Thursday, January 15, 2015

CopyKat: Our Famous Ask-a-Chef Survey

We've mastered the grill and made simple meals with 5 ingredients or less. We've gone decadent with desserts and prepped for holiday baking.  We've cooked bikini-style and southern-style.  We've prepped quick meals with less stress, under $10, and in our slow-cookers.  All of this and much more on our popular Ask-a-Chef Series.  AND NOW, WE'VE BECOME COPYKATS!  Part of the fun is giving our guests a cooking survey ... kinda like a sneak peek into their kitchen, a feel for their favorite books, tools and foods.  Meet Stephanie Manley, creator of  

(And you simply MUST listen to our interview with her:  Ask-a-Chef: CopyKat!)

1. What is your favorite cookbook?  The one I turn to the most is the 1973 edition of Joy of Cooking.  I like this one the best, at this time there were fewer store bought products that were being used, and there was a lot more scratch cooking.   Since I try to break down recipes, this type of cookbook is the most helpful to me.   I have many other favorites depending upon what I want to cook.   I love David Lebovitz's cookbook, The Perfect Scoop for it's chocolate ice cream recipe.

2. What is your favorite cooking tool?  My favorite cooking cool is a good kitchen knife.  It's not glamorous, but it does the job in so many ways.   

3. What is your signature dish or specialty?  My signature dish is Alfredo sauce, I feel like I have demonstrated this one so many times, and I still like to eat the sauce.  It is basic, and it can have you eating a meal in less time than it takes to go eat take out food. 

4. What is your favorite cooking website?  My favorite cooking site... Honestly, this is a difficult question to answer.  I like so many websites.  I get a lot of inspiration from Pinterest.  I like to see what is trending, and what real people are enjoying at the moment.  I have other websites like SimplyRecipes, or Kalyn's Kitchen, or the Perfect Pantry.  It really depends on what I want at that moment.

5. Name one food item that is a staple in your fridge or pantry.  The one food staple in my refrigerator, always, is some yard eggs.  My mother has chickens for eggs, and I adore these eggs.  They taste so much better than store-bought eggs.  They are rich and flavorful, and you can turn eggs into so many different dishes. 

Be sure to listen to our show with Stephanie for more:  Ask-a-Chef: CopyKat.

Get it on!

Feel free to help a fellow cook out by emailing us or commenting right here about your kitchen favorites.  Bon Appetite!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Phone Contract. Really?

So, I am sure that many of you have heard of Janell Burly Hofmann.  She was giving her son an iPhone for Christmas and wanted to be VERY clear about the rules and expectations - an iPhone Contract.  You can find her and the contract on her website here:

I have talked to many people about Janell's phone contract and it seems that many feel like this is over the top.  I (Jen) had no idea I would feel so strongly about it, but I do.

Backstory:  My girls have been sharing a phone since summer since they were "on their own" frequently while I was coaching my dive team.  I had minimal apps on it (no YouTube or Safari and such) and I feel like they were very responsible with it - all good.  Then, our schedules changed once school started, and I started
coaching more, so we decided to upgrade and hand down our phones so each girl could have one when they were on their own.  This happened at a much younger age than I originally planned for (the girls are in 5th and 6th grade), but we talked about it a lot, and Jeff and I worked together on how we were going to introduce this.  We felt good about our decision, so we did it!

I adapted Janell's contract to suit our needs and was SO SURPRISED at our family discussion.  We are a close and honest family, and talk about anything.  (Anything!)  But sometimes we assume that our kids know things, or understand things, that we would consider common sense.  In reality, they don't - they don't have our life experience, and frankly, growing up now, with technology, changes the rules.  After each point during our contract discussion, we answered any questions they had and made sure they COMPLETELY understood what each point truly meant.  It was honest and eye-opening.  It was a wonderful teaching moment and family conversation.

So much so, that even if your child has had a phone for awhile, I would recommend a contract as a discussion starter and to emphasize the potential power that they have in their pockets.  It just might be a deterrent to a hard learned lesson.  

