Take a Tablet and Call Me in the Morning

Given that full-featured tablets like the iPad, Amazon Kindle Fire HDX, Samsung Galaxy, Microsoft Surface, Google Nexus, LG G Pad, Sony Xperia, and others aren’t cheap, it’s no big surprise that a lot of parents are somewhat reluctant to turn one over to a child.  We worry—understandably so—that the cute little kid in the backseat [...]

Rules for the First Christmas With Your Special Someone

So you’ve finally met someone special, and it’s time for your first Christmas together. You probably have all of these expectations — his parents house or yours? Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning? — and want everything to be perfect.

Slow down, sister.
The first Christmas with a significant other has to be handled very carefully. Play it too eagerly, which is the mistake most ladies make, and you run the risk of acting like a Bridezilla, but for Christmas. The harder you push, the faster your man will turn into the Grinch, and the sooner your holidays will end in tears as you try to explain to your boyfriend why, exactly, it was so important that you hold hands in matching holiday mittens as the Chamber of Commerce guy threw the switch on your town’s enormous holiday tree.

With that in mind, here are the rules for your all-important first Christmas together.

1. Don’t push the family stuff.
The quickest way to send a guy running in the other direction is to start talking about how your mother always makes pecan pie, and of course he’s going to help your dad chop down the tree, and your sister’s baby is so cute!!!

Honey, it hasn’t been a year yet. Your boyfriend’s still getting used to the idea of dating you. As many dating guides note, you need four full seasons together before you start discussing long-term type arrangements. That includes Christmas with your family. Your boyfriend doesn’t need to be worried about being part of your family yet, so let him be.

2. You are allowed one cute couple gift.
Although you are probably tempted to give your man multiple gifts with secret, significant meanings, like “here’s the rock from when we first walked on the beach together, and here’s a bottle of the wine we drank on our first date,” you can’t go overboard. You are allowed ONE gift that symbolizes your new life as a couple. This year, for example, I’m going to design custom sweatshirts for me and my new squeeze. (Mine has a heart-shaped lock, his has a heart-shaped key.)

Beyond the single cute couple gift, all of your other gifts have to be about your man as an individual. Pay attention to what he does in his spare time, and get him those types of presents.

3. Nothing embarrassing.
No sitting on Santa’s lap together. Let’s just leave it at that.

4. You can decorate the tree with him, but you can’t force the magic.
There’s this thing women do, where they see something magical on TV and assume that they’ll feel similar “magic” feelings when they do it themselves. Like decorating a Christmas tree, when the boy teasingly throws tinsel in your hair and then the two of you laugh and everything goes into soft focus.

Of course, by the time you’re in your 20s or 30s, you’ve decorated a lot of trees. Adding a new boyfriend to the mix doesn’t make it magical, it just makes it a task you are doing together. He is probably less interested in the romantic symbolism of your first Christmas tree together than he is in getting the job done and moving on to something more interesting. Truth be told, it would be better for you as well if you adopted that mindset.

5. Ask him what he wants.
Often, the only way to find out what would make it a merry Christmas for both of you is to ask. Does he want to go skiing, or curl up with Die Hard? You don’t know until you ask. Christmas, like the rest of your relationship, is about finding something that suits both of you, and Die Hard with Christmas cookies may be just the thing.

How about you? Do you have any first Christmas horror stories? Let us know — the funnier the better!

Baby Boomer Translation Guide: 5 Online College Terms You Should Know

When writer Teresa Ambord’s sister returned to college at 50, the experience was nothing like the first time around. As Ambord details in her article for go60.us, her sister was constantly mistaken for a teacher and found it frustrating to be the one fellow students looked to for all the answers — especially since she felt as lost as her younger classmates. When you’re returning to college in your golden years with new-found knowledge on current technology, some back-to-school challenges can be diminished if not eliminated altogether.

If you don’t know where to begin to find an online college offering the courses you’re interested in, try an online resource such as http://www.collegeonline.org. Just enter the degree you want in the field of your choice along with a subject to further narrow the scope, and these sites will match you up with the online colleges that fit best with your needs. Continuing your education online can be easier and more convenient than heading to campus, but there will still be challenges. The jargon might be new to you. Before you enroll and start filling up your class schedule with online courses, familiarize yourself with online college terms to make the transition smooth.


The ANGEL—not an ethereal, heavenly creature—colleges are talking about can be considered a blessing to nontraditional and conventional students alike. The acronym signifies “A New Global Environment for Learning.” Essentially, it’s the system your college has in place through which you’ll access your online courses. Different colleges use different systems, so the ANGEL system, or portal, you must learn to navigate could go by any name. Education Dive says Blackboard is the most common Learning Management System, but your college may use another system such as Moodle, GoingOn or Sakai.

Forums and Discussion Boards

Online courses rely on virtual means to connect students with the instructor and each other. When you take online classes, your instructor will direct you to the forum or discussion board on your college’s website to participate in dialogue that would normally take place in a classroom. There, you can read other students’ questions and comments, post some of your own and see what the instructor’s responses. Learning the college lingo will certainly help your understanding. They’re typically not real-time, like chat rooms are, so you will have to check back periodically to catch up on the discussion and find answers to questions you’ve asked.

Hybrid Course

Many of the classes you need for your degree might be online classes, but if some are hybrid courses, be prepared to show your face in class from time to time. Hybrid courses combine the face-to-face interactions of normal classes with the flexibility online courses offer. That means you’ll have to attend a class on-campus from time to time, as well as access your course content online.

Web-Assisted Course

Not to be confused with online and hybrid courses, web-assisted courses rely least on the online aspect. Web-assisted courses are characterized by regular classroom activity and lectures, using the university’s web-based system for occasional information such as accessing notes, the syllabus or evaluations.

Developmental Classes

Developmental classes help you brush up on certain skills. These preparatory courses increase your chances of success in college by developing basic skills you’d like to improve such as grammar, writing or reading.

Dangerous Things to Do with Your Kids

[amazon asin=0451234197&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest: Gever Tulley, author of of 50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do.
Topic: Teaching your children about safety by helping them learn to manage risk.
Issues: Exciting ways for your children (and you) to explore the world around them; melting glass, walking a tightrope, tasting electricity, throwing things out of moving cars, deconstructing appliances, and more.

Team Building with Duct Tape + Doing the Right Thing at the Right Time + Dangerous Things to Do with Your Kids

[amazon asin=B0052O55NQ&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Tom Heck, author of Duct Tape Teambuilding Games.
Topic: Fun activities to help your team—and your family—stick together.
Issues: Using team-building games and experiential learning to teach leadership, trust, cooperation, creativity, problem solving, and confidence.

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