Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday: How to Create a Cross out of your fronds (VIDEO)


Today is Palm Sunday for Catholics and Christians world wide. The palms are representative of those crowds in Jerusalem waved when they saw Jesus and his disciples walking towards the temple on his donkey. The day is the start of Holy Week which includes Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Glorious Saturday and Easter Sunday next week. It's the end of the Lenten season and the beginning of ordinary time in the church.

During services palm fronds are handed out. Later the fronds are burned and their ashes are used for the next year's Ash Wednesday.

A neat thing that people like to do with their fronds is contort them into crosses that they keep at their work stations at work, in their kitchens and some use as bookmarks. 

Here is a video sharing how to turn your fronds into a cross.


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Celeb moms at 2015 Nick Teen Choice Awards


The 28th annual Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards went down yesterday, March 28th at The Forum in Inglewood California. 

Several of our past Bellyitch Bumpwatch alums attended with their families including Oscar-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson with her son David Daniel Otunga, Jr.

Angela Jolie was there in a long black Verscae dress with Zahara and Shiloh and won for her role as Maleficent. And Jennifer Lopez showed serious leg in a white Robert Cavalli minidress and Jimmy Choo heels. Garcelle Beauvais was also in the house.
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tax Season: 5 Family Tax-filing strategies to know

Guest Post

Millions of Americans face a challenge in meeting their budgets every month – not just financially, but also in their time budgets, says investment advisor Reid Abedeen.

“Knowledge is power and time is often money, but what if you don’t have the time to empower yourself with knowledge? For many households, that often means losing out on thousands of dollars through tax deductions,” says Abedeen, a partner at Safeguard Investment Advisory Group, LLC (www.safeguardinvestment.com).

“As a family man myself, I understand what it means to work hard to provide the best possible for my wife and children. Had I not worked in the financial sector for almost two decades, I might not have understood how to best troubleshoot my tax return, I sympathize.”

Abedeen offers the following strategies that may be relevant for your family this tax season.

•  Take tax deductions for capital loss. If your capital losses exceed your capital gains, the excess can be deducted on your tax return and used to reduce other income, such as wages, up to an annual limit of $3,000, or $1,500 if you are married filing separately. However, you may deduct capital losses only on investment property, not on property held for personal use.

•  Fund your retirement to the max. You can contribute up to $5,500 to an IRA in tax-year 2014, or $6,500 if you are age 50 or older. Workers in the 25 percent tax bracket who contributed $5,500 to an IRA would save $1,375 on their 2014 tax bills. You’ll want to check your eligibility and understand the deadline for the 2014 deduction. If you make a deposit between Jan. 1 and April 15, you need to tell the financial institution which year the contribution is for.

•  Advisory fees are tax-deductible.  Don’t feel like spending money to save and make money? There’s a workaround. Before closing the door on the possibility, inquire with a financial expert. Most are happy to give a free initial consultation, and you don’t have to be a millionaire to make it worth your while.

•  Gift assets to children. You don’t even have to file a gift tax return on an asset that’s valued less than $12,000, which is not taxable. If the fair market value of the gifted asset is more than $12,000 per person per year, but less than $1 million, there is the requirement of filing a gift tax return, but you won’t be taxed. The gift still is not income taxable to the recipient.  

•  Deduct a home-based office when used for your employer. If space in your home is used exclusively and regularly for a trade, you can count that as a deductible. Calculate the square footage of your home office and divide the area of your office by the area of your house. If the percentage is 14 percent, for example, that represents the percentage of your total home expenses that can be allocated toward the home office deduction. For further questions, consult a professional.

“You’ll want to be very vigilant regarding these details of these deductions,” Abedeen says. “For any questions, I seriously recommend consulting a professional.”



Reid Abedeen is a partner at Safeguard Investment Advisory Group, LLC (www.safeguardinvestment.com). As an investment advisor, Abedeen has helped retirees for nearly two decades with issues such as insurance, long-term care planning, financial services, asset protection and many other areas.
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Photographer captures Swedish dads on paternity leave


When Swedish photographer Johan B√§vman took time off of work in product development at Sandvick to care for his children, he didn't to search for resources and information for dads in his situation, but couldn't find much.  It was a shock considering that families in there are required to be given 480 days of parental leave and 60 days of that leave must be used by dads or forfeited. 

