Alternative Investment Ideas Gaining Steam as Way to Pay for College and Reach Other Financial Goals

When most of us think about why folks invest, the top reasons that typically come to mind are to build wealth for a financial future or to create a nest egg that is large enough to fund a comfortable retirement.

One important financial goal that is often overlooked is the need to save to pay for our children’s college tuition and expenses. Investing can be an important part of securing your children’s future, as nowadays it’s practically impossible to get ahead and succeed in life without an advanced degree from a leading institution of higher learning.

Investments Beat Simple Savings Due to Growth Potential

Regardless of your financial goal, investing increases the odds that you will have the amount of money that you need later on down the road. This is because many investments have the potential to grow at a rate faster than the rate of inflation. This is drastically different than traditional savings products such as simple interest-bearing deposits, money market funds, and Treasury bonds and notes whose rate of growth is typically very low.

Reach and Exceed Your Goals

The following is a list of investment ideas to help you prepare for the future so that you can fulfill your hopes and financial aspirations, whatever they may happen to be.

Foreign Currencies

One investment idea that is gaining in popularity is foreign currencies. Several countries are becoming attractive investment opportunities due to their high rate of growth. The economy in Iraq, for example, is experiencing rapid growth as the country’s government extends its control over a growing number of areas. Stability is returning, and businesses of all sizes are springing up as key infrastructure is rebuilt.

Investors can reap the benefits of this economic boom by purchasing the Iraqi dinar and other foreign currencies through a reputable and experienced currency exchange company, such as Treasury Vault. While the price and value of foreign currencies are usually fairly volatile, this type of investment offers some protection from large-scale economic downturns that affect the value of the U.S. Dollar and other major currencies such as the Euro, and British Pound.

Alternative Investments that Can Beat Traditional Stocks and Bonds

Foreign currency is an example of an alternative investment that can offer protection from the risk of loss that may occur if there is another “Great Recession” or another event that causes a sell-off in more traditional investments such as the Dow and other markets where stocks and bonds are publicly traded.

The following are some additional nontraditional ideas for investing your money for a higher potential yield.

Classic Cars

Since the first Model T rolled off the production line in 1908, Americans have an obsessive love-hate relationship with their automobiles. Numerous makes and models of the most popular cars and trucks have increased in value over the years, which makes owning a classic car a potentially lucrative investment.

Limited production runs, the overall condition of the vehicle and whether it has all of its original parts and features, especially the original paint, floor covering and seat covers, can all affect its value.


Move over, Picasso! Fine art was once a popular alternative investment. Signed works of art created by the old masters and other well-known, highly skilled artists are starting to fall out of favor with collectors. Now, signed, limited copies of photographs are all the rage with fans of modern art and investors.

Peer-to-Peer Lending

Many traditional savings accounts are currently earning less than 1% interest on the deposit, making them one of the least attractive options if you need to save for college, a down payment on a house or any other financial goal. To be profitable, you need an investment strategy with a potential for high growth and yield.

One alternative investment that’s really taken off since the last economic downturn is financing the debt of others. Lending Club is just one of the many firms that allow investors to pool their investment with others and issue personal loans.

These firm have various criteria that borrowers must meet before they qualify for a loan, which helps to lower the risk. While there is a chance that an individual borrower might default and not pay you back, you can lower the risk of loss by making several smaller loans to multiple borrowers and then lean back and reap the rewards as these loans typically earn investors 5 to 10% interest or more!

Maintaining Your Home to Protect the Health of Your Family

Owning a home is a big deal to most Americans.

It provides you with a place where you can enjoy your privacy and entertain friends. But, owning a home also means that you must maintain it. If you or a member of your family is experiencing allergic or cold like symptoms frequently, your home may actually be the cause. The good news is that there are ways to protect your family by performing regular maintenance on your home to improve the air quality.

