Entertain Kids During the Super Bowl

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When you’re a football fan, and your team (or any team for that matter!) is in the Big Game, it’s hard to believe that there may be people at your party who are not as into the game as you are. Those people are most likely kids! Here are some tips for keep kids happy during the game.

Bring in a Babysitter for the Day
Hire a babysitter to watch and play with your kids and any guests’ kids. Make sure you are clear on your expectations – can kids hang out with adults? What games do you have for the kids? What snacks can they have?

Set Up a Craft Table – Football Themed, Valentine’s Day Themed, Just for Fun!
Kids of all ages have fun working with their hands. Bring out the construction paper, glue, child scissors, glitter, crepe paper and more. Whatever you can think of, kids can craft with. Invite them to make pom-poms, football helmets to wear and more. Or let them get a head start on their homemade Valentine’s for grandparents or siblings or friends. And if none of that inspires them, let them make anything they’d like.

Set Up a Jigsaw Puzzle and Coloring Table or a Board Game Table
Maybe you have kids who aren’t crafty at your party. A coloring book and crayon table and a jigsaw puzzle table may be just what they need to stay entertained. Or let them play board games. Sorry, Life, Chutes and Ladders – these are all great games for kids.

Remember, the more you put out for them to do, the more easily entertained they will be.

When Making the Food, Remember the Kids
Super Bowl parties are not usually the example of healthy food choices. Junk food often rules the menu. However, you want to make sure you have healthy snack options for your adult and child guests.

Popcorn is a healthy choice. Have a popcorn bar where they can add fun candy, raisins, granola or other snacks to their popcorn. Pop up a big bowl of plain popcorn and offer a variety of flavor shakers, such as cheddar cheese, barbecue, etc. You can find these at most grocery stores with the popcorn. Put out some plastic cups to put their popcorn and let them snack. Provide red plastic “keg” cups, a stack of small paper bags or small baskets lined with paper towels for guests to serve themselves.

Make sure to have enough cups for your adult guests who are sure to snack at the popcorn bar, too.

Host Your Own Super Bowl
If Super Bowl Sunday is a nice day, set up a miniature football field outside. Have two different colored flags and let the kids play touch football in the backyard. An opportunity to run around provides a great energy burn before the game and during half time.

Play Hot Football
This twist on the classic Hot Potato can be an energy burning alternative if you can’t get outside. Have the kids stand in a circle, turn on music, and have the kids start passing a miniature football. The kid who is holding the football when the music stops has to do a funny dance and have the others in the group copy it. Keep the game going until the game starts or half time is over.

Do Touchdown Dances
If the kids are watching the game, have them do a Touchdown Dance every time either of the teams scores a touchdown. You can also make it a Field Goal Dance, too. Even the adults who are most into the game will dance when their team scores a touchdown! It’s another way to keep moving.

You know Super Bowl Sunday is a blast for fans. Make sure it’s fun for the little ones, too,
by making having Super Bowl fun Super easy!

Rest Easy by Setting Up Your Bedroom for a Good Night’s Sleep

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Are you ready for a good night’s sleep, but your bedroom is not? A few simple changes can have you sleeping like a baby again in no time.

If you need a new mattress, get one.
You don’t need a fancy mattress. The mattress that allows you to sink into a deep, natural sleep and wake up in the morning without aches and pains is the one you want. And there’s only one way to find out which mattress that is. You have to sleep on it. Find a shop with 30-day guarantee and give your mattress a test drive for a month.

Find the right pillows.
Make sure your pillows are as comfortable as your mattress. You may need to try out several different kinds before you find your perfect pillow, but these are a must for a good night’s sleep.

Sooth with a soft scent.
A spritz lavender scent on your pillows before bed will help calm your exhausted mind.

Chill before bed.
Lower the temperature of your bedroom before you climb into bed. Lower temperatures tell your body it’s time to sleep. If your bed partner objects, tell him to bundle up.

Control the noises you can control.
If the dog’s snoring wakes you up, then put him in another room. If your partner snores, work to find treatment. Snoring can do more than just wake someone up. It can be a real health concern. You’ll sleep better with less noise and when you know everyone is healthy.

Close the curtains.
You sleep better in the dark. If your eyelids flutter open as you move from one stage of sleep to another, even streetlights or a full moon can wake you up.

Turn off the lights.
Your brain can misinterpret even dim lights and wonder if it should wake you up.

Pull on socks.
Studies have found that wearing socks to bed helps you sleep. It may be that warming your feet and legs allows your internal body temperature to drop.

Ignore the clock.
Turn your clock’s face or digital readout away so you can’t see it. We wake slightly throughout the night. A glimpse of your clock—and the realization that you have to get up soon—is enough to jolt you out of sleep and keep you out.

Turn off your phone.
A text, an email or a social media message can produce a ping on your phone and cause it to light up. There’s nothing about a cell phone that makes your sleep sounder. If you think you need it for its alarm, get an alarm clock.

