Safe Toy Make For A Merry Christmas Mother S Day Gift Ideas Ones That Keep Giving All Year Long Why Shopping Online Will Be Big This Holiday Season The Origins Of Mother S Day A Note From Saint Valentine A First Person Tale Of This Wonderful Day

Do you have a toddler on your gift list? If so, remember that small children and infants automatically put items in their mouths.

Inspect For Safety

Safety is the first thing you should check. Toys with small parts are always suspect.

Parts small enough to fit into a tot’s mouth can be a choking hazard.

Plush toys are ideal for small children, but check the construction. If the eyes, nose, or other small features are not tightly secured, these items can come off when a child inevitably chews on it.

Any toy with a sharp edge is a potential safety hazard. A child walking or running with such a toy can fall and be injured by it. Again, tots like to put things in their mouths, so sharp edges could cut their lips, gums or tongues.

Any Electric Or Heating Elements?

Only children 8 years of age or over should receive electric toys with heating elements. Don’t be tempted to buy these for a younger child just because they would be fun to play with.

Find Out What’s Been Recalled

Before setting out on a toy shopping trip, find out which have been recalled. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission can tell you at www.cpsc.gov or call toll-free (800) 638-2772. You might be surprised to find that some of the leading toy makers have had toys recalled. Some toys on the recall list include:

* Woody Dolls (distributed by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts) — the doll’s buttons can detach and pose a choking hazard for young children.

* Little People Animal Sounds Farm (by Fisher-Price) — the screws on stall doors can come off, posing a choking or aspiration hazard. One child aspirated a screw into his lungs, requiring emergency surgery.

* Drumsticks sold with toy drum sets (by Battat Incorporated) — the end piece of the drumstick handle can break off, and the screw at the end of the drumstick can detach. Both pose a choking hazard.

Remove Dangerous Packaging Immediately

Watch for twist-ties that keep toys secure in their packages. They keep the toy looking good on the shelf, but become a hazard when the toy is removed from the package. Also check older siblings’ toys for them. They need to be properly discarded to avoid any danger to a younger child. On Christmas morning, you can eliminate a suffocation hazard to your tot by immediately throwing away all plastic wrappings from the toys.

Popular toys that children are clamoring for are hard to resist. Just do your research first. Keep the holidays happy and safe for your children.

This year on Mother’s Day why not give your mother a “year long gift;” one that arrives every month? Not only will you be her shining star on Mother’s Day, but other gift-giving occasions will be covered, as well.

A Year of Reading Pleasure

Present your mother with a magazine subscription, one that fits her special interests. She will think about you each time a new issue arrives! Top publications for women include:

> O, the Oprah Magazine (women’s issues)

> Everyday with Rachael Ray (cooking)

> In Style (for fashion-loving moms)

> People (celebrity news)

> Us Weekly (celebrity gossip)

> Real Simple (everyday living)

> Parents

> The Bark (for dog lovers)

> Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine (financially savvy moms)

> Yoga Journal

A Year of Blooms

Available through many online florists, floral arrangements will arrive throughout the year. At 1-800-Flowers.com, for instance, seasonal blooms are used to ensure your mother has fresh flowers all year long. Each new bouquet delightfully different from the month before! Another option is to send a live plant or bonsai tree every month. Most plans include twelve, six and three month options.

Year of Gourmet Delights

Make sure mom has her favorite foods all year round! Most gourmet food companies offer a food-of-the-month plan that features some of their best products. Visit your mother’s favorite food web site and search for “of the month club”, “year of”, or “monthly club plan.” Many companies offer twelve, six and three month subscriptions.

Need specific ideas? How about a year of gourmet dinners? Omaha Steak’s Gourmet Entr
Traditionally, the December holiday season is the most important part of the year for many businesses, especially those in retail. But so far, predictions aren’t that rosy for this year’s profits. High gas prices, high cost of living, and low consumer confidence are expected to put a damper on the holiday shopping plans for many.

But that’s not entirely true for everyone. You can expect online shopping to be bigger than ever. Why? Let me outline a few reasons why online retail sites like Amazon, to small home-based operations will be raking in the cash in the weeks ahead.

1. Very few are going to blow off the holidays, even if funds are low. And most people will buy cheaper gifts rather than cross some loved ones off their shopping list. When people don’t have a lot of disposable cash, they look for low prices. Suddenly bargain hunting becomes the order of the day.

Expect masses of North Americans to flock to online retail sites in ever greater numbers. The super-low overhead of online retail allows sites to offer wide selection at the lowest prices on Earth. After a decade of Internet shopping, millions of people are now fully aware of this truth. Expect a very large percentage of them to purchase some or all of their gifts online.

