News Notes | United Women of America™

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  1. Women – Save Your Marriage 11

    Refuse To Play That Bad Hand – Change Starts With You –

    As I said earlier… relationships are hard. But they don’t have to be nearly as hard as some people make them. The first step is to realize that all change starts from within.

    Yes, the truth is, if you want to save your marriage and live happily ever after… it starts with you.

    You have to make the first move even when it seems unfair. You have to be the one to forgive, even when it doesn’t seem possible. You have to be kind, even when it feels like your partner is oblivious. You have to be generous, even when it feels like your partner never gives.

    Any changes in your marriage have to start with you. Wait… I can already hear the “yes, but…” in your voice. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? It doesn’t seem like it will work, does it? Why should you do ALL the hard work to save your marriage? That’s the incredible thing about change – the magic, really.

    Once you start changing how you do things, how you react to situations, and how you treat your spouse, your spouse will begin to respond. The seed is planted. Change will happen. As you focus on your own position in the marriage and change the way you act, your spouse will not be able to continue in the same way as before.

    Picture a marriage that’s struggling like a card game in which both partners have been dealt a bad hand. They continue to play that hand, over and over and over again. That game will continue as long as both partners play their hand. What happens when one partner folds? The struggle ends. The game can’t continue if one player refuses to play!

    Refuse to play that bad hand! No matter if your spouse continues to play the same hand, continue to refuse. Eventually, playing alone will get frustrating enough that your spouse will fold, too, and say “now what?” Then it’s time to put everything you’ve learned to work. Teach your spouse that it’s okay to fall in love again and enjoy the things that brought you two together in the first place.

    What happens if after all that hard work and change on your part, you still find yourself adrift from your partner, unable to make it work? Turn to professional help when possible, and if things still can’t be resolved, remember that it’s okay. The important thing is that you know you did absolutely everything in your power to make it work, and if you have to walk away, you did your best.

    In the end, our best is all we have to offer and all we should expect of ourself.

  2. Women – Save Your Marriage 10

    Recapture That ‘Something Special’ Again –

    A very wise marriage counselor once said; All marriages begin because there is something special, and no matter how bad it becomes, as long as you can get back to that “something special” again, you can save your marriage.

    Let’s face it, when you first got married, there was something really special between you two. You were able to tell that your partner really loved you. You felt the magic of that love. You could see clearly how much your new spouse cared about you.

    That “something special” is the very reason why you fell in love in the first place. It is what glued you together. It is what made you see each other’s good qualities, and made you oblivious to each other’s faults at the same time.

    This special something was the driving force behind all those wonderful things you did for each other, the fun times you had together, and even the times you both had to forgive and forget.

    Consider the fact that the original “something special” was strong enough to make marriage partners out of two strangers. This idea alone is a miracle. The marriage bond is such a big step that there must have been something incredible between you two at one point in time.

    In fact, if the “something special” was that strong back then, imagine its strength if you could use it now!

    Yes, this is one thing that should NOT fade with time. When marriage partners spend years together, they build a history of ups and downs that only serve to strengthen their bond. The problem is when married people forget how much work they had to put into the initial courting stage to create this bond.

    As they build this “something special” into a lasting bond, the work involved seems to get side-stepped with the children, house, job, car, or whatever else happens to distract the couple from what’s important – the thing that brought them together in the first place. For without that “thing” there is no “children, house, job, car” – the stuff of their marriage. Because there is no marriage.

    So, how do you recapture that “something special?” Ideally, you both have to agree upon some focused time spent together, alone, without intrusions. Start by talking, honestly, about what you used to like about each other. Talk about what you used to like to do together. Take a trip down memory lane and try to recapture the good times, the fun times, the silly times, and all the special feelings those times evoked.

    Rediscover what attracted you to each other in the first place, and why you felt the way you did. Play “your” music, dance to your songs, play games, watch movies… anything that you enjoyed when you were dating. Talk, write, or sing. Recreate what you did those first weeks, months, or years. If you spent hours on the phone, call each other. If you wrote long letters, write each other. Put yourself back in the dating mood you once shared.

    Once you have rediscovered that special ingredient, decide together on a plan of action to bring it back to life. Do something together you stopped doing long ago. Do the things that remind you of the old times. Even visit the old places if you can! Spend the time to recreate these memories and the feelings will follow.

    When you find your “something special” again, cherish it. Then go back to it over and over again. Go back to the time of wonder, of selfless love, and of appreciating each other.

    This is an incredible step toward reconnecting with your mate and possibly even saving your marriage. You will once again appreciate your partner and have a reason, and the strength, to weather the storms together that every marriage must endure.

    You could even say it will be just like old times. But, now you will be more mature, somewhat wiser, and have a better ability to appreciate your partner, and your marriage, more than ever before.

  3. Women-Owned Business – Getting Started 10

    How to Buy Inexpensive Professional Looking Business Cards –

    Business cards are one of the staples of owning and operating a business regardless of whether you’re a brick and mortar or an internet based business. One never knows when they’re going to run into their next best customer. It could be in the grocery store or on a hike in the mountains – seriously! It pays to have professional looking business cards on you at all times.

    The good news is, professional and quality business cards do not have to be expensive. Here are 5 great places to find inexpensive, and amazing, business cards to promote your business anywhere and everywhere.

    VistaPrint.com. Vistaprint.com is probably the best known online resource for inexpensive business cards. In fact when you register with VistaPrint.com, you automatically get 250 free full color business cards which you can customize from more than 40 designs. On top of that great initial offer, VistaPrint.com often offers specials, discounts, and coupons on other promotional tools for your business including postcards, labels, magnets, sticky notes and so on.

    123Print.com offers business cards for $4.95 for 100 business cards. Like VistaPrint.com, they also offer customized templates – more than 100 templates to choose from.

    Printsmadeeasy.com is another online business card printer. Full color business cards start at $14.99 for 100 cards.

    Finally, ClubFlyer.com offers 1000 business cards for $30. You can supply the artwork or have them supply it for you. They also offer you the ability to proof your cards. It is strongly recommended to always proof your cards. Imagine receiving, and having to throw away, 1000 business cards with the wrong information or spelling.

    Your local printer and postal supply store often offers great rates for business members. Additionally, as a possible last option, you can purchase precut business cards at your local office supply store and, using compatible business card software, print them yourself. Quality paper and ink will help create a professional look.

    It is almost guaranteed that you’ll run into a great contact or potential customer when you don’t have a business card. You could be at the zoo with your children, at the local pool, or on vacation. Stock up on business cards so it doesn’t happen to you. Business cards are not only a necessity for any business. They’re a valuable marketing tool. Of course they don’t replace a comprehensive marketing strategy but are an integral aspect of business marketing.

  4. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 10

    Summer Reading Activities :

    It is so important to keep our children’s brains engaged over the summer months, so they don’t lose their place in academics. Studies have shown that children fall three months behind in the learning progress they’ve made when they don’t do anything in the summer to keep up. Staying academically active in the summer doesn’t have to be dry and boring, though. There are many creative ways to keep the wheels in your child’s brains rolling!

    Have a themed dinner night for family and friends. Pick a theme, like maybe the 1950s or even carnivals, and have everyone dress up according to your theme. Find coordinating foods for your theme to serve to everyone. And most importantly, have lots of books on hand about your theme. After dinner, everyone can take turns reading all of the books together.

    A great way to bring new life to old books is to have a book swap party. Invite some friends to gather up old books they no longer want and bring them over. As everyone comes in, take their books and set them all up on a table so they are easy to browse. Have your guests gather and mingle in the living room, but, set the books up in the dining room. Once everyone has arrived, file into the dining room so that everyone can choose some new books to take home.

    Children can get together with a small group of friends and write a storybook. They can do so in a round robin way, where each child writes some and then passes it to the next for their turn. Or they can collaborate as they go along. When they are finished writing the story, they can work on some illustrations. They might even have fun finding pictures in magazines to use for the illustrations. They can put it all together with some cardboard pieces for the book cover. They will probably need your help with that part, as it will be hard to cut. When it is all done, they can take turns keeping the book each weekend to show grandparents and whoever else they would like to show it off to.

    And of course, don’t forget your public library’s summer reading program. It is a great initiative to keep your kids interested in books. They can choose their own books to read for the programs and that is a big deal. It is not only fun for the child, but, it really helps to keep their desire to read going strong. The child who is always told exactly what to read sees it as nothing more than a chore. The library’s programs usually all have prizes for certain numbers of books read – and then main prizes at the end of the program. And a lot of the programs have a kick-off party and a party for when it’s over, too.

    So many kids fall behind, just from the gaps that happen over the accumulated summers. It can be really hard to catch up when school starts back up in the fall and by the time the child reaches middle school, they may be several grades behind in reading alone. We don’t have to make kids’ summers all work and no play, but, keeping their brains in operation is imperative for them to keep up in school.

  5. Women-Owned Business – Venture Capital 5

    What is a Venture Capital Fund? – Having your own business is one of the dreams and goals of the average person. Most of us would rather be their own boss than become someone else’s employee. Unfortunately having your own business is not easy. Money is difficult to earn and more difficult to find.

