Closets fill up fast. When your closet is full to bursting, but you still need more room, you need to take a step back and see about organizing your closet to maximize space. Here’s how to find more space in your current closet.
Clean Out Clothes
Start with the number one item in your closet – your clothing. Take everything off the shelves and rods and analyze each piece before you put it back. Only put items back on the shelves or rods if you wear it currently, have worn it in the last six months, or have just purchased it.
Any clothing you’re hoping to wear again, used to wear and still have, are too big, stained, torn, pilled, or otherwise in ill repair need to go. If you have a sentimental attachment to a pair of jeans or a dress, keep them, but limit this to one or two items – not your entire junior high wardrobe. If you lose weight in a month, you can treat yourself to a new wardrobe.
If you have a legitimate reason for two separate wardrobes such as a recent baby or extreme seasonal temperatures, remove the items you don’t fit into or can’t wear now and store them in a tote in the garage or attic. You can retrieve them when the weather changes or you lose that last ten pounds.
Clean Out Shoes and Accessories
While you’re at it, sort through your shoes and other accessories, too. If you haven’t worn a pair, no matter how cute they are, give them away to a friend or donate them to someone who needs them. You can do the same with purses, bags, and other space hogs.
Store the Bulky Stuff
If you have a wedding dress and heavy winter coat in your closet taking up half of the useable space, store them somewhere else. Perhaps stuff your coat into the hall closet, and consider hanging the wedding dress in a protective bag in the attic. Blankets, pillows and other soft items can be stored in space bags and then placed under the bed. This is also true of off season clothes.
Invest in a Closet System
Invest in a closet system if you don’t already have a system of shelves and drawers. A closet system will let you organize your things into their own spaces which helps reduce clutter and keeps all items in their most accessible location.
Read a home decorating magazine or watch a cable-TV home improvement show, and you might easily conclude that any upgrade will pay off when you sell. This is simply not so because even in good times, not all projects have widespread appeal. You’ll earn back virtually your entire investment in a kitchen or deck, but less than 75 cents on the dollar if you add a home office or sunroom, according to "Remodeling" magazine’s annual cost vs. value survey.
What’s worse, some renovations can even hurt you in the eyes of home buyers, a costly problem if you hope to sell in a softening market like today’s.
The Swimming Pool:
In some areas, especially hot-weather spots like Arizona and Florida, a pool is a must-have. In the Southwest, adding one boosts your home’s value by 11 percent on average, according to a National Association of Realtors study. But elsewhere it can just as easily turn off buyers, who worry about affording the upkeep and insurance. And if the most likely buyer of your home is a family with small children, think long and hard before installing a pool.
"People with younger children may be leery of houses with pools for safety reasons," says Barry Graziano, a real estate agent with Prudential Rand Realty in White Plains, N. Y. "I’ve had families walk away. A pool can cut down on the number of people who will want to buy your house."
You’ve thought about how that great room and master bedroom wing will let the family spread out. But what you probably haven’t considered is what the space will look like from the outside.
"A badly designed addition can kill your resale value," says Sal Alfano, the editorial director of Remodeling. "People focus on the floor plan and the flow, but not on how it fits into the neighborhood or even the house itself."
Watch out for boxy, poorly detailed additions and be careful of a style that will look dated when you throw your open house. Spotting the trend that’s on its way out is trickier than you think. While it is easy to assume that sleek red European kitchen cabinetry is tomorrow’s harvest gold fridge, other design staples that seem like sure bets can quickly drift into obscurity too.
That’s what Mark Johnson, a Whirlpool design manager, says is happening to stainless-steel appliances. "For a period of time, people aspired to a commercial kitchen" he says. "What I am seeing is more interest in warmer finishes."
You want a design trend with legs. Johnson says custom panels that dress appliances in maple or mahogany finishes are likely to remain popular for several years. Also, think about the materials for hardware like hinges and light fixtures. Polished brass or anything shiny is out. Brushed nickel is a better option. Johnson is betting that oiled-bronze finishes will take off next.
The elaborate master bath is okay, but the big circular tub with 15 jets that can pulse or massage is risky.
According to Holly Slaughter, brand manager at RealEstate.com, you’re better off with an oversize shower that has a rain showerhead and multiple jets (think of it as a car wash for humans).
Baby boomers have little time to spend hanging out in the bathtub, and parents with small kids prefer a conventional tub. Ultimately, don’t expect a future buyer to pay up for the luxury you considered an essential.