2. Gas is still high and may go even higher in the weeks ahead. This means wading through clogged streets filled with holiday shoppers is something most of our pocket books just don’t want to go through. High gas prices also mean paying for online purchases to be shipped to you is no longer an imposition. Many will be thinking “The 3 bucks for shipping is a lot less than the $20 I’ll spend driving all over town to the malls.”

3. People are working harder than ever. The demands of one, two, even three jobs while taking care of family is leaving millions of Americans will zero free time. This means they need to sandwich holiday shopping into their lunch break or even during a slow period at work. Yes, expect these folks to also do their shopping online in unprecedented numbers.

The bottom line is clear: if you’re a consumer, give yourself a needed break and do your holiday gift buying online. If you’re an online retailer, get ready for a holiday buying season you may not soon forget.

Today Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday is celebrated all over the world. For florists and card shops the event is one of the highlights of the year, but the roots of Mother’s Day are not commercial.

Motherhood has been celebrated since ancient times. The ancient Greeks paid homage to Rhea, the Mother of Gods; and there are records of the ancient Romans worshiping a mother Goddess known as Cybele as early as 260 BC. Festivals took place in the spring which was the most fertile time of the year.

The more modern way of honoring mothers began in England in the 1600s where Mothering Sunday was observed on the fourth Sunday of Lent. This day is also known as ‘Refreshment Sunday’, the only day when you are allowed to eat or do whatever you have given up for Lent. Not surprisingly, families came together and took the opportunity to party with a big meal at which mother was treated as the guest of honor. Traditionally, mothers were given posies of flowers and a cake.

The term ‘Mothering Sunday’ is now falling into disuse and has mostly been replaced by ‘Mother’s Day’, which is used the world over.

In the USA there were several attempts to introduce a Mother’s Day as a way to celebrate peace and heal the scars of war. Julia Ward, who wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, suggested the idea in 1872. But the idea didn’t really take off until Anna Jarvis campaigned for the establishment of a Mother’s Day to commemorate her own mother who died in 1905. Ward’s mother herself had tried to establish a similar holiday, Mother’s Friendship Day, to heal the pain of the Civil War.

The first Mother’s Day in the USA was held in 1907 when Julia Ward held a ceremony to honor her mother. She then successfully campaigned for a formal holiday to honor mothers and by 1911 most states had taken up the idea. This was followed in 1914 by a declaration by President Woodrow Wilson that Mother’s Day should be celebrated as a national holiday on the second Sunday in May. The idea quickly spread to Canada and Mexico and many more countries throughout the world.

The commercialization of Mother’s Day quickly followed, much to the disgust of Anna Jarvis who was arrested in 1923 at a Mother’s Day festival for trying to stop women selling flowers. Jarvis said “I wanted it to be a day of sentiment not profit.

Ironically Anna Jarvis campaigned for many years against the commercialization of Mother’s Day, the day she had worked so hard to establish.

Although she had no children of her own, each Mother’s Day Anna received hundreds of cards from all over the world. Anna Jarvis died in 1948.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Valentine. I lived in Rome during the third century. That was long, long ago! At that time, Rome was ruled by an emperor named Claudius. I didn’t like Emperor Claudius, and I wasn’t the only one! A lot of people shared my feelings.

Claudius wanted to have a big army. He expected men to volunteer to join. Many men just did not want to fight in wars. They did not want to leave their wives and families. As you might have guessed, not many men signed up. This made Claudius furious. So what happened? He had a crazy idea. He thought that if men were not married, they would not mind joining the army. So Claudius decided not to allow any more marriages. Young people thought his new law was cruel. I thought it was preposterous! I certainly wasn’t going to support that law!

Did I mention that I was a priest? One of my favourite activities was to marry couples. Even after Emperor Claudius passed his law, I kept on performing marriage ceremonies — secretly, of course. It was really quite exciting. Imagine a small candlelit room with only the bride and groom and myself. We would whisper the words of the ceremony, listening all the while for the steps of soldiers.

One night, we did hear footsteps. It was scary! Thank goodness the couple I was marrying escaped in time. I was caught. (Not quite as light on my feet as I used to be, I guess.) I was thrown in jail and told that my punishment was death.

I tried to stay cheerful. And do you know what? Wonderful things happened. Many young people came to the jail to visit me. They threw flowers and notes up to my window. They wanted me to know that they, too, believed in love.

One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit me in the cell. Sometimes we would sit and talk for hours. She helped me to keep my spirits up. She agreed that I did the right thing by ignoring the Emperor and going ahead with the secret marriages. On the day I was to die, I left my friend a little note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. I signed it, “Love from your Valentine.”

I believe that note started the custom of exchanging love messages on Valentine’s Day. It was written on the day I died, February 14, 269 A.D.

Now, every year on this day, people remember. But most importantly, they think about love and friendship. And when they think of Emperor Claudius, they remember how he tried to stand in the way of love, and they laugh — because they know that love can’t be beaten!

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