Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Category: Practical Moms Unite (page 1 of 4)

Recovering From the Indulgence of the Holiday Season

contributed post

Christmas can often be a time of indulgence. We all know this. We’ve all felt the after-dinner food coma, sleeping on the couch with a drink in our hand. We’ve all looked in the mirror and at the scales afterwards and wondered how so much weight came on so quickly. Celebrating with family we don’t see often except during the holidays can make us feel this way, so don’t worry about having a good time and indulging. Of course, we all need to get back on track after the holidays.

Here are some of the best tips  you can use to get back on track for the new year:

Diet

After eating all the turkey, goose, duck, or ham, plus other holiday dinner sides and desserts, you can put on some serious pounds. Drinking beers or cocktails can do the same. You might eat more than you usually do in a week because of special Christmas get-togethers and parties; sugary foods or other such calorific items can make you feel a little bloated. For this reason, going on a diet or making a commitment to eat healthy in the new year is your best bet. Which diet should you go on? Well, there are many things you can try. We’d argue sticking to some basics.

First of all, no fad diet will ever help you as much as watching the calories in/calories out method. Calculating the caloric maintenance you need to stay at the same weight, and subtracting 500 from that a day, on top of a little exercise will always help you lose weight and be healthy, unless you have a health condition. This is as complicated as you need to get.

You can also try intermittent fasting. After all, leftovers from the winter feasts might last a long time, and you might desire them more than anything. Try only eating within an eight-hour window, and fast for sixteen. This sounds quite intense, but remember you sleep eight hours a day on average. That means an eating schedule of 12pm to 8pm is all you need to keep to. There are many health benefits to intermittent fasting, including losing weight and reducing the risk of disease.

It also helps you burn more fat because of the period of time that your body goes without digesting a meal. The process is more complicated than that, but that’s it in a nutshell. Better yet? Intermittent fasting is easier to adapt to out of all the diets you could do, because with many diets, eating a limited amount of food can be dreadfully challenging in the first few weeks.

Detox

Many people consume plenty of alcohol during Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, and of course, this is not healthy. Reducing the damage from an over-indulgent Christmas means limiting your drinking or completely ending it for a time. Think of going on a full body detox because it can truly help your body gain good ground in your pursuits of health.

A detox means preventing any intoxicants from entering your body. No booze, no smoking, no caffeine. Just water, healthy meals and maybe dietary supplements. This, coupled with getting plenty of sleep, walking in nature a few times a week, and exercising can help you skyrocket back to your old self and rewind the damage caused through indulgence.

Pets

That’s right, pets can indulge during Christmas too. You might not have realized how many little strips of meat you might have fed them under the table, or how many extra treats you have given them. Your lack of exercise outside might have resulted in fewer walks per week for them as well, meaning that assessing their health is important.

Consider giving them a different type of food that is more healthy for them. If you have been giving them too much for the size of the animal, consider lessening it a little. You can also try giving them fresh veggies for treats instead of the store bought kind. Check out topdogvitamins.com for some of the best supplements you can provide your dog with, in order to make sure their nutritional needs are being taken care of. Sure, your pet loves the holiday leftovers, too, but an overweight dog can have way too many health problems.

Get Active

Getting active helps to lose weight and feel more energetic. You’ve probably spent many days watching Christmas films and playing on your new electronics over the Christmas period, and now is the time to get outside. Consider going on long walks with your family around your surrounding town or village, and walk your pets more frequently, too. Some people will have to bundle up, but once you start walking, the weather won’t bother you so much.

Connect with family you haven’t spoken to in a while, and plan active outings instead of sitting in their homes to visit. Consider picking up a new habit in the new year. Starting martial arts, yoga or simply heading to the gym more often can do you all the good in the world and are all great ways to get out outside the house.

Catch Up On Professional Responsibilities

Your career has likely been on hold for some time over the Christmas period. This break can be well needed, and it might have completely refreshed your outlook. If you can, however, stay in touch with your business using your home office and catch up with your responsibilities one or two times during the holiday break. Maybe, you have some professional development you’ve been putting off. You might need to catch up with a few old clients or rectify a troubling situation. You might simply need to resolve your taxes before the new year. Make sure you schedule some professional time, too, and take care of anything you most need to. This can give you the best start to the new year, happy that you have nothing left pending or threatening to turn into a bigger issue. This can also refocus your mind in a much more positive way than working on a cold Monday morning when you return to work.

With these tips, your Christmas period should be bookended with positivity to make the entire indulgent period vindicated. We hope you had a blast and an even happier New Year.

Do you have any tips for recovering from the holiday season? 

