Saturday, June 18, 2016

3 Ways to Save Money Shopping Online

There’s no reason to pay more for the privilege of shopping in your pajama pants while supervising the kids. Shopping online is a convenience. But, it shouldn’t come at a higher price than driving to a brick-and-mortar retailer. Here are three ways you can get the same great deals you see in the stores and save money shopping online.

1. Search for Your Products
It’s enticing to click on the featured items — especially when the words “On Sale” or “Low Price” accompany the link. But, be careful about slipping the front-page specials into your virtual shopping cart.

Look out for “things like endcaps and so-called “everyday low prices” that look like sales but really aren’t,” explained Alan Henry, a blogger for Lifehacker. The blatant bargains may not be as cheap as other similar items on the website. Search for the product. Don’t let the website take you to what it thinks you want to buy. You know those endcaps in the grocery store that boast a sale on ketchup, but later you find a more inexpensive option in the condiments section? Yep, online retailers use that same alluring sales technique.

2. Codes and Coupons
Much like shopping in-store, websites also offer a way to get deep discounts. Instead of snipping coupons out of the newspaper, search for online discount codes to save money shopping online. These magic combinations of numbers and letters translate into a set dollar amount or percentage off of your entire purchase. Some codes offer free shipping, a bonus gift or even a buy-one, get-one option.

Just don’t fall into an online coupon-code trap. You should never have to pay for a coupon code or give out personal details to view a code, advises Elaine Roxane Winter with the Better Business Bureau. Simply use a search engine to look up the name of product followed by the words “coupon code”, and voila! You’re on your way to online savings.

3. Know the Sales
Before going on a shopping spree, do your homework. Sign-up for email lists with your favorite online retailers. Know the current promotions.

“I would tell anyone who wants to save a few bucks shopping online to make sure they read their store’s circular before they order online, and make sure they get the same discounts on their online orders as they would if they were shopping in the store,” recommends Henry.

Most online retailers have a 1-800 customer service number or live chat to assist during online purchases. It doesn’t hurt to ask for the sales you’ve seen in printed ads or e-mails when they aren’t visible on the website. No company wants to miss out on a sale. A $10 savings on a new pair of jeans makes the clothing affordable for you, and barely hits the company’s bottom line — all while satisfying a customer. You have nothing to lose by asking for the deals offered in-store.

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3 Ways to Protect Information Stored on Removable Media

Removable media security is a hot topic and has been for quite some time. Government organizations such as the VA, Military, and its contractors have lost removable media in the past resulting in not only national secrets being compromised but also our personal information. Removable media consists of thumb drives, external hard drives, Compact Disks (CD), and Digital Versatile Disks (DVD). These types of media are able to store immense amounts of information. To put things into perspective, one 4 Gigabyte thumb drive and hold approximately 12 million peoples personal information.

That’s a lot of info! Thumb drives are one of the more popular devices used today because they are small and cheap; however, they are also one of the most lost and stolen devices out there. The loss or theft of a thumb drive can be detrimental and can lead to other problems such as Identity Theft. Even worse, you might have confidential company information or Personal Identifiable Information (PII) on it which could result in lawsuits or worse….criminal charges. Nobody wants to go to jail because they unintentionally lost critical information. There is a plethora of ways to protect the information stored on removable media. The 5 ways shown below will better protect your information and reduce the risk of lawsuits and criminal charges:

1. Encrypt information stored on all forms of removable media. By encrypting data stored on removable media, you mitigate the chance of data becoming compromised in the event the media is lost or stolen. There is a plethora of free and commercial encryption software available on the market. One of the best commercial ones is PGP.

2. Shred all CDs & DVDs. Removable media that is just thrown away is subject to retrieval and may ultimately lead to identity theft. Thumb drives that no longer work should be destroyed. Just because it doesn’t work anymore doesn’t mean the data stored on it is gone.

3. You can purchase thumb drives today that require a fingerprint to access the data stored on them. Biometrics is becoming very popular with not only businesses but also regular Joes.

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3 Ways to Produce an Independent Film on No Budget

After you have a screenplay and camera in hand it’s now time to make an independent movie but what do you do when you’re making an independent film on NO BUDGET! Producing an independent film is not an easy task and it can be 100 times more difficult than producing a film that has a budget but there are many things that you (as a producer) can do to make sure your film finishes principal photography and post production. Having been a filmmaker of films both on no budget and those with a budget, the one major thing that I’ve discovered is that if you take the time beforehand during preproduction to assess how much you want to spend (or not spend) then you will not have any problems when you actually get into principal photography or post production. In this article I will focus on how I produced several films with no budget.

