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<March 2006 Marriage 411>
Marriage 411

The staff at TWDS are outstanding! My husband and I started taking classes from TWDS to prepare for our wedding. We learned our “first dance” and had so much fun! After our wedding we really missed our weekly dance class so we quickly signed up for more lessons and before we knew it we had a weekly dinner and dance date! We love learning new things together and dancing is one activity where we are at the same level so it’s really easy to enjoy. TWDS teaching style helps us to relax — taking classes with TWDS has introduced us to a whole new world of married life fun! - - Lauren and Jason Gerbsman, married June 5, 2004

March 2006 Newsletter



We hope you'll take some time to snuggle up and enjoy the newsletter about love, life and marriage! We are excited to offer you this newsletter designed to help newlyweds with useful resources and advice and of course, we encourage you to keep dancing and romancing! We wish you a happily ever after! Sincerely, Mrs. Deborah Joy and Mr. Brian Block, Founders of The Wedding Dance Specialists

 


Home Sweet Home: Kitchen Remodeling Basics by Jeff Thompson, Manager, Waterstone Kitchen & Bath

I am sure you can all remember a time when the kitchen was for cooking and eating dinner, and the family room was the place to visit with guests and entertain friends.  This just doesn’t seem to be true any more.  Now, more than ever, kitchens have become the main focal point of the every house.  It’s no wonder that kitchen remodeling is the number one type of construction project in homes all across the country.  Not only does you kitchen make a bold statement about your individual style, but is also can drastically increase the value of your home.  So with all of this in mind, what can you expect when it comes time to remodel your kitchen.  Many kitchen and bath experts break the remodeling of any kitchen into five basic levels.

Level I  -  Cosmetic Makeover
This option is relatively inexpensive, but can have a major effect on the overall look and feel of your kitchen.  A cosmetic makeover may include cabinet re-facing, new paint, new countertops and or new appliances.  While maintaining the same overall layout of your kitchen, you can update your kitchen to reflect your own personal style. 
Expected Investment:                $2,000 - $10,000

Level II  -  Changing the Layout
With this option, you will maintain the same basic layout of your existing kitchen, but move some of the workspaces, appliances and eating areas to better suit your needs.  This option will involve some basic carpentry, plumbing and electrical work in order to achieve the layout you desire.
Expected Investment:                $8,000 - $20,000

Level III  -  Redirecting the Flow of Traffic
With this option, you will retain the existing layout of your current kitchen with regard to the confining walls, but will change the placement of cabinets and appliances to redirect the flow of traffic.  This option usually involves a complete cabinet overhaul and the relocation of doorways or openings.  A project such as this involves some extensive carpentry, plumbing and electrical work.
Expected Investment:                $14,000 - $35,000

Level IV – Expanding into Other Rooms
This option involves knocking down confining walls and extending your kitchen into adjacent rooms.  This option gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to redesigning your kitchen.  With space not being as limiting a factor, you have much more freedom to increase storage space, countertop surface and eating areas.  These projects typically involve major carpentry, electrical and plumbing work and may require the expertise of a structural architect/engineer.
Expected Investment:                $30,000 - $70,000

Level V  -  Expanding Outward
This option involves knocking down exterior walls and expanding your kitchen into unused exterior space by adding an addition to your home.  This option is usually only considered when usable interior space is limited and expanding the kitchen into other rooms is not an option.  The single greatest advantage of a project of this type is that the sky is the limit.  You can go as big as you’d like.  Projects of this magnitude will involve major carpentry, electrical and plumbing work, but also may require extensive work form concrete contractors, insulators and architects and engineers.
Expected Investment:                $70,000+

See our special offer below!


Great Vacations: Puerto Rico

Last May over Memorial Day weekend, we spent 5 days in Puerto Rico. We stayed at the Wyndham El San Juan Hotel located right on the beach. The sand is white and the water is crystal clear. The hotel is the main attraction for nightlife because it has a large and elegant casino, nightclubs, and exquisite lobby with live music everynight. If you go on a holiday weekend be prepared for a raucous atmosphere poolside and on the beach. Across the street from the hotel at Metropol Restaurant we enjoyed fabulous and inexpensive local cuisine. We hiked in peaceful and beautiful El Junque rainforest. Make sure you bring bottled, rugged shoes, water and apply insect repellant in advance. If you want to swim in the waterfall, wear your swimsuit and bring a small washcloth or handtowel. Other highlights included exploring the historic town of Old San Juan and El Morro, a 400 year old fort. We enjoyed free tastings at the Bacardi Rum Factory.

