The Mom Connection - Where Mom's gather for support and guidance

Friday, September 01, 2006

I am pregnant and want to quit work when my baby is born. BUT with so much debt; I need my income just to make the monthly payments. What can I do?

While it may be fun to spend money you don’t have, debt can quickly become a major burden. Hopefully, once you pay it off – you will keep that in mind whenever you want to dip into that credit again! Luckily, there are some things you can do now to help get you closer towards your goal of staying home with your baby.

You may be able to lower your payments by consolidating your debts with a second mortgage or a home equity loan. Basically, debt consolidation involves taking out a low-interest loan that will pay off all your current debts, leaving you with just the one loan to pay off. Be aware that these loans require you to offer your home as collateral, which means if you can't make the payments on time; your home could be forfeit. Also, the costs of consolidation loans can possibly include interest and “points,” with one point equal to one percent of the amount you borrow. However, consolidation loans may carry some tax advantages that are not available with other kinds of credit. If you’re thinking about hiring a credit counselor or financial planner to stabilize your financial situation, do some homework first. Find out what services a business provides and what it costs, and make absolutely sure to get everything in writing. When all else fails, personal bankruptcy is generally considered the debt management option of last resort. Be aware that the results are long lasting and far-reaching and not an ideal way to begin a family. A bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years, and can make it difficult to obtain credit, buy a home, get life insurance, or sometimes get a job.

We are going to Hawaii for our 20th Wedding anniversary – without the kids! We want to make this an extra special trip – any ideas?

For such a special occasion – I recommend avoiding the plush all inclusive resort like places and instead find a classy luxury home instead. That way you receive royal treatment and can focus on enjoying time with each other.

I recently heard of Gebhart Properties (www.gebhartproperties.com), as they have just launched a new website featuring premiere Hawaii resort and ocean front vacation homes for rent on both the Big Island and Maui. Since Gebhart Properties owns and manages custom homes in some of the most exclusive resort locations in the Hawaiian Islands, you are sure to find something perfect for your trip. On their site you’ll find incomparable amenities in their outstanding Hawaii vacation homes. Luxurious and convenient features, spacious living areas, custom furnishings, and artwork not found in even the finest of hotels. For example, if you want a taste of Old Lahaina, you want to book a stay at their incredible 2BR/2BA corner-unit condo located on the third floor of the Mahana at Kaanapali Resort in Maui. This resort, the only property in Kaanapali that runs parallel to the ocean, is located a mere thirty feet back from the beach! That and much more is available at to see at their website. Gebhart Properties has selected and furnished their Hawaii vacation rentals to meet your every expectation and give you the luxury, convenience and comfort not found in most other vacation rentals or standard hotels. Browse their Hawaii vacation rentals at http://www.gebhartproperties.com/Resort/Hawaii.html and see for yourself why their Hawaii vacation homes are incomparable to others or call 1-800-545-5151.

Be sure to savor this special celebration together – Congratulations!!

I am obviously an older mom – as my daughter is about to be married. I have been put in charge of the wedding favors – any ideas??

What fun!!! Not only do you have a daughter getting married, but you get to help make personalized wedding favors as mementos for all those involved. Although, it sounds fun, I am sure it also puts some extra pressure on you – the mom!

Here are some ideas I have found:

1. All About Almonds - There's a reason Jordan Almonds are the quintessential wedding favor: they're steeped in tradition. You can learn more about this favorable treat by reading all about Jordan Almonds, but how are your guests supposed to know about their significance? Be sure to attach a little card with a note explaining the almonds' meaning: Provide five Jordan Almonds sugared almonds for each guest to eat - to remind us that life is both bitter and sweet. Five wishes for the new husband and wife -- Health, wealth, happiness, children, and a long life!

2. Special Seating Cards - Looking for something a bit more memorable than tented, paper place cards? Make your favors and your escort cards one in the same. From mini picture frames to Christmas ornaments, tag your favors with each guest's name and table number and place them on the escort table.

3. Pair Up - If you wish to give more expensive, high-end favors but need to find a way to skim the fat, give one gift per couple by placing the favor between their two dinner plates, and tagging it with the couple's names. For your single friends, stick with one gift per person.

4. Have a Heart - More couples are forgoing favors for charitable donations instead. But you want to make sure the charity is legit. Research your chosen charity to find out how they spend donations -- and make sure you receive a receipt for tax purposes. Find out more about many charities to support at IDoFoundation.org or JustGive.org.

5. When to Give - If favors aren't a part of your tabletop decor, pass them out to guests as they are leaving the reception. Put the favors in small shopping bags with pretty tissue paper and have a waiter hand one to each guest. In cold weather, the coatroom attendant may hand them a bag with their coats.