1. Get to know other filmmakers.

Other filmmakers will be instrumental to getting your no budget screenplay produced. When you network with other filmmakers you can find people with camera equipment (who know how to use their equipment) and you can find people with lighting and sound equipment. These technical aspects make up 60% of what you’ll need to get your screenplay produced. I don’t own any of my own camera equipment but on my feature “House of Secrets” I hooked up with a young cameraman by the name of Vernon Mui who happened to have both the camera equipment (including dolly, tripod, and other accessories) and the sound equipment, so I now at least had the means from which to make a film. On the Rose M. Barron short film “Blood Raven” I provided the camera equipment (which I had also borrowed from Mui) to bring that no budget film to life. It’s all about who you know and if you network with other filmmakers then you will get to know a lot of people who can be an asset to your production.

2. Get your locations for free.

You can’t shoot a film if you don’t have the locations to do so. After you’ve produced a screenplay with limited location requirements (which adds to the feasibility of shooting your film on no budget) you now must go out there find locations that you can’t afford to spend money to film at. For minimalist films that require a simple bedroom or house this is an easy task as we all know people who have houses to use (it’s convincing them to let a film crew come in and take over that is the hard part), but what about the films that seem to be just a bit bigger than life and need huge locations? What do you do then? On the Southlan-Films production of “Creatures of the Night” we were able to use a castle-like house in Northern, Georgia as our main location for the WWII period film. We managed this task by filming around the home owners’ schedule and giving them a percentage (or points) in the final sale of the film. On my film “House of Secrets” which required a house on the lake I gave the home owner a similar deal and an “Associate Producer” credit. People like to have their names in a real film and as a filmmaker working with limited funds I don’t mind the compensation to people who help out on the production.

You have to remember that your locations can make or break your film. Having good locations is a requirement to being able to sell the film to a distributor because if the locations aren’t good then your film simply looks like a “no budget” film which is not the appearance that you want. You can bring in an art director to fix this problem, which brings me to the next element of this article.

3. Get cast and crew that you don’t have to pay upfront (but will take a back end deal).

An independent film is only as good as the people in front of and behind the camera so make sure to get the best people possible – for the budget, of course. The great thing about low budget/no budget film making is that many of your cast and crew will be working for experience and screen credit and will trade upfront payment for deferred payment and points when the film is sold to a distributor. All of the cast and crew on my feature “House of Secrets” were on deferred payment as was the cast for the Southlan-Films production “Bad Land” (and more recently the company’s film “And All Through the House”). Many of these films utilize very talented and well known Georgia based actors and crew members who were willing to work on the particular film for screen credit and points in the film’s profits (once it finds a distributor).

With these three elements in place any producer can make a film for no budget. Although I don’t always suggest this (because sometimes spending a little extra money on props, makeup and costumes can add a little more to the aesthetic of the film), there is no denying that it can be done as long as you are willing to do the work during preproduction in order to maximize all the elements to making a good film. I’ve produced several no budget films and worked on many more trading services and equipment with other filmmakers and trading favors as needed to simply get the film made and as long as you’re willing to do that than anything is possible.

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3 Ways to Let Go of Self-Judgment

Very often the judgments that you place upon yourselves are the very worst. You can be your worst critic, your worst enemy. Even rock star Pink sings about it in one of her popular songs, saying “I’m a hazard to myself — Don’t let me get me — I’m my own worst enemy.” Have you ever felt like that? Does it seem at times like you can do nothing right? You are filled with self-blame, self-judgment, and anger. It is all a vicious cycle that tends to repeat itself — robbing us of joy, self-esteem, and fulfillment.

Your actions are based on your thoughts. If you are filled with nothing but self-recrimination, how can your actions be positive and life affirming? It is so important to let go of those self-judgments. It is important to realize that you are never going to reach perfection while on this earth. You will reach and reach for it, and stumble and fall along the way. That’s life. The important thing to remember is that each time you fall down is an opportunity to grow and learn. It’s even okay to fail at the same thing over and over. For some people, it takes longer to learn the lesson found within the fall. That’s okay. Be forgiving of yourself. Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of God, worthy of joy and happiness.

Lee has lived in Charlotte ever since she got married 12 years ago. Her marriage meant leaving her family in order to be with her husband, and her family lives 1000 miles away. Lee fell into a depression that she had a difficult time dealing with. She began to emotionally overeat, and in the process gained 100 pounds. This resulted in a lot of self-loathing, shame, and judgment that only made Lee eat more. It was only when Lee went to a therapist for her problem that she learned the power of self-forgiveness. She was finally able to let go of her shame and self-judgment. This enabled her to begin living her life again. She eventually lost the weight, made a new circle of friends, and had children with her husband.

Here are 3 exercises that will help you tap into your inner strength, allowing you to let go of the judgments that you place upon yourself.

