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Maintenance Tips for Your Flagstone Patio

Having a patio in the home adds value to the property and promotes outdoor living. The area is a great spot for families and friends to enjoy barbecues and fun conversation notably during summertime.

But along with this comes great responsibility particularly in the maintenance aspect. Any patio requires tender loving care moving forward to ensure that it stays in good condition regardless of the weather.

Some people may think that patios made of natural stones are maintenance free but they’re not. They need to be cleaned on a regular basis to get rid of moss, dust and dirt buildup and to prevent water from getting stagnant on the surface for a long time. The stones also need to be properly sealed to prevent damage such as cracks and chips. [Read more…]

5 Ways to Stay Organized at Home

Keeping organized at home can help your life stay focused and balance your production levels at both work and home. Finding yourself a good routine will help to lower stress and anxiety levels. There are many ways you can keep the key areas in your life organized. Here are a few helpful tips.

Keep a daily planner

Maintaining a daily planner, either in notebook or note board form can assist your day to day time management. If you are keeping a notebook or paper diary, noting down appointments, reminders and tasks that need to be completed on certain days will help you to stay on track. A note board on the wall is great for organizing the family. Keeping it in an area, such as the kitchen where everyone frequently goes in and out is a good way to remind each other of things, such as birthday events or other celebrations.

Have a to do list

Creating a to do list is an easy yet fun way of managing your daily tasks. Whether its for grocery shopping, cleaning, washing or travel, it helps keep your tasks prioritized and makes sure you dont forget things you need to do. Its handy to keep a memo pad and pen around the house, so you always have something to create your to do lists on.

Keep records of finances

Keeping your financial records apart from other documents and in a safe place makes it easier to retrieve those documents when needed. Its a good idea to makes regular notes on your incomings, outgoings and savings. If you are keeping paper records or printing records out, its handy to have a folder to put them in so your files are kept together.

Create a schedule

Having a schedule, such as a cleaning rota is a great way to keep on top of household chores. It can often be frustrating when it comes to keeping a home clean and tidy but having a document where you can assign tasks to family members helps to keep a household organized. You can easily create documents, such as this in Microsoft Excel and print them out for family members to keep or display them around the house.

Have regular spring cleaning days

Setting aside a day every month or so to sort through your belongings is another way to keep your house clean and tidy. Sort through clothes, books, toys and other items. Throw away very old and useless things and create a pile for charity, recycling or selling. You can make it fun for young family members by turning tasks into games. Perhaps create a sorting game, where you organise things into piles and reward children with stickers or candy.

As you can see, doing a few daily actions and making time for planning will really help to keep your life and home organized. Adding these methods to your daily or weekly routine will help maintain a happy household. Whichever solution works for you may come with trial and error but finding a good routine will make life much easier for you and your family.

4 Things to Do to Ensure the Safety of Kids While on the Road

Kids in cars. That’s one of the biggest frustrations of parents, especially if the trip is a rather long one. Every day, though, parents and caregivers take children in cars – to and from school, to after-school activities, and so on. Even on the weekend, there are family activities that may require parents to take their children with them.

There is just no avoiding taking children with you in the car, and the most important thing for you to remember is to ensure the safety of kids you take with you. According to the CDC, “motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. But many of these deaths can be prevented.” [Read more…]

The Parenting Journey: From Day 1 to Forever

Even before I became a parent, I have heard a lot of parents talking about parenthood as some sort of journey. I didn’t quite understand it yet until I became one. My own experience has told me that the parenting journey starts from Day 1 to forever.

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Nothing can really prepare you for parenting. You will find yourself flowing with it, fighting it, questioning it, and even changing it. There is never a dull moment with it as surprises will come in many forms, good or bad. While surviving it can be the main goal for many parents, the actual  goal is for parents to enrich their lives with the experience of bringing up children. The interesting part about parenting per se is the fact that the parenting job never really gets finished. You are a parent no matter how old your child gets to be.

Infancy

For many first-time parents, the infancy stage is probably the scariest phase. Babies look so delicate and fragile. They are so helpless that parents need to do everything for them. It is said however that this is the very opportunity to establish close intimate ties between parent and child.

