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5 End-of-Year Teacher Gifts to Show Your Gratitude

college loans

Once again, the school year is coming to a close, and you and the other children’s parents are chatting about what kind of gifts you’ll give the teacher to show your appreciation. Should everyone pool their money and buy a more expensive gift like a day at the spa or a Kindle? Or should you all just do your own thing so each child can express their thanks with a creative or personalized gift, such as a hand-painted flower pot filled with bulbs? While we can’t help you make those decisions, we can give you some ideas for amazing end of the year teacher gifts for the men and women who invest their time and knowledge into educating your children.

Before you start collecting cash and voting on what gift everyone thinks the teacher would most enjoy, be sure to check with the school administration about their policies on gift giving. An article from iVilliage notes that some schools have limits on how much can be spent, so do the right thing and abide by it so the teacher isn’t uncomfortable accepting a well-intended present whose value exceeds the limit. And if the class decides against the collective gift, talk to other parents to find out what they’ve got in mind so Mrs. Jones doesn’t end up with half a dozen monogrammed tote bags.

Themed Gift Baskets

You can’t go wrong with a collection of goodies in a nice container. Fruit baskets are a good choice, or try a collection of items based on a theme— such as gardening, reading, cooking or chocolate— that you know the teacher will love and reflects her personality and hobbies. You can pick these up pre-made or you can make it personal by hand-picking items you know she’ll love.

Treasure Chest

This is an inexpensive gift that can be created by one family or the whole class. Up-cycle a box to make it look like a treasure chest and then have children fill envelopes of baggies with small treats, gifts and messages for the teacher. Parenting.com suggests including a message such as “We’ve treasured you for the whole year. Please accept these small treasures from us.”

Gift Cards Galore

Though some deem them impersonal, if you know where the teacher likes to shop and eat, she’ll love getting a stack of envelopes filled with cards that allow her to splurge. Now she’ll be able to buy that handbag that she’s had her eye on, take a night off from cooking or treat her kids to ice cream after a long day at the park.

Summer Survival Kit

Most teachers look forward to the summer vacation just as much as their students do, but— just like the kids— the endless days of being at home tend to get boring after a few weeks. Help her bust through the boredom by creating a survival kit filled with things like flip flops, magazines, nail polish, a good book and iced tea mix.

A Night at the Museum

Find a place that the teacher would like to visit, such as a museum, art exhibit, zoo or cultural event and use money collected from the students to purchase tickets. Depending on how much money you’ve got to spend, a gas card, hotel voucher and restaurant gift cards can be included to give the teacher a great experience on someone else’s dime.

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Posted in Ask An Expert, Community, Fun & Lifestyle, Live Expo News, Youth & Aging

8 Fun Ways to Announce Pregnancy

baby

I’m pregnant. I am pregnant. I AM PREGNANT! Whether you’re thrilled, shocked or a little bit of both, you’ve got some exciting news to share. Now that your ovulation tracking days are over (and you’re morning sickness days have just begun) you and your partner get to decide how to tell friends and family that you’re expecting. Instead of just shouting the news, consider sharing it in one of these eight creative ways:

Bun in the Oven

Invite your parents and in-laws over for dinner. Tell your mom you’d like her to check on what’s cooking in the oven and ask your mother-in-law to help her. Watch their puzzled faces as they discover not a delicious pot roast but a single bun in the oven.

Bun in the Oven

Photo by chippenziedeutch via Flickr

Take My Temperature

Cozy up on the couch with a blanket and some soup, and tell your hubby you aren’t feeling well. Ask him to read your temperature, and give him the positive pregnancy test in place of a thermometer. Count how long it takes him to realize what he’s holding.

Holding Pregnancy Test

Photo by Esparta via Flickr

Coming Soon

Use a due date calculator to determine when you’ll likely give birth. Put together a slideshow of photos that hint at your pregnancy, either of you and your spouse or of the soon-to-be older brother or older sister of your baby. Take a picture of you and your husband holding a sign that reads “Baby #1: Coming [your due date]” and include it at the very end. Or take a picture of you and your spouses shoes with a pair of baby shoes between. Your family and friends will get the message.

Shoes Tell All

Photo by thebaphotography via Flickr

Send Flowers

Call a floral shop and arrange to have flowers sent to the baby’s grandparents. On the card, write “Congratulations Grandma and Grandpa” and don’t write your name. See how long it takes for them to figure out the flowers were indeed sent to the right person.

New Grandma

Photo by db Photography | Demi-Brooke via Flickr

Tell It On a Tee

Especially appealing if you have another child, dress your toddler in a handmade T-shirt that tells the news. Use an iron-on template, markers or fabric glue to write anything from “I’m going to be an older brother” to “Oops, they did it again.” If this baby is your first, you and your sweetheart could decorate shirts for a special evening. Announce “I’m pregnant” or write something more subtle, such as your due date, and wait for people to ask what “November 2013″ means.

