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The Best Home Renovation If You're Planning to Sell

It's natural to want to make your home looks its best when you're planning to sell. However, some home improvements will bring a better ROI than others. If you''re looking for the most cost-effective ways to add appeal to your home - and possibly increase your sales price - read on for home improvements that are worth the effort. 


A fresh coat of paint inside and out can instantly transform your home for relatively little cost. Paint effects and faux finishes are also good ways to camouflage cosmetic defects, but try to keep it simple. However, you should never try to use paint to cover serious flaws. You can get a color consultation from an interior designer or professional home stager to find the best colors to positively influence potential buyers in a subtle way. 


You don't need to go all out and add a huge fountain or plan an elaborate outdoor room to use landscaping to your advantage. A green, well-maintained lawn, trimmed shrubbery in a few strategic places and flower borders are nice ways to add curb appeal without going into debt. 

Flooring and Floor Coverings

If your floors are old and slightly damaged or worn, either replace them or install carpeting. Wood floors are big sellers, so if you already have them installed, get a professional to refinish them; studies show that it costs an average of $2,500 to refinish wood floors, and it will yield a 100% ROI. New tile flooring is always a high point in the bathroom or kitchen.

Updated Kitchens and Baths

Unless your kitchen or bath are remnants from the 1960s or they're in extraordinarily bad condition, a full remodel usually isn't necessary. Make small changes, like installing an island and granite countertops in the kitchen or changing your bath facilities for attractive, water-saving features. These fixes cost little, and you'll usually recoup the entire cost on resale. 


You should never add a garage or rooms to your home; the expense will only net maybe 40% of your initial investment. However, major things like a new roof or heating system will return 100% of your cost or more. A swimming pool or Jacuzzi is nice if you already have them installed and they're in good condition, but never install one as a sales incentive.

The key to making a smart investment is not to do one big, costly improvement, but to update specific features in your home for added appeal overall. Builders and real estate professionals are in the best position to show you ways to add value to your home. You can get details now by contacting a local professional in your area to arrange a consultation. Anything you can do to make buyers happy and facilitate a faster sale without overextending yourself or your bank account is a win-win for all.

10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism

Craft activities are fun for everyone, but for children on the autism spectrum, the opportunity to explore color, shape, and sensory experiences can stimulate attention, foster calm, and create loads of fun! Here are 10 activities that teachers and parents love to do with their special needs children.
1. Create a Shredded Flower Bouquet. Who knew shredded paper could be so beautiful? This creative activity involves ripping and shredding paper to create a colorful composition that makes for a great gift or decoration. Kids with special needs will especially love the sensory experience of handling paper and manipulating colors and shapes! Go
2. Underwater I Spy Alphabet Bottle. Sparkly, glittery water is sure to attract curious eyes! This alphabet bottle is fun to make and a great activity to keep your child engaged and focused. The craft helps kids recognize letters in a creative way while enjoying the beautiful shine and sparkle of floating sequins! Go
3. Paint with Ice. Kids love to swirl the melting paint over paper, creating beautiful designs. They'll practice their color recognition and observation skills while observing paint go from a liquid state to a solid state, then back to liquid again!Go
4. Explore the Senses with a Sensory Table. A sensory table is a place designed for squishing, sifting, sorting, digging and pouring! Children will relish the opportunity to get messy, discover, and play freely with engaging their sense of touch, hearing sight. Go
5. Practice Paint Chip Storytelling. Telling a story is like painting a picture, using words instead of paint. In this imaginative activity, your child uses paint chips and words to tell a story! Alter the activity according to the level of your child, and you can spark his imagination and narrative abilities while having a colorful good time! Go
6. Play the Matching Halves Game. This matching activity is a great way to introduce children to the concept of puzzles, and to satisfy many special needs kids who crave order and simplicity. Each craft stick will have only half a shape: find the stick with the missing half and place the sticks side by side to complete each one! Go
7. Sculpt Clay Snowflakes. You don't have to brave the chill to enjoy the beauty of winter. Make sparkly snowflake sculptures and experience winter from the comfort and warmth of your home! Sculpting clay is a great way to boost fine motor skills, and kids with special needs will love the sensory experience of squishing, pulling and kneading as they work. Go
8. Set Up a Smelling Station. With the help of some small containers, rubber bands, scraps of fabric and lots and lots of fragrant ingredients, your child can create a whole collection of smells to tease his nose. Smell is one of the five senses, and kids will love learning about what role it plays while exploring the breathing and relaxation associated with good scents. Go
9. Oobleck Science: Solid or Liquid? Can something be solid and liquid at the same time? Experiment with this classic science activity that introduces kids to the mysteries of states of matter. Children will love the sensory experience of squeezing and splashing that comes with this gooey scientific investigation! Go
10. Make Number Rubbings. Kids love using crayons for just about everything. Put this art streak to good use by introducing them to “rubbings.” They'll work the small muscles in their hands and improve eye-hand coordination. Plus, they'll experiment with different surfaces while practicing shapes and numbers. Go

Explaining Variables and Terms Study Guide

Find practice problems and solutions for these concepts at Explaining Variables and Terms

Practice Problems.

