Ten Thoughtful Gifts for your Pregnant Friend

1. Maternity/Nursing Pajamas - As bellies get bigger, the tendency to fall asleep in your husband's extra large t-shirts becomes all too common. Cheer up you pregnant friend by giving her pajamas that grow with her and make her feel beautiful. She'll appreciatea set that can double as a nursing nightgown once she's had her baby also. Since she'll be waking up multiple times during the night, she'll need everything she can get to feel good.

2. Massage Gift Certificate Give - your pregnant friend a gift certificate to her favorite spa for a maternity massage and she'll be eternally grateful. Backs and legs tend to suffer during pregnancy and a massage is a lovely luxury.

3. Expandable Rings - Not only will your pregnant friend's belly be getting bigger over the next few months, but so will her hands and feet. If your friend loves wearing jewelry, give her a beautiful new ring with an expandable band as she will most likely outgrow her current collection by the last trimester. If the woman you are buying for is your wife, consider buying her the cubic zirconia adjustable engagement ring you could never have afforded in a diamond. She'll love the thrill of sporting a three carat ring during those last few months.

4. Fun Flip Flops - The unfortunate fact is that feet also tend to grow towards the end of pregnancy, so treat your pregnant friend to a fun pair of flip flops. Flip flops are so popular now and come in a vast array of styles and prices.

5. Lingerie Gift Certificate - Bra sizes are among the seemingly endless list of things that grow while you are pregnant. It's no wonder that a woman's lingerie collection can suffer greatly during those nine months. Help her refresh her collection of undergarments with a gift certificate to her favorite lingerie store.

6. Make Over Schedule a fun day out with lunch and a make over at her favorite make up counter. Swollen faces tend to creep up during the last trimester of pregnancy and can leave a woman feeling fat and ugly. A makeover will make her feel like the gorgeous woman you know her to be.

7. A Fun Maternity T-shirt - There are so many fun maternity t-shirts these days. Pick your favorite one out for your pregnant friend. She'll love wearing it.

8. Belly Casting Kit - Memorializing pregnancy with a belly casting kit is fantastic. You can help her make the casting and paint and decorate it afterwards. It will be a great afternoon of bonding which she will treasure.

9. Frozen Dinners - As you make yourself dinner, consider making double portions of some dishes to freeze for your pregnant friend. Stock her freezer up when she's in the hospital having her baby so she doesn't have to cook when she gets home. Make sure to write reheating instructions on each item so all she has to do is pop the dish in the oven or microwave.

10. Schedule a House Cleaning Service - As the big due date arrives, tell you pregnant friend that you'll arrange to have her house cleaned by her preferred house cleaning service while she's in the hospital. Everything seems so overwhelming when you come home after having a baby, to come home to a spotless house is a fantastic gift.

Christmas Shopping

Christmas Shopping and Driving

Time has arrived for the hustle and bustle of all good Santa’s and Elves to meet on the streets and in the shopping malls of America in search of those perfect gifts for friends and families. Some of us look on this time as a fun adventure, and some of us really dread the gridlock of cars and vehicles searching for the same. The day after Thanksgiving till December 24th the streets and highways are packed with people driving for the same goal: “The ultimate shopping adventure.” Let’s explore some ways to make this shopping adventure easier, and more fun.

Automobile Etiquette

The day before the big shopping extravaganza check over your vehicle. Make certain there is enough air pressure in the tires. Fuel up the vehicle before you take off, check all fluid levels, and go ahead and wash the car. A nice looking car even if it’s old says that you are special. Since its December you may want to stash aboard a blanket or two, flashlights and a safety kit which contains, battery jumper cables and hazard markers. You don’t expect anything bad to happen, but you are better off being prepared.

Turn signals are your friend. Please use them. It’s a small thing we can do to communicate to other drivers our intentions. Many people have decided that they aren’t important. Use them to change lanes, to indicate that you’re going to be turning a corner, and that you are going to park. That’s three places that let other people know your intent. What could be more useful? I say nothing. Think ahead, and use those indicator lights. Along with turn signals are traffic lights. They are there to help prevent accidents. That yellow light means that the light will soon be red, not to gun the accelerator full throttle, and drive through the intersection like a mad man. There is a time to drive through the intersection and a time not to do so. Be cautious and pay attention.

