Vision Board – Mapping Your Goals

2009 is almost upon us and many people have already started drafting their New Year resolutions. Whether it’s losing weight or getting a raise or promotion, everyone has goals they want to achieve. Creating a vision or dream board can help identify and clarify your goals. Using a vision board to focus on your goals is a simple technique to help you achieve them.

A vision or dream board is a visual representation or collage of the things that you want to become or do in your life. It is a simple, yet powerful, tool that activates the law of attraction to begin manifesting your dreams into reality. The idea is that when you surround yourself with images of what you want out of life, your life changes to match those images and desires.

The idea of the vision board has been around for decades, but interest in the concept was renewed after talk show host and media mogul Oprah Winfrey acknowledged that she collected pictures and created a vision board showing Illinois Senator Barack Obama winning the Presidential election.

A vision board is typically a large poster board with a collage of images, drawings, and/or writings pasted on it. By selecting pictures and writings that you are passionate about, you will begin to manifest those things into your life. Vision boards make your goals visible and remind you of what you are working towards. They also allow you to choose your purpose in life.

Before you create your vision board, sit quietly and ask yourself what it is you really want. With a clear vision in mind, turn on some soft music and begin creating your vision board.

Creating Your Vision Board:

Supplies Needed:

1. Poster board or foam core board

2. A large assortment of magazines (If you don’t have any, ask your friends, family, dentist or doctor for old copies)

3. Scissors

4. Glue stick or rubber cement

Step 1: Compile your pictures. Go through your stack of magazines and cut out images relevant to your goals. Don’t glue yet. Simply select images, phrases, and headlines that excite you at the mere sight of them.

Step 2: Sort the images. Sort through the pile of images and select the ones that have the deepest emotional impact.

Step 3: Arrange and paste. Paste a radiant picture of yourself in the center of the board. Arrange and glue your images creatively on your board. Feel free to paint or draw on it with markers if you want. Leave room to affix two labels on the bottom of board that read: “Date created: ___________” and “Date Manifested: ___________.”

Step 4: Hang. Hang your completed vision board in a strategic location such as an office or bedroom; somewhere you will see it often. This will keep your goals in front of your eyes.

When creating your vision board, it is important that you not only create it, but actually use it! Don’t just look at the pictures on your vision board, take a minute and really FEEL the images. Think of what it will feel like when the pictures on your vision board actually become part of your life. FEELING is what makes vision boards work.

Vision boards are inexpensive to make, but their potential value to you is immeasurable. With the new year upon us, I encourage you to take the time to figure out what you want in your life and then create a vision board to help turn your dreams into reality.

To quote Mark Victor Hansen, co-founder of Chicken Soup for the Soul Enterprises, “By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be.”

Garden Swings Create an Enchanted Garden Setting

Nothing invites one to sit and enjoy a lovingly created and tended garden quite the way that a garden swing does. Only from the perch of a gently swaying garden swing can one fully appreciate the bounty of nature complete with the subtle flowery and earthy smells of the garden. From this vantage point, one could relax for hours while meditating, reading or simply enjoying the antics of the wildlife.

Strategically placed garden swings draw people to them as if by magic. It seems that even if someone is just passing through, they can not resist the urge to sit for just a spell on one of these exquisitely beautiful garden swings.

Whether your garden is country, formal or eclectic there is bound to be the perfect garden swing to fit your unique personality and decorating style.

Take for instance the popular Kingsley-Bate Sheraton garden swing. This lovely porch swing features intricate hand carvings from Javanese teak wood in the ageless, romantic 18th century style. The detail to the Sheraton porch swing make it breathtaking in its exquisite beauty. Assembled with precise mortise and tenon joinery, this garden swing will provide your family with a comfortable place to relax for decades to come.

Since the Sheraton porch swing is constructed with teak, it is extremely durable. Often called the premier wood for outdoor furniture, teak is unique in that it can withstand the elements year after year with virtually no maintenance. With teak garden swings, there is no sealing, no staining, and no finishing.

If you prefer something a little more classic in design, perhaps the Nantucket garden swing would be your best bet. This porch swing is crafted from Southern Yellow Pine and available in 28 color finish options which includes eye-catching colors such as lime, mauve and canary or more sedate colors such as sunny yellow, island green and white. You can also choose various finish options for the Nantucket garden swing such as natural, pristine, washed and distressed.

And when you decorate your garden using garden swings, you will not bust your budget or have to take out a loan to do so. Most garden swings can be purchased for approximately $ 500 depending on your tastes and how high your budget can take you.

But one thing is guaranteed when you buy a garden swing. Once you place it in your most beautiful outdoor space, it will quickly become the favorite spot in the house.

What to Look For in a Roofing Contractor

When picking a roofing contractor to do your roof repair or fix any roof leaks, you have to go with the guys that have the most years of experience and are the most professional.

Professionalism of Roofing Companies

Like with most businesses that deal in construction, there are a lot of small fish out there that would just love to get work from you. In return for your cold hard cash, they're going to give you a below par job.

Roofing companies are no different. There are plenty of guys out there who will take work just to make a few extra bucks, and who can blame them? We're all trying to get by these days. Unfortunately, if they see an easy target, they're going to jump.

Listen to how the roofing contractor talks with you, how they speak. Are they just trying to sell you something? Do they have well thought out reasons behind what it is they're saying? In general, do they seem professional to you?

If you're left in the dark about anything, and your local roofing contractor just can not seem to explain something to you, then your best bet is to look someplace else.

Find a company with a long track record and a successful history that they can proudly stand behind. Your roofing contractor should have absolutely no qualms discussing anything with you about your roof. They should be able to provide you with of all the answers to all of your questions, no matter how big or small the job.