The human mind has never invented a labor-saving machine equal to algebra. —Author Unknown

In this section, you'll learn the language of algebra, how to define variables and terms, and a short review of integers.

Math topics always seem to have scary sounding names: trigonometry, combinatorics, calculus, Euclidean plane geometry —and algebra. What is algebra? Algebra is the representation of quantities and relationships using symbols. More simply, algebra uses letters to hold the place of numbers. That does not sound so bad. Why do we use these letters? Why not just use numbers? Because in some situations, we do not always have all the numbers we need.

Let's say you have 2 apples and you buy 3 more. You now have 5 apples, and we can show that addition by writing the sentence 2 + 3 = 5. All of the values in the sentence are numbers, so it is easy to see how you went from 2 apples to 5 apples.

Now, let's say you have a beaker filled with 134 milliliters of water. After pouring more water into the beaker, you look closely and see that you now have 212 milliliters of water. How much water was added to the beaker? Before you perform any mathematical operation, that quantity of water is unknown.


If we do not know the value of a quantity in a problem, that value is an unknown.

We can write a sentence to show what happened to the volume of water n the beaker even though we don't know how much water was added. A symbol can hold the place of the quantity of water that was added. Although we could use any symbol to represent this quantity, we usually use letters, and the most commonly used letter in algebra is x.

There is no clear reason why x came to be used most often to represent unknowns. RenĂ© Descartes, a French mathematician, was one of the first to use x, y, and z to represent unknown quantities—back in 1637! While many have tried to determine why he used these letters, no one knows for certain.

The beaker had 134 milliliters of water in it when x milliliters were added to it. Read that sentence again. We describe the unknown quantity in the same way we would a real number. When a symbol, such as x, takes the place of a number, it is called a variable. We can perform the same operations on variables that we perform on real numbers. After x milliliters are added to the beaker, the beaker contains 212 milliliters. We can write this addition sentence as 134 + x = 212. Later in this book, we will learn how to solve for the value of x and other variables.

In the sentence 134 + x = 212, 134 and 212 are numbers and x is a variable. Because the variable x holds the place of a number, we can perform the same operations on it that we would perform on a number.

We can add 4 to the variable x by writing x + 4. We can subtract 4 from x by writing x – 4. Multiplication we show a little bit differently. Because the letter x looks like the multiplication symbol (×), we show multiplication by placing the number that multiplies the variable right next to the variable, with no space. To show 4 multiplied by x, we write 4x. There is no operation symbol between 4 and x, and that tells us to multiply 4 and x. Multiplication is sometimes shown by two adjacent sets of parentheses. Another way to show 4 multiplied by x is (4)(x).

Division is most often written as a fraction. x divided by 4 is . This could also be written as or x ÷4, but these notations are less common.
Algebra Vocabulary

A sentence, whether it contains variables or not, is made up of terms. A term is a variable, constant, or product of both, with or without exponents, and is usually separated from another term by addition, subtraction, or an equal sign. While a variable can have different values in different situations, a constant is a term that never changes value. Real numbers are constants. The sentence x + 4 = 5 contains 3 terms: x, 4, and 5.x is a variable, and 4 and 5 are constants.

The sentence 3x – 5 = 11 also contains 3 terms: 3x –5, and 11.3x is a single term, because 3 and x are multiplied, not added or subtracted. In the same way, – = 2 also has only three terms, because is a single term.

The numerical multiplier, or factor, of a term is called a coefficient. In the term 3x, 3 is the coefficient of x, because 3 multiplies x. In the term 9y, the coefficient of y is 9. In multiplication, the order in which one value multiplies another does not matter: 4×5and 5×4 both equal 20. The order in which 3 and x are multiplied does not matter, either, but we typically place the constant in front of the variable. The constant is considered the coefficient, and the variable is considered the base. Because the coefficient is one factor of the term, the base is the other factor. If a variable appears to have no coefficient, then it has a coefficient of 1: 1x = x.


