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The Buckeyes Fall in BCS Championship for Second Time in as Many Years

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Two losses in consecutive years, both blowouts, and both against the SEC leaves Jim Tressel’s Ohio State Buckeye team looking more and more like Jim Kelly’s Buffalo Bills in the 1990s. The “team of nobodies” as Ohio State started calling themselves looked like superstars on both offense and defensive for the majority of the first quarter. Ohio State running back Chris Wells took it to the house on a 65 yard touchdown run early on to give the Buckeyes a 7-0.
LSU’s first possession went no where, in fact they lost yards after a botched snap on 3rd down went all the way back to their own 5 yard line. Even after LSU punter Patrick Fisher netted a 62 yarder it left Ohio State in great field position at the OSU 41. A huge pass was completed to back up running back Brandon Saine for 44 yards and wound up giving the Buckeyes a field goal and a 10-0 lead. Tressel’s Buckeyes started out the 2006 BCS Championship in quick fashion as well when former OSU wide out Ted Ginn Jr. ran the opening kick off back for a touchdown. Then it was all uphill after that when they couldn’t get anything going on their way to a 41-14 disaster mostly blamed by fans as having to long of a layoff in between their final game and the BCS Championship.

Looking as though deja vu was happening all over again LSU scored on consecutive drives to tie the ball game up with 13:00 left in the 2nd quarter. Jitters seemed to play a major roll in the first quarter for the Tigers, but once they were set in their game plan it was smooth sailing the rest of the game. The Buckeyes did fire right back on their ensuing drive, but a 15 yard penalty nullified a huge chance to cash in for another score, instead it left OSU with a 37 yard field goal which wound up being blocked.

The only thing that was left was: LSU touchdown 17-10, LSU touchdown 24-10, halftime. LSU touchdown 31-10, Ohio State punt, LSU ball, interception by soon-to-be NFL draftee Malcolm Jenkins, touchdown Ohio State 31-17. Then of course the punch in the face with two minutes to go; LSU touchdown 38-17. You get the idea here as it was not what you wanted to see out of a BCS National Championship game to say the least. Congratulations to the LSU Tigers for becoming the 2008 National Champions after a ridiculously crazy season. After watching Monday night’s game there is only one more question that needs to be answered to put an end to the 2007-2008 NCAA football season. Would LSU of won the National Title if there was a playoff in place?

Wait, did Ohio State just score with 1:13 left?

LSU 38 Ohio State 24

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So much for a sporty post! Next week, please check out my post about my new investments in the house and during adventure traveling–my all new

tactical flashlight. I bought it from Amazon and I think they are great. Will post details soon!

Backpacking Sleeping Bags: A Beginner’s Guide

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There are many different types of sleeping bags available on the market. Not only are there different shapes, but they also come with different forms of insulation and different weights.
There are many things to consider when looking for a sleeping bag:
– What temperatures do you expect to encounter?
– Are you a warm or cold sleeper?
– Do you need weatherproof materials?
– What shape will work best for you?

Sleeping bags are generally filled with either synthetic materials, down or a combination of both. Each fill type has its advantages. Synthetic materials are more resistant to heat loss when wet while down gives a better temperature rating for less weight and is highly compressible. Some companies now offer mixed synthetic/down bags to capture the best of both. If wet weather is a concern, down bags can be contained in dry bags. You can even put in your latest  The PNW Ultralight Backpack.

Many new bag are also made with an outer waterproof shell to prevent soaking while the bag is in use. This can be a concern if condensation from the tent is an issue or if open sided shelters are used. Wet down is not a pleasant thing to deal with. Down tends to clump up and loses much of its insulative properties. This shouldn’t scare you away from down though as down is a great fill material. Synthetic on the other hand works wet or dry although a wet synthetic bag will still be unpleasant, it just will not have clumping issues. Synthetic doesn’t compress nearly as well as a comparable down bag and they also tend to be heavier. For those with down allergies, there are a few companies that are now carrying hypo-allergenic down bags.

Sleeping bag shapes and lengths are more varied then fill types. It is possible to get sleeping bags in a half length (also know as an ‘elephant’s foot’), a three quarter, a petite, kid sized, regular (generally fits up to a 6′ person), and long. The half and 3/4 length are best paired with a jacket and hood, or cap. Kid sized bags are scaled both in height and width and should be considered for kids over an adult bags as kids will have a hard time heating up the extra space in an adult bag. The petite bag is also a new addition on the market and is geared for women (or short men/big kids). A petite bag represents the opposite side of the sleeping bag spectrum from the long, it is smaller then a regular. Women’s bags generally have a slightly larger cut in the hip area, less width in the shoulder area and sometimes have additional insulation in the foot box and sometimes the chest area.

The old camping standard is the rectangular bag. It is basically a large square with a zipper down three sides allowing it to zip into a one person rectangle or to mate with another square to form a two person sleeping bag. Rectangular bags have seen a face lift with more modern materials, a trimmer shape and a hood. They are mostly still rectangular but they now have a zipper only down one side. While they offer more space for movement, that extra space can be harder to keep warm and may lead to a cooler night’s rest.

Mummy shaped bags have a more streamlined shape tapering in at the legs and feet. The cut is not very generous but with less interior space to warm up, it is easier to stay warm throughout a cold night. Mummy bags also tend to weigh less then their rectangular counterparts due to less materials. Quilts are similar to the mummy shape but don’t have a zipper or hood. They are open down the back. In order to use the bag, it is tucked under your shoulders to keep it wrapped around your body.