Choose a roofing contractor that can provide you with prior references, who has a long history of completed jobs. You can ask to see pictures of their past work. They should take pride in showing you the work that they've done prior to this time and be more then obliged to offer any request you have. You're the customer; you're business should matter greatly to the roofing contractor and if they want the work, they will have no problem obliging to your terms.

What Questions Do You Ask before You Get a New Roof?

There are a few things other than references and pictures that you might want to check up on. For example, does the roofing company have worker's compensation? If they do not, run. You could end up footing a rather large bill if anyone were to get hurt.

What is their insurance coverage like? Not only do you want to make sure that they have insurance, but ask them what it covers.

You also want to see how long the business has been established and whether they have had a stable address and phone number for customers to call.

Another thing that you want to look out for is if the roofing contractor seems to be pushing you into a lot of extras. You can always get more than one estimate, and most companies provide free estimates anyway. This will help you gage how serious it is to get a roof replacement. If you have a contractor tell you that they could repair a little flashing and a vent and you'd get some extra life out of the roof, it might save you some bucks. But do not sacrifice the roof over your head to save some money!

Flannel Fitted Sheet

Flannel fitted sheets can be purchased easily in department stores and Internet shops. But since there are so many options this can be very confusing. Here are some tips to help you sort out the facts.


These sheets are available in the following sizes: twin — 39 x 75 inches (or 99 x 190 cm); x-long twin — 39 x 80 inches (99 x 203 cm); full — 54 x 75 inches (137 x 190 cm); queen — 60 x 80 inches (or 153 x 203 cm); king — 76 x 80 inches (or 198 x 203 cm) and California king — 72 x 84 inches (or 182 x 213 cm).

Note: some manufacturers have other sizes like Olympic Queen, Olympic King, Queen / King Supreme etc. Read the product dimensions. In a few cases, different figures may be used. Double check the figures first; never make the assumption that a queen size is x by x by x inches.

Advantages and Benefits

Flannel fitted sheets are made from wool or wool and cotton. Some manufacturers may combine it with other materials like synthetic fabric. In some cases only flannel is used. In any case, the element that distinguishes flannel from others is its warmth.

These sheets are insulating too. For this reason, sheets made of flannel are widely used during the winter. High quality sheets will provide comfort during rainy nights and even snowstorms.

For the best results, get the sheets with cotton and wool blend. The cotton will make it soft while the wool will keep it warm. This combination will make the sheets very comfortable.

Reminders for Buyers

Thread counts between 80 and 190 are coarse and rough. Many people avoid these sheets due to the rough feeling. If you want soft and smooth sheets, the thread counts must be 300 to 400. There are also sheets with over 500 thread counts. These are very soft, but they also cost more than the other sheets.

If the thread count is not specified, you can still get an idea of it. Hold the material up to a light source. The higher the thread count, the less light will pass through it

Some flannel fitted sheets manufacturers provide ounces of flannel in square yards rather than thread counts. If this is the case, look for those with 4 oz. / sq. yd. (113g / 0.9 sq. m) at least.

Poor Lifestyle Choices and Health

One lyric by Metallica in their song Frantic says that "My lifestyle determines my death style." And while this is not the case all the time, the way you live can play a large part on the quality of life you have as well as the length of the life you have. Eating junk food, smoking, consuming alcohol, taking recreational drugs, abusing prescription drugs, having promiscuous or unprotected intercourse, can all lead us down the wrong wrong and significantly reduce the amount of quality years of life. They can lead to things like cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and a lot of other conditions that you do not want to have.

So why do we sometimes choose unhealthy lifestyles? There are many factors, but here are the main ones:

Too many choices. It is not as if the decision to have a healthy lifestyle is as easy as choosing from Column A or Column B. Good Things and Bad Things are not purely black and white, and are rarely clearly labeled. There are so many different options available to us that fall in into the grey area that it can be rather obscure when consciously trying to make good decisions for your life. In order to avoid the negative consequences of a poor lifestyle, you will want to do your best to choose the things you know are good for you. Try to avoid or eliminate all of the things you know for sure are not good for you. If you smoke, stop. If you drink too much alcohol, stop. If you do not exercise at all, start. Cutting out the major things will make a substantial difference right away.

Too much information. With so many scientific studies showing that more and more things are bad for us, it is tempting to throw in the towel and just do whatever we feel like. There are things wrong with the meat we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the clothes we wear, the car we drive, the pets we have, and on and on. It can all be overwhelming and can lead to feelings of futility and defeatism that can lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Too many manufactured goods. Today we do not even know what we are consuming. Food contains so many chemicals and industrial by-products that it makes it nearly impossible to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Even people that are trying earnestly to live right are finding it hard because there are not many purely natural, organic products available at reasonable prices.

Too much stress – When humans get stressed they do things to try and relieve that stress. Common stress remedies that contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle would be: eating in order to comfort yourself, smoking a cigarette in order to calm down, having a drink in order to calm down, or turning to recreational drugs or casual sex in order to mellow out .

Affordable Flooring Solutions For High Traffic Areas

While expensive materials like granite tile stand up to years of abuse, sometimes you're looking for a more affordable flooring solution for high traffic areas. Whether you're a business owner looking to cover your waiting room floor or a homeowner concerned about the durability of the kitchen floor, there are a number of inexpensive, attractive materials that will stand up to the abuse! Read on to learn how laminate, linoleum, or commercial carpeting can serve your high-traffic flooring needs.


Laminate flooring is a durable, beautiful, affordable material suitable for areas with heavy traffic. The increasing popularity of laminate in recent years has broadened the number of styles and patterns available. The most popular today include wood laminate and tile laminate, giving you the appearance of hardwood and ceramic / stone tile, respectively, but at a greatly reduced cost.

