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A Writer's Den: August 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

If You Can't Sell Your Home, What Other Options Do You Have?

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If you’re trying to sell your home, the latest housing numbers released last week are nothing short of sheer disappointment. The month of July ended with a 27.2% drop in home sales, marking the worst drop in home sales since record keeping began in 1968. For previously occupied homes, the National Association of Realtors reported that home sales plummeted to their lowest level in 15 years.

So if you can’t sell your home, what other options do you have? The following is a list of the latest options that many homeowners are considering:

1. Home Tending: The idea behind home tending is that it is faster to sell an occupied home that is fully furnished, in comparison to a vacant home. READ FULL ARTICLE: If You Can't Sell Your Home, What Other Options Do You Have?

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Friday, August 27, 2010

At the Playground: 3 Steps Parents & Toddlers Can Take when Dealing with Bullies

credit: kkay © istockphoto.com/kkay

What Will You Do When Your Child Encounters Her First Bully?
On this particular day at the playground, my little girl decided she was ready to graduate to the big slide. And boy was I excited for her! My little girl climbed the steps, and sat at the top of the slide as I cheered her on from the bottom. But before she could come down the slide, a little boy came over and decided she wasn’t moving fast enough. The little boy reached out and pushed her, almost knocking her off the side of the slide, which was about 10 feet in the air. Needless to say, I was horrified. Without even thinking, I immediately yelled in a firm voice, “You better stop pushing her!” READ FULL ARTICLE: At the Playground: 3 Steps Parents & Toddlers Can Take when Dealing with Bullies

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

FHA Launches Short Refinance Opportunity Program to Rescue Underwater Homeowners

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Beginning on September 7, 2010, homeowners who have survived the housing crisis and continued to pay their mortgage payments despite drastic declines in their property values will no longer be ignored by the Obama Administration. Finally, the Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”) has unveiled a new program that will allow homeowners who owe more on their homes than they are worth to refinance their mortgages. This new FHA program is specifically designed to “encourage principal write-downs for responsible borrowers,” with negative equity or upside down mortgages.

Although, the program is projected to help up to 3 to 4 million homeowners experiencing financial hardship, the requirements are so stringent that it will certainly fall short of helping many of the homeowners it was designed to offer a “lifeline.” To qualify for the new FHA program, homeowners must meet the following basic requirements: READ FULL ARTICLE: FHA Launches Short Refinance Opportunity Program to Rescue Underwater Homeowners

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Angry Mother Just Slapped the Piss Out of Her Baby!

credit: Fertnig © istockphoto.com/Fertnig

What Really Happened on that Southwest Airlines Flight?

Don’t you just love that headline, “Angry Mother Just Slapped the Piss out of Her Baby?” On August 16, 2010, various media outlets reported similar headlines, minus the word “piss” of course, that a flight attendant snatched a 13 month old out of her mother’s arms after witnessing the mother slap the child. Supposedly, other passengers also witnessed the mother hit the child, and previously alerted the flight attendant. After landing in Albuquerque, local authorities met with the family per the request of Southwest Airlines. But here’s the real kicker, after the child was checked out by paramedics, the child was then returned to her parents, including her allegedly slapping mother.

The problem with this story is that it makes no sense. The chain of events couldn’t have possibly happened this way and ended with mother and child boarding another flight to continue their trip. It should also be noted that no child endangerment or any other criminal charges have been filed. About a day later, Southwest Airlines issued the following statement: READ FULL ARTICLE: Angry Mother Just Slapped the Piss Out of Her Baby!

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Are You a Homeowner? 4 Easy Steps for Preserving Your Property Value with Foreclosures in Your Neighborhood

credit: MCCAIG © istockphoto.com/MCCAIG

No matter where you go, or who you talk to, there is no way to escape the reality of the current housing market. If you turn on your television, read your newspaper, or even walk out your front door, you know that there is still room for improvement. But, if you forget about all the experts, statistics, and predictions that you hear about everyday, the more compelling question is how do you preserve your property value with foreclosures in your neighborhood? Here are 4 easy steps that you can take right now:

1. Take Care of Your Own Home First
Have you taken a look at your home lately? When was the last time you painted the exterior, landscaped your yard, and cleaned or replaced your gutters? It is very easy to point the finger at the foreclosure next door when the value of your home is on a downward spiral. READ FULL ARTICLE: Are You a Homeowner? 4 Easy Steps for Preserving Your Property Value with Foreclosures in Your Neighborhood

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Update: It’s My Birthday & I’m Breakin Outta Here!