If you are constantly troubled by back pain and muscles spasms, you need to make some changes to avoid damaging your back. It may be that your posture is terrible or you’re putting too much strain on your back muscles. Reducing back pain can make your life much easier and much more enjoyable – here’s how.
If your back is troubling you day after day, your first step is to stop making it worse by lifting incorrectly, twisting oddly and carrying heavy weights. If you normally carry your toddler, have him walk for a few days. If you’re carrying a baby, invest in a hip shelf that can help save your back. Groceries wearing you down? Try folding carts or take one bag at a time. By reducing the work your back muscles are doing, you will be well on your way to reducing pain.
If you’re plagued by constant back pain, it is likely that you don’t have enough muscle to properly support your midsection. You need to build muscle in both your back and your abdominals as these muscles properly support your back. Visit with a personal trainer or begin a series of crunches and other midsection toning exercises to start building muscle. You’ll find the muscle builds slowly, but you’ll immediately notice a difference in how you stand and possibly your energy level. Every little bit of muscle helps, so start crunching!
Stand Up Straight
Often posture is the number one cause of back pain. Do you slouch? Try and catch yourself slouching and force yourself to stand up straight. Hours spend seated behind computers can hurt your back as well, so invest in a ergonomic chair or at the very least an ergonomic chair pad to help support your back – then sit in it correctly with your feet on the floor.
Stretch and Walk
Going for a walk while standing up straight and taking deep breathes can have a huge impact on back pain. Raise your arms over your head to stretch your back and, without hurting yourself, try and touch your toes. Lay on your back and draw your knees up to your chest to help stretch your back as well. Then hop up from the floor, and start walking. The exercise will relax all of your muscles and get the blood moving.
If your back still needs a bit more TLC, apply a heating pad or sit against a heated massage chair. The heat will help to soften and relax the muscle making knots loosen and spasms cease. A hot tub or even a hot shower can help to relax the muscle as well, especially if your able to stand in the shower with the hot spray focused on the area in need.
It can be hard to structure a workout when you’re no longer the boss of your time. Before your baby was born you were able to take leisurely stolls, stop by the gym after work and hop on the treadmill when the urge struck. Now you’re spending your time caring for a little one who allows you only minutes of precious free time when she’s napping or playing – and those minutes aren’t often long enough for the kind of work out you need to lose the baby weight. Fortunately, there are ways to work out with a baby.
Go For a Walk or Jog
The easiest way to exercise with a baby is to put her in the stroller and go for a walk. The stroller adds a bit of resistance and the faster you walk the more calories you’ll burn. You might even get lucky and have your baby drift off for a nap while you walk letting you hike or jog up to an hour burning a great deal of calories in a single outing. If your baby isn’t comfortable in a stroller or likes to be closer to you, try wearing her in a front carrier or backpack for older babies. You’ll dramatically boost your calorie expenditure and be able to hold your baby close.
Your baby will love to help you do crunches. Simple lean her on your knees and crunch up to see her. If she’s a wiggle worm or tries to roll off, you can simply do your crunches while she plays with her toys. An ab routine usually takes less than ten minutes and can be broken up into parts between the floor gym and bouncy chair.
Dance or March
If you have a fussy baby, and who doesn’t, you’ve probably already discovered the power of movement to soothe her. Why not use that movement to your advantage? Rather than just pace the house, march in place for fifteen or twenty minutes wearing your baby in a carrier or in your arms. Turn on some music or put in your ear buds and dance with your baby. She’ll love the interaction and movement and you’ll be surprised at how many calories you can burn in a few songs.
Invest in a bike trailer and pull your baby along while you bike. The extra weight and resistance will add up to a lot of extra calories burned.
Pushups, Squats and Lunges
You might not be able to lift weights with an infant playing around you, but you can do some other forms of resistance training. Drop and do twenty push-ups when your child is playing contentedly and then do some squats. Alternate your squats with lunges and hold your baby for a bit of resistance when she starts getting fussy. Just be careful to not lose your balance. Squats might be the better option for baby resistance exercises.
There are countless families in the world who are desperately trying to have a baby, but struggle for any number of reasons. One of the increasingly more common reasons in the modern family is the age of the mother when its time to conceive. Older mothers have had an opportunity to build their career and experience the world, but unfortunately their eggs have aged along with them. Younger women have the opportunity to help build the family they want while making a bit of money for the time and effort spent.