Air conditioning and heating system

Your air conditioning and furnace keep the home comfortable for you and your family. But if not maintained regularly they can lead to chronic health problems. Fortunately, you can improve the air quality in your home rather quickly. First change your filter on the furnace regularly. The function of the filter is to remove dust, dirt, debris, allergens and other contaminants from the air. When your filter is used too long it no longer able to serve the intended purpose. Secondly, clean out the air ducts once a year. This will help to prevent the presence of mold, bacteria, and viruses. If left unserviced, the risk of these things growing and spreading throughout your home every time your HVAC system turns on greatly increases. If a new air conditioning installation project is needed, have the system annually serviced by a licensed professional going forward. This helps to make sure it’s operating smoothly. If you avoid doing this and a problem occurs, even a small one, you could put your family at risk.

Repairs leaks

The presence of moisture is a clear indication that there is a leak somewhere in your home. Do a thorough search of the plumbing, hot water heater, as well as your roof and windows. If your roof is older it’s a good idea to get a contractor out to look at it to make sure that none of the shingles are missing. It’s also important to remove any potential hazards away from your roof and siding like tree limbs, branches, and scrubs. Ignoring a leak can lead to serious health issues for you and your family. Mold and mildew can cause different symptoms from annoying to serious depending on your age and your body’s reaction to it. It can cause clogged nasal passages, irritation to the throat, coughing, wheezing, watery eyes, and even rashes on children with sensitive skin. Other who develops a serious reaction can end up with a compromised immune system and can end up with a serious infection in their lungs.

Protecting your family from rodents

Finding droppings in a cabinet is more than just a nuisance, it can have serious health consequences for you or a member of your family. The most common problem caused by rat and mouse droppings, urine or dander is an allergic reaction. This most times is very similar to that of a cold wherein the person who has the reaction to the pest coughs, sneezes, develops a sore throat or a skin rash. An allergic reaction is the least that can happen. There are much more serious and potentially life threatening illnesses that can also occur. You or a family member could acquire a disease like Hantavirus or a bacterial infection like Leptospirosis, which can transmit from a rodent to a human. Thankfully, there are ways to remove the potential risk by having a reputable pest control company come out a few times a year. For your part, you can seal any cracks or holes, no matter how small they look to you, to avoid any unwanted trespassers from entering.

Materials and furnishings in your home

It’s not something you would think of, but your furniture can actually play a role in your chronic health issues. If you own furniture that’s made of certain pressed wood products such as Medium Density Fiberwood, you could have toxins slowly filling the air of your home. In order to create MDF they bond wood solids, wax, and resin together under high heat and pressure, to create a strong solid wood-like substance. The problem is that during the manufacturing process, formaldehyde gets used and if the seal is not airtight toxins can escape into your home. Lead is another potentially harmful substance that can be on the wall or window sill of a child’s bedroom. Luckily, this is a problem that’s very easy to fix. If you’ve purchased an older home make sure that you remove the old paint and replace it with a fresh coat.

Solutions for Securing Fast Cash for a Home Emergency

If you’ve been a homeowner for as long as I have, you know that home repairs come with the territory. The crazy part about it all is that the repairs seem to come at the most inopportune moments. I’d even go as far as to say that sometimes it feels like my house wants to breakdown when I’m broke. I mean it. As soon as I’ve divvied up my paycheck for the week, the plumbing wants to leak or a tree wants to fall over in the backyard onto the neighbor’s shed. Like seriously, where’s the relief?

Unless you’re well-off, have access to a bottomless amount of cash, or happen to be a magician (one that can pull a few thousand bucks out of their hat), securing fast cash for a home emergency might be a lot easier said than done. Since I’ve been through this a time or two myself, I figured I’d save you the trouble of stressing over money by giving you a list of options for quick cash to make an emergency home repair:

Installment Loans

If you’re talking about a home emergency that’s $1,000 or less and time is of the essence, you may be able to secure the funds by applying for an installment loan. Online installment loans that are available can give you as much as $1000 in a short time period so that you can repair your home. What’s great about installment loans is you don’t have to pay it all back at once, giving you time to recuperate financially. Make sure that when borrowing a short-term loan that you repay it in a timely fashion to avoid penalties and higher costs.