 

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Doing Christmas At My Pace (By Amy Harke-Moore)

I am excited to share  this guest post from my good writing friend, Amy Harke-Moore. If you know Amy, then you know what a treat awaits you below. If you don’t know her or you do, but haven’t checked out her new site yet, then you should go here and soon! And what she says below is so spot on–I feel the same way…

Doing Christmas at my Pace

By Amy Harke-Moore

I have a confession to make. Although I often write about living the simple life, when it comes to Christmas, I’m like a starving woman at the buffet table. My inclination is to load up my plate with seasonal activities until it fairly overflows. Several helpings of shopping and lunch with family. A few spoonfuls of festivals, church plays, and recitals. A nibble or two of craft shows and fashioning my own ornaments. Cooking, baking, and making piled high on top. Parties tucked in around the sides. And if I carefully balance the plate just so, I might squeeze in that DIY Christmas tree project from Pinterest. . .

My December calendar can quickly spiral out of control. But here’s the unvarnished truth—I don’t have time for everything I want to do. Not even close. And even if I did, the result wouldn’t be pretty. I’d find myself overwhelmed, frustrated, and frazzled, complaining and enjoying very little of the season. I know this about myself: I need my downtime.

So how do I balance what I’d like to do, what I have to do, and what I can reasonably do with the time and energy available? I use the following tips.

Make a list of what’s most important. What do I want to do? What brings me and my family the most joy? Which traditions, events, foods, and activities do I want to include? Who do I want to spend my time with? These questions help me prioritize.

Of those parties and gift exchanges that didn’t make the main list, I decide which ones are obligations and which ones I can politely decline.

Embrace convenience. I buy frozen meals or make large batches of a family favorite for busy days when I have little time to cook. I’ve also been known to purchase the pre-made break-apart cookie dough when I need to bring something to a gathering. While I appreciate the time and effort it takes to make something from scratch—I do this often myself—I’m also equally delighted with those savvy shoppers who have a knack for finding just the right festive foods to bring to a party.

Do tasks incrementally. Often I’ll keep the wrapping paper, tape, and bows handy to wrap one or two gifts at a time. I also stretch out my baking over several days. My pickles and jams were made back in the summer, so they only need to be packaged for gift baskets. Breaking tasks into smaller parts keeps me from getting overwhelmed and frustrated.

Practice wellness. In the busyness of the season, it’s easy to let those daily good habits slide. To remind myself, I’ve come up with an acronym: REV—rest, eat healthy, vitamins. If I want to keep up with the extra activities I have planned, plus maintain a good attitude, I need to get enough sleep, make good food choices (mostly), and take my supplements. I’m also mindful to get plenty of water and some exercise. Being on the go this time of year usually takes care of the latter. If I feel the start of a sore throat or sniffles, I’ve got a tube of Airborne handy to keep me from getting sick.

Keep up the daily routine. Morning coffee and checking my emails. Reading. Unwinding in front of the television before bed—these are a part of my everyday life. They help me relax and stay sane, which goes a long way in keeping my stress level in check. My routine balances out the hectic times.

Remember the reason for the season. Spending time with the people I love and care about, giving to those less fortunate, attending church to celebrate Christ’s birth—these give my life meaning and put the “why” in the choices I make every December.

While I’m still tempted to load up my plate with the annual Christmas “goodies” of celebrations, crafts, parties, food, and fun, being mindful of what truly matters and prioritizing accordingly results in a less stressful more joyful Christmas not only for me, but for those I love the most.

Thank you, Amy, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Amy Harke-Moore is a writer and editor, living in rural Missouri. To find out more about Amy, please see her great About Me page on  her blog. It’s one of the best I’ve seen!

If you are desperate for some great holiday gift ideas, you need to check out her holiday gift ideas page! 

 

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Make Sure You’re Not Overspending This Christmas

(contributed post)

The festive period is many people’s favorite time of year; the family get-togethers, thoughtful gift giving, and the chance to unwind a little and enjoy delicious food, fun movies, and everything that Christmas brings. However big or small your family is, if you celebrate the holiday season, you’ll end up spending more around this month than you normally would. It can be challenging to cut back on expenses, especially when you see all those special presents that you can’t resist buying for the kids, your partner, or the rest of your loved ones.

Many people have enough other things to save for throughout the year, and the holidays will creep up and take you by surprise. Therefore, it’s worth having some ideas in mind about how you can cut back a little over Christmas and make smart financial decisions for your household, so that you don’t enter the new year worrying about cash. It’s never too late to start making better money choices and switching up the way you go about doing things. The following are some ideas, inspiration, and tips for those who want to be more mindful of their money this festive season, so that 2018 is something to look forward to.