-Learn the art of deep breathing. It has a way of cleansing your body and mind of any negativity. Take 10 minutes a day to sit quietly and just breathe deeply. As you breathe in and out, say this mantra: “In with tranquility — out with self-judgment”.

-Learn to laugh at yourself. Life is filled with circumstances that are so ironic and funny. So often the things you beat yourself up for are nothing but opportunities for you to laugh at yourself. (These can also make for some great stories later on).

-Don’t let the judgment of others poison your view of yourself. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. It’s okay if someone does not approve of you or your decisions. As long as you are happy with it, that is all that matters. If someone has a view of you that comes off as being judgmental, it is time to wrap yourself in a protective shield. It can be easy for the thoughts and opinions of others to poison your mind. Be strong and vigilant in looking out for this.

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3 Writing Prompts for Historical Fiction

Writing historical fiction comes with difficulties of its own. Not only do you have to remember that you are writing fiction, you must incorporate authentic facts of the time period that you are writing about. Below are some prompts to help you get started writing your historical novel:

After the War

Write about the day after one of the big wars, i.e. Civil War, Revolutionary War, World War I etc. Write from the viewpoint of someone ordinary, a solider, a mercenary, or someone else who has been affected by this war. Concentrate on the details of the damage the war caused.

Rewriting History

Take a relevant moment of history and change the ending of it. Change the end of the Civil War, make it so the South won or make it so we never gained independence from Great Britain. Write from a present day point of view. How are things different? What are the people like? Describe this new world in vivid detail.

A Moment In Time

Go to your local library and find an old article, dating 1950s or earlier. Find a topic in the newspaper that interests you. Make sure it isn’t a big event in history; maybe it’s an ad for a brand new dishwasher, or an article on a small town fair. Write about this seemingly obscure event in history.

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3 Wintery Haiku

Cold breezes remind
Hot cocoa and fires to be
Ever near to us.

Snowflakes fall ’round us,
Children play and make snowmen,
Snow angels emerge.

Drink Christmas latte,
Visit with friends, family
Celebrate the birth of Christ.

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3 Ways to Update Old Switch Plates for Cheap

Looking for cheap ways to update switch plate covers? Here are 3 fun and easy ways to update switch plate covers for little money and get a great new look. Each of these ways to update old switch plate covers should cost you less than $1 per plastic light switch cover.

Update Old Switch Plates for Cheap #1: Make it Metal

Stainless still and hammered metals are a popular look in homes today. You can easily make your outdated switch plates and update them to have the sleek metal look in only a few minutes.

To get state you want to take the switch plates off the wall. You will also want to clean them. Once they are dry spray all of the switch plates with a plastic primer. Once this dries spray on a coat of spray on hammered metal paint or even stainless steel color silver spray paint.

Let these dry and you can reinstall them.

Update Old Switch Plates for Cheap #2: Cover Them

To get started with this idea you will need a fun photo, whimsical fabric, or any piece of paper you would like. Lay your switch plate out on some scrap paper and trace it. Cut this out and use as a pattern or template.

Trace the template onto your new fabric or paper. Cut this out. Now, use decoupage medium to attach this to the light cover. Paint on with a paint brush and let this dry then you are finished! This one is super easy and perfect for kids as well!

Have fun with family photos doing this idea. You can have the kids use photos of themselves for the light switch in their bedroom!

Update Old Switch Plates for Cheap #3: Texture

Finally, texture. Texture is one of the coolest ways to update yoru light switch covers. You can use bonding medium from the local car and auto body shop. Stick this on the light cover using a big paint brush. Dab it on by stabbing the paint brush into the bonding agent and then dabbing g onto the plastic light cover.

Let the car boding agent dry and then paint out a wished. This medium is the agent car and auto body shops use to patch holes in cars. Dry wall mud will not work here. The dry wall mud will simply peel off the plastic light covers and seems to not stick very well.

You can even sand the car bonding material, which is really cool.

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3 Ways to Single and Loving It

So, how’s your love life going? Asks your friend who can’t stop gabbing about her oh-so-adorning boyfriend, your happily married sister and of course – your mother. It’s the sympathetic tone that tells you that it’s not just a question. You are also being offered condolences for suffering from dire loneliness. While it’s true we all have a desire to be connected, being solo has its benefits. Whether you are recently single and are going through a roller coaster of emotions – or have been single for awhile and want to reconnect with yourself, the tips below will help you find the joy in singledom.

1. Relax – Statically speaking, the chances of being single for the rest of your life are slim. You will find someone. If you start to panic and feel like you have to meet your soul mate right away – you may be blinded by red flags and be unable to make the best choice for yourself.