    Starting your own business may take a lot of thinking, guts and money. Fortunately new entrepreneurs have other options in finding funds for their business. A venture capital fund consists of private equity from outside investors.

    People who provide these funds are called venture capitalists. These are a group of wealthy investors, financial institutions and investment banks that can gather money. They invest in new businesses that are still getting started. In return they get a portion of the equity and have a say in the company’s decisions.

    Business Ventures

    We often hear about business ventures from rich people. Many investors who have enough money will embark in a limited partnership with a new company. This may sound good for aspiring entrepreneurs but it is not easy. Venture capitalists have now become more conscious and careful since the dot com bust. They may not mind taking the risk but they have become more selective on where to invest their money.

    Venture capitalists are usually executives from a firm. These investment professionals are referred to as limited partners. These are a group of people who have access to large sums of money for investment. Their funds usually come from private and state pension funds, foundations, financial endowments, investment companies and other institutions.

    Investors are usually grouped according to their interest. Most venture capitalists invest in start up companies. These companies are usually high-technology businesses such as electronics, computers, research and development. Venture Capital funds usually last for ten years. The general partners or VCs receive a 2% management fee every year and require 20% of the net profits. They invest in more than one startup company for more returns in the long run.

    Venture capitalists are very selective and most of the time have strict requirements. Apart from that they also have a say in the company’s decisions which may not be good for the company. Venture capitalists are known to invest a lot of money in a short period of time.

    They may invest by advertising your company in magazines that are not well-suited for your type of customers. Companies end up spending money at a faster rate before they learn how to conduct their businesses, but eventually earn positive returns after the learning process.

    For other entrepreneurs who have a hard time getting their business plans approved, there may be hope with angel investors. Angel investors are individuals who also have access to large amounts of capital and are willing to invest money on highly speculative start up companies. These businesses usually don’t have a solid proof for their technology or show great promise for their product(s) or services at the start.

    If you really need a venture capital fund make sure that you pick a general partner that will work with you not just for the money. Venture capitalists have been known to kick the founders out and bring in their own trained CEOs.

  6. Women-Owned Business – Getting Started 9

    How To Find A Great Graphic Designer –

    Finding a great Graphic Designer can be about as difficult as finding your life’s calling with a million dollar paycheck. Sure they exist, however finding the right one takes patience, diligence, a whole lot of time and a bit of luck, right? Not necessarily. Finding a great graphic designer is easy when you know where to look.

    Begin by asking friends, family and business associates who have great graphics. Unless they did their graphics themselves, they had to have hired a graphic designer. Referrals are the best place to find a great graphic designer. However, know that great graphic designers are like great babysitters. Once you’ve found one you may be reluctant to share them with others since that may mean they’ll be unavailable to you. Your friends and associates may hold out on you even if they do know a great designer.

    Visit websites you like with great graphics. Many businesses will use the same graphic designer for all their design needs. That means designers that do logos may also create website graphics. Often, at the bottom of a website you’ll see the website creator and/or graphic designer listed. It’s usually a link that you can click on to visit their website. View their portfolio and if everything looks good, give them a call.

    Visit graphic design associations. Every vocation has a number of associations and graphic design is no different. Participation in these associations isn’t a guarantee that the designer is spectacular. However, it is a good place to start. Two main organizations are:

    – The Graphic Artists Guild – www.gag.org
    – The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) – www.aiga.org

    Once you have a few names to check out, it’s time to compare. While price may be at the top of your priority list, it’s important to also view their portfolio. A logo and design you, and more importantly your target audience, love is well worth twice the price of a poorly designed logo.

    You’ll also want to evaluate their terms, professionalism and the systems they have in place to make sure they understand your needs and the image you’re trying to project. Some graphic designers will speak to you on the phone while others have a form they’ll have you fill out. If a designer never asks about the image you want for your material, find a different designer.

    Make sure you get the terms in writing. The terms of your agreement should include payment terms, revisions, and how you’re expected to communicate. While these may seem like small details they can make all the difference between a great relationship with your graphic designer and an unsatisfactory experience.

  7. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 9

    Comic Books Will Help Pull Reluctant Readers Into The World Of Books :

    Comic books can be used to motivate young children to read for a number of reasons. They are short, while still containing a complete and compelling story; they have detailed pictures on every page, which will keep young readers interested; and they have a distinctly “fun” style, with the superhuman characters.

    The average comic book is around thirty pages, and for a younger reader who isn’t so keen on reading, a thirty page story is much more manageable. While these stories are only thirty pages per book, they are released in monthly issues. These monthly issues are very easy to follow, with such short issues, while still telling a full story. These stories can be followed for many years, most of the reader’s life even. For example, the X-Men comic Uncanny X-Men has run since 1963, and is currently on its 532 issue. The reader doesn’t have to follow a single story, as even five or six issues would be easy to read over the course of an entire month.

    A defining aspect of comic books is the dual mediums that are used to tell the story, the pictures and the words. Comic books have a unique style to their illustrations that is very attractive to readers of any age, but would be especially eye-catching to a young reader. The presence of pictures on every page would also prevent young readers from getting lost in the wall of text, by separating the words into paragraphs of exposition and individual lines of dialogue.

    The characters of most comic books are superhuman beings, usually superheroes saving the world from supervillians, monsters, and sometimes even aliens. The superheroes are ordinary people most of the time, with real concerns and problems that are easily connected to, as well as the responsibilities of their superhuman positions. There are even comic books that focus on teenage characters, such as New X-Men: Academy X, Young Avengers, and Teen Titans. These comics also have the characters go through teenage problems, such as growing up and fitting in, as well as the superhero problems.

    The stories still maintain a mature feel with the comic book feel, which means a parent could enjoy following a story alongside their child. If a parent already reads comic books, they could introduce them to their child, and read through their collection with them. Comic books can also be a very social hobby, with a close-knit and friendly following who frequent hobby shops.

    All in all, comic books can be a very entertaining way to encourage young children to start reading and to enjoy what they read. They are short and manageable, have cool pictures, have a distinct and fun style, and star characters that children can easily identify and empathize with. They also connect to other mediums, and encourage young readers to continue reading and to read more often.

  8. Women – Save Your Marriage 9

    Simple Acts Of Kindness Can Reunite And Reignite –

    As time goes by, many married people complain that their feelings diminish, and that it’s just not the same anymore. This is a simplistic view of the way we mature in a relationship. Sure, things are not the same anymore, nor should they be. However, if feelings are diminished, it probably has a lot more to do with the way we treat each other than just time passing by.

    Telling someone that you love him or her is important but not nearly as important as showing it. It is critical that you remind the special ones in your life just how much they mean to you, even if just by doing little things.

    Whenever you do something for someone else without him or her having to ask for it, you will be driving home the fact that you care enough to put their needs first. To be perfectly blunt, offering anything without it being required will add to a positive relationship. And doing so on a regular basis will make the other person feel special, and that is what love is all about.

    Ironically, it is often the little things, not the big things, that matter most. It is not usually about how big a gift you buy, or how big a party you throw, or how much money you have to throw around; it’s about the idea that you thought about the other person and his or her needs, wants, and desires.

    And, when I say it’s about the tiny things, it’s about the really tiny things. Things like making the morning coffee, opening a car door, lending a hand to help in a moment requiring three hands, or offering to clear the table after dinner, or running a bath. None of those things take an investment from the savings account, but they do take an investment in thought and time.

    Additionally, some little things can make a huge difference, like a simple unexpected message letting your spouse know they are on your mind. Sharing the last piece of chocolate cake or leaving a little wild flower on your spouses pillow just means “I thought of you.” That’s worth more than a million dollars.

    Even telling a your spouse that you love them and believe in them, especially during times of extreme stress, can make a huge difference. Think about it – if your spouse is doubting their position in the work world, feels they’ve made a terrible mistake with the children, or experiencing another painful, self-esteem damaging event, would that person want to open a trinket or hear your words of love and support? The little things go a long way!

    It is not so much about what you do as it is about the fact that you are doing something. The power lies in the act of unselfish giving, which has the power to change everything, including the way you feel about each other.

    Once both parties adopt the mindset of just doing something for each other without expecting anything in return, it changes the perceptions each has of the other, and themselves.

    If you care enough about your spouse to do something selflessly, it changes how your spouse sees you. Your spouse knows that you are a caring person who appreciates them. Your spouse takes notice and starts to respond in kind. Both of you win when either spouses gives.

    By the same token, if your spouse keeps doing something for you without you having to ask, it will change how you view your spouse. You will see that they really do care, and again, you will respond in kind.

    In other words, it doesn’t matter who takes the first step. When either spouse gives from the heart, in little ways, the receiving spouse will be uplifted, and feel like they really matter. With this change comes real sharing and a new commitment, which starts a whole snowball rolling down that hill – and just imagine the momentum your little unselfish act could create!

    At the end of the day, the feeling of loving someone else comes naturally, but showing someone that love is an act of your will.

    When you were dating, you loved doing things for each other. For whatever reason, you may have stopped doing those little things when you got married. You can blame the busy-ness of your life, the day-in-day-out monotony, or even your spouse. You can blame whatever you want, but the truth is, you only have one thing to blame – laziness. You weren’t lazy when you were dating, trying to win your mate, so why did the laziness set in now?