As a parent, you are the primary caregiver and you should know what to do to take care of your child. While it is very helpful to be equipped with all the knowledge you can find in books on how to best to do this, you will discover soon enough that sometimes you will need to rely on instinct and good judgment. Of course, you will need to know when it is time to ask the advice of an expert like doctors, before you end up putting your child in danger.

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Early Childhood

Your primary task as a parent during this stage is to be the teacher. Even when your child goes to regular school for his or her education, parents are still the very first and recurring teachers in the life time of their children. Teaching from parents however will come in different forms depending on the age and need of the child.

During the early childhood stage, you must teach your children the basic how-to’s like how to take a bath, how to dress up , how to greet and address people, and all the other things that can help the child start taking care of himself and be socially functional. Your presence as a parent is greatly needed because the formative years are here. Many psychologists believe that the character of the child is formed somewhere along these years and trying to change or undo it after borders on the impossible.

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Teenage Years

The teenage phase is considered the darkest phase by many parents because of the challenges that come with children asserting their own decisions. The main task of parents during this stage is to be an understanding guide. Parents will have to tone down on  “interfering” with a child’s personal affairs. Ask any doting parent and you will surely get answers that this is the hardest part.

This doesn’t mean however that parents completely lost control over the children. The teenage years will require you to exercise parental control while making your child feel that he or she has made the decision and not you. Now, this is what you call the art of parenting. You will need to learn it so you will not lose your child to his or her peers whose opinion actually more than yours, at least at this stage.

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Young Adulthood

Young adulthood is usually the phase where a child has graduated from school, has started to work, and actually making solid plans about moving out physically from the home to live on his own. This is probably also the phase when some parents entertain the idea that they are all done with the parenting job. This is not actually so.

Parents now take the role of a supporter. You may be required to help them spread their wings, assure them of their capabilities, and inspire confidence in themselves. But just like during the teenage years, parents will have to do this artfully, meaning that it has to be done in a manner that the child will think that he is making it happen by his own choice. Some parents are relieved of the financial burden of supporting their children but some may have to wait a while longer while still some seem to be destined to be tied in financially supporting their children all the way. You need to avoid making the latter happen to you as it will not be good for you nor for your child.

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Parenthood

So this is it. Your child is now a parent himself. You think you’re done? Not quite yet. You are now the grandparent, the quiet observer/adviser. What exactly does that entail?

You allow your child to bring up his family, his way with some subtle coaching from you of course. Remember the art of parenting? Never forget that lest you become the interfering in-law.

Word of Advice

Even when you find yourself engrossed in parenting, never ever forget yourself as an individual. You cannot afford to put your life forever on hold because parenting is from day 1 to forever. Remember that.

Helpful (Financial) Things to Consider If You’re Contemplating Divorce

Practically everyone thinks that 50 percent of marriages in the United States end up in divorce, and while that may be somewhat true, it is not entirely accurate. Still, divorce is definitely NOT an uncommon thing, and not only in the United States. In other countries where divorce – or some form of it – is legal, more couples are facing the sad reality that is divorce.

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If you are still not 100 percent sure about getting a divorce, there is absolutely no reason to rush it! There might be other options, and you might actually be worse off if you go down that road. So here are some financially helpful things that you really need to ponder on if you’re thinking about getting a divorce.

  1. Be informed. Consult the pros. Let’s get this out of the way – at the end of the day, the decision to get a divorce will be affected by so many factors that finances may not matter anymore. Whatever the reason may be, however, being informed and having professionals guide you is the best route to take. Don’t just take on any lawyer, but make sure that the firm/lawyer is specialised in family and/or divorce law. In the Milwaukee area, Campo Blumenfeld LLP Attorneys at Law is a prime choice.
  2. Create a balance sheet of your current finances as a couple. Whether you’ve been living as husband and wife for a year or for a decade, you will have to face the fact that a divorce will affect your income. Before you can look at the financial future, though, assess your current finances. More than your joint income, pay particular attention to all your liabilities and assets as a married couple. Then, label each liability and asset according to whether it is joint or individual. Once you’re done with this, you can easily assess if you’re going to come out of a divorce financially okay.
  3. Peruse your joint IRS tax returns. Preferrably, take a look at the last 3-4 years. This will give you a better idea about your finances, as well as things such as pension/retirement accounts.
  4. Create your future budget. Pretend you’re actually divorced and living on your own (or perhaps with the kids). List down all your potential income and expenses, and create a budget out of this information. This will help you see into the future and perhaps help you decide if you can hack it yourself financially.