Old San Juan
El Morro Fort
Wyndham Old San Juan Resort

Marriage Maintenance:Thriving not Just Surviving the First Two Years of Marriage

New studies show that couples who lose the romance in their marriage during the first two years are more likely to eventually divorce. Things will change once you are married even though you may have lived together, took trips together, shared a bank account together, slept together, and/or made major purchases together. Be prepared for the subtle changes that occur because now you have made a life-long commitment to one another. The major issues newlywed couples often face are finances, in-laws, expectations, communication styles and sex. Here are some reminders on how to help keep your new marriage alive and well.

1.Be prepared for the newlywed blues.  It happens to everyone once the honeymoon is over and you are back into your daily routine.  Expect it to happen, it helps to talk to friends that are married and remember you aren’t alone.

2.Continue to schedule and keep dates with one another. Don't let romance become a low priority.  One spouse should not do all of the date planning, keep things fresh by making plans together and surprising each other.

3.Discover ways to have fun together.

4.Discuss the big issues like money, in-laws, and sex.  This is probably most important.  These issues can put a big stress on a new marriage and being open and honest about these topics from the start will help keep conflicts to a minimum.

5.Talk about your expectations with one another. Make sure they are realistic.

6.Fight fairly, but fight. Don't avoid conflict.  Also, try not to go to bed mad.  If you solve conflicts before bed, the next day will be less stressful for both of you.

7.Learn how to compromise.  Make sure you both give a little and that one person is not always getting their way.

8.Deal with your differences.  You didn’t marry someone exactly like you so be aware that at times you can agree to disagree.

9.Be forgiving.

10.Be patient. It takes time to grow a strong marriage.

Things all marriages need:

  • Commitment
  • Respect
  • Loyalty
  • Sense of Humor
  • Quiet Time Together

Filling the Nest:  Preconception Prep for Men
(copied in part from What to Expect When You’re Expecting)

There are many ways that the prospective father can enhance his fertility while ensuring the best chances for a safe pregnancy and optimum health for the baby. It's never too early to start taking care of your body. In fact, your good pre-pregnancy care will benefit not only your own children but your future grandchildren.

1. See your doctor
.  Get a thorough physical exam, and talk about the sexual side effects of any prescription, over the counter or herbal drugs you are taking.

2. Switch birth control methods if necessary.  It is necessary for your partner to get off birth control pills a couple of menstrual cycles before you begin conceiving.  Make sure to play it safe while waiting by using condoms without spermicide.

3. Improve your diet.  The better your nutrition, the healthier sperm you produce.  Also take a vitamin mineral supplement containing folic acid.  Low intake of folic acid has been linked to decreased fertility and birth defects.

4. Change your lifestyle. 
  You can still go out and have fun but limit drug/alcohol consumption.  Research shows that drug and alcohol use by the male partner can prevent pregnancy or lead to poor pregnancy outcome.  Drug and alcohol use damage sperm, reduce their number and can cause birth defects.

5. Kick the butt habit
.  Smoking makes conception more difficult because it reduces the number of sperm you produce.  Smoking in your household after the baby is born can also put you baby at risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

6.Avoid Chemicals.  High lead levels, organic solvents, pesticides and other chemicals can interfere with a male’s fertility

7. Keep ‘em cool.  Sperm production is impaired when the testicles become overheated.  Avoid hot tubs, hot baths, saunas, and tight clothing.

8. Keep ‘em Safe.  Make sure to wear protective gear over your genital area while playing sports.  Any damage to this area can impair fertility. 

9. Relax.  Stress affects libido, performance, and decreases both testosterone level and sperm production.


Keep the Honeymoon Alive : Romantic Bath a Deut!

Bathing together can ease the stress of everyday life, is a great idea for making up after and argument or may just be a romantic way of saying, “I love you”.  You can create an ambience at home or reserve a suite at a luxury hotel nearby with a whirlpool bath or hot tub for two! No matter what the reason or how you decide to indulge in this experience will be an encounter that brings you closer together.

Gathering essential ingredients... Suggestions for the "ultimate" bathing experience.

1. champagne or wine glasses.
2. romantic music.
3. soft towels fluffy towels
4. rose petals
5. bubble bath, scented bath salts or pearls (match the scent of the candles)
6. super cozy robes
7. scented candles (sandlewood, jasmine, rose or lavendar)

If your romantic bath has taken place in the evening, end the night with a cup of hot chocolate or soothing non-caffeinated tea and something yummy and decadent to eat before enjoying a romantic movie or a relaxing massage.


