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How to Showcase Your Family Pictures

Gone are the days where film cameras limited the number of pictures a family can have. Today, digital albums are the only way to truly share every moment you have captured in time; traditional albums won’t cut it. The only problem with the digital era is that there are just so many incredible photos of your family that it can overwhelm any viewer.

Don’t let those precious memories sit in a Facebook album or on your computer where no one can see them. Photos are meant to be viewed. You can print out a few and hang them up, but the problem with this method is that it is guaranteed to miss out on so many great photos.

So, unless you want to cover your walls from head to toe with family pictures, you will have to convert to a digital age. Here are two great options for displaying and sharing your photos in your home:

Collages

Before, the only way you could have a photo was to develop the negatives. You had a physical copy of the photo right from the start. The thing is, though, when pictures were still film, people took a lot less of them, and there were usually only a few copies. Nowadays, you can have hundreds or thousands of pictures that you want to display.

Use a free collage maker to format your photos to maximize space for when you are creating your modern-day equivalent to the photo album – picture books. These books are easy to create online, and will be shipped to you in the quantity you want so that you can give them to your family members too. In order to do this, maximizing space is imperative.

This option is perfect for those who like the feel of physical pictures. They make perfect gifts too! Never again do your grandparents, and older family members have to miss out on your family photos, you can send a copy to them right from the get-go.

Digital Photo Frames

For digital photos, it only makes sense to showcase them digitally. A great way to bring all your family photos into your home is using a digital frame. This frame simply plays slideshows of your photos on loop. For the best results, select only the best photos. You don’t have to worry about seeing too many similar photos as well, as the digital frame can shuffle your photos, so you get a nice mix of your memories.

Your memories are important. It makes no sense at all to hide them away in an old album buried deep on your computer. You certainly don’t want to publish too many photos of your kids online. When you have friends and family over, it likely won’t be comfortable for them to stand behind your desk while you scroll through your photos.

Creating beautiful photo collage books is a great way to bring your photos out from the digital world and back into the physical one. Digital photo frames are a great way to showcase your digital photos as you take them. Choosing both options is the best way to showcase all the best photos of your lives.

How to Improve Interaction Between Kids and Senior Family Members

The multigenerational gap is most evident in families where younger members of the group fail to understand older loved ones and vice versa. Such is particularly the case in small children who may not understand why Grandma or Grandpa ignores them or is always mean. For kids, adults refusing to engage in activities is evidence of such persons wanting to be left alone. The contrary is true as older adults enjoy the company of vibrant youth. Finding a middle ground andbolstering harmony among generations is a task that parents of small children and caregivers of seniors can accomplish by working together.

Communication is a two-way street

Many children believe that older adults do not like them because they do not interact during conversations. By the same token, senior citizens think that smaller children do not want to hear what they have to say because of the difference in ages. Parents can encourage children to move past their fears of being ignored and engage in meaningful conversation with older adults. Caregivers can help seniors by encouraging them to share their life’s wisdom with the kids. Such interaction presents the potential for both parties to learn new skills.

Acceptance is essential

Isolation is common among seniors. Even those matureadults residing in assisted living communitiesface the possibility of loneliness because those surrounding them are not close loved ones. Children in the family can be the remedy for isolation if youngsters learn to accept older adults along with their limitations. There are many things that kids and seniors can do together when both parties make accommodations for one another. Also, parents can teach children the invaluable lesson of accepting people of all ages and lifestyles when they encourage kids to interact with older members of the family.

Respect sparks concern

Parents are always telling kids to respect their elders, but few understand that such esteem for older adults ismore than good manners. Teaching children to abide by the elders of the family compels them to develop relationships with senior citizens. Emotional bonds form during relational building that prompts young people to respect and help mature members of the family with disabilities and other limitations. Respect, then, becomes the driving force behind concern that urges children to interact with older adults.

Among the many things that parents can do to foster a positive relationship between their kids and older adults in the family, setting a positive example is probably the most useful measure. It makes little sense for moms and dads to tell the children to respect mature adults if they do not revere senior citizens. It is always in the best interest of caregivers to encourage seniors to remain in good spirits even if children are initially reserved. Such positive attitude can significantly contribute to closing the multigenerational gap in families.

Just Passed Your Test? Tips for Driving with Your Kids for the First Time

If you have recently passed your driving test then you’re probably feeling excited, and maybe even a little nervous, about driving in your own car for the first time. For parents with young children, the idea of taking the kids in their car can be a very daunting one. As a new driver, you’ll know that you’re already more susceptible to accidents on the road since you’re not yet experienced in driving on your own and no longer have the safety net of your instructor with dual controls. So, it’s natural for you to be feeling anxious and perhaps even scared about driving somewhere with your children in tow after recently passing your test. We’ve put together some top tips to help you and your family get safely on the road in no time.

