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    Thank you to those who served

    It’s Veterans’ Day here in the U.S., and while for many of us, it’s a day off from school and work, a holiday to get things done and catch up with family and friends, it’s also a day that reminds us of the sacrifices that the members of our armed forces make every day, along with their families.

    My dad was active duty military when I was growing up, and at the time, I accepted it as our way of life. Many wonderful things came from all of the moving around, including the chance to live in different places, meet lots of different people, and do lots of sight-seeing (I’d been to most of the states, and seen more national treasures that I can remember, by the time I started high school).

    But now, as an adult with more self-awareness of my personality and traits, I also know what I missed out on, and often when I’m struggling, I wish that I’d had the benefits of growing up in one place, with lifelong friends and a greater sense of security.

    While I have no regrets (after all, I am who I am today because of the experiences I had growing up), I know that serving our country involves genuine sacrifices – not just the most obvious, terrible ones involving physical and psychological injury, but smaller ones like not being home for the holidays and regularly changing schools, often in the middle of the school year.

    So from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU to the members of our armed forces as well as their families!

    Image via by Michael Elliott.

    Funeral Etiquette

    Funeral Etiquette -

    A friend’s father passed away recently, and on the day of the funeral, it suddenly occurred to me that I had no idea about funeral protocol. I’d attended two, maybe three funerals before my friend’s dad’s, and always with my parents. So I found myself wondering, Is it appropriate to bring something, and if so, what? Fortunately, my friend had included instructions on how to dress, so I was clear on that.

    But it got me thinking that this is part of growing up – getting to the age where you start attending funerals, much the way there was an age where you attended a lot of weddings. I’m probably not the only one doing this kind of growing up, so I wanted to share what I’ve learned:

    Funeral etiquette depends on the type of service – This may be stating the obvious, but a lot of what’s appropriate for a funeral is dependent on the type of service, such as Catholic, Jewish or Buddhist. If you’re not familiar with the type of service, a quick internet search can give you the basic information you need. It can also be helpful to find out where the service is being held, such as graveside or in a church or temple, as the location might affect your choice of attire or shoes.

    Dress respectfully – Black and gray are generally the most appropriate colors for funerals, but some families ask attendees to dress more colorfully. Whatever you’re wearing, make sure your clothes are clean and neat.

    You don’t need to bring anything – Unless you’ve been informed that it’s appropriate, you don’t have to bring flowers or anything else to the service. (In some cases, flowers are actually not appropriate.) Do be sure to sign the guest book, if there is one. If you’ve been invited to a post-service reception, you can bring a dish to be served but you are not obligated to do so.

    Participate in the service when appropriate – If you are able to do so, fully participate in the service by standing, kneeling, singing, reciting verses, or responding as requested. Words to songs and responsive phrases are usually included in the funeral service program.

    Share a warm memory of the deceased – In my case, I had never met my friend’s father and went just to show my support. But if you have any fond memories of the deceased, share them when you express your condolences.

    Call the location – If you’re still wondering about what’s appropriate, call the location where the service is being held. The staff there should be happy to help you.

    Image via by khunaspix.

    Advances in Pregnancy

    The following is a post from Jenna Smith. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.

    Starting a family is one of the most exciting times for nearly any mother. There are names to be chosen, baby showers to be had, and a nursery to decorate. There are also more serious matters to consider too, such as the care and treatment of a child during pregnancy and during delivery.

    Only a few decades ago, women had limited options when it came to pregnancy. They were expected to give birth in the safety of a hospital, and if a child became ill during pregnancy, treatment was limited. However, recent developments in fetal medicine have provided women with more tools to ensure that they have options to care for their pregnancies to the best of their abilities.

    If this topic affects you or someone you know, here are a few of the most beneficial advances you may want to discuss with your doctor:

    Premature birth prevention

    Premature birth roughly affects one in eight births in the United States, and can cause significant brain damage and even death. To reduce the likelihood of premature birth, researchers have been looking to hormones. Recent studies and research have shown that progesterone, a hormone naturally found in women’s bodies, may lower the risk for premature birth by up to 50 percent in certain groups. Not only does progesterone lower the risk of premature birth, but it also has been shown to decrease the complications and long-term effects children develop due to premature birth.

