March 2015 archive
Sharing time with your family is the most wonderful event of each day, but it seems to get harder and harder to do as the kids get older. There are the same number of hours in a day, but there comes a point when you realize they just aren’t enough. When kids start school, and you are at work, it can be hard to get back to each other in the evening with enough energy to engage each other fully. Often the weekends are full of household chores and sports clubs so your time together may still be restricted.
Even though you live under the same roof, you can still feel very isolated despite having a close family. When your kids become more and more independent, they seem to prefer the company of their friends, and their sports and hobbies take up much of their time. Rather than feel glum, we give you the top seven ways to keep in good company with your growing kids:
- Take an interest – Ask your kids plenty of questions each week about what they are into. This is different from asking what they are up to. Instead, talk about their music tastes, and what movies are worth a watch. This will give you a springboard for a deeper conversation and before you know it, you have been sitting and chatting for half an hour.
- Dates – Take each of your kids out one at a time on their own, like you would a date. Visit a favorite coffee house or ice cream bar. Just the two of you together can be a great opportunity to catch up and talk about things at their level. Eventually, you can invite siblings to do the same with each other to keep their relationship close.
- Dog walking – Have the whole family take the dog for a walk. It gives you all some fresh air and exercise, setting good habits for life. Most importantly, you can visit places away from the house that you all enjoy and feel relaxed in.
- Faith – Some moms use this time in their lives to touch base with their faith at places like harvestfamilychurch.com. It also provides the rest of the family a chance to be together in a friendly setting where activities are very oriented toward the family as a unit.
- New hobby – If you take up a new hobby, or even an old one, you can probably find your kids will take an interest. If they are ready to find their own hobby, see if you can join in. Learn a new instrument together, or find some craft activities you can both enjoy.
- Board games – Sometimes affectionately known as Bored games by kids. They are great for getting you all to interact with each other.
Source of image is Flickr.com
- Do the school run – Taking your kids to school instead of them taking the bus buys you those few extra minutes each day to check in with everyone.
Often homeowners are ready to purchase a new roof based on design and looks without considering other important factors. Roofs can have flat, low, moderate or steep pitches, which determine suitable roofing materials for the job. For example, many materials are not suitable for flat or low roofs because of the lack of pitch and drainage qualities. While other varieties work better for moderate or steep roofs. You should learn about the pros and cons of the most common roofing materials for family homes before making any decisions.
Typical roofing systems range between low sloping roofs to steep roofs. Low sloping roofing materials are generally weatherproof and water impermeable. They are designed to handle slopes of 14 degrees or less. Water shedding materials are used when installing moderate to steep roofs that exceed 14 degrees or more.
Tar and gravel roofing, also known as built-up roofs, are traditionally used for flat roofs. These consist of several layers of waterproof materials, which are laid between a layer of river stone and hot tar. Tar and gravel roofs are inexpensive and fire retardant, which might be a good choice for you. However, installation is very messy and smelly, and roofs often require strengthening because of the weight.
Rubber membrane roofs are specifically designed for flat roofs. They are durable and resist sunlight damage. However, these materials absorb significant amounts of heat in warmer climates, which could increase air-conditioning bills.
Metal roofing is primarily used on low or steep roofing. You’ll enjoy the long-lasting qualities and color choices. These roofs can be made of copper, aluminum or steel. Copper roofs can be left unfinished, and they will eventually turn green patina with aging. Some people may prefer painted finishes that come in numerous colors. Roofs are also available as shingles or sheets. Metal roofing absorbs less heat than other materials like asphalt, and it’s ideal for low to steep roofs.
According to Braun’s Roofing, a company that has been Houston’s roof repair expert since 1987, asphalt shingles are one of the lightest and popular types of roofing materials used on homes. These common shingles are composed of fiberglass, asphalt and contain a mineral granule coating. Unfortunately, asphalt shingles are not environmentally friendly, and they are not as durable as other roofing choices. However, they cost far less than clay, slate and metal roofing systems. They offer fair wind and fire resistance and are most effective on low, moderate and even steep roofs.
Clay tile roofs come in a variety of natural clay colors. However, they are somewhat brittle, but they do last for years with very little maintenance. Clay tiles may require reinforcement framing, and they are perfect on homes with moderate to steep roofs.