To fill that void, he decided to then that he decided to chronicle the stories of other dads in his shoes through imagery. It would benefit the 12% of those eligible for the leave in Sweden actually take it. 

The result of his photography project is a very heartwarming collection of powerful images of dads being nurturing, thorough and hands-on in their upbringing. It's great to see that the children in the photographs are not overly coiffed or cleaned up and their homes are messy and what a typical lived in abode would look like. 

It's perfectly imperfect and doesn't look staged at all.

Check out the photos at BuzzFeed.
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Bump Watch: Jaime, Leah, Jessica and Naya


In this installment of our bumpwatch roundup, we've got a wide variety of recent and a little bit dated celebrity-related pregnancy news:

Jaime King bared a topless bump photo before it got deleted (Entertainment Tonight)

Leah Jenner and hubby, Kim Kardashian's step brother, are expecting (Instagram)

Jessica Biel is so preggers her baby belly was peeking under her shirt (Popsugar)

Naya Rivera was bumpilicious in bump-hugging mini dress at the airport. (Perez Hilton)
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20 Things Successful Parents Do Differently


We sometimes see those smart, precocious, child prodigies in media stories and marvel at how articulate, astute, expressive and confident they are. We wonder if they were naturally like that or if if their parents and support network made them that way. Is it nature or nurture? Most likely it is a combination of both. Character traits are inane and it is a fact that some children just have more drive and will than others and they want to succeed and do their best. It's not to say that less-motivated kids cannot excel, it just takes a lot more to get them there. Here is where active parenting comes into play. 

In recent years, we've seen a movement against the "helicopter parent" who hovers over their child or children and has his or her hands in all aspects of their children's lives to make sure their kids are successful. The criticism is that such parents are hurting their children by not allowing them to fail or to learn things like work ethic on their own. There is value in trying and failing or just not getting the first place prize. All of this is true, however, it is a mistake to tell parents they should not be active, involved and engaged in their children's lives.

A recent study said parents create narcissistic children by telling their child they are special too much. I find that hard to believe because, if anything, there are too many children who do not have high self-esteem or self-love. I cannot agree we should be showing our children less love. 

It's all about balance. 

My husband's aunt worked as a housekeeper for wealthy families for over a decade. Before then, she was a successful and award-winning early education teacher in her native Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies. Below is a combination of things she informed us the parents she's worked with do, and things that I and other successful parents of smart, athletic, talented kids do. This list is not presented to make other parents feel inferior if they have not or are not doing these things but merely to edify and instruct.

Successful parents....

1. They get prenatal treatment when they discover they are pregnant and read everything they can get their hands on about fetal development and pregnancy so they are informed. They put their baby's needs ahead of their own, including foregoing hours spent on social media and doing other mindless activities, to instead learn about what's going on inside their body so they are best prepared when their child is born.


2. They read to their child in the womb. They are aware of studies and reports that say fetuses that are exposed to the read language have better development in utero and in early infancy. 

3. They read to their children in early infancy because they know that hearing the oral language as spoken and in natural speech is different and babies learn that early.

4. They ask their children to read signs and other things when they are out. Doing this keeps them sharp and aware of learning around them and the constant opportunities to get academic enrichment even while doing boring and mundane tasks or running errands. 

5. They don't snap when a child asks a question or shut them down. They have the patience to answer calmly and encourage follow up. You never want to shut down the natural curiosity of a child or a child who wants to learn and know more. That's a good thing that should be encouraged not discouraged by telling a kid to hush or shut up and be quiet. 



6. They take their children everywhere. It may seem like a burden to some to lug out a car seat, pack a baby back, haul the stroller in the car and go through all the endless steps involved for an outing. However, it is worth it. Kids that are exposed to the world, different people and even in germy places are more astute and develop interpersonal skills with others. If you can grab a carrier and when baby is big enough, have him face the world. Germs are not your enemy. They help build up an immunity and make your kid less sick.