2. Get back to you – Relationships are full of compromise. Being single gives you the opportunity to be selfish with what makes you happy. Make a list of all of the things you have always wanted to see and do no matter how big or small. Each month revisit the list and choose one thing to go after.

3. Relish your relationships – Make the most out of the nights out with your friends and time with your family. When you are in a relationship the time you spend alone with your friends and family decreases. Relish this time when you have the people you love all to yourself.

Being single will not last forever. If you start to feel like you are missing out, try and remind yourself of the the unique opportunities you have right now to do what makes you happy with the people you love. The next time your wedding planning coworker asks how your love life is going, feel free to tell her about all of your new-found options. Chances are, she’s already compromising her silk paisley sheets for flannel.

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30 Best Gift Ideas for Wife or Girlfriend

It can be extremely challenging to think of gift ideas for your wife or girlfriend. Here is a detailed guide that should help narrow down your options based on her personality. The gift ideas are divided into 8 categories: books, jewelry and accessories, clothes, shoes, electronics, items for the home, flowers, and travel.

1) BOOKS – Books on travel, food, history, art, and business can make perfect gift ideas for wives or girlfriends. Check out this article on the best books to give as gifts. For example, if she likes to travel or dreams of traveling one day, consider this beautifully photographed book for a gift: Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips.

If she’s a romantic, there’s a great book called In Our Words, a charming little booklet where you answer questions to chronicle the memorable and fun moments of your relationship (how you met, funny stories, your quirks, etc). If you want a longer version for married couples, try Your Life Together in 150 Questions. The reason this is a perfect gift idea is because all you have to do is buy it and give it to your wife or girlfriend. She’ll love the idea of answering these fun questions, and she’ll be the one one who fills it out. No work for you!

2) PICK A CARTOON MAGNET THAT REPRESENTS YOU – Unlike those weird websites where you submit a real photo and they turn it into a cartoon, these are a bunch of cute, pre-made cartoons on magnets or mugs that represent different aspects of your lives, from vacations to careers. These have always made people smile when I have given them as gifts because they immediately see themselves in the cartoon, and it’s customized with their names. The magnets are only $5 bucks and are a great surprise to go with flowers or other gifts on this list.

3) JEWELRY AND ACCESSORIES – Jewelry is always a great gift idea for your wife or girlfriend. The difficult part is picking an appropriate item from the enormous selection of jewelry available in stores and online. You need to make two observations before you decide what to buy: 1) what kind of jewelry she usually wears (observe over the course of a few days), and 2) what is in her jewelry box (go look inside it).

Your observations will probably fall into one of the following categories. It is safer to buy a gift you know she already likes than to go out on a limb and buy something totally different.

a) SILVER – Necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings that are made of some form of silver but do not contain gemstones like diamonds or rubies. These are typically worn by younger women and are great gift for women for every day wear because they are usually lightweight and not too flashy.

b) GOLD – Like the silver jewelry above, these are necklaces, bracelets, etc that are made of yellow gold (looks gold-colored) or white gold (looks silver-colored) that do not contain gemstones. Often women who have sensitive ears can only wear earrings made of yellow gold or white gold, but not silver, so keep that in mind. These are also typically worn by younger women as every day wear rather than for special occasions.

c) GEMSTONES (excluding diamonds) – This is where things start getting expensive. This category includes necklaces, rings, earrings, etc that contain a gemstone such as a ruby, sapphire, emerald, jade, turquoise, etc. Prices vary depending on the size and quality of the stone. These tend to be more appropriate gift ideas for fiances or spouses since you’ll have to spend more money to get a decent-sized stone.

d) DIAMONDS – Because diamonds can range so much in quality (and therefore price), here is an interesting tool on Amazon called Create Your Own Ring that lets you customize and price the type of diamond ring you are looking for.

e) PEARLS – Pearls are a classic gemstone that can also range widely in quality and price. Pearls are commonly worn by both younger and older women for a look of sophistication that is different from that of diamonds. If you are going to buy pearls as a gift, use the same rule as diamonds: This is not the time to be cheap. Buy higher quality stones or don’t get them at all.

If you see a lot of silver necklaces in her jewelry box, it is likely that she likes the color and simplicity of jewelry that she can wear every day, and you’d be safer buying her a new silver necklace than taking a risk on a turquoise ring or a gold locket. If you see a lot of big, bold, colorful rings, you’d be safer buying her a bold new ring than going for a simple gold necklace. If she likes to wear dangling diamond or sapphire earrings every time you go out to an evening event, keep your gift consistent with that style.

4) PERFUME
Sephora Scent Sampler – If you know she likes perfume, but you don’t know what scent to buy for an anniversary gift, try this gift pack and let her decide which she likes best. She will love being able to try a different scent every day.

