Servicing DC, MD & VA

Workers Compensation

September 1st, 2016 | Comments Off on Workers Compensation | Posted in Hedda's Hints

Do We Need Workers Compensation Insurance For A Domestic Worker?

Do I Need Workers Comp Insurance

Maryland Yes, it is compulsory if you have a domestic worker whose earnings are $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter.

District of ColumbiaYes, it is compulsory if you have a domestic worker who works at least 240 hours in a calendar quarter.

Virginia No, domestic workers are specifically excluded.

If you need Workers Compensation Insurance for your Domestic Worker or if you have any questions, please contact Hedda  Silverman, Personal Risk Manager, at 240-644-6000.

Note: Encompass Homeowners coverage provides  coverage for Domestic Workers.

Your Retirement Fund

September 1st, 2016 | Comments Off on Your Retirement Fund | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

Taking Responsibility for Your Retirement Fund

Relying on pension funds and Social Security is no longer sufficient when planning for retirement. To help, the IRS has published the following tips to help you take charge of saving for retirement:

  • Set a goal: Even if you can only save a small amount, setting aside money each month will get you in the habit of saving.
  • Open an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA): Most Americans can open and make tax-deferred contributions to an IRA.
  • Learn about your employer’s retirement plan: If you’re covered under your employer’s retirement plan, be sure to ask for your copy of the summary plan description to learn about your rights under the plan.
  • Review your benefits statement: Your plan administrator can provide you with a benefits statement, which details your total plan benefits and the amount vested.
  • Sign up for 401(k) contributions: If your employer offers a 401(k), you can select how much money you want taken out of each paycheck to be put into this account.
  • Take your minimum distributions: If you’re 70 1/2 years old, you’re generally required to receive a minimum amount from your qualified retirement plan or IRA.
  • Estimate your Social Security benefits: Use the Social Security Administration’s calculator to do so.
  • Learn about your spouse’s retirement plan: Many plans provide spousal benefits. Be sure to read the plan’s details to see if you are eligible.                                
View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.

September Festivals and Events

September 1st, 2016 | Comments Off on September Festivals and Events | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

The Washington, DC area and its surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia host lots of annual festivals and special events. All dates, prices, and activities mentioned are subject to change, so please check the website or call to confirm information.

shutterstock_400241479Maryland Renaissance Festival
Through Oct. 23, 2016. Crownsville, MD. A 16th century English village with crafts, food, live performances, games and lots more.

Labor Day Weekend
Sept. 3-5, 2016. Find some family fun at great outdoor events going on this Labor Day Weekend.

Virginia Scottish Games
Sept. 3-4, 2016. Celebrate Alexandria’s Scottish Heritage with live music and dance competitions, a British Car Show, children’s games, Celtic crafts and foods.

DC Blues Festival
Sept. 3, 2016, 12:15-7 p.m. Carter Barron Amphitheater. This free annual festival features live blues by outstanding local and national acts.

Silver Spring Restaurant Week 
Sept. 6-11, 2016. Enjoy great dining deals and try some new restaurants in Silver Spring, Maryland during Restaurant Week.

Prince George’s County Fair
Sept. 8-11, 2016. Upper Marlboro, MD. Carnival rides, live animals displays, family circus, fireworks, live entertainment, food.

The DC Shorts Film Festival
Sept. 8-18, 2016. Film festival in Washington, DC featuring short films and discussions with filmmakers.

Rosslyn Jazz Festival
Sept. 10, 2016, 1-7 p.m. Enjoy a day of free jazz concerts in Rosslyn, VA.

Trump International Hotel Grand Opening
Date to Be Announced. The redeveloped historic Old Post Office Pavilion property will open this month as a super-luxury hotel with premier dining and event spaces.

Frederick’s In the Street Festival
Sept. 10, 2016. Frederick, MD. One of the biggest festivals of the year takes over the downtown area with live entertainment to encourage dancing in the streets. Also, enjoy food, arts and crafts, and kids activities.

Hyattsville Arts and Ales Festival
Sept 10, 2016, 12-6 p.m. Hyattsville, MD. More than 100 artists, MD breweries, food trucks and  live entertainment will span 4 blocks in the Gateway Arts District.