Ready to rest easier knowing your questions about home mortgages are answered?

Make More Room in Your Kitchen

Family Life in the Kitchen

There are some ways to make even the smallest kitchen seem bigger and gain some awesome storage space you weren’t expecting. Try these tips as you start thinking about ways to make the kitchen you have the dream kitchen you want.

Before doing anything else….PURGE!

Grab a garbage bag and start throwing things away. Clean out your pantry, cabinets, freezer and refrigerator. Anything outdated including cereals, spices, canned goods and more can go. Old sponges, storage containers with no lids, expired meats, freezer burned soups and vegetables, and old leftovers all can be discarded. You’ll feel good about starting from scratch, and you will know what you have and what you need when you go to the store.

When you do go to the store, only buy what you need. If you’re a bulk shopper, store extra items in the garage or basement, but keep them out of the kitchen.

Hide your chairs. If you have an island or counter seating in your kitchen, buy a couple of low stools that you can push underneath and out of the way.

Put small appliances away. Toasters, mixers and other kitchen appliances are tools, not decorations. Put them in one of the larger cabinets until they are used again for meal prep.

Buy some cabinet shelving and dividers. You can purchase some inexpensive cabinet shelving for stackable pots and pans, serving dishes, vases and pitchers. It’s an easy fix to get some quick storage space back.

Get a smaller table. If you have a small dining nook, then you need a small table. You may even find one with folding parts so you can make it larger and smaller as needed.

Attach a sanitation rack to cabinet below the sink. These are inexpensive and easy to affix to the wall of the cabinet. Put your dish soap, sponges, and other frequently used cleaning products in it. They are easy to get to and off the sink.

Hang your plants. Get your houseplants off the counter by hanging them up or putting them on upper shelves.

A lot of families spend more time in their kitchens than any other rooms in their home. Make it a room you want to be in!

Your Attic May Be the Storage Solution You Are Looking For

 

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Your attic may be the solution to your storage problems. But not all attics are the same, so before you begin using the space above your house, make sure you do some careful planning. Here are some tips to get you started.

Assess your space. If you have never used your attic for storage before you’ll want to really take a good look at the space you have. How much room is usable? Is it structurally sound for storage? How much weight can it hold? Storing a few holiday decorations is very different from storing furniture. This may be a good time to contact a contractor for some professional advice.

Test the weight it can hold. Some attics have solid, structurally sound floors. Others may require some good reinforcement. If you are able to walk in your attic, do so carefully. The supports may not be as good as your regular floors. Try to walk where you know there are beams.

Check for needed repairs. This space is often forgotten by homeowners, but not by squirrels and mice. Check for signs of rodents, including rodent droppings. And check all electrical wiring. Rodents often chew wires so be extra cautious.

Buy plastic storage bins. Use plastic bins rather than boxes to keep rodents away. They also will provide better protection if your roof leaks.

Hang hooks and shelves. This should be an easy task because the walls are usually unfinished so you can see exactly where to hang these.

Check out the nooks and crannies. You can usually push storage crates into some unusual areas.

Plan carefully for what to store in an attic. This space can be a great hiding place for items you don’t use often. It’s not a good space for candles, photos, paintings or other items that can be damaged by fluctuating temperatures and changes in humidity. Although it may be tempting to store family heirlooms in the attic, you may want to consider places that have more consistent temperatures and humidity levels for preservation.

Whether you use your attic space for storage or not, make sure you check the space out periodically. You don’t want to be surprised by squirrels making their home or leaks you didn’t know about. A good once-over every few months will keep this space ready for you when you need it. 

Holiday Home Safety Tips – Part I

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Now is not the time to take a holiday from home safety, but a lot of us do when we light our trees and put spotlights on our homes. Here are some simple tips for keeping your home and yourself safe from burglars and others who want to take the ho ho ho out of your holidays. 

Make smart choices when you decorate. Don’t put expensive gifts in front of windows or doors where they can be seen from people outside. Gifts under a tree are begging for burglars to come on in and open the packages. Keep them hidden.

Don’t take shortcuts on locking up. ‘Tis the season to set the home alarm. Of course you want to be smart about locking doors and windows all year long, but don’t forget to this step when the holidays are in full swing.

Be anti-social on social media if you’re heading out of town. Don’t let would-be burglars know you’re going to be in Michigan for Christmas. Let them think you’re going to be at home. It’s never a good idea to post travel plans on Facebook.

Did you treat yourself to a new 70-inch, state-of-the-art television for Christmas? Take a little extra time when disposing of the boxes and packaging. Break up the box and bring pieces of it to the trash over time. If you toss a box to the curb, you are letting would-be burglars that you have a new toy that they might like.

Light up the outside and the inside of your home. Make it difficult for burglars to sneak around your windows and doors by shining a light on the outside and on the inside. A spotlight or motion sensor may be a smart investment.