There is now a new category of sleeping bag, the best term I can think to describe this category is the ergonomic bag. This isn’t a totally new concept, there are now several bags on the market that allow for mobility while staying contained in your cocoon of warmth. The Selk sleeping bag body suit is the most conforming while the Exped Wallcreeper more resembles a large down vest that you can pull down and cinch below your feet.

Bags come in different weights ranging from summer weight, to expedition weight. Summer bags are best only for warm summer nights, generally rated from 50F and up. They can be combined with a heavier bag to extend the temperature of the heavier bag. Spring/fall bags are meant for cooler nights but can still be used over the summer with the zipper left down. The ratings for these bags falls between 35 and 45F. Winter bags, good for cold winter nights generally work over the 0 to 35F range. Expedition bags are rated for below 0F use. Most recreational backpackers can get away with a 35F bag.

Someone who chills easily when sleeping will require more insulation then someone who overheats easily. The best bag to buy that will work on most 3 season trips will be a bag that keeps you warm in the spring and fall with thermal underwear on, and can be draped over you in the summer to ward off a chill but still allowing for air flow. The bag should be light enough that you want to carry it without sacrificing on quality or warmth. While most people do not have a need for waterproof exteriors, it can come in handy to have some waterproof material on the hood and foot box to protect against tent condensation.

Any bag can be extended through the combined use of thermal underclothes and liners. The silk liner is great for keeping a sweaty, dusty body from dirtying up a bag. A fabric liner adds a few more degrees of warmth and fleece liners can add up to 10 degrees of additional warmth. Going to bed warm and even tossing in a water bottle full of hot water into a sleeping bag can help keep you warmer over a cold night.

Never under estimate the power of shared heat. The old Coleman style car camping sleeping bags could be mated together with one bag on the top and one on the bottom, it is still possible to mate two bags together, but today’s bags mate side by side. Each sleeper still stays mostly contained within their own bag but the bags are open to each other on one side. Most bags come with zippers either on the left side (which is ideal for right handed people) or zippers on the right side (ideal for left handed people). Numbering among the minority are center zip bags, and bags with no zipper (ideal for the gram pinchers).

There is no one perfect sleeping bag. Everyone is different and every bag caters to those differences.

(Web) Design Your Success

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Straight out of college Jeremy Khan wanted to start a nationwide business. The greatest weapon a young entrepreneur like him has is the web. But it takes more than a simple text website to get attention. If design is how companies create brands, then web design is how new brands get noticed.
As the plans for Khan’s company Oral Fixation, a hip mint outfit, moved forward he knew it needed a website that would make his mints stand out among all the rest.

Luckily his schoolmate Jonathan Harris was an accomplished web designer, who eventually went on to create 10 by 10 an artistic alternative to Google News. When Khan brought Harris on board as a partner, he knew his website would be top notch and competitive.

“I wanted to create a website that people would repeatedly come back to and get sucked into,” said Khan. “That’s very much what happened with this website.” Today Oral Fixation is up, running and selling on both coasts.

So what’s the lesson here? Not all of us are lucky enough to have web designer friends, who go around winning design awards and their own news profiles. But that doesn’t mean we can’t own a website that is just as high in quality as Oral Fixations.

Web designers are in abundance, especially since the dot com bust. Some freelance their work, others join larger design companies, but all have their price. And while that price can sometimes burn your pocket, a smart business owner knows that a good website is an investment. The rate of return for a sleek website is almost always worth the initial hurt. A good designer creates a clean interface, high search optimization and gives your clients a way to find information they need about your business. If you don’t think a bad website can hurt your image, check out the old website for the 90’s hip hop group Kriss Kross.

Of course expensive web design isn’t an absolute necessity. If you run a small business you can rely on eBay or simply start a blog, making web design a point and click procedure. But don’t expect your product or service to get recognized. For that you need someone to give your business character and that takes design. You can always try to learn web editing software like

Dreamweaver yourself, but beware the risk of spending time reading a Dreamweavor for Idiots book and creating a website that just doesn’t make the cut.

Making the Choice
If you do decide to hire a designer, make sure you know what you are getting. Don’t settle for the first person knocking on your email mentioning they know HTML. If you have the money to spend, ask for credentials. Serious web designers went to school to receive a degree and would appreciate that you are looking for someone who knows the business. Check out their past clients and get a feel for their style. If the sites you visit have broken links, aren’t easy to navigate, hard to read and difficult to spot relevant information, you probably won’t want to hire that designer. Get some great designers at Canadian web hosting.

As alluded, finding a web designer isn’t hard. A simple Google search using “web designer” will bring up more hits than you’ll ever want to scroll through. And you aren’t limited by location. If you are comfortable, designers can work via email just as well as in your office, so don’t limit yourself.

So how do you narrow it down to find the right web guru for you? First decide if you want a freelancer or a larger company. Larger firms seem more impressive, but don’t forget that they have an entire network dedicated to giving you that impression. Freelancers are the lone wolfs of design, but the right one can be dedicated and give your site the special attention you want. Larger firms are a safer bet. If you don’t want to worry about a potential mishap or unprofessional situations, a company is the way to go. But, depending on the size of the design firm, after the initial meeting and discussion of your site’s needs, you might feel shuffled along through the whole process.

