash of the Titans or Robin Hood, if you’re into big-budget spectacles. Go a little off the beaten path with new films like Best Worst Movie or Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo. More and more movies are being offered in 3-D and IMAX this year, making them optimal picks for the tech-loving geek in all of us.

Geek Pride Day – Build something.

Break out the Legos! Work on your scale model of the USS Enterprise or build a Buffy out of clay. Make a creative homage to your favorite television show or comic book hero.

Geek Pride Day – Plan a trip.

Consider attending a convention. Plan a trip to an amusement park like Universal Studios, or a big ticket wrestling event like Summer Slam. Plan a vacation celebrating the things you really love.

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10 Ways to Improve the Chicago Cubs in 2007

Another dismal baseball season is coming to an end for the Chicago Cubs. It is now 98 years since they last won a World Series. 98 Years! As fans suffered through over 90 losses this season the only thing left to wonder is what it will be like next year. Loyal fans such as myself can only help but believe it can’t get any worse with the dismal play and plethora of injuries to key players that kept adding up. What makes things worse is that the Central division leader has yet to secure a winning record for the season with the final weekend in sight. 82 wins. 82 wins are all it takes to guarantee a record better then .500 and the winner of the division may not get there. One can only wonder what if the Cubs had a healthy Derrek Lee, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood for the whole season. It’s reasonable to assume they would have been improved, even possibly enough to win 85 games, which could have transformed them from cellar dwellers to division champions.

Of course I am dreaming. You learn fast that Cub fans have to dream because most seasons are nightmares. Even when they win something happens to wake you up from the glorious dream of victory and brings you crashing down to that oh so familiar agony of defeat.

In 1984 it was Leon Durham’s error in game five that allowed San Diego to tie a game they would eventually win, erasing a 2-0 series lead and turning it into a 3-2 series defeat and a trip home while San Diego would head to the World Series. In 1989 it was Will Clark’s utter domination of Cubs pitching that would send them home once again. And don’t even get me started on the 2003 series against the Florida Marlins, which found the Cubs up 3-1 and losing the next three.

But that’s all behind us now. In this time when the temperatures are dropping, the days are getting shorter, and the leaves are changing to the most beautiful of colors before falling to Earth it’s time to look to the 2007 season.

Once again I refuse to believe it’s going to get any worse then this year. It’s almost impossible to imagine it. Things will look up but the Cubs have plenty to do in the off-season. Here is a list of ten things the Cubs must do to not only improve but also become contenders for the National League Central Division title in 2007.

Find an experienced winning manager – It’s been assumed for months now that current manager Dusty Baker will not return in 2007. His contract is up at the end of this season so the only question is whether Dusty will run from the boos and catcalls or will general manager Jim Hendry give Dusty his walking papers. It would be nothing short of a miracle if anything else happens. Rumors are flying that Florida Marlins manager Joe Girardi, an ex-Cub and fan favorite, will be fired after only one season. Many think it seems logical that Girardi would be a perfect fit in Chicago. After all he took a team with mostly kids and turned them into contenders for all but the last two weeks of the season. Girardi has not been getting along with his team owner and general manager which is why the speculation on his dismissal is so high. The problem with hiring Girardi is two fold. If he can’t get along with his bosses in Florida who is to expect anything different here? Also it should be noted that Girardi’s coaching style is reportedly on the rough side, which may work fine with the Marlins kids but may not go over well with a team filled with veterans in Chicago.

I think the Cubs need to go after a veteran manager with a winning background. They need a manager that is liked and respected that players for other teams would want to play for much like Dusty Baker when he first came to Chicago. You have to remember that Dusty took the Cubs to one game from the World Series in his first year and was in contention in 2004 until the last week. 2005 was a step backwards while 2006 was an aberration. Despite some terrible moves Dusty has made he is still a proven winner overall and that’s what the Cubs need to fix a serious problem immediately. If Jim Hendry wants a winner in 2007 he could do worse then going after Lou Pinnela who would fit the bill perfectly if Lou wants to step out of the broadcast booth back onto the field.

