If you have an uncle who drinks too much, a cousin who’s recently lost a spouse or a sibling who always makes you lose your temper, it’s important to prepare yourself so that you’ll be ready to defuse the situation. There’s no miracle cure for family drama, but with a little preparation and a lot of deep breaths, you’ll be able to get through Christmas dinner. Here are some scenarios you may encounter.
If one of your holiday guests drinks too much, focus on making sure they stay safe. Cut off their access to alcohol and give them plenty of water. Watch them closely for the rest of the evening, and above all, don’t let them drive. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on anyone who you know struggles to set limits for themselves.
Depression and bereavement
Whether it’s due to politics, childhood resentments or conflicting temperaments, there are some people who just can’t seem to get along. Try to keep bickering relatives apart and the conversation light. If you find yourself getting upset because of a family member, stay calm and count to 10 before saying anything. Step outside or go to the restroom if you need a moment to regain your cool.
Half of older Americans have nothing saved for retirement, study says
Even though the number of people with nothing saved for retirement is grim, it’s better than it was about 12 years ago.
Of those 55 and older, 48 percent have nothing put away in a 401(k)-type contribution plan or an IRA, according to the Government Accountability Office report released in March 2019.
That is better than 52 percent who had nothing saved in 2013.
Of those that have nothing saved, 29 percent had neither a pension or any other financial assets.
The GAO reported that Social Security provides most of the income for about half of households age 65 and older.
As an example: The average Social Security retirement benefit in 2017 was $1,360 per month, or about $16,000 per year. But if a person who has worked for at least 40 years in a medium paying job would probably receive just under $2,000 per month in Social Security.
That income is rarely enough to live on and Social Security was not intended to be a single source of retirement income.
The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that 41 percent of households headed by someone age 35 to 64 will probably run out of money in retirement. But that number is down 1.7 percentage points since 2014. So, in other words, more people are getting the message that they must save for retirement.
The benefits of growing native plants
Cultivating native plants is an important part of preserving your region’s wildlife and ecological system. Imported plants were popular for many years, but ecologically conscious gardeners are increasingly opting to grow native plants instead.
To be considered native, a plant must be indigenous to the area. In North America, any plant that was here before Europeans arrived is considered to be native. They have evolved alongside local wildlife, and are uniquely able to support the birds, mammals and insects that live here.
Because they’re suited to the local climate, indigenous plants often require much less care than flowers, shrubs and trees that come from other parts of the world. This means that you’ll spend less time watering and fertilizing and more time enjoying your plants. They also don’t require the use of pesticides, which makes them better for the environment.
Having a native garden is far from boring. Plants indigenous to your area come in all sizes, shapes and colors. From tiny groundcover to the tallest trees, you have many options to beautify your yard. As a bonus, your new plants will also encourage visits from local birds and butterflies.
Planting a native garden requires some research. To find out which plants are indigenous to your area turn to gardening clubs, the public library or the professionals at your local gardening center.
Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is indigenous to North America. It’s fragrant flowers attract pollinators.
The advantages of gardening with raised beds
Do you want a garden but have poor soil? Then gardening with raised beds is likely the best solution.
Raised beds are garden plots raised several inches or more off the ground and enclosed on all sides by a frame made of wood or rock. You simply fill your box with rich soil then start planting the desired fruits, veggies, herbs, flowers and plants.
Raised beds are different from planters because they have open rather than closed bottoms. Since raised beds are designed this way, they provide better drainage. Plus, the roots can extend into the ground and seek available nutrients.
Having a raised garden bed has a number of other advantages, notably:
• It provides a strong barrier against weeds and pests
• Its soil doesn’t compact or erode away in the case of heavy rain
• It allows you to plant earlier in the season, since soil that’s above ground is warmer and drains better
Lastly, gardening with raised beds is a great option for people with limited mobility or back problems. If the bed is high enough, you can tend to the garden without bending over.
Make your family garden eco-friendly
Gardens aren’t just about petunias, they can also help animals and encourage native plants.
This year when you are planning the family garden patch, you can make a sustainable wildlife garden.
Animals, birds, bees, and butterflies need food, water, cover and a place to rear young. Your garden can be a place where they thrive.
First, plant at least three native flowering plants. Some typical choices, according to nwf.org: Buffalo grass, Prairie Dropseed, Black-eyed Susan, and Common Ninebark.
Install a water feature. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Wet rocks are good for butterflies. Hummingbirds like to take showers in a gentle mist. And all birds need a drink in the summer.
Put up nesting boxes. The sparrows will move in quickly, but you might one day be surprised to find nesting bluebirds, too.
To encourage butterflies, especially monarchs, find a place for nectar plants and milkweed. Milkweed has a bad reputation because it becomes pretty shabby looking by late summer. But it has some things going for it. In late spring and early summer, milkweed delights with a delicious fragrance as the big pink flower clusters bloom. Even when it is looking shabby, that’s an important time for butterflies who use it as a host plant.
Take the long-view of your garden site. Trees are essential for a good wildlife area. Even a small yard can host a dwarf evergreen or deciduous tree.
Making the most of your small entryway
If you have a small entranceway, you probably struggle to keep it organized without making it feel cluttered. Here are some tips to maximize the space.
• Wall hooks. Hang your coats, bags and hats in style with an assortment of hooks along the wall. Go for a retro feel with big dots arranged at different heights, or opt for a more traditional style with a neat line of hooks or pegs.
• Bookshelves. Shelving units can do more than just hold books. Put one in your entryway to store shoes, bags and anything else you want.
• Storage bench. This piece does double duty: it gives you a place to stash your outdoor gear and somewhere to sit while you put on your shoes.
• Console table. If you need a place to toss your keys and mail when you come in, a high but slim console table is a great choice. Place decorative boxes underneath to hide things you want to keep handy.
• Floating shelves. A shelf placed high above your hooks, storage bench or console is a great place to put baskets or boxes to hold things you don’t regularly use.
By being smart about how you design your space, you’ll make your entryway functional, organized and stylish.
Ideas on sibling rivalry and how to handle it
The kids are fighting and their rivalry is about to drive mom and dad crazy.
Name-calling, arguing, or physically fighting — sibling rivalry can take many forms and escalate quickly, according to the Center for Parenting Education.
House rules are an essential starting point, even though the kids will ignore them. Some examples: words only in a dispute and boundaries for personal possessions and spaces.
Once the rules are in place, walk older children through the stages of conflict resolution: each child expresses their point of view and listens to the other. Then, they generate possible solutions, and decide on one together.
Use a ‘green light to red light’ guideline to decide when to intervene.
Usual bickering or name-calling signifies a green light and parents should stay out of it.
An orange light means that there is a potential of play fighting turning real. Parents should intervene to tone down the emotions.
If physical or emotional harm is about to or has already occurred, this is a red light and demands that the parent intervene immediately, review the rules, and impose consequences.