Whichever you choose, expect to pay a price related to the level of education and experience of the designer(s) you’re snagging coupled with your site’s needs. If you don’t have high expectations for your site, don’t get an expensive designer. But if you want a full site with archives, message boards, routine check ups and redesigns, you will have to shell out more money. In the end you are going to get what you pay for. You won’t be able to find a bargain like you do for shoes; web design is a service not a product. When was the last time you heard of an electrician or a lawyer “on sale?”

Getting to the Gritty
After comparing different prices you are comfortable with and styles you find appealing, narrow the research down to a few solid choices. Once at that stage make sure you can get specifics from your designer. See if they can lay out a timeframe. Make sure this is the kind of project they have experience with. Larger firms will probably have someone who is an expert in every skill and technology, while a freelancer might take extra time to learn new programming languages. Ask for referrals from past clients and check up on them. Finally, don’t agree to anything until you look at a contract.

A professional designer should have a standard contract waiting to be sent. You want to make sure that your interests are included in that contract. The last thing you want is to be tied to a contract that doesn’t assure you will get what you are paying for. The contract should include what work is going to get done, when work will start, an estimate for a date of completion, a specific pay timeline (it’s not uncommon for a deposit, midpoint payment and completion payment depending on the size of the job), and who has the right to the site’s final design. If you are trying to create an initial logo using the web this is something that can’t be overlooked!

There you have It
Design is everywhere and like it or not, it affects what you do and how you do it. Everything from where the men’s shoes are placed in Macy’s to the clean cut design of Apple computers designs are consciously created to get the results intended by the company. The web has created an entirely new medium for design and a new caste of designers itching to do just that, get you the results you want. Whether you are just starting out or trying to update a fortune 500, you need to be on the web, but only if your presence will reflect the positive attributes of your business.

How to Decorate Your Bathroom in a Birdhouse Theme

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Most people who enjoy decorating with a country flavor may decide to decorate their kitchen with a lovely and rustic birdhouse theme. Have you ever considered using the birdhouse theme for your bathroom? I just finished redecorating our upstairs bathroom in a birdhouse theme and it is just lovely. I am quite pleased with the finished result. Here are some ideas to redecorate your bathroom in a birdhouse theme that will make the room look bright and cheery as well as continue your country decorating theme throughout the house.
How To Decorate Your Bathroom In A Birdhouse Theme: Walls. Before beginning your birdhouse themed bathroom decorating project, you will first need to decide on a paint color for your walls. Country blue or yellow are perfect choices. A light taupe or warm beige will also provide a wonderful backdrop for your birdhouse theme decorations. White is many people’s choices for paint color in bathrooms because bathrooms are typically very small rooms and it seems like the best choice to open up the room and make it appear larger. Go against the grain and choose a bright and striking paint color. No matter what the size of your bathroom, a bold color instead of plain white will make the room very inviting and quite pleasing to the eye.

How To Decorate Your Bathroom In A Birdhouse Theme: Hardware. Birdhouse themed shower curtain hooks, drawer pulls for the vanity and pegs or hooks to hang up hand towels or bathrobes. Visit on line stores that specialize in country themed decor such as Tenderheart Treasures or Collections Inc. If you prefer to shop in physical stores and see and touch your merchandise before purchasing, most department stores that offer bathroom decorating items like wooden dinnerware sets, will have an ample supply of birdhouse themed hardware. If you can not find exactly what you are looking for, use your creativity and switch out any birdhouse hardware you find for the kitchen and use it in the bathroom instead.

How To Decorate Your Bathroom In A Birdhouse Theme: Wall Decor. Use a wallpaper border with a lovely birdhouse design to go around the perimeter of the ceiling of your bathroom. You may find birdhouse wallpaper border with the kitchen themed rolls, do not let that deter you from using it in your bathroom. Choose colors of the wallpaper border that complement the paint color you chose. If you enjoy stenciling, purchase a birdhouse stencil as well as a stencil of small birds. Stencil birdhouses around the top of your walls or around the bathroom in the center of the walls. You can also stencil several groupings of birdhouses with small birds around them wherever you think they will look most attractive. Department stores such as Kohl’s and Boscov’s carry many different themed framed prints in their home decorating sections. Choose several framed birdhouse prints to hang in your bathroom. Keep space perceptions in mind. Hang smaller pictures in smaller places and larger prints on larger sized walls.

How To Decorate Your Bathroom In A Birdhouse Theme:Bathroom Decor Extras. Hang a shelf or two in your bathroom and arrange miniature decorative birdhouses on them. Set a large decorative birdhouse in the corner on the floor surrounded by sprigs of artificial greenery. If you have an empty corner that can fit it comfortably, purchase a two tiered wicker or white stand. Use the bottom shelf to hold extra hand towels and place a decorative birdhouse on the top shelf. Arrange artificial ivy to surround the birdhouse and hang down the sides for a lovely touch.

With a little imagination and the ability to think outside the box, you can design your own personalized birdhouse themed bathroom that you and your family will just love.

Confessions of a Home Day Care Provider

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Starting a home daycare is a great way for stay-at-home mothers to earn some extra money without having to work outside of the home. It is a time-consuming and arduous task, but it is worth it if you staying at home while still contributing financially is a priority for you. Your child will benefit, too, because he or she will have playmates that will become almost like siblings over the months. You will also be able to earn money without putting your children in daycare.
The pay per child per hour doesn’t even out to much, even if you are licensed, but if you have several children, the money adds up. Even if you only keep one child, you’ll make enough for a shopping spree at the mall, a car payment, or a small contribution to a college fund. The amount of money you can charge will depend on your location, your experience, and your credentials. A licensed home daycare provider can charge more typically, as can someone with CPR certification or prior teaching experience.