Tip #1. Practice Alone

If you’ve recently passed your test and have purchased a shiny new car, the first obstacle is going to be getting used to driving in a new vehicle. Chances are, you won’t have gotten the same car as the one that you have learned to drive in, so you should allow yourself some time to get used to the feel of the car and the positioning of the controls, which vary between different makes and models. For your first few drives, go on your own or with another adult who can help to reassure you on the road. Check out toptests.co.uk as well, where you can revise driving theory and improve your confidence reading road signs via practice driving theory tests.

Tip #2. Use P Plates

Although it’s not mandatory to use P plates when driving in the UK, after recently passing your driving test it can be a good idea – especially if you have young passengers. Although you’re probably more than aware that there are always going to be some inconsiderate drivers on the road, the majority of drivers will remember their first few drives out after passing their test and will be a little more forgiving of you if you display P plates on the car. It may also be a good idea to display a ‘child on board’ sign, as this will signify to other drivers that you have little passengers and warn them to keep their distance and drive safely when they are close to your car.

Tip #3. Keep Your Children Occupied

Your first few days or weeks driving independently in your own car can be a little bit daunting as you get used to your car and to being on the road. Because of this, anything that can distract you in the car can increase your risk of having an accident. If you are driving with your little ones in the car, then they could distract you from the road. So, it’s important to make sure that they are kept occupied for the duration of the journey; stay well prepared with games, or even give them your iPad or smartphone to play with, as this will help to keep them happy and quiet and allow you to focus on the road.

After just passing your test, driving with your children in the car can be nerve-wracking! These strategies will help you stay calm and safe.

Organize Your Family Events Properly

These days, planning family events are harder than ever. This is for many reasons. Families are more spread out now than ever before, often spread out over multiple countries. And while communication technology has obviously improved tremendously, people’s schedules are crazier than ever, so it’s very hard to coordinate events properly.

If you’re planning a major family event, such as a wedding, birthday, anniversary, sweet sixteen or anything else similar, you have to make sure to give yourself sufficient lead time. This is the first absolute key to success. The major factors here is that you want to avoid too few or too many people coming at the last minute. There will always be some last minute cancellations or even last minute people that need to be added, but this needs to be kept to a minimum.

One thing that can be a big help is to have everybody fill out their particulars online. This may sound complicated, especially for the technophobic among us, but it’s a lot less complicated than you may think. These days, they have excellent websites like this one called Typeform, which allows you to customize a form online where people fill in the relevant information, allowing you to build a little database and coordinate everything very effectively.

The way Typeform works is that it asks a series of questions, the ones you tell it to ask, and this allows you to get the information you need. For example, you can first confirm their attendance, then find out if they will be travelling, if they already have a place to stay, if they need a hotel booking (you can keep everybody at the same hotel this way), if they need a rental car (group discounts) etc. You can then have a master list of all guests, and sub lists of all out of town guests. Etc. And if there are any emergency announcements to be made, you can make them to a sub group or to the entire group if you so desire.

For weddings, Typeform is especially powerful, because you can also use it to do the all important gift registry and get everything super organized right from the start. The best part about Typeform is it’s totally customizable so you can use your imagination. If you really want to get crazy with it, people can coordinate even what they will wear by having them organize and communicate on the platform. The possibilities are virtually endless.

So the next time you need to plan an event, do it right the first time next time. Take advantage of the latest technology like Typeform.

Smart Tricks To Keep Your Family Healthy

When it comes to fighting diseases, the best course of action is to not have them in the first place. No one likes to go to work and worry all day thinking if their partners are OK or if their kids are taking the medicine at the right time.

So what you should be thinking about is preventive care. It’s easier to keep your family healthy than to treat them once they fall ill. In order to do that, you should make sure your family is eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly, and sleeping properly. Learn about other tricks to keep your family healthy.

Enjoy Some Sunshine

Although you cannot control the weather, you should make the most of it when the sun is shining. If you get 20 minutes of sunlight two to three times a week, you’ll boost your vitamin D levels, which help against high blood pressure and keeps bones healthy. The optimal time for Vitamin D absorption is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., or when your shadow is shorter than you.

Exercise Frequently

Studies have shown that people who exercise at least 2 1/2 hours a week lived three and a half years longer than those who didn’t exercise. That’s just 20 minutes per day! The trick here is about being consistent and doing it every day. And it doesn’t have to be complicated; you can brisk walk around the block with your family, do some pushups, or skip rope in the living room.

