Saturday, May 26, 2018

Enriching Education: Overcoming Challenges - What We Can Learn from Stephen Hawking's Life (5/30 Valley Village CA)

Join The Help Group's STEM³ Academy for an enlightening evening on how Stephen Hawking overcame tremendous challenges to become one of the leading scientists of our time. Our panel will lead the audience in a lively conversation on how to make the most out of your life circumstances, strengths and challenges. Hawking was an extraordinary man with a great deal to learn from for parents, professionals and students.

This is a free community event. Open to all. Please RSVP as space is limited.

Wednesday, May 30th 
7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Light dinner included

STEM³ Academy Valley Glen Campus
6455 Coldwater Canyon
Valley Village, CA

Jim Fuller, Ph.D. - Professor, California Institute of Technology
Amy Griffiths, Ph.D., NCSP, BCBA-D - Professor, Chapman University
Jason Bolton, Psy.D. - Vice President of Programs, The Help Group
Ellis Crasnow, Ph.D. - Director, STEM³ Academy and STEM Education,The Help Group
The first school of its kind, The Help Group's STEM³ Academy provides a robust Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) based curriculum to students with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and other social and learning differences.  


DERMA-E Advanced Peptide & Collagen Serum + Moisturizer

Friday, May 25, 2018

Thrifty Thinking: Interest Rates and Investments

I had a chance to email Sally Brandon, Senior VP of Client Services and Advice at Rebalance IRA, about interest rates and investments. 
How do treasury notes work?
The U.S. Treasury issues debt to pay for government operations in three forms: Treasury bills, Treasury notes, and Treasury bonds. The important difference between them is their duration, how long they last. Bills last for one year or less, notes from 2 to 10 years and Treasury bonds for 30 years. Naturally, the interest paid on each of these different types of debt will vary, and exactly how the interest is paid differs slightly. For the individual investor, however, these differences are somewhat academic. The simplest way to invest in government debt is through an index fund that owns many different durations of government debt, be they bills, notes or 30-year bonds. Owning U.S. government debt through an index fund or an exchange-traded fund (ETF) allows the individual investor to diversify at a very low cost and keeps the investment process extremely simple and predictable.

What does the interest rate have to do with investment strategies?
The benchmark interest rate set by the Federal Reserve is the baseline for the cost of money across the entire economy. As the interest rate rises or falls, so too will the interest cost of every other financial product: credit card rates, auto loans and mortgages, as well as interest paid on bank savings accounts. As long as the interest rate is changing gradually and in a way that investors and businesses find predictable, the impact of the change should be negligible. The Federal Reserve raises or lowers the interest rate in an attempt to either encourage economic growth or, conversely, tamp down potential inflation. A prudently managed and diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds, as well as other investments, will see little change from a gradual increase or decrease in the interest rate. Rebalancing your portfolio periodically means that your investments are recalibrated to match the changing economic landscape. Ultimately, what matters is not the interest rate but owning the right balance of stocks and bonds for your personal investment goals over the long term.

How can people make sure their investments are performing well?
The whole purpose of investing is to protect the purchasing power of cash that you have saved to spend in the future. A well-constructed portfolio will invest that cash in a manner that captures returns that are in excess of inflation and which compounds your money, doubling its value in predictable time frames. It's easy to focus on one stock or another and get emotional about a big “win” while blithely ignoring concurrent losses that drag down your overall performance. That's why diversification is so important. Owning many stocks and many bonds allows you to focus instead on the big picture, which is overall return compared to inflation -- is your money growing and are you protected from losing purchasing power many years from now? Your financial advisor should be able to provide a very clear annualized number which shows that your investments are growing in excess of the inflation rate. That number should be shown to you after the effect of any fees charged for the advisor and fees for any investments he or she buys in your name. Increasingly, these numbers are expressed in dollars as your future income, a monthly retirement “paycheck” that will supplant your regular work income once you leave the workforce.

Ms. Brandon holds a B.A. from the University of California at Los Angeles and an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California. In addition to her many professional accomplishments, as a wife and mother, she brings an intuitive understanding of the personal side of retirement saving. Brandon began her retirement investment career at MarketRiders, where she supported many of the company’s retirement-investor clients, who collectively have more than 10,000 portfolios and $4 billion on the platform. She is a registered Investment Representative and holds a Series 65 securities license.

