Ever evolving advances in information technology has forever changed the landscape of childhood. The world in which our children find themselves is not the world we grew up in. Today, children have personal cell phones, tablets, and laptops. It is imperative that parents teach their child that although the Internet is a fabulous educational tool, provides entertainment, and can be used to connect with family and friends; it is not a private place and is subject to abuse. While we still need to worry about perverts hanging around the playground, pedophiles have found a new place to hide. Sexual predators take cruel advantage of the curiosity of children, luring them into conversations, meetings and more. Parents can help protect children and teens by enforcing parental controls and Internet safety rules when children go online. Now is the time to have the talk with your child about “stranger danger” and prepare them in the event they are approached or solicited. Make sure children understand that if anyone ever makes them feel uncomfortable, they should tell you. They are not in trouble, and it is not their fault if a “freak” finds them. Reassure them that when they tell you, you will prevent that person from ever contacting them again. Warn children never to give out personal information including their last name, their address, where they go to school, where their parents work, telephone numbers, credit card information or computer passwords. Warn young children as well as teenagers of the dangers of chat rooms and remind them to never download software without your express permission; an innocent looking video or website may mask pornography or perversion. To discourage children from visiting sites they should not see, keep the home computer in the family room in full view. You should also employ blocking software to protect children from accidently visiting a questionable site. Just as you would advise your child not to talk to strangers at the park or at the mall, warn them not to talk to strangers online and only to chat with their close friends. Tell you child that “bad people” often wear disguises online. They may think they are talking to another girl or boy when they are being lured into a conversation with a dangerous adult with harmful intentions. Be aware of signs that your child may have an unhealthy relationship or is being sexually exploited over the Internet. • You stumble upon material of a pornographic or hate-mongering nature on your child’s mobile device • Your child starts to spend an excessive time online or displays secretive or deceptive behavior • You receive strange phone calls or hang-ups • Your child turns off the screen when you enter the room • Your child’s personality changes and they become withdrawn If you wish to report an issue or suspect inappropriate online behavior, you can file a report at the Cyber Tip Line. The Cyber Tip Line has recorded over 2.2 million complaint reports since its launch online 1998.
Creating Curb Appeal Creating and maintaining an attractive visual appearance to your home and landscape is integral to curb appeal. Many people will never see beyond a “drive-by” view of your home. If you fail to make a good first impression, the interior of your home may be beautiful, but it will never impress the neighbors a potential homebuyer. A Quality Front Door Enhances Curb Appeal Your front door and entryway reflect the personality of the homeowner and the condition of the door is indicative of the care and maintenance the property receives. The front entry should be kept clean, tidy and well lighted. A well-constructed solid front door adds to the curb appeal of a home while enhancing security. A solid front door helps to block and dampen outside noises, while keeping out cold drafts by providing a tight, weatherproof seal to enhance energy efficiency in the home. When selecting windows for your home, be sure to factor in the cost of window coverings into your building or construction budget. Your choice of window coverings comes down to personal preference, but keep in mind that you may wish to choose blinds, shutters or draperies that Choosing Windows For Your Home When building or remodeling your home, your choice of windows represents a significant investment. You may feel a bit confused as there are so many different types of windows available on the market. It pays to do the research to find the best type for your application. Visit home and garden shows and your local window contractor’s showroom for ideas and inspiration. A solid, long-term warranty from an established quality manufacturer and your budget should be considered when pricing different types of window applications. Choosing the right type of energy-efficient windows can save you a substantial amount of money over the years by reducing your home's energy consumption. To save money, you may be wise to spend more initially to reap the long-term savings that quality windows afford. Cut The Grass A large part of the overall impression of your property is conveyed by the landscaping that surrounds it. If you grass is sparse, weedy and uncared for, it implies that the rest of the property is maintained in the same careless manner. A lush lawn with lots of greenery provided by trees and shrubs creates a cool and inviting oasis that encourages visitors to linger. Remove The Clutter No matter if your grass is mowed and the front steps are tidy, if you have old vehicles or sporting equipment parked in the driveway, or if that old basketball hoop you have meant to take down still disgraces the carport, your home will appear cluttered and unkempt. Remember, you only have one chance to make a favorable first impression. Make sure it is a good one.