Become an Egg Donor
Becoming an egg donor is not often mentioned in social circles, but donating eggs to friends, family or strangers is becoming more common as science advances and more families start at later ages. Women who are unable to use their own eggs or struggle getting pregnant sometimes turn to younger women whose eggs are younger and healthier for a donation. The donated eggs are then fertilized with the partner’s sperm and implanted to begin a pregnancy.
The Egg Donation Process
Donating eggs is more complicated than donating sperm. Women release a egg from their ovary once every menstrual cycle, usually once a month. That egg travels to the uterus, waits to become fertilized and then leaves the body if it is not fertilized. Unlike men who can technically produce sperm until they die, women are born with a set number of eggs and those eggs age and are used overtime. At a point after the thirties, the likelihood of releasing a healthy egg that is ready to be fertilized and grow diminishes. This is why these women need your younger, healthier eggs.
To donate eggs, you would contact an egg donation agency and submit a profile. When a family who is in need of eggs decides you’re the ideal candidate you will be notified and the process will begin. You will likely be paid a portion of your fee upfront. (The total fee can easily be upwards of $6000.)
You will be given hormone shots to encourage your body to release multiple eggs at once in the upcoming cycle. When you ovulate, doctors will carefully extract the eggs using a long needle and your job will be finished. Once the eggs have been harvested and the process is complete, you will be paid the remainder of your fee and you can enjoy that money knowing you’ve helped to make a family’s dream come true.
A newborn baby is exciting, but no matter how ready you think you are, new parents often find themselves a bit confused and panicked when that new baby comes home. There are many things involved to effectively take care of a baby, but once you have the basics sorted out, the rest just falls into place. Here is how to care for a newborn baby.
The adage about new babies claims they only do three things – eat, sleep, and poop. Many new parents find this to be startlingly true, at least for the first few weeks. Thus, care for a newborn baby involves taking care of these three activities.
A newborn baby eats only one of two things, or possibly both. Breast milk is the preferred choice for its many health benefits, but formula is certainly healthy and the natural alternative if breastfeeding does not work out for any reason. A newborn baby starts a feeding every 2-3 hours if breast fed, and every 2-4 hours if formula feeding.
Most experts agree that feeding on demand, or when the baby wants to eat, is the best way to feed a baby for the first 4-12 months of life. So, when your baby begins fussing, crying, or chewing on his hands, offer him the breast or the bottle. A newborn will eat less than 2-3 ounces per feeding, and may take up to forty-five minutes to complete each feeding. Be sure to burp the baby periodically during the feeding to decrease chances of spit up.
After your baby eats, he will most likely fall asleep. Lay him on his back in a safe sleeping environment such as a bassinet or crib. Avoid letting him sleep on your bed as the blankets may be too thick and your baby is simply safer inside a crib or bassinet. He can sleep in a playpen, car seat, swing, or bouncer as well for the first few weeks or months if he sleeps better in those positions. Dress him comfortably, and consider swaddling as this makes a newborn more comfortable and promotes longer and better sleep.
Caring for a newborn involves quite a few diaper changes. You should change his diaper following every feeding. Most newborns make dirty diapers while eating as the feeding stimulates the bowels. Expect your newborn to have a dirty diaper with almost every meal for the first few days, but after the first week or two, dirty diapers will only appear 1-3 times a day.
Wipes are abrasive on the sensitive skin of a newborn, so consider using warm water and a washcloth or simply letting running water clean away the poop. This will help prevent diaper rash, but you should have ointment on hand to help with any that appears.
Most of all, a newborn needs constant love and attention. His needs and comforts now come before your own, but you most likely won’t mind as he will have easily become the center of your world the moment he was born.
Ah, the nursery! When a new baby is on the way, the nursery presents the most fun and the most challenges. It doesn’t take long to realize you need more than a crib and a few outfits, but how do you know when you’ve gone overboard? Need to plan a nursery? Here’s how:
Pick the Room For Your Nursery
Your nursery should ideally be a room that is away from loud traffic or the neighbor’s barking dogs. You might prefer it have a western window to help your baby sleep later in the morning without the sun streaming in as it rises. It does not have to be large, but it will probably help to have a closet and some wall space for furniture placement.
Pick the Theme
How is the rest of your house decorated? Will this room be similar? Sketch out a rough plan in your head of what you would like the room to look like. What colors do you like? What kind of furniture do you need? Will the wood be dark or light?