According to Braun’s Roofing (http://www.roofrepairsinhouston.com), plastic polymer shakes can be made to look like slate or wood, and they are much lighter. These are molded from plastic polymer materials, and they last for years. Their low maintenance and lightweight qualities make them an ideal solution for moderately pitched roofs or even those that are very steep.
Concrete tiles are composed of sand and Portland cement. Homeowners may choose from a slate, wood or clay tile appearance. Roofs made from concrete tiles usually require reinforcing. These are long lasting, fire resistant and require very little maintenance. These tiles are best used with moderate to steep pitches.
Wood shingles provide a pleasing appearance, and they work well for moderate to very steep roofs. The shingles are typically constructed of redwood or cedar. However, they have a short lifespan and unless they are treated, they offer poor resistance to fire.
Homeowners with very steep roofs should consider a slate rock roof. These natural materials are expensive, but they are fire and wind resistant, in addition to being durable. Slate roofs offer a unique, natural appearance, but most roofs will need reinforcing to handle the weight of the stone.
Besides choosing a roofing material that enhances your home and fits your budget, consider the roofing qualities. Some materials stand up to high winds and fire better than others. Alternatively, you may be in the market for longer lasting materials, low maintenance or an inexpensive roof.
Do you want to create a beautiful bedroom that both your children will love, but don’t know where to start? For parents who have children sharing a bedroom, it can be hard to know where to start when designing a bedroom both children will love.
Designing a beautiful shared bedroom that both of your little ones will be happy with, is actually much easier than you think. Believe it or not, a shared bedroom can be just as fun and unique as separate bedrooms, and twice as fun.
To help you make your children’s shared bedroom special, we have put together five fantastic tips below.
1. Be consistent with the design
Layout is vital when designing a shared bedroom. Everyone needs their own space, even babies and small children.
The key to giving your littles ones their own space in a shared room is the layout. Use different corners and areas of the room to create individual zones for each child. Just make sure to keep the design elements consistent so that each area of the room works well with the rest of the space.
Don’t forget to plan the design so that it grows as your children do. Invest in good quality furniture, bed linen and mattress toppers that will last.
2. Design a flexible space
Although your little ones share the room, it doesn’t mean that everything in there has to be shared. That is why it is essential that you create flexible play areas that they can share and play in together, as well as areas for alone time.
To give your child the opportunity for alone time, perhaps you could have an indoor tent or small den for each child to play in.
3. Split the room
Most children who share a space, like the idea of having a formal division in place. Dividing your children’s bedroom can be as simple as drawing a line down the centre of the floor or adding a curtain divider.
If however, you rent your home and adding a curtain or drawing a line is not a possibility, think about your other options. Perhaps you could invest in bunk beds that go in different directions and use them to mark each child’s territory? Or perhaps you could split the room using furniture?
Just because your children share the room, it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t reflect their personalities. There are plenty of ways you can make a shared bedroom as personal as separate ones. Use toys, artwork, photographs and accessories to reflect each child’s personality, likes and hobbies.
You could also use two different colour schemes in the room, and then use one unified wall to keep the room consistent.
5. Don’t forget storage space
Make sure to take storage space into account when designing your children’s new bedroom. With two children sharing one space, you will have double the stuff, so will need ample storage options.
Consider investing in beds with storage space, such as cabin beds, stacking crates or ceiling storage. Think about what would work best in the space and go from there.
We’ve talked before about video games and your childrens’ development. Today we’re going to talk about movies…more specifically, those big budget, action oriented, superhero movies that have been so popular for the last few years.
One thing that has been so great about the recent uptick in superhero fandoms is how many of them take pains to create kid friendly versions of these heroes and their storylines. Many of the franchises gracing the silver screens today have older cartoon and animated shows that appeal to younger viewers. There are also kid-friendly books out there. Many parents use these books to help get their more screen oriented children interested in reading.
The problem is that there aren’t a lot of middle-grade crossovers. There are books and games and cartoons for the very young kids but there isn’t much out there for the older kids who aren’t yet able to get into these PG-13s on their own. What do you do about them? Should you, for example, allow your third or fourth grader to watch the Iron Man trilogy? There are so many adult themes in there (alcoholism, warfare and even promiscuity! That Tony Stark really gets around)!