Maryland Seafood Festival
Sept. 10-11, 2016. Sandy Point State Park, Annapolis, MD. Weekend event with great food, music, and family fun.

September 11 Memorial Events
Sept. 11, 2016. See the schedule of special commemorative events in Washington, DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Takoma Park Folk Festival
Sept. 11, 2016, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Community festival with games, food, crafts, dancing and music.

Nation’s Triathlon
Sept. 11, 2016. The sporting event includes a scenic course that winds through the National Mall, a 1.5k swim in the Potomac River, 40k bike course through the streets of Washington and Maryland, finishing with a 10k run past the city’s historical landmarks. The weekend includes a Health and Fitness Expo that is open to the public.

Adams Morgan Day
Sept. 11, 2016, Noon-7 p.m. Annual street festival in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC.

Washington Redskins Opening Game
Sept. 12, 2016,  7 p.m. The Washington football team plays in their home opener. Enjoy the football season and cheer for the Redskins.

Anne Arundel County Fair
Sept. 14-18, 2016.  Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds, Crownsville, MD. Monster truck rides, carnival rides, farm animals, pig races, antique saw mill, pie eating contest, talent show and much more.

National Hispanic Heritage Month
Sept. 15-Oct. 15. Celebrate the culture and traditions of Spanish speaking residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Charles County Fair
Sept. 15-18, 2016. Charles County Fairgrounds, 8440 Fairgrounds Road. La Plata, Maryland. (301) 932-1234. Farm animals, displays, demonstrations, food, entertainment, carnival rides, games and activities for all ages.

Great Frederick Fair
Sept. 16-24, 2016. Frederick Fairgrounds. Musical entertainment, tractor pulls, equine expo and showcase, agricultural events, food.

Annapolis Craft Beer and Music Festival
Sept. 17, 2016.  Annapolis, MD. The event features beer tastings, seminars, live music, food and arts and crafts exhibits.

Virginia Wine Festival
Sept. 17-18, 2016. Centreville, VA. Sample wine from 60 Virginia wineries and enjoy gourmet food, seminars, arts and crafts, live music and more.

Silver Spring Jazz Festival
2016 Dates to Be Announced, 3-10 p.m. See a variety of jazz performances in downtown Silver Spring, MD.

Nation’s Football Classic
Sept. 17, 2016. RFK Stadium. The event is a black college football game held annually in Washington, DC. Additional events will be held around town throughout the weekend.

Alexandria King Street Art Festival
Sept. 17-18, 2016. King Street becomes an outdoor gallery featuring 200 of the nation’s top award-winning artists.

WalkingTown DC
Sept. 17-25, 2016. Enjoy free guided tours of the neighborhoods of Washington DC. Dozens of walking tours are available offering a great way to explore the nation’s capital.

H Street Festival
Sept. 17, 2016, noon-6 p.m. The festival includes musical and dance performances, children’s activities, crafts, international foods and more.

Latino Festival – Fiesta DC
Sept. 17-18, 2016. Washington DC. Celebrate the Latino culture with one of the largest festivals in the nation’s capital. International cuisine and lots of live entertainment.

Mount Vernon’s Colonial Craft Fair
Sept.17-18, 2016, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The fair is a re-creation of an early American marketplace with artist demonstrations, family entertainment and 18th-century amusements.

Fiesta Musical at the National Zoo
Sept. 18, 2016, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Enjoy a celebration of Latin American culture and wildlife through a variety of family-oriented activities, live music and dance, special keeper talks, and a Latin American food court.

Capital Home Show
Sept. 23-25, 2016. Dulles Expo Center. 4368 Chantilly Shopping Center, Chantilly, VA. See what’s new in building, remodeling, and decorating. Meet experts and shop, compare and save on all of your home improvement projects.

Grand Opening Smithsonian African American History Museum
Sept. 24, 2016. National Mall, Washington DC. The new museum opens with a dedication ceremony where President Barack Obama will cut the ribbon. The celebration continues with extended visiting hours and a three-day festival showcasing popular music, literature, dance and film.

DC Beer Week
Sept. 24-Oct. 1, 2016. Hundreds of venues in Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland will host a variety of beer related events, including beer dinners, tastings, educational panels, glassware giveaways, and more.