Rebalance IRA is a pro-consumer retirement investment firm that offers lower costs, endowment-quality globally-diversified investment portfolios, and systematic rebalancing. This investment approach is combined with a team of sophisticated and highly credentialed finance professionals who provide advice that is unbiased and focuses on the client’s long-term retirement investment goals. Rebalance IRA is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif. and Bethesda, Md., and currently manages over $600 million in client assets.
For more information, please visit

Sweepstakes: LACTAID and Flywheel Sports

LACTAID and Flywheel Sports are offering one lucky winner the chance to win…

A FLY Anywhere bike OR a one-year studio membership (your choice!) PLUS a free year of real dairy LACTAID products

To enter, all you have to do is share a photo of how LACTAID helps with your fitness recovery on Instagram or Twitter, or comment on this Facebook post. Be sure to tag #FlywheelxLACTAID or #FLYxLACTAID, and #sweepstakes! NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends 5/26/18. 50 U.S./DC/18+. For full sweepstakes rules, visit:

Book Nook: Catalina and the King's Wall

I recently had a chance to review Catalina and the King's Wall, a cute little book about a prejudiced king and his inventive cook. Catalina's family lives in a country far away. The king decides he doesn't like people he doesn't knows, and orders a wall built. Catalina is distraught - her family can't come to visit if there's a wall. So she suggests all sorts of unsuitable materials for the wall, sprinkles that blow away and sweets that melt in the rain. Then she suggests cookie dough - and unfortunately it holds tight! Until she comes up with a plan....

It's a great book to introduce ideas of curiosity over prejudice, as well as creative thinking. I had a chance to interview the author to learn more.
  • Why did you decide to write this book?
I was inspired to write this book after I took my son to my local women’s march in January 2017 following the combative U.S. presidential election. I stood with him on that cold and snowy day and wondered: What kind of world was he born into? How will he learn to always be kind? I was deeply concerned, yet hopeful because of the turnout at the march. I wrote my book to help parents discuss these questions with their kids in a fun story format that children can relate to.
  • Why is it so important to break down walls early?
As a neuroscientist who studies implicit cognition, or unconscious influences of knowledge, perception, and memory on our social judgments and actions, I am well aware of the research on both implicit and explicit biases. Implicit bias means that you may have an unconscious bias toward something that you don’t explicitly believe (i.e., you may be associate Black with something bad and White with something good or you may associate female with homemaking and male with a career). Explicit bias means that you overtly are biased against a group of people that are different from you and may stereotype or discriminate. What is interesting is that implicit biases show up in children as young as three years old, and their patterns of implicit bias responses are statistically indistinguishable from adults. Researchers believe that this is due to an automatic preference from a very young age for our own “in group” as well as an implicit preference for the higher-status group. A lot of research studies have also demonstrated that kids see race very early on. They are not “colorblind” as many parents would like to believe. Kids see age, size, gender … why wouldn’t they see race?

Therefore, I believe that it’s important to break down “walls” that may separate us from people who are different from us, whether that’s race, religion, gender preference, etc. 
  • How can parents use this book to encourage curiosity about people who are different?
Parents can have a conversation with their kids about the family that is in my book (they are Muslim, and Catalina’s mom wears a Hijab). Parents can point out different people in storybooks in general and discuss what that means; parents can both affirm and answer children’s questions about race, which makes it less of a scary topic for them. Parents should encourage their children to ask questions (well, a lot of kids don’t need encouragement, which is a good thing, but it can be daunting for parents to talk about race).
Dana and Lindsey of suggest:
  • Treat talking bout race the same way you do boy-girl stereotypes. Just like we point out women who are doctors, astronauts, construction workers, we can tell children that people of any skin color can be those things too.  Enforce this message often.
  • Don’t shush kids when they say embarrassing or racist things. Their brains are prone to categorization.  When we shush them or shut down the conversation, we are telling them that race is a scary topic.  Instead, engage them in a conversation and directly explain their fallacy.
  • Help children of color develop a sense of ethnic pride.  Studies have found improved self-confidence when this occurs. White children will “naturally decipher that they belong to the race that has more power, wealth, and control in society…so a pride message would not just be abhorrent – it’d be redundant.”
Some other resources for talking to kids about race:

Father's Day Gift Ideas

It’s that time of the year – when we show the men in our lives how much they mean to us. So, as we all turn into amateur sleuths trying to figure out the perfect gift to make dad smile, lifestyle expert and new dad Lance Smith says the clues are all around you.

Is Dad’s idea of a perfect Sunday afternoon outside in the backyard or inside falling asleep on the couch? Is he always talking about getting in better shape, but says he’s too busy for the gym? They’re all clues to that one must-have gift Dad will love. In this video, Lance Smith shares:

·         Father’s Day Must-Haves – Top Gifts for Dad
·         How you can get everything on your list in one place
·         Shopping tips to help you save a TON of time AND money

Lance Smith does it all in the entertainment industry. In addition to being an actor, an acting coach and children’s book author, Lance was the face of CMT for a decade hosting numerous weekly shows and specials before taking on co-host duties for The Daily Buzz from 2012-2014 and its new launch in 2017. This avid Tennessee Titans fan can be found at most home games broadcasting highlights on the jumbotron. Still, with all of this, Lance’s newest job is the closest to his heart, being dad to his beautiful baby girl.                                     