I am unlicensed, because I do not have a backyard, which is a requirement for licensing in my state. I charge $400 for one and $600 for two full-time. My part-time rate is $20 for an 8-10 hour day. My drop-in rate is usually $4 an hour per child. I am flexible on payment, because I know how expensive childcare is and want to be affordable for everyone. I feel like working with people on payment plans and rates helps me bring in more income than if I were rigid and unmovable.

State laws about licensing vary. I am unfamiliar with them, but they are easy to look up. In my state, you can keep children from one family without a license. Sporadic care on a basis that is not regular, otherwise known as babysitting, is also acceptable. I have kept children from several families before on a regular basis. I just make sure that the parents know I am not licensed from the get-go. Currently I keep boys from two families: a 12 month-old 4 days a week and a 2 1/2 year old 3 days a week. We are still getting used to the presence of the older kid, who has only been in my care for a week so far.

Caring for children is strenuous, both physically and emotionally. Younger children tend to exhaust my physical body, because they are always into something. Older children tend to exasperate my mind with incessant talking, endless requests, and bargaining. I would suggest keeping children who are close together in age. It is easier to care for two one year-olds than it is to care for a one year-old and a 2 1/2 year old. Keeping children that are close in age to your own will be easier, and it makes it more likely that the kids will be friends. (It also makes it more likely that they’ll fight over the same toy or get into mischief together.)

If you have older children, you might want to consider setting up a preschool. The older children will be potty trained, have better language skills, and possibly be more obedient especially in a classroom setting. You can become certified through various programs, such as Montessori. Usually you can charge more for preschool than for home daycare. It’s also possible to do more structured activities. Older children are also a little more self-sufficient than younger ones. They ask more questions though, which can be exhausting. (They love to ask “Why?” over and over.)

If you don’t want children in your home, try seeking a nanny position full-time. Most people are happy to allow you to bring your children along. A lot of times these positions will require light house cleaning. You will be watching children and cleaning someone else’s house, not your own, but typically you will be paid more as a nanny. Caring for the children may also be easier as a nanny, because they are in their own home where they are comfortable. You’ll also usually have a small number of children, who are siblings.

Doing part-time daycare or infrequent baby-sitting can also bring in some income, as you can usually charge more per hour for those positions. A mommy’s helper position will pay less but require less work. Typically you’ll come over for a few hours a day while the parents are home. Usually they will be studying or working from home while you are there. You may be asked to do some house cleaning and light cooking, but the work isn’t nearly as strenuous. The pay is not as high, but it is quite decent for the amount of work you’ll do.

A lot of people say “Home daycare? I couldn’t do that! I can barely keep up with my own kids.” The truth is that it’s really not that difficult, just tiresome. When you have one child, close in age to your own, you just have to do everything in twos. Small groups tend to need more stimulation from you, but you can be more laid-back on your schedule. Large groups of children entertain themselves most of the time, but you need a system that works for everyone. Getting two children to nap at the same time is difficult; getting four to nap at the same time is almost impossible. There are trade-offs.

As a home daycare provider, you will feel overworked and underpaid. You will have longer hours than the parents whose children you watch, because they’ll need to drop them off half an hour before work and pick them up half an hour later. Children whose parents work full-time will be in your care about 45 hours a week. You will, however, earn significantly less than those parents working out of the home. Even in areas where childcare rates are higher, you will work more and get paid less than those who work out of the home. It is not as lucrative as people make it out to be.

You will be exhausted at the end of the day–maybe even half-way through it. Taking care of your own children is easier than taking care of someone else’s. You know your kids and are more in-tune with them. You can also let them run around naked through a cluttered house while you rest on the couch if you like, because they are your children. With other people’s children, however, you have to get to know them and earn their trust, which takes time. You also can’t be as laid-back with them, especially in the supervision department.

You will spend most of your time putting away toys that have been strewn about. You will have to break up little spats, discipline children for hitting or refusing to share, and do diaper changes. You’ll have to feed everyone snacks and lunch. Rounding everyone up for outings can take time. However, the bulk of your time will be spent making sure it is possible to walk through the playroom. Many states require that you keep toys put away unless they are in use. Parents or inspectors could drop in at anytime, so you can’t be lazy about clutter. Cleaning up messes will also take up a lot more time than discipline or meal-time.

It is not difficult to find clients; it is difficult to keep them. You can find clients by advertising in the newspaper, hanging up fliers, or posting on Craigslist. It’s not hard to book an interview and impress a parent enough that they will give it a try with you. Keeping a child for more than a month or so is what’s difficult. Your location and your rates will be a huge factor. If they find someone who lives closer to their home and charges less, they will probably switch daycares unless you are doing an amazing job with their child and truly impressing them. Do your best, but don’t strain yourself trying to be Mary Poppins. Finding a steady client with whom you really click is better than exhausting yourself trying to out-do your competition.

You will not have ample time for housework. You will get more done during the day than if you worked out of the home, but it’s doubtful that your house will be spotless at the end of the day. Make keeping the play area clean your top priority. Everywhere else can wait until the evening. You may not have time to do the dishes, but you’ll probably have time for a few little chores like laundry. Throw it in, swap it out, and then bring it out in a hamper and fold it while you watch the kids. Do simple tasks that don’t take very long and break all of your tasks into small steps.