On the Town

Event:  Exclusive World Premiere:   Hot Feet
Dates:  March 21 – April 9
Location:  National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC 20004
Details:  Hot Feet is a new musical by Tony nominated dancer, director and choreographer Maurice Hines. The previews will begin on April 15 and the musical will officially open on April 30th. But before coming to Broadway the show will deliver a performance from March 18th to April 9th at the National Theater in Washington DC. The lyrics and music will be provided by the founder of Earth, Wind and Fire Maurice White. The musical is slated to make its Broadway debut in 2006. Hot Feet contains some to the best hits of Earth, Wind and Fire including "After the Love is Gone", "Boogie Wonderland", "Shining Star", and "September." In addition to these hits, White has composed seven all-new original songs for this production
More Information: http://www.nationaltheatre.org/mainstage/HotFeetpricesnow.htm


Dance and Romance Date Night Ideas

Event: Salsa Nightclub
Date: every Friday
Location: Caribbean Breeze, 4100 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington VA.
Time: 10pm until 2am
Cost:  $10
Details:  Featuring the sounds of resident DJ Andy. Enjoy the best of salsa and cha cha along with phenomenal food, drinks and ambiance. Dance inside or outside on their patio!

Contact us to learn Salsa, or Cha Cha!


Vendor Special Offers
We have done market research, pre-screened and personally used these vendors and negotiated these savings on your behalf to save you time, money and energy so you can focus on enjoying newlywed bliss! Click on the banners below to view their websites.

The Wedding Dance Specialists SALE!

SAVE 10% when you take all of your private lessons in Towson or Falls Church. You can schedule your lessons anytime within one year from date of purchase. Sale expires April 12, 2006.

Brian Block - RE/MAX Allegiance
Now that you are about to merge your life with your fiance, you may be looking to sell or purchase real estate. Click the banner below to leisurely view Northern Virginia Area homes from the comfort of your home. Brian Block is a Real Estate Agent and Real Estate Attorney. 703-626-0715. Present this coupon to receive:

1.Information about upcoming, local FREE Home buyer's Seminar with expert advice from a real estate professional and a mortgage lender. (value priceless)
1. A FREE HOME APPRAISAL (value $350)
2. 2 FREE private ballroom dance lessons when you use his services for purchasing your home. (value $170)

Jeff Thompson - Waterstone Kitchen & Bath

Our commitment is to create a close personal working relationship with all our clients. Better communication means better development of ideas and more satisfied customers. We pride ourselves on providing unsurpassed customer service with the utmost attention to detail. From the design process and preliminary selections through the final unveiling of your new kitchen or bath, let us help turn your dream into a reality. See Jeff's article on kitchen renovation basics above in "Home Sweet Home" Present this coupon and let them know The Wedding Dance Specialists referred you to recieve a 15% discount on any kitchen or bath remodel that would be deducted after the final estimate.

 Bob Prather- Nations Home Funding

"We trusted Bob to handle our first home purchase and refinance and were very pleased with his services. Since then, we have recommended him to many people over the years."- Deborah Joy

For over 20 years, Bob has assisted individuals and families with their financial decisions.  He has years of experience in Management, Financial Counseling, Mortgage Finance Instruction and is a Certified Mortgage Planner. Bob is humbled by his responsibility to serve his family, clients and Creator with the highest level of integrity and stewardship.Nations Home Funding, Inc. provides full mortgage planning, mortgage financing, and mortgage management services.  Being a lender and a broker, Nations Home Funding is able to competitively service a wide range of client needs.  See his article below in "Dollars and Sense"

703-919-0288 Present this coupon and let him know The Wedding Dance Specialists referred you to recieve a $500 lender credit when you close a loan using the services of Bob Prather.


Dollars and Sense : Should You Leverage Your Home or Pay It Down Rapidly?

Nations Home Funding By Robert A. Prather. CMPS, Nations Home Funding Incorporated

There is a great debate within the inner-mortgage circles these days. Should we, as loan professionals, encourage clients to borrow as much money as possible? Or would consumers benefit more if we helped them to understand the advantages of 15-year amortization schedules and pre-paying principal? Let's examine the pros and cons of both strategies.

Leveraging Your Property. In order to understand why you'd want to borrow as much as possible for your home purchase, you must first grasp the concept that equity has a zero rate of return. Here's an example:
 
If Consumer "A" buys a home for $300,000, and puts 20% down, then they have $60,000 in equity. Over the next 5 years, the property appreciates $100,000 in value. Consumer "A" now has $160,000 in equity.
 