Division can be rewritten as multiplication. x divided by 5 is the same as x multiplied by The coefficient of x in the term is because can be written as

In algebra, the base of a term is often raised to an exponent. An exponent is a constant or variable that tells you how many times a base must be multiplied by itself. Exponents are small numbers (superscripts) that appear above and to the right of a base. The term x2 is equal to x multiplied by x. The term y6 means (y)(y)(y)(y)(y)(y). If a variable appears to have no exponent, then it has an exponent of 1: x1 = x.

Like and Unlike Terms

If two terms have the same base raised to the same exponent, then the two terms are called like terms. For instance, 2a2 and –6a2 are like terms, because both have a base of a with an exponent of 2. Even though the terms have different coefficients, they are still like terms. If two terms have different bases, or identical bases raised to different exponents, then the two terms are unlike terms. 7m and 7n are unlike because they have different bases. 7m4 and 7m5 are also unlike terms. Even though they have the same base, the exponents of the bases are different. In the next lesson, we will see why recognizing terms as like or unlike is so important.

By: LearningExpress Editors - LearningExpress, LLC -

Pets in Tokyo!

Just want to share something about my vacation in Tokyo, Japan before. It was on early of July 2007 when I arrived in Tokyo. I was really amazed on what I see. Tall building, trains, Japanese people, the culture, food, the climate and everything. It was actually my first encounter on the said country and prior that that vacation I've never experience to go to other countries which is one of the very reason why I was amazed of the place.

One scenario that really captures my attention was the fact that most elderly Japanese womens and even mens loves to bring their homed pets while buying foods or just strolling the city. One good thing I love was the fact that they loved to buy toys for cats specially those womens whom I think is really old enough and its the only companion they had at home. Another thing was they loved to go to a pet smart department store where they can buy anything for their pets. Aside from that, they also love to buy a terrarium where they can use it to display at home. That's how they use to live their simple life.

Though it was not the exact scenarios that happened but based on my observations thats the usual thing they do. And you know what? Japanese people are very respectful. If I could have a chance to go back to Tokyo, Japan I'll definitely take the chance and I will always well.

Event Promotional Tips!

Do you have an upcoming event that needs a custom flags design for promotion purposes? Do you need an assistance on promoting your products and services through flags that can be segrated on several locations? Well, if you do then better grab the chance now to browse the web and look for a reliable provider of the said service. Make sure that they can provide you the best package that will stand out among other suppliers.

But for those of you who are in hurry and don't have enouh time of waiting for the automotive flags that will be use on upcoming events I highly recommend you to visit the site of Discount Custom & Speciality Flags 'cause they are the one you been looking for!

They had a huge choices of pennant strings, flagpoles, logos and some other related items which you think would be a great help on your end. So, if you guys needs it badly then better grab the opportunity now and take the difference. All you have to do is visit their site and place your order right away! Rest assures that your ordered item will be delivered right into your door steps or in your desired delivery location.

Educational Program!

Education is the basic foundation of knowledge which plays a crucial role in nation building. It develops enlighthens one's mind and perhaps it is the greatest and noblest contructive force ever set in motion.

There would never be professional's like teachers, doctors, engineers, nurses and all other forms of profession if there were no education simply because education was the driving force ever set in motion. It is the vital elements in our life rather it would also make us more mature and brave enough in facing the realities of life.

Specifically, green fundraising ideas that was being taught at school is just few of the educational ideas that will simply hone the creative thinking of every students for them to think about the environment. Besides, the only beneficiary of green fundraising at school is not just the students alone but as well the teachers, parents, and society at large.

So, for parents out there who encounters environmental fundraising programs at school I highly recommend you to support your children for them to know how crucial our nature is and how to simply respond to needs our enviroment. Take note that without a clean and green society we will all encounter several illnesses that will possibly weaken our immune systems and eventually give us a never ending illnesses.

Parenting Solutions: Growing Up Too Fast

The Problem

Red Flags

Wears or wants attire or gadgets unsuitable for age, hangs around kids or engages in activities inappropriate for internal timetable, is growing up faster than makes good sense or is safe developmentally.

The Change to Parent For

Your child chooses and engages in activities that are developmentally appropriate and emotionally and cognitively suitable for her internal timetable.

Why Change?

One thing's for sure, it certainly is a different world than the one we grew up in, and our kids' lives are on a fast track. It's almost as though they are living in an X-rated world, bombarded by sexually explicit movies, clothing touting "adult-only" messages, sexually charged pop music, mature-rated video games, and provocative, "way before their years" fashions—when they've barely made it out of the G-rating age group. What's more, not only do our kids idolize those age-advanced lifestyles and products, but corporations, manufacturers, and retail stores are developing and marketing products aimed to encourage them to do so.

