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How to involve your kids in back-to-school preparations

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Preparing for the school year can cause a fair amount of tension and upheaval for kids. A great way to mitigate this stress is to involve them in the process of getting ready. Here’s how to include them.

Buying and labeling school supplies
Bring your kids along with you when you go shopping for school supplies. Let them choose some of the items and ask for help with labeling them. Going out to buy school supplies could become a fun activity that your child looks forward to every year.

Preparing backpacks and lunchboxes

Allowing your children to pack their own bags and lunchboxes is a great way to make them feel like they’re in charge. This is likely to calm their worries and reduce the number of unknowns they have to get used to. However, it’s a good idea to check that they don’t forget anything essential.

Planning the weekly routine
Let your kids have a say in the planning of your family’s weekly schedule. For instance, ask them where in the house they’d like to do their homework and study.

To ensure a smooth transition between the summer holidays and the return to school, start the new routine a few days before classes begin, especially with regards to bedtime.

Involving your child in the necessary back-to-school preparations is a great way to transform a stressful time into a fun experience that’ll make them feel more independent.

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Small home? Maximize your living space!

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Is your home feeling cramped? Before you consider an addition, here are some ways you can maximize the space you have.

Repurpose space
Many people have parts of their home that are underused. Consider turning the attic into a guest room, a storage space into an office or a closet into a reading nook for the kids.

Design vertically
Use vertical space to free up more room. A loft bed in a kid’s bedroom provides space for a desk underneath. And shelving units can hold lots of items without taking up a ton of floorspace. You can even install a shelf above the bathroom door to store toilet paper and cleaning supplies.

Head outdoors
An outdoor living room allows you to gain extra square footage without sacrificing indoor space. You may not be able to use it year-round, but you’ll undoubtedly appreciate it in warmer months. Install a firepit or outdoor heaters so you can keep using it once the weather gets colder.

If you live in a small home, it’s also important to think carefully about what you own. By purging what you don’t use, you’ll free up extra room.

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4 financial questions to ask before tying the knot

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Financial conversations aren’t very romantic, but they are important. Here are four questions about money to ask before getting married.

1. What is your current financial situation?
Perform a thorough assessment of your combined finances laying out all assets and debts. This is also a good opportunity to check your respective credit reports so you know where things stand going in.

2. What are your goals?
Define your short- and long-term goals. Depending on whether you want to travel, start a family or go back to school, you’ll need to organize your finances differently. It’s important that you and your partner are on the same page about what your goals are and how you’ll achieve them.

3. How will you organize your banking?
Determine which accounts you’ll want to merge and which ones you’ll want to keep separate. You could, for instance, use a joint account for shared expenses but maintain separate accounts for personal expenditures.

4. How will you split assets if you divorce?
While you may not want to think about it, having a plan now means that you won’t need to try to come up with one later on if things end badly. Have a frank discussion about it before the wedding.

Being clear about your financial priorities as a couple will ensure your marital union starts off on the right foot. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to consult a financial planner.

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Finally, some time to travel

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Your retirement is fast approaching and with it the opportunity to travel—at last! What a great project, especially as traveling during your retirement years has lots of advantages. Be careful, however, to stay within your limits, as well as your budget. After all, you want to be able to make the most of this opportunity for as long as possible.

Leave when you want
Now you can go away whenever you want, which allows you to take advantage of last minute deals or take part in events that you’ve always dreamed of, such as the Rio carnival or Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to see the Monaco Grand Prix or tennis at Wimbledon.

Take your time
Since there’s no limit to the duration of your vacations now, you can take the time to do everything you want. Traveling no longer has to be an exhausting marathon, a whirlwind of visits where you cram in as much as possible in a short amount of time. In other words, travel doesn’t have to be synonymous with exhaustion anymore.

Travel your way
Not only do you have time to travel, you also have time to plan your own trip. You can now put together the trip of your dreams, a journey that will be tailor-made to meet your best expectations.

So what to do? Will you soak up some sun in southern climes, explore Europe, or enjoy a total change of scene in Asia? Will you discover some African cultures, take a Mediterranean cruise, or visit Italy’s most famous museums? Whatever your destination, you’ll now have the time to admire the world’s great monuments, pedal along the most beautiful bike paths, and see all the new and ancient wonders of the world.

When you retire, you can take the trip of your dreams at your own pace.

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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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The right dog breed for your lifestyle: 5 factors to consider

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Are you adopting a dog and wondering which breed is best? Here are some factors to think about when making your choice.

