Archive for December, 2010

2010 Census Results – US Census 2010 Findings And Data

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

The data collected for the 2010 Census was released today, bringing with it great changes through the reapportionment of congressional districts, as well as several other interesting population findings.

Republican-leaning states in the South and West that experienced a population boom over the past decade will gain political clout, while some historically Democratic states in the Rust Belt will lose it, according to Census Bureau figures released Tuesday aimed at ensuring proportional representation in the House.

…The slowing pace of population growth in the Northeast is a decades-long trend spurred in part by the decline of manufacturing jobs in the region. The faster-growing South and West regions will gain additional House seats, as companies have been shifting jobs there in response to financial incentives by state and local governments and the lack of strong labor unions.

[source]

-Michigan was only state to lose residents since 2000. The state’s population dropped by 0.6%.

-Nevada population grew 35.1% since 2000. Arizona’s population grew 24.1% over the same time period. Those states are likely to shed thousands of residents as the mortgage crisis continues to mount.

-The Northeast grew by 3.2%. The Midwest grew by 3.9%. Meanwhile, the South expanded by 14.3% and the West grew by 13.8%.

-In 1910 the West region was 7.7% of the country’s population. Now it’s 22.5%.

-The five most populous states are California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois.

-For the first time ever, the West is now more populous than the Midwest.

-The U.S. population hit 308.7 million, according to the latest census data. That represents an increase of 9.7 percent since 2000, the slowest growth rate since the Great Depression.

-Washington D.C. registered its first population growth since 1950, the Census data show. That’s up 5.2 percent since 2000 for a total of 601,723.

-Least populous states: Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska and South Dakota.

[source]

The U.S. Census and the Amazing Apportionment Machine

Crafts For Winter – Indoor Activities For Kids

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Winter brings rain and gloomy days, but that doesn’t mean you and your family can’t still have fun! You just have to take it indoors.

Here are some fun and easy winter crafts for kids and adults alike.

3-D Artwork
Art meets science in this fun indoor activity.

What You’ll Need:
Card stock
Rimmed baking sheet
White glue
Salt
Colored water (see tip below)
Eyedropper

Instructions:
1. Place the card stock on the baking sheet and use the glue to draw a design on the paper.

2. Sprinkle salt on the wet glue until it’s completely covered; tap off any excess.

3. Using the eyedropper, drip one drop at a time of the colored water onto the salt.

As the salt absorbs the colored water, the liquid will move along the lines created by the glue, resulting in a color piece of art. Be sure to watch what happens when the colors reach intersecting lines.

Colored Water Tip: Use 5 drops of neon food coloring per 1 tablespoon of water.

[source]

Homemade Snow Dough
This sparkling white play dough will surely brighten up your winter days.

What You’ll Need:
1 Cup Flour
1 Cut Water
1/2 Cup Salt
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
2 Tablespoons White Tempera Paint
1 Tablespoon White or Iridescent Glitter
A Few Drops of Peppermint Extract (optional)

Instructions:
1. Combine all the ingredients except the peppermint extract (if you’re using it) in a medium-sized pot and cook over medium heat.

2. Stir constantly until the mixture holds together, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from hot stove.

3. Place the pay dough on wax paper to cool, about 15 minutes. If you’re using peppermint extract, gently knead it into the dough.

You may store the cooled dough in ziplock back in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

When it comes time to play with the dough, there are a variety of useful props:
Dried Beans
Small Twigs
Tiny Carrot Sticks
Cupcake Wrappers
Colorful Beads
Paper Drink umbrellas
Egg Carton Cups
Snowflake Cookie Cutters

[source]

Snowman Thermometer
When the weather outside is frightful, make a thermometer so delightful!

What You’ll Need:
1 Jumbo Craft Stick
White Acrylic Paint
White and Red Glitter Glue
2″ Piece of White Chenille Stem
2 Medium Blue Pom-Pom Puffs
Wax Paper
½ Orange Toothpick
1 Blue Toothpick (colored toothpicks are not required, plain will work)
Scrap of Material For Scarf
Scrap of White Paper For Sign
Black Marker
White Craft Glue
Glue Stick
Scissors

Instructions:
1. Cover your working area with a piece of wax paper and paint the jumbo craft stick white; allow to dry and repeat if needed.

2. Create the snowman’s face using the black marker to draw eyes, eyebrows, and a mouth. Glue the orange toothpick piece between the eyes and the mouth to make the nose.

3. Glue the blue toothpick to the back of the craft stick, about 2.5” down from the top, leaving about 2/3 of the toothpick visible.

4. Cut a piece of white paper, about 2” x 3” and fold in half. On one half, write “BRRR!” with the black marker. Line the inside of the cut paper with using the glue stick and fold it around the blue toothpick to create the sign.

5. Glue a piece of scrap material around the neck area to create a scarf.

6. Bend the white chenille stem so that it is rounded and fits around the top of the craft stick; this will the headband of the snowman’s ear muffs. Glue in place.

7. Trim a little off the side of a pom-pom puff, making one side flatter. Glue the flat side of the puff to the craft stick where the chenille stem ends. Repeat on the other side.

8. Starting at the bottom of the craft stick, use the red glitter glue to make a “ball” of mercury, then draw a line halfway up the stick.

9. Use the white glitter glue and continue up the craft stick until you reach the scarf. Allow several hours to dry completely.

10. Using a fine tip black marker, add numbers and temperature marks to your thermometer; be sure to include the Fahrenheit and Celcius symbols (F and C).

Hint: Start your number 0 where the red and white meet, then fill in remaining numbers from there.

[source]

winter crafts for kids

Should You Gift A Down Payment?

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

According to the National Association of Realtors, 36% of the past year’s first-time buyers turned to their friends and family for help with a down payment, up from the previous year’s 28%.

The editors of Money Magazine have compiled a list of guidelines to follow when considering whether or not to gift a down payment to your child, extend a loan, or cosign their mortgage.

Make a gift if . . .

You want to chip away at your estate. Right now, you and your spouse can each give $13,000 tax-free per year to your child (and another $13,000 each to his or her spouse). A larger gift will simply count against your $1 million lifetime gift-tax exemption, so you still may not have to pay gift taxes, says Morristown, N.J. financial planner Chris Cordaro.

He’s just shy of 20%. If your child has, say, $38,000 to put down on a $200,000 home, kicking in a couple thousand dollars means he won’t have to pay for private mortgage insurance.

You can have an open family discussion. Your other kids should know that you are providing this aid, whether you intend to help them in a comparable way, and if not, why you made that decision.

Draft a loan if . . .

She can pay you back and still qualify for a mortgage. Rules prohibit family loans on the 3.5% down payment needed for government-insured FHA mortgages. For conventional mortgages, lenders typically allow parents to fund only half to three-quarters of a 20% down payment, says San Francisco mortgage broker Edward Craine. The bank will also want your child’s monthly debt payments — including the mortgage, the loan to you, student and car loans, and credit card payments — to be less than 40% of her pretax income.

You’re prepared to lose the money. Your kid may fully intend to repay you, but her ability to do so could change quickly if, for example, she loses her job or has to move suddenly. “As a parent, you are typically the last one in line to get paid,” says Cordaro.

Cosign the mortgage if . . .

Your child has no other way of getting a loan. Cosigning is risky. After all, you’re on the hook for the mortgage if your child runs short of cash. But it might make sense if your kid is, say, in grad school and already has a job lined up, or has a solid but sporadic income that would disqualify him from getting his loan approved.

For more general information and tips on how to get started, visit CNN.com – Should you give your kid a down payment?

how to gift down payment