It is okay to relax for a few minutes. Don’t feel like you cannot eat lunch or have a potty break. If you’re tired, rest. You can provide better care to everyone if you are feeling up to it. Don’t spend all of your time running around after the kids and cleaning. Take at least a 15 minute break every hour, when you have a chance. Don’t feel like you have to give-up every minute of “me” time. If you have a favorite show, watch it. Set up your schedule so that nap or snack time occur during the show. Work time for yourself into your schedule. Just don’t schedule a massage or have a bubble bath while you’re working.

Baby Einstein videos are amazing. I don’t recommend relying too heavily on them to entertain the children. Free play and structured activities will teach the children a lot more than the TV will. This is how they learn to solve problems, share, and grasp concepts. However, if you really need a moment of peace and quiet, throw in a Baby Einstein video. It works 90% of the time on babies and toddlers. They are fascinated by the pictures and will stare at the TV, usually like zombies. It isn’t good to let them watch TV all day or everyday, but these videos are great when you really need to distract the children to get something done. (Ok, I admit it: I’ve let the Baby Einstein video run on a loop for half of the morning before–only once or twice!)

A change of scenery can do wonders. It can be hard to get several children to nap at the same time. One trick I have learned, when everyone gets cranky, is to go for a drive. A lot of the time it will put the sleepy ones to sleep and entertain the others, at least. A trip to the park or McDonald’s play place can put everyone in a much better mood. While it is a hassle to change and dress everyone, strap everyone into their car seats, and pack up all that you’ll need, some time out of the house is refreshing for everyone. Taking the kids to a different room of the house can also have a similar effect.

Everything is your fault. Every diaper rash will be blamed on the diet you’re feeding them or an accusation that you’re not changing them often enough. Every new bump, bruise, etc. will be your fault. I recommend doing everything you can to prevent marks, rashes, etc. Check diapers at least every hour, more often if one has a diaper rash. Baby proof your house as much as possible. Checking for marks at the morning and end-of-day diaper changes is a good idea. This way you’ll know whether or not a bump appeared on your watch–or their parents’.

You will need to change clothes at least once a day, but you’ll have trouble finding time. This is the reason I wear my PJs until noon. Then I can usually just get dressed one time and throw my pajamas in the wash. You will also have to dress the children at least once a day, especially younger ones. Even regularly clean children will find ways to get messy at your house. They will usually need outfits again after mealtime and snack time. Kids in your care will also suddenly develop green and blue colored drool for no apparent reason. I theorize that kids have special color glands next to their saliva glands that activate when they’re at daycare.

You will get unwanted parenting advice, especially if you tend to do things differently. I’ve been advised many times to wean my child and transition him into his own bed in his own room. I’ve had parents suggest ways of doing this, including just tossing him in the crib and letting him scream all night for a week until he learns to go to sleep. That’s called crying it out, and Dr. Sears as well as Harvard scholars don’t recommend it. It’s not gentle, and it’s unnecessary being that our lifestyle is fine as is. I’ve also had parents recommend spanking when I mention that I try to refrain from it. Of course I just nod my head and smile, rather than debating parenting philosophies. I try to at least gracefully let them know that we’re happy with the way things are.

Your children need to be on a sleep schedule that is close to your own. It took me some time to accomplish this. I had to wake him earlier and earlier each morning until he was up about an hour after me and down an hour before me. When my schedule changed, his sleeping habits became very erratic. It got to where he was falling asleep at 2 AM and waking at 9 AM! Again, I had to work with him, and this time it only took a few days. He now goes to bed between 10-11:30 PM and gets up between 9-10:30 AM. While that may seem odd for some, it’s perfect for me. I usually get up at 8 on my work days, so even if he goes to bed late, I still get enough sleep.

Some parents will want to get to know you. Some will drop their kids off and leave immediately. I recommend trying to develop a relationship with each parent, which can be hard if you have one that likes to run off right away. I try to keep them at my door at least 5-10 minutes in the morning and the evening. I like to go over what we might be doing that day in the morning and in the evening to talk about the highs and lows of the day. Some parents don’t seem to care, which always makes me sad, and some do. Don’t give up on the ones that are reluctant to chat, though.

You will not agree with all of your client’s parenting choices. You will not feel like you are ‘raising someone else’s kids.’ A lot of mothers stay home so no one else raises their kids. Daycare providers don’t do that. We try to teach them how to get along with the other kids and be obedient. Mostly we just feed them, change them, and keep them out of mischief. We entertain them all day. We don’t decide whether they’re breast or bottle fed, how they are sleep trained, what shots they receive, or if they are spanked. We aren’t the parents. You will feel close to your daycare kids, but you won’t feel like their second mother. Sometimes you will abhor some of the things the parents do or say, but you have to bite your tongue.

It is unlikely that you’ll have an abused child, but please keep an eye out anyway. Look up the tell-tale signs of abuse for every age group of children that you watch. Talk to the kids now and again about their moms and dads and life at home, casually. Keep an eye out for mysterious marks and bruises, especially recurrent ones. Remember that toddlers fall a lot, so not everything is cause for concern. If you witness or suspect abuse, report it anonymously. You are required by law to do this if you are licensed. I’m not licensed, but I still watch out anyway. It is my job as a mother to protect all children. Likewise if a parent is doing something dangerous, you should politely point it out.