5) ELECTRONICS

a) Music and CDs – Gift ideas for your wife or girlfriend include a new CD, a box set of classic CDs, or a personalized mixed CD.

b) TV or Movie DVD set – Get individual DVDS or the entire collection of DVDs from a favorite TV series or movie trilogy. Keep in mind if she has a favorite actor or actress. Can’t think of a good DVD to get? Check out this list of the top TV shows on DVD, or browse a list of bestselling films.

c) iPod Accesories – Assuming she already has an iPod, the most useful accessories right now are car transmitters for your iPod or docking stations with speakers. If she likes to run or jog, the iPod armband can be handy too.

d) External Hard Drive/ Portable Hard Drive – Anyone who has a lot of music, photos, or movies on their computer and does not have an external hard drive or other method of backup could probably use one. These devices are very affordable and convenient, so they are a very practical gift idea.

e) Amazon Kindle – This slim and sheek portable electronic reading device has become a wildly popular gift idea among avid readers.

6) FLOWERS – If you are looking for a gift idea besides the usual bouquet of roses, why not consider a beautiful plant like an orchid that will last for years instead of a week? If your wife or girlfriend likes to cook, there are also indoor herb kits that can be grown on the kitchen window sill. Foodies will love using fresh basil in that tomato basil pasta or fresh parsley in that seafood linguine. Growing your own herbs is much cheaper than buying fresh herbs at the grocery store, too.

For more romantic gift ideas like chocolate roses, perfume, and jewelry, check out
this article.

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3 YouTube Video Performances of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus

The Hallelujah Chorus of Handel’s Messiah is performed by various orchestras and choirs, especially during the Christmas season. It was originally composed by George Frideric Handel in 1741 and was first performed in 1742.

A couple of my Facebook friends recently posted two YouTube videos of performances of Handel’s Hallelujah chorus. Listening to this beautiful piece of music usually gives me chills. Watching these performances of the Hallelujah Chorus brought out even more emotions. In addition to chills, these videos made smile, laugh, and brought tears to my eyes. After viewing them, I wanted to share them. They are non traditional performances and are extremely enjoyable. I also wanted to share a third YouTube video because it is a more traditional performance of the Hallelujah Chorus. Below are descriptions of the three performances and links to them.

Hallelujah Chorus Performance #1
The first performance of the Hallelujah Chorus features a choir that surprised shoppers in the Seaway Mall in Welland, Ontario. The choir was interspersed throughout the food court. The performance took place on November 13, 2010. It has already received over 25,000,000 hits on YouTube. It is heartwarming to watch the reactions of the shoppers as they view this very special performance. Here is the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXh7JR9oKVE

Hallelujah Chorus Performance #2
The second performance features a high school choir. The students are all dressed as silent monks. Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus plays while the choir gives an amazing and somewhat humorous performance without singing a single word. It was posted on YouTube in December 2008. The performance has received over 5,000,000 hits. Here is the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCFCeJTEzNU

Hallelujah Chorus Performance #3
The final video is a more traditional performance of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. It is a beautiful live performance from Andre Rieu’s “Life From Radio City Music Hall” in New York City. It was posted on YouTube in February 2009 and has received over 700,000 hits. Here is the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76RrdwElnTU

I hope you enjoy these three YouTube videos of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

To read more from this author,click here.

Sources:
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http://www.youtube.com/

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3 Year Baby

Most babies are born 9 months after that first twinkle of their daddy’s eye. Some are born early. Some are dreamed of and prayed about long before the deed had been done. This baby is just such a one.

Over 2 years ago I (the husband in this marriage) began feeling like it was time to have another kid. “We have two already”, was the reply my wife gave. She was content with what we had. So I decided to sit on the feeling for a bit.

It never went away. Some days it was easy to deal with. Like a subtle reminder or maybe just a slight twinge of desire. Other days it was more like a full blown addiction. Yet it was constant in it’s companionship. So much that I began praying, Lord if this isn’t from You, please take this desire away. I worried about my own sanity. But that feeling never left.

So I fought the urge. I buried it under work. Shoved it under exercise. Tried to hide it in video games. I got no relief, but I was at least in decent physical shape!

So I began to pray, Lord if this is from You, then send me a sign. First sign I prayed for was a bassinet. Thanksgiving of that year, our resale shop put one in it’s window. They hadn’t done that before. Ever. In fact I had even been in there asking if they ever got them. No not to often came the reply, but if I get one I will call you. Not content I prayed, Lord send Susie a strong desire to have one. December, she got a strong desire. Still not wanting to make a mistake I asked well how about showing Susie a sign.

I must digress at this point. My wife was and is very ambivalent about having more kids. She fears what her father will say, what her friends may think, how to afford it, how to manage the time, and so on. She was scared.