6. Clean Your Cans - Looking for a festive favor that'll never go out of style? Try homemade jams and jars filled with penny candy. But be sure to sterilize the containers before use. Detergent residue may cause unexpected flavors (yuck). First, wash the empty jars with hot water and detergent. Then, soak them for several hours in a solution containing 1 cup of vinegar per gallon of water.

7. Match Don't Mix - Whatever your favors may be, pick packaging that matches your wedding colors -- and your table decor. Visit a neighborhood fabric store for ribbons to match your wedding-day palette (if you have one, bring along a swatch of your table linens) and personalize the gift with a monogrammed sticker or unique favor label.

My teenager hates her nose (and to be honest, it is rather distorted) – she really wants a nose job – what should I do?

I would discuss this with an expert – as I am sure they see this sort of thing everyday. Take a visit to the Rhinoplasty Specialist at www.rhinoplastyspecialist.com. Although it is a Los Angeles rhinoplasty website it is available worldwide and owned by Dr. Paul S. Nassif, a Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon, a world-renowned expert in revision rhinoplasty. Maybe you could view the site with you child and at least provide them with some accurate information about this type of procedure. Rhinoplasty Specialist caters to those looking to find useful information about rhinoplasty surgery, most especially to those planning to try out rhinoplasty surgery to enhance their facial appearance. In fact, the website dares to unveil the realities of rhinoplasty surgery fearlessly, with in-depth details and photo galleries to prove its point, no holds barred. One amazing feature of the website is its rhinoplasty tutorial page. Here readers can learn more about facial analysis, nasofacial relationships, and other technical and medical tidbits associated with rhinoplasty. Rhinoplasty in Los Angeles also specializes in ethnic rhinoplasty to African American, Hispanic and Asian patients. As part of Rhinoplasty Specialist’s information campaign on cosmetic surgery in Beverly Hills, those who are interested in rhinoplasty and plastic surgery can get loads of up-to-date information straight from Dr. Nassif through the website’s Media Page. This web page contains articles written by Dr. Nassif that have been published in famous plastic surgery journals and books. The Media Page also contains actual rhinoplasty and revision rhinoplasty surgery captured on video (maybe this alone would change your child’s mind – or not!). These videos were aired in Discovery Channel, ET, and other shows, so they should be relatively appropriate for a teenager. Patients who want to know more about Dr. Paul Nassif can check out his curriculum vitae in Rhinoplasty Specialist. Whether you decide to attempt this procedure or not, at least this site can give you an accurate perspective.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Where is a good place to find information on drugs for my family?

Great question! Even a drug as simple as acetaminophen can have side effects or cautions that you may not think of. Try Epocrates - which recently announced that clinicians and support staff – even the average web user - can now access an online version of its free and trusted mobile drug and formulary guide, used by more than 500,000 healthcare professionals. Epocrates Online (https://online.epocrates.com) provides clinicians with access to critical information about more than 3,300 drugs, including dosing, pricing, potential drug interactions and Medicare Part D formulary coverage from any computer with an Internet connection. Epocrates products are designed by practicing physicians to deliver the most clinically useful and relevant information that healthcare professionals need at the point of care. This enables clinicians to focus on their patients rather than having to reference multiple websites or search through medical texts for information. Many clinicians report that they rely on Epocrates products as their primary source for all clinical reference needs and save up to 30 minutes a day using the solutions. In addition to an extensive drug guide, the product includes formulary information for more than 130 health plans and hundreds of Medicare Part D formularies. Healthcare professionals or patients can easily obtain formulary status, drug coverage and alternative and generic drug options for their health plans with Epocrates Online. For more information about Epocrates the company, please visit www.epocrates.com.

Help – I just found out our whole family has to move to Orlando because of my husband’s job transfer! Any advice??

Well – at least the kids should be excited because of all the theme parks! I am sure you are also wondering what else Orlando has to offer your family too. Well, Orlando’s settled history is not much more than 150 years old, but a lot has happened in that century and a half. Cattle farming was the primary way to make a living and there were Indian wars, cattle rustling, gun fights, gambling and other interesting pursuits. Then came the railroad and Central Florida’s fledgling Citrus Industry would rapidly expand with easy access to Northern markets. Of course we all know of Florida’s oranges – at least you can rest with the thought that everyone will get enough vitamin C! With the Citrus industry, Orlando changed dramatically. It gladly took on its roll of county seat and became the hub for commerce and business in Central Florida. By the mid-1920s Orlando was a bustling city and for the first time tourism became a major industry.