Remember that you are an influence on every child in your care. You must be careful even around children that don’t speak or understand yet. Refrain from any behavior that their parents might find offensive. If you have a different religion, keep your mouth shut about it. Don’t curse or walk around naked, obviously. You also must set an example in how you treat others and the diet you follow. Be aware that little eyes are watching you, learning from you.

The words of toddlers are difficult to decipher, so you can save yourself if you slip up. Your husband asks “What’s on Dr. Phil today?” and without thinking, you reply “Crack whores.” Someone inevitably repeats that, and it’s time to be smooth. “Yes, crackers. I think I’ll have some.” Toddlers have a short attention span and will usually just move on if you do. If the word is still in use at the end of the day, try a preemptive strike. Announce proudly to the parents, “Timmy learned to say crackers today!” The best thing to do, however, is just watch your mouth!

Most of the children that have been in my care have been in daycare since they were infants. There are used to being one of many children in one adult’s care. In my experience, many kids in my daycare have craved attention, more so than the children of SAHMs that I know. Don’t be surprised if some of the children that you keep seem to want constant attention and seem to be more sensitive or talkative than usual. Some mothers who work out of the home admit, on message boards or anonymous surveys, to feeling guilty and trying to make up for it when they are home. They allow the kids to do or have most of what they want, then you then have to say “no” to and discipline a child who isn’t used to that. While many of your daycare kids will be delightful, not all of them well be perfect little angels. Try to be understanding and compassionate with them, because they need that.

Have specific work days and hours. If you agree to watch one child from 8-5 and another from 12-9, as I do, you’re working from 8 am to 9 at night. That’s a lot. Daycare hours vary. Arrange your schedule around your clients, but try not to regularly work more than ten hours a day. The typical client will need you about 9 hours a day. Military personnel usually need you 10 hours a day. (They are overworked and underpaid, too.) Have days and times that you will not work, and turn down new clients who want you at those times unless you have dire need of the income. Save that time for family, housework, errands, and possibly occasional babysitting. (Most of the time I use it for naptime and TV watching.)

I have gone to the store during the day to replace a lost sippi cup or one that the dog has devoured at least twice. I keep extra outfits in my home for the really messy ones. This way I can change them twice, but the parents think they only needed one change of clothes. Parents rarely will bring you more than one change of clothes, and you’ll probably need two on some days. I therefore recommend a trip to the Goodwill for some gently used outfits. I have also learned to keep extra sippi cups, similar to the ones the daycare kids bring with them. Now I don’t have to go to the store for replacements (as often).

I try to use the playpen sparingly, as when taking out the trash. I occasionally use it so I can lay on the couch for ten measly minutes, relax, and enjoy my recently decluttered living room. I sometimes plop them in there at the end of the day when I’ve finished cleaning, so that the playroom isn’t messed up again when the parents arrive. Mostly it is a nap area for the younger toddler that I watch. Unfortunately my son likes to shake the playpen to rock him, which wakes him up. I’m considering a second playpen to put the awake one in when the other is asleep. Soon the closet won’t be an option anymore, because they’ll have learned to turn doorknobs. (I’m kidding!)

There have been days where I have spent most of my time on the couch, getting up only when the kids need something and picking up once at the end of the day. There are times when I want to scream “Get these kids away from me!” and lock all of them, or perhaps a specific one, away in a closet. I haven’t, though. When running low on wipes and diapers for my son, I’ve used those of my clients before. (Likewise, if they’re running low, I’ve had to use my own supplies.) I try to give the kids finger foods that they can feed themselves, so that while they are confined to their high chairs, I can relax or wash the dishes.

Being a home daycare provider certainly has its ups and downs. I enjoy it because it puts me in charge of my career. I have to schedule my life around my clients, but I do get to chose who my clients are. I don’t have to leave my house to earn money. I can do my housework while I watch other children, so I have more time for family in the evening. It also keeps my own son out of daycare and allows me to continue spending my days with him. There are annoyances involved, but overall home daycare is a very rewarding job. Instead of one little boy who loves me, I have several (well, two at the moment). My son gets to socialize, and I get experience caring for more than one child. I get to witness special firsts, teach, and be a part of who the child grows up to be. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s very fulfilling–if you’re up to the challenge!

Check out my next post about dermaroller amazon!

Why You Should Set a Strict Sick Policy If You Are Running a Day Care in Your Home

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If you are running a day care in your home there are several things that you need to do before you accept your first child. Of course you probably already know about all the basic legal aspects of running your own at home day care. But the one thing that sometimes slips through the cracks is a sick policy. As we know kids always seem to get sick during the summer months, and is important that you have policy in place to prepare you for these challenges.


You are several things that can happen if you fail to prepare for this. First you can end up exposing the other children in your care to get sick. If you refuse to watch him because he is sick the parents can argue that you never stated you would not watch them if they were sick. Of course they would be correct if you do not have any sick clause included in your contract. In additional another problem that could occur is that you may lose money if all of the children in your care begin to infect one another with colds. In some states that are certain regulations regarding the care of sick children. Most require that you have a some type of certified medical professional on hand to help care for the sick children and that they be isolated to a completely separate room. This is done not only for the safety and well being of the other children, but for your own personal safety and well being as well.