Many homeowners and property managers turn to the attractive, long-lasting appearance of wood laminate where hardwood is not appropriate due to constant wear and tear. Laminate installation is a fast, relatively hassle-free process, unlike some other flooring materials. In fact, most laminate floors can be installed as floating floors (where the laminate is installed over your existing floor) for a super-quick, super-easy installation.


Linoleum is one of the most cost-effective, durable flooring materials on the market today. It is long-lasting, low maintenance, inexpensive, and attractive, making it ideal for high traffic areas like kitchens, laundry rooms, hallways, and commercial spaces. And, even though some of us may remember our mothers waxing the high-maintenance linoleum of the past, today's vinyl linoleum floors are extremely low maintenance. All it takes to keep your vinyl linoleum floor looking great is sweeping and the occasional mopping. Today's linoleum even looks better: while older types look like plastic, modern linoleum is tasteful and attractive. Available as linoleum tile or sheet vinyl, this flooring material is fast and simple to install. When you're looking for a lightning-quick renovation of your home or office, linoleum is the ideal flooring for your high traffic areas!

Commercial carpeting

You may not think of carpeting as an extremely durable flooring material, but commercial carpeting is extremely sturdy, resilient, and long lasting. Unlike cut pile plush, commercial carpeting is made up of short, tight loops. This makes the carpeting dense, tough, and able to combat years of wear and tear. Available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, commercial carpeting is ideal for waiting rooms, hallways, lobbies, and other business applications.

Laminate, linoleum, and commercial carpeting are all low-cost, high-performance flooring options for high traffic areas in your home or business. Contact your local flooring contractor [] to learn more about particular brands available in your area and to find out more about which of these durable flooring solutions is ideal for your needs.

No Uneven Surfaces With a Ladder Leveler

In the midst of home repairs, chore maintenance, or simple indoor jobs, a ladder is the one thing that can make all the difference. Since various ladders are already out in the market, choosing the right one can save both time and energy that can instead be allotted to the work itself. One type of ladder that is convenient in use and storage is the multi-position ladder with a leveler.

A multi-position ladder:

• Can configure itself into several ladders (A-frame ladder, extension ladder, staircase type ladder, and a 90 degree ladder) that may be used in different situations.

• Generally, ladders being heavy, large, and bulky are not only difficult to store, but is also inconvenient in use. Multi-position ladders are not only portable but easy to store as well.

• Offers more stability making it able to withstand uneven grounds.

Along with the multi-position ladder, comes a type of accessory that can further enhance its stability when being used – the ladder leveler:

• Also considered as an easy-to-use leveling system

• Can be operated using just the foot, allowing the hands to hold and position the ladder, and of course, do more work.

• Ladder levelers usually come with a leg width of 2″ or more, with longer bolts and extra spacers which allows mounting it to the ladder easily without having to remove the original feet.

A ladder leveler is a simple addition placed on the legs of the multi-position ladder, allowing for the extension of the leg when used on uneven terrain and surfaces. Prior to the invention of the levelers, propping ladders on uneven surfaces used to be cumbersome and unsafe. Workers had no choice but to use methods that were difficult and cost-ineffective.

Choosing the right ladder leveler can be tricky stuff. Several tips may include:

• Choosing a leveler with a patented positive locking system and one that can provide superior ladder stability especially on uneven surfaces

• Choosing a leveler with a stainless steel locking system can prevent it from easy rusting, adding to a longer shelf life for this ladder accessory

• Upon purchase, setting up of said accessory must be made easy, as to have minimal ladder manipulations.

Manipulating the ladder feet may be a hassle to amateur owners that convenience should be a first in deciding which leveler is suitable to use. A new line of ladder levelers now come with the strong, sturdy, and rock-solid connector brackets that mount securely to the left and right ladder legs or levelers with locks that firmly snap & lock into a base unit on either side of the ladder that needs leveling. With these unique designs; attaching, removing, or switching levelers can be quick and easy to learn.

With a variety of ladder accessories out in the market, choices as to what to use should always be carefully addressed. Multi-position ladders offer enough convenience as to its functionality and safety. The ladder leveler, on the other hand, further enhances the multi-position ladder’s use, adding style and convenience that makes this duo the perfect choice for anyone looking for a no other way but up.

How to Build Deck Stairs

Fabricating deck stairs is not difficult to do. Anyone with fundamental building knowledge or a healthy sense of adventure can construct a secure and attractive set without leaning into too many problems. This guide gives information on how to make deck stairs yourself to save on the fee for a contractor.

Preparation for design and construction:

The Total Run is the total horizontal distance covered by the staircase, from the corner of the deck to the edge of the staircase

The Total Rise is the entire vertical length from the surface of the landing to a spot level with the surface of the upper floor

Run is the horizontal length from the leading edge of one tread to the leading edge of the next tread.

Rise is the vertical length from the surface of one tread to the surface of the next tread.

The ratio of the total rise to total run defines the incline of the stairway. This may constantly fall in the range of 30 and 35 degrees. Typical riser height is around 7 "with an 11" run (standard lumber stock width)

The width of the staircase may be around 48 to accommodate one person and around 60 for two.

Staircases are constituted of four parts:

1) Stringers – sloped members that support the stairway commonly constructed from 2x10s with no large knots that are made from redwood or cedar, to defend against decay.

2) Treads – horizontal planks that you walk on. When constructing deck steps they are made from identical material as the deck.

3) Risers – vertical boards behind every tread.

4) Railing – built from posts, a cap rail and vertical balusters between each post. 4×4 is the most common post material with a 2×4 handrail.

Planning the deck stairs

Find the entire rise and divide the figure by 7 to find the number of steps you will need. If the result is a fraction approximate to the nearest whole number

Divide the entire rise by the resulting whole number to find the height of each riser.