Borrow from Pension, Retirement, or Life Insurance Policies

If you have more time but need a lot more money for repairs (like a roof replacement or a basement leak), you can also borrow the money from your pension account, 401K, or borrow against your life insurance policy. Depending on the terms of your retirement account or insurance policy, you could take out a small percentage and repay it with interest over a predetermined period. Keep in mind that this option may come with other fees outside of interest and it may also take a bit more time to obtain the funds.

Turn Some of Your Belongings into Cash

Once, we needed money to upgrade our electrical system in order to be up to code. Obviously, a job like that would cost us thousands, so we started thinking outside of the box. Neither of us had time to take on a new job to earn the money, but we did have a lot of things we were no longer using. We had a bunch of old cell phones, computers, jewelry, and even a junk car that we were able to trade in for cash in a short amount of time.

File a Homeowners Insurance Claim

There are some home emergencies that your homeowner’s insurance will pay for. All you have to do is file a claim, keep a record of the damage, and find a vendor who will accept payment from your insurance provider. For instance, our tree fell in the backyard and completely smashed in the shed. We filed a claim with our homeowner’s insurance provider got a few estimates from tree removal companies and garage repair contractors, and they cut a check for the damage to be repaired.

There’s always a surprise when you own a home. One minute, you’re signing on the dotted line to move into your dream home. The next, you’re pulling your hair out trying to figure out how you’ll pay for an emergency home repair. Luckily, you don’t have to be a millionaire or a magician to secure fast cash. Instead, you can use one or several of the options above to get the cash you need to fix your home right away.


Solutions for Children with Sensitive Skin

There are a variety of reasons children may have an adverse reaction to items in their environment. Those with especially sensitive skin may find it even more difficult to interact with the world around them. Some of the most common issues sensory processing issues, allergies, and eczema.

Sensory Processing Disorders

There are many different types of sensory processing disorders. They can involve any of the senses, including vision, hearing, taste, and touch. Children with a sensory processing disorder related to their sense of touch may find the way things feel to be extremely aversive. When this happens, it is called tactile defensiveness.

Children with tactile defensiveness will often avoid touching specific materials and if forced to do so may become fearful. Situations which can trigger this include textured materials, specific clothing textures, seams on socks, tags on shirts, the feeling of grass or sand, vibrating toys, and even wind blowing on their skin.

Exposing a child to the same stimulus repeatedly has not been found to work. One way to help children who are bothered by these types of experiences is to find solutions which will work for them. Seamless socks and shirts with tags removed can be a good place to start minimizing the aversive experiences in the child’s daily life. However, for severe cases of tactile defensiveness occupational therapy is often needed to help the child become increasingly comfortable with interacting with a wider variety of tactile experiences.

Allergic Reactions

Contact dermatitis is the reaction that is caused when the skin comes into contact with an allergen or other irritant. Symptoms can include itching, rash, burning sensations, and blisters. Some of the most common causes of contact dermatitis include exposure to soaps, fabric softeners, shampoo and other haircare products, and laundry detergents. When this happens it can be difficult to isolate the chemical responsible for the reaction and the individual is simply forced to avoid brands which trigger a response.

Many people with sensitive skin find it easier to use products that are created with all natural ingredients or which are designed specifically for sensitive skin. These tend to be free of dyes and perfumes and utilize ingredients that are generally regarded as being hypoallergenic. However, even some of these products will cause problems in people with very sensitive skin or who happen to be allergic to one of the natural ingredients.




Eczema is a skin condition that usually develops during early childhood. The primary symptom is a rash that can occur anywhere on the body but tends to be localized to behind the knees and arms. While it is related to allergies, it is different from a rash caused by an allergic reaction.

There are a few types of eczema, the most common of which is atopic dermatitis. Eczema affects about 15 percent of infants but by the time they reach adulthood most have outgrown the condition. Only 3 percent of adults continue to suffer from symptoms. It is important to note that eczema is not contagious although there does tend to be a family history of the condition.

