Get Creative This Mother's Day!



Every first Sunday in May we celebrate a day for those special people in our lives that willingly do our dirty laundry, make us chicken soup when we're sick, and basically keep our lives in order (even after we leave the nest). That's right, your Mom.

This year, instead of giving her the traditional gift of jewelry or chocolate, go that extra mile and show mom that you really care with a homemade, personalized flower arrangement! I know what you're thinking... "Why make something that I can just buy at a florist?" Well, your mom didn't buy Hungry Man dinners every night and pop them in the microwave, did she? I bet she took the time to make your family a home-cooked meal with her own personal touches. Why not apply this principle to your gift giving this year!

All mothers love a freshly cut flower arrangement. And I'm sure she'll be both thrilled and impressed that you actually took the time to make her a personalized arrangement instead of just calling a florist to do the work for you. Plus, you'll be saving money!

Don't be afraid! You don't have to be a flower expert to create a bouquet or unique arrangement from scratch. Nobody can make homemade cookies without a recipe, so here are some helpful hints when you're making that special gift for mom...

1. Let your creativity flow. Don't second-guess your inner flower arranging voice. If someone advises you, "Don't put yellow flowers with blue flowers" and your mother likes blue and yellow flowers, mix them together. Throw the rulebook out the window.

2. Be careful when choosing your flowers. You want your arrangement for your mom to be unique and personalized for her, so if you know that your mom loves sunflowers, make sure to incorporate them in the arrangement.

3. Simplicity isn't a bad thing! Don't overwhelm yourself or your flowers trying to come up with a lavish combination of different types of flowers. You could use multiples of the same kind flowers. Simple arrangements are elegant and easy to do!

4. Remember that bigger isn't always better. Small arrangements can make the same impact as a large arrangement. Try making two smaller arrangements for both your mother-in-law and your mother, this way you kill two birds with one stone.

5. Think outside the vase. Every flower arrangement comes in a vase of some kind. When choosing what to put your flowers in make sure it's something unique. Don't go too outside the box here, but something like a coffee mug or glass wear would be a great substitute (and they can use it after the flowers are long gone). This will make your arrangement even more memorable.

6. Keep an eye on your water. Flower arrangements are not static; you can't just make them and expect them to be beautiful. You want to make sure that your flowers are well hydrated and the water is clear. Cloudy water is a sign of bacteria infestation; so if the water is cloudy, make sure to change it.

7. Don't forget about the bouquet! All flower arrangements don't have to be in water, to make it easier for yourself you can just give your mom a bouquet of her favorite stems. However, make sure you keep your flowers in water until Mother's Day.

8. Remember that there is no "perfect" flower arrangement. Imperfections give floral arrangements originality. As long as what you created makes you happy, it will make your mom happy.



5 DIY Projects to Help Older Parent Stay at Home of Choice


If you have an older parent that lives at home because they choose to, your next concern would be about their safety and ability to stay active as long as possible. There are many DIY projects you can do over the weekends that might save your family cost of assisted living or simply contribute to your parent's better quality of life.

Here are some suggestions for five DIY projects that you might find useful:

1. Change and add lighting to prevent falls.

Visual impairment is number one of the top four reasons for loss of independence among seniors. According to the American Institute for Aging, 80% of people over 60 years old with overall good vision do not perform well at everyday tasks because of low contrast lighting and glare.

This makes you wonder if your older parent could read more or be more willing to go on Skype with you if it wasn't for the glare from the screen. To adjust lighting for an aging eye, this is what you need to understand: As per American Lighting Association a forty-year-old person needs three times more lighting than a twenty- year-old.

• Substitute existing bulbs with more powerful ones. You can use compact fluorescent lamps or LEDs to save the energy cost. Make sure that hallways, stairs, and bathrooms are lit especially well.
• Buy additional light fixture that are concealed or have shades and try not to use exposed lamps.
• Make sure that all the lighting is on dimmers.
• Consider buying a special age related reading lamp, such as lamps by Holtkotter.

2. Change doorknobs to lever-style handles

To understand how a person with arthritis feels trying to turn around a shiny door knob, put a thick sock on your hand and then try it yourself. It feels uncomfortable, doesn't it? Lever-style handles work better for someone with less finger flexibility. Also, seeing the key hole and turning the key can be difficult for older people.

• Substitute round knobs with door lever handles
• Install electronic locks that can be opened with a proximity card or swipe card (similar to a credit card). These can also be programmed to allow access to certain users at specific times only, which provide security.