So mid December were out having sushi with some friends. The baby subject comes up. The wife of our friend tells my wife “if you really want one have one, for you not for anyone else”. Meanwhile I’m in the back still praying, Lord send her a sign. We needed to stop by our local Best Buy for something and having just polished off a bunch of coke and sushi we had to potty. When Susie comes out she tells me the following. “When I was in the bathroom I looked at their changing table”. A thing to note at this point is that our youngsters where with a sitter and she had no need to look at a changing table. But on the changing table someone had taken a magic marker and drawn an outline of a baby. Written across the top it said “If your looking for a sign from God this is it.” I was floored. This was it. An unshakable non-coincidental sign from God. At least I thought so; she wasn’t so convinced.

So we waited. January we were driving around in Houston after visiting her parents. The subject comes up again. She said I’m still not convinced God wants us to have more kids. So I casually laugh and say Lord if You want us to have more kids show us a billboard with a picture of a baby on it. Would you believe there were none. All the way I looked. I started to get bummed. Then about a week later Susie’s watching this cop show. One of those real life detective stories. The camera is focused in on one of the detectives who’s talking about the crime. Then it pans over. It stops and focuses on a huge billboard with a baby on it. It stays there for a while then pans back to the detective.

Some time later Susie tells me we have no place for a baby, where are we going to put them and our the boys we have. I had no clue. Several days later a lady called and asked if I wanted a set of bunk beds. I said sure and told her I would come get them later on that week. I got busy and forgot. A storm system came through and out of the blue this lady calls and asks if I still want the bunk beds. I told her yes, but I couldn’t come get them for a while because I was busy. Then she asks are you busy right now? I told her no but I didn’t have a truck to come get them. She brought them to me and helped me unload them in the rain, then she thanked me for taking them. I really wondered about this.

About this time Susie said “well if God wants us to have more kids then He is going to have to give us a minivan”. Our car started acting up and we were driving around in Beaumont. We had been looking at minivans but didn’t see anything we liked. We checked a couple of dealer lots. Then we came across a dealership and they had a van that was perfect. It had a dvd system and everything else that she was looking for. We traded in our car and off we went.

Susie was still not convinced. So we waited. And I almost gave up, I became disappointed and depressed, I questioned myself “had I missed God again”? So I did my best to bury my feelings. I told other people I didn’t want more kids. I told Susie I didn’t want more kids, and I told myself the same thing.

Time passed. I started saving money to “fix-it” so that I wouldn’t have to stress about all this stuff again. As the months went by I never could get the money set aside for it. I only needed 700 but things kept coming up that I needed that money for.

Fast forward to last December. Susie’s grandma died and I got a little careless about the cut off dates (we NFP). We had a big shock about 2 or 3 days before her period was due she. I was worried that about how careless I had been so she took a pregnancy test and it came back positive. The tests stayed positive for 2 days and then turned negative. This experience kind of jarred both of us.

I had a dream one night that scared me. In the dream my dearest Susie was dying and I was putting blankets on her to keep her warm. I was trying to keep her alive. I thought maybe God was trying to tell me something from this dream so I took it to my pastor. He didn’t tell me what it meant, he just asked me what I thought it meant. My mind was thinking that Susie was trying to get rid of something in her life that God wanted to go away and I was keeping it alive. I started examining my life to see if there was anything that I was doing but I couldn’t put my finger on any one specific thing.

Several days later we went out to eat at our local Mexican restaurant. The dream was still on my mind and I asked him if the Lord had talked to him about it. I really wanted to know, even if it meant giving up things that I enjoyed. Me and my wife both had different ideas what it could mean.

After I asked my pastor again, he leaned back in his chair a little bit. He looked at me and said “so you have no idea what this dream means?” “No sir”, I answered ” I can’t think of any specific thing that it might be”. My heart pounded, I was nervous, I couldn’t understand why I felt this way, but instead of being afraid I was excited. I couldn’t tell what Susie was feeling or thinking. She looked like she really nervous too. He looked over at Susie and asked what she thought. She spoke up “it’s about having a baby isn’t it.”

My mind flipped over. I was stunned, shocked, I wasn’t even thinking that. A baby wasn’t on my list about what that dream meant. Brother Baker nodded and said “I had a vision a while back”. “I saw Susie in church on the front pew holding a baby in a pink blanket. Now I’m not saying she’s going to have a girl or anything I’m just saying it looks like she should keep your motherhood spirit alive. That’s what your dream means.”