Regardless of where the rash appears, it is usually itchy. Occasionally the itching will begin before the rash appears. This usually happens on the back of the knees, hands, face, wrists, or feet. When the rash appears, it is typically very dry and may also be thick or scaly. The rash tends to initially appear red and then fade to brown on individuals with fair skin. Those with darker skin may have rashes that lighten or darken the affected area.


Flare-ups can be caused in response to environment conditions or exposure to specific substances. Triggers vary from person to person which can make it almost impossible to know ahead of time what will cause a flare-up. Common triggers include exposure to household products, becoming too hot or cold, contact with coarse materials, and stress.

There is no cure for eczema but it is possible to manage the condition by avoiding irritants and with medical treatment. The most common treatment is the application of 1 percent hydrocortisone cream or other corticosteroid creams. If the area becomes infected the child may also be given topical or oral antibiotics. Antihistamines may also be used to control the itching.

Caring for a child who has sensitive skin can be a challenge. Skin is the largest organ and the one which is most frequently bombarded by new irritants. By learning exactly what causes irritation for your child over time, the process will slowly become easier.




Driving with Kids: Tips for Safety


Summer is coming up fast and many parent’s minds are turning to how they are going to spend the summer with their little ones in tow. While vacationing in summer can be fun, driving with kids can easily become a nightmare. From the constant refrains of are we there yet to the fighting with siblings in the back seat, driving with kids can be distracting and dangerous as well. Read on below for a few of the ways that you can drive with your kids safely and for what to do if you do get in an accident with kids in tow.

When Accidents Happen

Before we head into how to stay focused while driving with your children, let’s talk about some of the things you should do should an accident occur with your children in tow.

Call 911

The first thing you need to do, of course, in case of an accident is call 911. Never assume that someone else has already called. You could be wasting precious minutes to save your little ones.

Find the Safest Place

It’s important to find the safest place to wait for help while you are waiting for the paramedics to arrive. Whether it’s a store or a gas station, get your kids as far away from the road as you can. You don’t need the distraction of your kids running around and possibly ending up in the road.

Get Your Children Medical Help

Never just assume that your children are okay, if it’s not apparent that they have been hurt in an auto accident. Always have them checked out by your doctor or the local emergency room, just to be on the safe side.

Call Your Attorney

Once the dust has settled and you know that you and your children are okay, it’s important to call an auto accident lawyer right away. Make sure that you keep all hospital records and any evidence you can gather so that he can make sure you are compensated for your car, doctor bills, and the suffering of your children in the accident.

Tips for Driving with Kids in Tow

There are quite a few ways that you can keep your children happy when you’re driving and stop them from distracting you.

Play Games

There are quite a few games, from I Spy to animal guessing games that you can play with your children to keep you focused on the road and them from distracting you. If they are playing a game of scavenger hunt, then you shouldn’t have to worry about them fighting in the back seat and causing you to have to referee.

Activity Bags

Before you head out on your trip, make up some surprise activity bags for the kids to open along the way. From books and candy to travel games, coloring books and crayons, younger kids will be thrilled with the surprise and then busy with the activities. You will have to experiment to see what is age appropriate for your activity bags and what your child loves to do.

Take Frequent Breaks

Traveling for long periods of time is hard on an adult, much less a child. Taking frequent breaks so that they can use the restroom and stretch their legs is a great idea for all of you. It’s hard to be cooped up in a car when you have a ton of energy as a kid. So, take a break and let them get some of that energy out.

These are just a few of the tips that you should follow when in an accident with kids in tow. The activities can be varied from child to child to help keep them entertained and you from being distracted. Driving with kids can be a challenge, but the most important thing to remember is that their safety is your number one concern. If you have to pull over to deal with them, pull over, getting somewhere fast is not worth the consequences that could come with being distracted and being involved in an accident. Safe driving!