Thank you so much to Janell for being the brave one!  Our adapted contract is pasted below and you can find Janell's at her website and follow her on Facebook for more. 

iPhone agreement

You are now the proud owner of an iPhone. You are a good and responsible girl and you deserve this responsibility. But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations. Please read through the following contract. We hope that you understand it is our job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young lady that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership. We love you and look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.  :)
1. It is our phone. We bought it. We paid for it. I are loaning it to you. Aren’t we the greatest?
2. We will always know the password.
3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”. Not ever.
4. Your phone will be placed in the charging home and shut off each night and turned on again in the morning. If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.
5. Have a conversation in person with the people you text. It’s a life skill. 
6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.
7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.
8. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
9. Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room. Censor yourself.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

7 Days of Holiday Trivia!

If you have never wondered about where it all came from ... the tree, caroling, lights, candy canes, poinsettias, mistletoes and cards ... then here you go!  Share the holiday fun and enjoy your time with loved ones!  Happy Holidays!
The History of the Christmas Tree:  In the 7th century a monk from Crediton, Devonshire, went to Germany to teach the Word of God.  Legend has it that he used the triangular shape of the Fir Tree to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The converted people began to revere the Fir tree as God's Tree, as they had previously revered the Oak.  By the 12th century it was being hung, upside-down, from ceilings at Christmastime in Central Europe, as a symbol of Christianity.  Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.
The History of Christmas Caroling:  Carols were first sung in Europe thousands of years ago, but these were not Christmas Carols. They were pagan songs, sung at the Winter Solstice celebrations as people danced round stone circles (The word carol originally meant to dance to something). The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, usually taking place around the 22nd December. The word Carol actually means dance or a song of praise and joy! Carols used to be written and sung during all four seasons, but only the tradition of singing them at Christmas has really survived.

The History of Christmas Lights:  The tradition of using small candles to light up the Christmas tree dates back to at least the middle of the XVIIth century. However, it took two centuries for the tradition to become widely established first in Germany and soon spreading to Eastern Europe.  Candles for the tree were glued with melted wax to a tree branch or attached by pins. Around 1890, candleholders were first used for Christmas candles. Between 1902 and 1914, small lanterns and glass balls to hold the candles started to be used.  In 1882, the first Christmas tree was lit by the use of electricity. Edward Johnson lighted up a Christmas tree in New York City with eighty small electric light bulbs. (Edward Johnson created the first string of electric Christmas lights that were then mass produced around 1890.) By 1900, department stores started using the new Christmas lights for their Christmas displays.  Johnson later became vice-president of Edison's electric company.  Albert Sadacca was fifteen in 1917, when he first got the idea to make safety Christmas lights for Christmas trees. A tragic fire in New York City involving Christmas tree candles inspired Albert to invent electric Christmas lights. The Sadacca family sold ornamental novelty items including novelty lights. Albert adapted some of the products into safe electric lights for Christmas trees. The first year only one hundred strings of white lights sold. The second year Sadacca used brightly colored bulbs and a multi-million dollar business took-off. 
The History of Candy Canes:  There are many legends surrounding the candy cane. Many of them depict the candy cane as a secret symbol for Christianity used during the times when Christian were living under more oppressive circumstances. It was said that the cane was shaped like a "J" for Jesus. The red-and-white stripes represented Christ's blood and purity. The three red stripes symbolized the Holy Trinity. The hardness of the candy represented the Church's foundation on solid rock and the peppermint flavor represented the use of hyssop, an herb referred to in the Old Testament.  According to folklore, in 1670, the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral in Germany, wishing to remedy the noise caused by children in his church on Christmas Eve, asked a local candy maker for some sweet sticks for them.  In order to justify the practice of giving candy to children during worship services, he asked the candy maker to add a crook to the top of each stick, which would help children remember the shepherds who paid visit to infant Jesus.  In addition, he used the white colour of the converted sticks to teach children about the Christian belief in the sinless life of Jesus.

The History of the Poinsettia:  The poinsettia, a member of the Euphorbia family and native to Mexico, is the number 1 potted plant sold in the United States. And, that’s over a very small 6 week window!  It is thought that Franciscan monks were the first to begin using poinsettias at the holidays to decorate nativity scenes in Taxco, Mexico. They are named for the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett who brought attention to it. National Poinsettia Day is celebrated on December 12.  By the way, it is a myth that they are poisonous ... but, don’t go eating them anyway!  A 50 lb. child would have to eat more than 500 leaves to suffer any harmful effects.  However, they should be kept away from pets, who can become ill after eating the leaves.