Building the deck steps

Step one: find the total rise and divide the figure by 7 to find the number of steps you will require. If the result is a fraction approximate to the nearest whole number

Divide the entire rise by the resulting whole number to find the height of each riser

Building the deck stairs:

Required Tools / Materials

2×10 Stringers
5/4 "or 2" Tread Material
Angle Iron
Hex Bolts
8d Galvanized Nails
Measuring Tape
Joist Hangers
1×8 Risers
2×6 Pressure-Treated Cleat
Anchor Bolts
16d Galvanized Nails
Baluster Material
Carpenter's Square
Adjustable Wrench


Step one:

Notch the stringers for the treads and risers. Secure two stair gauges to a carpenter's square to the specifications of the rise and run you have calculated (for instance, set the square on the stringer so the gauges are flush against the edge and trace the notch on the border of the square).

Step two:

Continue working to the stringer, until you have set out the correct number of notches. Use the carpenter's square to position the top cut on the stringer.

Step three:

Place the stringer on the lower floor by bolting it place with a piece of angling iron.

Step four:

Once the stringer is in place, cut the notches partway employing a circular saw and complete the cuts with the handsaw.

Once you have one stringer completed, put it in position to make sure it is cut correctly, then use it as a guide to lay out your cuts on the other stringers.

Step five:

Measure the distance from the face of the riser to the edge of the notch cut, then tear the treads to breadth so they range 1 "to 1-1 / 8" beyond the edge of the notch. If you're using two boards side by side as treads, rip half the dimension from each plank so both will be the same width. Cut the treads to length and nail them to the stringer with 16d galvanized nails.

The square root of the result yields you the required stringer length; approximate to the nearest standard lumber length, then multiply by the number of stringers you'll need.

Tips and Warnings

Local building codes regulate the width and incline of a staircase, as well as how the assembly is supported and braced, how the landing is built and whether railings are necessary.

Constantly check with local construction agencies to ensure that you have the correct licenses and are in compliance with all codes.

5 Keys to RSS

The term "RSS" was unheard of a number of years ago. But today, this marketing technique is becoming to be one of the easiest and most effective means of reaching out to as many target consumers as possible.

Here are 5 keys to better RSS feeds:

1. Make sure that the customer support of the RSS feeds service can be reached at all times. Just imagine if the system bogs down, and you have to make an important update about a new product that's about to be launched. That's why you have to ensure that the feeds system can be reached 24/7. You should also be provided with all means of communication, such as a telephone number, e-mail address, and even an office address.

2. Promote your RSS feeds as often as possible. Your main goal is to gather as much subscribers as possible to your feeds. That is how you can implement effectively your viral marketing techniques. It may be advisable to place them in conspicuous places or create ads and articles abut them.

3. Learn to evaluate your RSS feeds. Since this is going to be your marketing tool, it is always advisable to assess its effectiveness. This will allow you to keep up with the changes, especially when it comes to Internet evolution. Most of all, you can modify the system, whenever necessary, to improve their efficiency.

4. Study the terms and conditions of the RSS syndicators. There are different policies implement by your feeds system, and it's important that you know them by heart. You do not want to be banned from them, do not you?

5. Always publish unique and original articles. Plagiarism does not create pride but only tarnished reputation. So as much as possible, only publish original articles. Remember there are many who are going to read them.

Child Protective Services FAQ

1. A CPS worker has called me and wants to meet with me to talk about my children. What do I do?

You need to cooperate. If you don’t cooperate, CPS will infer that you are attempting to hide something. Try to get some information from CPS about what they wish to discuss with you. Chances are, you probably know why they want to talk to you. Consult a lawyer and have legal counsel with you when you are interviewed. If you do not have time to obtain counsel and must participate in the interview, follow these guidelines.

  1. Be polite and helpful
  2. Show concern for your children
  3. Listen more than you speak
  4. Ask for exact information from CPS, they will often use phrases such as “we have concerns” or “it has been alleged” or “we believe”
  5. DO NOT GUESS about your answers to any CPS questions
  6. DO NOT GUESS about what other people knew or didn’t know
  7. DO NOT SAY the following, “he would never do such a thing” “I don’t believe that happened” “my child is telling a lie”
  8. Be able to clearly explain how your home is a safe home for your children
  9. Be able to provide positive references who have frequent contact with you and your children
  10. Do not lose your temper
  11. At the end of the conversation ask the CPS worker to summarize her discussion with you, her findings, any actions she is considering taking and her reasons for taking those actions.

2. Do I need to have an attorney with me whenever I meet with CPS?

CPS workers do not like lawyers. Unfortunately, a lawyer who is not familiar with CPS and takes the wrong approach in dealing with CPS may do you more harm than good. An experienced CPS lawyer can help to clarify the issues, present your case in a positive manner, and minimize the risk of your children being taken into foster care.

3. CPS wants me to bring my children to their offices for a meeting. What should I do?

This is a setup. NEVER, EVER take your children to CPS offices without your lawyer right beside you. This tactic is used by CPS to get you to surrender the children to them at there offices instead of them going to the effort of removing the children from your home. To summarize, take your children with you to CPS and chances are you’ll be going home alone.

4. CPS wants me to sign a “Safety Plan” or they are going to take my children into foster care. What should I do?

A Safety Plan tells you that you have to follow certain rules to keep your children with you in the home. For instance, in many cases, the Safety Plan will instruct you to remove an alleged abuser from your home, or to clean your home, or to participate in counseling. You must ask yourself whether you can follow the Safety Plan – if you can’t then you are at risk of having your children removed. You must make sure that both you and CPS understand what exactly the Safety Plan tells you to do or not do. Many children are removed each year because CPS interpreted the Safety Plan differently than the parent did. Ask CPS when does the Safety Plan expire. If no expiration date is given, then you are forever at risk of having your children removed. As always, try to review the Safety Plan with a lawyer before you sign it.