Courtesy: DICK’S Sporting Goods

Shopping Savings: Kwilt Shoebox Mini

Photos and videos take up a staggering amount of memory on our smartphones. It’s only a matter of time before we get the dreaded notification that our storage is full, forcing us to choose between deleting precious old memories or not capturing equally important new memories. In the best-case scenario, we have to spend hard-earned money upgrading our cloud storage or buying a phone with more memory space.

The perfect gift for dads everywhere, Kwilt Shoebox Mini solves this issue by allowing consumers to backup photos and videos from their mobile devices, social media profiles (i.e. Facebook, Instagram) and commercial cloud storage (i.e. Google, Dropbox) to the privacy of their home storage device for anytime, anywhere access through one streamlined interface on their mobile devices. Because all of his content is stored safely on his own personal storage device, Dad can rest easy knowing no one else has access to his family’s photos and videos – not even Kwilt.

Kwilt Shoebox Mini costs just $59, with no monthly fees - a huge savings from the usual monthly cloud subscription fees eating away at your budget.

Healthy Habits: Foundation Fighting Blindness

Foundation Fighting Blindness is aiming to help reduce blindness caused by Age-related Macular Degeneration. You can receive information by calling 1-800-Blindness or by visiting

Parenting Pointers: Emergency Preparation Tips

Hurricanes can be extremely unpredictable, as can be the recovery from the storms. Months have passed since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, and nearly 200,000 families and businesses — 16% of the island — remain without power.

It is incumbent upon those living in areas at highest risk of being impacted by hurricanes to take storm preparations into their own hands. Taking small steps before the storm hits and knocks out your power can save a lot of headaches and heartache when it’s too late. Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters.

Some important tips include stockpiling enough emergency supplies to last you, your loved ones and your pets for at least three days. The emergency kits should include bottled water, non-perishable food, prescription drugs you are taking, emergency radio and a DIY phone charger.

Experts also advice to keep handy changes of underwear, comfortable shoes and clean wool socks.

Mark McGinnis is an authority in forensic meteorology and an expert in weather hazard planning and weather analysis. His depth of experience in weather preparedness as it relates to increasing safety and reducing associated losses is highly relevant to both home owners as well as local businesses. In this video he discusses emergency planning methods. Mark will provide tips on how to best prepare yourself for the coming hurricane season and avoid the troubles that can accompany these storms.

 Interview is courtesy: Generac

Enriching Education: 4 Skills Your Child Needs To Know Before Entering Kindergarten

Kindergarten is supposed to be fun and educational, and allow children an opportunity to blossom because it is usually the first time the tykes are away from their parents for any significant amount of time.

And while most kindergartens don’t exactly have GPA requirements, for a child to succeed there are a few milestones that should be reached before they toddle through the door, says Alise McGregor, founder of Little Newtons (, an early education center with locations in Minnesota and Illinois.

“New parents especially can have a hard time understanding that there are actually things their child should know prior to kindergarten,” McGregor says.  “But if they take time to make sure their child knows some basics, it will make kindergarten a better experience.”

McGregor says the typical things a child should know prior to entering kindergarten are:

  • Basic shapes. The child should have learned basic shapes like the square, circle, rectangle and triangle in preschool.  If not, parents should teach them.  In kindergarten, they will probably be introduced to the hexagon, star, heart and octagon.

  • The letters of the child’s name. They should at least be able to recognize the letters of their name.  In kindergarten, they will learn their uppercase letters and begin lowercase letters.  They will also begin to learn how to write freehand without tracing.

  • Numbers 1 to 10. Although some children will be able to count to 100 by the time they reach kindergarten, all should be able to at least be able to count to 10.  Numbers will be used starting on the first day of kindergarten so the children need to at least understand and recognize numbers.
  • Social skills - The child should be able to follow directions, be able to be separated from the caregiver and use the restroom independently.  Children who scream and cry when they are separated from caregivers disrupt the rest of the class.  Teachers simply do not have the time to supervise individual students who cannot independently use the restroom.
McGregor says that it is important for children to get off on the right foot early in school. By teaching children these skills prior to attending kindergarten it should make it easier for them to succeed.
About Alise McGregor
Alise McGregor is the founder of Little Newton’s (, an exceptional child care center focused on early childhood education in four locations in Minnesota and one in Illinois.  She is the author of an upcoming book Creating Brilliance.  Also a nurse, she has a B.S. in Exercise Physiology with a cardiac rehabilitation emphasis.