    These very sincere manifestations of love, these tiny acts of unselfish kindness, are a big part of how we show love and feel love. Without these acts of love, your spouse believes they are not worthy of your time or trouble, and, unfortunately, responds from that belief.

    So, it’s really quite simple. Go back to acting the way you did before you got married and you may suddenly go back to the way you felt before you got married, too. I guess I could have said that in the beginning and saved you all this time! Please, don’t let another day go by without sharing a simple act of love. Your marriage depends on it.

  9. Women-Owned Business – Venture Capital 4

    What the Definition of Venture Capital Doesn’t Tell You – Venture capital can be a rather complicated arrangement for beginners in the business world. While there may be lots of resources available on the topic, these articles are sometimes too technical for the ordinary person.

    The definition of venture capital, in simple terms, is investment money provided by professional capitalists and venture capital firms to promising companies in the hope that the company will make more money after a few years. Aside from this definition, here are some things to discuss about this subject.

    A venture fund has a relatively short lifespan. The goal, then, is to maximize profit within a short time period. Venture capitalists and investors have developed strategies and business plans that are “proven” to yield results, but this is not always the case. Remember that their aim is a return of investment in a short time frame and not the development of a lifelong business.

    Aside from the profits that they seek, they also charge certain fees to pay their management staff. These fees are taken out of the venture capital fund, often causing the fund’s assets to run out sooner than expected.

    As a general rule, only 10% of the investments are successful. Because of this you might wonder why these companies continue to operate. Since these Venture Capital firms have tons of money, they’ve managed to distribute their investments among several companies. The key to success, then, is to make more good investments than “bad” to offset the losses. So when everything is taken into consideration, they end up gaining more than they’ve invested.

    If you consider the venture capital option, be prepared to lose control over your company for a couple of years. Because these investors and firms have spent big bucks to help your company, they also have a say on how things get done. We’re talking of major stakes here, not just a couple of hundred dollars that you borrowed from a friend.

    They usually assign one or more partners to sit as members of the board to take part and know the decisions that you make as CEO of the company. At the same time, they report to the firm what they think of how you run things. This can be crucial should you need additional capital later on.

    Venture capital is one way to get into business with minimal capital. But remember that there may be several requirements with which you must comply. These firms have developed plans which may have proven to be effective when employed in past businesses. But, such plans may be unsuccessful for some new and future companies.

    There is the possibility of failure. Your start up may be difficult and the stakes rather high. But the gains you receive later could possibly outweigh the demands and difficulties that you face at present.

    Here’s hoping this article helps you understand the definition of venture capital better. For more information, it is best to seek help from a professional. Ask a financial expert about the pros and cons of venture capital and how you can avoid the many pitfalls of this type of financing.

    He can also help prepare your business proposal to make it more attractive to capitalists and angel investors. There are a few websites which provide this type of service.

  10. Women-Owned Business – Getting Started 8

    Find an Accountant You Can Trust for Your Business –

    Hiring an accountant for your business is like hiring a plumber for your pipes. Sure you could do it yourself but wouldn’t you rather hire an expert? One of the many reasons people struggle to handle their own accounting is the fear of trusting their finances and personal information to a stranger. That is certainly an understandable reason to hesitate however there are measures you can take to hire an accountant you can trust for your business.

    Step One: Determine what you need an accountant to do. Do you need them to handle payables and receivables or are you more concerned about quarterly tax filings? Are you looking for someone to compile financial statements on a regular basis or to simply perform the task once in order to apply for a business loan or to present to investors? Define what you need an accountant to do before you set out to find one you can trust.

    Step Two: Ask for referrals. One of the best ways to find any kind of provider whether it is a ghostwriter, attorney or an accountant is to ask people you know and trust for referrals. The presumption being, of course, that the accountant has an established history working with people you know and trust and is therefore trustworthy for your business needs too.

    Step Three: Schedule an appointment. You have your list of the tasks or responsibilities you need an accountant to handle. Once you have a handful of potential accountants to contact, start at the top of the list and make appointments to meet with them for a consultation. This doesn’t have to be face to face and in our virtual world it often isn’t. However scheduling a bit of time to chat with a potential accountant is important.

    Step Four: Ask questions. In addition to making sure they’re ready, willing, and able to take you on as a client, make sure they have experience with your sized business, the tasks you need accomplished, and that they have the time available in their schedule to be responsive to your needs. It’s important to find an accountant who isn’t just trustworthy but who also isn’t too busy to return your calls.

    Step Five: Recommendations. Ask your potential accountant who they’ve done business with. If you have questions about them don’t be afraid to also ask for recommendations or people you can contact to make sure this is the right accountant for you.

    Step Six: Establish a system of how communication and documentation are going to work. If you set this up ahead of time you will know when to anticipate a call back from your accountant or when you need to have your paperwork together for your quarterly returns.

    Step Seven: Shake hands. Sign agreements and take the necessary precautions to ensure a professional and accountable relationship on both sides.

    Hiring an accountant you trust can be an intimidating process however there are steps to take to ensure you’ve found not only an honest accountant but one that will work well with you and your business.

  11. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 8

    Why Should I Read To My Infant? :

    Many people begin reading books to their children from the time they are brand new babies. Why do they do this and should you do the same? Many experts agree that this is actually a good practice to get into. It might seem strange to read a book to a three month old baby, but, it is a wonderful bonding experience for you and your baby.

    One main thing that it does is allow you precious time when you are speaking directly to your baby. Babies that are spoken to a lot score higher on standard tests when they are three years old than infants that were not spoken to often. So reading to your baby is just another way to add variety to the time you spend talking to your them and adding to their growing vocabulary.

    When your baby hears you read, he hears what a narrative sounds like. He hears the different tones and inflections in your voice and his rapidly-growing brain starts to wrap around the idea of what a story sounds like. He might not consciously understand that, but, the brain grows faster at this time in our lives than at any other. Helping all of those networks connect is one of the best things we can do for our babies.

    More than anything, though, your baby will begin to associate books/reading with happy, cozy times spent with you cuddling. As we humans are pleasure-seekers, this is an awesome foundation to lay for your child in the world of reading. The more and more we can help our kids to equate reading with pleasant, happy times, the better!

    The interesting thing is that when our babies are very young, the words of the book don’t actually matter. They hear the different sounds of our voice and the different emotions and that is what is important. What this means is that we can basically read anything to them. We might even read the novel we’ve been enjoying to them, as long as we use lots of emotion and maybe even different voices for the different characters. It can be quite comical, but, it will all be teaching our baby vocabulary and helping their imaginations develop.

    They will, of course, be drawn to bright colors and stark contrasts that a lot of infant books have. They will enjoy looking at that brightness and sharpness. And as your baby gets older, they will become more and more interested in the books themselves. They will even soon start grabbing for them and even sucking and chewing on them. So board books and cloth books are definitely in order.

    About this same time, your child will really start to connect the books to special time with you. They will understand that when they see you get the book out, it is time for a great cuddle on your lap and lots of lovely social interaction with you.

    Reading to your baby, if nothing else, is a wonderful peaceful time to spend together. Try it, you might be pleasantly surprised by the long term results.

  12. Women – Save Your Marriage 8

    Making The Case For Time Alone Together –

    Having time alone with your spouse is not always an easy thing to do. As a matter of fact, it can be darn hard, especially once you have kids in the house. But, there is no way around this topic. This is something that you simply cannot do without or the relationship is bound to perish.

    You have things to attend to on a day-to-day basis. From the family to the job, everything needs your attention. When children come along, you have to work harder to pay the bills. This new demand comes at a time when your job may be more demanding, as well.

    Of course, we welcome both the children and the promising career, but at what expense? Some days it feels like a pressure cooker and the lid’s about to blow! So, how do you get some relief from this constant demand? Something has got to give, and it’s typically the thing that you think you can attend to later – like each other.

    We often put off doing those things that are the most forgiving. The car can wait until next week for that oil change. The dress shoes can last another year. The refrigerator is working alright for now. Most likely these things have been ignored before and didn’t cause a disruption in your life, so they can be ignored again.

    But, when we start ignoring the needs of our spouse, those little things start to add up to big things. Yes, we ignore the people we feel the safest with – the people who we think can be ignored without too much trouble. Because we love our spouse we don’t cause a lot of trouble when we’re ignored – not like our boss, or our children – at least not right away.

    Frankly, this whole ‘making time for each other’ can be downright exhausting!

    The thing that is important to keep in mind is that you got together and got married because of what you shared as a couple… not with the children, the job, or the rest of the family or friends.

    That means your relationship should be based on what you share together, just the two of you. If you are only sharing the day-to-day activities of the children or what you boss needs or what the house needs, then you will find less and less in common as the years go by. And, once those things change (children grow up, jobs change, you move) you will find yourselves growing apart further and further.

    Simply finding time alone is problematic especially when you have children at home. Even when you make the effort to set aside a few minutes so you can talk quietly like you used to, you’ll find yourself interrupted by a toddler demanding attention, or a teenager trying to sway your mind. When that happens, even small bits of time that could have been special are often laid to waste. When the children are gone, spending time alone should be simple, but it isn’t. The habit of NOT spending any time alone can become so ingrained that we forget how to be a couple.