How You Spend

Obviously, the best thing you can do regarding your festive spending is to plan as many months in advance as possible and begin saving in the new year. However, it’s already December, so you can put those plans into motion come January, and focus on the changes to make now. For large expenses, like specific gifts or the food shop, it might be worth popping them on a no or low-interest card. You can utilize a website to validate your card quickly and efficiently, and work out your weekly or monthly repayments before you’ve spent anything on interest. Make sure that you can afford your repayments and will be able to clear what you’ve paid for early on next year, so that you can better prepare for next Christmas. Paying for more expensive items in installments, before the no-interest period is up, is the best way to stop them impacting your bank balance.

How You Save

There are a variety of areas and ways to save at Christmas; you just need a little imagination and creativity. Think about the areas you could improve your festive period and save in the meantime. Home-baking and cooking from scratch are always a great way to show people that you care and are willing to put the effort in. Utilizing your own kitchen space might take a little more time; however, it’ll be far more affordable than buying everything ready-made from the store.

Handmade gifts and decorations are other ways to give your Christmas festive and unique touches without breaking the bank, so spend a festive afternoon crafting. Get the whole family involved, and see what they’d like to make for one another; you’ll end up spending less than you would heading out for Christmas shopping, so it’s well worth the effort.

Being wise with your money and time will ensure that you’re not worrying as you head into 2018 and can still have a fun and fulfilling festive period ahead.

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The Three Cs of Being Pregnant

The pregnancy process is one which demands much from you, both emotionally and physically. Your body will go through changes, which are both hard and easy to predict. We all know the cliches. You will be hungry for foods you never have or will never want to eat again; you will find it more difficult to get comfortable at night; and you’ll be greeted pleasantly by everyone you meet. Being pregnant is a wonderful time, but it does come with some challenges. In order to give your beautiful child the most healthy and strong start in life, it’s important to be diligent in looking after yourself.

There are so many different things to remember during pregnancy that it can be overwhelming. Not only do you have to look after your body, but prepare your home for the new child, emotionally and financially prepare, and organize your working schedules to best fit the expected day. We’ve crafted the following‘three Cs of pregnancy, which should help you keep everything memorable and streamlined enough to actually pull off easily. Here they are:

Care

Of course, you must take care of yourself. It’s easy to think this, but not actually plan for it. First, you need to focus on your diet. You are now eating for two, so be careful what you put in your body. Fast foods and high sugars are to be avoided, and well fibrous, vegetable and protein dense foods should be a component. If you can, switch to complex carbs, such as brown rice or whole grain pasta and bread. You should also supplement your diet with folic acid, and the right combination of prenatal vitamins – click here to learn more.

Caution

You must also be mindful of the way your body is now reacting to your day-to-day movement. Or course, it will be different, and you should note any changes and discuss them at your appointments with your obgyn. But there is no reason why you should not regularly exercise, unless your doctor says so. Cut any bad habits, such as smoking and drinking, as soon as you discover you are pregnant. If you are having trouble, then discuss this with your doctor also. Your doctor is your best resource for all your physical changes, and there is nothing that is “too silly” to bring up. Give your baby the best start in life by starting your loving care during your pregnancy.

Coordinate

Planning is one of the most important parts of pregnancy, and you have 9 months to plan for the new addition to your family. Discuss with your doctor your birthing plans and sign up to take a tour of the hospital, where you will deliver your child. Hospitals and obgyn offices often offer classes at a low fee for first-time parents and for moms who want to breastfeed. Coordinating could also mean learning about the duties of being a parent. Knowing how to burp, feed, change, and bathe a baby are all things, which take care to get right. Learn how much milk they need at different stages. Register with a preferred pediatric nurse in case any health occurrences should arise.

At home, decorate and detail the room for your baby. Think about ways you will need to baby proof the home because your infant will be growing and crawling before you know it. You might not need to cover up sharp corners or add baby gates to your staircases yet, but you may need to separate your pets, replace any toxic cleaners, and make sure the house is the correct temperature for your baby. Become focused in your planning. Your child will be here much sooner than you think.

With these three Cs, your child will be born to a loving, compassionate, safe, clean, warm and most importantly of all, prepared home.

What is a practical parenting tip you can give to expectant mothers that you wish you would have known when you were expecting? 

(contributed article)

Check out my holiday book sale here for personalized and autographed children’s books: http://margoldill.com/my-books/

 

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10 Ways to Prepare for Going on Maternity Leave

contributed article

Going on maternity leave is one of the most daunting and exciting stages of your pregnancy. You know that the end is near, your life is about to change forever, and you have months ahead of you to care for your little one. If you are passionate about your career as well, it is important that you start taking steps to prepare your company for your departure and pave the way for your return. Of course, you may find that your plans change somewhere down the line, but it will still give you peace of mind when you know that you have made all the necessary preparations.