7. They avoid negative words and certainly don't call their kids bad. Here are a few other choice words to use when you're aggravated and want to scream about how "bad" they are: challenging, difficult, disobedient, stubborn, naughty. These descriptors are more specific than just the general word, "bad" which is  the opposite of "good." No child needs to hear that they are "not good" no matter their behavior. 

8. They ask them specific questions. How was your day and how was school will just get "good" as as a response. Instead ask what was the hardest part of the day today or what assignment did you enjoy doing the most today or who did you sit with at lunch. And then listen to the answer. Get your head and mind off of your smart phone and focus on your kid. 

9. They enroll their children in arts, gymnastics, play, music and other enrichment classes so they build a well-rounded child. They know that the benefits of extracurricular activity spill into the classroom and that it's important for kids to enjoy all aspects of life: culture and fun. 

10. They make sure they know what reports, assignments, exams and quizzes their child has coming up. Help them study, if possible, or make sure they are putting in ample prep time. And if they are incapable of helping, they get a tutor and find the free tutor hour that some city libraries offer. 


11. They don't use corporal punishment like spanking as the first way of discipline. They are creative and find other things like taking away a favorite game or past time, TV or video games, put kids in corners, make them do push ups and sit ups, and find other alternatives. 

12. They limit their children's screen times because the mindless playing nonstop takes away from their children going outside to play and explore. All that has been written about the negative impact of excessive video-game playing are out there. 

13. They play board games because that teaches patience, strategy and skill. 

14. They do crafts with their children because it encourages parental bonding and teaches patience and how to complete a project from start to finish.

15. They encourage their child to play house or with action figures because it enhances their imagination and prepares them for logic and composition later in their schooling.



16. They encourage their children to play with Legos because building activities helps grow patience, skill, logic and develops spatial reasoning which will be great for math class later. 

17. They have high expectations and let their children know constantly they will not settle for or accept mediocrity. When a parent has a non-motivated child who is not a self-starter or doesn't have the self-drive to want to excel, their child will never do better unless they are made to know they have to try. If you accept all C's and D's and do not express disappointment, neither take the steps to get a tutor, become engage with the assignments or reach out to your children's teachers, they will continue to bring home C's and D's. 

18. They get their children into team sports or martial arts because not only is the extra movement outside of gym class or recess important for fighting childhood obesity, but these activities also build confidence and keep kids off the streets, and away from drugs and other deviant behavior and circles of influence. 

19. They don't compare their children to other children, especially in front of their kids because they know all children have special talents, circumstances and levels of drive that differ. They focus on drawing out whatever their child is best at and complimenting them on all they love about their child, rather than focus on the negative.

20. They shower their children with affirmation in the form of hugs and kisses and positive advice or words simply letting them know how happy they are to have their children in their lives. Confident children who love themselves and have high self-esteem are fed positive vibes from home so they know they don't need to go elsewhere for approval. To borrow a popular cliche: Home is where the heart is.

There you have it. If you are doing these things, kudos to you,  and if not, consider taking heed to those you like and abandon what you don't. There is more than one way to raise successful, conscientious, civic-minded, and well-rounded children. 

Godpspeed parents!
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Friday, March 27, 2015

Zooey Deschanel dishes on Jimmy Kimmel of pregnancy diet limitations


New Girl star and mom-to-be Zooey Deschanel was on Jimmy Kimmel last night and she dished about her frustrations with her pregnancy diet limitations. 

“You can’t eat so many things when you’re pregnant!” the actress said. “If I was vegan, I’d just be like…ohhh.”

Was that a reference to her big sis Emily Deschanel who is also pregnant and whose pregnancy is being interwoven into this season of her long-running hit show Bones.
Who knows. The younger of the Deschanel sisters then she went down a laundry list of her fave foods she's missing out on.
“You can’t have sushi. You can’t have cheese that tastes good. You can have a little bit [of coffee], but I would have, like, four cups a day. And now I can have a half cup, which is a joke! It’s a total joke!”
Ha!
Good luck mama! Good thing it's only 49 weeks of inconvenience. 
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WIN One Month of NEWBEAUTY's curated Beauty Box TestTube ($29.95)


The product sample curation box trend is a big hit! In fact, there have been several stories written in the media about the success of various types of monthly subscription boxes cursing everything from snacks to coffee to shavers to kitchen gadgets. 

