The Best Animal Attractions in the World

Most children have an inherent fascination with animals and some of their strongest bonds and enduring friendships will be formed with their furry companions. This appeal often extends beyond typical domesticated pets however and in a time when more species than ever are at risk of extinction, the importance of educating the next generation to be able to appreciate and preserve them is greater than ever before. Continue reading The Best Animal Attractions in the World

Protect Your Family Against Phone Scams

There is nothing more heartbreaking than reading a news story about an elderly couple who have been conned out of their life savings by some despicable scheme. It’s an unfortunately regular occurrence and it’s not just the old and the vulnerable that find themselves on the wrong side of a fraudster. Phone scams are big money for criminals, but thankfully there are ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

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Fake Services and Imaginary Products

It is pretty hard to tell over the phone exactly who you are dealing with. The fraudsters that succeed are the ones that do an incredibly good job of convincing people that what they are offering is the real deal. Whether it’s insurance, stocks and shares, low-interest loans, PPI insurance claims or any number of other services, there are a millions ways that they can get people.
 

So much is done over the phone these days that it’s easy to believe you are dealing with trustworthy companies, and it can often be very hard to tell the difference. All it can take is a moment of gullibility and suddenly you find yourself handing over details of your bank card to a total stranger.

Keep the Whole Household Safe

The government is taking action against untrustworthy companies offering services via cold calls, with regulations being tightened and fines increased. This will help a lot but won’t deal with the actual con-artists out there. A safer option could be using a service such as those offered at http://www.grouputilities.com. They offer services that can help block all suspicious calls to your home phone (or indeed any number you want). Services such as this can help to stop nuisance and scam calls from your home country and abroad, while learning the numbers you regularly use so as to never accidentally block any of your friends. 

Whether it’s your kids or elderly family members you are worried about, scam calls are a genuine concern, so make sure you do something about it. Instruct your kids to never give out any details over the phone unless you are present. Make sure that they don’t share any private information with anyone online as well, as many cold-caller lists are compiled from online data. 

Tackle Them on All Fronts

The key to stopping nuisance calls altogether is using a number of options together. The use of companies that offer services to block cold calls is a great start, as that will instantly stop a huge number of nuisance calls. You should also make sure that you never give out information in forms or online that might be passed on to companies and be careful to tick and un-tick the relevant boxes when you do have to give out information. You should also read up on the laws on nuisance calls so you know your rights. A good starting point is the BBC‘s advice on how to tackle cold calls.

You simply don’t have to put up with it, so avoid the risk of getting caught out by a phone scam of any kind by protecting your phone numbers and knowing your rights.

 

Image: Image attributed to FreeDigitalPhotos.net /Ambro

 

Capture the Real Wedding Atmosphere in Print

One of the most important reminders of your wedding day is the photograph album. It is something that a happy couple will treasure throughout their years of marriage. Many people have videos that record the important parts of the day, probably beginning with the bride’s preparations and culminating at the reception, even the departure on honeymoon. Professional photographers have developed new ideas over the years so it is likely that today’s album will show much more imagination than those of your parents or grandparents.

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Different perspectives

The skills of professional photographers generally produce something that records the day superbly but their role rarely includes informal moments that can add atmosphere to the record of the day. One way to do that is to get the perspective of guests. Many will want to take a photograph for themselves of the bride and groom, perhaps the larger family gathering.

There is another idea recently that can give a real flavour of the day and that is to hire a booth in which a small number of people can take photographs of a totally informal nature. It is something that is best placed at the reception and can be used by different people over a period of time to capture the reception as it progresses. Photographs will actually be produced almost immediately with each shot also stored safely.

If you are having a marquee then you must be certain that there is a level and stable floor but little else. Companies like Pixpod provide a service and the results will be as good as the guests who use the booth to take photographs.

Different people

One of the beauties of such a booth is that different people can use the booth and therefore there may be many different ideas turned into images for an alternative angle on the day. There is nothing complex about its use but there will always be someone on hand in case of need. On the day itself, people are generally having too much fun to spend time looking at all the photos so along with the rental will come a promise that the photos are available to access to anyone with password permission for a few weeks after the wedding day. The happy couple and guests will be able to order the shots they like after the event and keep them as their own memory of the wedding day.

Special requirements

It is worth giving some thought to any backdrops you might like, perhaps fancy dress to have available; anything is possible and the booth and accessories can be set up well in advance of the guests arriving at the reception.