Consumer "B" buys a home for $300,000, and puts no money down. At the end of 5 years, that same home is now worth $400,000. Consumer "B" has $100,000 in equity, which is the same appreciation as Consumer "A", a net $100,000.

As you can see, your down payment has nothing to do with your rate of return. What becomes important is how you choose to manage the $60,000 you didn't use as a down payment. If you use it for frivolous activities, such as buying toys or going to Las Vegas, it would be more prudent for you to use that money as a down payment. Especially since this will enable you to obtain a lower interest rate.

However, if you were to invest the $60,000 in a vehicle that can out-earn the cost of that debt, then this could be a formula for success. This is why some lending professionals suggest putting as little down as you possibly can, maximizing your tax write-off, and investing the rest. This principle has been applied for many years in the life insurance game. The old saying goes, "Buy term and invest the rest." The key component is taking the money you would have used as a down payment and creating an asset accumulation account. This account should earn a significant enough rate of return to enable you to pay your mortgage off entirely and achieve the ultimate goal of being debt-free.

Paying Your Home Down Rapidly. There are very few times over the course of my career that I have seen a client with zero debt and no financial difficulties. Choosing to pay off all of your debt can reduce stress and help you to gain freedom of cash flow for investment opportunities. A 15-year mortgage or a bi-weekly payment strategy provides structure. It can also put you on track to have your mortgage paid off within a set timeframe. Simply put, it contains built-in discipline.

It's important; however, to understand that regardless of how rapidly you pay your home off, you're not getting any greater rate of return on your investment than if you paid it off slowly.

Conclusion: So how does one determine which scenario is best? The choice depends entirely upon the individual. Savvy consumers who are disciplined, and are comfortable taking chances from an investment perspective, would do well with the first scenario. Over the course of time, it's been proven that your rate of return over the long-haul will be far greater than the rate you'd pay for a mortgage in today's rate environment. It's important to seek the advice of a skilled investment advisor to ensure success with this strategy.

The second scenario is best for those who have a difficult time managing their money or who'll sleep easier at night knowing they have a plan in place to pay their loan off more rapidly. Be sure that your budget can handle accelerated payments. When consumers "bite off more than they can chew" with a 15-year mortgage, they frequently end up having to refinance back into a 30-year schedule.

If you find this subject intriguing and would like to know more, I recommend that you read a book titled, Missed Fortune 101, by Douglas Andrew. It's an outstanding read that is very simplistic and goes into far greater detail than I can cover in this column. Douglas is a financial planner who advises safe-structured investments such as investment grade life policies and tax-free fixed income instruments.

If you would like to obtain a FREE CD Interview with financial planning expert and best-selling author, Douglas Andrew, please contact Mr. Prather at: 703-481-2291 Ext: 127.

See my exclusive offer above!


Whatcha Cooking Good Looking? Recipe for a Chocolate Kiss

Christmas KISSES CandiesChocolate is always a favorite when you talk about love and romance and with the warm weather coming what sounds better than a cool yummy drink to begin an evening of fun!

Ingredients:
1/2 ounce Creme de Cacao
1/2 ounce Frangelico liqueur
1/2 ounce vodka
6 ounces vanilla ice cream
Preparations:
Combine liquor with 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream, blend with ice and garnish with chocolate sprinkles.

Makes 1 Love Drink.


Everyday Etiquette: Netiquette

Long before telephones, text messaging and email, people communicated by writing letters.  They shared their thoughts, hopes and dreams by writing and rewriting until they got it perfect.  But now, with the use of technology, we have the ability to fire off communication at lightening speed.  We can share our lives, through online diaries, email and web pages without a second thought.  But does this all come with a price?

Sometimes we send off correspondence in haste, fury or just plain laziness.   We send grammatical errors, we send emotional outbursts, we SHOUT, we use emotional punctuation ;) or we just plain fail to use punctuation at all.  We have ultimately forgotten the fact that as soon as we hit the enter key our emails, web sites and blogs have now become public knowledge.  Basically we have forgotten the power of the written word.

So, before you send your next email, think about what you write – would you say that in public?  Remember bad manners are magnified online and please use your spell check, good judgment, and the “delete” key when necessary.
Inspirations: 4 Ways to Get Closer to Your Partner

The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.
~ by Maulana Jalalu'ddin Rumi ~

 


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