Buy the Linens
While it might seem like the furniture would be next, you should buy the linens. The dust ruffle, crib bumper, sheets, quilt and curtains will determine the color and overall look of the room. Neutral will suit future babies in the room, while gender specific colors and patterns can be more fun. Sheets will get the most use, so buy a few extras. Quilts can’t be used in the bed until much later, so consider buying a rod and making it a wall hanging for decoration.
Paint Your New Nursery
After you have the color scheme, buy paint and/or wall paper and get busy putting color on the walls. Remember to let Dad do the painting; pregnant women should avoid the fumes if possible.
Buy the Furniture
Now it’s time to buy a crib, dresser, changing table and any other furniture you might need in the room. Changing tables are often used only for a year or two, so it might be better to get a pad for the top of the dresser. Also consider putting a full or twin bed in the room for times a parent wants to sleep near baby. Be sure to get coordinating linens if you do get a bed for the room. The furniture may take some time to be delivered, but set it up once it does arrive.
Buy the Rocker or Glider
You should have something to rock your baby in. Gliders are popular, and traditional rocking chairs will also do the trick. Buy one that is comfortable and sturdy. You’ll be spending a lot of time in this chair.
Buy the Decorations
Up to this point, you’ve taken care of the big items. You’ve painted, and you’ve set up furniture. You’ve got the linens. Now you get to buy decorations. Buy picture frames, rugs, wall signs or letters, toy boxes, lined baskets and anything else that suits your fancy.
Buy the Extras
Don’t forget to include the extra baby items in the room as well. You’ll need something for wet and dirty diapers, storage for clean diapers, a mobile, a place to store toys and linens, possibly a white noise machine or fan, a humidifier, and a baby monitor.
Buy the Layette
Now, it’s time to buy the layette. Layette is a fancy word for all the clothing and blankets a newborn needs. You should buy a few clothing items in the newborn size along with receiving blankets, burp clothes, washcloths, swaddling blankets and socks or booties to be ready. Be sure to pre wash all linens including sheets and blankets that will come in contact with baby’s sensitive skin.
Put Your New Nursery All Together
Finally spend a few days putting it all together. Remember to get help moving and setting up heavy items and take your time. Put the linens on the crib and hang curtains in the window. Hang pictures and place your rug. Then put the layette into your new dresser, sit in your rocker and anticipate bringing that new baby home.
Babies go through many developmental stages in the first year. There are different ways to play with these babies at all of these various stages. Baby toys are fun for both parents and babies, but you don’t always need toys to play with your baby. Here is how to play with your baby at almost any age without the assistance of toys or games.
Making Baby Faces
At her earliest stages, your baby needs to learn faces and facial expressions. So prop her on your knees or lie over her on your bed or a blanket. Then just make faces at her. Smile, make a big O with your mouth, stick out your tongue, etc… Not only will she be amused and fascinated, you might also be rewarded with a returned smile.
Object permanence is another major developmental milestone for babies. Fortunately, there is a great way to play that helps baby learn it and enjoy it. Peek-a-boo! Hold a blanket, washcloth or burp cloth in front of your face. Then, say something along the lines of, “Where’s Mommy?” Pull the blanket away, smile at your baby and say, “Peek-a-boo!” This is a game that young babies enjoy as well as toddlers.
Babies of all ages like to look at things and take tours. Very young babies can be fascinated by taking a guided tour of the backyard or looking at all the pictures on the walls. Older babies love to look at nature and interesting objects, and who better to guide them through their discoveries than you! Take your baby new places, hold her up to see, and explain to her what everything is. She might not be able to talk yet, but she is storing up the words and closeness.
Talking and Singing
Most babies simply love the sound of their parents’ voices. So one of their favorite games is simply talking and singing. Talking to your newborn or infant is stimulating. Older babies enjoy songs with hand motions and funny rhymes or activities. The more you talk and sing to your baby, the better exposure she is getting to language skills. And of course, she is interacting with you in a fun way, which she loves.
Older babies love to play airplane. Lay on your back with your knees in the air like a dying bug. Place your baby tummy down on your legs so that her head is by your knees and she is looking at your face. Grab her sides or her arms (depending on age), raise your legs up to a level position and let her “fly.” Move your legs gently to simulate flight, but be sure to hold on tight as your baby can jerk suddenly and fall.
A pregnancy is an exciting time. But many fail to realize that preparing for pregnancy is as important as actual conception. If you’re ready to become a parent, here’s how to plan your pregnancy.