Always let your neighbors know you’re going to be gone so they can watch your house for strange activity and pick up newspapers and mail.

If you live in a place where snow is common, make sure you have someone on standby to shovel your driveway and walkway. A driveway with no tire tracks in it a day or two after it snows tells burglars that no one is home there.

Be smart and stay safe this holiday season and year ’round. Click here for more holiday home safety tips.  

Inside on a Rainy or Snowy Day – Keep Yourself and Your Kids Entertained

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When it’s cold and raining or snowing outside on weekends and during school breaks, the days can drag on. What can you do to keep the kids entertained but not spending the day in front of the television? Try some of these fun activities for a rainy day inside. Keep what you need on hand and you’ll always be prepared for anything. 

Have an indoor treasure hunt. This is a great game for all ages, because you can decide how challenging it is. Hide a small present for each child. It can be a toy or an IOU for a fun day at the movies or skate park. Then, create a set of clues for each participant and hide the clues in order, so the first clue leads them to the second clue, the second clue leads to the third, etc., until they find their treasure.

Create an inside campsite. Drape some sheets over the furniture around one of your rooms to make a tent. Your tent can be as big you want and your sheets will allow. Add some pillows and blankets inside your tent and you have a place to tell ghost stories, play games and, if you’re lucky, take a nap. It may even be fun to have a picnic inside the tent.

Create a story book. All the kids can create their own story books or they can create one together. All you need is some paper, some crayons, a few pens and lots of imagination. Let them write their stories on the pages and draw pictures to go with them. At the end of the day, everyone gets to read their books out loud.

Bake some chocolate chip cookies. Everyone has fun during and after this activity, as the reward is a cookie. Want to sneak a vegetable in? Add some chopped garbanzo beans and add them to the cookie dough before baking to sneak in something good.

Make a splash! If it’s a warm rainy day and it’s just raining, not thundering or lightning, it’s the perfect time to put on the rain boots and rain jackets and grab an umbrella. Go outside for some fun letting off steam and splashing in puddles. Because no one wants to be inside all day if they don’t have to be!

Make a movie. It’s rare today that our phones and digital cameras don’t come complete with their own video recorder. Have some fun. Write a script, learn your parts and try out your acting skills while you make your own movie. Pop some corn and watch your movie on the computer.

Make a family dinner. Is it getting later in the day and it’s still raining? Get everyone involved in dinner preparation. Let the kids make salads or help you stir a sauce. And encourage someone else to set the table.

Put together a Rainy Day / Snow Day Box that you keep on hand. Inside include arts and crafts supplies, like papers, crayons, glue, glitter, beads and other things that kids can use to create fun art; coloring books or other activity books; books to read; puzzles and games; a deck of cards. You can pull this out in a pinch on a rainy day or any time your kids say, “I’m bored.”

With these tips in your box of tricks, there’s no reason your or your kids should be inside AND bored when the weather outside keeps you in. 

Sleep Better at Night by Creating a Home Safety Plan

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Do you have a home safety plan for your family? A lot of us don’t! If you have a home and you have a family, you need to have a plan in place for emergencies. It’s also important to practice your plan by running through it every couple of months until everyone knows it perfectly. Some people think this will scare kids, but it will become second nature to them and if a real emergency strikes, it’s not as scary! You’ll sleep better at night knowing you and your family are safe.

Your plan should include:

Two Safe Meeting Places Inside Your Home
One is your primary meeting spot; the other is your alternative. Choose places without windows and closest to the ground – a basement bathroom or interior first floor bathroom are often your safest places.

Two Safe Meeting Places Outside Your Home
Your outdoor meeting area is your go-to place in case of a fire or any emergency that means you need to leave the house. Choose two places in case one is unreachable – a neighbor’s house, the end of the driveway, your mailboxes.

Practice finding these places with your kids and getting to different meeting places from different rooms in your home.

In addition:

Teach Young Kids to Dial 9-1-1
All kids should be able to dial 9-1-1 on the phone. But they should also know the right times to use this number and when not to use this number. Teach them your address, too. If they get separated from you for any reason, you’ll want them to know this.

Teach Kids about Safety Equipment
A fire extinguisher and safety ladder are musts in many homes. Make sure kids know how and when to use these but have an even firmer understanding of when not to touch them.

Know How You’ll Use Social Media, Texting or Other Tools to Contact One Another
Social media can be used to contact family and friends when you need to get a message to someone. Make sure your kids and you consider this as a communications option if needed. You can reach multiple people with one post.

Gather and Safely Store Important Information
Invest in a fire proof safe and store valuable papers – insurance policies, passports, birth certificates, financial record, etc. in this. Hopefully you’ll never need it!

No one likes to prepare for emergencies because we don’t like to think about them. But in the end, the sense of safety and security you have knowing you’re ready for anything will let you and your family sleep better at night.