29 June 2015

Two Iowa Residents Place In National Braille Challenge

LOS ANGELES (June 22, 2015) – On Saturday, June 20th, Bettendorf, IA resident Emily Groves and Adel, IA resident Lauren Thomson both placed 3rd in their age range at the 15th Annual Braille Challenge®in Los Angeles, the only national reading and writing contest in braille for students who are blind and visually impaired. Sponsored by Braille Institute, The Braille Challenge is an academic competition designed to motivate students and emphasize their study of braille, while rewarding their success with fun-filled, challenging events. This year, regional Braille Challenge events were held at 46 different sites in the US and Canada from January through March. Collectively, more than 1,100 students participated in the regional events. Fifty-seven finalists (three finalists were unable to travel to the event) from the United States and Canada competed over the weekend.

"Braille is a crucial tool that opens the doors of literacy and drives educational advancement and future employment opportunities," said Peter Mindnich, President, Braille Institute. "We continue to be inspired each year by the passion and commitment of the students who compete in The Braille Challenge. Their achievements can empower others who are affected by sight loss to develop their braille skills as well."

Of all the literacy issues in America, braille literacy is one of the most underrated and overlooked, and advancements in technology have not replaced the need for children who are blind or visually impaired to learn to read using this vital medium. Understanding how essential braille literacy is for success in the sighted world, Braille Institute developed the two-phase, annual competition as a way to encourage children who are blind and visually impaired to fine tune their braille skills and celebrate their accomplishments.

“This challenge has influenced so many families who have a child or children who are blind or visually impaired. For many participants, this is their only opportunity to truly test their skills against others academically.” said Nancy Niebrugge, Associate Vice President of National Programs, at Braille Institute.

2015 Winners of The Braille Challenge (full list of all contestants is available):


Apprentice Brooke Petro, Leawood, KS

Freshman Richard Tienter, Ballwin, MO

Sophomore Christopher Abel, Acworth, GA

Junior Varsity Richelle Zampella, Muskogee, OK

Varsity Cricket Bidleman, San Diego, CA


Apprentice Maggie Wehrle, Victoria, BC, CAN

Freshman Audrey Bethay, Prairie Village, KS

Sophomore Kaleigh Brendle, Freehold, NJ

Junior Varsity Kate Antolak, Venice, FL

Varsity Harley Fetterman, Austin, TX


Apprentice Emily Groves, Bettendorf, IA

Freshman Jennifer Kasunick, Bay Village, OH

Sophomore Paige Drury, Glastonbury, CT

Junior Varsity Mitchell Bridwell, Pittsboro, IN

Varsity Lauren Thomson, Adel, IA

TEACHER OF THE YEAR Patricia L. Leader, San Jose, CA


Reading Comprehension Kate Antolak, Venice, FL

Spelling Brooke Petro, Leawood, KS

For additional information about the competition and this year’s winners, please visit www.braillechallenge.org.

About Braille Institute

Braille Institute is a nonprofit serving tens of thousands of people of all ages through an array of integrated educational, social and recreational programs and services designed to help people with vision loss lead enriched and fulfilling lives. Funded entirely by private donations, all services are free. For additional information, please visit www.braillechallenge.org or www.brailleinstitute.org. Follow Braille Institute on Facebook and Twitter (@BrailleInst).

25 June 2015

Chicago Neighborhood Guide

A trip to Chicago can be an exciting getaway; however, choosing a hotel carefully is key to ensuring a relaxing stay. The general vicinity of a hotel can greatly impact the quality of the guest's overall stay. The following guide provides information about various neighborhoods in which many Chicago hotels are located.

The Loop

Home to the famous Sears Tower, The Loop is located in between the Chicago River and Michigan Avenue. It is the second-largest business district in the United States. The area is comprised of modern towers and art deco buildings. Those who stay in the area will enjoy being in close proximity to shopping and theater performances. Nearby attractions include Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center.

Magnificent Mile

Located north of The Loop is the Magnificent Mile, named for its glamorous shops, malls, luxury hotels, and top-rated restaurants. Attractions that are closest to the Magnificent Mile include Navy Pier, the John Hancock Center, Chicago Children's Museum, and River North, which is a former industrial district that how houses nightlife venues and art galleries.