Have a Good Night’s Sleep

When a family is not sleeping well, it can cause problems like tiredness and low levels of energy, and even impair performance at work or school. A good way to fight that is to have a consistent bedtime routine, especially on weekends. Keep the rooms dark and cool, and tell bedtime stories to the little ones.

Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

Many people don’t pay too much attention to their home’s air quality, but it can be an invisible threat causing allergies and respiratory problems. House plants like ficus and spider plants help reduce air pollutants, but it’s also a good idea to invest in air purifiers or ventilators, which increase the circulation of fresh air in your home.

Have a Hearty Breakfast

Did you know that a nutritious breakfast can reduce the risk of a heart attack and type 2 diabetes? By having a healthy balance of protein and carbs, you can decrease the fats in your blood and improve your blood sugar levels. And you’ll probably avoid caloric foods by leaving home with a full stomach.

Understand Your Family Medical History

It’s important to talk to your parents and other family members to find out about your medical history. One-third of men die from cardiovascular diseases, so if you know your partner might be prone to have heart problems, you can take action early and seek a healthier lifestyle.

When you start using these smart tricks to change your family’s habits, you avoid the risk of developing unnecessary illnesses. Another benefit is having the peace of mind of living in a disease-free house. At the end of the day, a healthy family is a happy family.

4 Ways to Start Saving for your Child’s College Education

It’s way too easy to put off saving for those future college bills, but starting early is the key to making the grade. According to The College Investor, parents who start saving $50 per month when their child is born could end up with over $21,000 for college, while parents who start saving when their child is nine can put away twice as much per month and still wind up with less than $15,000. If you’re convinced that starting now is important, but you’re not sure how to find the savings, here are some tips for you.

Small Amounts Add

Go through your bank statement for the last few months looking for small monthly expenses you can eliminate. Maybe you’ve signed up for an online service you don’t need but never bothered to cancel. Maybe you’re still paying for that gym membership you never use. Spend an afternoon canceling those expenses, and then set up an automatic monthly transfer into your child’s college account for the total amount you’ve saved. Also, set aside a bank to collect your change and $1 bills at the end of each day. A piggy bank with a narrow slot is too fussy; make it easy for yourself by using a jar with a wide mouth. Decorate the jar if you’re crafty or keep it simple.

Sweat the Big Stuff

Look for ways to trim your biggest monthly expenses. Maybe you can refinance your mortgage at a lower rate, save big on your heating system, trade down to a more affordable car, or find some other way to trim your expenses. Anything you can do that shaves even $20 off your monthly expenses takes your child one step closer to an education.

Just Do It

High-income couples are often the last to set aside savings for college. Why? Because of the assumption that they will always have enough income to afford whatever they decide they want. But that’s a big risk to take when your child’s future is depending on you. Many things in life are unpredictable. What if your company goes out of business, the industry you’re qualified to work in becomes obsolete due to legal or technological changes, or you or your spouse becomes disabled or seriously ill? If you have enough money to set some aside, do it now.

Pay Your Child First

Your expenses will always expand to take up your available income, so you have to put money in savings first and resolve never to touch it. It’s easy to postpone making a savings deposit when money feels tight, but if you do it first, you will always find some way to pay your bills. Set up an automatic transfer to savings, and if you think you’ll be tempted to dip into that savings account for non-college expenses (or if you’ve already done so), move the funds to a 529 Plan or other dedicated savings plan to keep the money safe from yourself.

Saving for college isn’t especially difficult, it just takes commitment on your part. Set up a plan, make it automatic, and watch that account grow.

Reasons for Investing in the Stock Market

By simply transitioning from a common borrower to an investor, interest payments automatically start flowing into your bank account. You get the ability to buy things that you need and desire with money you earned without working extra hours and sacrificing family time. As a bonus for earning an extra profit, vacations will start feeling sweeter, and travelling will become faster, swift and comfortable.

To elevate your life status like this, you need to make well thought out decisions in your investment strategy as there are many factors that you need to consider when looking to invest. Among the various choices, some are more risky than other. Some of these investment options include savings accounts, the stock market, government savings bonds, treasury bonds, common and preferred stocks among others.

From this list, the stock market is less risky, has numerous benefits and easy to invest in since all you have to do is study the financials of a target company through quarterly, half year and yearly balance sheets before you buy their stock. Also, you should know its future investment plans, the total value of its market, the orders and its performance since its establishment among others. The reason for this is to avoid investing money in a poorly performing or collapsing company. Some of the benefits of investing in stock are highlighted next.