    That’s why it’s important to find the time for each other, to THAT a habit. You don’t have to plan an event that costs a lot of money, but it needs to be time alone, with just you and your spouse, and done often. These times together may not be spontaneous for a while, but don’t let that stop you. The spontaneity will come when your children are fully launched and on their own. But, you have to maintain a good marriage for that to happen, so work on the scheduled time together now so you can enjoy the spontaneous times later.

    Many parents of young children use the excuse that they can’t find a babysitter, or they can’t afford one. Regardless of your circumstances, it’s important to spend some quality time with the person you love. If that requires taking money out of the grocery fund and living on noodles for a week, it’s an investment that’s well worth it for the sake of your marriage. Don’t forget; other parents, your friends, are having the same trouble finding time alone. Swap babysitting time and you’ve solved both problems!

    Keep in mind it doesn’t have to be a long period of time on every occasion, but it does have to be time spent alone, without any interruptions. It needs to be quality time, which will allow you to experience each other without any outside stimulus. It needs to allow for intimate moments and the freedom to express how much you love and appreciate the person you married.

    Regardless of how you spend your time alone with your spouse, make it memorable and enjoyable. It may be as simple as curling up on the couch, watching a movie and sharing a bowl of popcorn, or going for a long walk. The time you spend together is not about what you did specifically, it’s about the fact that just the two of you were able to share it, alone.

  13. Women-Owned Business – Getting Started 7

    Find Legal Help for Your Business –

    Attorneys come in every shape, size, and purpose. There are contract attorneys, estate planning, family law, corporate attorneys, litigation, patent law, real estate and so on. Before you can set out on the search for legal help for your business, it is first important to determine what type of attorney you need.

    Once you know what kind of legal help you need, it’s easier to find a match for your specialty. Here’s where to look:

    Referrals. One of the best ways to find great legal help is to ask friends, family, and associates who they like to work with or who they know. Not only will this likely give you a list of trusted legal help, when you’ve been referred by a client, it may give you a little wiggle room with fees.

    Online directories. There are a huge number of listings and directories online. Each one generally lists attorneys by several categories including specialty and location. One notable directory of attorneys and legal advisors is Nolo, http://lawyers.nolo.com/.

    Lawyer referral services. These services generally require attorneys to register to belong to the referral service and the attorneys are also generally screened quite thoroughly.

    Networking groups. Both online and off, business associations, forums, membership sites and local chamber of commerce meetings can generate a number of options for legal help recommendations. If you’re in a very unique industry and have specialized legal needs, starting with associates in your industry is likely the best first step.

    Once you have a list of potential attorneys, it’s time to screen them to find the attorney right for you and your business needs.

    Schedule a time to talk. Personality, communication habits, and demeanor are all important when seeking an expert to help you and your business. Take a few minutes to chat with any potential advisors.

    Ask plenty of questions. Have they worked in your industry? Have they worked with your sized company before? What is their experience with your issues? What companies have they worked with? Can you contact any of their clients? How quickly can they turn around your project? Will they be doing the work themselves or will it be handed to someone in their firm or office?

    Request an estimate of fees before you get started with actual work.

    Building a positive relationship with an attorney is a great way to ensure your business needs can and will be handled as needed. Rather than waiting until you have a pending legal issue, take the time to find a great attorney ahead of time. If something comes up that is out of their realm of experience, they can most certainly recommend a specialist to help you.

  14. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 7

    Capitalize On Toddler Obsessions To Get Them Excited About Books :

    It is so common for toddlers to become obsessed with things that almost every parent you talk to has countless stories to tell you about their child’s obsessions and the funny stories that came about because of them.

    Stopping at every construction site you see to sit for a while and watch.
    Grandpa calling to tell you every time there’s new construction by his house, telling you to pack up the kids to come watch.
    Renting a really interesting new construction movie, only to watch it, literally, three times in a row.

    We all get the picture and we have all been there, in one way or another. Whether it’s construction or trains or Princess Barbie, the drill is the same. Those sweet, little munchkins live it and breathe it until we think we just can’t stand to watch any more fireman movies for the rest of our lives.

    There is a really productive thing that we can do with all of this toddler obsession, though. We can use it as an opportunity to turn out little ones into bookworms! When little Jimmy wants nothing but more trains, trains, trains – give him just that. Take him to the library and show him just how many books about trains there are.

    This would be a great opportunity to get your child their own library card and let them begin to check out a few books at a time. Let your child know that they can go back and check out more books when they finish the ones they have. They will begin to understand the concept of libraries and that they work on a borrow system and that the books are not theirs to keep.

    As a special surprise, you can bring home a book about trains (or cars, trucks, princesses….) from the bookstore that is their very own to keep. You can put it on their pillow so they find it when they go in their room and then you can explain to them that that one is their very own to keep.

    Toddlers don’t, of course, have the longest attention spans, so they might not want to read entire books. And that is just fine – let them decide how much of the book they’d like to hear. They might want to just look at it all by themselves.

    They might not express interest in the books at all. The best thing to do in that case, is just to leave the book where they can get to it and/or see it. (If it’s a paper book and they need supervision, you can leave it on a high shelf where it is still visible.) Leave it ‘lying around’ and let them discover it or re-discover it on their own. Forcing them to sit down and listen to it before they are ready will send the wrong message about books not exactly being pleasant. If it is where they can see it, and they see you reading from time to time, they will eventually come back around to it. After all, it is a book about trains!

  15. Women – Save Your Marriage 7

    What Does ‘Letting Yourself Go’ Really Mean To Your Marriage –

    “You’re not the same person I married.”

    People change, but has it come to the point where you no longer find each other attractive or desirable? Can you see yourself as your spouse sees you? Do you like what you see? Is something more than aging going on here?

    Truth is, when you got married, you may both have been better looking than you are right now. Fair enough. You were certainly younger! Well, age happens. But, this isn’t about how supple your skin is, how shiny your hair is, or even how many sizes you have in your closet. This is not all about looks.

    The term ‘letting yourself go’ covers a lot of territory. First we must consider that when someone simply ‘lets go’ it is usually a matter of not caring anymore on a variety of levels. “Not caring anymore” can mean you have no regard as to how your partner sees you. Of course this can mean physical appearance, but it goes deeper than beauty products can reach.

    Not caring for yourself can be indicative of not caring for your relationship. Letting yourself go can mean you have little or no regard, or respect, for your partnership. It can indicate you are willing to risk the possibility of losing your partner altogether. Remember, you are loved by your spouse, so why would you treat someone they love – you – so badly?

    Sure, love is about more than looks… it is about caring. But not caring about how you look is an indicator of deeper issues. If you don’t care about how you look, it begs another question – What else might you not care about anymore?

    Not caring about yourself and your appearance can be viewed as a step back in terms of commitment since you vowed to do everything you could to make the other person happy and to create a good life together.

    Letting yourself go, physically and emotionally, is usually accompanied by a reduction in self-esteem, and it is not always certain which has led to which. However, when your self-esteem deteriorates it can have a profound impact on your relationship and manifest itself in many ways, including jealousy, insecurity, and other rather ugly emotions.

    Unfortunately, that reduction in self-esteem is likely to do more damage to your relationship than any change in physical appearance itself. But, which came first? This chicken-and-egg question is a serious one and should be approached with some serious consideration and sometimes professional help.

    Additionally, letting yourself go usually goes along with some other undesirable habits as well. Your partner might start spending less time on tasks which you would usually expect them to take care of. These are simple things like cleaning up after themselves, taking care of chores, and paying attention to the details of daily living.

    If you have been letting yourself go, physically, emotionally, or even spiritually, you have been cheating your partner out of the person he or she married. If you really care about your marriage, stand back and take a good look at how much you have changed, and how much of that you can fix.

    Time takes its toll on us all, making it impossible to remain the same person we were when we were young. But, we can still make the best of what we are now! Take a look at yourself and see the person your spouse sees. If you don’t like that person, it’s time to make a change!

  16. Women-Owned Business – Venture Capital 3

    Knowing Your Funding Options – Entrepreneurs and business experts have defined venture capital as a financing style between a capitalist and an entrepreneur with a common goal of a handsome return in a short period of time, maybe 3 to 5 years. But while there are several resources on the definition and characteristics of this topic, few have actually discussed the options of this kind of business arrangment.

    Before taking the plunge, know what these options are and how they can be applied to your current business plan.

    The funding option depends on the stage of a company’s progress. Investment firms can invest from $50,000 up to $20 Million. If a company is still in its earliest stage, when a concept or invention is still to be developed or proved, the option is called seed financing. Here investment is spent on marketing and product development. Product ingenuity and market research are the areas that are stressed.

    When the company has already developed its product and marketing strategy but needs money for the actual production and initial marketing, the funding option is called start-up financing. This is the most common option for new entrepreneurs and inventors. In this case funds are spent for production and initial marketing. Amounts can range from $50,000 to $1 Million.