7 Ways to Overcome Addiction Before Having a Baby

Planning a family is a joyous occasion in a couple’s life. If you’re going to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term without complications it will be imperative for you to start taking care of your health. Not only does this mean eating healthier meals, but it also means kicking bad habits. One bad habit in particular that could harm both you and the unborn child is the abuse of harmful substances.
Protect the Womb

Whether you smoke cigarettes, marijuana, abuse prescription medications or consume alcohol, it is essential to quit before you get pregnant. Your body will serve as the “home” for your baby over the next nine months. It will provide the necessary nutrients for the baby to develop before entering the world. When you’re abusing harmful substances, it can have a negative impact on the development of your baby and the quality of your pregnancy.

Ways to Beat Addiction

1. Rehab – Perhaps the most progressive way to beat any addiction is to attend a rehab program. Rehab is designed to provide assistance to those wishing to beat addiction. By abstaining from using harmful substances and participating in therapeutic treatments such as those described at, patients learn efficient ways to deal with life’s stresses and influences. Such resources are key in helping to prevent abuse in the future.

2. One Day at a Time – One thing you’ll learn about recovering from addiction is that it doesn’t happen overnight. Cravings, temptations, and circumstances will arise that can make sober living a lot more challenging. The trick is to remember the tools provided to you while in rehab and to take it one day at a time. Eventually, sober living becomes the easier choice.

3. Talk to Your Doctor – If you happen to be addicted to substances such as prescription painkillers it is important to speak with your doctor. They should know of your addiction so that they can closely monitor the type of medications prescribed to you in the future. When your doctor is informed, they can take the necessary precautions to help you heal from any physical ailments without the dependency on medications.

4. Kick Other Substances – If you’re struggling with drug addiction, you’re going to need to kick other substances as well. This can include drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, or the use of recreational drugs. When consuming more than one harmful substance at a time you “amplify” the high therefore doing more damage to your neurological pathways. To truly beat an addiction you’ll need to rid yourself of all bad habits.

5. Avoid Triggers – Triggers are events or items that might tempt you into using again. You’ll want to avoid these by all means to minimize the chance of relapsing. Get rid of things like ashtrays, lighters, cigarette packs, and whatever else might remind you of your bad habit. If you need to remove certain people from your life in order to remain on the straight and narrow, you should do so as negative influences can easily trigger a relapse.

6. Find a Hobby – To please the “pleasure center” of the brain, it is ideal to find an activity that makes you happy. This can essentially create the same euphoria that your addiction once did. Whether you decide to start exercising or you join a book club. Having something to do that you enjoy will give you satisfaction, increase your level of happiness, thus decreasing the desires to abuse harmful substances.

7. Get a Sponsor – Accountability can often be a great solution for overcoming addiction. You can join a support group and work with a sponsor who will help you stay on the straight and narrow. From accompanying you to meetings to checking in on you throughout the week, you’ll find comfort in having someone on your side as you try to live a more sober life.

Give your baby the best start possible by beating addiction and remaining sober. The road to recovery will require professional and personal support but is a task that can be accomplished. Smoking cigarettes, using marijuana, abusing painkillers, and even drinking too much alcohol can lead to significant pregnancy complications. Removing the toxins from your body will ultimately give your baby the best possible start at life. When you’re free from addiction, it allows you to enjoy the journey of pregnancy. 


Domestic Violence: Spotting the Warning Signs and Getting Help

In the United States, domestic violence is a pervasive issue. In fact, over 10 million women in this country are assaulted by an intimate partner, each and every year. For these women, there is no easy answer. Victims who leave their abuse partners often have to start over from scratch, and, as a result of this type of trauma, many suffer from severe depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD and even substance abuse and addiction. For example, according to experts at Sandy’s Place, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, physical and psychological trauma are closely linked with addiction, as many victims use addictive substances to cope with the effects of violence. 

Thankfully, though, there is help for women caught in the cycle of domestic abuse. Keep reading for tips on spotting the signs of abuse, as well as information on seeking immediate help and support. 