    Noninvasive prenatal DNA testing

    Prior to the development of noninvasive prenatal DNA tests, women had to undergo the highly invasive procedure of amniocentesis in order to receive prenatal genetic testing. Amniocentesis requires a woman’s amniotic sac to be punctured to withdraw amniotic fluid for testing. Although effective and accurate, amniocentesis also comes with a risk of infection, which could result in illness, disease, and even death – which resulted in many women avoiding genetic testing.

    Noninvasive prenatal DNA screening tests only require a blood sample, and can determine whether or not a child will be born with certain types of chromosomal abnormalities. The MaterniT21® PLUS test, for example, determines whether or not specific trisomies, a chromosomal abnormality which occurs when a chromosome doesn’t replicate properly, are present. By learning in advance whether or not a child will be born with a chromosomal abnormality, parents can better prepare for parenthood by seeking out additional resources and tools they may need.

    Fetal medical therapies

    Although still in its infancy, there have been rapid advances in the area of in utero fetal treatment in recent years. Researchers have learned how to alleviate or completely treat several fetal diseases including anemia and fetal arrhythmias. Blood transfusions, shunts, and medicines delivered through umbilical cords are all procedures that have been developed and utilized by those looking to improve the treatment of fetal disease.

    Diseases that once complicated delivery, forced women to have premature Caesarean sections, or increased the likelihood of brain damage or fatality can now be remedied. However, because of the high risks involved with premature rupture of membranes and complications of preterm labor, in utero fetal treatment is still evolving to better serve women and their children.

    Understanding the medical advances surrounding pregnancy is a great way to alleviate the stress that is often caused by worrying about the health of your child. Diseases and illnesses that once greatly increased the likelihood of a negative pregnancy experience are being eradicated and overcome by modern medicine. Babies are safer than ever, and now have a level of care available to them that generations prior could never have dreamed of. Even better news is that these medical developments will only continue to advance to provide more improved care for children in the womb and the mothers who are carrying them.

    T-Mobile’s Simple Choice Plan (Sponsored Post)

    This post is sponsored by and contains affiliate links (thank you for using them!). You can read CFO’s full disclosure here.

    T-Mobile Simple Choice Plan |

    Have I mentioned that my oldest is going into fifth grade this year? And that I’m a little freaked out about finding him a good middle school placement? And about middle school in general?

    I’ve watched his older friends and their parents navigate that road this past year, and one thing I’ve noticed is that this is the time when most kids get their own cell phone. It makes sense, because as your child becomes more independent, it’s reassuring to be able to reach them at any time, and for them to be able to reach you. It’s such an easy way to let them know you’re running late, or for them to tell you that they’re ready to be picked up. Plus, they’re at the age when they want to be in constant contact with their friends.

    Knowing that this is on the horizon for us, I’ve started scoping out options. We might add a phone to our existing plan, but it’s a grandfathered plan that’s great for me (unlimited data!) and not for new lines. So it’s nice to know that there are alternatives like the T-Mobile Simple Choice plan, which starts at $50 for unlimited talk, text, and 1GB of 4G LTE data (and there are no overages or annual service contracts).

    Here are the highlights, which makes this a great plan not just for kids but for adults too:

    • Unlimited calls and text to and from any number, including mobile phones, in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. You can also use your monthly 4G LTE data in Mexico and Canada (like in the U.S.) at no extra charge!
    • Music Freedom™ with unlimited music streaming on the T-Mobile network from top services such as Pandora and iHeart Radio without using your data (this is huge for kids!)
    • Unlimited data and texting when you travel to any of 120+ countries and destinations so you can stay connected when you’re abroad (I wish I’d had this when I was in Japan!)
    • Wi-Fi Calling makes every Wi-Fi connection work like a T-Mobile tower
    • Smartphone mobile hotspot lets you use your device as a Wi-Fi hotspot
    • Add a tablet or hotspot to existing plans for $10 per month
    • Upgrade to the latest devices earlier and more often while also protecting your investment with Premium Handset Protection® and Lookout Mobile Security® Premium ($10 per month)
    • Data Stash™ rolls your unused 4G LTE data forward to the next month, for domestic use in the next 12 months (available with 3GB and 5GB data options)

    Get the Simple Choice Plan here for just $50 per month!

    Have you given your child his or her own phone yet? How old were they, and what kind of plan did you get?