Now that you have the city’s background – what you have to look forward to after you settle in is that currently Orlando welcomes more visitors each year than the population of California - which makes Orlando the number one tourist destination in the world. The current population of Orlando is approximately 185,000 and the Metro-Orlando population is over 1,500,000. Orlando continues to be one of the fastest growing communities in Florida as well as the United States. It’s no surprise that your husband has found a good job there, but beyond the employment opportunities, Orlando is a great environment to enjoy your leisure time and raise a family. The area offers a wide range of life styles for all ages. Take the time to explore the area to find the best environment for your individual family. From real estate in upscale gated neighborhoods; golf course communities; charming, old-fashioned towns, rural communities and areas with excellent schools – plus the urban lifestyle in downtown Orlando, there is something for everyone.

If you need a recommendation for an Orlando real estate agent consider Exclusive Buyer Agency Office - Buyers Broker of Florida as they only represent the best interest of the homebuyer, never the seller. As full time Buyer Agents they understand contracts, house values, options, negotiations, 1031's, creative thinking, and will do their absolute best to negotiate the most favorable terms only for you the buyer. They provide a friendly partner who knows what they are doing that you can always trust all the time.

Good luck on your new family adventure!

Friday, August 11, 2006

What advice do you have for a trip to Disney World?

So you want to take a trip to Disney World with your family – an excellent idea! Before you go, consider making it a complete vacation by enjoying the whole Central Florida area and contemplate a vacation home Orlando style.

Orlando continues to be one of the fastest growing communities in Florida as well as the United States. Beyond the theme park area, Orlando is a great environment to enjoy leisure time with your family. The Central Florida area - all 7 counties - offers a wide range of life styles for all ages. This includes opportunities to find a rental home in upscale gated neighborhoods; golf course communities; charming, old-fashioned towns, and rural communities. If you are looking for an urban lifestyle, downtown Orlando is a mixture of historic homes and luxury condominiums with great views of the city. You can enjoy vintage homes in the historic neighborhoods of Thorton Park, Lake Eola Heights, Lake Lawsona, Lake Cherokee, and Lake Copeland. Downtown is trendy with diversity of restaurants, retailers, discos, and bars all within walking distance. With close access to beautiful Lake Eola, you can enjoy festivals, outdoor concerts, or a gondola ride on the Lake. The sports complex, theater, and opera are all centrally located making your entertainment venues easily accessible. The focus on family living also spurred residential development on the edge of downtown called Baldwin Park, a traditional neighborhood with architecture reminiscent of the pre-1940's era.

Think of Florida and you will probably imagine theme parks and sunshine but there is so much more to this southern state. The Central Florida area truly offers something for everyone in the family - exciting theme parks, glorious white sandy beaches and a warm welcome from the year round sunshine. A 45 minute drive from the theme parks takes you to countryside with rolling hills and oak trees. Here you are in horse breeding country – a great opportunity if you have a daughter who loves horses. Travel south and take an airboat ride across the Everglades or take advantage of some of the best shopping opportunities in the USA. So, include the rest of Florida in your plans to visit Disney World and make a trip of a lifetime for the whole family.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Random Olympic History Fact

Nancy Burpee is an amazing swimmer who will not receive the chance to show her talents in an Olympic format due to a bizarre incident. The United States Paralympics team, that included Ms. Burpee, was selected at the United States Olympic trials. During these trials, Ms. Burpee set world records in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle. However, at the Paralympics trials, Ms. Burpee was disqualified by an Australian referee on a procedural technicality. After her disqualification, Ms. Burpee telephoned Kevin P. Simmons, a partner at Simmons, Jannace & Stagg, and asked the firm to intercede on her behalf to have the disqualification overturned. In addition, Ms. Burpee requested that the firm commence an action against the United States Olympic Committee requiring the committee to name her to the Olympic Team. The law firm of Simmons, Jannace & Stagg represented Nancy Burpee on a pro bono basis in her attempt to participate in the 2004 Paralympics Games. The firm commenced arbitration under the United States Olympic Committee Rules and live testimony was taken from swim referees in Canada and Australia. Simmons, Jannace & Stagg argued that the Australian referee showed bias against Ms. Burpee by making various comments indicating that he did not want Ms. Burpee competing against an Australian Paralympics swimmer. Simmons, Jannace & Stagg also demonstrated that the United States Paralympics swim trials were not held in accordance with the Paralympics rules. Despite these efforts, an independent arbitrator ruled against Ms. Burpee and declined to force the United States Olympic Committee to name her to the Paralympics Team. As a symbol of her commitment, Ms. Burpee has still continued her swim career and will compete in the World Championships in the upcoming year.

Now that is a great story to show your kids that even the best don’t always get all the breaks – but, they also don’t let it get them down!