Identifying the Signs of Domestic Abuse

In some cases, the signs of domestic abuse are obvious; in others, they may not be so easy to detect. What’s more, for women caught in the cycle of domestic violence, certain types of abuse may seem normal or acceptable. And, since domestic abuse isn’t always physical, it can be difficult to identify. However, by learning to spot the signs of domestic violence, women are better equipped to break the cycle of abuse and take back their power. 

Namecalling. Namecalling, or insulting a partner’s appearance or intelligence, is a strong indicator of verbal and emotional abuse. 

Extreme jealousy. Abusers are often jealous of their partners’ friends, family members, coworkers and, in some cases, even their children. 

Control. An abuser typically likes to control every aspect of their significant other’s life, including where they go, who they see, etc. 

Financial abuse. An abusive partner may like to hide money from their wife or girlfriend, or refuse access to bank accounts, cash and other assets. 

Isolation. Abusers often like to isolate their victims from friends and family members. 

Aggression. Before escalating to physical violence, an abusive partner may exhibit aggressive behaviors like threatening, punching walls, throwing things, etc. 

Sexual abuse. Spousal rape, as well as forcing a partner to have sex ways in which they did not give consent, are definite signs of domestic violence, and can be punishable by law. 

Spying or stalking. Abusers often keep tabs on their partners’ phone calls, emails, texts and other interactions. 

Any type of physical violence. Domestic violence isn’t defined by black eyes and broken bones; any and all types of physical abuse count as domestic violence. These include hair-pulling, choking, slapping, grabbing, pushing and other types of unwanted physical contact. 

Getting Help

Fear of the unknown keeps many women trapped in abusive relationships. These victims fear for their safety, and that of their children, if they should leave an abusive partner, and they often feel powerless to change their circumstances. Thankfully, there are many resources for women in these situations, a few of which are listed below:

Emergency services. If you, your children or a loved one is in immediate danger, call 911 and, with the help of police, get to safety. 

Domestic violence hotlines. The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-7233. Here, trained professionals can walk victims through the steps necessary to getting out and staying safe. 

Friends and family members. Trusted friends, neighbors and family members can provide emotional support, a safe place to stay, and other types of help.

Counseling. Counseling and support groups can help survivors of abuse gain the insight and coping skills necessary for building and sustaining self-esteem, emotional well-being and psychological health. 

Domestic violence groups. There are countless groups, programs, and organizations dedicated to stopping domestic violence. Check out a few here. 

If you or someone you love feels trapped in an abusive relationship, know that there are ways out. Reaching out and getting help, right now, can mean the difference in life and death. And with guidance and support from professionals and loved ones, you can break the cycle of violence, and enjoy a safe, healthy and happy life. 

7 Driving Safety Tips for New Parents

There’s nothing quite as harrowing as the drive home from the hospital after you’ve had a baby. Here is this delicate little life force that you’re about to put into a metal encasement that’s capable of easily going 80+ miles per hour down the road with other cars speeding all around you.

Traveling with children is never as easy as seems no matter how short the drive may be, and infants add a few more concerns for new parents. Get home safely with these driving tips!

Get Adequate Auto Insurance

Long before labor begins it’s a good idea to take a look at your auto insurance. Does it offer comprehensive coverage? What is the bodily injury liability limit? How high is the deductible? Now that you have another person to take care of you’ll want to make sure you aren’t on the hook for accident-related costs.

If your driving record was less than clean before you became a parent, you may need to look for SR22 auto insurance quotes. Drivers that were found to have inadequate insurance, a previously revoked license, past DUI or numerous tickets may be required to have this type of policy.

Research Car Seats

These days you can’t leave the hospital with a newborn baby unless you have a car seat to put them in. However, that doesn’t mean any old car seat will do for your precious baby.