5. CPS wants me to separate from my husband or wife and to keep my children away from him/her. What should I do?

Just do it. CPS always believes that sexual abuse has occurred, no matter what the facts and logic suggest, and that children always know what they are talking about. The problem is that if you question any of the facts, your child will be out of your home. It is a difficult situation, but you must ALWAYS choose your child over your spouse.

6. CPS has done an “Emergency Removal” and placed my children into foster care. What should I do?

Find out as much as you can about why the children were taken into foster care. Ask questions, but volunteer little information at this point. Be helpful. Tell the CPS worker what your child likes and doesn’t like, and inform her of any medications your child might be taking or other special needs he or she might have. Ask for a visit with your child. Typically, you will get a one hour visit one time a week. Do not threaten the CPS worker and try not to show too much anger. If the CPS worker feels threatened by you or senses that you are “unstable” it will only hurt your chances of getting your child home. Suggest relatives who would be willing to have temporary possession of your child. Try to make arrangements to get your child some of his toys, clothing, and other possessions that will make him feel more secure while in foster care.

7. I received legal papers telling me I have a court hearing to determine temporary custody of my children. What should I do?

Time is critical. You are going to have a Court hearing within 14 days of the date your child was removed from your possession. At the hearing, the Court will determine whether there is a continuing danger to your child in your home. CPS will have their investigators, lay witnesses, doctors and police officers ready to testify. Who will testify on your behalf? Who will present your case to the Court? Do you know how to cross-examine a witness or how to object to improper testimony? You need legal representation. If you lack time to hire an attorney, ask the Judge for an additional two weeks to hire one. Your child will have to stay in foster care, but many times it is better to wait an additional two weeks and be truly prepared for court rather than rushing in unprepared.

Several things can happen at the initial or “14 day hearing.” Your child can be returned to your care (this rarely happens); CPS can take steps to determine whether a relative would be able to care for the child, or your child can continue in foster care for a period of at least 60 days. A CPS case can be won or lost at this point. Without aggressive representation at the 14 day hearing, there is a very real chance that your child will spend months in foster care – – possibly without justification.

8. CPS is telling me my children have been sexually abused. What should I do?

Please do not say, “I don’t believe it” or “that’s not true” or “she tells stories” or anything that gives CPS the thought that you don’t believe sexual abuse has occurred. Show genuine concern. Ask, “what can I do to make sure I am providing my child with a safe home?” Ask the CPS worker questions. Seek detailed answers. Who is the alleged abuser? When did the abuse occur? How many times has the abuse occurred? Exactly what did occur? (you need to get over your embarrassment and ask for graphic details about what happened). You must ask yourself if you knew of the sexual abuse or had any hint that it was taking place. What has your child told CPS? Unless you convince CPS that you knew nothing about the sexual abuse and that you are able to protect the child from the abuser, your child is going to be placed outside your home.

9. CPS is telling me my children have been neglected. What should I do?

“Neglect” means different things to different people. Ask questions. Seek specific answers. Try to get CPS to agree to leave the children with you while you participate in parenting classes or other services CPS recommends. If your house is dirty, clean it. If it’s still dirty after you clean, move. You may have to agree to do other things like place the children in daycare, or change your work hours. Remember, you are doing these things to keep your children with you.

10. CPS is telling me my children have been physically abused. What should I do?

Physical abuse usually occurs in one of two instances:

1. The case of the baby who is shaken or beaten by an adult. Cases involving injuries babies and young children are the most difficult mainly because the victim is unable to speak. You need to convince CPS that you didn’t injure your child and that your home is safe. This is very difficult. CPS wants to know who injured the child and until someone comes forward with an explanation, the child is not going home. Do not make up stories, for instance, “he rolled off the bed.” Do not cover-up if you know who hurt the child – unless the person you are protecting is more important to you than your child. Your attorney may suggest you take a lie-detector test. You must attempt to obtain legal counsel.

2. The case of improper physical discipline of a child. In the case of improper discipline, you have a chance of keeping your child at home, but you are going to have to participate in parenting classes and counseling. Of course, it will depend too on the type of injuries sustained by the child and if there appears to be a long-standing pattern of improper physical discipline – for example the use of extension cords to administer spankings is abuse and may result in removal of the child.

11. CPS tells me I don’t need a lawyer at the emergency court hearing. Is this true?

You need a lawyer. CPS is represented by the District Attorney. Your children will have their own attorney. You will not be successful representing yourself. Also, don’t fall for the line, “this is only temporary.” Many a termination case starts with such a representation.

12. I am embarrassed to tell my family about my CPS case. What should I do?

If your family can help you in any way, financial, emotional, or as a temporary placement for your children, tell them. A CPS case could be the most serious legal matter in your life. It is no time to “go it alone.” Show CPS that you come from a good family and that you have their support – it will make a difference.

13. CPS wants me to take a drug test. What should I do?

You know whether you will pass. If you will pass, sure, take the test. If you know you won’t pass, consult your lawyer. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to refuse to take the test, or admit to your drug usage. These are critical decisions and you need a professional to advise you. The main thing is to get clean! If you are using illegal drugs, find someone in your family to care for the children while you go through a inpatient program. The longer you remain in denial about your problem, the worse things will get. Remember, in a CPS case, you have one year to get your act together. It’s better to start early rather than waiting until you are out of time to save your family.