3. Install slip resistant flooring

Tile remains the top product used for flooring in baths. Textured finishes on tile and grout lines create a slip-resistant surface in the bath. Polished marble tile is classic but it is one of the most dangerous products you can use in the bathroom due to its slippery when wet surface.

• Install a smaller tile size with textured accent tiles to create a slip-resistant surface for a bathroom or the entry.

4. Rearrange furniture

Consider how spaces can be adjusted or revamped to enhance your parents' routines and enjoyment of those special features of their home.

• Put a desk in the room with the nice view instead of a corner
• Substitute a low round chair with a chair with a higher seat with wood arms.

5. Adjust outside for gardening

Gardening can be quite enjoyable for older people. If mom and dad enjoy gardening but have developed certain difficulties in bending, consider making certain changes to the garden set up.

• Create vertical planting by using wall and trellis
• Raise flower beds to avoid bending and stooping
• Provide retractable hanging baskets, wheelbarrows and containers on castors

I personally find that the hardest part is to convince my older parents to make changes in their familiar and dysfunctional environment. So the way to approach the issue is through stories about other people and then transition to your plan. The trick is to collect all the information so that you could "sell" your idea.

It is true that if you have a job or business and a family of your own, the above DIY projects are easier said than done. But if you think that an average annual price of a nursing home is 70,000 a year, you will understand the obvious reasons for your efforts at a time when your parents are still active, independent and want to stay that way.



Caring For Aging Parents - A DIY Guide



Here are tips to creating your own DIY senior care action plan:

Lay out options.

Whether you hold a formal family meeting or not, make sure all family members understand care options-even if they ultimately won't be making the final decision. Caring for aging parents, for example, does not mean your loved one must be forced into a nursing home. Your parent might be able to stay at home with the help of a regular, outside caregiver. Some companies offer non-medical services such as meal preparation, laundry, and grocery shopping. A good-quality caregiver can be an ideal solution, allowing dad to be as independent as possible for as long as possible. Elder care solutions also include inviting the loved one to live with a family member.

Make sure everyone is aware of the pros and cons of each caring for aging parent strategy. For instance, while putting dad in a nursing facility takes the pressure of round-the-clock care off of your family, it can be very costly and it might expose your loved one to risks, such as nursing home abuses.

Keep the lines of communication open.

Caring for aging parents also means creating a communication plan as part of your family's elder care solutions. For example, a family caregiver might send out a weekly email telling siblings what kind of week your parent had. Also make a plan for what happens when the loved one is admitted to the hospital. Will you need to contact the prayer chain at Mom's church? Who's going to get in touch with her best friend, who lives hours away in a nursing home? Consider creating a contact group in your email account of all the people who'll need to know if your parent becomes sick.

Talk to his or her health care professional.

Remember, your mom or dad's doctor can be a partner in finding the right elder care solution. If your father lives with a progressive disease, such as Alzheimer's, a medical pro can let you know what to expect as the disease moves into more advanced stages. Armed with that knowledge, you and your family will be able to make informed decisions before there's a crisis. However, if you're uncomfortable with the doctor or his or her advice, don't hesitate to get a second opinion.

You could also use a social networking site to keep family and friends appraised of changes in day to day circumstances. A Twitter account makes for very quick and easy short messages to a large group of people following your situation. You can also privatize the account so that only people who are invited can access the messages. These messages can be easily sent from a phone or lap top.

Build a network.

Caring for aging parents can be a huge responsibility-but you and your family don't need to shoulder the burden alone. Just like you'd build a professional network to support your career aspirations, you'll want to build a network of people who can help you and your family provide the best and most compassionate elder care solutions.






Mom - Very Efficient to Make Family Budget


Budgeting is not a joke. If you fail to make the proper family budget you will lose money by the end of month. Suppose, you have the plan that you will run your family comfortably but in actuality you haven't done due to the shortage of fund. Who is to blame? OK please don't get disheartened and at the same time please not to get so much relaxed by handing over your failure to the hands of misfortune. It is your life and you will have to design schemes to tackle the situation. Now, the fact is that in this case, mom is always in the driver's seat to cut down the expenses.

Budgeting is good option if you plan properly. Mom is always duty bound and she knows how to take care of her kids. Father is always out of house for earning money. He will not be much careful about the family budget. If you are mom, you should be competent to spend money according to financial ability. There are other factors to be remembered. Mother will not be able to cut expenses on childcare. However she will get adjusted by lowering the other expenses. She will have to arrange the good nutritious food for her child.