The problem is that adopting that fast-forward world could also affect our children's well-being. First, it "decompresses" their childhood, so they miss out on activities, rituals, and games that are essential to normal development; second, it exposes them to serious issues that they can't fully comprehend, let alone handle. That's why child experts, the medical profession, and parents alike are concerned that the relentless exposure to adult-type subject matter is so harmful and wrong. A recent Parents magazine poll found that almost 80 percent of moms and dads worry that their kids are growing up too fast and are exposed to "too much and way too soon."74 In a Newsweek poll, 77 percent of adults feel that those oversexed, underdressed celebrities like Britney, Paris, and Lindsay have too much influence on girls and are pushing them to copy a far too advanced lifestyle way too early.75

Although we parents can't put blinders on our kids or change that outside racy world, we sure can put the brakes on what comes into our kids' lives. Here are solutions to help your child develop at a pace geared more appropriately to her chronological age so she won't grow up too fast and can experience those glorious days of childhood that every kids needs and deserves.

Pay Attention to This!

Monitor Your Child's Media Consumption

Our kids are bombarded with sexual imagery and confusing lessons from TV, movies, music lyrics, and newsstand magazines. In fact, each year our kids are exposed to more than fourteen thousand sexual references, innuendoes, and jokes on television alone.76 Seventy-seven percent of prime-time shows on major broadcast networks include sexual material and provocatively attired actors,77 and 10 percent of TV characters who engage in sexual intercourse are teens.78 Research now proves that those sexualized media images do affect our children's childhoods and are pushing them to grow up too fast, too soon.

* In surveys, over a quarter of adolescents admit that televised sexual content affects their behavior and pushes them to act older and grow up faster.79
* The American Academy of Pediatrics found that repeated exposure to sexual content in television, movies, and music increases the likelihood that kids will become sexually active at earlier ages.80
* The American Psychological Association concluded that proliferation of sexualized images of young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is harmful to girls' self-image and their healthy development and increases the likelihood of eating disorders and depression.81

The lesson: know what media your kids are reading, listening to, and watching, and set clear limits.

The Solution

Seven Strategies for Change

1. Stay tuned to what's happening around us. Take a careful look at a few TV programs that your child's peers watch. Catch the latest reality TV show; flip on MTV and notice those grinding dance numbers and provocative outfits. Listen to the latest pop lyrics. Flip through CosmoGirl, Teen Vogue, or Teen People and peruse the mall a little more closely to check out the latest tween fashions. Doing so will help you recognize the pressures today's kids are under and help you decide what limits you want to set for your child. It's unrealistic to say no to everything, so where will you draw the line? Be clear about where you stand so that you can clarify your reasons to your child.

2. Take a crash course in child development. You might have devoured those baby books, but don't overlook learning about your child's current stage of development. Review a few respected sources so you can understand what is age appropriate for your kid. Recommendations include The Preschool Years, by Ellen Galinsky; The Complete and Authoritative Guide to Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12, by the American Academy of Pediatrics; or, for tweens, The Roller-Coaster Years, by Charlene C. Giannetti and Margaret Sagarese. Ask your health care professional for developmental milestone charts for your child's age. Talk to experts—such as teachers, pediatricians, and yes, even grandparents—who usually understand normal childhood development. Your commitment to slowing the accelerated pace of your kid's childhood will be reinforced by understanding how destructive a fast-forward world is to your child's emotional and social development.

3. Let your kid be a kid. According to a University of Michigan study on how kids ages three to twelve spend their time, over the past twenty years there has been a drop of twelve hours a week of free time overall, with unstructured activities like walking or camping falling by 50 percent—while high-pressure structured sports went up by 50 percent.82 Take a serious look at your child's schedule and scan her list of daily activities. Is there any time left for those cherished childhood traditions like play, make-believe, forts, unscheduled time, and sand castles? Don't buy into that modern-day American parenting myth that "push-push-push" is "better-better-better" for your child. There is no proven scientific support of the consumer-driven nonsense that parents should accelerate their kids' performance (from kicking a soccer ball to reading).83 So what's the rush? Make sure that your child has time just to be a kid.

4. Insist on developmentally appropriate material. Let's face it, the culture is pushing our kids to grow up faster, and they do act older than their actual age. Puberty is starting earlier and kids do look more mature. But "looking and acting" like a grown-up doesn't mean your child is developmentally ready to handle that fast-forward world. Here are actions to take:

* Set your rules and expectations based on your child's actual chronological age.
* Tailor your decisions to what is developmentally appropriate to your child's current emotional, cognitive, and physical stage. (Check child development guides.)
* Lay down certain "rites of passage" or ages your child can go to her first sleepover, use the Internet alone, obtain a cell phone, see a PG movie, shave her legs, wear makeup, or pierce her ears so that she has something to look forward to.
* Utilize the suggested age guidelines for games, toys, sports equipment, and books.
* Use the age rating system for video games, movies, CDs, and television shows. Recognize that panels of credentialed child development experts spend hours reviewing each product before providing posted guidelines.
* Lead your child toward age-appropriate hobbies and interests. Think swimming, horseback riding, theatre, soccer, knitting, band, scouting, 4-H, and church groups that focus on healthy outlets that are developmentally suitable.