Cutest Baby in the World

Photo by cscott2006 via Flickr

Love, Baby

Give your spouse or parents a children’s book with a memorable message inscribed in the inside cover: “Please read this to me this fall, Love, Baby.”

The Giving Tree

Photo by t-dubisme via Flickr

Good Fortune

Go out for Chinese, and when the person you want to tell isn’t looking, replace his or her fortune cookie with one you’ve tampered with. Using tweezers, you should’ve removed the fortune with one you’ve typed. “Summer season means new grand baby” is perfect for your parents, “Your swimmers won the race” will surprise your partner and “I’m pregnant” is a fun choice for just about anyone.

Fortune Cookie Announcement

Photo by kissedbysunshine via Flickr

I’m pregnant. I am pregnant. I AM PREGNANT! Whether you’re thrilled, shocked or a little bit of both, you’ve got some exciting news to share. Now that your ovulation tracking days are over (and you’re morning sickness days have just begun) you and your partner get to decide how to tell friends and family that you’re expecting. Instead of just shouting the news, consider sharing it in one of these eight creative ways:

Bun in the Oven

Invite your parents and in-laws over for dinner. Tell your mom you’d like her to check on what’s cooking in the oven and ask your mother-in-law to help her. Watch their puzzled faces as they discover not a delicious pot roast but a single bun in the oven.

Bun in the Oven

Photo by chippenziedeutch via Flickr

Take My Temperature

Cozy up on the couch with a blanket and some soup, and tell your hubby you aren’t feeling well. Ask him to read your temperature, and give him the positive pregnancy test in place of a thermometer. Count how long it takes him to realize what he’s holding.

Holding Pregnancy Test

Photo by Esparta via Flickr

Coming Soon

Use a due date calculator to determine when you’ll likely give birth. Put together a slideshow of photos that hint at your pregnancy, either of you and your spouse or of the soon-to-be older brother or older sister of your baby. Take a picture of you and your husband holding a sign that reads “Baby #1: Coming [your due date]” and include it at the very end. Or take a picture of you and your spouses shoes with a pair of baby shoes between. Your family and friends will get the message.

Shoes Tell All

Photo by thebaphotography via Flickr

Send Flowers

Call a floral shop and arrange to have flowers sent to the baby’s grandparents. On the card, write “Congratulations Grandma and Grandpa” and don’t write your name. See how long it takes for them to figure out the flowers were indeed sent to the right person.

New Grandma

Photo by db Photography | Demi-Brooke via Flickr

Tell It On a Tee

Especially appealing if you have another child, dress your toddler in a handmade T-shirt that tells the news. Use an iron-on template, markers or fabric glue to write anything from “I’m going to be an older brother” to “Oops, they did it again.” If this baby is your first, you and your sweetheart could decorate shirts for a special evening. Announce “I’m pregnant” or write something more subtle, such as your due date, and wait for people to ask what “November 2013″ means.

Cutest Baby in the World

Photo by cscott2006 via Flickr

Love, Baby

Give your spouse or parents a children’s book with a memorable message inscribed in the inside cover: “Please read this to me this fall, Love, Baby.”

The Giving Tree

Photo by t-dubisme via Flickr

Good Fortune

Go out for Chinese, and when the person you want to tell isn’t looking, replace his or her fortune cookie with one you’ve tampered with. Using tweezers, you should’ve removed the fortune with one you’ve typed. “Summer season means new grand baby” is perfect for your parents, “Your swimmers won the race” will surprise your partner and “I’m pregnant” is a fun choice for just about anyone.

Fortune Cookie Announcement

Photo by kissedbysunshine via Flickr

Snap Reaction

At a get together with friends, say you’d like to take a group photo. At the end of the countdown, announce your happy news and smile as the camera catches everyone else’s surprised reactions.

Picture of Friends

Photo by blmurch via Flickr

Snap Reaction

At a get together with friends, say you’d like to take a group photo. At the end of the countdown, announce your happy news and smile as the camera catches everyone else’s surprised reactions.

Picture of Friends

Photo by blmurch via Flickr

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Posted in Ask An Expert, Fun & Lifestyle, Health & Wellness, Home & Property, Youth & Aging

The Power of ‘Thank You’: Cool Ways to Show Appreciation

Sunset

There’s nothing quite like a handwritten thank-you note to emphasize how grateful you are for a gift, an invitation or a gesture. Whether it’s a birthday present, a graduation or wedding gift, help with an important project or a job interview, the thanks you offer will be more intimate and authentic when the note is created by your own hand.

Birthdays

An adult or a child’s written thank-you for a birthday remembrance is becoming rare and, thus, more meaningful when a gift-giver actually receives an acknowledgment in the mail. A child’s thank-you can be a handmade craft, such as a “stained glass” heart— tissue paper folded just right that can be hung in a window to look like stained glass when light shines through it. All you need is poster board or construction paper, multi-color tissue paper, contact paper and scissors. You can make other tissue-paper shapes as well, such as stars, flowers or something really creative, like a dragon.