I was still trying to figure out how this dream meant that and now Bro Baker is telling me that he had a vision of Susie with a baby. I was floored and then incredibly giddy. I was trying to make heads or tails of it all. We finished dinner that night and then went home. That night we discussed when we might start trying. Susie said I think maybe we should quit nfp for a month and just see what happens. Susie told me that the next church service one of the ministers was up talking and he looked around and asked the question “will you be obedient?” she said he turned his head looked her way and repeated “well will you?” She said if this is what God wants then I want to be obedient. My poor Susie wanted to have more kids but was full of fear. Fear of how to take care of all us, how would it affect our kids, could we afford another one and so on. She just needed a really healthy dose of reassurance that He was on board with this. We proceeded ahead and then began the familiar two week wait.

During the two week wait one of our church brothers took us to visit a church in Jasper. The pastor got up and started talking about what had happened with his second child. He felt the Lord had said he was going to have a son. Their ultrasounds were inconclusive. But he just knew that the Lord had told Him He was having a son, so he went out and bought camo everything for the nursery. His daughter was born a few weeks later. He was crushed. He told us that it took him a long time to get over it. When he got to a place where he was over it somewhat he felt like the Lord said “I said you were having a son, I didn’t say when”. Him and His wife later found that they were pregnant. This time the ultrasounds were very clear. They had a son. We had a similar experience that we had gone through with our last pregnancy and God used him to deal with some lingering issues about that.

As a side note, one evening I heard a voice speak in my mind “Her name is Olivia.” Previously I would run off and buy pink baby stuff and say I heard God. Especially after what brother Baker saw. What I do see is 2 years evidence that God was interested in us adding on. What isn’t so clear is whether or not He has picked out a daughter for us. I don’t have a window in Heaven to see what He makes decisions about. Time will tell what He has done.

Tags:3 Year Baby

3 Weekend Getaway Ideas for Seniors

There are many places for seniors to go for a weekend getaway. I recommend these following three locations: Washington D.C., Orlando, Florida, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Washington D.C. has a lot of history in the city. Every American citizen should visit our nation’s capital at least once in their lifetime. Orlando is home to Walt Disney’s theme parks, and there are nice flea markets to attend. Restaurants are numerous with great reviews. Myrtle Beach has a little something for everyone. You name an activity, and you will most likely be able to find it there. Boredom is not in this city’s vocabulary.

For all three locations, there are prices for plane tickets from the Dayton area to the destination as well as car rental and hotel packages. All prices were found on expedia.com. There are also some restaurants mentioned, and information for these restaurants are from yelp.com.Washington DC

One place of interest is Washington D.C. Washington D.C. is our nation’s capital, and every American should visit this place at least one time in their life. There are packages in which you could leave Dayton, Ohio for $443. You would fly via AirTran Airways. You would receive an economy car from Thrifty, and you would stay at Garden Inn located in Laurel. Other packages are listed for $448 and $449.

Washington, D.C. is home to the Smithsonian Institute, the Capitol, and the Lincoln Memorial among many other educational attractions. The Smithsonian Institute is the world’s largest complex and research organization. It is composed of 19 museums, 9 research centers, and the National Zoo (Smithsonian Institute). The US Capitol has been the seat for Congress for two centuries. Perhaps a senior could take their grandchildren with them if they wish. These are only a few of the things anyone could enjoy on their visit to Washington D.C.(“Washington DC Travel”).

There are plenty of restaurants to pick from. Rasika has nice reviews, and yelp.com ratings give this restaurant 4.5 out of 5. This place has a full alcohol bar available, and on nearly every review, the customers have loved the food. They are located on D Street Northwest. The menu features Pakistan and Indian cuisine. Harmony Café serves Chinese and vegetarian food on their menu. Although very economical, they hold a 4 out of 5 star rating on yelp.com. This is an ideal place for lunch or dinner, and a full alcohol bar is available as well.Orlando, Florida

A place that would be perfect for any senior would be Orlando, Florida. Orlando’s location is very warm, and Orlando receives very little, if any, snow during the winter. There are many attractions waiting for any senior citizen. Orlando is home to the Walt Disney theme parks as well as a huge selection of restaurants.

According to Expedia.com, V there are current packages (as of March 12) in which the price for a flight, hotel, and rental car is $428 per person who is leaving the Dayton Area in Ohio. This package is the most economical followed by packages totaling $429 per person and up. With the $428 package a senior can enjoy lodging at the Quality Inn North located in Altamonte Springs. The flight is with United and Continental Airlines. Budget is the supplier of the economy car located in the Airport at Orlando upon arrival.