If you do decide to include some type of sick policy in your baby sitting agreement or tutoring at Kinderopvang Leiden you should make sure that all the terms are clearly spelled out. You also should include that the child can not return to your home without a doctor’s note stating that they are no longer sick and most importantly that they are not contagious. Some parents may think this is too extreme and they may even tell you that it is unfair. You have to stick to your policy and make sure that you do not change for anyone. You should also make sure that at the time they are signing the contract you clearly state to them this is the policy and will not change for anyone. You may want to include exactly what you consider sick. For example some at home day care providers will not care for any child who has a cough, or who is sneezing since this is how many germs are spread. Some will even go as far as stating that if any child has a runny nose they will not be allowed to stay. This is a personal decision that you will have to make. Regardless of how strict a policy you choose the important thing is that you do adopt some type of “sick policy” put it into writing and has each parent sign it.

Make a Microphono, Out of a Speaker

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On places like amazon.com microphones can be purchased in all kinds of quality and price ranges. However there are situations that would prevent a man from purchasing a $1.00 microphone. I was in one of those situations, but still wanted a microphone for recording voice.
I decided to make my own microphone. The way I solved this was to first find out how a microphone works. What I learned was that a microphone is a speaker hooked up backwards. A speaker gets sound waves sent to it, while a microphone with immersive sound sends sound to a recording device (microphone jack).

First thing to do is get the material we need.

1. Get a Speaker. I took a PC speaker out of an old computer. I know a speaker out of head phone will work, and also stereo speakers. I think for a better microphone, a smaller more sensitive speaker is best.

2. We need a way to hook it up. I found a wire with a volume control and two male stereo jacks. I will show you how to splice this jack without cutting it.

3. Some electrical tape to stabilize. Sometimes I have to improvise without tape, but I prefer to have it. I use the tape to hold my wire splices in place.

Second thing to do is splice into the input jack.

I am not go in detail on stripping wire. This is a step that is needed, but I hope you already now how to strip wire. The basic is to cut off the protection surrounding the wire.

Let’s take a look at the stereo jack so we can understand what is going on. Looking at the jack you should be able to see two bands. The color on my jack is black, and that is what I have mostly seen. These bands divide the jack in three different parts. I believe the bottom part of the jack is the ground. Both the middle and top part make up the right and left sides. After doing a line in test I can see the top is the left side, and the middle is the right side.

Because this is a microphone it will be in mono. That means there is only one side or channel. For my setup I found the top part to be the input side. So the two parts of the jack we need are the bottom and top.

After stripping a wire I wrap it around the ground side of the jack. I then take a piece of tape and put a cut in the middle. This tape fits over the jack, and slides down over the ground wire. I also tape up the jack wires with the speaker wires. This is to keep the splice together by preventing it from moving.

After stripping another wire I wrap it around the top side of the jack. Instead of tapping this splice, I will just tape the wire to the jack wire. It’s hard for me to get this splice tapped up, and I find it easier to just tape up the jack and speaker wire together.

Now the speaker gets wired up with these two wires. On my PC speaker I extracted it with wires already attached to it. One of those wires broke while testing the speaker out. I had to strip and wrap the wires on the contacts, and then tape the wires to the back of the speaker. On those stereo speakers the wires get hooked in with a latch or special jack.

Third thing to do is test and trouble shoot.

With one end of the two male connector wire spliced to a speaker, and the other end plugged into my microphone input, the home made microphone can be tested. Hitting the record button on my computer I speak and record on the speaker watching the sound levels. I then play back the recording to see how it sounds.

If you have zero sound a connection could be broken. You might have to fix the speaker to jack splice, or check the speaker for its wire splice. Another problem could be the jack to device connection. The fourth thing to check would be the sound recording software. It might be recording from the wrong channel, or your microphone could be muted. If your wire has a volume control, check that to see if its turned up.

Another problem could be with the sensitivity. My speaker works but I have to get close to it. If I am to far away, then it will record nothing. A speaker that is to big or powerful might not pick up you voice. For my one inch PC speaker I have put it next to my mouth.

The end of this tutorial with the basics.

To build a microphone you just need a speaker and way of hooking it up. A microphone is a speaker setup backwards, and a speaker is a microphone setup backwards. I made my own because of the cost, but now I want to experiment with different speakers. I also have an idea for a stereo microphone using the line in jack and two speakers. I hope this helps a lot of people with home made microphone projects. God blessings in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.

CMS and the 3 Most Popular ASP.NET Options

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CMS (Content Management System), independently consist of procedures that will help your business manage work more efficiently. They can be used manually or with the use of your computer. These procedures will help your business share, control, retrieve and reduce the number of data inputted. CMS will also improve report writing and communication between users.

In addition to improving your business through procedures, CMS also have options available on the .NET framework that you can apply to your business. Three of the most popular ones are DotNetNuke (DNN), Kentico and Umbraco. These are ASP.NET (a web application that was developed by Microsoft) Content Management System options.

The following information provides an overview of the 3 most popular ASP.NET CMS options.

1. DotNetNuke (DNN)

This CMS option provides you with 3 available versions. There is the Community Edition, Professional Edition and the Enterprise Edition. DNN (DNN .net CMS) has many templates that you can choose from and it is very easy to optimize. The content can be easily edited, simply through a standard web browser. You can even resize images, spell check your documents and edit your HTML. This option allows administrators to assign permissions to users, user groups, websites, single web pages, subscribers, and other types of users. The e-commerce solution even provides you with a main shopping cart option.

2. Kentico

Kentico provides you with 2 versions. There is the Free Edition and the Basic package. There are only 33 available templates provided by this option. It allows you to customize documents, fields and content design. You can also manage modules and site structure. There is a WYSIWYG that provides formatting, linking and insertion of images. It even supports Windows Authentication as well as Forms Authentication. The e-commerce feature also allows you to build an online store that integrates PayPal and Authorize.net capabilities. You can even use Google Sitemap as well as customize URLs.