1. Temperament. Every dog is an individual with its own personality, but generalizations can be made about the various breeds. Some are known to be patient and docile, which is ideal for young families. Others, however, can be stubborn and require an experienced owner with a strong hand.

2. Time. All dogs require attention and at least a couple of walks every day. If you don’t have the time to devote to your pooch, you may want to think twice.

3. Size. Do you want a tiny pet that can cuddle up on your lap? Or would you prefer a big dog that can handle some roughhousing? Be careful to not equate size with energy level, however. Some big breeds are happy to lounge around all day while some small ones are very active.

4. Energy level. Do you want a couch potato to relax with or a pooch that you can take on your daily jog? The dog you adopt should be able to keep up with you and vice versa.

5. Grooming needs. All dogs need to get their teeth brushed and toenails trimmed on a regular basis, but some require more grooming than others. If you’d rather not brush your pup’s fur every day, choose a short-haired breed. And to avoid needing to vacuum dog hair on a daily basis, opt for one that doesn’t shed too much.

While you may have a better idea of what to expect when you adopt a purebred puppy, mixed-breed dogs are just as worthy of your affection and tend to have fewer health problems. Regardless of breed, consider heading to your local animal shelter to adopt your new dog and be wary of unethical breeders.

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5 money-saving tips for your home renovation projects

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It’s no secret that renovating can be expensive. Here are some simple ways to save.

1. Plan carefully
It’s best to have a detailed plan before you renovate. This will help you see where you can cut expenses, allow you to stay on budget and ensure that the work gets done quickly and efficiently.

2. Choose the right contractor
Hire people that come with the best recommendations and who provide you with a detailed estimate, even if they charge more than some competitors. A contractor who quotes a cheaper price than everyone else may not be reliable.

3. Do some of the work yourself
What you can contribute to the project will depend on your abilities. Some may be comfortable tiling a backsplash or painting walls themselves. Others might prefer to simply clean up after. Every bit helps to keep costs down.

4. Give old items a second life
You can save money by reusing and repurposing materials you already have at home and buying some items second hand. In addition, hardware stores now offer recycled paint, which is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than new paint.

5. Sell old materials
In addition, be sure to recoup some of your losses by selling old materials. Recycling centers often pay for copper and other scrap metal, and other items can be sold at yard sales or online.

Finally, make sure any contractors you hire are fully certified and insured. Otherwise, you’ll be liable for any accidents and damages that occur during the renovations, which is likely to wreck your budget.

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Jan
25
Sat
11:00 am Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
A Story Ballet. Join us in a celebration of classic literature through dance! The whole family will enjoy this ballet performance, presented by the Northern Virginia Academy of Ballet.
1:00 pm Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Jan 25 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Moving Mindfully: Finding and keeping your footing @ Ruby Yoga
Join Ruby Yoga and Deborah Romero of Optimal Posture LLC for a series of workshops on moving more mindfully through life using the principles of yoga and the Alexander Technique. Slated for Saturday, Jan. 25,[...]
2:00 pm Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Are you aged 7 or older? Do you enjoy art? If so, please join us for our children’s art class. Using the classic scissor cutting art of Scherenschnitte, we will make silhouettes in a nature[...]
Jan
29
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 29 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]
Jan
30
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 30 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]
Jan
31
Fri
7:00 pm Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Jan 31 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Love Revival - FREE Monthly Community Dinner @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Free Community Dinner for everyone! Come enjoy a hot meal on the last Friday of every month at Love Revival Ministry Center.
Feb
1
Sat
10:00 am Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 1 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Books and Barks @ Samuels Public Library
Come to our extremely popular monthly program that gives developing readers the chance to read and relax with a trained therapy dog.  For beginning readers and up.  Choose a time slot at registration, which begins[...]
11:00 am HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
Feb 1 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Northern Virginia 4-H Center
The Humane Society of Warren County will hold their 1st annual Polar Plunge event on February 1st at the Culpeper Lake, located at the Northern Virginia 4-H Center in Harmony Hollow. “Plungers” are asked to[...]
2:00 pm World of Lego @ Samuels Public Library
World of Lego @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 1 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
World of Lego @ Samuels Public Library
Children ages 5 and up are invited to explore all the amazing things you can do with Legos.  Registration begins January 1.
Feb
4
Tue
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 4 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Puppies are cuddly! Puppies are cute! Our stories, songs, and craft will be about our friends, the puppies! Siblings[...]