If you read It’s My Birthday & I’m Breakin Outta Here, the big question is whether I made it out the house on Friday night? And the short answer to that question is “yes.” However, if you have some time to stick around, here’s how my day unfolded.

Friday Morning
Friday morning begin with Kinsley’s Meet & Greet at her preschool. I was determined to make one trip into the school, although I was also dropping off a large brown bag of school supplies for Kinsley. With Kaydence latched on to me in her BabyBjörn, and Kinsley walking closely next to me, I managed to heave the bag onto my left hip. Kinsley grabbed her poster board, another item on her list. But I must have looked like a wreck because one of the parents of the little girls in Kinsley’s class last year came over to help me out. Kinsley seemed so excited on our way to the school, but as she walked down the hall to her new classroom, she abruptly paused like a statue. Then the tears started to flow. She refused to enter the class. Evidently it was too overwhelming, meeting new teachers, new classmates, and a new classroom. A few minutes later she was finally calm enough to enjoy herself. I’m not sure what those preschoolers were thinking, but I witnessed children hiding behind their parents, desperately trying to make an escape to the playground area. It was nice to see how calmly the teachers reacted to all the meltdowns. As always, Kaydence was observing her surroundings and taking it all in.

Friday Afternoon/Evening

Finally we were back at home. I think the girls must have figured out that I had plans because they kept me on my feet most of the day. We played, we danced, we sang, we read books, we watched cartoons…you name it, we did it. Kinsley went down first for her nap. Kaydence refused to take a nap, instead choosing to nurse for another two hours. It was around 4:15 pm when Kaydence fell asleep in her bouncy chair (she refuses to sleep in a bed during daytime hours). Shortly thereafter, Brandon got home and I raced to the bathroom. I showered, curled my hair, polished my nails, did my makeup, and got dressed. Kaydence woke up around 7 p.m., and I decided to nurse her again until I walked out the door. She hates bottles, but Brandon was prepared to fight with her for the next 24 hours. My ride finally arrived. As I walked out the door, I went over to hug Kinsley and that’s when it happened. The kid felt like a sauna. I immediately took her temp and it was a whopping 102.6. Brandon begged me to leave, promising to get Kinsley’s fever down. I kept thinking what kind of mother leaves her child at home with a fever of 102.6? Brandon reminded me by answering “the kind of mother with a husband that can take care of the girls.” Needless to say, he kicked me out of the house with the mandate that I have fun.

Friday Night
We started off at the Cheesecake Factory, one of my faves! Our waiter was a charming young man that made the mistake of not carding us. Clearly I still look 21, right? I ordered a blackened chicken sandwich and sangria to drink. The fruit that garnished the drink taste as if it had soaked in the sangria for hours, and it was probably one of the best sangrias I have tasted. Wet Willy’s in Buckhead was next on our agenda. There were a lot of teeny boppers there, as I refer to those under 30, but we were dying to taste one of their drinks. I ordered a “call me a cab.” It tastes horrible, but I managed to get it down. No way was I wasting $10.00. And besides that, the name “call me a cab” made perfect sense after I finished it. Then we headed over to the Sage Wood Fire Tavern, a restaurant/lounge in Perimeter. The DJ played a really great mix of reggae music. We ended the night with tequila shots, an old time favorite since my college days.

Besides my texting and calling to check on the girls, I had to stop by their rooms to personally see that they were okay. Kaydence was smiling in her sleep, and I kissed her softly whispering a bedtime prayer. Kinsley woke up long enough for me to give her a hug, and check her temp. I kissed her and said a little prayer. My night was finally over… I was home with my guy and my girls.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Potty Training 101: Teaching Your Toddler To Be A Star When Your Supporting Cast Is Not Being Supportive

credit: HKPNC © istockphoto.com/HKPNC

Potty training begins between eighteen and twenty-four months according to The American Academy of Pediatrics. Unfortunately potty training does not happen overnight, meaning parents don’t go to bed and wake up with a fully potty trained toddler. Potty training is a work in progress that involves setbacks, pitfalls, and even a few tears. But the one thing we must remember as parents while potty training our children is that we’re teaching our toddlers to be potty training stars! The problem is what do you do when the supporting cast is not being very supportive?