This is largely a judgment call. You know your kids and what they can handle best–even better than they do at this age. If you think they can handle what happens on screen in a healthy way, then by all means, have fun with your kids at the movies this summer. If you’re not sure, here are some things that you should consider before you pony up the cash for tickets and snacks.
One of the hardest things to gauge with these epic superhero movies is the violence in them. This is because usually our heroes are battling bigger than life bad guys. We are taught throughout the whole movie not to empathize with the bad guys or the armies they command. Even so, these movies often show a large amount of collateral violence that nobody seems to mind or even notice. For example, in the first Avengers movie, Manhattan is essentially levelled, resulting in the loss of what must be thousands of lives and nobody blinks. How do you usually address this with your kids? You don’t want to gloss over it like the movie does but you don’t want to scare your kids either.
Most of the “good guys” in superhero movies are sex positive people. Tony Stark is downright slutty in the first movie. Seeing people sleep around isn’t the huge deal that it used to be but it might lead to some difficult questions from your kids. More problematic is the use of sex as a manipulative tool. It is a common trope for the prettiest female character to don sexy clothing and use her “feminine wiles” to excite their male targets as a means of exploiting them. This is harder to explain and not something most parents will want their children to internalize as acceptable behavior.
One of the best things about superhero movies is that they are usually PG-13, which means they are limited to a single eff-bomb and the language is usually relatively benign as far as swearing goes. The larger issue is how the characters banter and the conversations they have. Many of these movies have undercurrents of homophobia, sexism and even racism. This doesn’t mean the movies can’t still be fun, but you probably don’t want your kids repeating a lot of what they hear over the course of one of these movies.
So what do you do? Your kids have probably already seen the trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron and gotten excited about it. Do you take them to see it? How do you figure that out?
The best way to decide whether or not you should let your kids see a movie is to see the movie yourself first. You are the best judge of what your kids can and cannot handle. Seeing the movie yourself is the best way to gauge that.
Another good way, especially if your budget is limited, is to ask friends who know you and your kids what they have thought of the movie. They will be able to help you figure out what you (and your kids) will likely think of the movie when/if you attend.
Finally remember: a healthy conversation before and after the movie is always a good idea. It’s a great time to remind your kids that these movies are fictional and there aren’t big bad aliens waiting to take over their planet. It’s also a great way to talk calmly about any problematic moments in the film that raised your eyebrows.
There is no hard or fast rule about whether or not children of certain ages should see certain movies. You know your kids. You know what’s best. Trust your instincts!
Packing the family in the car and setting off for a week-long road trip is an experience of a lifetime. On a road trip, the destination isn’t the goal. The real memories are made on the journey there. America is a great country and full of incredible things to see. The Northeast feels like an entirely different country from the Southwest. It’s that different feel that makes the Southwest the perfect location for a family road trip.
The Southwest is loaded with amazing culture and sights that you can’t find elsewhere in the country. Sure it has long, barren stretches of road as well, but there are plenty of ways to make family road trips fun when the landscape becomes dull. Though, if you plan your trip well, downtime will be minimal.
The Mother Road
Good old Route 66 makes for a great road trip. Stretching nearly 2,500 miles, it covers 8 states and provides a broad overview of the Midwest and Southwest. While no longer an official U.S. highway, the road still exists in its entirety and is lined with both history and new sights to see.
Naturally, you don’t have to traverse the entire highway. Most families don’t have the patience for a 2,500 mile road trip; however, just by covering the middle sections – Oklahoma to Arizona – you get a great taste of the Southwest.
Not sure what to do in Oklahoma? You may be surprised to find that the state is filled with fun family activities. About an hour south of Oklahoma City is Chickasaw Country. Drawing from its deep Native American roots, this part of the state is home to the Chickasaw Cultural Center as well as an array of art and history attractions. This area is also home to the Arbuckle Mountains where you can swim Turner Falls or take a zip line tour.
Route 66 only has a short stint in Texas and misses out on much of this great state, but this stretch of the road is home to a number of historic motels and gas stations that were in operation during the peak of the highway’s operation. As you see places like the Tower Station and Vega motel, you and your family can reflect on the past and talk about why the highway was so popular. Don’t just tell you kids about the great migration west during the dust bowl, show them what those travelers saw. Show them where they stopped for gas and to sleep.