National Book Festival
Sept. 24, 2016. Washington Convention Center. Visit with more than 100 award-winning authors, illustrators and poets who will talk about and sign their books.

Fall Theater in Washington DC
With dozens of performances around the region, here is the schedule of the top shows for the 2016 season.

Charity Walks in the Washington, DC Area
The MS Challenge Walk and the Walk for Kids are great charities to support while improving your own health. See these and more walks coming up this fall.

Oktoberfests Near Washington, DC
Find German folk festivals with great beer, food, and live entertainment.

Washington DC Tour de Cure Bicycling Event 
Sept. 24, 2016. Washington, DC. Bike across the nation’s capital and help raise funds and awareness for the American Diabetes Association. All experience levels welcome.

Turkish Festival
Sept. 25, 2016, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Freedom Plaza, Washington, DC. Celebrate Turkish art and culture with a variety of family-friendly activities, food, crafts and more.

Fall For the Book Festival
Sept. 25-30, 2016. The regional celebration of literature and the arts features events at George Mason University’s Fairfax, Virginia Campus and at multiple locations throughout the capital region. The festival welcomes nearly 150 authors including some of the nation’s most exciting and provocative writers.

Pumpkin Festivals
Some of the region’s pumpkin patches open at the end of September. Find out where the best pumpkin patches and fall festivals are in the Washington, DC area and plan an early visit before the crowds.

Calvert County Fair
Sept. 28-Oct. 2, 2016. Prince Frederick, Maryland. The fair includes a wide range of activities including farm animals, exhibits, musical, entertainment, food, carnival rides, contests and a 4H auction.

Source: dc.about.com

17 Ways to Ease Back-to-School

September 1st, 2016 | Comments Off on 17 Ways to Ease Back-to-School | Posted in Lifestyle

End-of-summer tricks guaranteed to make the first day at the bus stop less stressful

shutterstock_221843062For a kid, going from a hazy, lazy summer where the only thing she has on her schedule is scratching a mosquito bite (and even then only if she feels like it!) to having to rise with the sun, look remotely human, and pay attention all day can be a major shock. But there are ways you can make things go more smoothly, starting right now.

Reset Her Body Clock

Odds are, she’s been trapping toads until late into the evening and then sleeping in. Easing her back to a school-year schedule will ensure that she shows up bright-eyed, if not bushy-tailed, says Rafael Pelayo, M.D., a pediatric sleep specialist at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic in Redwood City, CA. Here’s how:

Spin Sleep

“You have to get the kids on board,” says Dr. Pelayo. If she sees going to bed as a punishment or a bummer, she’s going to avoid it. But if she understands that sleep is good for her, just as exercise is, she may resist less. “Talk about it like ‘It’s not that you have to go to sleep, but that you get to go to sleep.'” It also helps to tell her that you’re going to be resetting your schedule, too, and have only incredibly boring stuff — cleaning the bathroom, discussing health care reform with her father — planned for the evening. “That way, the kid doesn’t feel punished. It’s the whole family getting ready.”

Do the Math

Calculate the hour at which she’ll need to get up in order to get to school on time (allowing a generous cushion for chaos) and count backward nine or so hours. That’s her “falling-asleep time” once school starts, says Dr. Pelayo. Her bedtime might be 10 or 20 minutes before that.

Shift her To-Bed and Wake-Up Times

If she’s been going to bed too late, beginning two weeks before school starts, move her bedtime up about 20 minutes every three or so days. “You cannot expect a kid who’s been staying up until eleven to go to bed at nine all at once,” says Dr. Pelayo. “She’s just going to get frustrated and lie awake.” This change also means that exciting activities like TV watching and texting friends have to end earlier in the evening so your kid has time to wind down. Also, from the very first day you start shifting her bedtime, start rousing her at the time she’ll need to get up for school so she’ll tire earlier at night.

Make Getting Up Worth It

Dr. Pelayo recommends that, after you flip on the light and open the bedroom shades to let in the brightest sun possible, you let your kid play a video game or watch TV first thing in the morning — at least for a few days. “It may sound like blasphemy, but think about it: Waking up is biological. Getting out of bed, on the other hand, is volitional.” In other words, give her some incentive. By the start of school, her body will be in the habit of getting up earlier.