Parking spaces are very scarce during this time of year, especially the ones that you want. So, park where there is a space available, and walk. The fresh air will help keep you refreshed. While we are on the subject of parking, take the time and park between the lines. Those of you who have new cars and who want to keep them clean and shiny without scratches, you are inviting someone to key your car. Your car is not anymore special than anyone else’s car. Each of us has a special car. Take only the amount of space you need, and square the car in between those solid lines. After all that’s why they are painted on the pavement. If you aren’t handicapped, or pregnant then don’t park in those parking areas. They too, have to purchase presents for friends and family.

Helping Other Drivers

Walking to and from the car from a store or the mall, you have time to notice if empty parking spaces are available. If you notice a driver that needs a parking place, then point that space out with your hand. After all this is the season of kindness. You’ll be helping out your fellow man. If you do that, then chances are in your favor that someone else will point out an empty space for you when you need it. Remember what comes around goes around.

Circling, the parking lot is a great way to use lots of gas. These are hard times and Christmas is no exception. We need to save money on our fuel costs as well as our gifts. Circling also can cause accidents. When you spend your time and energy looking for a place to park, you endanger the pedestrians. You might not see them as they are walking to and from their cars and stores. Pay attention, and park in a place that you’ll remember.

What about those cell phones? Yes, they are a blessing, but they can also be a curse. The cell phone is another object that can keep you preoccupied, and your attention off of your driving. I’m not suggesting that you stop using it, but here are some guidelines that may help you use your cell phone better, and keep accidents away. If you have to call someone, do it either in the parking lot before you place that vehicle in reverse. If you are driving then pull off on a side street and park your car. Use your cell phone outside of the store. The other shoppers and the merchants will thank you, because they really don’t want to hear your conversation. Distractions need to be at a minimum, and if at all possible try not to use the phone and drive.

Comfortable Shopping

Plan ahead. Know what stores you are going to, when they will open and map out the drive. The internet is a good source for maps to any city. Yahoo maps and Map Quest maps are just a few. This will save you on fuel costs, and give you more money for gifts. Not all of you can afford a GPS, but they are also a useful device in helping you map out your shopping experience. Plan your meal time, and what restaurant(s) you’ll be visiting for your meal or meals.

While you are planning on which stores you’ll be visiting. Make a list of gifts and people for whom you will be purchasing. Write this down in a notebook. Write down what the item is you want, and where you can possible buy that item. This is why it’s good to use some sort of a notebook. You may have several stores to choose from in searching for that specific item, and a store may be out of that gift. If you aren’t sure as to what specific items you are looking for then at least write down a few ideas in which they might like.

Do you know of someone in the area; maybe a friend or related family member? You may want to plan to stop for a nice break in your shopping day. Find out in advance if they will be home, and give them a time frame of when you’ll be stopping at their home. Inform them that you are out shopping and won’t be able to stay very long. This is an excellent idea especially if you have kids, and gives you and them a rest break.

Provide yourself a care package. What do you need in this care package? Shopping can be exhausting, and the most important item to put in this package is water. Our brains and muscles need this staple even while shopping. We have a tendency to eat and drink things that really aren’t good for us. Put some fruit, and crackers and even some cheese or other foods that cost way too much at the malls or convenience stores. Drink water often, and snack a little. Speaking of being comfortable, wear comfortable shoes and layer your clothing. It may be hot in the stores and cold outside.

Do you have a phone book of the area? This is another good way to help plan your shopping experience. You can call ahead to see if they actually have the item for which you are searching, or to find out if they have extended their hours. You may need to have an address of a store, which you hadn’t expected you would need. What do you do if you don’t have a phone book for the town? Most convenience stores will let you borrow them. You just can’t take them out of their store. After all that’s why there are no phone books where public phones are. Here’s where that notebook comes in handy. You have someplace to write down the information you need.