Old Town

An affluent, historic district, Old Town includes many of the city's Victorian-style buildings. The area is in close proximity to downtown and is rich with entertainment venues. From comedy clubs to specialty shopping and a diverse mix of restaurants, visitors have everything they need right at the doorstep of their accommodations. Old Town is known for its many boutiques. The neighborhood also hosts an annual art fair each June. Just east of Old Town lies the Gold Coast district, which is bounded by the famous Lakeshore Drive. Upscale shopping is available in the area's large retailers and smaller boutiques.

Lincoln Park

The city's largest park, Lincoln Park follows the shoreline of Lake Michigan several miles from its origin at North Avenue. Within the park's 1,200 acres, visitors may enjoy several beaches, a zoo, with which the park shares its name, two museums, and a botanical conservatory.

When deciding where to stay, travelers should consider the location that is in closest proximity to the sites they would like to see, but is still within their budget. Planning the trip far in advance of the travel date and frequently comparing deals on hotel discount sites can help travelers save money on hotels in Chicago.

27 May 2015

Ways To Talk To Your Kids About Sexual Abuse

Sexual violence is a very serious public health problem that affects millions of women and men. However research done by the Crimes Against Children Research Center showed that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. These children who are the victims of prolonged sexual abuse usually develop low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. The child may also become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults. During Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, Krav Maga Worldwide, a leading self-defense organization is offering parents tips on what to teach their children if they are involved in an attack and also tips for preventing attacks.
  1. Begin talking to them as young as 2 years old. This may seem very early but children under 12 are most at risk at 4 years old. Even if they can’t speak well, children at this age are busy figuring out the world. And they certainly understand and remember a lot more than adults usually realize.
  2. Share the only instances when their private parts can be seen and touched. An age appropriate concept for a young child to understand is that nobody – including a parent or caregiver – should see or touch their private parts (what a swimming suit covers up) – unless they’re keeping them clean, safe, or healthy.
  3. Talk openly about sexuality and sexual abuse to teach your child that these topics do not need to be “secret.” Abusers will sometimes tell a child that the abuse should be kept a secret. Let your child know that if someone is touching him or her or talking to him or her in ways that make him or her uncomfortable or scared, that it should not stay a secret.
  4. Inform your child about the tricks used by sexual predators. Tricks such as continued accidental touching, or an emergency trick where the predator tricks the child into thinking there is an emergency and the child must go with the predator.
  5. Teach children that they must trust their inner voice. Especially That Yucky Feeling We all have that feeling inside that tells us what feels right and what feels wrong or uncomfortable. Many children who have been sexually abused describe a feeling of discomfort as having a “yucky” feeling inside. You must teach your child to trust or honor their inner voice or that “yucky” feeling.
  6. Teach your child that they have the right to say NO! As the majority of child abuse is based on coercion rather than force, teaching your child to say NO strongly and forcefully really can make a big difference in many situations.
About Krav Maga Worldwide
Founded in 1997 to promote Krav Maga throughout the United States and around the world, Krav Maga Worldwide trains and certifies instructors and licenses over 150 authorized Krav Maga Worldwide training centers in the United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico, South America, and Europe, as well as over 800 law enforcement agencies and military units. Krav Maga offers the highest caliber of instruction to thousands of people, supporting the company’s core commitment to improving and saving lives. Krav Maga Worldwide continues to develop, promote and implement self-defense and fitness programs. For additional information, visit: www.kravmaga.com.

06 May 2015

Dog Collar Buckles - Which Ones Are The Best For Your Furry Friend?

We love our dogs so much that we treat them as part of the family. Since they are part of the family, we can't help but provide the best love, care, and support that they truly deserve.

When it comes to their nutrition, we choose the best dog food and give them vitamin supplements if needed. When it comes to grooming, we give them the best dog soap and shampoo. When it comes to keeping them fit, we take them for a walk or run outside our houses.

But how about dog collar buckles? Are we using the best type for our furry friend?

To help you answer this dilemma, let's take a few minutes and determine the advantages and disadvantages of plastic dog collar buckles and metal dog collar buckles.