Don’t Force It

On the night before school starts, your child might be too hopped-up to get to bed on time. “It’s not a big deal for one night,” says Dr. Pelayo; her excitement will fuel her that first day. Saying something like “You have to go to sleep because tomorrow is the first day of school” will only add to the pressure. “You can’t force yourself to fall asleep,” he says.

Get a Workplace that Works

Just as nature will reclaim an abandoned property by engulfing it in spooky trees and tall grass, your child’s desk, if you can even see it, is by now probably home to toys, trophies, discarded clothing, and artwork that’s just short of being good enough for refrigerator display. Not exactly a place that encourages focus. The best way to set up your child’s homework space? Let him do it, says Marcella Moran, an educational consultant and coauthor ofOrganizing the Disorganized Child. “Parents tend to organize their kids based on their own organization style,” says Moran. “That works for you, but it may not work for your child.”

That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t help your kid discover his perfect, intuitive workspace. After the desk is cleared, have him sit down at it. Ask him to close his eyes and name the essential items he needs to do his homework. (These may include pens, books, a calculator, a computer, and even a drink or snack. Some kids work well with an iPod playing soft music.) Then have him place his hand where he’d think to grab the item. Wherever it is he reaches, that’s where that object should live. Repeat this process with all the essentials. (Some kids might do this better with their eyes open, and that’s fine.) Voila! The perfect setup for your child to work efficiently.

Deal With “I Don’t Want to Go to School!”

Unless you homeschool, there’s no question your kid has to be backpack-on, lunch-box-in-hand ready on day one. Still, replying “You have to go, or Mommy and Daddy will go to jail,” while true, isn’t ideal. Ask him exactly what it is about school that’s eating at him, advises Ruth Peters, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Clearwater, FL, and don’t accept “Everything” as an answer. Probe gently, and depending on what he says, here’s how to help him wrap his mind around the fact that September is just around the corner.

If what he means is: I don’t want summer to end.

Well, who can blame him? “But help put that in perspective,” says Peters. “Dreading the end of a good thing doesn’t mean that school is a bad thing.” A reminder of the aspects of school that he adored last year — friends, clubs, a particular subject — should do it.

If what he means is: I’ve heard older kids say school is not cool.

You should be able to ferret this out pretty easily. Then a quick “Are you kidding? What’s not cool about meeting new people and learning new things?” should do it for a kindergartner or first-grader. To an older kid, you might say, “Do you really dislike school, all day, every day?” If it’s fear of seeming uncool, he will probably be able to name some aspects of school he enjoys, and you can just remind him that he doesn’t have to pretend to dislike something just to fit in.

If what he means is: I’m afraid of the work.

Reassure him that the first six weeks of school is always a catch-up time, says Peters, and that when the pace picks up, you’ll do whatever he needs to support him. “You can always get a tutor to help out,” adds Peters, who points out that a high school student will often do it for little money. But watch your language here. “You want to empathize about the fact that certain things may be hard,” she says, without making the problem seem insurmountable. So avoid saying something like “Yeah, none of us Spunkmeyers is good at math — you got the gene!” Instead, try “Yes, math can be tough. But we’ll figure it out one way or another.”

If what he means is: I’m worried I’ll have no friends/be bullied/have to eat lunch alone.

Social worries are huge for kids and can cause a lot of anxiety about the start of school. “If something happened last year, they’re probably thinking that more of the same is going to happen,” says Peters. There’s a lot you can do, though. Find out before his first day if his friends are going to be in his class, and if they’re not, prepare him for that by talking over whom he can eat lunch with and making plans for after school. See if you can have a late-summer playdate to reconnect him with some of the kids he likes, or even arrange to have breakfast on the first day of school with his best friend and his best friend’s mom. The more he knows about what’s coming up, the better he’ll feel.

Not Least: Meet the Teacher!

In the week before school starts — after that, things will be madness — make contact either in person or via e-mail and introduce yourself. You can let her know if your child has any particular sensitivities or if he or she needs special accommodations. Plus, it’ll start off your relationship on a positive note.