Is your home showing signs of wear and tear, presenting a worn and sad face to the world? Updating and remodeling are an ideal way to enhance the appearance, functionality, enjoyment, and value of your home. While home improvement is a great way to make your home a reflection of your personality, it is important to do a bit of planning and research before you begin. Do The Research Visit open houses, review decorating magazines, and visit home and garden shows for ideas and inspiration. There are so many new and innovative decorating trends and eco-friendly building products; you will want a clear idea in mind of your personal preferences. Prioritize Your Projects Like most homeowners, you probably have several ideas for home improvement projects that you would like to accomplish to improve the quality of your home and enhance your lifestyle. Replacing weather stripping and adding insulation to the attic should perhaps take priority over building an outdoor fireplace. Evaluate Your Reasons For Remodeling First of all, consider if you plan to remain in the home for many years or if you are contemplating selling the property within the next five years. Some projects such as adding an in-ground swimming pool can offer years of enjoyment, but you may not recover your investment were you to put the house up for sale. On the other hand, a new roof adds to the value of the property and immediately impacts the home’s appeal to potential buyers. Decide On A Budget Many homeowners report they have “champagne taste and a beer budget.” It is wise to keep in mind that you can’t really enjoy your new media room if you spend all your time worrying about how your are going to pay for it. Not to worry. If you plan a budget for your project, you can stick to it by finding substitutes for some materials and products that will produce the same or similar appearance and functionality. Selecting laminate flooring instead of solid hardwood flooring is but one example. Determine If You Need A Professional Contractor Unless you are an experienced “do-it-yourself” type of homeowner, many jobs such as plumbing, roofing, electrical wiring, and masonry are best left to a professional contractor. On major jobs, even if you think you will do-it-yourself, it is wise to request bids from at least two independent reputable contractors. Not only will you learn someone else’s approach to the project, you may find that when you consider the time involved and that you may not have the appropriate skills, tools or equipment for the job, it is more time and cost efficient to hire a contractor.
Owning a home is a must for some people. To some adults, a house represents family, tradition and the best form of equity. For others, having money to travel is a priority. If you're trying to decide whether home buying or renting is best for you, consider how long you expect to live in a house. Renting and home buying pros and cons You could move to a different house every two to three years. But, each move would require you to negotiate closing costs, cover realtor fees and pay for necessary repairs or upgrades so that a buyer pays you the full value of your home. The amount of disposable income that you want and how frequently you plan to move aren't the only factors to consider. You need to find out if you can afford home buying over the long term, not just for the next three to four years. After all, even if you only plan to stay in a house for a few years, unless you make a hefty down payment or sell the house quickly, you'll generally be responsible for a mortgage for at least 12 years, 30 years for a longer mortgage. Therefore, consider your savings. Are you currently living paycheck to paycheck or do you have $10,000 or more saved? Some lenders offer loan calculators that you can use for free. Consider taking advantage of these options. Seeing how much you would pay each month for a house (and for how long) is a great reality check. Your current choices aren't set in stone Also, think about your personality. Home buying might be a better fit for you if you don't want to live close to your neighbors. Space to engage in hobbies like wood working or classic car collecting, host large social events, own large dogs and grow a garden are other reasons why buying a house may be best. If you don't know the first thing about home repairs and want access to an in-ground swimming pool, gym and community fellowship area, renting might be the way to go. Living in an apartment or renting a home could keep you from feeling alone if you're single. You also won't have to worry about property taxes. But, you'll never have equity in the home or apartment that you rent. You also won't be able to take advantage of home ownership tax breaks. And you can't leave a home or apartment that you rent to your children the way that you could if you buy a house. The good news is that if you're renting right now, you could start searching for a house to own as soon as you're ready. Equally, if you currently own a house and decide to rent for a few years, you could start taking steps to go the renter's route as well.