Take a risk on Kerry Wood – This is a controversial notion and one I’m libel to be put away for but if Wood can prove he is 100% and is willing to come back at a considerable price cut, which if he has any loyalty he would give the Cubs that option, I would sign him for a year and put him in the bullpen. Wood just may turn out to be a terrific set up man or closer. With closer Ryan Dempster struggling often this last month and two years still to go on his contract, Wood could step right in if Dempster is moved to a set up position or traded in the off season. Once again it all hinges on his health but it might be worth the gamble at the right price.

Sign Juan Pierre – This is a must. Pierre is having the kind of season every team dreams for a leadoff man. He is going to finish with over 200 hits and over 50 stolen bases. A player that can jump start the offense at the top of the order is a rare commodity, especially at Wrigley Field, so the Cubs need to shell out and sign him to a long-term deal. Pierre is already hinting he wouldn’t rule out going to play for the cross-town White Sox but if that happens Jim Hendry may as well pack his bags along with Pierre.

Add A Power Hitter – This is all going to depend on the decisions third baseman Aramis Ramirez makes. He has the option to opt out of the remainder of his contract which he is certain to do even if it’s to see what the free agency market has in store for him. You can bet plenty of teams will be interested. If Ramirez stays put and Derrek Lee returns to form the Cubs may look to strengthen themselves elsewhere. Right fielder Jacques Jones hit over 20 home runs so the Cubs may be satisfied with that they have. If Ramirez skips town they will have no choice but to go after a power hitting third baseman or second baseman. If Pierre leaves or left fielder Matt Murton is traded (unlikely) then they will need to go after an outfielder.

Starting Pitching – This may be a mess for the Cubs come 2007. 2006 saw an inordinate amount of rookies start along with Carlos Zambrano and Greg Maddux. Zambrano is the ace of the staff but there are question marks from there on. Mark Prior will be penciled in but his status will always be in question until he can pitch more then a month without getting hurt. Based on performance Rich Hill seems likely to be the number three starter unless he goes in a blockbuster trade. The Cubs are either going to have to go after a pitcher or two via free agency or trade unless they are willing to take the chance with any number of the young starters we saw this season. Sean Marshall is a possibility as is Angel Guzman and Juan Matteo. The Cubs would be better off packing a few of these guys in a deal or trying to land someone like Barry Zito in free agency who will come at a steep price and with plenty of other suitors.

Relief Pitching – Although the Cubs are not in a bad position it never hurts to go out and get another dependable reliever. Last year the Cubs signed Scott Eyre and Bob Howry and are pleased with the results. If Kerry Wood goes there is no question they need to go out and look at the very least. Recently relievers Will Ohman and Michael Wuertz have looked good enough to have a good shot at next year’s bullpen.

Defense – This is something the new Cubs coaching staff is going to have to address a lot in the spring. Pitchers have been throwing wildly both pitching and fielding. Jacques Jones has looked less then stellar in right particularly on plays where he has a chance to throw an advancing runner out. Shortstop Ronny Cedeno has been nothing short of awful making over 30 errors and single handedly costing the Cubs games. His offense with an average of just .240 has not endeared him to fans so it wouldn’t surprise me if he is traded. New second baseman Ryan Theriot has been impressive and there’s no reason to think Cedeno should replace him. New shortstop Cesar Izturis is a gold glove winner as is Derrek Lee. If Ramirez stays the infield will be set. If he goes there will be a lot more questions. The outfield will be set with Matt Murton in left and Jones in right if Pierre stays. Catcher Michael Barrett has proved himself dependable on offense and passable on defense.

Basic Fundamentals – This has been a problem for two years. Hitters have been unable to put down a simple bunt to advance a runner. Hitters are missing signs for hit and runs and squeeze bunts. Leadoff hitters are reaching second and third with no outs and end up stranded right where they started because a batter can’t bunt or hit a fly ball. Outfielders are over throwing and under throwing balls and missing cut off men altogether. Runners are being picked off base in scoring position. Batters are still being too impatient and swinging at bad balls. I wish I had a dollar every time a Cub batter swung at what would have been ball four. If the Cubs can improve on all of these basic fundamentals they could easily win 10-15 more games right there.

Bench Help – The Cubs are desperate for pinch hitters that can come through in the clutch. Freddie Bynum and Angel Pagan are showing signs of improvement but both men are fast on the bases and might be good trade bait for a team looking for a starter in the field. Veteran John Mabry has done an admirable job in place of the injured Lee but has not come through to often pinch-hitting. The Cubs will need to go out and get one or two men to fill the role especially if Pagan or Bynum leaves.