Whether you decide to get a divorce or not, at the very least, you have a better grasp of the state of finances, right?

Men And Pregnancy: Six Tips For Survival

Men And Pregnancy Guide To Survival

Men and pregnancy: we often get left out of the discussion because all the attention is on the mother. Why should that be? We’ve got a hand in this, too. Shouldn’t someone be telling us how to cope with it? Well, hang on for a bit and I’ll try to do just that. As a father-to-be, here are some tips that I’ve picked up for surviving the turmoil.

One: Hold Her Hair (Unless She Doesn’t Want You To).

If she’s going to be miserable, then be miserable together, provided she doesn’t tell you to get the heck out of the bathroom while she’s busy retching up a turkey sandwich.  

Two: Clean Up After Her.

Seriously, it’s just easier. When the sickness strikes — and it will at the most inopportune times (e.g. 20 minutes before the 7 p.m. movie when you’re just about to walk out the door, when you’re heading into a restaurant on date night, etc.) —  take care of it. If she has to clean up after herself, it will just launch into a cycle of endless sickness and vomiting.  

Three: Join Mom In Taking Ownership Of The Child.

If you’re a deadbeat dad — if you think it’s just her responsibility and don’t want to be a father because it’s too inconvenient and a lot of work — if you don’t go to the pregnancy classes with her — if you don’t rub her back or legs or whatever part of her is swelling — if you don’t talk to the baby while it’s in her stomach — then who do you think you are, because you’re not a man. 

Four: Her Appointments Are Your Appointments.

As WebMD contributor Martin Downs writes, you’ll have about 15 routine prenatal visits if all goes well: “once a month until 28 weeks, three or four times up to week 36, and once a week for the last month,” he states.

Start planning for them from the beginning. Join her on these days, and it’ll help her sanity knowing she has your support. If she’s sane, chances are you will be during the home stretch.

Five: Take On More Housework.

Your partner’s body is being terraformed to support life. She’s carrying around 20 extra pounds at all times of the day. Her stomach is being pushed up towards her throat by an expanding uterus. To get any release, she has to pass something the size of a watermelon through something the size of a garden hose. (And you probably couldn’t do it.)

That concludes 36 to 40 weeks of discomfort. She’ll get to the point where she can’t bend over without it being a huge production. So take on the dishes, laundry, and any other housework that needs doing, okay?  

Finally: Do Not Complain In Equal Or Greater Portions As She Does.

It’s not easy going through what you’re going through, but it’s a lot tougher on her. If you have to complain, do it to a close friend or start talking to yourself. 

Men, what pregnancy tips helped you survive? Share yours in the comments section!

The Major Expenses of Having a Baby

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The cost of a new baby, you probably know, can be a bit expensive, but you might not realize exactly how expensive a new baby might be. Many people don’t realize that new babies start to cost money before they’re even born.

The cost of prenatal care, hospitalization, and birth are plenty, even if you have a good health insurance plan. The average cost of prenatal care after insurance is considered could be anywhere from $500 to $3,500; and the cost of your hospitalization and birth after insurance averages $1,500 to $5,000.

And that’s just for a healthy birth, quick labor, and standard stay. [Read more…]

5 Ways Your Term Life Insurance Can Protect Your Children


Via: Life Source Direct

3 Ways You Can Make Any Small Space Appear Larger and More Stylish

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Small spaces are not a decorator’s nightmare. In fact, if you have a small space in your home, you can easily make it look much larger and much more comfortable.

Small spaces might lack room, but they certainly needn’t lack style. All you have to do is use a little creativity when decorating. [Read more…]