Have Fun

That’s what Christmas shopping is all about; having fun. The safer you are, and the more prepared you are, the better your experience, and the least frustrated you will be. Prepare your vehicle in advance, and plan your route according to your favorite stores. Be certain that you have mapped out each store, and mapped out your restaurants. Be sure to bring a care package for you, your companions or family, and drink plenty of water. Park where there is available space that you will remember and park between the lines. Most importantly turn signals are your friends, and use them. Use your cell phone when you are parked, not while you drive. Your Christmas shopping experience will be a great grand adventure filled with lots of gifts and fun times for you and your companions.

Wisdom at Walmart

I had my granddaughter, Caitlin, over for a fun day of baking cookies. First we had a few errands to run and then we would go home and bake. She was excited in the way a five-year-old is excited about making a mess and having something sweet to eat while Grandma cleaned up.

The day did not go as planned. All the errands took twice as long as I had planned. Looking at a clock I realized there was no way we would bake cookies and be done by the time her Dad picked her up. I had a brainstorm, I would go to Wal-Mart, buy some cookie dough in a roll and we could bake them in less than 30 minutes. She had been so patient, so good and uncomplaining, I would even buy her a toy. I asked her what toy she would like and she said "A Ken doll so Barbie can have him drive her in her car."

At the doll section she found three Ken dolls. One had a cell phone as an accessory, one had skates and one had sunglasses. She had some tough decisions to make. As she pondered, I looked at the shelves high above her line of vision, I noticed another male doll, this one was great, he had a bunch of accessories, including a surf board, a camera, camping gear, extra clothing, and best of all he was cheaper and to my thinking a lot better looking than her choices. I pulled him off the shelf to show her.

"No Grandma, he is a fake Ken" she said.

"A fake Ken?", I asked "He looks like the other dolls, does it really matter if he is a real Ken doll?"

"Yes, ‘cos he cannot bend here and here" she said pointing at his waist and legs. "So he cannot sit in the car, he is no good for Barbie."

After giving the ‘fake’ Ken longing glances, he had such cool accessories, she chose the real Ken that had a cell phone. He bent in all the right places and he was exactly what she wanted. Now he could even call Barbie and they could talk and talk. How did this five-year-old know the other was a fake Ken? She had been given one before. She knew immediately he would not be what she wanted.

All too often we meet the ‘fake’ men before meeting the real one. Many times they have all the cool accessories and look so much like the real deal that we plunge headfirst into love. Then we discover they do not fit our lives and goals and they do not seem to think we are the real deal for them. The relationship seems to go nowhere. We are puzzled by his seeming lack of affection and devotion. He is so close to what she wants that she has a hard time breaking away. What if nothing better is out there? What if he is as good as it gets? What would she change about him if she could change him? Something as simple as taking out the trash without her having to ask? Or him not drinking until unconsciousness every Saturday night? Besides she loves him, however unhappy she is with her choice.

It takes faith to see beyond right now. It takes faith to realize that he may be a ‘fake Ken’ and that with a little more shopping, making wiser choices, we can have what we want.

What if your ‘Ken’ is being prepared now? What if he won’t be available until June? Can you approach dating the same way you do shopping? With an attitude that if you do not find it at this store, you will at another. Or do you have the attitude of people doing last minute shopping on Christmas Eve, you will take anything just to have something to wrap in a pretty package?

Organize your needs into a small manageable list. Nothing too overwhelming. Take the list when you are shopping. If the list says "Must love children" and he does not like kids, he is not the right choice. If the list says "Must be drug free" and he tells you of his love for popping tranquilizers, he is not the right choice. Make the right decisions for yourself before you fall in love. Making the right choice in the beginning of a relationship saves a lot of time and heartache.

The Dead Sea

Dead Sea, located in the south of the Jordan Valley, the salty closed sea 400 meters below sea level is the lowest spot on Earth. The scenery on the shores of the sea in enchanting. The Dead Sea is famous for its extraordinary salt and mineral content, which many people say makes it a natural healing agent for skin problems.