Photo credit: Ancella Simoes via Wikimedia Commons

If you receive flowers for your birthday from anyone besides your significant other, write a note rather than phoning in a thank you. Describe what the flowers look and smell like. Very few people take the time to do that with a floral gift.

Special Occasions With Multiple Thank Yous

A college graduation or a wedding often involves changing addresses. A thank-you note for a gift on either of these occasions can be made more memorable and have a greater impact when it’s accompanied by a printed card bearing the gift recipient’s new address. When you incorporate business card printing from Overnight Prints, Y can help save the person you’re thanking the trouble of looking up your new address in the future by finding and using business card printing service such as Overnight Prints, or other reputable online print shops. It’s a thoughtful response with a utilitarian purpose.

Photo credit: Joshua Blount via Flickr

House Guest

As you’re ending your stay as a house guest, leave a note for your host, along with a small gift, such as an IKEA gift card or a restaurant gift card your host visits frequently. In the note, be effusive. Tell your host what you enjoyed most about your visit. Let her know how much you appreciated the smallest gesture, like the late-night movie you watched together snacking on air-popped popcorn.

Photo credit: Flickr user Mellicious

Help

A thank-you note for help with a project— a DIY home improvement undertaking, making a scrapbook, preparing a tax return or baking for a fundraiser, for example— is a truly classy touch. Enclose a coffee store gift card, if you’re inclined, as an extra hug.

Photo credit: Lauren Manning via Flickr

Job Interview

A handwritten thank-you after a job interview is a bit less definitive. One could argue that a neatly typed note is more effective, because you can more specifically delineate and reiterate your strengths and qualifications for the job. But interviewers are receiving fewer and fewer handwritten notes, so writing one may be a chance to make a lasting impression.

Photo credit: Flickr user MoneyAware

Acknowledge a gift as soon as possible, ideally within a week, but a late note is better than none at all. Make your thank-you as creative and personal as you can. Include photos, your kids’ artwork and perhaps a colorful sticker.

Posted in Ask An Expert

The Stay-at-Home Moms Back to Work Survival Guide

Computer User

If you’ve been working the last 10 years but your resume doesn’t reflect it, chances are you’ve been a busy stay-at-home mom. Now, after your divorce, you may be faced with reentering the workforce at a time in your life you hadn’t expected to. Whether you have a degree and just need a refresher or are looking for entry level jobs and advice about getting back in the game, you’ve come to the right place. For stay-at-home moms transitioning into working, single moms, here’s a survival guide to keep you grounded:

Accept Your Situation

Though it may not be what you always had planned, accept your situation and move forward with positive energy and excitement. Review your family’s needs and finances, and get organized. It’s likely you’ll face a wide range of emotions, from fear, guilt and uncertainty to hope, excitement and elation when realizing what was once may never again be. But that isn’t always a bad thing. Enter this new life stage ready to take control.

Make a Plan

What’s your plan? Don’t see the task of applying for jobs as something you have to do, but something you get to do. Because of this life change, you have the opportunity to work in the field you graduated with a degree in, or to seek out opportunities in areas you’re interested. According to Forbes.com, education, healthcare, real estate and sales are the best jobs for single parents because of hours and pay. Working or going back to school will require you and your children to establish new routines and expectations for each other. Make a plan, and get the whole family on board.

Best Companies for Working Mothers

According to WorkingMother.com, these are among the best companies that know how to help working moms be productive at work and home:

  • Allstate
  • Verizon Communications
  • Citibank
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Dell
  • AOL
  • Kraft Foods
  • Arnold & Porter
  • P&G
  • TriHealth

Ready, Set, Go!

In the last 10 years, hopefully you’ve kept up-to-date on at least portions of the business world. Either way, begin networking online, in social groups and with everyone you come in contact with. Talk to people at your children’s school, your friends and even people at the grocery store. Don’t assume others know you’re looking for work and will actively reach out to you if they know of a position you may be interested in. Always ask.

Once you find a position, continue improving your skills. Take a class or attend seminars that can help you learn skills or develop the ones you already have.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

If your children are still young, you may face separation anxiety or guilt. Realize this is natural and should subside after a few weeks. In many early situations, you may be forced to “fake it ’till you make it.” Have a short, positive answer for colleagues who ask how you’re doing. If the negativity never goes away, talk to your employer to find out the reasoning behind it. Do you need more flexibility or the ability to work remotely? Don’t assume this job isn’t a good fit for you if there’s just something about it that needs to be tweaked.

Back on Track

Eventually, things will settle into a happy routine at home and work. It may take a while, but it’s likely that you’ll find yourself successfully budgeting money, juggling rides to school and office presentations and enjoying your social life. One day soon you’ll be able to stand back and triumphantly say — I did it!

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Posted in Ask An Expert, Home & Property, Professional Services