The History of Mistletoe:  From the earliest times mistletoe has been one of the most magical, mysterious, and sacred plants of European folklore. It was once considered to protect against poison and ward off evil spirits, including preventing the entrance of witches. But let’s get to the kissing part. One belief was that it has power to bestow fertility.  In Scandinavia, mistletoe was considered a plant of peace, under which enemies could declare a truce or warring spouses kiss and make-up. Later, at Christmas time (during the eighteenth-century) a young lady standing under a ball of mistletoe, brightly trimmed with evergreens, ribbons, and ornaments, cannot refuse to be kissed. Such a kiss could mean deep romance or lasting friendship and goodwill. If the girl remained un-kissed, she cannot expect not to marry the following year.  In some parts of England the Christmas mistletoe is burned on the twelfth night lest all the boys and girls who have kissed under it never marry.  Even if the pagan significance has been long forgotten, the custom of exchanging a kiss under the mistletoe can still be found in many European countries as well as in Canada. Thus if a couple in love exchanges a kiss under the mistletoe, it is interpreted as a promise to marry, as well as a prediction of happiness and long life.
The world's first commercially produced Christmas card, designed
John Callcott Horsley for Henry Cole in 1843.

The History of Christmas Cards:  Sir Henry Cole commissioned the first Christmas card in London, featuring artwork by John Callcott Horsley.  The hand-colored card was lithographed on stiff, dark cardboard with the message: “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”  The Christmas card designed by Horsley provoked controversy in England because it pictured a company of people holding glasses of wine. Putting alcohol and holy Christmas in one picture was deemed offensive.  In 2001 it became world’s most expensive Christmas card when it was sold for $35,800 at auction.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Introducing: The After House

A 300 year old cottage by the sea. 
A single mom and her six year old daughter. 
A vengeful ex-husband. 
A spirit of a 19th century sea captain. 
The living and the dead. 
Coming together to collide on The After House.
By Michael Phillip Cash.

Get it on Amazon.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

HOLIDAY Stuff, Wrapped in 1 BIG Package!

YES, You Can Be ... Holiday Ready!

Happy December everyone!  This month is already bringing a little "Hustle and Bustle" into your life and that can mean one of two things: the energy and excitement of the holidays OR confusion and busy-ness.  We all HOPE for that good energy and excitement (and a more simple holiday), but sometimes things get in the way (i.e., finances, lack of time, family feuds, long to-do lists).  On our podcast, our goal is to learn and grow together, with all the fabulous advice our guests offer.  Here is a collection of BEST holiday secrets to simplify with, so you can have the holiday you want and love!  xoxo Vicky and Jen  

For the Budget-MindedDebt-Proof Your Christmas
Capture extra cash. 4 things kids want. Debt-free rules.

Fake deadlines, block your time, consolidate gifts, and other tricks.

For the Potential Grinch5 Things to NEVER Say This Holiday 
"What can I bring?" or "We can only stay 30 minutes."

For Families EverywhereGetting Along for the Holidays
The STOP technique, when to set aside difference, etc.

For the Kids: Kids Can Do - 12 Days of Christmas
Magic reindeer food, counting chains, edible snowmen and FUN!
12 More Holiday Projects: handmade gifts, unique cards, and decor.

For Holiday Lovers12 Tips YULE Love 
Winter break bucket list, no new recipes, etc.

For the Nutty-Cracker10 Sanity Savers for the Holiday
Bake together. Over-estimate time. Find alternates to gift exchanges. etc.

For the EntertainersHost Holiday Dinners Easier
Clean where it counts. Get creative with small spaces. Enjoy.
Also listen to The Big O: Entertaining.

For a Little Self-CareHoliday Peace (with Your Body)
Indulging with treats. Coping with stress. Spending less.

For the Smart 'n SavvyBe Informed for the Holidays
A series including charities, buying gift cards, and naughty schemes.

For the Busy PeopleCreating Your SLOW Holiday
The grandma filter. Find a yes in the no. Filling the cup first.

For the OrganizersThe Big O - Organize Your Holiday
Minimize stress, meal prep, simple gifts and other organizing tips.