Finally – If all else fails and we get off to another miserable start perhaps we can get the White Sox players to dress in Cubs uniforms and play some games for us.

Hey! Remember I’m a Cubs fan and I’m a dreamer.

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10 Ways Conservatives Can Fight Back

Are you fed up with political correctness? Tired of the way our language is being redefined? Angry at stupid proposals, never ending crisis’ and corrupt politicians? Offended by the patronizing elites? If so, its time to start fighting back.

Don’t underestimate the power of example. By employing these ten easy steps, one person can make a difference:

1. Support capitalism – (no-one else is). Say often and loudly:

Profit is not a dirty word.

Crony capitalism is bad. Free market capitalism is good.

2. Banish the word ‘stimulus’ from your vocabulary. The correct word is government spending.

3. Stop tolerating lies and liars. A lie is a lie, not a misstatement. Lies are bad and liars are not trustworthy. Even if they’re media darlings.

4. Do not rely on the government for ANYTHING. Remember what Reagan said: “Government is the problem, not the solution.” Spread the word.

5. Never, ever again lower your voice when you mention race, blacks, Negroes or whatever the PC word for African-Americans is.

5a: Stop using hyphens when referring to Americans.

6. Cancel your subscriptions to all liberal media and stop watching NBC, CBS, ABC, etc. They have lost all credibility and don’t deserve your support.

6a. Start getting your news from trustworthy sources. I recommend the news site I edit, , because its trustworthy and we want to make a profit.

7. Start being judgmental. Its called ‘having an opinion’.

8. Quit stifling your opinion when surrounded by lock-step liberals.

Your opinion is just as valid as anyone’s, despite what the elites may think. The PC idiots can only censor you if you let them. You never agreed to or voted for the current politically correct rules and you are not obliged to follow them.

9. Ignore the ‘experts’. Remember, just because everyone says something is so, doesn’t make it so. By not challenging ‘expert opinion’, you enable it. Keep in mind that most of our current ‘experts’ are educated way beyond their intelligence.

9a. Employ the ‘experts’ test: Just ask yourself, who benefits? Chances are good its not you. If that doesn’t work, just follow the money.

10. Most importantly, say 5 times a day: ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’.

Stifling dissent by labeling the dissenter a racist, homophobe, meanspirited, etc. is one of the left’s most effective tactics. If anyone tries to discredit you by using these labels, immediately recognize that they’re group-think, useful idiots whose opinions are formed by others. Act accordingly.

If you follow these ten steps, others will follow. Before you know it, you’ll soon be able to say God Bless America without fear of censure or embarrassment. You’ll be able, once again, to take pride in merit, success, true achievement, God and country instead of being forced to worship at the alter of political correctness, diversity, multiculturalism and equality of outcome.

Who knows, you might even cause a liberal to think twice. That would be real change.

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10 Ways to Deal with the Stress of College

Everyone that is either in college or has a job usually become stressed to some degree. Some people can deal with stress better than others. For those who are like me and have a hard time with stress, we are left with a troubling question. How do we deal with this amount of stress? Well, I would like the take some time today on what can relieve (or in some cases, even remove) some of the stress in your life.

1. If you’re stressed and getting physically upset, remember to just simply take a deep breath and clear your mind for that moment. Clearing your mind will allow you to get a hold of your bearings on the stressful situation.

2. Make sure that you have time in your day to have some of that quality “me time”. Many people overlook this relaxing part of the day. “Me time” is that part of the day where you have at least an hour or two to yourself to do whatever you please (within reason mind you). It is also the best time to clear your mind and to simply reflect.

3. Believe it or not, but exercising can be a good way to relieve stress. It get’s the blood pumping though your veins and it’s a great way to work off some of that pent up stress and anxiety in life.

4. Make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep (or at least enough to fully function throughout your stressful day). Lack of sleep causes us to be cranky and burnt out thus adding unnecessary stress into your life.

5. It’s not a good to drink alcohol or do any sort of drugs when stressed. It only masks the pain.

6. Eating very poorly (lots of sugar and starches in diet) can contribute to the stress in your life. People who eat a lot of starches and sugars tend to gain weight and become more sluggish in their busy daily lives which equals more stress. Eat balanced meals as much as you can and you’ll will have more energy to deal with the stress.