A few restaurants of interest are Texas de Brazil, Jack’s Place Restaurant, and California Grill. Texas de Brazil has an exclusive 60 item gourmet seafood bar, and they serve beef, pork, lamb, sausage, and chicken. This provides for nearly anyone’s taste. This restaurant is located at the Rosen Plaza Hotel on International Drive in Orlando. Jack’s Place Restaurant has a nice selection of prime steaks and fresh seafood along with some appetizers and desserts. The California Grill is located at Disney’s Contemporary Resort at Lake Buena Vista. Although high in price, this restaurant offers a full bar, wheelchair access, and a nice place to view the fireworks for free. The reviews on this restaurant are excellent; they have a 4.5 star rating out of 5 on yelp.com. One review stated this place was “Probably one of the most romantic restaurants at Disney World.” Any senior couple could create positive sparks by visiting this place.

Any senior will not be suffering from boredom when they visit Orlando. There is always something for everyone. There are flea markets that have a professional setup with diverse merchants and more selections on clothing, gifts, and souvenirs than anyone can imagine. Orlando Farmer’s Market has great reviews on yelp.com. This flea market is dog friendly so long as the animal is on a leash for those who travel with their pets, and it offers a nice selection of goods, foods, and even a beer garden. It seems like a nice place to spend some time. Central Florida Fairgrounds has a little bit of everything, and one review stated you can come there for an amateur radio convention.

Those visiting Orlando may wish to visit the Walt Disney theme parks. Tickets may be purchased for two days at $132, but the standard tickets will only allow you to enter one theme park per day, but you may enter the same park multiple times the same day. For $45 more per ticker, you can purchase the park hopper option which allows you to enter multiple parks in the same day. There are four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios, and Animal Kingdom (“Disney Ticket Prices”). All are great to visit with many different attractions.Myrtle Beach

The final place of interest I recommend for a weekend getaway for any senior citizen is Myrtle Beach, located in South Carolina. There is something for everyone here, no matter who you are or what your lifestyle is.

There are travel packages available on expedia.com priced at $685, $691, $692, and more per person. The package for $685 per person starts with a flight leaving Dayton, Ohio via US Airways. Then an economy car is picked up at Hertz. Lodging is accommodated at the Virginian Motel located in Myrtle Beach.

There are numerous restaurants in this city, it is difficult to choose which ones to include in this section. The Sun City Café located on Main Street has some excellent reviews. Yelp.com has a 5 out of 5 star rating for this place. It is moderately priced, has a full alcohol bar, and has outdoor seating. They have a Mexican style menu, and in every review, the customers enjoyed the cooking. Compliments to their chef! Cheeseburgers in Paradise is located on North King’s Highway, and the restaurant features a cheeseburger menu. The customer reviews are great, and this place has a 4 out of 5 star rating on yelp.com. A weekend getaway is not complete without a good pizza place. Capriccio Restaurant and Pizzeria has a casual environment with wheelchair access as well as a beer and wine bar. The reviews state this place has excellent pizza. No matter who you are or where you choose to dine, there is an option for anyone on nearly any budget.

There are numerous attractions for visitors. Myrtle Beach has a little bit of everything happening in their city. You can attend the Carolina Opry which has won every major South Carolina tourism award, and every year the Carolina Opry is voted the Best Show in the Myrle Beach Sun News (“Myrtle Beach Attractions”). Or perhaps you may want to step back in time and attend Medieval Times located on Fantasy Way . Tickets are priced at $48.95 for adults, and if the grandchildren come, their tickets are only $29.95 if they are age 12 or under. There are options for marinas, golf, tennis, tours, and even a zoo.

No matter which of these locations you choose to visit, there will be something new and exciting waiting for you upon arrival. Whether you choose to visit our nation’s capital, the home of the Walt Disney theme parks, or Myrtle Beach, you will not suffer from boredom. There is something for everyone, no matter who they are. Any senior will return home refreshed and ready to return to their home and families. Why not pamper yourself with a well-deserved weekend getaway?

Sources

“Disney Ticket Prices.” Miami Beach 411 – Official Miami Travel Web Site. Web. 12 Mar. 2010. .

“Myrtle Beach Attractions.” Discover Myrtle Beach – Tourist and Visitor Guide. Web. 13 Mar. 2010. .

Smithsonian Institution. Web. 13 Mar. 2010. .

“Top 20 Orlando Restaurants in Orlando, Florida by Orlandoescape.com.” Top 20 Orlando Florida Hotels. Web. 12 Mar. 2010. .

“Washington DC Travel – Top 10 Things to See and Do in Washington, DC.” Senior Living – Older Adult Lifestyle Advice & Information. Web. 11 Mar. 2010. .

“Washington Flights and Travel Guide.” Cheap Flights, Airline Tickets, Airfare & Travel Deals. Web. 11 Mar. 2010. .

• All restaurant reviews are from yelp.com.

• All travel packages are from expedia.com

Tags:3 Weekend Getaway Ideas for Seniors

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