For the Last-Minute GifterThe Big O: Clutter-Free Gifts
Gifts of service. Consumables. Gifts of experiences. And more.

For the Stress-Busters5 Easy Tips for Less Holiday Stress
The attitude adjustment.  Manage your time better.  And of course, delegate.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The ULTIMATE De-clutter Guide: December

It's time for another look at our favorite month-by-month de-cluttering guide from our "Big O" Organizer, Monica Ricci!  We love that it brings us joy, cleanliness, productivity and focus.  (Thanks for keeping us on task Monica!)  And we are so sad it is the LAST ONE of the year!  What?  You say you missed January through November?  Search for "The ULTIMATE De-clutter Guide" on our blog and they will all pop up!  Below you'll find an excerpt from the DECEMBER section!  Happy Holidays!

In fifteen years of business, I’ve never been in a home that didn’t have at least one “junk drawer.” We all have one -- even me -- although I prefer to call mine a utility drawer because it holds all kinds of useful things and never just junk.

Since December can be one of the most hectic months of the year, I gave you a piece of cake project you can accomplish in four easy steps. 

To organize your junk drawer, first empty it out and clean it. 

Second, sort the contents into groups if you can. This is one of those odd spaces that really does hold a random mix of items and that’s okay because it’s the nature of a utility drawer. 

Third, ditch all the silly useless stuff you’re never going to need again. 

Finally, add drawer dividers to make everything you’re keeping visible and easy to find.  Voila! Say goodbye to junk and hello to organization! 

Listen to all of Monica's Big O Series with us - there are 55+ to choose from!

Monday, December 1, 2014

5 Easy Tips for LESS Holiday Stress

We came up with 5 easy tips for LESS holiday stress and MORE special holiday memories!  We decided to forego any fancy intro and cut right to the chase ...  so we can save you time too!  Hee!

1. Delegate.  Delegate.  Then Delegate.

We hate to break it to you, but you aren't the only one who can set a pretty table, wrap the gifts, and mash the best potatoes.  Turn the kids loose for some of these tasks (for example, the table decorations) and we guarantee it will be the most memorable place settings yet.  Let the kids wrap gifts, and then smile at the job well done (no matter what!)  Don't forget to take photos of them in action and the final results of their hard work!

Other things to share ... cleaning!  Even the youngest can work magic with a dust cloth.   When the holiday is over, you don't have to take the tree down alone.  Start a new "tree demolition" party complete with left over treats, hot cocoa, and music.  Use this time to recap your favorite holiday moments.

2. Adjust Your Attitude 

When you're feeling all Grinch-like, keep it in check by asking yourself this single question: "What do I want my family to remember from this?"  Will your loved ones remember a grumpy, irritable, rushed, stressed mom?  Or will they look back fondly on all the silliness, laughter and smiles?

Avoid the busy attitude too.  Yes, we're all busy - but we don't have to be that busy.  We do have a choice.  It's never too late to say, "No, I'm sorry, I can't."  Our favorite reply:  "Oh, darn! We already have plans."  (A detailed explanation isn't always required!)

Sometimes a family gathering requires extra attitude adjustments.  From the beginning, steer clear of drama.  (This is probably a good rule of thumb all year around!)  Take a couple minutes to think about who you may encounter at family gatherings and how you will remove yourself from a negative situation if conflict arises.  There is a time and a place to set aside differences - this may be one of those times.

Above all, laugh!  Laugh at yourself.  Laugh at mishaps.  Laugh because sometimes disasters make the best memories!  Try to remember that when you leave a gift on top of the car and pull away or the tree tips over mid-meal. 

3.   Scale It Back!

The eating part of the holidays is by far the BEST part, but realize - we make too, too, too much food!  You can:  omit an appetizer, or two.  Instead of three types of pies, pick two faves.  There's nothing worse than a pie with only two pieces eaten.  It totally makes you question your cooking abilities.

Whatever you do, do NOT double that green bean casserole recipe because one batch will be plenty, especially when there are lots of other side dishes to fill the plates.  Save money, avoid waste, and save your precious time by scaling it back.  And especially and always, ask others to bring dishes and help!

4.  Look at Time in a Positive Light ... 

Instead of saying “there’s not enough time,” look at time in a more positive light.