7. The one thing I see a lot (particularly with students) it that we tend to OVERWHELM OURSELVES!! DO NOT OVERWHELM YOURSELF!! Be reasonable and conscious of how big your work load will be and how it will affect you.

8. Try to use your stress as an advantage. For example, you’re stressed about an essay that is due in two weeks. Get the essay that is due within two weeks out the way that way you have less to stress about. ((No procrastination)).

9. When you have stress in your life, try to think of the positives in your life (like how lucky you are to have a family or friends, or whatever you are truly thankful for).

10. If you have any sort of family, friend, relationship stress, or any stress affecting your way of life, it can be best to talk out your problem with a very close friend, family member, or a counselor. ((it would be wise to talk your problems out before you get to this point)).

Hopefully these little suggestions will prove useful to all you stressed out people out there. :)

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10 Ways to Encourage Your Son's Education

1. START THE DAY OFF RIGHT…A good night´s sleep and a nourishing breakfast are two key ingredients to a productive day. Make sure your son gets enough sleep the night before and has enough time in the morning to eat a balanced meal. He will not only feel better, but will learn more!

2. NIP PROBLEMS IN THE BUD…Oftentimes early morning stomach aches and mysterious illnesses are caused by classroom worries. Don´t allow these problems at school to linger. Whether it be a bully on the bus or differences with a teacher, it is important for your son to feel comfortable in his school environment. Take the time to clue your son´s teacher in on any problems that exist. A good teacher wants your child to feel good about school and succeed. She will likely be more than willing to help your son resolve any problems.

3. SHOW IT OFF…Display your son´s artwork and graded papers out in the open. A refrigerator or family bulletin board will do nicely. When company comes, make a point of directing them to the “wall of fame” so your son can see firsthand how important his work is to you. Occasionally take the older items down and replace them with newer work. Discuss how much he has learned over a period of time and how proud you are of his accomplishments.

4. PLAY TIME…It´s important that your son participates in activities outside of school, as well. Doing the same things day in and day out will cause him to get into a rut. Prevent this from happening by encouraging your son to spend some of his after school hours with friends. Organized sports or music lessons are also terrific ways to blow off steam and open his mind up to new ideas.

5. GET INVOLVED…Attend back-to-school nights and teacher conferences. Find out what he is doing in class each day and what types of activities his school provides. The more interest you show in his school work, the more interest your son is likely to show, too.

6. BE ON TIME…Allowing your son to oversleep and show up late to school time and time again sends him the wrong message Make him see that school is his number one priority and that punctuality matters.

7. LISTEN…At the end of a busy day, your head may throb and your bones may ache, but your son´s desire to share his day at school with you comes first. Put a smile on your face and listen to what he has to say. Putting dinner on the stove or folding laundry can wait. Show your son that you are as excited about his accomplishments as he is. Let him know you are interested in what he has to say.

8. QUIET PLEASE…Provide your son with a quiet place to study and do his homework each night. It is important that he has his own space where he can work, undisturbed by noise or other family members. Make sure his work space is well stocked with pens, pencils, papers and other supplies he may need. This will prevent him from wandering away from his work and becoming distracted.

9. READ…Whether it is a school book or a comic book, encourage your son to read as often as possible. Take turns reading short articles from the Sunday paper to each other. Have him read you stories from a favorite book while you make dinner each night. Be sure to ask questions about what he has read to help expand his comprehension of the subject.

10. REPHRASE THE QUESTION…If your preschool-age son shows you his latest masterpiece but you´re not quite sure what it is, refrain from asking the question “What is this?”. Children expect you to know exactly what they have created and can sometimes become discouraged if you don´t know. Try saying something like “This is wonderful. Tell me about it.”. Encourage him to explain his latest work of art and how he created it. When inquiring about your older son´s grade on a test, try asking him “What did you learn?” instead of the question “What did you get?”. By placing emphasis on the work he has put forth instead of on what he has received, you will encourage him to work even harder next time.

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10 Ways to Manage Your Checking Account Responsibly and Keep it Safe

Most of us open our first checking accounts shortly after graduating from high school. A checking account not only starts us on the road to financial independence, it is an important step in developing a business relationship with a bank or other lending institution.