The use of a booth is not of course restricted to weddings. It can be used for any special occasion such as a birthday party, anniversary, corporate or charity event. People are forever looking for a new idea and a photo booth is certainly that!

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Alone? Worried? Help is at hand

‘An Englishman’s home is his castle’ the saying goes. It is something of pride that no one should violate. Unfortunately, safety is a problem for everyone in the modern day, but it is essential that you keep things in perspective. It is something that television crime programmes stress at the end of each broadcast. Programmes highlight bad news, and the media seems to report every problem. However, the chances of you suffering from such problems at home remain very slight.

That does not mean that you should not take simple precautions, for both yourself and your property. There are many companies that specialise in safety, but in the instance of a specific age group it is probably better choose one with a close affinity to the problems specifically related to age. There is a greater understanding of the range of issues.

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Home alone – not a problem with personal panic alarms. Image: InSapphoWeTrust

A piece of fiction

There was a very famous comedy movie years ago, “Home Alone”, about a boy that was left alone at home by mistake while the family went off on their Christmas holidays. It was pure fiction, however, if the boy had had one of the personal panic alarms available on the market today, he would have had no problem. There again there would have been no story.

Loneliness can be a problem at any age; for people as they get older it is possibly worse because it is sometimes not so easy to maintain independence. In the case of our hero he was ‘alone’ as opposed to ‘lonely.’ There is a difference.

The equipment and installation

These very light and convenient alarms send alerts through a telephone line to an emergency response centre which will organise help. They can be worn on the wrist or around the neck. If you press the button while you are in your home or garden, the unit by the telephone will activate and connect you to a 24 hour response centre that can assess your call and summon the help needed.

Installation is easy and help is always available if you need it. You simply have to name key holders who can provide access to your property if necessary. They should live fairly close. You may want one of the family to be a key holder and that is absolutely natural. A friendly neighbour is the closest to you and an ideal choice. It is much quicker to gain entry to your home the closer a key holder is to your front door.

You should check the alarm monthly by making a test call. Making a test call will check that the system is functioning correctly or whether there is any maintenance needed.

The service is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You are getting something that gives you peace of mind. You may never have to use it, however, it does make common sense to have it available if the need ever arises, so perhaps you should make contact today and ask for more details.

The Importance of Making Time For Your Beauty Routine

Busy moms today don’t have a lot of time and money to spend on their beauty rituals. However, along with a healthy diet and adequate exercise – all women need to focus on keeping up their appearances in order to feel good about themselves. Here are a few cost-saving beautification tips to add to your routine that you can do while you’re in the shower. Continue reading The Importance of Making Time For Your Beauty Routine

6 Ways to Realistically Preparing for Your Child’s Future

Children today face more academic challenges than ever before. Highly focused state standards, plagiarism temptation, and progressive technology are potential obstacles to kids who are working through the educational system. Thankfully, involved parents can help to prepare their kids to overcome these barriers and reach their learning goals. Here are six tips to keep in mind. Continue reading 6 Ways to Realistically Preparing for Your Child’s Future

7 of the Best Cities to Move Your Family to in the U.S

What makes a city a great place to raise kids? Education is certainly important, as are safety and cultural opportunities. Families also need convenient shopping, easy commutes, affordable housing, and job opportunities.

Here are some of the best places in the country to consider if you have little ones to raise.

Niles, Ill. 

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This city of 30,000 is far enough outside Chicago to enjoy a small city vibe, yet near enough to afford easy opportunities for all the culture, food, entertainment, and shopping of the big city. It boasts a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and offers an abundance of parks, libraries, and shopping of its own.

Niles also provides affordable housing, and the public transit system is completely free. Schools here perform well and crime rates are low. Businessweek ranked it fifth on its list of “The Best Affordable Places to Raise a Family.” Niles is also near a number of colleges and universities, including Chicago State and Judson University.

Clinton, Tenn.

With fewer than 10,000 residents, Clinton enjoys a low sales tax, above average school performance, and three local colleges and universities. With low crime rates and a short average daily commute, Clinton also offers a mild climate and lots of leisure activities. Near the Great Smoky Mountains, Clinton offers some of the most spectacular fall scenery in the country, and it’s close enough to Knoxville to afford cultural and entertainment opportunities beyond what a town this size normally provides.

Tennessee is ideal for families who enjoy four seasons, but don’t want to deal with the extreme heat and humidity of the Deep South nor the heavy snows of the northern regions.