Achieving a work-life balance is the ultimate goal when you return to your job again, which is something that more and more women intend to do. So, let’s look at some ways that you can prepare your company and yourself for your impending departure.

Learn More About Your Maternity Leave Rights

Maternity leave law is always being updated, so you need to know about your current rights with regards to how much time you are allowed to take off and how much you will be paid during this time. This maternity and paternity guide gives you more information on both counts, so it is certainly worth reading in detail. Once you have all the key details, you are in a much better position to move onto the next stage.

Inform Your Boss and Clients

Though you will be very excited to tell your friends at work about your big news, it is also a good idea to inform your boss at the earliest possible opportunity–preferably before your bump starts showing! Speak to them in person at first, and then you can draft up a maternity leave letter that details your intentions regarding maternity leave. Of course, these are just preliminary plans, which may adapt and change over time. You will also want to inform your clients about your big news, preferably with plenty of time to spare and when the plans about covering your absence are firmly in place. This way, you will be in the best position to talk them through how things will work while you are away.

Plan Your Leave

Once you know the date that you will be going on maternity leave, you can start preparing for your departure. Make a list of all your tasks at the company and who is going to take them over. If it is a current member of the team, you can start getting them up to speed as soon as possible. If someone is going to be covering for you on a short-term basis, you can make a document that helps them to transition into the role.

Crunch the Numbers

Making a detailed budget is always a good idea no matter what financial situation you find yourself in, but it is especially important if you are about to have a child. It may be quite challenging to calculate all your expenses in detail, but it is a good idea to make a rough estimate. You can then weigh this up against the amount of money that you receive from your maternity leave and any other sources of income. If you are able to accumulate some savings as well, it is always a good idea to have a contingency plan in case your expenses turn out to be much higher than expected.

Plan Your Childcare

Though this may seem like a very early time to start planning your childcare, you can never be over-prepared. It is worth paying a visit to some different places to look at their facilities, as well as seeing how they operate on a day-to-day basis. You can also find out about their availability and how far in advance you need to apply. The other potential option is hiring a nanny, so it is also worth checking out the pros and cons of this particular approach. A nanny gives your child individual attention and care. On the other hand, a daycare center allows them to interact with other kids. A big influencer in your decision will be the standard of care available in your local area, and how yours and your partner’s jobs will fit around what is available.

Stay in the Loop at Work

In most workplaces, things tend to change at a fairly rapid rate, and it is worth keeping track of what is going on – even if it is just the occasional update from a close work friend. Even better, if you have a colleague who is just returning from maternity leave, you can find out the inside scoop about how easy or challenging it has been. Of course, when your baby arrives, you will find your attentions very much pulled in another direction. But if you are passionate about returning to work, it helps to keep up with what is going on. When it gets closer to the time to return to work, you could start coming in to have meetings with your boss about how you are going to manage the transitional phase together.

Create a Resources List

The balancing act of your family and your job is such a difficult one to get right. So, to give you a helping hand in this early stage, you can start pulling together a list of resources of people who can help you out in all eventualities. For example, someone who can clean the house, look after the dog, take care of the baby in an emergency. You are entering a daunting new world and you never know exactly which direction it is going to take you. Creating this list will help you to feel better about the challenges ahead of you. You will probably find that organizing your life becomes much more difficult when the baby arrives!

Wrap Up Any Outstanding Work

In the last weeks and days before your maternity leave begins, you should be wrapping up any projects that are still ongoing. Since babies are often known to arrive ahead of schedule, it is a good idea to deal with the top priority items first in case your little bundle of joy decides to make an early appearance! One of your final tasks will be to draft up an out of office email explaining who people need to contact in your absence. You can help out whoever is monitoring your emails by unsubscribing from any newsletters or email lists. Keep a note of them and you can subscribe again once you are back at work.

Make Arrangements for Your Return

Though nothing will be set in stone at this stage, you can let your boss and HR department know of your intention to return to the company. You can even create a rough outline of the transitional approach that you intend to take back into your job. Of course, nothing will be fixed as you never know the challenges that having a baby brings until you experience them first-hand.

Now is a good time to find out where your employer stands with regards to flexible working. More and more workplaces are embracing less rigid work patterns, so you may well be in a better position to fit your family life around your working life. Perhaps you could even arrange to telecommute on one or two days of the week. Rapid technological advances mean that this is becoming an option for an increasing number of workers. Of course, you should examine the pros and cons of this approach in more detail. For example, it can be very difficult to draw the line between your work life and your home life.