When it comes to financing a home, cars, a vacation cabin or a college degree, we rely on the help of a bank to make that purchase happen. How we manage a checking account is a good indicator how responsible we are when it comes to safeguarding our finances and paying back a debt. If you are new to owning a checking account, these tips will help keep you on the right track.

1. Learn how to fill out a check properly. Responsible checking account management starts with knowing the right way to fill out a check. Correct check writing minimizes accounting mistakes and makes it difficult for the recipient to change the amount. This great tutorial found at has visual instructions for proper check writing.

2. Use a secure mail drop for paying bills. Avoid the risk of mailbox theft and chemical washing of your check by thieves by always using a secure mail drop to mail your bills. An account that’s been emptied out by thieves results in a domino effect of bounced checks and collection action that can impact your future credit.

3. Don’t shop when the money isn’t in the bank. Writing checks with no money in the bank is illegal and expensive too. Banks charge an overdraft fee of $35-45 per bounced check and can close your account if the overdraft isn’t paid within a reasonable time frame.

4. Balance every day. Balancing your check book means recording your purchases in a ledger and subtracting them from the balance with every purchase. Balancing provides a true reading of how much money remains in the account, unlike an eBank balance which doesn’t show outstanding checks.

5. Reconcile monthly. Reconciling is the process of comparing your checkbook balance with the bank statement. Reconciling is how to catch bank errors, missed checks, and fraudulent activity all which can lead to accidental overdrafts.

6. Don’t issue signed blank checks. Never hand a blank, signed check to a friend or your children with the intention of having them fill it in later. A blank, signed check makes it possible for an checking account to be emptied out if lost. It can also enable the recipient to empty out your account as well.

7. Don’t use your primary checking account for online payments and shopping. Online fraud is why your primary checking account should never be used for bill pay and online shopping. Instead of putting your entire paycheck at risk, it’s best to open a second separate account with a minimum balance just for this purpose.

8. Dispose of extra deposit slips properly. With automatic deposits, few of us rarely go to the bank anymore, leaving us with lots of unused deposit blanks. Instead of throwing those blanks in the recycling bin, they should be shredded since they contain sensitive data such as your name, address, and account number.

9. Protect your debit card. A debit card is the gateway to your checking account and should be protected as zealously as you’d watch a check book. And when it comes to internet purchases, use a credit card instead which limits your liability in case of fraud to $50 compared to $500 for a debit card.

10. Report problems immediately. If you have lost a check or debit card, suspect fraud, or discover an accounting error, notify your bank as soon as possible. Quick action means that the problem can be resolved sooner as well.

Other articles by this contributor:
Five great benefits of internet bill pay.
Not So Free Checking: Hidden bank fees consumers should watch for.
Why balancing your checking account daily is important


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10 Ways to Use Up Leftover Halloween Candy

Zealous trick or treaters have tromped from door to door, collecting all sorts of delicious chocolate bars and other candy treats. Many families also have leftover Halloween candy from their giant give-away bins. Perhaps the novelty of overindulging is already wearing off.

What can be done with all of the Halloween treats after the trick-or-treating holiday has come and gone?

Donate leftover Halloween candy to a homeless shelter or food pantry.

Of course, the most altruistic solution to using up leftover Halloween candy is to donate the surplus to a worthy charity. Homeless shelters, food pantries, soup kitchens and youth centers usually welcome such contributions. In fact, candy donors may even ask for donation receipts for tax purposes.

Take leftover Halloween candy to work.

Many employment locations have break rooms or shared coffee stations. Why not pack up a pretty basket or bin of leftover Halloween candy and place it at work to share with colleagues?

Freeze leftover Halloween candy for later use.

Many folks choose to freeze trick-or-treat candy out of sight in a zippered plastic bag or a plastic container in the freezer, and ration it out in smaller batches after Halloween. This tactic makes leftover Halloween a special treat, instead of a sugar overload. Plus, frozen candy takes considerably longer to consume, deterring dieters from over-consuming high-calorie Halloween treats.

Toss leftover Halloween candy into ice cream mixers.

Candy-mix-ins have become a frozen-treat favorite at ice cream shops, diners and fast food restaurants. These tasty ice cream desserts are easy to make at home. A blender, a tub of ice cream and a few favorite candy bars can quickly be transformed into a delicious indulgence – while using up leftover Halloween candy.