NewBeauty

Many take off from the curated beauty box success.   

I was sent a sample of New Beauty Test Tube to check out. First off, the creators weren't lying when they gave it that name. 



The assortment of hair products, facial washes, lip plumper arrived cushioned in soft tissue and nestled inside a tube. 

Very neat!

Members get a new tube 6 times annually filled with deluxe and full-sized products, not just sample sizes, and a subscription to NewBeauty quarterly magazine. A video link provided gives subscribers more info about how to apply or use the products inside the box. 

Each tube costs $29.95 but the products included are valued beyond that. 

They get established and well-known brands too. My tube contained some John Frieda products, for example. There was a lip liner that is valued at $14, an aloe facial cleanser worth $16 and a daily day cream valued at $19.99, along with several other products. 

My only concern with beauty samplers is they sometimes do not contain the right colors or mix of products that women from various ethnic varieties can use. Nude & flesh-tainted colors can be a problem and hair products too.  However, but if you get a generous sample of generic products, it would be a good investment worth checking out. 



Definitely worth considering. To give you a taste, Test Tube will send one lucky Bellyitch reader a free one-month tube for themselves. Enter here. Contest open for a Week until midnight Saturday. Winner must reside in the US and will be selected next Saturday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway






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Molly Sims welcomes daughter, Scarlett May


Congratulations to Model and best-selling author Molly Sims who welcomed her second child, a daughter yesterday.

Sims and her husband Scott Stuber named their new edition, Scarlett May Stuber.  She announced the news on her instagram account. 

The new arrival joins the couple's son 2-year old son Brooks. 



So sweet and beautiful! Congrats!!!


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Thursday, March 26, 2015

US Supreme Court ruled against UPS in pregnancy discrimination case yesterday


In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has handed a victory to Peggy Young and pregnant workers in Young v. United Parcel Service. Now it’s back to the Fourth Circuit to hash out the case.

“The Court has put employers on notice: pregnancy is not a reason to discriminate. The Court said that if you accommodate most non-pregnant workers who need it but not most pregnant workers who need it, you may be found guilty of violating the Pregnancy Discrimination Act,” said Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center in a statement in response to the ruling.

Young, whose boss at UPS told her to take unpaid leave when she asked for a break from heavy lifting on her job because of her pregnancy, sued UPS for discrimination. A district court ruled in favor of UPS on a summary judgment motion, and the Fourth Circuit affirmed, saying that UPS had created a “pregnancy-blind policy.”

Young had asked for “light duty” and pointed out that UPS gave “light duty” to other non-pregnant employees, including those injured on the job and employees with a disability as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Court asks: “Why, when the employer accommodated so many, could it not accommodate pregnant women as well?”

That’s a question a lot of pregnant women have been asking lately. The EEOC has identified accommodating pregnancy-related limitations under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act as a national enforcement priority through 2016.

continue reading

Also....

The Harvard Business Review published a pretty good analysis and treatment of what the law means for pregnant workers. Here is a key take away for what employers can make sure that they’re on the right side of the law by taking the following steps:

  • Ensure that light duty policies that apply to some categories of employees, such as those with on-the-job injuries, apply also to pregnant women.
  • Take a good look at other workplace policies to ensure compliance with both the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act’s mandates to provide accommodations to pregnant women. Employers in cities and states that have pregnancy accommodation laws will need to ensure compliance with those laws’ often more expansive requirements as well. Employers should review at least the following types of policies to ensure pregnant women are not disfavored: accommodation, leave, scheduling, and attendance. The easiest solution may be to simply amend existing policies and procedures to include accommodations on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions (including lactation).
  • Establish procedures for determining what accommodations are necessary and appropriate.
  • Train supervisors about how to recognize and respond to pregnant employees’ need for accommodation.
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Robert Pattinson's girlfriend F.K.A. Twigs answers pregnancy rumor in latest video


Twilight actor Robert Pattinson's girlfriend, alternative singer F.K.A. Twigs, answered all the speculation and rumors that she is pregnant with the release of a very creative and visually provocative music video for her latest song. 