5.000 Years of History
King David, King Herod, Jesus, and John Baptist were closely linked with the Dead Sea and its surroundings. The prophets knew it via the infamous Sodom and Gomorra. During the Egyptian conquest it is said that Queen Cleopatra obtained exclusive rights to build cosmetic and pharmaceutical factories in the area. Later on, the wily Nabateans discovered the value of bitumen extracted from the Dead Sea and needed by the Egyptians for embalming their mummies. Aristotle wrote about the remarkable waters. In Roman times the Essenes settled in Qumran on the Dead Sea northern shore as a place of refuge and on the heights of Masada a small group of rebellious Jewish zealots held out against the might of the Roman Legion. The remoteness of the region attracted Greek Orthodox monks since the Byzantine era. Their monasteries such as Saint George in Wadi Kelt and Mar Saba in the Judean Desert are places of pilgrimage. Bedouin tribes have continuously lived in the area and more recently explorers and scientists arrived to analyze the minerals and conduct research into the unique climate. Since the 1960's, tourists from all the world have also explored the Dead Sea region.

The Lowest Point on Earth
Situated on the heart of the Great Syrian-African rift valley that stretches throughout Israel and beyond, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on the earth (400 meters or 1,320 feet below sea level), and is flanked by the Judean Mountains on the west, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Mountains of Moab on the east, the Jordan Valley and Sea of Galilee to the north and the Negev Desert as well as the Red Sea to the south.

The Dead Sea Water
The water of the Dead Sea contains 21 minerals including magnesium, calcium, bromine and potassium. 12 of these are found in no other area or ocean and some are recognized for imparting a relaxed feeling, nourishing the skin, activating the circulatory systems and for easing rheumatic discomfort and metabolic disorders. As an example, the Dead Sea contains 10 times more salts and minerals than the Mediterranean Sea. The high salt and mineral concentration enables everyone to float in its waters but doesn't allow the proliferation of fish and other marine life.

Thermo-mineral Springs
Found in several locations along the Dead Sea shores. The many minerals contained in the warm water are dominated by sulfur. Soaking in the heated sulfur pools activates the circulatory system and increases the oxygen supply to the body.

Natural mineral spring water
Flows from the Judean Hills into the lower areas fronting the Dead Sea. When hiking along the area's "wadis" (seasonal dry river beds) and oasis, one can often splash in waterfalls and cool streams. Natural mineral spring water is bottled and locally marketed throughout the country.

The Sun
The Dead Sea is the only place on earth where one can sunbathe for extended periods with little or no sunburn because harmful ultraviolet rays are filtered through three natural layers: an extra atmospheric layer, an evaporation layer that exists above the Dead Sea and a rather thick ozone layer.
The Air The region's miraculous air is dry, unpolluted and pollen-free with low humidity. Due to the constant evaporation, the air contains high concentrations of several minerals, mainly bromine, providing a genuinely relaxing effect.

Because of the high barometric pressure it has approximately 8% more oxygen than anywhere else on earth and consequently makes breathing easier.

Alcohol tests, Drug tests

Black Mud
A signature element of the Dead Sea, black mud is homogeneous mixture of Dead Sea minerals, important organic elements from the shoreline as well as earth. Indulging in a black mud body wrap has both cosmetic and therapeutic benefits - known to cleanse and stimulate the skin, relieve muscle and emotional tensions, improve blood circulation, and ease rheumatic pain. The rich minerals and the mud tightening action promote circulation by increasing the supply of oxygen to and removing the toxins from the skin, thus toning and firming up skin tissues, leaves the skin glowing and youthful looking. Dead Sea Mineral Mud cleans, purifies, and restores the skin's natural minerals.

The Salt
As the name suggests, the Dead Sea is devoid of life due to an extremely high content of salts and minerals. It is these natural elements which gave the water its curative powers. Dead Sea Salt and Dead Sea Mud have been recognized by millions of people as a single source of health and beauty since the days of Herod the Great, more than 2,000 years ago. The Dead Sea has a 33% concentration of salts and minerals (compared to only 3% in the ocean). Dead Sea Salt original mineral composition improves cell metabolism and contributes to its restoration and regeneration. Dead Sea Salt also acts as a disinfectant and help in removing harmful substances from the skin.

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