    Sometimes a company already has its products and may have initially introduced them to the market, but receives little or no revenue at all. In this case, the entrepreneur may need financial assistance in what is called the first or early stage. The funding amount usually ranges from $500,000 up to $15 Million, depending on the extent of changes that are needed. The product may need to be revised or developed to make it more saleable. Or it may merely require repackaging or a change in advertising strategy.

    The next option is called the second or late stage. The company has its products and may have received revenues. There is potential for making it big in the near future. But for some reason the company has no funds at hand. It could be that there are loans that need to be repaid, or other financial obligations that need to be resolved. This is why venture capital firms may invest from $2-15 Million to help the company.

    Some profitable companies want to expand, but they do not want to put in more capital out of their own pockets. Their goal is not to keep the company for many years. Rather they seek quick growth to get to an IPO within a few months. This option is called the third or mezzanine stage. Amounts range from $2 Million to $20 Million.

    Similarly, this next option may provide an investment before an IPO, but the time frame is 3-12 months. This is called the bridge. Investment is also between $2 Million to $20 Million.

    Remember that there are specific options for each stage of your company’s development. The key is to know what options to use. Similarly, you must know how and where to find these venture capital firms. You must also develop a concise but comprehensive business proposal to present to them. Lastly, keep in mind that venture capital is not the end-all but just the beginning of more challenging things to come.

  17. Women-Owned Business – Getting Started 6

    How to Negotiate Successfully –

    The mere mention of the word “negotiation” is often enough to send people into a quivering mass of anxiety. Negotiation, however, can be quite fun, not to mention profitable. In this economy, whether for business or personal benefit, it pays to be a successful negotiator. Here’s how:

    Step One – Become Comfortable With the Concept

    Once you’re truly comfortable with negotiation, you’re better able to think outside of the box and to be creative with possibilities and solutions. Removing fear and discomfort helps you look at all sides, not just what you have to offer but what your potential partner has to offer as well.

    Step Two – Be Prepared

    Decide in advance, what you want to walk away with and try to determine what the other party wants to walk away with. It is likely that somewhere there can be an overlap or a give and take. Successful negotiation happens when you know exactly what is important and what you can live without. It’s an opportunity to collaborate and build a mutually beneficial relationship.

    It’s also important to know what you’re going to do if the two of you are unable to come to an agreement.

    Step Three – Listen

    Listening really is the key to a successful negotiation. Rather than heading into it with a combative stance, be ready and willing to listen to what the other party needs. There may be some points that you were unaware of. If the other party can tell that you’re really taking their concerns to heart, they may be more willing to work with you.

    Step Four – Practice

    Your mom was right, practice does make perfect. Practice negotiating and you’ll not only become more comfortable with it, you’ll get better. Consider every communication you’re involved in as a mini negotiation. Evaluate what you want to get out of it, what your partner wants to get out of it, and how you’ll both come to a mutual agreement.

    Negotiating can be a powerfully positive experience for everyone involved. When you look at it as collaboration rather than a competition, it becomes an enjoyable experience. There really are win-win situations out there just waiting for you.

  18. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 6

    Cozy Corner Is A Great Way To Encourage Reading In Your House :

    A wonderful way to encourage your children to read at home is to provide them with a really comfortable place to do so. Find a place in your home that you can dedicate to reading time only and make it super cozy and totally awesome in the eyes of your child. You can even make it almost fort-like and it will become a special place that everyone loves.

    You can call it ‘Cozy Corner’ or ‘Reading Corner’ or even better would be to let the children help to name it. That would make it even more personal to them and would help them feel more involved in the process of creating this snuggly place to enjoy books.

    Now that you have found a place, you need to work on getting it wonderfully cozy. Working from the floor up, two inexpensive napping mats laid side by side would make a nice foundation layer. On top of the mats, a few blankets that are really soft would be great. And next, a pile of pillows will help ensure that your readers can get comfortable in just their own way. Some may want to lie all the way down and some may want to prop themselves up on some stacked, squished-up pillows.

    A quick, easy way to add a table for your books is to get a milk crate from the dollar store and turn it upside down in the corner. If you decide to let the children take snacks and drinks with them in the corner and you need the table to put them on, you can use a large, hardcover book on top of the milk crate for a nice, hard surface.

    Depending on the lighting in the room you choose, you might need to add some light to your cozy corner. Some type of light that hangs from the wall or the ceiling would be best, so there is no worry of the children knocking it over. You will want to steer away from the harsh, bright bulbs and select soft, reader-friendly bulbs.

    Decorating for your cozy corner might just get you and your kids busy with some arts and crafts time. You can make a sign for your reading haven, perhaps even calling it by your family name. For instance, you might call it “Smith Cozy Corner”. Again, you can get the kids involved in the naming process and you might just get creative with alliteration or even rhyming. Alliteration would be quick and easy if your last name starts with ‘C’, you could call it “Caldwell Cozy Corner” if your name is Caldwell. This will be fun to brainstorm with the kids. Other things you could make to decorate your reading corner are pictures of books, bookworms, or even airplanes if your son loves airplanes.

    Another thing you can do to make each child’s time in cozy corner really special is to have them reserve their time there. You can set it up so it is similar to checking out books in the library. A schedule on the wall at the entrance would let everyone know when their appointed time is. This could be a laminated chart, so that you can use dry erase markers to use it over and over. Having your own alloted time in cozy corner makes it even more special.

  19. Women – Save Your Marriage 6

    Why Men Respond Differently Than Women During A Fight –

    I want to preface this by saying these will be generalizations, albeit generalizations that are backed by psychological research. So take each observation as such. Now, see if you recognize yourself or someone you love in this segment.

    Most women find it absolutely infuriating when they want to fight, and their husband simply locks up, or ‘stonewalls.’ They feel cheated out of a good argument! And, on a deeper level, an opportunity to be heard. What women may fail to realize, however, is that they should be thankful. But why?! It was going to be such a good fight.

    Men and women are different when it comes to feeling, showing, handling, and even recognizing emotions. Ironically, even though women are typically the more “emotional” beings of the two, women are quite adept at being emotionally detached during an argument. Men, on the other hand… not so much.

    Understanding the inherent qualities of the female and male during a conflict will help you see where an argument can be so confusing, and go so wrong. We can blame, if you like, our ancestors, our really, really, old ancestors.

    Instinctively, women must be heard to protect their offspring and their home. Women can often speak their minds forcefully if need be – with no other intentions than to make sure they are heard. Women can, and do, very often argue loudly with their spouse without becoming emotionally involved. Remember, women just want to be heard. This sometimes loud expression is a protection mechanism and at the moment of the outburst, typically void of emotion. This can be confusing to the recipient – the man.

    By their very nature, men associate confrontation with a clear and present danger. As such, men instinctively respond to a loud or serious argument with a strong sense of danger and perhaps violence – in other words, emotion. Men are not capable of separating emotion and conflict in an argument because men sense danger as they protect their herd.

    Normally in today’s environment, a loud argument or disagreement between a husband and wife doesn’t require the same sort of physiological or emotional response it did in prehistoric times. Basically, this instinctive behavior is no longer needed, so now what?

    When a man’s instinctive protection mechanism becomes unnecessary, or a threat to the safety of their opponent, in this case a woman, becoming physical is not an option. So what happens with this unresolved instinctive behavior?

    What happens is a psychological defense mechanism kicks in. This mechanism takes the form of withdrawal. This safety mechanism happens in order to prevent his emotions from getting out of control and allowing him to lose his temper completely. He has no outlet that is acceptable. His wife is arguing loudly because she has to make herself heard, and his instinctive behavior to this clear and present danger is simply no longer needed or desirable. He chooses the next level of conflict – run and hide. Which translates into withdrawal.

    When a man stonewalls, withdraws, during an argument, it is thus an indication that he is already quite upset and does not trust himself to remain in control, often at a subconscious level. Whether he actually thinks this through, or his instincts are taking over, is not known. What we do know, and what he believes, is his emotions could cause him to careen down a dangerous course, in one way or another.

    While this reaction can be incredibly infuriating to a woman trying to speak her mind, unemotionally, and trying to get her husband to speak his mind in the process, it really is often a blessing in disguise. Of course the irony is the woman instinctively remains unemotional during this argument while she expects her husband to share his feelings, his emotions. And, the best thing that could happen is that he withdraws to keep himself, and his spouse, safe.

    It may seem like the woman will never get to the heart of the matter if the husband doesn’t respond to her unemotional, loudly expressed argument. Just the opposite is true if the spouses learn how to argue.

    While withdrawing emotionally might hamper communication temporarily, it is a necessary mechanism that prevents a man from becoming irrational or violent. As such, women running into a “stone wall” should understand this is what keeps a man from reacting as if living in prehistoric times when a confrontation meant real danger. This modern-age psychological programming may cause men to withdraw, but it’s a temporary condition that allows for a cooling off period.

    Of course, we hope to redirect our argument into a calm discussion when the time is right, but if that doesn’t happen, what’s next? There may be other issues, and maybe not with the man. If your husband frequently stonewalls during an argument, it’s possible you are pushing him to withdraw for a reason. No one likes feeling bullied or pushed out of their comfort zone. Is an honest argument something you want to start but not finish? Do you want him to hear you but don’t want to make any changes yourself?