New regulations that have expanded the use of car seats mean there are more options for kids of all ages and sizes. You’ll need to do a fair amount of research beforehand to find a car seat that is suitable for a newborn, can adjust as your baby grows and fits easily inside your vehicle. Once you find the perfect car seat, register it with the manufacturer so you’ll get a notification immediately if there’s a recall.

It’s tempting to save money by buying a used car seat, but this could be a dangerous mistake. Unless you know the complete crash history, you can’t be sure that everything on the inside is functioning normally.

Install Car Seats for Maximum Safety notes that 73% of car seats are not used properly. No matter how well designed a car seat is, if it isn’t installed and used correctly your baby can be harmed in an accident.

All newborns should be in a rear-facing position and tightly strapped in. If you can wiggle it more than an inch the straps need to be tighter. Check to make sure the seat belts don’t have any twists or kinks and are coming out of the correct slots. The belts should fit snuggly and the chest clip should be at armpit level.

If you’re worried about doing this on your own you can get a certified child passenger safety technician to inspect the seat and how it’s installed. also hosts car seat events throughout the year that are free to attend.

Never Drive Drowsy

The dangers of drowsy driving have been a topic of discussion recently, and new parents are among the most affected. A State of New York safety guide points out that parents with newborns are often sleep deprived and that can make driving risky. Studies have shown that drowsy driving is just as unsafe as drunk driving.

Play it safe and don’t get behind the wheel if you are experiencing symptoms of exhaustion like:

· Not being able to focus

· Not being able to keep your eyes open

· Having difficulty keeping your head up

· Yawning frequently

· Experiencing disconnected thoughts
Make the Driver’s Seat a Device-Free Zone

The growing use of cell phones has increased the number of accidents on the road. Today, nearly a third of crashes are caused by drivers who are distracted by their phones.

Make a pledge to put the phone away while you’re driving. Go old school and look up the directions before you head out the door or have an adult passenger help you navigate. If you know you’ll be tempted to look at texts and calls while you’re driving install an app like LifeSaver that will automatically lock your phone during the drive.

Minimize Crying With the Right Seating Setup

A crying baby is another big distraction that can cause a car accident. You can’t always keep your baby from wailing away in the backseat, but a few tools can help reduce the risk.

Invest in a baby view mirror so you can see what’s going on, several pacifier clips so they don’t go lost and toy tethers that keep entertainment within reach.

Always Wear Your Seat Belt

There are two very important reasons parents should always wear their seat belts. For starters, it sets a good example for kids and will encourage them to always wear a safety belt. Secondly, it will protect you from injury during an accident so you can attend to your child. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you’re significantly injured and there’s no other adult with you to look after your baby.

Common Signs of Pregnancy Complications

Throughout your pregnancy, your body and your baby are changing. How do you know whether what you feel is a normal part of pregnancy or a cause for concern?

It’s best to communicate with your obstetrician at your prenatal appointments if you have any questions or concerns. Don’t ignore these symptoms because they may need immediate attention.

Heavy Bleeding

An estimated 20 – 30% of women experience slight bleeding during the first trimester of pregnancy. This may be due to implantation. Every woman will experience a different level of bleeding during this time. Light bleeding may not be a sign of any complications. Heavy bleeding however, may be a sign of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. Call your doctor immediately if you are experiencing heavy bleeding.

Severe Abdominal Pain

Sharp pains or cramping in the abdomen coupled with heavy bleeding could signal an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg is attached somewhere other than the uterus, usually the fallopian tube. This may cause serious complications for the mother, including complications with future pregnancies.

If you experience severe abdominal pain and have vaginal bleeding, call your healthcare provider immediately. Recognizing an ectopic pregnancy early is essential to avoiding extreme blood loss and ensuring the health of future pregnancies.

Your Baby Is Less Active

In order to understand whether there’s been a decrease in your baby’s activity, you will need to monitor your baby’s movements from the beginning. Some women will feel movement as early as 13 – 16 weeks into the pregnancy while others may not feel any movement until week 18 – 20. If this activity level decreases at any time, call your doctor. Your healthcare provider may want to monitor the baby through ultrasound.

