Birth Announcement Tips

Here’s some info on putting a birth announcement in the newspaper(s) of your choice.  Often, announcements aren’t printed without the signature of each parent listed, so sign what you send.

It is important to provide:

  1. Hospital (include city and state) where baby was born
  2. Parents
    • Mother’s name (Last, First, Middle Initial)
    • Father’s name (Last, First, Middle Initial)
    • Residence(s) (city/state)
  3. Baby’s name (Last, First, Middle Initial)
    • Gender: male or female
    • Date of Birth
    • Time of birth a.m. / p.m. (circle one)
    • Length (inches)
    • Weight (pounds) (ounces)
    • Is this the first child in the family? Yes or No
  4. Family
    • Brothers and sisters (first names and ages)
    • Mother’s parents name (include city and state)
    • Father’s parents name (include city and state)
    • Great-grandparents name (include city and state)
  5. Signatures
    • Mother’s and or father’s signature and date
  6. Questions to ask the newspaper(s) you’re putting the announcement in:
    • Is it free?
    • Is is charged by the line?
    • How much per line?
    • On average, how many words are there per line?
    • Is there a charge for photos?
    • How is that charged?
    • Are announcements included on the paper’s web site? If so, is that free? If not, how much? (If there is a fee, credit cards are often accepted over the phone.

And don’t forget to post the good news to your Facebook page!

Don’t Freeze Your Dog

In light of the sub-freezing temps around the country, we’re re-posting advice about dogs and cold weather.

Im ready to come inside

I’m ready to come inside

In January, 2009, we spoke to Dr. Eric Ruhland, a veterinarian from Hastings, Minnesota, (current temp today: 1, feels like -12) and asked him about his guidelines for keeping dogs safe in this frigid weather.

1. Small Dogs (under 20 pounds, up to 50)

Smaller breeds get colder faster. Keep them outdoors no more that five minutes.

Why? Small dogs, like Yorkies, have a larger surface to volume ratio – which means more surface area and smaller bodies (the opposite of an elephant which has a lot of volume).

2. Large Dogs (over 50 pounds)

Larger dogs, like German Shepherds, can be outside up to 10 minutes in this freezing weather.

3. An Outdoor Dog?

If you have a dog that’s always outside no matter what, they need an enclosed area of an enclosed exclusion from the elements that has at least six inches of bedding. There are laws in every state for keeping a dog safe and outdoors. As an example, here is Minnesota’s law.

4. For All Dogs

For all dogs, watch for frostbite. Dr. Ruhland says there are several areas to be concerned about:

  • Noses (they are wet and can easily freeze)
  • The inside back of the thighs (almost no hair!)
  • The insides of ears
  • Ear tips

And Dr. Ruhland’s rule of thumb? If you think it’s cold outside, so does your dog.

Thanks Dr. Ruhland!

– Susan

Tying the Knot? Check Out These Money-Saving Ideas.

We found this very good blog post from a couple of years ago – and like all good advice – it still stands the test of time.

f you are planning a wedding, maybe some of these costs-saving ideas will work for you. It will be the wedding of your dreams, but it won’t make as large a dent in your bank account.

These smart ideas came from a soon-to-be-bride and reader named Kelly.

Off days: We are having our wedding on a Sunday instead of Saturday. This saved us 50% off the rental fee and we got a catering discount. Even though it is planned for Labor Day weekend, we got a tremendous deal. If you plan a wedding in the months of November through April, you will also find many deals. Or, consider a Friday night wedding.

Flowers: I found a florist who works out of her home, so she has no overhead costs. She matches any price you find anywhere else and I think her work is better than the expensive floral shops.

Photographer: With a little searching, we found a photographer who has been in the business for 17 years, but only in Milwaukee, WI for two years. She is offering her services for less to help build her client base in the new city. She also includes all of the files in her price. This is extremely important and represents a major value for me. Most photographers charge extra for photos on a disc.

Cake: I didn’t get a chance to do this due to the timing of our wedding, but I found out that you can go to an area technical college where they offer cake baking and decorating classes. The class would make the cake for you at a fraction of the cost. Instead, I found a baker who creates the cake at her home with the help of her husband. This saves money! She offers free delivery and is providing the stand at no charge.

Bridesmaid dresses: I found a dress I really liked, then called three other stores for price quotes. I used these quotes to convince my bridal shop to match the lowest price. Plus, they waived the shipping charge because I found it for less somewhere else. Most stores will quote you a price, although some are more strict than others. (When it comes to the wedding dress, this might prove to be more challenging.)

Flower girl dress: My mother found a shop that had two of the same sample dress and allowed us to buy the extra sample instead of ordering one at full price. I also heard that I could rent the dress from an online retailer. I wanted something specific in the style, so I didn’t do this even though some of the sites have lots of cute dresses.