14. CPS has my children. Will I ever get them back?

It depends. You have a year to prove yourself to CPS. You need to form a success strategy with your lawyer. This will include taking steps to improve you life and then showing CPS what you have done. You will have to persuade the child’s lawyer that the child belongs with you. You will attempt to discredit as much of the CPS case as possible. You have to visit each and every week. You have to be appropriate with your child in the visits. You have to INSPIRE CONFIDENCE in the people who are evaluating you as a parent. As a last resort, you may have to prepare for trial – this is both an expensive and uncertain endeavor.

15. CPS wants me to do a “Service Plan.” What does this mean?

The Service Plan consists of a list of things for you to do in order to have any hope of getting your children home. But, understand that the Service Plan is not a contract and CPS doesn’t have to return your children just because you completed your service plan. Typically, you will be asked to take a psychological evaluation, do counseling and parenting classes. You may also be asked to take random drug tests, participate in anger management, or sex offender’s counseling.

16. What is a “Guardian Ad Litem?”

The Guardian Ad Litem is an attorney who has been appointed by the Court to make an independent recommendation to the Court about what arrangement will be in your child’s best interest. You will want to make sure the ad litem is doing his or her job and not merely following CPS recommendations. You will want to work to obtain a favorable recommendation from the ad litem.

17. Will the Court appoint me an attorney if I cannot afford to hire one?

The answer is “NO.” Now, having said that, if you are indigent and CPS files suit to terminate your parent-child relationship, you will be appointed a lawyer. But the point is, you should never wait until you are in such a bad situation to find legal help. When CPS files to terminate you, they have had around 6 months to build their case against you and there is little your court-appointed attorney can do to erase the damage of what has already happened during the case. Finally, the legal services organizations do not take CPS cases either because they are so specialized and time-consuming.

The Benefits of Laminate Flooring

It is not surprising that laminate flooring is an ever increasing popular choice for home interiors. It has the beauty and style of a hardwood floor, but with other countless benefits.

Laminate floors are widely favoured by people, because above all else, they are extremely practical. Unlike other forms of flooring it is scratch, stain and fade resistant, in some cases even burn resistant. The reason for its durability is a feature called a wear layer, which is a resin-based coating on the individual boards of laminate floors which is specifically designed to resist many forms of abrasion. It is typically made up of several coats of aluminium oxide or melamine. The added protection of flooring means that for families with small children and pets it’s a clear winner. Due to recent modifications of laminate flooring, there are moisture resistant choices so you can now install it into your bathroom and kitchen.

Another attractive feature of laminate flooring is its low maintenance. Once installed Laminate flooring maintains its ‘brand new’ look for years to come, and only requires some light cleaning. Unlike hardwood flooring, it does not need buffing or waxing giving you optimum benefits without disadvantages. No other flooring is easy to care for than laminate floors! For everyday cleaning, simply vacuum the floor or sweep to remove loose dirt and debris. Do not use soap, wax, household cleaners or any other product on laminate floors. This will leave a film on your floor and cause it to attract more dirt and leave streaks and footprints. The best way to clean your laminate floors is to use ammonia and water, or any other window cleaning product. First sweep or vacuum loose dirt, then mist the floor with your cleaner and buff it up using tea towel or cloth.

There are even health benefits associated with this choice of flooring, especially for people with allergies. Laminate can be a more hygienic choice for your home, as unlike carpets (which can add to allergy symptoms); it does not collect dust mites, food crumbs, or human and animal residues. Therefore providing you with a cleaner and healthier living space. In cases of extreme allergies, the removal of carpets has been recommended by medical professionals.

Also, you may not have thought it, but your choice of flooring can also add to the value of your home. In today’s market, potential home buyers are looking for a hardwood floor opposed to carpeted flooring. So if you are looking to sell your home, laminate flooring could in fact be a valuable investment. Alternatively should you wish to move home, the option of taking your flooring with you is also available with laminate flooring.

If you do decide to invest in your home, laminate flooring is a remarkably cheaper option than other flooring choices. Laminate flooring is far cheaper than both carpet and hardwood. Currently in the flooring market, retailers are offering anything up to a 15 year guarantee with laminate packs.

History Of The Yamaha Guitar

The Yamaha guitar has been around for over 60 years and the company itself for over 100 years. In 1887, Torakusu Yamaha made his first reed organ and began taking orders to make more. In 1897, the Nippon Gakki Co. Ltd. was founded with Torakusu as president of the company.

For the next 40+ years, Yamaha's company made organs, pianos, harmonicas, furniture, phonographs and finally their first acoustic guitar in 1942. In 1965, a year after The Beatles made their legendary Ed Sullivan Show appearance, Yamaha began production of solid body guitars. In 1966, they started to make the electric bass as well.

By the 1970's, Yamaha started to grab the attention of major artists such as Carlos Santana and Bob Marley because of the instruments great quality and design. The Yamaha guitars were being built to produce a powerful warm tone with amazing sustain. Also, the "Broad Bass" was introduced in 1977 and quickly caught the attention of famous bass players throughout the world including Paul McCartney.

By the end of the 80's, Yamaha opened up a factory in North Hollywood, California. Here they started making guitars where they called on some professional guitar players to help them out and advise them on what they would like to see in their guitars.

One of the reasons behind the success of the Yamaha guitar is the targets that they shoot for in their design. Every guitar must have a balanced tone and response and the bass and treble must complement each other.

A very important move for Yamaha was the introduction of the dovetail neck joint to their design in the 1970's, which provides the best neck to body contact. The neck joint is made with timber, which helps to resonate vibrations easily from the neck to the body producing the balanced tone and response.

Yamaha also strongly believe that the blending of different kinds of quality wood is extremely important to produce a great sound. The outcome of blending these quality woods, are the highs last longer and the guitar player is able to control the note texture at all times.