Prepare the Body For Pregnancy
The woman’s body should be as prepared as possible for pregnancy. She should stop taking birth control pills or remove any other chemical or hormonal birth control devices well before starting work on conception to give her hormones a chance to stabilize. This also gives the body time to clear away any lingering chemicals.
The mother should be at a healthy weight for her size for an easier conception and to ensure fewer complications during pregnancy and delivery. Regular exercise is good during pregnancy, so it is wise to be in the habit prior to conception.
The prospective mother should also begin taking prenatal vitamins before conception. The first few weeks of a pregnancy are when these extra vitamins and minerals are most important, but often a woman doesn’t experience pregnancy symptoms until five or six weeks into the pregnancy.
Prepare the Home For Pregnancy
Is there space for a baby and all the large items that come with it? It is far easier to move before pregnancy than during it to avoid stain and stress on the pregnant mother.
Prepare the Finances For Pregnancy
Babies are expensive. While there is no perfect time to become pregnant, if you are facing financial difficulties, can’t pay your existing bills or foresee financial difficulties you might be better waiting until you are in a comfortable or stable position before conceiving.
Prepare the Mind For Pregnancy
You should be in a steady place in your mind. A baby should not be a solution to any problems or a method to save a relationship. Both partners should agree to try for the baby before stopping birth control.
Timing of Conception
Once you are prepared, the trying can begin. This should be a joyful time, not stressful. While it is hard to wait, most couples take more than one or two months to become pregnant. If you are looking for a specific time of delivery, for example the spring, get started a bit early to give yourself some time for false starts.
While every woman is different and every lifestyle is different, fertility begins to wane earlier than most women realize. In your twenties you have an 80% or higher chance of getting pregnant easily. By your early thirties your odds have dropped to 60%, and by thirty-five you have only a 50% chance of easily becoming pregnant.
Boosting Your Chances To Get Pregnant
To boost your chances of becoming pregnant each cycle, you can monitor for ovulation using basal readings or an ovulation predictor kit. You also are more likely to conceive if you are at a healthy weight, are active, are not overly stressed and eat a healthy and balanced diet.
You should ideally have sex the exact moment your body releases an egg. Since most women have no idea when this is occurring, you can chart your ovulation using a kit or your temperature to get an idea of when you should be having sex. At the very least, you should be having sex every two or three days to ensure there are sperm ready and waiting for the egg whenever it releases. (Sperm can live up to five or more days.)
It is perfectly normal to prefer, or at least think you prefer, one gender over the other when trying to conceive. Of course many parents are shocked to discover just how quickly they adapt to either gender, but this is necessary as only genetic engineering or embryo selection can absolutely determine sex. But if would like to tip the odds, and you’re wondering how to have a baby boy, consider the following:
The Shettles Method
Doctor Shettles has developed a method for conception that has a relatively high percentage of success. His theory is based on the nature of sperm and the speed with which they travel.
All eggs produced by a woman are X chromosomes. Sperm can carry a Y or an X chromosome. Two X’s make a girl baby, and one X (the egg) and one Y make a boy. The Y carrying sperm are smaller and faster than the heavy X carrying sperm. So according to Dr. Shettles, to conceive a boy, you simply need to get the “boy” sperm to the egg before the “girl” sperm.
Chart Your Cycle
The first step to conceive a baby boy is to chart your monthly cycle so that you know when you are ovulating. You can check for ovulation by keep track of your basal body temperature, checking mucus or by using ovulation strips or a kit. Once you know when you will be ovulating, you can give conceiving a boy a try.
To conceive a boy baby you must have intercourse no sooner than twenty-four hours before ovulation and no later than twelve hours after ovulation. Boy sperm live shorter, more frantic lives, so this gives them the best range of time to get to the egg and beat out the girl sperm that move more slowly and live much longer lives. The conditions inside the vagina and cervix are also at their least hostile during ovulation as the mucus is less acidic.
Tips for Success
To be successful, you should consider additional steps in the conception process. Boy sperm can use a running start as many are killed in the vagina due to its hostile environment. To get them closer to the starting gate, consider positions for intercourse that have deep penetration such as penetration from behind the female. Also, caffeine has been shown to make sperm move more rapidly, so have the man drink a quick cup of coffee or soda before beginning intercourse.
Finally, it is encouraged that the female partner have an orgasm during sex. An orgasm makes the vaginal environment more alkaline which is hostile to girl sperm giving the boy sperm that much more of a fighting chance.