You can ...  find a nugget of time to just be in the moment.  Put down the cell phone camera and relish in the moment.  Simply enjoy the here and now.  Breathe.  Observe the kids.  Laugh.  For me, a good example would be to let the dishes go for an hour while I kick-back with a glass of eggnog or wine and enjoy my company.  

You can ...  take time for YOU - do something relaxing that you love!  (Make it happen!)  

You can also ... give yourself extra time.  Don't plan your holiday timing to a tee. Plan in extra minutes for the little side-tracking things that sometimes pop up.  You never know when the food might take a little longer than usual. Guests might arrive early or late.  Traffic could be bad.   There's unexpected diaper changes.  You get the idea!

 5.  Let It Go  

Sing the "Let It Go" song from Frozen if need be to keep yourself in check.  (Hee. Hee.)  There is NO such thing as perfect.  So first of all, let go of holiday perfection!  Cleaning always comes to mind in this department.  We tend to get worked up about how our house looks when people visit over the holidays.  Once the guests arrive, their coats, bags, and other stuff clutter the house anyway!  So what if the stainless steel appliances aren't spotless.  Just focus on the big things (clean toilet, new trash bag and empty dishwasher!) and  let the little stuff (that no one notices) go!

If you are feeling overwhelmed, re-evaluate your to-do list.  Some items can be pushed back to a time when things are more calm.  For example, you can still meet with your favorite aunt for coffee and a long chat, but AFTER the 25 of December.  Many holiday festivities, such as our "Festival of Lights" at the Cincinnati Zoo are still open well after Christmas day.  There is no reason to cram it in.  Pick and choose your family favorites (have a vote!) or again, let it go for this year.

** Happy Holidays from Vicky and Jen, What Really Matters! **

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Toy Season is Coming ....

Some toys are great.  Some toys, not so much!

But what really makes a good toy?  Dr. Toy likes to ask five basic questions:
  • Is this product worth the price?
  • Does it have lasting "play value"?
  • Is it appropriate?
  • Is it fun?
  • Does it meet safety standards?
Dr. Toy's Smart Play/Smart Toys: How to Select and Use the Best Toys and Games, just released in the expanded new 4th Edition, was written for new parents and others who care about children, and is available in toy and book stores or online. Dr. Toy invites us to take the time to describe play and product experiences, and ask questions about toys and products.

Stevanne Auerback, PhD, an established speaker, consultant, author, trained in child psychology, education, special education and child development, is known as Dr. Toy. She joined us on to talk about what makes a good toy? Which toys make the best gifts? Where can I find quality educational toys for my child?  And more ... Listen here:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Around the World Contest

Our Around the World Contest is OUT of this world - two WINNERS will receive a COMPLETE SET of 12 books!

The "If You Were Me and Lived in ...." series is an exciting introduction to cultures around the world, perfect for ages Pre-K to 8. These books help children realize that although the world is large, people all over the globe are basically the same. 

From food to famous landmarks, this series focuses on what life would be like from a child's viewpoint in Mexico, France, South Korea, Turkey, Kenya, Norway, Australia, Russia, Peru, Portugal, India, and Greece. Coming soon: Hungary and Scotland! Check out Carole P. Roman's site HERE.

How to Enter: Just complete the easy form on our Contest Page HERE. That's it! 

Deadline: Deadline is November 21st at 12:00 midnight EST.

Winner: The winners will be announced in our weekly newsletter.
To subscribe, sign up HERE!

How to Claim: Winners have 7 days from email notification to reply and claim prize or a new name will be re-drawn.

NOTE: Only 1 entry per person please.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Kids and Volunteering

Thank you to the kidkind foundation for sharing this great article by Philip Brown, PhD, about the value of children being involved in community service activities.


#1: Volunteering helps foster empathy.
Empathy is the most critical disposition for responding to the needs of others.  We need to be able to imagine what other people may be going through or feeling. Volunteering helps engage our natural empathic sense, but you have to make sure that there are opportunities to talk about the purpose and experience of any volunteer activity if the recipients aren't visible in the process (making sandwiches for the homeless isn't the same as helping to deliver the sandwiches to homeless people).