On the other hand she can sacrifice a lot for the benefit of her kids. Before marriage her hobby was to shop fashionable products but after marriage she shrugged it off for the sake of the safety of her family. Similarly, she doesn't use luxurious dress materials. If you are mother you have strong wish to take care of your kids in perfect way so that they can be educated and nourished perfectly. If you are working mother, you need to talk to the babysitter or any daycare institute for the close monitoring of the baby during your absence.

As a housewife, she knows what will be the essential goods or commodities in the pantry. She will make a plan to estimate the total cost of purchasing the grocery products. She can even talk to her hubby to make the suitable financial budget for the family. If she is not frugal, the family will suffer more. Mom puts emphasis on DIY projects. What does it mean? Instead of delivering the dirty clothes to laundry, she is often found to wash the clothes on her own. She also helps hubby to repair the damaged fixture or furniture items. This type of do it yourself or DIY project will help mom to save dollars.








Inexpensive Gift Ideas For A Mom-To-Be


You have been invited to a baby shower and because there's a tradition to follow, you need to bring a present for the mom-to-be. A baby shower is a great time where you can show your love and care to the expectant parents, as well as to their upcoming baby through gifts. But if you are on a tight budget and you found out that the most beautiful gift ideas in the market are beyond your price range, this should not make you disappointed though because there are still possible ways to give wonderful baby shower gifts without spending a fortune.

The old saying, "It's the thought that counts" is definitely true, which you can also apply to your inexpensive baby shower present. However, not because a present is inexpensive doesn't mean it has low quality. It depends on you, the giver, to put effort into an inexpensive item to make it pleasing and memorable to your recipient.

One of the most inexpensive gifts that you can offer to the mom-to-be is a gift that is made by yourself. DIY baby shower gifts are popular nowadays. More and more people are into DIY because it is not only inexpensive, but also gives opportunity to gift-givers to put their own personal touches on the gifts. There are lots of baby shower gift ideas that are easy to make, such as personalized CD, picture frames, photo albums, scrapbooks and the like. You can also be poetic. For example, making a short poem and hand-write it on a special paper and frame it. You don't have to be as poetic as Shakespeare, as long as every word in the poem comes from your heart. This makes a priceless gift that can also make a nice decor in the baby's nursery.

There are plenty of inexpensive ideas that to choose from. Why not consider novelty items that you can find at a local dollar store? Baby shower gifts don't necessarily have to be newborn clothes, blankets, or other baby items. Consider scented candles for example. A pregnant mom would really appreciate it if you will give her a present that can help her relax. Choose candles that have a mild scent for the pregnant mom, and let her enjoy bathing with aroma.

Books are also among the inexpensive choices that you can bring to a baby shower. Books of nursery rhymes or children stories are something that the new mom and dad would really appreciate. Although an infant will not be able to read and understand a book, but it poses no problem. Studies show that the earlier a child is exposed to educational books, the better.

Go online to search for more inexpensive baby gift ideas. By simply surfing the net, you can definitely find wonderful gift options that don't cost a fortune. Other economical ideas that you may consider are homemade baby gift baskets, baby diaper cakes, handmade quilts, plush toys, nursery wall d├ęcor, and gift certificates. If you opt to personalize a present, all you have to do is to have it engraved or embroidered with the child's name or initials.





DIY Mother's Day Gift Ideas


There aren't a lot of people who can go out and find that one perfect gift for mom because moms are just too special and whether you're walking through the discount store, Tiffany's or just browsing online you know that it's pretty near impossible to actually find just one gift item that can say it all and translate your feelings for your mom. As much as people say that flowers do that stuff, I still don't believe that a gift that's going die and make my mom sad when she throws it out is any good.

What I and many of my friends do is that we break our mothers day gifts down into several gifts. There's of course the main event, that special gift that I'll give my mom on the big day but because I love my mom so much, I give her other things that I make myself and she just loves them. It's mostly stuff that she can use at home or enjoy for a long time.

A potted plant

I take pottery classes so this one is a cinch to make but even if you don't you can buy one at any discount store, fill it with soil, add a nice loving message on the outside. Decorate it with a nice ribbon and for an extra touch add a little sapling that can grow on the window sill.

Home improvement

By home improvement I don't mean that you should go and knock out a wall in your mom's home and try and fit an extra bedroom in it. Do some repair work; there's always repair work to do around a house. Fix a broken window or a cabinet that has loose hinge. And if you really want to make mom happy, mow the lawn.

Add to a collection

If your mom likes to collect stuff like unique buttons or wine or perfume bottles, find something that you can add to her collection. She might like to collect cookie cutters or beads, whatever the case find something to contribute to her interests.