Use Internet Resources

I wanted a flower in my hair but I didn’t want one that would wilt. I did some research online and found a great website,, where people buy and sell homemade goods. On the site, I discovered Kat in Hawaii who makes clay flowers by hand that look amazingly real. Her company is Petal By Petal’s and instead of buying real flowers that would wilt, I am having her design clay flowers for my bridesmaid and me. They are the flowers and colors I wanted for a fraction of the price. They will also serve as keepsake gifts.

I researched everything, not just the popular brides’ sites. I found local sites, too. If you aren’t too picky, you can order almost anything online. Be careful, though. Some are authorized and others are just copies. You need the facts and to find a reputable company before ordering online.

  • WHN TIP: Do a search and enter the word “scam” with the name of the company. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau ( and the Federal Trade Commission ( to see if there is anything information about the company on their sites.

Thanks for the great advice, Kelly!

The next ideas came to WHN from Michele Acklin whose daughter, Sheri, is getting married on May 2, 20009.

Instead of a unity candle, the couple is pouring colored sand together to make a keepsake. The two colors will create a design that is unique and beautiful.

At the reception, there will be black cloth squares and fabric markers on each table. People can write comments about the couple. This might be trivia, good luck wishes or a special memory of the bride, groom or both. I am having them sewn into a memory quilt with wedding and other photos on some squares. This will be a gift for their first anniversary.

To save on decorations for an outdoor or evening wedding reception, you can light multi-colored tapers and place them in buckets of sand. (Of course, this won’t work outdoors if it is windy.) These are most likely available at your local dollar store if you don’t already have some at home. They don’t all have to be the same length.

Also for the reception, I am cutting tree branches, painting them white, wrapping them with tulle and placing them in buckets with white rocks. (You can collect the rocks and paint them when you are working on the branches.) These will be used to create an aisle in the reception hall after each is decorated with battery-operated strings of lights. More buckets of branches will be spread around the reception hall.

Thanks Michele!

If you have ideas you would like to share with other brides, please email me at Susan (at)

15 Post-Flood Home Cleaning Tips

Clean up after a flood, hurricane or storm zaps you of energy and patience. Does it ever end?!

We’ve asked some folks who have lived through this (and, yes, there is a an end to the clean up) to pass on some tips that they used for cleaning – including advice on wood furniture, rugs, cooking utensils and more. Good stuff here.

Getting a professional home restorer is something to consider – talk with your insurance agent to see if your policy covers the service.

Laid Off? Let’s Move Forward Together…

With everything changing, one of the most common questions we get is – what happens now that I’m laid off?

Luckily, we have terrific readers all over the country who are sharing their stories – how they are navigating the new world order, and advice they find helpful.

Here’s one reader’s advice on how to keep yourself moving forward:

Hi WhatHappensNow –

I have learned a few things that someone else in my situation might find helpful.

When friends, former colleagues and family reach out, don’t avoid them. They are the strongest support system you’ve got. They want the best for you and aren’t judging you. I had to make a conscious effort to accept their help.

  • Remember that this support group might actually be your link to a new job. They know you best and will look for opportunities that you are most closely suited to. Look into and you might be surprised at how helpful this network can be. It is highly recommended by experts in the recruiting world.
  • Another way to network is to join a group of people who share your interests. It is also a great way to have fun. Check out for lists of groups near you who gather to do everything from play cards to rock-climb. Registration is free and easy. You simply choose areas of interest, enter your zip code and the number of miles you are willing to travel. You will probably find a surprising number of groups who share your interests and who would welcome you as a new member. The only cost would occur if you choose a group that charges a fee. (See the site’s policy statement for complete information.)
  • Form letters/emails aren’t personal rejections (this is a tough one!). These companies don’t know what they are missing when they don’t interview me! It helps to view them that way instead of imagining the worst.
  • Exercise, eat well and laugh. Any one of these three things could go by the wayside and life is just too short to let that happen.
  • Don’t pay attention to economic news. Focus on the pieces that include information showing that there are still opportunities out there.
  • On a practical note, make a list of your current monthly expenses. Decide which items you can either do without or reduce immediately. If you have credit cards, reach the monthly statements carefully. Many of those companies have recently begun shortening the grace period from 30 to 25 or 21 days. Read every piece of correspondence from your credit card companies. If they have raised your interest rate, call them. They would rather reduce the rate than lose a customer. If at all possible, find a card with a special offer at 0% interest. We found a card that didn’t charge a balance transfer fee from our current card, plus the 0% interest rate applies for 15 months. Instead of credit cards, carry a specified amount of cash for the month, preferably in larger bills. We are all less likely to spend cash and are even more cautious about breaking a $50 bill.
  • At this point, make a conscious effort to give thanks for everything you have. Health, friends, family, lots of great experience on your resume and the knowledge you aren’t alone.