Another important part of construction of the Yamaha guitars is the types of lacquer that they use. They work closely with the lacquer producers to make sure that they get the best type of lacquer that is right for their guitars. Yamaha want to make sure that their guitars both look great and have every chance to breathe.

Because of all these great design features, many artists have used and still prefer to strap on a Yamaha guitar on tour and in the recording studio. Some of the great artists that have played Yamaha guitars over the years are Michael Anthony, John Denver, John Lennon, Bob Marley, Brian May, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, Carlos Santana, Bob Seger, Billy Sheehan, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and james Taylor.

Life After Cancer

I may have run 6 marathons, the last one 7 months after surgery and chemotherapy for cervical cancer, but I am no Lance Armstrong. Lance, as many of you know, was diagnosed ten years ago with testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain. He survived surgery and gruelling chemotherapy to come back and win the Tour de France, arguably the world's toughest cycle race. He won it not once, but 7 times in a row. Now that guy is a legend.

As for me, I am a back of the pack runner: slow and steady. I was never going to be running up the front with a double D cup chest size. I think even Lance would struggle should he have been so endowed.

I run not to win the race, but to celebrate life, living, and being alive. This is ironic really because after running for 5 hours you really do feel half-dead!

Seriously though, it is a real privilege to be here. There are so many other people who could have stood up and told their stories.

If you're like me, you feel that cancer is everywhere. Every day it seems someone new is diagnosed with some brand of cancer. And it's not a nice disease.

My good friend's brother in law has recently had a tumour removed from his neck. The surgery affected function in his left arm and the radiotherapy killed his saliva production. He finds it difficult to swallow and can not taste anything ever again. No more red wine, no more chocolate, no more Krispy Kremes. I guess the up side is that if you can not taste it, you will not have cravings for red wine, chocolate and Krispy Kremes.

As for me, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer four days after my gorgeous husband Rob proposed. There I was – 35, first proposal, never been married, excited to get married, to start a family. Then the doctor says, "You have cervical cancer. You may need a hysterectomy."

I felt like I stepped in to the middle of a silent hurricane. There was a roar and a rage that spun my life in a direction I had never anticipated.

I had surgery – an operation called a radical trachelectomy – removal of the cervix. It is a very new procedure, reserved for young women who want to preserve their fertility and whose cancer has not spread. In theory I can still fall pregnant, though not without some careful management.

After surgery I lay on my hospital bed with tubes sticking out everywhere. The surgeon came in, sat down on the bed, and patted my knee. You know it's bad when a surgeon, usually clinical and dry to a fault, sits down and pats your knee. He told me they found cancer in one of the lymph nodes they removed. I was going to need four rounds of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy, for those who have not experienced it, is no picnic. There are all sorts of chemicals they use to poison the cancer cells. My particular form of chemotherapy consisted of a 9am to 5pm experience. I had an hour of fluid dripped through my arm, and then a couple of hours of cysplatin -the drug – then another hour of fluid to help flush it through. Cysplatin, like many other chemotherapy drugs, is so toxic that the nurses put on protective eyewear, enormous rubber gloves, and a mask just to hook it up. And then this drips directly in to the vein.

People often ask me, "What was it like? What did the chemo experience feel like?" I tell them, imagine your worst hangover ever, and nothing you do makes it feel any better. Not drinking, not sleeping, not eating. And this lasts for ten days.

No doubt about it – cancer sucks.

In my mind, the worst bits of cancer are:

1. Being told you have it

2. Waiting for test results

3. The treatment itself

4. After treatment.

Once treatment was over, it was the strangest thing. As I walked through those electric sliding glass doors after my last round of chemo, I felt like I was wandering out in to a giant wilderness. What now? What next?

You do not ever really get an "all clear" after cancer. It is not like appendicitis where you have it out and it is all done. Instead you live and wait between checkups to see if the cancer has returned or not. Each check up is one step further away from the chance of recurrence. But there are no guarantees.

How do you live like this? How do people cope?

Really, you just go on. You live each moment as it happens.

However there are gifts in cancer too, strange as it may seem … Lance Armstrong says he would never regret having cancer for the gifts it gave him, how it helped him to grow as a person. I, too, discovered some unexpected gifts in my cancer journey.

These are the gifts I discovered through my cancer journey:

1. I have never felt so loved. I had so much support from my friends, colleagues, and family. People gave me books, CDs, movies, flowers, brought me soup, chocolate, and plenty of other goodies. I experienced a real tsunami of love. People around the world were praying for me, some I had never met. I felt connected and cherished.

However the gift was not that cancer caused love to flow; rather it was the realisation that this love had been around me all the time but I had been so busy, so focused on my narrow little life, that I did not feel open to it. Like a sledgehammer, cancer cracked open my awareness to giving and receiving an abundance of love. I feel it flow effortlessly in my life now.

2. Compassion. I gained a lot more compassion for people – you just never know what they have been through. My own doctor, the one who diagnosed my cancer, told me that she too had gone through the cancer merry-go-round. She was diagnosed 7 years ago with breast cancer. 3 weeks later her husband was diagnosed with liver cancer. He promptly died, leaving her with four kids to look after while undergoing chemotherapy.

I felt such a deep compassion for this woman who had hitherto just been a busy GP to me. I now treat every encounter with another person with a lot more grace and care. I approach them from a foundation of compassion. This is a much more gentle and peaceful way to engage with others.

Most important of all, I gained compassion for myself. I stopped judging myself so harshly, stopped trying to be perfect. I came to enjoy all the lumps, and bumps, and bits and boobs that before had caused me so much grief. I loved my body, my imperfections, because it was alive – I was alive.

3. In facing death, I learned about life. After round two of chemotherapy I lay on my bed, feeling dreadful, gazing out the window at the trees. I just wanted to hide under the doona, terrified of dying. I just wanted to hug my mummy and daddy.