The main event

The big mothers day gift isn't a DIY deal but it makes it easier to give mom a gift bought from a store when I've already done something for her myself. Of course my preferred gifts, mothers day fruit baskets, are pretty much something that can stand on their own but it's not about the gift as much as it is about the mom. I usually buy mothers day gift baskets for her but this year I'm probably going with a fruit bouquet, something that my sister sent me on my birthday. I know mom will just love it because it has two major things that all women love; fruit and chocolate.

This main mothers day gift in my opinion should be bought and not made at home because while moms will love everything that you do for them you need to remember that all moms are women and women just love a nice indulgent gift. So buy her something special that she can enjoy, make sure it isn't something that'll end up in a box and never be used. Be extra careful because things from decorations items to jewelry can meet this fate and never see the light of day.



7 Financial Steps Every Working Mom Needs to Know


Being a working mom means you have two full-time jobs - your family and your career. The last thing you want to deal with are your finances. As if you don't have enough to worry about! However, they can't be ignored, especially with kids in the picture. Use these seven steps as a guideline to ease your stress and help you sleep better at night! These steps will simplify your life and streamline your money responsibilities.

1) TAKE A FINANCIAL SNAPSHOT. A common obstacle to taking control of our finances is getting organized. Start by taking a 30-second snapshot:

o How much do you OWE? Include mortgage, credit cards, student loans, personal loans and home equity loans.

o How much do you OWN? Include all investments, bank accounts, retirement plans and home equity.

o How much do you SPEND? This should be one number for your monthly spending. Be sure to include all those extra expenses that create havoc on our budgets.

o How much do you EARN? What is your total income after taxes for the year, the month and year-to-date?

2) DEAL WITH YOUR DEBT AND CREDIT REPORT HEAD ON. On the credit agencies websites, you can fix any mistakes you might find. Then consolidate and transfer any credit card debt, to a permanent low interest rate credit card. At the same time: stop using your credit cards and go back to a cash basis. Finally, come up with a payment plan to determine when you will be debt free.

3) CREATE A SPENDING PLAN. An easy-to-follow spending plan can make all the difference in your money life. This one is easy to follow and will work wonders for your cash flow. Many of us have gotten used to paying everything with our credit cards and we do not know where our cash goes. As a result, there is not much left over at the end of the month. Sound familiar? Start by living on cash ONLY for the next two months. Then, come up with a set weekly spending amount and stick to it for the week - NO MATTER WHAT! For example: your weekly spending amount is $350 for all your non-fixed expenses (food and clothing included!). You will find that there is more money left over at the end of the month and now you can take your family to Disney World - guilt free! Whatever is in your wallet is your weekly spending money. When you run out of money in your wallet, you are done spending for the week. You can still do the things you love, but you need to prioritize them on a weekly basis. If you have a big purchase that week (i.e. new shoes for the kids), plan accordingly.

4) MAKE SAVING FOR RETIREMENT A PRIORITY: There are so many expenses fighting for your time, that saving for retirement keeps getting pushed to the back burner. For many working moms that feel stretched, I suggest to start saving at least 3% of your income to your 401(k). It lets you take advantage of your company matching and saves you money on taxes. It is not really enough to retire on but it is a great start! If you are already contributing to your 401(k), then increase it by 1% every six months and every time you get a raise. You won't feel it! If you don't have a retirement plan at work, setup an automatic savings to a ROTH or Traditional IRA at a mutual fund company. See if you can maximize the $4,000 limit by contributing $333 automatically every month.

5) SETUP AUTOMATIC SAVINGS. Make it automatic, automatic, automatic. Preferably, setup the automatic savings to a money market that is not at your bank. It is a bit harder to get to but you also can't touch it as easily! Even if you can't afford that much, start at $50 a month.

6) YOUR CHILDREN'S COLLEGE EDUCATION. With the surge in popularity of 529 plans, more parents are focused on saving for their children's college education. If you feel confident you will be sending your child to a Public University, verify if your state has a prepaid college savings plan. Your money will go much further! If you want to leave your options open, then the 529 plan is a better choice. Some of the benefits include: When the money comes out for an accredited college, it is free of federal taxes, the money grows tax deferred, very easy to use, can be made automatic and the donor (usually the parent) has control.


7) EXAMINE YOUR INSURANCE. I keep meeting more and more working moms that do not have life insurance. Make sure you and your spouse are properly covered. It does not have to be expensive; you can find very inexpensive term insurance. You only need life insurance until your youngest child is 18 years old.