3. Umbraco

The ASP.NET CMS option Umbraco has a free version and a Professional version. This option has a few templates but specifically designed for Umbraco. You can modify your content the way you want and you can integrate your Microsoft Word. It allows you to create many different users and assign them permissions. There is also an e-commerce application and module available.

These ASP.NET Content Management Systems options are 3 of the most popular ones on the market. However, before you select one, ensure that you target your specific needs and requirements. This way it will be easier to decide which option is best for you.

WebmasterFormat Blog, “DotNetNuke vs Kentico vs Umbraco – Most Popular ASP.NET CMSs Compared Side by Side”, by Webmasterformat.com

Cost Saving Business Ideas: Communicate for Profit

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This is the third short article in a series designed to help you improve your profits.
I have worked for different types of employers, both large and small. I am sure you have heard people speak of how much they enjoy working for smaller companies because it is more like they are working together like a family, while in larger companies they are treated like a number in a book. There is one significant difference between the two, and that is in the way they communicate.

Proper communication within an organization can make members feel as if they are important, and when they feel important, they will often place a higher emphasis on producing for the company and helping to control cost.

When was the last time you walked out onto the production floor and asked someone how their family is doing? Yes, I know that there must be some distinction between friendship and a working relationship, especially between leaders and subordinates, but that does not mean that you can’t treat them like normal human beings. If you have noticed a downturn in productivity, or if you need to improve efficiency, try asking the workers in the area what they think the problem is, or what they think can be done to make things run more efficiently. Don’t simply call an engineer and expect everything to improve. In many cases, you requested and hired experienced workers. What is the point of doing so, if you refuse to listen to their experience?

Allow your employees to participate in the decision making process, even if you think you already have a solution, and they will begin to feel as if they are part owners in the company. You need employees to care about what they are doing. Drop by and say hello once in awhile, and your employees will begin to feel as if they are something more than just a number in the books to you, and they will produce.

Communicating with your employees is especially important if your organization is going through difficult times, or implementing organizational change. It is natural for people to reject change, but you will find them more accepting if you explain why the change is needed, how it will be implemented, and what the expected outcome will be. An organization undergoing hardship will benefit from keeping its employees informed on where the organization is headed.

An incredibly important part of saving dollars through communication is accomplished by making certain that the information passed both up and down the hierarchy is honest and complete. If you are in the position of upper management, you need honest communication from your middle and lower level leadership if you want to make your decisions based on accurate data.

Encourage your people to provide complete and honest communication. Too many times I have seen team leaders and managers communicate to their director what they think he will want to hear and not what is truly accurate. Some may do this out of fear, and others may do it in an effort to try to make themselves look good. One thing is certain, and that is without knowing you have problems, the problems will not be addressed. Working with or through issues can be far more costly than fixing them.

Talk to your people (and give them gifts from Toad Diaries as well), and more importantly, listen to what they have to say and you may find your productivity benefit, which in turn benefits your profit margin. Your cost is little more than the time it takes to say hello.

Top Ladies Designer Dress Brands

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brands

Fashion apparels have always caught our attention. No one better than a woman can tell us what is trending in the market. There are a lot of leading designer brands for ladies and here are some of the major brands that always set the trend and let us have a look at it. These brands have always managed to be at their best and cater the best to people. With no further delay let us hit the list.

Chanel

Gabrielle Chanel is the founder of the leading designer brand Chanel. She is a multi-talented person. It is due to her business acumen and skills Chanel is considered as one of the leading brands today. She is a well-known French fashion designer across the globe. Chanel Brand offers us the wide variety of fashion goods such as apparel, jewellery, bags, and many more.

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Gucci

It is one of the major International brands. Alessandro Michele is the Creative Director of Gucci. Kering group has become famous, and Gucci is a part of it. Gucci also offers wide varieties of fashion accessories and fancy apparel. It resembles Italian style.

Prada

Mario Prada and Martino Prada laid the foundation. Miuccia Prada, the best fashion designer, is the head designer of the company. It also promotes the Italian fashion style. Prada has stood as a well-known brand now in the industry.

Versace

Donatella Versace is the Artistic Director of Versace and founded by Gianni Versace. He is talented and the well-known Fashion designer in the industry. It also resembles Italian Fashion. The brand has its extension even in home décor.

Ralph Lauren

Its founder and best fashion designer is Ralph Lauren. It promotes the best lifestyle products in the industry. It’s an American brand which mainly promotes their lifestyle. It has its wide range of varieties in fashion field as well as home furnishing.

Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton was 16 years old when he started designing. But the designs started with the trunks and became well-known for the same. Later the baggage production from this brand became popular both for men and women. It is well known brand which started its promotion from Paris. Its leather goods are at its best.

Zara

It is also an International brand. It is well known for all the products available at its store. It is well known for its business which is maintaining its standards with the best quality products. It has its best and unique fancy designs.

There are many more brands in the industry like Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Vera Wang, Donna Karan, Vivienne Westwood, Karl Lagerfeld, Lacoste and many more. As we know women are desperate in maintaining their standards in fashion. Nowadays we can clearly see that women love to stay in trend and are meticulously following that as well. The brands that are evolving with latest designs are the ones that are impressing women. They have high demands as they are maintaining their standards at its levels.