Rowland Heights, Calif.

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On the other side of the country, Rowland Heights is snuggled just outside Los Angeles yet has an unbloated population of about 50,000. Considering its location, residents enjoy relatively low tax burdens and more affordable housing than much of L.A. Job growth here is strong. There are 53 colleges and universities nearby, offering both job opportunities and educational access. Public school students here boast high test scores, the crime rate is low, and the weather is the essence of sunny southern California. Rowland Heights is ideal for families who want to escape the inner cities or avoid cold weather.

Houston, Texas 

Business Insider lists Houston as the best place to live in America, citing its rich job opportunities, low cost of living, diverse population, and stellar restaurants. Houston also provides many cultural opportunities, low unemployment rates, and affordable housing in thriving communities such as Churchill Farms in West Houston. More Fortune 500 companies are headquartered here than anywhere outside Manhattan. Houston offers abundant jobs, especially in the industries of energy, oil, and finance.

Ridgefield Park, N.J.

Consistently ranking among the top public school systems in the country, Ridgefield Park was named the “Best Place in New Jersey to Raise Kids” by Businessweek. It also has excellent recreational opportunities and a real sense of community. During the holidays, residents hold home decorating contests, and Ridgefield Park hosts the longest running Fourth of July parade in the nation. Ridgefield Park is a small town with a true community spirit.

Tilden, Neb.

If you’re looking for an extremely small town, consider Tilden. Located near Norfolk, the town offers recreational opportunities including the quaint Tilden Community Park and nearby Elkhorn River, where locals enjoy fishing (catfish is a big favorite) and boating. Overlooking the river is the Yellowbanks Wildlife Area, where families enjoy camping, hiking, cooking out, and other outdoor activities. Tilden is perfect for families who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors.

Richland, Wash.

Richland has a population fewer than 45,000 and is based on a high-tech industry born of the atomic bomb era. Jobs are plentiful and growing continually. The area offers reasonable housing prices considering the relatively high income levels of the area, along with low crime rates and a mild climate. Waterways like the Yakima, Snake, and Columbia rivers give residents wonderful opportunities for fishing, boating, and water sports. The area also features excellent golfing venues.

When moving to a new area, look for clubs, churches, or charity organizations to become involved with. This is a great way to get to know the people and to find out where the best places for eating, shopping, finding jobs, and entertaining the kids are.

6 Destinations for Your Second Honeymoon

After several years of marriage, things tend to fall into a routine. You get up, take care of the kids, scoot off to work, take care of the kids some more, then you sleep. You repeat this for five days, then you spend two days taking care of the kids all day. Because of this, it’s extremely common to get tired of the routine and to need a break. Here are a few destinations for you and your special someone can retreat to so you can get away from everything and everyone (except each other, of course).

Hawaii

It’s almost kind of cheating to put Hawaii in this list, but it’s here for a reason. You want to be by yourself with your special someone, right? What better way to do that than literally fly to an island in the middle of the ocean and spend your days in a hammock on the beach? Hawaii is the ultimate getaway destination for many people, and for good reason. You’re not going to find the views that you find in Hawaii anywhere else. If you can afford it, there’s no reason to consider anywhere else.

Las Vegas

Not only can you have a second honeymoon in Las Vegas, but you can also get married for a second time, as well! There’s so much to do in Las Vegas that you’ll never be bored. You can check out the many shows or concerts, walk through the Miracle Mile shops, or just walk down the strip. One thing that you shouldn’t have to do, though, is spend your time in a crowded room with hundreds of other people gambling. Thankfully, there are online gambling sites. Stay in your room and curl up with your loved one while you both decide what to play online.

Los Angeles

If you can’t afford to go to Hawaii, head to Los Angeles. Granted, you’ll have to deal with your fair share of traffic, but once you’re on the beach, all of your cares will drift away. Travel to Santa Monica and spend the evening on the Santa Monica Pier, riding the Ferris wheel and enjoying the attractions they have. Go to Rodeo drive and do some shopping and celebrity watching. California is so beautiful that you’ll likely drive around the Hollywood hills looking for houses for sale!

Tahiti

Tahiti is one of those places that always makes your “if we could, we’d go there” lists, but you never actually go. Now’s the time to do it. Tahiti is made up of more than 100 islands. If you’ve seen any pictures of Tahiti, you’ve likely seen the huts over the crystal clear water. These pictures aren’t photoshopped in any way — it’s actually that beautiful. If you have the means, go there.