In the beginning of the video, released on Tuesday, March 24, for "Glass and Patron", the singer whose real name is Tahliah Debrett Barnett is seen 9 months pregnant and delivering her own baby which turns out to be reams of colorful fabric that she sings inside like a baby inside a womb.

So...it turns out the couple let the rumor mill grind away in order to direct attention to this latest project! Aaah! Clever!

Indeed, it is quite an eclectic trip, marked by her whispering vocals and beat pumping beats, but beware of watching it at work and there is some strong language.

 WATCH!


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10 ideas for sending a hot lunch to school with the kids



If your child craves more substantial food during the cooler months, a cold-cut sandwich may not cut it for his lunchtime meal. Because so many schools are making the peanut-free switch, the classic PB&J may not even be an option for your young student. While cafeteria hot lunch is an option, truth be told, there’s no telling what’s in the food. Generally, school lunches are prepared with pre-packaged foods that are laden with chemicals, additives and preservatives.  Packing a nice, home-cooked hot lunch will ensure proper nourishment for your child and you’ll know exactly what’s in your child’s food.

  1. Stews, Soups or Chili – Prepare the thermos while you heat up your soup, stew or chili. You could even set up a slow cooker the night before and spoon hot chili or stew directly into the thermos. Pack some crackers and shredded cheese in the lunchbox to top off hot soup or chili.
  2. Nachos –This is an option for using up leftovers from taco night. Make a cheese dip to heat up in the morning. Use 2:1 parts cheese to mild salsa for an easy nacho cheese recipe, then put hot cheese dip in a prepped thermos. You could even put heated up leftover taco meat and whole beans on top of the cheese in the thermos; these ingredients are perfect for pouring over a plate of crispy tortilla chips. A small baggy or container of diced tomatoes, olives and onions to sprinkle on top of the nachos add the final touch. .
  3. Cheeseburger or Hot Dog – Hot dogs will fit nicely into a tall thermos, however a hamburger patty may not. Consider making small patties for miniature buns to make little sliders. You can prepare the hamburger bun ahead of time with a little lettuce, tomato and a slice of cheese. Ever wonder what to do with all those fast food condiments that are left over? Toss them in the lunch box to spread onto their hot dog or hamburger.
  4. Sloppy Joes – Whether it’s the mess implied by the name or the savory sauce, there’s just something kids love about sloppy joes. Spoon prepared sloppy joe meat into a thermos, then pack buns and your child’s favorite sides for a hot lunch treat.
  5. Baked Potato – First thing when you wake up in the morning, wrap a handful of potatoes in tin foil and throw them in the oven to bake. By the time you’re out of the shower or have the kids dressed and ready, the potatoes should be perfectly baked on the inside. Open the tin foil, slice the spud down the middle, put a pat of butter on the inside and seal the tin foil back up. Place the potato (with the foil still on) inside the thermos.  Send them off with all the fixing’s on the side. Cheese, sour cream, bacon bits, chives or diced onion are great extras for kids to sprinkle on their potato at lunch time.
  6. Tacos – Put hot taco meat in the thermos and build a couple of soft tacos separately. When it’s time for lunch, your child can simply open the soft shells and spoon the meat into the tortilla, then wrap it all up and eat. Chips and salsa on the side would make a perfect as a side dish.
  7. Spaghetti, Lasagna or Mac and Cheese – Whichever classic pasta dish you choose to send off with your kid, a little parmesan to sprinkle over the top is a nice touch.
  8. Breakfast for Lunch – A veggie omelet and a couple of sausage links would tuck perfectly into a wide-mouth thermos. Hash browns might end up soggy, so consider skipping that part. A cup of fruit would go well with this lunch.
  9. Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes – Put hot mashed potatoes and gravy in the bottom of the cooler and place a small slice of hot meat loaf on top. At lunch time pull the meat out and serve on a plate or in the lid, and eat the mashed potatoes and pour the gravy right out of the thermos.
  10. Veggie Stir-fry – Rice will soak up all the liquid if it is put in a thermos with other food that is juicy or watery. If your stir-fry mixture is on the drier side, go ahead and put them in the same thermos.  Otherwise, put stir-fried veggies and meat into the thermos and put rice in another container while it is hot. The rice won’t be piping hot at lunch time, but it will be warm enough to eat and enjoy.



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