Be prepared that your mindset before the baby is born may be entirely different to your mindset afterwards. And after your return to work, be prepared that you may be treated differently in your workplace, so this could significantly impact your viewpoint towards your current employers. It is always worth thinking about the different pathways that could be available to you in a wide variety of situations.

Relax Before the Baby Arrives

Once you have done everything else on the list, the time has come to give yourself some much-needed relaxation time before the baby arrives. You may only have a matter of days or you may have several weeks ahead of you, but it is important that you give yourself the maximum time to rest before the baby arrives, as well as buying any last items you may need. Things will certainly change significantly afterwards.

Remember that all the plans you put in place should all have a degree of flexibility built into them. After all, you never know how they are going to shift and adapt over time. Draw as much support as you can from your partner, friends and family, and prepare yourself for what is bound to be one of the most incredible experiences of your life.

 

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Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying A (nother) Baby Product

If there’s one thing that women do while pregnant, it’s shopping. Shopping and expecting a baby seem to go hand-in-hand, and admittedly, most of those purchases are necessary. You’re going to have to fill your home with equipment and supplies you have never needed before so that you’re ready to welcome your new baby.

However, if you read enough guides, you will find yourself with a shopping list so long that it feels you will never complete it. How can a baby need so much stuff? The demands are endless, and naturally, every product manufacturer absolutely insists that their product is completely necessary. Of course, you want the best for your baby, so you buy… and then find yourself joining the ranks of parents who don’t use half of those so-called “essential” items.

Before your next purchase, it’s worth running a few questions through your mind to see if a product truly is needed, or if it’s one you can skip.

“Can I Envisage A Scenario Where I Will Use This?”

Many products will pass this question with ease; it’s simple to imagine when you’re going to use a breast pump or a toy that can also monitor your baby’s breathing while they sleep. More esoteric products, however, will fail this test, helping to shorten your shopping list in one fell swoop.

“Does This Product Fix A Problem?”

The majority of products will pass this test as well. Concerned about your baby rolling over while sleeping? There are plenty of baby pillows that can help fix that issue. Worried your baby is going to struggle to adapt to their new environment? Then you can look for the best baby sound machines to help meet that need. A huge number of baby products are expressly designed to meet the needs of parents, so this test is relatively easy to pass.

What won’t pass is decorative and novelty items. These items are nice, of course, and there’s no harm in having a few, but you don’t want to go overboard and stretch your budget as a result.

“Is This Something That Will Be Used Frequently?”

The most important products to buy are those that will be in constant use, such as baby monitors, strollers, highchairs, and car seats. These are the items that should command the majority of your budget.

However, if an item is only designed to be used in certain, infrequent situations — such as when your baby has a cold — then it’s wise to leave these products on the shelf for now. You can always purchase them in the future, when you’re experiencing the problem that these products are designed to ease.

In Conclusion

There’s enough shopping to do to meet the essential needs of your baby, so it’s important to avoid making life even more difficult by buying additional items that may not be necessary. If a product can pass the three questions above, chances are it’s a good purchase; if a product fails, then you might want to leave its purchase until a later date or not at all. With less shopping to do, you can focus on enjoying being pregnant, and look forward to greeting your bundle of joy!

 

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Improving Your Finances at the End of the Week

Raising a kid is expensive. Being a single parent can also be challenging, even when both parents are working together to pay for kids’ doctors bills, child care, and activities. I’ll admit it–my strong suit is NOT budgeting, and I like to provide fun experiences for Katie and myself. I also want her involved in sports and other activities, so I have been trying hard to stop eating out so much and THINK before we spend money. When this contributed article came in to me, I thought it had some good tips, especially during the holiday season and when personal property tax is due in Missouri! Here you go: 

Finances are a big part of our lives: they dictate what we can and can’t do; and despite plenty of people declaring that “money isn’t happiness,” it is stability! Everyone can understand how good a little bit of leftover cash at the end of the week can feel.

It can often feel like you’re spiraling out of control when it comes to keeping your money in line, but it doesn’t have to. We could all do with a helping hand from time to time, so here’s some tips for you to consider when it comes to making ends meet.

Rethink Your Goals

Maybe you’ve been thinking  over your fiances over for a while, strategizing and planning in the spare minutes you have, but your money situation still doesn’t make any sense. However, setting yourself some good money goals is the first step in making sure you can improve on your current standing, as you immediately have something to work toward instead of floundering blindly.