Instead I started to notice the sunlight on the leaves, the blue of the sky, the rosellas on the grass. It was magic. And I realised that everywhere there was a compulsive and unrelenting push for life.

Miracles were everywhere: the birds looking for a meal, the kangaroos nibbling on grass, spiders in their webs, the miracle of a baby in the womb growing without any help at all – these miracles were happening without any conscious thought from any of us. I realised I was part of that. This unrelenting push for life was part of me too. We are all part of that.

I felt this realisation fill all the cells of my being. I felt peace descend upon me. I was part of this; I am part of this; we are all part of this life. No matter what happens to our bodies or to things around us, it will be OK because we are all part of this enormous surging river of life that is so beautiful and so amazing and so full of miracles.

And that was what cancer gave me – an awareness of the true nature of life itself.

I know there are some of you here tonight who are living with a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment. I know you are terrified. I was too. But whether you have cancer or not, none of us knows what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, or in five years from now. You can choose to live in fear, or you can choose to live in possibility and joy.

All any of us ever have is now, this moment – right here right now. And those moments are magic.

If you take a message away with you tonight, it's not that there is life after cancer, but that there is life. Make sure you live it.

More About Roof Repair And Estimates

Sometimes it takes a sudden snowstorm or roof leaks, for both homeowners and commercial building owners to realize that their roofing system is not at par. But this neglect can run a high bill for roof repair work that is needed. With regular maintenance on residential and commercial roof repair can be minimized ensuring that the home or office is protected at all times.

But how can you achieve it? It is easy to ensure that roof repair is completed on time but before that you need to schedule regular roof inspections, repairing small leaks before they become larger issues and implementing preventive roof maintenance. This will ensure that lifespan of the roofing is enhanced while you are able to save money on the constant repairs needed due to neglect. It also ensures the safety of the workers, cuts heating or cooling bills, improves the safety of the workers or family.

When you talk about commercial roof repair, the popularity of installing metal roofs has grown in the past few years due to the numerous advantages. These are long lasting, versatile and able to withstand extreme temperatures. Most of the metal roofs last for about 50 years and the warranties on roof repair are for 10 years. This is an indication about how long lasting and maintenance-free these roofs are.

However, there can be leaks, vents from where the water seeps in, or major faults such as breakages in the flashing close to the chimney which may require professional assistance to repair. However, it is tricky business and you can never know how much a roof repair job is going to cost you and that is the very reason that you need to estimate the roof repair job before hiring a professional roofing company.

There are numerous considerations while estimating the roof repair job and here are some of the important considerations that you need to understand before you talk to the professional roof repair contractor. If you intend hiring a roofing company that has a team of expert roofers the cost is about USD 100-375 per 10×10 square feet area. Most of the roofing companies calculate the estimate based on the pitch of the roof, roofing material that is going to be used, ease of access to the roof, height of the building, roofing state permits, square foot area of roof repair, city licenses and the cost of labor.

Repair on asphalt shingles is cheaper and they charge anywhere in the range of USD 100- 130 while repair of wooden shingle is expensive. It costs around USD 200-1000 depending upon the number of shingle that need to be removed and new ones installed, removing the debris, cementing the area after the repair is done. Different companies have different charges so you need to ask them for an estimate before hiring them. Shortlist the companies based on the estimates that they have given you but don’t select the cheapest one as either they will use inferior quality products or will have hidden costs which they will divulge after the work has been completed.

Blinds in Interior Design

There are a huge selection of window treatments available to home decorators. Heck, I have a whole blog dedicated to just blinds. Picking the right blinds for your decor requires going through a range of variables. Although decorating is more art than science, there are tried and true pieces of wisdom to keep in mind when making a decision.

First, as with any great endeavor, it is important to know your objective before you set out. What specific function do you want your blinds to have? Should they shut out the light? Increase your home value? Match your carpeting? Keep your neighbors from snooping? Or is it just to impress them with the size of your wood blind slats. Well, we will get into that later. The main variables that blinds come in are slat size, material, and color. Slat design may come into play also but before you get ready to shop, visualize the size, material, and color that will achieve your desired goal.

The size of the slat impacts the pattern of light, view and size of the blind when rolled up. Generally larger slats are preferred if there is no design or size constraint, because they provide a more unobstructed view when open or rolled up.

When it comes to material, I have always been partial to wood blinds. No other blind comes close in terms of decorative ability. Most non-wood blinds are designed to emulate wood blinds. Wood blinds come in a performance class unmatched by artificial materials. The other common materials for blind manufacturing are metal and plastic.

The color of the blinds is where you as a decorator or homeowner really get to go crazy. Blinds come in a vast array of colors straight from the manufacturer, and any quality wood blind can be custom stained or painted. Get a color sample first, but the wrong color is not the end of the world. Blinds can not be re-stained, but they can be repainted.

The style of blind is important too. A good decorator already knows what effect they want from their window covering. There are mini blinds, cellular blinds, vertical blinds, roman blinds, California shutters, but for the average home, nothing beats the classic venetian wood blind. These blinds are easy to install and come in the widest selection for consumers.

By manipulating style, material, size and color, you can create anything from a classy colonial look to a minimalist design. For the average home, warm colored wood shades bring about a welcoming atmosphere.

One choice you have as a decorator is the theme of a room. You can have a unified theme for the whole house from the outside in, or you can have fun and create unique rooms. Remember to keep some kind of theme to unify each living space, otherwise your decorations will not flow. Do not let your hard-thought blind decoration be hidden by a confusing or harsh design. There is no such thing as a non-conservative window covering. The good thing about blinds is, no matter how much you experiment, as long as the design fits it will look great.