#2: Volunteering helps develop a sense of self-efficacy.
Children may understand that other people need help or that there are projects that could make a community more habitable or productive, but feel helpless or unclear that an individual can do anything about it in response. Volunteering can provide experiences that affirm a young person's sense that they can make a difference through their own effort and skills. These experiences can empower young people to apply themselves in other contexts, including school and other organized activities, such as faith-based youth groups or scouting. 

#3: Volunteers gain experience working with other people.
Social skills are best learned in social situations. When people come together to engage in a meaningful task, issues of communication, power, collaboration and trust rise to the surface in a supportive context. It's easier, although still a challenge, to learn to navigate these waters with others who may be more skillful and be in a position to offer supportive feedback. It's a good way for parents and children to see each other in a different light, as well, and learn together.

#4: Volunteering develops new skills.
In addition to social skills, practical experiences of organizing tasks and using physical and mental capabilities to get jobs done is fundamental to successful work of any kind. In school, these skills are often fragmented or unrelated to real-world applications. Service activities offer the chance to apply and test our abilities, as well as learn from other kids or adults in a way that engages kids’ natural drive for competence.

# 5: Volunteering provides the opportunity to explore new interests and develop new passions.
There is nothing more exhilarating than discovering a new field of interest that sparks a real passion for learning and doing. One of the wonderful things about being our species is our inquisitiveness and motivation to investigate and find meaning in discovery. Service activities have the potential to expose us to these opportunities and see how other people live their passions.

#6: Volunteers learn a lot.
In the process of joining with others in service, volunteers learn about their community and the larger world. It takes us out of our own sphere of self-interest and self-absorption and opens us to issues and solutions, as well as other people's needs.  

#7: Volunteers actually make a difference in other people's lives.
Think about how much more impoverished our communities would be if all of the volunteer services disappeared. This is a lesson that children can be taught early and take with them into adulthood. For example, volunteers are critical in:

Helping families (daycare and eldercare)
Improving schools (tutoring, literacy)
Supporting youth (mentoring and after-school programs)
Beautifying the community (beach and park cleanups)

#8: Volunteering encourages civic responsibility.
Community service and volunteerism are a way to teach the importance of investing in our community and the people who live in it. We want our kids to not only be successful in their work and personal lives, but to learn what it means to be a citizen in our republic. The American values of democratic decision-making, social justice and equal opportunity require active participation for us to have a successfully functioning country.

#9: Volunteering offers you a chance to give back.
It's important for children to see that there are small and large opportunities to support community resources that your family uses or that benefit people they care about. Whether it's offering to help man a booth to support improvements in a park you use, or joining a fundraising walk to support medical research for a disease that afflicts a family member or friend, children and adults alike can feel empowered through participation.

#10: Volunteering is good for you.
While this is the last reason for volunteering on this list, and may not be the most important, it is good to know that research has consistently shown that acting altruistically has real benefits. Volunteering provides physical and mental rewards; it has been shown to:

Reduce stress: When you focus on someone other than yourself, it interrupts tension-producing patterns.
Make you healthier: The moods and emotions that frequently come through volunteer service like optimism, joy, and a sense of self-efficacy can contribute to strengthening the immune system.
Make you happier: Human beings are social animals. Working closely with others in a common pursuit for the benefit of our fellow creatures can fill us with a sense of purpose, and that can lead us to feelings of satisfaction and true happiness.

“Volunteering with your kids touches hearts, teaches important life lessons and engraves fond, lifelong memories of family bonding,” said Leigh Ann Errico, CEO and founder of Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation. “Understanding and participating in activities to benefit the community is crucial to weaving one’s moral fiber.”

Errico built Wear the Cape and established the foundation in 2013 after she came up short in her search for resources on kindness and character-building that would appeal to her own four children. Other parents clearly had faced the same challenge; Wear the Cape’s Facebook page already has over 1,100 “Likes”, all through organic growth. The idea for the brand was sparked when Errico observed that the chance to wear a cape—the organization’s logo—motivates children to act like heroes, or “Cape Kids,” in order to live up to the symbol of honor.

In partnership with Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation, Dr. Brown has embarked on a critical mission to help parents across the country support the development of character in their kids. For additional resources from Dr. Brown and to learn more about Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation, go to