Tuck leftover Halloween candy into Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

Although trick or treaters may enjoy a surplus of Halloween candy, many children in the world may not have such a luxury. An entire family may enjoy packing a shoebox of treats, including leftover Halloween candy, for Operation Christmas Child, an organization that delivers wrapped shoeboxes filled with treats and small toys to needy children globally.

Use leftover Halloween candy to fill a Thanksgiving turkey piñata.

Children of all ages love to play the piñata game at parties – even Thanksgiving. Why not make a Thanksgiving turkey piñata, and fill it with leftover Halloween candy for a family gathering on Turkey Day?

Make a Thanksgiving pie from leftover Halloween candy.

Why not bake up an alternative to the traditional pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving? Try a delicious Peanut Butter Cup Pie, using leftover Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from Halloween trick or treating.

Use leftover Halloween candy to bake Christmas treats.

Before the last Halloween skeleton cut-out has been stowed and the last Halloween costume stowed or recycled, many folks begin baking Christmas and holiday treats. Did you know that you can use leftover Halloween candy to make Butterfinger Drop Cookies and Snickers Fudge Bars?

You can also melt leftover Halloween chocolate bars to make Truly Tasty Truffles and use tiny Red Hots or multi-colored Skittles to decorate Sugar Cookies for Christmas.

Why not whip up some Healthy and Happy Trail Mix (filled with M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces) for the holidays? Be sure to save some M&Ms to throw into a batch of delicious Blond Brownies too.

Make a holiday wreath from leftover Halloween candy.

Christmas wreaths make super holiday gifts and decorations. Leftover Halloween candy may be tied onto a simple evergreen, grapevine, corn husk or straw wreath as a special gift or party centerpiece. Some folks choose to make candy Advent wreaths, encouraging children to remove one candy each day, from the first of December until Christmas.

Save leftover Halloween candy for Christmas stockings.

Finally, if any leftover Halloween candy remains in the home, Santa might be able to recycle the goodies by tucking the treats into Christmas stockings.

Better yet, why not leave the candy out for the jolly old elf to enjoy … and possibly to share with his reindeer on the roof on Christmas Eve?

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10 Ways Marriage Changes Your Relationship

You dream of meeting that special person. Someone you can love, grow with, and share your life with. Marriage is beautiful, where two people become one, together forever. But there are changes and adjustments with every thing we do in life and marriage is no different. Let’s take a look at some things, humorous and serious, that change and effect our lives when we decide to take the plunge and settle down.

1. The first thing about marriage is that now you can’t look around at what is available anymore. No more “shopping around” as Smokey Robinson sang in his song (“Shop Around:” Put your sunshades on, ladies and gents, cause you can’t have a roving eye. Marriage means commitment, fidelity, loyalty.

2. Instantly, your freedom changes. No more spontaneity. You can’t get up and go when you want to, where you want to, whenever you want to. Now you have to check in. Let your partner know you are leaving. You have to let them know where you are going, and how long you will be.

3. Your social life changes. You can’t hang out with your friends at any hour. You must come home because someone is there waiting for you. It will be your friends, his friends and our friends. Forget about all nighters, unless the one you love is with you. If you are lucky, you might get a night out with the boys, or girls. Good luck on that.

4. You better learn this word fast: sharing. In marriage, you share a lot. You share space, the bathroom, each other’s thoughts, opinions, soap, bed, maybe the car, you get my drift.

5. Consideration is another word for your new vocabulary. Men, you must put that toilet seat down from now on. Ladies, pick up those dirty undies. The days of clothes and shoes laying around are over. And, forget about leaving your dirty dishes in the sink. If your partner doesn’t like that, there will have to be adjustments. In other words, two people live here, now. Two people who are each different in their ways. You have to always think of the other.

6. Shopping or spending money without having a “family meeting,” is a no-no. See that pair of shoes in Macy’s? If they are expensive, you have to talk it over with your co-leader. Guys, you can’t go out and buy a boat, car, or motorcycle unless your co-leader has given the OK. Buying toys are up for approval. Shoes, jewelry, bags,cars, too, ladies. These items must be approved, by two.