5. Forbid the "sexy look." These days, fashions aimed at kids are outright provocative and clearly push the limits of age appropriateness. Makeup. Short skirts. Halter tops. Press-on nails. Lip gloss. Thong underwear. See-through blouses. "Comehither look" attire clearly is selling sexualization and luring our kids into a far too early and unhealthy focus on appearance with an R-rated twist. Pick your battles when it comes to fashion, go ahead and allow choices, and don't worry so much about "style," but hold a clear line when it comes to fashion with a sexualized look. Regardless of the onset of puberty, your nine-year-old is still nine. Set your standards to your children's chronological age, not their physical appearance. (See also Clothes and Appearance, p. 350.)

6. Start those "grown-up talks" earlier. Let's face it: kids nowadays are exposed to more grown-up issues at far younger ages. Studies show that drinking, sexual promiscuity, oral sex, depression, eating disorders, stress, peer pressure, puberty, and even acne are all hitting our kids three to four years earlier than when we were growing up. So don't deny your child's fast-forward culture and wait to discuss those "grown-up" subjects you had planned for the teen years. Even if you're not talking about these tougher issues, believe me your child's friends most likely are. Be the one who provides accurate facts that are laced with your moral beliefs and values. Also make sure that your child's doctor is someone your child feels comfortable speaking to. Beware: puberty is striking kids at younger ages, and your child does needs to feel comfortable speaking to someone—if not you—about menstruation or wet dreams.

7. Stay connected. The closer your relationship with your child, the better able she will be to navigate that sometimes raunchy, racy culture; find alternatives to those sexual messages; and realize it's okay to be a kid. That's because your child will seek your guidance and use you as a filter. And you do make a difference: a 2007 MTV/Associated Press poll found that the majority of young people listed their parents as their heroes.85 Find more time for your child to connect with you, her grandparents, and relatives, who can help keep her centered, preserve some ounce of her childhood, and value her for who she really is and not how popular or sexy she looks. Above all, stay connected! A thirteen-year-old typically spends half the amount of time with her parents that she did when she was ten.86

What To Expect By Stages and Ages

Preschooler Kids at this age are most likely to wear what their parents suggest and choose for them. You will see "sexy" clothing aimed at the preschooler set. Watch out for gender-demeaning slogans, such as "Born to Shop," "Little Princess," and "Professional Drama Queen"; though seemingly harmless, these messages can begin a self-fulfilling prophecy; they can stick, especially as others comment about them. ("You're a little beauty queen, eh?") Attraction to particular clothing labels begins, based on what kids' friends like or what is advertised on their favorite television show. Fashions and accessories worn by kids' favorite Barbie or Bratz dolls also begin to influence attitudes.

School Age Six- and seven-year-olds are still more influenced by parents than are kids in the tween years, so use your influence. Marketers start to push "pre-makeup," such as glitters, lip glosses, manicures, and spa-like kits. The elementary school set is now the fastest-growing market for digital media players; 31 percent of kids ages six to ten have some form of music player.87 Puberty signs may begin in girls as young as seven or eight, including pubic or underarm hair and acne.

Tween Marketers of electronics, fashion, accessories, and makeup (among other things) start intense marketing campaigns aimed at tweens. Tweens feel physically and emotionally awkward at the onset of their puberty.
Late-Breaking News

Puberty Is Hitting Kids Earlier

American Academy of Pediatrics: Over a decade ago, Marcia Herman-Giddens,84 a pediatrician and now professor at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health, noticed that many young girls in grades 1 to 5 were showing pubic hair and breast development. In her words, "It seemed like there were too many too young," and she launched a major national study involving 225 clinicians and over seventeen thousand girls to prove her hypothesis. As she reported in her famous paper, published in Pediatrics, she found that our kids are definitely and absolutely growing up faster.

The average age of the onset of menstruation is four years earlier than currently used norms and 15 percent of seven-years-olds and almost half of eight-year-olds are now developing breasts or pubic hair. Comprehensive data are still not in for boys, but studies show that they are reaching their adult heights at younger ages, suggesting that they too are maturing earlier.

By: Michele Borba, Ed.D. - John Wiley & Sons, Inc.