The supporting cast includes mommy, daddy, siblings, grandparents, child care providers, and anyone else that your child regularly encounters during this period of potty training. However, the first thing you must understand is that these people are not always supportive. READ FULL ARTICLE: Potty Training 101: Teaching Your Toddler To Be A Star When Your Supporting Cast Is Not Being Supportive

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

10 Things Parents Can Do To Get Their Preschoolers Ready For Kindergarten

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1. Develop a Nighttime Routine: Most children between the ages of 3 to 5 years old need at least ten to twelve hours of sleep each night. So parents should keep that in mind when developing a nighttime routine for their future kindergartener. Between 7:00 and 9:00 pm is a great target time to get your child in bed. An hour or two before its time for bed, you can bathe them, and then give them a nighttime snack. During the last 15 to 20 minutes before bed, you can brush their teeth, and read them a bedtime story. Then you can say their prayers with them and kiss them good night. Finally your little one is ready for bed.

2. Have Dinnertime with your children: While you’re preparing dinner, invite your child to help you in the kitchen. Or have your child sit in the area where you are preparing dinner and talk to them about their day. Then eat dinner together. There are numerous benefits of eating together as a family. And notably, kids who eat with their families have better grades. So why not start now. READ FULL ARTICLE: 10 Things Parents Can Do To Get Their Preschoolers Ready For Kindergarten

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Monday, August 09, 2010

It’s My Birthday & I’m Breakin’ Outta Here!

So here is a picture of me a year ago, still in my size 3 college body. We were celebrating my husband’s birthday at Luckie Lounge in Atlanta and I invited a couple of our friends out. To make a long story short, he must have really enjoyed his birthday because fast forward one month later on my birthday that same year, I’m happily knocked up with our second child.

For 37 weeks, I did what I do best when I’m pregnant. Eat. I gained 40 lbs. But thanks to good genes (yeah my mom is tiny), I have lost almost all of it. On April 1, 2010, I delivered my second daughter, Kaydence. That was 3 weeks earlier than my due date. I begged and pleaded with my doctor to keep her in for just one more day. Seeing how I could barely walk, and had been in labor since twelve midnight the night before, I guess it was inevitable that my doctor’s appointment that morning would end with me in labor & delivery. But seriously, who wants their baby to be born on April Fool’s Day (it was also Holy Thursday)? I’m starting to think God has a sick sense of humor when it comes to me because my 1st daughter, Kinsley, was born on Independence Day. So needless to say, I’m done.

Well my birthday will be here in a few days, and I’m finally breakin’ outta here. I’ve been cooped up in the house, nursing my baby and chasing my toddler around at the same time. I have mastered the art of cooking with my right hand, with a baby on my left hip, and a toddler screaming for 100% of my undivided attention. So it was a blessing when I received a text from Maleka, my line sister, my bestie, and everybody’s wanna be mom that truly knows it all (which is why I call her Ma Ma Leka). If she can’t help you, nobody can. She invited me out for my birthday, and YES I jumped on it after receiving approval from the hubby. Brandon is actually excited that I’m breakin’ outta here!

What about my girls? The closer it gets to Friday, the more I will question my decision to walk out the door. So I decided to write this blog entry today, hopefully to hold myself to breakin’ outta here. On Saturday, I’ll let you know if I actually made it out the front door.

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Monday, August 02, 2010

Are You a Homeowner? Coping with the Realities of an Unrealistic Housing Market

credit: carterdayne © istockphoto.com/carterdayne

Many homeowners are coping with the realities of an unrealistic housing market in the aftermath of the housing crisis. Here is a list of some of those realities:

1. Declining Property Values
Homeowners everywhere are dealing with drastic declines in home values, ranging from as little as a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. And no one knows exactly when the housing market will stabilize. In fact, the question of when the housing market will stabilize has gone unanswered since the housing market crashed.

2. Unfinished Neighborhoods
Many homeowners living in new subdivisions have been abandoned by their real estate developers and home builders that went belly-up as a result of the declining housing market. Vacant and overgrown lots, with unfulfilled promises of amenities such as clubhouses with state of the art fitness centers, playgrounds and pools to name a few, are still haunting many homeowners.

3. The Cheaper House Next Door
Homeowners living in unfinished subdivisions breathe a sigh of relief when they finally see new homes being constructed on vacant lots in their neighborhoods. However, shortly after breathing a sigh of relief, many of these same homeowners will experience feelings of shock and disbelief. The reality is that after the first house is built, you may notice a sign advertising the homes at $100,000 less than what you paid for your home. Unfortunately, thousands of homeowners are dealing with what I refer to as “the cheaper house next door”. READ FULL ARTICLE: Are You a Homeowner? Coping with the Realities of an Unrealistic Housing Market

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