An Interesting Development in Car Insurance

Overseas in Europe, NORWICH Union has launched a new type of policy known as Short Term Car Insurance. It is a temporary comprehensive cover, allowing users to choose insurance for up to 28 days. It covers users to drive a new car away from the dealer, a family member or friend to borrow someone else's car, or when traveling. It is my guess that US car insurance companies may soon follow suit on this type of service. Everyone has loaned a car out to a friend or family member for a short period of time and wouldn't you want to be covered if something happens, I surely would. If this type of service sounds interesting, you may want to check out CarInsurance.com. They provide auto insurance rate quotes for all 50 states and offer a convenient way to comparison shop for auto insurance. Shopping for car insurance is the only way to save money on car insurance. Their online car insurance quotes take just a few minutes and then they provide rates from companies that suit your needs. You can then finish online or our professional call center is available to help you purchase car insurance. In some states you will be directed to one of their trusted partners for a rate in your area.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My older child has already been told about the secret of Santa, but now he wants to know how the tradition originated… any ideas?

How did the kindly Santa Claus become a roly-poly red-suited American symbol for merry holiday festivity and commercial activity? Well, it all started with the first Europeans to arrive in the New World who brought with them the concept of St. Nicholas. However, St. Nicholas had a difficult time during the 16th century Protestant Reformation which took a dim view of saints. Because the common people so loved St. Nicholas, he survived on the European continent as people continued to place nuts, apples, and sweets in shoes left beside beds, on windowsills, or before the hearth. After the American Revolution, New Yorkers remembered with pride the colony's nearly-forgotten Dutch roots. John Pintard, influential patriot and antiquarian, promoted St. Nicholas as patron saint of both society and city. On St. Nicholas Day in 1809, Washington Irving published the satirical fiction, Knickerbocker's History of New York, with numerous references to a jolly St. Nicholas character. This was not a saintly bishop, but rather an elfin Dutch burgher with a clay pipe. These delightful flights of imagination are the origin of the St. Nicholas legends: like that of St. Nicholas coming down chimneys to bring gifts. The New York Historical Society held its first St. Nicholas anniversary dinner on December 6, 1810 and the first American image of Nicholas was created for the occasion. Nicholas was shown in a gift-giving role with children's treats in stockings hanging at a fireplace. The jolly elf image received a particularly big boost in 1823, from a poem destined to become immensely popular, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," now better known as "The Night before Christmas."

When Christmas does roll around this year, consider honoring this tradition with a Christmas Gifts basket idea. As Santa Claus originated with the ritual of placing fruits and nuts by the hearth, why not send a gift basket as a symbol of this custom. A holiday gift basket set is the perfect gift for clients, colleagues, office parties, housewarmings or for any other occasion! Each and every gourmet Christmas basket is filled with the finest products offered in the gourmet industry. If you have a certain design in mind, they offer custom wrap for holiday gift baskets to fit any holiday or theme.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

What are the key tricks to staying safe in the summer?

Summer is the most dangerous time of the year for kids based on emergency room visits. By following some of these simple tips you can easily avoid most summertime risks.

1. Always use a correctly installed car or booster seat for you child.
2. Supervise all children near water including pools, spas, toilets, bathtubs
and buckets.
3. Be sure children wear a kid sized life jacket on all boating trips.
4. Have kids wear the proper helmet and protective gear when riding bikes,
scooters, skates and skateboards.
5. Never let children under the age of 10 play near or cross streets alone.
6. Check that all playgrounds have safe surfaces like mulch, gravel, rubber or
sand.

Lastly, as adults it is always important to learn First Aid and CPR for our whole family’s benefit.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

What investment type gifts do you recommend for children?

Buying a specific treasure item for your children while they are young is not only a special gift, but a potential investment in their future. A fun and potentially profitable example is buying silver coins. Long ago our dollars were actually backed by real money, real silver and gold. At that time gas was only 25-cents a gallon and you could buy 4 gallons of gas for a dollar – imagine that with today’s prices! Translating the relationship back then into silver, the same amount of silver today still buys that four gallons of gas. While the dollar has been devalued, real money like gold and silver has held its value far better than our current currency. Most people feel that prices go up over time, but actually it is the value of the dollar that goes down. Some investment experts recommend a portfolio should contain tangible assets such as gold or silver. Silver coins are a fun investment particularly for children because they can actually relate to the concept. While stocks and bonds are only pieces of paper to a child, silver and gold are fancy metals. If you are unsure how to proceed with buying precious metals, a company like Monex can help. They have been in business since 1967 and have helped more than one hundred thousand people with this type of transactio