Beating Inflation Leading to Enhanced Capital Growth

One of the main merits of investing in the stock market is the opportunity to grow your money. Most of the other investments do not provide enough returns to counter inflation or benefit. Moreover, the instruments of some other investments like cars decrease in value by the year. Besides, if, for example, you are looking to save for your retirement, the money you invest in treasury bonds today will only be worth a fraction of their value when you retire. However, the stock market has fewer risks and can beat inflation as well as put the odds in your favour.

Stock Allows Compounding Through Delay of Taxes

Capital gains on stocks are never due until the instrument is sold. This means that investors who hold stocks for longer get to enjoy the benefits of compounding for extended periods. This is because they don’t pay taxes despite their enormous wealth until they sell their shares.When it comes to paying taxes, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have paid very little because most of their stock is in their own companies and they only sell a few shares of their businesses per year. As a matter of fact, Mr. Warren may never pay taxes since he swore to donate it all to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Similarly, investing in stock exchange translates to fewer and delayed tax obligations for you.

Dividend Income

Certain stocks provide income in the form of dividends while others provide annual payments to inventors. These payments are delivered to shareholders even if the stocks have lost value. They represent earning on top of the profits that come from selling the stock. Dividends can be used for a retirement fund or to grow your investment portfolio.

Diversification

Stock market inventors who put money in diverse types of products enjoy the benefits of diversification; it spreads the risk since stock market prices fluctuate independently. Holding stock can assist in weathering losses to other investment companies. A firm of experts such as CMC Markets can help in identifying the right portfolio to keep. Moreover, stock adds risk to your portfolio as well as the possibility of large and quick gains, while helping shareholders evade risk-averse and extreme conservative investment strategies.

Ownership

Purchasing shares simply means taking on an ownership stake in a particular business. This means that every time you buy stock, you become one of the owners of the target company where you have the right to vote in directors, have a say in particular business decisions and receive annual reports to keep you updated on the operations of the company. Furthermore, buying shares from the company you work for can portray loyalty and is also a good way of tying your individual finances to the success of the whole business.

In conclusion, the value of a business’ stock at a specific time depends on its financial data, which includes assets, financial figures and the growth rate of the company. It is clear that these factors keep changing, but generally, there is consistency in the performance of the business. You can also conclude that well-administered companies grow significantly and continue to provide dividends and profits to their shareholders.

Best Cars and SUVs for Families

Whether your family includes a new teenage driver who’s going to want your keys, or you’re still figuring out how to install that first car seat, there are a number of things you’ll want in a new family vehicle. When it comes to picking out the perfect family vehicle, safety and available seating and storage space are probably at the top of your list of things to consider. You’ll also want a good value and mpg rating so your family budget won’t be strained.

Here are a few of the best cars and SUVs for families. They all consider safety, value, space, and versatility so that your vehicle can be a part of your family through so many stages of growing up.

2017 Honda CR-V

The CR-V as you know it has been redesigned for 2017 and as expected it doesn’t disappoint. For a compact SUV, it has the most passenger and cargo space of any other vehicle in its class. A blend of safety and convenience features really make this SUV a favorite. A hands-free liftgate lets you juggle bags and babies effortlessly. Lane Keeping Assist, forward collision warning and automatic braking make it easy for you to stay safe while being distracted by the family. Add in the average 28 to 34 mpg and low entry price of about $24,000 and it’s easy to see why the CR-V is a long-time favorite.

2017 Chevy Tahoe

This powerhouse SUV is perfect for a family that likes to travel in luxury. Features like wireless mobile charging, an enhanced rear-seat entertainment system, tri-zone climate control and seating and storage for up to 9 people make this such a comfortable and enjoyable ride. Take the family and all your toys on a trip and tow up to 8,600 pounds. You’ll also get the Teen Driver feature that’s notable in Chevy vehicles so you’ll know your teen will be safer behind the wheel. Your mpg will average between 16 and 23, but this isn’t bad since you’re practically driving around in a small luxury apartment on wheels in the Tahoe.

2017 Kia Soul

This smaller but spacious car has won the U.S. News Best Compact Car for Families award for two years in a row now. It has the perfect blend of features that make it desirable for everyone in your family. Your teenager will have too much fun with the turbocharged engine, while your new baby’s seat will fit in perfectly with room to spare. If you need to take grandpa to the doctor in something he can get in and out of easily, the lower height of this vehicle is for you. Starting in at around $16,000 for a new model and having between 25 to 30 mpg on average, this is an excellent budget-friendly option.