Thank you Reader!! (She wanted to stay anonymous)


Also, if you’re interested, here are two other articles from readers and experts on coping with lay-offs

- Just Laid Off – First Steps

- Seven Steps to Surviving a Lay-Off in a Bad Economy

If you have advice – email us – susan (at)

Don’t Trip the Kids on Halloween

This Halloween, take a few moments and get your house ready for the festivities.

  1. Avoid tripping trick-or-treaters!
    Take things like hoses, ladders, flowerpots, wires, lawn furniture and bikes off your porch, driveway and sidewalk – anywhere you think kids (or adults) may be walking on Halloween.
  2. Turn on porch and outside lights
    It’s easier for trick-or-treaters to see! (This is a good time to replace burnt-out, outdoor light bulbs.)
  3. Clean sweep
    Sweep the leaves off your walkways and porches.
  4. Clear the path
    Keep outdoor decor, jack-o-lanterns and candles away from sidewalks, dry leaves, and Halloween decorations – you get the idea.
  5. Pets
    Dogs, cats and other pets may be frightened or excited by the ringing doorbell, trick-or-treat screaming and unexpected Halloween visitors. If you have an excitable pet, consider putting him or her in a safe, quiet area away from the festivities.
  6. Candy – or no?
    Purchase individually wrapped candies. Or, consider handing out non-candy alternatives like colored pencils, erasers, small pads of paper (perfect for notes, doodles and diaries.)
  7. Not home?
    If you are going out, remember to turn on home security systems and lock doors and windows. And, don’t leave the porch light on! In many communities, a lit porch light means you’re ready for trick-or-treaters.
  8. Caution!
    If you’re out driving, be cautious and go slowly – Halloween is Saturday this year and a big night for kids and families and they are walking the neighborhood.

– Susan

Duluth, MN is Flooding

I grew up in Duluth, so news of the flooding reached me quickly.

Duluth is situated on a hill; this really shows flash flooding can happen anywhere at anytime. With 8+ inches of rain overnight (and more in other parts of the region), it’s no surprise the city is literally overflowing. The picture in this post shows a street I used to walk on to go to school, which is down a steep hill on the left.

Unfortunately, the Duluth Zoo was hard hit. The LA Times reported at least 14 animals didn’t survive the night. There is a good news Zoo story though –  two seals, Feisty and Helen, swam away in the flood waters and ended up on a street where very good Samaritans rescued them. The seals are safe, and probably telling the other animals about their adventures.

Check out some of the flood images here from the Mpls. Star Tribune, there’s a seal image at the end.

We’ll keep watching the news – there’s more rain forecasted for the area.  As with all disasters, our thoughts are with everyone impacted by the rain and flooding.

– Susan

9 Bicycle Safety Tips for Kids

Bicycling can be a great activity for children—if they know the basic safety routines. The following guidelines can make it easier for you to get your child into the bike safety habit.

1. Helmets and kids – It’s the safety connection that really matters

  • Let your child help pick out the helmet.
  • Always insist your child wear the helmet.
  • Begin the helmet habit with the first bicycle.
  • When you ride with your children, wear your own helmet.
  • Encourage the parents of your children’s friends to buy helmets.

2. Dress your child appropriately for dawn, dusk or bad weather biking

  • Children should avoid biking in the dark. If they must bike at night, make sure their clothing and helmet have reflective strips and that the lights and reflectors on the bike are in place.
  • ALWAYS make sure they wear shoes when riding a bicycle! One reader told us that she lost a toe when she was little because she wasn’t wearing shoes and got her toe caught in the bike chain (yowza).

3. Sidewalks and paths

  • Start with sidewalks and bike paths until you feel confident your child can handle a road with vehicle traffic.

4. Plan a safe cycling route with your children

  • Ride it at different times of the day—the amount of traffic can vary significantly.

5. Make sure schools provide cyclists with “safe areas”

  • Look to see where kids can lock their bikes and if it’s near the pick-up, drop-off area (which could have a lot of traffic).

6. Discourage kids from riding alone

  • Kids should always try to ride with a buddy (but not on the same bike) and know what to do in case of an accident or if they are followed or approached by a stranger on foot or in a car.

7. Don’t let them ride a borrowed bike

  • Make sure they are riding a bike that fits them and that it is in good working order.

8. Warn children of the dangers of using a bike to try stunts and tricks

  • ”Showing off” can lead to injuries for the cyclists and his friends.

9. Traffic

  • Remind children to stop and look for traffic at all intersections, including those where streets cross alleys and driveways.

– Susan

Experts + Real People = Advice for You