Plastic Dog Collar Buckles


It is lightweight.
Since it is are made up of either Celluloid, Casein, and Bakelite (plastics mostly used in the manufacturing of buckles), it is considerably lighter than its metal counterparts.

It is very easy to attach.
The plastic variants were made with ease in attachment brought to mind. Most plastic buckles are the stealth plastic type so all you need to do is clip on one end to the other and you're good to go.


It may crack or go in disrepair if slammed on a hard surface.
Although plastic is way lighter and way easier to attach, it has the tendency to break if slammed by your beloved dog on a wall, floor, or any hard surface.

It may detach on its own.
Yes, plastic buckles are very easy to attach but they have the tendency to detach when your dog is doing various activities or when you pull the leash in a certain way.

Metal Dog Collar Buckles


It is sturdy and very hard to break. Metal is a very strong element, alloy, or compound hence it is harder to break.&


It is hard to put on or take off.
Most of the time, the holes in the metal plastic dog collar buckles are never on the right spot making it harder to put on immediately. If you are not using the stealth plastic buckle type collar for your dog, it may take you a few seconds or minutes to attach or detach it from your dog but you can be assured of its hardness and sturdiness anyway.

Cheap ones may fall off on their own.
Not all metal are created equal. Make sure to ask your veterinarian or fellow dog lovers on which type or brand is sturdy enough to withstand your dogs energy.

Ready-made holes may not be the perfect fit for your dog.
Since metal buckles are made in the bulk, chances are, the holes on the collar are based on the average sizes of dogs. If it's a perfect fit for your dog, good! If it's not, don't fret. It may take you a few minutes to add a hole by hey, it doesn't matter to us as long as the fit will be perfect and comfortable enough for our dog.

Now that you have the pros and cons, I bet it will be easier for you to choose which one would be best for you, as a pet owner, and your furry friend.

Just take into consideration the comfort, sturdiness, and reliability of the buckles.

And hey! It wouldn't hurt if you'll ask around if which buckles they think is best. You might even get new pointers on which dog collar buckles to choose.

Photo by Tina Phillips.

01 May 2015

Pattern Signature Leather Bag Giveaway #MomsTheWord

Welcome to the Mom's The Word, Mother's Day Giveaway Hop!

Organized by:

Mom Powered Media Bloggers

Mother's Day is just around the corner! Whether you're wanting some new jewelry, cash, home decor, clothing, or something else, we have it in this amazing giveaway hop from over 60 fabulous bloggers! Each participating blog below is hosting their own unique giveaway with a value of at least $30. Some feature gift cards to your favorite stores while others have high value giveaways from companies you know and love!
Mom Powered Media is also hosting a Grand Prize Giveaway Package valued at $700!

Included in the Grand Prize Package for ONE lucky winner:
Hallmark - Card Pack ($55)
Jamberry - Ruby & Rose Gift Set ($45)
Vitabath - Pineapple Sunset or Raspberry Vanilla Velvet Carrier Set ($15)
Epson - Ribbon Label Maker ($70)
Housewives Jewelry - 3 Heart Swarovski Earrings ($75)
Cariloha - Resort Bamboo Sheet Set ($260)
PacaPod - Idaho ‘Lite’ bag ($150)
Pink Zebra - Simmer Pot and a jar of Sprinkles ($30)

The Die-Cut Signature Tote is an open tote in soft pebble leather featuring the signature Pattern LA laser-cut logo design that is both effortlessly chic and on-trend. The classic shape and upscale finish create a timeless elegance and endless versatility.

  • Style 5525
  • Signature Pattern
  • 100% Leather
  • 1 inside pocket
  • 19" x 13" x 4"

20% of the proceeds from this bag go to the Jessie Rees Foundation - a childhood cancer care foundation that helps children fighting cancer to get the support and resources that they need to never ever give up - NEGU.

One winner will receive a Pattern Signature Leather Bag in Gunmetal (RV$198)!
Open to US residents only, ages 18+. This giveaway hop ends on May 10th, 2015 at 11:59pm Eastern time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can find all of the giveaways to all the blogs involved below! Hop around and enter each one, and don't forget to enter the grand prize giveaway!

The MPM Blogging Network is not responsible for prize fulfillment and associated bloggers are responsible for their own giveawaysGood luck everyone and happy Mother's Day!