2017 Chevrolet Malibu

This spacious sedan won the U.S. News award for being the Best Midsize Car for Families for two years in a row, and averages an impressive 36 mpg on the highway. Teen Driver technology makes it a top choice for families with a new driver. This built-in system lets you set things like speed alerts, volume limits for the radio, and a driving “report card” so you can track your teen’s driving even when you aren’t there. Technology like Apple Car Play will keep the adults happy, too. If you have a baby and a busy lifestyle, the new Rear Seat Reminder system will make sure you never forget you have kids in the back seat, even if they’re being so quiet you forgot they were there. As if that would ever happen…

2017 Subaru Outback

If your family loves adventuring, the Outback is one of the best choices. The all-wheel drive will let you safely explore almost any type of terrain, while the roomy interior will fit everyone comfortably. Features like side and rear head airbags, rear body air bags and a blind spot monitor up the safety, while an average mpg of 32 on the highways will stretch your family fuel budget even further. These affordable vehicles also have an excellent reputation and resale value if you decide to upgrade to something else in the future, or buy a used one instead of a new 2017 model. All around, you can’t go wrong with a Subaru as your family vehicle.

Simple tips to help get your family finances in order 2017

Getting your family finances in order is a great thing but most of us do not do it until we are forced to by a life event such as the birth of a baby, an upcoming wedding, financial audit, divorce or a natural disaster. You can see our family is productive because of tips like these. Fortunately, getting your family finances in order in 2017 is not a difficult task.

Here are simple tips to help you.

  • Commit yourself

The first thing that you should do is commit yourself to get your finances in order and follow through.

  • Request for a credit report

Most people are not concerned with their credit report until they are denied credit. Since your credit history plays a major role in so many areas, you should review your credit report at least once a year.

Upon receiving the report, thoroughly look for any mistakes and if there are contains any, contact the credit bureau to have them corrected. This way, you will qualify for a high limit when need be.

  • Create a budget and stick to it

Though difficult to stick to, having a budget is a vital step into getting your finances in order. In notebook, write down all your fixed monthly expenses as well as the non fixed expenses such as entertainment, meals out, clothing and other flexible purchases. This helps you to understand where your money goes and where you can cut back.

After making the budget, be sure to stick to it. Every time you purchase something, write it down including the cost then at the end of the month, compare your actual spending with your budget and see where you may have gotten off track.

  • Reduce your debt

Another difficult yet important step to getting your family finances in order is consolidating your debts and paying them. Transfer the balances to a single card with low annual percentage rate (APRs) to make it easy to track the debt. Destroy the other credit cards to prevent the temptation of using them and try to pay at least double the minimum amount plus the finances charge every month.

Use debit cards or cash to make all purchases and if you do not have money, then do not buy it.

  • Set Up an Emergency Fund

Before you begin worrying about investments and retirement plans, you should first have an emergency fund. The rule of thumb for savings is to have at least three months’ worth of cash for an emergency fund but with the tight economic times, it can be hard to do.

If you are short on cash, try setting aside every five dollar you get into box or even emptying all the change in ajar at the end of the day. Better yet, open a special account and write yourself a check of about $50 every time you get paid. The money will add up over time and will come in handy during emergencies.

  • Analyze your insurance coverage

Disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and fires can strike any time. Therefore, it is important to ensure you have renters insurance if you rent or homeowners insurance if you own a home.

Life insurance is also great as it ensures your debts are covered in case anything happens to you.

  • Find a financial mentor

Money management is challenging but a good financial mentor will guide you and help you make smart financial decisions.

He or she will analyse your budget and spot leaks where you are spending more money than you should, suggest the right financial steps to take such as how much of your income to invest, how to save for your child’s college education and how much you will need for retirement as well as inspire you.

A financial mentor should be doing well financially. Therefore, by looking at his finances, you will feel inspired and with his guidance, some day, you will be doing well financially as well.

  • Make a Will

Making a will is especially important if you have children. It helps to distribute your assets as well as prevent dispute if you pass on.

If not a will, you can draw up a list of all your physical properties including cars, home, jewelry and the non physical assets such as policies and bank accounts as well as debts then select a responsible administrator who will make all decisions on your behalf after you pass on.

McCalls 6948 modified.

My middle daughter was in need of a new Summer dress, and I jumped at the chance to sew one for her. She had a very specific picture in mind of what she wanted – a simple sundress with contrast yoke, waistband and hem.


She picked out the fabrics from our local fabric store, can you tell her favourite colour is blue?  The pattern I used is McCall’s 6948 – my modifications included piecing the bodice with the two fabrics, lining the bodice instead of using bias tape, made the skirt shorter, added the waistband, and added the contrast hem.  It was a quick sew and she’s excited that her design turned into a finished dress.

Rebecca