Add up all your expenses for every week, including groceries and bills and any extraneous prices you’ll have to fork out for, just to give yourself more of a realistic view. Then, budget accordingly! Write down a budget that you think you can stick to with your finance goals included. 

Contact Your Service Providers

So your internet bill has raised again, and it’s the most useful asset in your modern household; you’re tearing your hair out. It’s time to contact the broadband man and make sure you have the best package to fit your family’s current needs and internet use. 

If your area has more than one gas or electric company, you could very well find a better rate or deal with another company; there could always be another option when it comes to your utilities! This is something people don’t often think about and just accept the bill they have to pay as is. These packages often aren’t advertised, and companies never want to lose a customer to a competitor, so they’re likely to accommodate you if you query it.  Your current provider can also give you some options on budget and consistent billing as well as ways to save on the power you use.  It doesn’t hurt to call and find out your options. 

Get Yourself a Piggy Bank

Yes, it sounds a little childish, but this is often a key component to getting a little extra cash when you need it. Save up all the pennies you have, and drop them in the slot, and then open it up at the end of the month. We’re often surprised at how much spare change can turn into real money that can go towards us and our families.

Even the idea of a piggy bank makes us unlikely to go spending money that we don’t really have. When the pennies are out of sight and thus out of mind, we’re more likely to save.

Buy Off the Bottom Shelf

We can’t always wait for deals or coupons to come for all products we need; and a lot of the time, companies get us to buy things we don’t want or need. That means it’s bottom shelf buying time. It’s not quite a well-known fact, but stores put the stuff they want us to buy at eye height, meaning the most expensive stuff goes there. That means we need to be aware of their crafty ways and work around them.

Search both the top and bottom shelves in the aisles for the best deals and the store’s own brands, as they’re so much cheaper. There really isn’t much difference between the ingredients and quality in the store’s brand than in the bigger food companies. It also means you can bulk buy and not feel guilty about it.

Look into Loan Options

So if you have some experience with having a lack of money, then you’re probably looking at this option with a quizzical eyebrow. Yet, this is an option if you really need the extra help to get yourself out of a bad financial situation in the short-term, and you think you could manage the payment at the end of the loaning period.

You’ll need to check your credit report before securing a loan and making sure any paid debts aren’t still lingering around on there, as that can pull down your score; often, they aren’t removed automatically.

You can find bad credit secured loans all over the place; you just need to know what to look and ask for. First place to start your research is the internet, as that has a lot of the information you will need for your task. Whilst it can be quicker to just find a lender and apply online after this, you don’t want to be too hasty and make sure you understand what the terms are. Take the idea to your bank if you’re looking for a more traditional loaning method; they too often have advice that’s invaluable and on a more personal level. It’s always worth a try after all!

Do you have a tip for budgeting or saving money? 

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8 Things to Do if Your Dog Has Fleas

I don’t write much about my dear old dog on here, although here’s a photo with he and KT that I’ve posted before. But he’s an important part of my family too. When someone asked if I would consider posting this article, I said: YES! Pets are family members, too, and they need to be taken care of. Here is one of the battles you face when you have a dog (or cat): 

Flea treatments need to be kept up with every two to four weeks, depending on what you are using. Fleas can be picked up from a number of different places, including pet groomers, pet hotels, contact with other animals, and even the grass your dog runs through. It’s actually very easy for a few fleas to jump onto your pet, make themselves at home, and spread the infestation. So your dog may not stand a chance while unprotected. Here’s what you can do if you spot a flea on your dog.

Flea Shampoo

The first thing you need to do is go to the heart of the problem; your dog. Your furry friend needs to be treated before you can hope to get rid of every flea. You can start by giving your dog a bath  with flea shampoo and following the directions on the bottle carefully. Make sure you buy a shampoo that comes highly recommended, rather than one that pretends to be something it’s not. After the bath, brush your dog through with a flea comb and immediately dispose of any fleas. Don’t allow your dog to return to its bed after having the bath.

Clean Bedding

You’ll be surprised how quickly fleas can make themselves at home in your dog’s bedding. You’ll need to either thoroughly wash blankets and beds in hot water or throw them away and buy new ones. Without doing so, you’ll have a never-ending problem. Fleas will be able to jump to and from your dog’s bedding back onto your dog. The same goes for your dog’s toys. If your dog frequently plays with cuddly toys that could easily be a home for fleas, the toys will either have to be washed or replaced.