    Taking another, deeper look at how your arguments are going. Understanding the instinctive, sometimes ‘knee jerk’ reactions to stress that both women and men have is the first step to change. Back up and take a look at the way you argue. Do you need to be loud to be heard? Does your husband retreat every time you approach him with a problem? If so, rethink your needs and try bringing more thought, and less instinct, to your discussions.

  20. Women-Owned Business – Getting Started 5

    Find Local Assistance for Starting Your Own Business

    Starting your own business is a huge endeavor. That isn’t to say that it isn’t a fantastic and rewarding adventure; however it is most certainly a large undertaking. When starting a business, most experts will agree and advise entrepreneurs to seek expert advice. We’re all good at some things and not so good or knowledgeable about other things. Starting a business requires knowledge and skill in a number of areas including but not limited to:

    * Financial Planning
    * Customer Service
    * Sales
    * Management
    * Systems and metrics
    * Marketing
    * Goal Setting
    * Administrative tasks
    * Business technologies
    * Business models
    * Contracts
    * And, of course, your core business which may be product or service based.

    With so much to learn and know, it is a great idea to find people who have been there, people who have experience starting a business, and people who are experts in various areas of expertise. For example, a lawyer to help with business structures and contracts and an accountant to help with financial planning and goal setting will be of great assistance.

    Finding experts online is fine, however it may be significantly more beneficial to you and your business if you’re able to find experts locally. Here’s how:

    Join your local chamber of commerce. The chamber of commerce is established to help businesses connect, share resources and share knowledge. Many chamber members give free workshops on various aspects of running a business. For example a marketing firm who belongs to your chamber may give a free seminar or workshop on how to build a marketing database or how to optimize your website for search engine ranking. A local accounting firm may give a seminar on how to set up your home office to maximize deductions and so on. Additionally, Chamber of Commerce members often give discounts to other Chamber members so fulfilling your business needs locally makes financial sense.

    Join your local Small Business Association. Like the Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Association exists to help small business owners start a business and stay in business. They’re chock full of resources to help you learn all there is to know about starting and running a business and local members are committed to helping each other.

    Many communities also offer free university or community education classes. These classes can fill in the knowledge gaps because they’re often offered by experts in your community.

    There are a number of resources right outside your front door to help you start your own business. Taking advantage of them is just good business.

  21. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 5

    Phonics Activities To Help Your Emerging Reader :

    An important part of teaching children to read is phonics instruction. Teaching phonics is teaching children about the blending of letters to make certain sounds and also introducing them to the relationship between printed letters and spoken words. So we are not just dealing with multiple letter blends, but, also, understanding that the letter ‘d’ in the word dog makes the “d” sound.

    There are a lot of activities that you can do with children to get them started on understanding how these sounds and these printed letters and words work together. As children are learning the relationship between letters and sounds, these fun activities will allow them to practice what they are learning.

    Make a trail of alphabet footprints so you and the children can sing the alphabet song as you walk along the ABC path. Use some sturdy paper, like cardstock, and cut out 26 footprints and write one letter of the alphabet on each one. Secure them on the floor with packing tape in order, but, in a gently curving path. Step on the letters one at a time, in order, and sing each letter as you step on it. Now let the child try it and sing along with him as he walks the path.

    For this activity, you will need two teams of kids. You are going to give each team a word and each team will have to come up with words that rhyme with their word. So let’s say you give the first team the word ‘let’ and the second team the word ‘sat’. They send each of their players up to the board to write a word that rhymes with their word. When every player has had a turn, the team with the most correct words wins.

    A game that doesn’t require any materials and that is easy to play on the go is phonics I-spy. The player who is it will spy something and tell the other person or people that they see something that starts with a certain letter. Perhaps he sees a tree, he would say that he sees “something that starts with a ‘tttttt’”. And the other players have to guess what it is that he has spied. The one who figures it out then gets to spy something and make the others guess.

    Understanding how letters and the sounds they make are the building blocks for the words that we speak is an important part of learning to read. When children learn phonics, they learn that the words we speak are made up of letters and that each letter has its own sound. And they also learn about groups of letters that are blended together to make sounds. When they begin to become familiar with all of these sounds, they can not only recognize familiar words, but, they also have clues to work out new words on their own.

  22. Women – Save Your Marriage 5

    Your Spouse Can’t Hear What You’re Not Saying –

    It sounds so simple, yet many people are just not able to get to the core of a disagreement. They keep on fighting and fighting over the same issues, while the real reasons for the disagreement remain hidden. Why? Because you aren’t saying what the problem is. How can your spouse listen to your concerns if you aren’t saying them out loud?

    Let’s explore one hypothetical example so we can understand the dynamics:

    Your husband wants to go to a baseball game with a few buddies. You list a litany of complaints about this “boys night out.” Everything from spending too much money, to drinking beer, to staying out too late on a weeknight, to leaving you alone to deal with the kids, comes up. This otherwise benign event results in a series of arguments that get more and more heated. The stadium is filled with other spouses who are enjoying a night out at a baseball game. Not all those married couples are having the same argument. So, what goes on here?

    You have an underlying problem which is never mentioned. Insecurity, fear, and jealousy, could be bringing up these complaints. That is not to say that every instance like this one might not have real concerns to discuss. However, for this part of the debate, let’s say that there is no reason to fear the spouse’s night out.

    In this kind of scenario, where there is an ongoing argument without any real reason, it may be because there are underlying issues that never get discussed, so the argument never gets resolved. If the married couple keeps going around in circles about this type of argument, it is worth considering that the issue is NOT about what’s being argued about. This kind of situation will, over time, alienate your spouse and make you feel unloved and unheard, basically because, again, your spouse can’t hear what you’re not saying.

    Why you decided not to raise the real issue is almost as important as the issue itself. It could be because you feel you are being petty, or it could be because you feel your spouse might ridicule your emotions. These are more issues to address, making this a touchy situation, indeed.

    Regardless of the reasons, these emotions are real, and ignoring them will not make them go away. In fact, ignoring them is likely to make it worse over time, since the lack of communication, and the misunderstanding, will only add to the tension.

    If, however, you were willing to trust your spouse and talk about how you feel, you could work together towards solving the problem. State your case in such a way that your spouse does not feel threatened, but also understands that, whether the concerns are justified or not, your emotions are real and you BOTH have to deal with them. Belittling feelings by calling them “hang-ups” is not going to make them go away.

    Don’t dodge the issue. Not talking about the turmoil you’re having with these feelings will only make it worse. Say what is really bothering you, no matter how big or small the problem might seem, and take it from there.

    The only way this works, however, is to tackle the problem – the real problem – from the point of view that both of you want to solve it. Having respect for both your feelings, the person who wants to go to the game and the person who sees trouble ahead, is the first step. Approach any REAL problem about the situation with honesty, as well as any underlying feelings you may be avoiding, and not talking about.

    At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, you profess your love for each other. If you do, you should be willing to work through anything that gets in your way of a successful marriage. The first step is to be painfully aware of the real problem behind the arguments and be willing to get rid of that smokescreen that’s been thrown up to protect yourself.

  23. Women-Owned Business – Getting Started 4

    How To Think Of A Good Company Name –

    Naming your business is perhaps one of the most impossible decisions. It seems like there are a million options and yet very few if any sound good or resonate. The trick to coming up with a good company name is all in the process.

    Step One: Remove all boundaries and brainstorm.

    Often people become trapped in what they think they should name their company. They limit themselves with definitions, beliefs about what makes a good company name and quite honestly by thinking that their company name is the key to profitability.

    Let go of all of those perceptions and simply allow yourself to brainstorm. Limit your brainstorming time. This will result in maximum results and the time limit will also help you eliminate preconceived notions about what a name should be.

    Make a list of your ideas either by writing them down or if your creativity flows better when you speak then simply record them with a digital recording device. You could even call yourself on the phone and leave a long voicemail of ideas.

    Step Two: Do a little keyword research.

    Even if you’re opening a brick and mortar company and don’t plan to have an online presence, the majority of shoppers search online before they head out to buy products or services. This means, in order for them to find your business, it helps to have common search words in your company name. There are wonderful, and yes some of them are free, keyword tools available online.

    Write down the keywords and keyword phrases which are commonly used and fit your company description and industry.

    Step Three: Take a combined look at your brainstorm list and your keyword research.

    Ideally you’ll be able to create a memorable and unique combination that both represents what your company is about but also incorporates a few keywords. That being said, sometimes a name strikes you as memorable and unique and try as you might there are just no keywords which fit. Relax. Go with your gut. If you’re really uncertain, consider taking a quick poll amongst friends, family and associates and ask them to choose between a few.

    Naming your business is a big decision. However, with a little bit of broad thinking, some targeted research and a little optimism you will find the perfect name for your business.

  24. Women-Owned Business – Venture Capital 2

    The Basics –

    A lot us have ideas, but the real challenge is turning ideas into a reality. There are a lot of opportunities in business. However, earning money is as difficult as finding money. No one really wants to be a cubicle drone. But without any capital most of us become regular employees.