If you’re willing to take a detour a couple hours north of Albuquerque, your family can visit what is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited areas in North America. The Taos Pueblo has been inhabited continuously for over 1,000 years. Archaeological evidence shows that it may have been inhabited as far back as 3,000 B.C. That’s even before the great pyramids in Egypt were built. The area is rich with history.
Like Texas, the route heading west is filled with old landmarks like Bowlin’s Old Crater Trading Post in Bluewater and El Rancho Hotel in Gallup. Places like these provide a really interesting viewport to the past.
The route through Arizona is a stone’s throw from some of the nation’s most incredible national parks. The first that you’ll come across is Petrified Forest National Park. This area is home to perfectly preserved trees that lived 225 million years ago. Just north of here is the Painted Desert.
As you continue west, you’ll reach the heart of the state, Flagstaff, Arizona. Turn north from here and you’ll arrive at the Grand Canyon. One of the most well-known natural wonders of the world, you can’t pass up the opportunity to see this with your family.
The Road Goes On
From here, you could continue west or loop back and see the northern edge of the Southwest where the dry desert gives way to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. No matter your path, there will always be new sights to see.
Whether you follow this itinerary or another doesn’t matter. A road trip is about seeing new things and making memories as a family.
Investing in jewelry is quite different from investing in stocks, or even precious metals such as gold and silver. Unlike other luxury items such as clothes, shoes, cars, televisions, phones, computers, etc., jewelry does not eventually break down. Jewelry is a luxury item that never loses its value. In fact, jewelry will retain and even increase in value over time. Pricescope, a premier diamond and jewelry community, offers several reasons why investing in jewelry can be profitable. For one, there is a relatively less cost to selling an expensive piece of jewelry since the value rises as the seller’s margins come down. This is similar to real estate, except houses are replaced with diamonds and gems. Jewelry is a portable aspect of wealth, which is a plus for those who do not trust banks and would rather have their high-valued items with them.
What are the First Steps in Investing in Jewelry?
First, it’s important to find a reputable and honest jeweler who provides authentic pieces of jewelry. In addition to their authenticity and sterling reputation, they should also provide fair prices. The Houston Gold Exchange is a great place to find affordable engagement rings and custom jewelry. How to choose a professional jewelry appraiser, courtesy of Palagems.com, can assist with choosing the right questions to ask a potential jeweler. Also, The American Jewelry Institute offers appraisal and advice for buyers.
When is the Right Time to Invest in Jewelry?
One of the most important rules of investing is to buy when the market drops and sell when the market rises. According to Winship Wealth Partners, a financial planning and investment management firm, understanding the “buy low, sell high” strategy is the key to gaining wealth. This strategy holds true for jewelry as much as it does for stocks. As the gold and silver market drops, buying these pieces at a lower price than usual will help you avoid having to buy extras, such as precious stones. Pieces made from high grades of metal purity are the best types to invest in. They tend to retain their value longer and, when the market rises, they are worth more money. For other precious stones such as diamonds, the same rule of thumb should be used. If the cut is better, the value is higher.
What Types of Jewelry are Best for Investments?
Loose jewelry is easier to sell, so it’s beneficial to buy whenever possible. An example of loose jewelry is a diamond that a jeweler never set in a piece of jewelry. The Diamond Registry, the world’s most comprehensive diamond information and pricing platform, offers a guide on loose diamond education. The International Gem Society (IGS) gives some great tips on investing in gems, including having gems re-cut, polished, set, etc. to increase their market value. If you don’t possess the expertise in gemology, a list of recommended supplies and suppliers that may be able to increase the market value of gems are available through IGS.
How to Find the Worth of the Jewelry
According to Houston Gold Exchange (http://www.houstongoldexchange.com), getting jewelry appraised for insurance purposes as well as re-sell value is something that is essential to the jewelry investment process. Appraisals should be conducted every two years by qualified appraiser. Make sure to use an appraiser who does not buy or sell diamonds, as they are more likely to give an unbiased opinion, according to Forbes. A good appraiser will help identify market trends and can give a potential resale value.
In short, investigating selling options, having a realistic approach to selling, and being emotionally ready to sell will help close in on the reselling process.