Clean Your Home

It’s not just your dog that fleas will cling to; they’ll quickly spread throughout your home, too. They like to set up camp in rugs, sofas, and even bedroom mattresses. So, it’s important to keep your home as clean as possible while you’re dealing with fleas. You’ll need to vacuum regularly and clean out your vacuum once it’s been emptied. It’s also important to wash your floors. A strong disinfectant in water on a wooden floor will help to kill fleas quickly. If you have carpet throughout your home, you may want to think about using a carpet cleaner, specifically designed to get rid of fleas, to wash out any remaining pests.

Treat Your Home and Dog

Unfortunately, fleas are a persistent kind of pest; and it can take weeks, months even, to completely eradicate them. It’s something you must stay on top of and the best way of doing that is to regularly treat your home and dog. There are two main treatments for dogs. Take a look at Advecta flea treatment products, where you’ll find tablets and spot on treatments. When it comes to your home, you have several different options. You can buy sprays for your furniture and floors, you can fog your home and evacuate until the treatment is complete, or you can call a pest control company to take the problem off your hands and ensure the job is done properly.

Essential Oils

If you know there are fleas in a certain area of the home, but you just can’t seem to catch them, essential oils are ideal. A few drops of an essential oil, like lemon, ginger or lavender, is an attractive smell to fleas; but the oil is deadly to them. So, if they make the mistake of walking or jumping into the oil, you could be cleaning piles of them off the floor at once. The only problem is, this method is often best used in rooms where your dog won’t venture, as some essential oils can be harmful to your pet, too.

Water Bowl

They may be tiny, but fleas are certainly no fools. They’re usually most active at night time, when you aren’t around to catch them. One of the best ways to catch them at night is to place a small bowl of water  filled with warm soapy water in the center of your room. Fleas are attracted to the water and smell of the soap; but once they jump in to investigate, they’re usually killed. It’s a great way of catching them during the night and finding out how many fleas you still have around. The downside is this trick usually only works on the adults, and it’s important to kill the young fleas and eggs too.

Keep Going

If you think you can clean the home and your dog once and be rid of these pesky creatures, you may be in for a nasty surprise. Many pet owners have made the mistake of thinking one flea bath or treatment will kill all fleas, and the problem has only gotten worse because the fleas have been left to procreate. Even if you believe your flea problem has been resolved, you’ll still need to repeat all of your treatment methods regularly for at least four weeks.

Don’t Forget Your Yard

Your backyard is another place that your pet can spread fleas. Unlike the house, it’s very difficult to know where fleas are in the yard, and getting rid of them can be tricky. But, without the yard being treated, fleas have free reign to jump to and from your dog, making your flea problem impossible to deal with. The best way to get rid of fleas outside is to buy a flea treatment product for outdoors. Many of them are toxic, so it’s likely you’ll have to keep your dog away from the yard for a few hours, but they’re usually very successful.

It takes time and patience to get rid of a flea problem, and you may find yourself going around in circles many times. But to protect you and your pet, the work is worth it.

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Keeping Track of Your Natural Cycles and Their Importance

Sometimes it can seem like our lives run like clockwork. We get up at a similar time each day, head to work, take breaks, come home, meet friends, and catch up with family. Every now and then, we might have a holiday thrown in. But when it comes to our bodies, things aren’t always so reliable or written in stone. This can be relatively inconvenient. But not to worry. Here are a few simple ways to track your natural cycles, giving you peace of mind and improving your overall health, well being, and understanding of your body.

Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation

Most women will generally have a menstrual cycle that lasts around 28 days. This process sees natural changes occurring in your body to allow for the chance to procreate. However, unfortunately for us, we all have different cycles, and these can vary not only from woman to woman but for an individual from one month to another. Now, there are several reasons that you may want to keep track of your menstrual cycle. Firstly, it allows you to prepare yourself for your period. It’s always beneficial to know when you are due to start, as this allows you to keep your mooncup or other sanitary items with you around the time that you may need them. If you are trying to have children, charting your menstrual cycle can also allow you to work out which days you are most fertile. Try out the Flo app. This is a simple way to keep a record of your cycle and helps to make relatively accurate predictions regarding menstruation and ovulation through its use of machine learning (or artificial intelligence).

Pregnancy

When you’re bringing a new life into the world, chances are that you’ll want to know exactly what is going on within your body and how this lines up to medical expectations and others’ experiences. You’re going to be experiencing some pretty big changes over the next few months, so it’s not all too surprising that you’ll want to feel in control every step of the way. Many newly pregnant women are unsure of when exactly they conceived. So they may feel a little lost when it comes to knowing when to expect their little one’s arrival into the world. Know your due date from early on by using a simple online calculator. It will use information regarding your last menstrual period (or LMP) to identify your last ovulation date. This can give you a little peace of mind until your next doctor’s appointment.