7. In-laws…Did I say something wrong? Perhaps you scored big and got in-laws you get along with, even like. That’s great. I’m happy for you. For the rest of us, you will be looking forward to spending your holidays, and maybe even vacations with your wonderful in-laws. Get ready to give up that time to hear sarcasm, innuendos, and insults, from both sides. You may even have in-laws that like to be around a lot. It will take patience, love, and understanding to be around this “special” brand of people. Hear what I’m saying?

8. For many, you will be hearing the sounds of little, tiny feet running around your house or apartment, not to mention their cries and screams. Having a child, I can tell you really changes your life. So, get ready. It’s a lovely part of marriage, but it is serious duty. And, its definitely not for the faint-hearted, weak-willed, or wimpy.

9. Communication. There, I said it. We ladies know you guys don’t usually like to talk like we do. We know that men are headliners and women, well, we have the details. Every last one of the details, if you are like me. We don’t leave anything out. So, this calls for some adjustment. Men, you are patient listeners, now you will have to do some talking. Ladies, maybe we can talk, but get to the point a little quicker. I’m still working on this, so I understand. A good marriage has conversation. Meaningful conversation.

10.You really can’t get mad and borrow those great lines from that Gloria Gaynor’s song, “I Will Survive,” and tell your partner: “Go on, now go, walk out the door, just turn around now , cause you’re not welcome anymore.” Don’t you wish you could? That was a hot song back in the disco days. Unfortunately, marriage is different from dating, where you can break up and get back together at will. Marriage is a commitment, meant for life if you chose the right person. So, when you get angry, upset, perturbed, hot and bothered, you will have to stay and work it out. (Check out that old, familiar Beatle’s song: “We Can Work It Out”). Have a listen to Gloria Gaynor’s famous “walking papers” song:

Love and marriage. Wonderful, challenging, awesome, different, and delightful. I’ll check with you ten years from now and hopefully, you will feel the same way! Enjoy!

Rhonda Manning,, Associated Content.

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10 Ways to Help Your Teen Survive a Family Move

Moving a teen from one school to another or possible worse, one town to another can be a tough situation for both parents and their child. Here are some tips and ways you could possibly help your teenage son or daughter to understand and accept such a big change.

1. If you are staying in the same town or basic area remind them that they will be closer to some of their friends or cool activities if there is anything like a recreational center near by. Also remind them that they will still get to see all their old and friends and make lots of new friends too.

2. If you are moving to a new town highlight some of the fun and exciting things they will get to do in this town. Make sure you do your research and find out the best attractions in or near the area you are moving too. Some of these things include water slides and amusement parks.

3. Tell them they can visit their old town and that it’s not permanent and there will be other houses and friends and schools. Remind them that is how life is but that is it good to keep it exciting because good things happen out of choices like moving.

4. Explain to them why you are moving. For example if you are moving for your job explain that to them. Children like being spoken to bluntly and honestly. Especially teenagers as they are growing and not little kids anymore.

5. Find out what is popular with the youth culture around the area you are moving to. For example find out what clothing brands are in fashion and what all the kids do for fun. Make sure you are getting accurate information. As these clothing and knowledge on what’s popular can make things much easier for your child to make friends at school and avoid being an outcast.

6. Flat out bribe them! I know what you are thinking… That is outrageous but you know it actually helps. A new bike, a used car, take them shopping, a family vacation. Whatever it takes to help keep their mind off the big move.

7. Keep them busy so they don’t have as much time to think about moving or switching schools. Try to keep their worried minds off the move and onto day to day things. If they are having trouble after first moving just go day to day with them. Things will get better and soon they will love your new location.

8. Let them get a pet at your new home. An animal like a dog can give them someone to keep them from getting lonely and a fun way to keep them involved.

9. Tell them ahead of time and when you decide or find out you are not moving. Don’t just pop it on them at the last minute. Leaving things abruptly is unhealthy and causes a lot more stress in an child’s move. This gives them some time to get use to the idea and accept it making your transition easier.

10. Listen to what they have to say. Try your best to incorporate their feelings and opinions into your move. Maybe even let them pick the school they can go to in the area.

Last but not least always stay positive about your move. If you are negative about moving your child will definitely be negative about moving. This helps reinforce that you are doing things that is best in the long run for everyone. Hopefully these tips can help make moving an easier process for your family even though it can be very tough and trying time especially for adolescence. Good luck!

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