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2 key things to ask before knocking down a wall

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Are you considering knocking down a wall? Whether it’s to modernize your home’s layout or create more space, this isn’t a renovation to be taken lightly. Here are some things to consider before hiring a contractor to demolish a wall.

1. Is the wall load-bearing?
Demolishing a wall that’s a structural part of your home could be disastrous. While it’s possible to replace these walls with a beam or column, you’ll need to consult an engineer.

2. What’s behind the wall?
Even if the wall isn’t load-bearing, there may be components lurking behind the drywall that you can’t see. Pipes, wiring and HVAC systems may need to be moved before the wall can be taken down.

The most important thing to keep in mind if you plan to knock down a wall is that it’s not a job you should attempt on your own. Always hire a professional when making structural changes to your home.

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Back-to-school safety guidelines

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With the school year approaching, it’s a good idea to review key health and safety information with your children. Here’s a brief guideline.

Walking to school
Children should be careful to follow these rules when walking to and from school:

• Remain on the sidewalk or shoulder of the road

• Opt to cross at intersections with a crossing guard
• Use crosswalks
• Look both ways before crossing the street
• Respect traffic lights
• Don’t take detours or shortcuts

Taking the bus to school
Talk to your children about these safety rules for using the school bus:

• Don’t cross the street in front of or behind the bus while it’s moving
• Hold the railing when getting on and off the bus
• Sit down right away
• Wait for the bus to stop before getting up
• Don’t stand or roughhouse on the bus

Health considerations
Here are some health topics and associated advice that families with school-age children should keep in mind:

• Lice. To reduce the risk of getting head lice, children should avoid sharing hats, scarves, hair accessories, brushes, and combs. Kids with long hair should keep it tied in a ponytail or braid.

• Colds and flu. If your child has a fever, cold, or any other contagious illness, keep them home.

• Food safety. Avoid sending your kids to school with food that contains common allergens such as peanuts. In fact, many schools ban these sorts of products, so make sure to find out what the rules are.

• Allergies. If your children have food allergies, make sure they know how to avoid the specific allergens. If necessary, they should carry an epinephrine injector and be familiar with how to use it. Also, be sure to inform the school if your kids have allergies.

Have a safe and healthy school year.

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How to choose the right air conditioner

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If you need to buy a new air conditioning system, you have a number of options. Here are a few tips to help you decide how to best cool your home.

Determine your needs
The appropriate system for your home will largely depend on the type of dwelling you live in. If you have a house, you might want to invest in central air conditioning or a geothermal pump. If you own a unit in a multi-family building, consider installing a wall-mounted system. If you’re a tenant, opt for a portable air conditioner. Regardless of your choice, make sure the system you select adheres to building rules and municipal noise control regulations.

Establish a budget

In addition to calculating the short-term costs of purchasing and installing an air conditioning system, you should consider the associated long-term expenses. This includes the amount for all maintenance tasks and potential repairs. Determine an acceptable price range based on your current financial situation. If you need to make significant renovations to install a central system, look into available financing options.

Evaluate power requirements
The ideal cooling capacity for your air conditioner (measured in British thermal units or BTUs) will depend on the size of your dwelling, the quality of the building’s insulation, and the number of rooms and stories you want to cool. While you want a unit that’s powerful enough to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout your home, an oversized model tends to operate in short bursts and consume excess energy.

Consider location
You should determine in advance where your air conditioner will be installed, especially if you live in an apartment with limited space to accommodate a bulky unit. If you’d prefer to only cool certain rooms throughout the day, a portable model on wheels may be a convenient choice. If your home faces south or a majority of its windows are on the south side, your air conditioning system will need to work harder. However, blinds or thick curtains can help block the sun and thereby reduce your cooling costs.

Once you’ve selected an air conditioner, hire a professional to install it and make sure it works.

Regardless of the type of air conditioning system you need, look for a model with Energy Star certification. This will guarantee that the unit is energy efficient.

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What to do if you have a gap in your CV

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There are many legitimate reasons to have a gap in your CV. But whether it was to recover from an illness, travel the world, or take care of your newborn, recruiters are unlikely to ignore the interlude. However, it won’t necessarily prevent you from getting a job. Here’s how to deal with a gap in your CV.

Be subtle
Avoid justifying an employment gap on your CV. The only reason to call attention to one is if doing so allows you to highlight relevant skills acquired during that time, such as through volunteer work. Remember, you have limited space to outline your qualifications on a CV so pertinent job experience should take priority.

Be honest

Never modify the start and end dates of your employment to eliminate a gap. However, if you were absent from the workforce for just a few months, you can choose to only indicate the years during which you held each position. Preferably, you should draw attention away from any gaps by making sure your CV thoroughly demonstrates your qualifications, skills, and attributes.

Be positive
Eventually, you’ll have to justify why there’s a gap in your CV. Make sure your explanation puts the situation in a good light. Emphasize that it was an opportunity for personal growth and assert that it won’t hinder your ability to carry out future responsibilities.

If you think an absence from the workforce will severely affect your candidacy, you can briefly justify it in a cover letter. Otherwise, wait to discuss it during an interview since it’ll likely be easier to explain in person.

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How to encourage kids to keep learning

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It’s normal for children to be a little rusty when they head back to school. If you’d like to help them get ready beforehand, here are some ideas.

• Get them to read. This can include novels, comic books, magazines, and nonfiction books.

• Do math on the fly. Encourage kids to add, subtract, multiply, and solve other equations throughout the day. They can do this while you prepare dinner, go for a walk or wait in line at the grocery store.

• Create a vacation album. Put together a collection of pictures taken during the summer and get your child to write short descriptions under each one.

• Practice another language. Watch movies or television shows in their second language.

There are many ways to encourage children to keep learning, and even a small amount of time engaged in educational activities can motivate them.

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Beautify your balcony or deck

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If you’d like to give your balcony or deck a makeover, here are some simple upgrades that will spruce up even the smallest of spaces.

Furniture
Purchase outdoor furniture with clean lines, neutral tones, and natural fabrics. Add visual interest with bright-colored cushions and blankets. If you have space, hanging chairs, hammocks and swings are great options.

Lighting

Use electric candles, paper lanterns or string lights to help set the right mood. Opt for multi-colored ones to create a festive vibe or white ones if you want something a little more romantic. Alternatively, install solar LED lights that will brighten up your whole balcony.

Accessories
If you have space, install shelves to display your choice of outdoor decorations. You can also add a touch of color with an outdoor rug. An umbrella or curtains can be included to provide you with shelter from the sun.

Plants
If your balcony/deck has a roof or overhang, use it to display hanging plants. If not, let vines twist around the railings. For a rustic look, consider growing herbs and flowers in wooden crates.

It won’t take much to transform your balcony into an outdoor haven. With a little effort, you can create a beautiful space to enjoy all summer.

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What to expect from your child’s kindergarten orientation

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The start of kindergarten is a big event in a child’s life. To make the transition easier, many schools organize an orientation or visit the school before the year starts. Here’s what you can expect.

For kids
New students typically visit their classrooms and teachers. They’ll get a tour of the school, meet their future classmates, and participate in activities like crafts or storytime. This positive first experience will set them up for success.

For parents

While the little ones have fun, parents will get to meet with the principal and school administrators to receive information about the following:

• Schedules
• Bus service
• Daycare service
• Supply lists

The kindergarten orientation ensures all students get off to a good start. If you have specific questions or concerns about your child, it’s best to schedule a private meeting. Most schools hold orientation in the spring. You’ll be informed of the date when you register your child.

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