New York

What better way to spend a second honeymoon than in the city that doesn’t sleep? Check out some Broadway shows, visit Times Square, and try to get tickets to the Late Show. If the city doesn’t do much for you, venture a few hours West to Niagara Falls, where you’re guaranteed to fall in love all over again. Hop on board the Maid of the Mist tour boat and get up close and personal with Niagara Falls for an unforgettable moment.

Alaska

We’re not crazy — Alaska is a beautiful country, and you’ll truly be away from everything. Unless you want to spend weeks driving, catch a flight up to Alaska. You can take a cruise if you like, but the real fun comes with everything there is to do in Alaska. Go sightseeing, have fun kayaking, take a wildlife tour, or just spend the evening camping outside and looking at the Northern Lights. If you’re thinking it’ll be too cold to enjoy those activities, think again — when the Polar Vortex struck in February of 2014, Alaska was warmer than the lower 48 other states.

Any of these destinations would be a great choice for a second honeymoon. With so much to see and do, you’ll have a blast. Have you been on a second honeymoon? Where did you and your special someone decide to go? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Tips for the Best Family Pregnancy Photos

If you are looking at having some family pregnancy photos taken, you may find the following tips of benefit. After all, it is about creating a memorable image that you will be able to look back on for years to come, which makes it a very important photograph. With the following hints, however, you should enjoy the experience itself, and end up with a fantastic picture at the end of it.

Hints and Tips

 

  1. The best time to have a shoot is when you are between 31 and 36 weeks pregnant. This is when your belly is the biggest it is going to get before you risk actually popping during the shoot.
  2. Take any clothing that uses elastic off some two hours before your shoot. This includes your pants, bra and socks. This is because elastic leaves marks on your body, as you will well know if you are pregnant, and these marks will show up on photographs, even with a great deal of photo shopping.
  3. Talk to your family about what style you want the pictures to be. Will you keep all your clothes on, or do you prefer skin on skin contact? Do you want family photos or just some of you and your partner, or you and your other children?
  4. Make sure that nobody is wearing anything that is more noticeable than your belly. Nothing shiny or bright colored should be allowed. Take off anything that attracts light, such as watches as well. It is all about the belly, after all.
  5. Think about what you wear. More and more women now choose not to wear any clothes, or to at least be topless. However, there are no rules dictating that this is what you absolutely have to do. It is about you and what you feel comfortable in, and you must feel comfortable if you want the shoot to be a success. Of course, you also have to ensure others in your picture complement you in their choice of attire.
  6. Perhaps you want to include some of the things you have already purchased for your new arrival, such as a pair of shoes or a blanket? This is a great idea, because it will make the child feel more included after they are born.
  7. Do not put any kind of lotion on your belly shortly before the shoot. This is because it will make your bump look shiny, which isn’t a good look. Do, however, put some moisturizer on your feet and elbows.
  8. Trim your nails and get a manicure, as your nails will probably be in the picture as well. The same goes for your toes.
  9. Bring some lipstick and powder to touch up your makeup as you are taking part in the shoot. You may also want to bring a few changes of clothes and a comb or brush.
  10. Do not assume your photo shoot will be finished on time. These things often go over and you don’t want to end up feeling rushed. Those types of emotions show up on your pictures and they aren’t pretty.

 

Adoption and the struggles faced by children

Children who go through the adoption process can feel the pressure and stress alongside their prospective parents. Many issues can revolve around adoption and some include the feeling of grief when someone finds out they have been adopted, they may feel loss of a relationship with their birth parents and loss of connection with those who have brought them up. Some of the struggles are feeling abandoned and rejected by their birth parents. Some cases where the birth parents have gone on to have children and bring them up may hurt them because they feel they were not good enough. Teenagers are most vulnerable of feeling a loss of identity.

There can be missing medical records, another issue, and unfortunately this may mean that any new Doctor will be missing out on important information about the child.

Some children actively seek their birth family and express their interest in locating them to find out who they are, what they do and why they were adopted. Others choose not to locate their birth family and continue life as it is. Some do this because they are scared of hurting their parents who brought them up and losing their bond with them.

Family Education advises parents on how to deal with problems and struggles when children find out they are adopted. Raising an adopted child may require additional help from professionals as they can experience a difficult time but there is usually a solution and the family can get back on track. A number of key organisations have been set up and are trying to improve the adoption process for everybody involved and affected.