    There are many ways to start a business. If you have a great idea that has big potential, there are ways to access funds for your business. Venture capital funds are just one source of seed capital for your start up company.

    Venture capitalists invest in start up companies with big potential and high growth. They like high technology companies that may lead to big returns in the long run. The downside of seeking venture capital funding is that the venture capitalists get a share of your company and have a say in the company’s decisions. A person who has always dreamt of owning and running their own business may find this uncomfortable.

    The low down on Venture capital

    There are some venture capitalists that provide financial services to start up companies. These are usually companies that are entirely new, with mostly an idea and a business plan in their hands. Venture capitalists are willing to make risky investments on businesses that banks and the capital markets are afraid to make.

    Venture capitalists are general partners that offer only limited partnership to a company. The general partners are usually executives from a financial firm. They have the ability to provide a large amount of capital. These funds are usually derived from pension funds, foundations, insurance companies, financial endowments and financial institutions.

    Venture capital may seem a very good idea to a startup company but there is downside to this. In the business world nothing is free. General partners often require 20% of the net profit of the company. They may also demand a 2% management fee every year.

    It’s not easy to attract venture capitalists. They often have strict requirements. They will not invest in companies that don’t have reasonable proof of their technology. They may agree to meet with you, but that does not mean you’re already on good terms. Most of time 99 business plans get rejected out of 100. They can reject your plan for a lot of things that may seem trivial. And the hurdles don’t stop there.

    General partners may help your company to jumpstart and expand. But they won’t just let you make the decisions when they have invested a lot of money in your company.

    In some instances this may lead to problems, especially when general partners only care about making money for themselves. They may invest in advertising but not in the right places for your customers. Some of them like to spend too much money and the sudden growth may be too fast for your company.

    Before you find yourself a venture capitalist make sure you are aware of their potential impact on your company. A venture capital fund may seem convenient at the time. But you should always look ten steps ahead. Look for a general partner that will help your company grow, not just add weight to their own wallets.

  25. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 4

    Fun Reading Activities To Encourage Your Child’s Love Of Books :

    There are so many fun activities that we can do with our children to get them excited about books and the world of reading. When kids are having fun, it is so much easier to draw them into something – like the wonderful world of literature. The very best thing we can do is to guide and direct them to enjoy it for themselves. When we are intrinsically motivated to do something, it is a much more lasting motivation. This will form an awesome foundation for their whole school careers.

    A fun way to really dig into a story is to read it with your child and when you are done, ask your child their favorite part of the story. Then have them draw a picture of that part. When they are done, ask them for a short explanation of their picture and that part in the story. And either have them dictate to you and you write it on the bottom of their picture or let them write it if they can.

    Another fun way to really engage your child in the books you are reading with them is to play a guessing game. Each time you turn the page of the book, look at the pictures with your child and have them guess what they think might be going on at this point in the story. It can be exciting to see if they got it right, because, sometimes they might get it so wrong that it turns the book into a super silly story. And what is more fun than the giggles?

    An activity that will help with reading and make your little one feel a bit more grown up is helping you cook from a cookbook. You can explain to your child that it is important to put the ingredients in and follow the instructions in the recipe in order. Then you let your child be in charge of reading the recipe to you as you make the dish. You will, of course, give them any help they need. But they can also read the labels on the ingredients that you are using. For instance, they can help you differentiate between baking powder and baking soda and make sure you get the right one. Perhaps you might even let them fix your ‘mistake’ when you pick up the wrong one. He will feel so smart and helpful.

    When you can get a child excited about things – making pictures, funny games that maybe lead to silly stories, helping in the kitchen and feeling like a big kid – you help to raise their confidence and also their motivation to really enjoy books and reading. Getting creative and changing things up can inspire children to get reading!

  26. Women – Save Your Marriage 4

    The Art Of Listening May Be The Most Important Marriage Skill –

    “You’re not listening to me!” “Yes I am. I heard every word you said.”

    Many of us are guilty of not really listening to what our spouse is saying. While this lack of attention, or attentiveness is most commonly associated with men, women are often just as guilty.

    To really listen to someone else takes a conscious effort. This is a skill that takes work and time to learn. But, the effort is well worth it because the art of listening can work wonders within your relationship.

    Both spouses get caught up in life and often start to close up in their own individual worlds. When listening stops, the relationship may go from a “we” to a “me,” leaving the other spouse out in the cold. A spouse caught up in their own world, without listening to what the other spouse needs, becomes a truly self-centered individual rather than a part of a team.

    You might “hear” the other person talking, but since you are so wrapped up inside your own world, you don’t really take any notice of what your spouse is saying. Or maybe you are filtering everything he or she is saying through your own needs instead of the needs your spouse is expressing. As a result, your spouse may end up feeling unheard, and even more painful, unimportant.

    Remember, any relationship is just that – a relationship. If you stop listening to the other person, and keep thinking only about what you want, there is no relationship.

    Without a relationship, you wind up being two people living in different worlds. Sure, every once in awhile one of you might try to get through to the other, but without a real effort to repair your listening skills, this will be met with very little success.

    However, if you are willing to take the time and effort to commit to really listening, you will begin to note the subtleties in what your spouse is saying. You will start picking up on the concerns, the hopes, and the fears that are important to your spouse. Sometimes the words are left unspoken, but when you build your listening skills, you will hear the underlying tones.

    Generally speaking, men tend to think they have to keep their feelings under control and not show anything. In the process they get so caught up in their problems that the rest of the world, their spouse included, start going unnoticed. As a result, those feelings of being shut-out and neglect sets in, which is the beginning of a breakdown in communications.

    Then, generally speaking, again, women tend to talk about their feelings more, which may lead to forgetting to listen. While women are believing they’re communicating well, they may be leaving no room for their spouse to express themselves, and unknowingly ignoring the subtle messages hidden in what little communication their spouse is offering.

    By making an effort to listen – really listen – you will be able to understand your spouse better, and really comprehend those things they deem important enough to talk about. You may even hear something that needs more attention. But you won’t catch those things unless you listen well enough to know it matters.

    Then when you know, you’ll be able to take whatever steps are necessary to provide some additional support, and help your spouse through whatever is troubling them. Once you perfect your listening skills, share your knowledge with your spouse. You both can benefit. Marriage is a two way street. You’ll need your spouse to really listen to you sometime, too.

    When you learn the skill of listening, you will start hearing what really matters to each other. You will start to understand how what you do, or don’t do, matters to your spouse, and your marriage. You may be amazed at how you can make things better in your marriage by simply listening to what is being said (or not said) by your spouse. Sometimes it’s the simplest thing you could have been doing long ago… had you only truly listened.

  27. Women – Save Your Marriage 3

    Put Communication To Work In Your Marriage –

    The word communication sounds so simple, and in essence it is. But, as simple as it is, around 90% of divorce cases grow from a breakdown in communications.

    Mathematically speaking that pretty much means that fixing your communication problems will reduce your chances of getting divorced by about 90%. Can this be true? Can it be that simple?

    Unfortunately, emotions do not follow mathematical rules.

    Remember courting? It’s not unusual for couples who are dating to talk for hours on end. They often talk about everything from the weather to their hopes and dreams to their favorite color and favorite foods. Couples want to share their every thought with each other.

    After the wedding, unfortunately, life gets in the way and couples end up caught up in the day-to-day routine of marriage, which often has little or no time for chit chat. Married couples may still want to share their thoughts with each other, but it doesn’t seem possible anymore. The honeymoon is over, and you have to attend to the bills, deal with job stress, live with trauma, grief, traffic, illness, friends, family, children, etc. etc. etc. The rose colored glasses come off and the landscape starts to look a bit dull and lifeless.

    As our lives become more and more demanding and complex, we all tend to withdraw into our own reality and often leave our partners a bit out in the cold. Both spouses start to move almost in different circles, like they don’t know how to be married anymore.

    The result is two-fold:

    1) The spouse who is feeling left out emotionally feels neglected, oftentimes resulting in feelings of anger and disappointment, and he or she starts to withdraw.

    2) This withdrawal by the neglected spouse justifies the emotional distance that caused the withdrawal.

    See how this becomes a vicious circle! Each spouse needs to feel emotionally connected, yet when life interrupts this natural desire, neglect, withdrawal, and anger gradually starts to pull the couple further and further apart. Very often, neither spouse can put their finger on where the breakdown started. An emotional chasm can be extremely difficult to bridge.

    Ironically, in most cases the initial withdrawal simply happens because one party is trying to deal with something in his or her own way, and has trouble communicating with their partner in an appropriate manner.

    The withdrawal could be due to principles or upbringing, or even nature. Many men believe they are responsible, the strong ones, the one who can fix anything that goes wrong. When a woman wants to share an emotion, men can often misinterpret that to mean they want something fixed, instead of just heard. This is a generalization, but studies have shown that men and women both revert to instincts of survival when trying to work their way through an argument – men want to fix it and women want to be heard.

    At the end of the day, you have to realize that you got married because you wanted to do things together – for better or for worse. As such, you both have to be supportive of each other, whatever comes your way. And, even if one person cannot do anything to help solve a given problem, you can both still communicate with each other and make sure your partner knows that his or her efforts are appreciated and respected.