Physicians are now offering women the option of non-invasive prenatal testing, which helps provide more information about the health of their baby. This information can help parents prepare to work with their physician to ensure the best care for themselves and their child.

Severe Nausea or Vomiting

To a moderate extent, many women experience nausea and vomiting during the first trimester of pregnancy. Sometimes, nausea and vomiting may persist through the third trimester and may become severe. Severe nausea may make it difficult to eat or drink anything, increasing your risk of malnutrition and dehydration. If you are experiencing extreme nausea or vomiting, contact your healthcare provider for a solution, which may include changes to your diet.

A Persistent and Severe Headache

Persistent and severe headaches could be a sign of preeclampsia – a potentially fatal condition characterized by high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine. If you are experiencing these symptoms, your doctor will want to test your blood pressure and monitor for signs of preeclampsia.

Contractions Weeks Before Your Due Date

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines an early term pregnancy as being between 37 – 38 weeks and 6 days. The lungs and the brain are still developing during these last few weeks of gestation, making these weeks crucial for the organs to finish their development. If you experience regular contractions (about 10 minutes apart consistently) before your 37th week, call your doctor immediately.

Receiving consistent prenatal care can help reduce complications associated with pregnancy. Speak with your physician about which symptoms may indicate health risk for you and your baby in order to know when seeking urgent medical care is needed.



How to Effectively Organize Your Kitchen

Effectively organizing (or in most cases reorganizing) your kitchen pretty much starts and ends with your cabinets. If you’ve been busy and haven’t had time to check what you’ve got in your pantry or on your shelves, then prepare yourself to find a ton of expired products; jars of blackcurrant jelly from the time you wanted to make a marble cake, packets of flour from 2012; you get it. Chuck them out. Get rid of all the things taking up unnecessary space and donate the products you’ll never use (if they haven’t expired yet).

A Little Pre-Planning

Whether your kitchen is large or small, you have a walk-in pantry or a just a few shelves, you can still make the most of the space that you have. Check out some design magazines or websites for inspiration. If you have the luxury of more room and your storage space is visible, you could think about adding decorative baskets and arranging them nicely on the shelves, or hanging wicker baskets from the walls. If baskets aren’t your thing, then invest in some decorative storage tins, instead of just plastic containers.

If you keep all your produce out of sight, but you want to give your kitchen a makeover, you could invest in some luxury wooden cabinets, with intelligent storage organization inside. If your kitchen is lightly painted and spacious, think about choosing some beautiful dark cabinets that will really create contrast. But when you’re working with a small space, you might want to try lighter wood, or even lighter materials.

Time to Get Organized

There’s no hard-and-fast rule for everyone, as one woman’s system may not work for another, so group items together that make sense to you. You might want to keep all your baking goods and condiments in one place, for example, or separate items by sweet and savory. If you don’t have much space to work with, then try to keep the items that you use the most at the front and things like juicers that you may only use in summer, at the back.

Stackable Organizers and Mason Jars

Stacking organizers are great ways of making the most of the space on your shelves, by creating multi-layers. A great tip for using these is to build them high towards the back and gradually lower as you get to the front, like in a theater, so you can see the contents on everything. Mason jars are good for storing dry foods, like flour and cereal, and keeping them fresh. You can easily see what’s inside, thanks to their transparency and they look better than plastic bins.

You can even select the glass colors to fit in with the scheme of your kitchen and pick colorful covers. If your goods are out of sight and you prefer plastic containers, make sure that they are clear so you can easily see what’s inside and if you can find rectangular shaped ones they will be easier to store. Use labels so you write down or any particular cooking instructions.

Keep it Clean

Now that you’ve made all that effort to free up space and organize your kitchen, keep it clean. Enlist the help of your partner or other family members. Let them know where things go so that it doesn’t get disorganized and chaotic again and make sure all containers are wiped down before putting them away so you don’t start getting spills and stains on your nice, clean, organized storage system.