Sleep Cycle

Many of us are sleep deprived without even knowing it! We’re just so used to being tired and getting on with things. But new wearable technology means that we can get a better and more comprehensive insight into our sleep patterns from the comfort of our very own homes. Devices such as Fitbit can monitor your heart rate while you sleep, allowing you to track how many hours you get, how many times you’re disturbed or woken and how much time you spend in REM. This can help you to make changes if necessary.

As you can see, having a deeper and more thorough understanding of your body and its cycles is much more simple than ever before!

(contributed article)

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Stress Busting 101: How To Reduce It In Your Life

We are coming upon one of the most stressful times of the year for people–the holidays. This contributed article has some good tips to consider to focus on reducing your stress:

We all lead busy lives and can find ourselves feeling stressed from time to time. Heck, not even time to time for many of us; more like all of the time! It could be family, work, health, or other issues that can lead to the stress, if not a combination of them all. But whatever your source of stress is, it is a good idea to take control of it now, so that you can deal with it and find ways to eliminate it. After all, stress can make many aspects of your life worse, such as your health (both mental and physical).

Professor Cary Cooper, from robertsoncooper.com, has stated that in our lives, there is always a solution to the problems that we face, even if it doesn’t feel like it or that it feels impossible. But when we just let things carry on as they are, it can make things much worse. The keys to dealing with and managing stress tend to be building up some emotional strength and having less of a “woe is me” kind of attitude. When you do have a victim attitude, you are justifying the situation rather than doing anything about it. Taking control of the situation can help, as well as being positive and having a good group of people around you. Being able to share the load, so to speak, can help massively. Even if it is just someone to talk to over the phone.

What else can you do to address and then eliminate the stress that you have in your life? Here are some stress-busting suggestions.

Be Active

Being active and exercising isn’t going to make your stress disappear. But what it does do is help you to manage it. Exercise can lead to a bit of an escape, as well as reducing the intensity of it all for you. Exercise can lead to a production of happy hormones that can lift your mood. So when you have to go back to a stressful situation, you are likely to deal with it in a better way.

Seek Alternative Therapies

As well as exercise, there could be an alternative therapy that could help you to feel better about things. Regular massages, reflexology appointments or even seeing a chiropractor could help you. Again, it isn’t going to eliminate the stress in your life. But it will help you to deal with it better. The reason behind these kinds of treatments is whole-body healing. The focus, according to myauburnchiro.com, is not so much on sickness, but rather on overall wellness and healthy living. So it could be really beneficial for you to give it a try.

Connect with Others

A good support network of people around you–friends, family, or colleagues–is a good way to help to lift your mood. They can offer support and fun, as well as offering advice to help you deal with the situations that you face. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved. It can be good to just talk about your feelings, too, even if you just want people to listen, rather than offer solutions. Sometimes, when we say things out loud, it can help us to resolve the issues that we had on our mind.

Avoid Unhealthy Habits

As we know, there are many things that can make us feel better when we are feeling stressed. But there are also some things that can make us feel worse. We may think that they are going to help us, but unhealthy habits can actually have the opposite effect. Smoking, alcohol, and too much caffeine can actually make our bodies feel more on edge and stressed. In the long-term, these are just crutches and can make things worse. This is especially true if you end up feeling like you can’t get through your day without a bottle of wine, for example. So look for healthier habits, as said above, such as exercise or an alternative therapy.

Be More Productive

You may feel stressed because you have so much on your plate that you need to do. But the key is to be more efficient with your time, rather than spending every waking minute doing things. What things could you tick off your list at the same time? What work can be prioritized and others not as much? Can you get help at home, like a cleaner, for example, so that you can focus on other tasks that have more value to you? Set aside time to be more productive and remove distractions, such as your phone. It could mean putting it in airplane mode, for instance, until you get a specific task done. It is all about working smarter and being more productive, rather than working harder.

Make a Positive List

You will be surprised at what a difference being positive can make. If you find it hard to be positive, then it can be a good idea to take some time out and write out what you are grateful for, as well as the positive things in your life. When you take the time to do just that, it can make a massive difference and, you’ll see all of the good and happy things that you do have. It can put the stressful side of your life into perspective a little bit and help you to refocus.

Help Others

Along a similar line of making a happy and positive list of things in your life, it can also be a good idea to look for ways to help other people. It can give you a different focus and again, puts things into perspective for you. It can act as escapism and does help to give you a happy and euphoric feeling. You may not think that you even have time to do something like this. But when you make an effort to do it, you will see the benefit of it in your life.

Hopefully, one of these ideas helps you handle your current stress. What works for you? 

 

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