    It doesn’t help anything when one party tries to solve everything themselves and ends up shutting the other out as a result. Marriage is about building a life together, not about each party simply “doing their own thing”, so it’s important to make a conscious effort to converse and spend some time together… to make each other a priority and to include your spouse in your thoughts.

    Communication comes from both sides, and it can shut down from either side, too. Both of you have to talk, and both of you have to listen. Maybe you can prove that mathematically speaking, you can improve your chances of a happy marriage with the 90% communication rule!

  28. Women-Owned Business – Getting Started 3

    How to Conduct Meetings Successfully –

    Sometimes the only way to accomplish something is to have a meeting. Meetings can be an incredibly effective tool to motivate, to accomplish, and to communicate. However, without a proper strategy, a meeting can quickly go awry which means wasted time and effort. Make the most of your meetings and follow these steps for success.

    Step One: Determine why a meeting needs to be held and what you hope to accomplish. What are your goals for the meeting?

    Step Two: Determine who you’d like to have at the meeting and who must be there. In some cases, not everyone is essential. However, a few key figures must be present and to have a meeting without them is ineffective.

    Step Three: Look at your calendar and come up with three times to hold the meeting, your ideal time, and then two backup times in case not everyone can make it.

    Step Four: Create an agenda. What are you going to discuss, who needs to contribute to the meeting and what do they need to contribute? It’s important to establish this before you send out invitations to the meeting so people know what is expected and how to prepare. Set a time limit for the meeting so people can plan accordingly.

    Step Five: Depending on the size of the meeting, you may need a facilitator. Of course, if it’s a small meeting you can facilitate it yourself. Determine if you need someone to take notes and how you’re going to conduct the meeting. For example, will each person have a few minutes to present followed by a round-robin session of brainstorming or discussion? Or will only one or two people present and will discussion be allowed during or after each presentation?

    Step Six: Invite participants. Know your participants and invite them in a manner that they’ll recognize and respond to. For example, if you send email notifications to everyone and half your members are not active on email, they may not receive the meeting notification in time.

    Step Seven: Follow-up and confirm meeting times.

    Step Eight: Prepare for the meeting by making sure those who are presenting have the information and resources they need. For example, if they’re doing a PowerPoint presentation, do they need a large screen? Do they need outlets? If you’re meeting for a long time, make sure to have food and water available. If people are going to be taking notes, make sure writing materials are present.

    Step Nine: Run the meeting according to the pre-set agenda. Make sure each speaker has the undivided attention of the group by introducing them and outlining the protocol for the session.

    For example, if questions or comments are allowed while the person is speaking then let them know. If not then let people know they can ask questions at the end of the presentation.

    If topics come up that are not on the agenda, set them aside to talk about at the end of the meeting if there’s time or agree to hold another meeting.

    Step Ten: Wrap up the meeting with a summary to make sure everyone is on the same page.

    Conducting a successful meeting is an easy process if you follow these ten steps. Make sure you’re well prepared and expectations are outlined so everyone knows how to behave.

  29. Moms – How to Make Your Kids Smarter 3

    Reading Out Loud To Your Child Is Beneficial In Many Ways :

    Reading out loud to children of all ages is very important. It is so helpful in their development as readers and also in their mastery of language. Studies have shown that children that don’t have people reading aloud to them struggle in school, or just don’t do as well in school.

    Reading out loud to children can expand their vocabularies, foster more vivid imaginations, and help them learn pronunciation skills. Some sentences or sections of books or even whole books may get skipped over if a child is only reading to himself. When the text is beyond the child’s level of literacy, they are much more likely to choose something else to read. So therefore, when children are read aloud to, they are being exposed to literature that they normally would pass over.

    It can be good for kids to hear books that are above their own reading levels. They are exposed to sentence structure, words, and concepts that they would not normally encounter on their own. Their brains are being fed and nurtured and they do not even realize it. They are just enjoying the experience of having someone read to them.

    The experience of the read-aloud time can be a great bonding time between a mother and a child, an older sibling and a younger sibling, or a teacher and her students. They are coming together over a book they both enjoy and sharing a pleasant time together.

    When we turn reading into a pleasurable experience like this is so unbelievably good for children, in terms of motivating them to read and to love and enjoy books. So often books turn into ‘just a part of school’ for children, they turn into ‘work’, and many children get really turned off from books in that way. When reading is a chore, they simply do not want to do it. Doing all that we can, as their caregivers, to show them how wonderful an experience reading is will do tremendous good in keeping them excited about reading.

    At a certain point during children’s school years, parents and teachers stop reading out loud to kids. Often this happens when the child goes to middle school. Experts suggest that we continue to read to children of all ages. It is a wonderful bonding time we can spend with children and it is still very good for them, even if we – or they – feel they are too old for it. The biggest thing you will be doing is to keep them interested in reading for pleasure. Just like when they were first learning to read and there was that danger of their equating reading with work, the very same thing happens in the teen years. This is true for many teens. There are some who will still read for pleasure, but, they are rare.

    So if we read to them or have a family reading time and let everyone take turns reading, we help them continue to associate books with pleasure. And goodness knows that is needed, given some of the drab books we have all had to read in high school.

    We must guide our children to become lifelong readers and lifelong learners. And we can do that at home, with some fun family bonding time. And in so doing, we will also be strengthening our families.

  30. Women – Save Your Marriage 2

    Children Never Experience A Happy Divorce –

    While the notion of “staying together for the children” may have become somewhat antiquated these days, this sentiment is not entirely without merit. Anyone who considers divorce must stop and think about the total impact this will have on the children. Considering the effects of a divorce on the children is not really outdated; it’s smart.

    First of all, take into consideration that your children currently have a security framework. That security is extremely important to a child, and no matter how much you may try to implement two households that feel secure, you cannot duplicate the security they knew with both parents together. When parents split up, children suffer the consequences and there is no way to avoid that.

    That security is a bit confusing to understand, especially in a household where the parents have been having many difficulties, perhaps even very loud arguments. Regardless of how many differences you have, it’s likely your children have always been used to having both of you. Dysfunctional or not, it’s what they’ve become accustomed to – it’s what they know.

    Children believe that you, both parents, have their best interest at heart and that you will work together to do the best you possibly can. They feel safe and protected – emotionally and physically – as long as both parents are around. Even in an unhappy marriage and home, this security overrides everything else. Children are most secure when they know what to expect – good or bad – as odd as that sounds.

    When divorce destroys that structure, you leave your kids feeling insecure and vulnerable – feelings which could very well haunt them for the rest of their lives. Often, children start “acting out” in ways that parents don’t expect, or understand. After all, the parents are thinking the divorce will stop all the quarreling and disruption, so why aren’t the children happier and more content?

    Additionally, if you choose divorce, you will be denying your children access to both parents when they need it. Your children will have to wait until they go to one house or the other to spend time with a parent. Their time will be split, perhaps when they need one or the other parent at a crucial time. For some things, kids need their mothers, and for others they need their fathers. When the household is split, children are often forced to wait, which can cause a great deal of stress and can even result in the children shutting down their emotions because their parents are not available when they need them.

    Regardless of the custody situation, there will always be a lack of support in some respects, and much needed input lacking in their upbringing. There will always be some sense of loss in their lives, of space not filled because one parent or the other isn’t there when they feel they need them. And, the irony of this is that the children will need both parents more than ever after the divorce rips the family apart. These are heavy consequences to consider.

    To make things even worse, your children could be dragged into a custody battle. Regardless of whether you really have their best interests at heart, it is an incredible trauma for any child to have his or her parents fighting over custody or child support as if the child is either a prize or a burden.

    Depending on your situation, the outcome of a custody battle could result in uprooting the children. Moving into a new environment on top of dealing with watching their parents split up, is nothing short of traumatic. Kids going through a divorce are already battling to come to terms with what is happening around them, and uprooting them into a new home only makes a bad situation worse.

    You must also consider what you will be doing to their perceptions and views of marriage. Depending on the age of your children, they could be very impressionable. Watching their parents divorce could invoke a fear of being left behind, which could come up again and again with someone they love. This isn’t psycho-babble, this is proven fact. Children feel abandoned during divorce, no matter how much the parents try to avoid that with ample visitation. This abandonment can lead to feelings of jealousy, possessiveness, and other unattractive traits that last a lifetime.

    Children can, and do, become cynical about love and the beauty it can bring to their lives when they see the destruction of their parents love. This cynicism could keep them from committing in their own relationships later on in life. Unfortunately, this feeling can hide below the radar, only becoming known as it hinders the ability to find happiness as adults.

    When it comes to the children, don’t just think about how they will cope with your divorce while it happens. Think about how your child will behave and reason five or ten years from now, in the aftermath of the divorce.

    Whether you like it or not, and whether you allow it to affect your final decision or not, your divorce will still affect your children, now and for many years. There is no such thing as a “happy divorce” for children.

    Take the time to really consider all possible repercussions of your decisions, then you can move forward from a place of awareness. Be especially cognizant of the negative impact a divorce can have in the lives of your children. Do you want to stay married for the sake of the children? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But you do need to understand what will happen either way.