Tag Archives: Parenting

College Saving Tricks for Moms

by Jennifer Wieland

As a mom, it is your job to keep everyone on track. You are responsible for ensuring everyone is fed and clothed. You also have to think ahead to college. By taking control and starting a college savings account for your children, you can help to give them a bright future. However, when finances are tight, as is the case in many homes, it can be tough to figure out how to save. Here are some college savings tricks you can enjoy.College Saving Tricks for Moms

Know the Options

While you certainly can open a savings account to put money aside for your child’s college, there are some other options that allow you to make more use of your money. The most popular choice is a 529 plan. You can either use a 529 savings or 529 prepaid tuition plan. The savings plan is similar to a retirement account except you can get a lot of tax breaks with them. The money in these accounts is invested to hopefully help build it at a quicker rate.  The prepaid tuition plan, as the name suggests, lets you prepay tuition at your chosen institution at current rates, which can save you big on inflation. Reviewing your college savings plan options is a good first step.

Develop a Plan for Saving

Before you can start to save, you need to know you have the money to do it. You should go over your budget and add in college savings as an expense. Putting it in your budget makes it much easier to just slip the money away each time you pay bills.
You also can go over your bills and try to find a way to reduce them. Often shopping around or just calling in can help you get lower rates. A good trick for saving on insurance is to visit a local insurance office. The face-to-face interaction makes things more personal and encourages them to work hard to find you a good deal.

Give Up Something to Help Out

Sometimes extra money is hard to come by. However, most people have one or two things they spend money on that they don’t really need. Fast food lunches and expensive coffee drinks are two examples. These things may be something you really enjoy but cutting them out or just cutting them down can free up a nice amount of money that can go towards the college savings.

Use the Grocery Store Trick

When you are shopping for groceries, always hunt out the deals. These days most grocery store receipts will include a line that tells you how much you saved. This leads to a nice trick to saving money easily. Every time you grocery shop, you put whatever you saved in a savings account. This can add up really fast, especially if you shop for deals and use coupons.
Saving money for your kid’s college expenses doesn’t have to be a stressful endeavor. You can work ways to save into your everyday life easily. It is all a matter of just being a bit more aware of how you spend and making a few new choices in what you spend.

Are you or did you save for your child(ren)’s college?

 

 

 


Sam’s Club New Mom’s Dad’s Club Giveaway

by Jennifer Wieland
Dads Club - Enter the Fun with Mom Bundle or Fun With Dad Bundle Giveaway Right Now! #ad
Thanks to Sam’s Club and IncrediBundles for sponsoring today’s post.

 

Shopping used to be so much fun for me! Getting out and treating myself to things I wanted when I wanted them. Then I became a mom and a budget and great deals and to many shopping trips became my daily life. I’ve been a Sam’s Club member for years now because I can always find great deals in large quantities that my family needs. Whether it was great prices on diapers and baby wipes when they were younger or stocking up on their favorite snacks, picking up a new outfit, great toy or brand new book I find my mom shopping life easier thanks to Sam’s Club. Even better they have a new way to make mom and dad’s lives even better with the new Sam’s Club Mom’s & Dad’s Club, an exclusive online destination where parents can learn more, save more and win more!

 

Sam’s Club Moms & Dads Club - Enter the Fun with Mom Bundle or Fun With Dad Bundle Giveaway Right Now! #ad #incredibundles #samsclub

Do you know how Sam’s Club can help you save time and money so that you can focus on what matters most – your family!

  • Save on National Brands – Sam’s Club gives you the best prices on the items you need from the brands you know 
  • Save with the Exclusive Members’ Mark Brand – With over 400 Members’ Mark products – the brand exclusive to Sam’s Club – you save even more and still enjoy national brand quality!  
  • Save through Sam’s Club Services – Whether you need a new pair of glasses or are in the market for a new car, Sam’s Club offers a wide range of services to help members get the most for their money.
  • Save Time with Club Pickup – Need to shop but want to skip the hassle?  Learn all about Club Pickup! Order online and your items will be brought to you at the Club Pickup kiosk inside select locations or at one of Sam’s Club’s select Curbside or Drive-Thru locations.
  • Save Time with Easy Reorder – Easy Reorder tools at Sam’s Club allow you to select from a list of the items you usually order, so you don’t have to order from scratch each time you shop.  Many items are available for free shipping or subscriptions.

Sam’s Club Moms & Dads Club - Enter the Fun with Mom Bundle or Fun With Dad Bundle Giveaway Right Now! #ad #incredibundles #samsclub

Sam’s Club Moms & Dads Club

Sam’s Club has taken their commitment to parents one step further with the Sam’s Club Mom’s & Dad’s Club!  Become a member of this online destination and get access to exclusive content, offers and rewards that will make your job as a parent easier.

Sam’s Club Moms & Dads Club - Enter the Fun with Mom Bundle or Fun With Dad Bundle Giveaway Right Now! #ad #incredibundles #samsclub

As a Sam’s Club Mom’s & Dad’s Club Member you will:

  • Get Exclusive Offers – Sam’s Club Mom’s and Dad’s Club registered members receive exclusive discounts, offers, samples and more!  
  • Get Tips & Ideas – Mom’s and Dad’s Club provides product tips and suggestions based on your membership profile as the parent of an infant, toddler, preschooler or elementary aged child.  As a member you’ll also get great ideas to turn every day products into family fun! (Check out refreshing #lifehacks)
  • Get the Chance To Win – Mom’s and Dad’s Club members have special access to prizes, sweepstakes and giveaways 

Sign up to become a Sam’s Club Mom’s & Dad’s Club Member today for free with your Sam’s Club membership!

Sam’s Club Moms & Dads Club - Enter the Fun with Mom Bundle or Fun With Dad Bundle Giveaway Right Now! #ad #incredibundles #samsclub

Enter the Fun with Mom Bundle or Fun With Dad Bundle Giveaway Right Now!

Are you a mom or dad trying to keep your little one happy and busy this summer? Enter to win a Fun With Mom or Fun With Dad Bundle from IncrediBundles.com!  Each of these amazing bundles features a premium diaper bag and a $100 gift card to IncrediBundles.com!

If you win, you will choose between the premium DadGear Diaper Backpack or the sleek and versatile SkipHop Versa Diaper Bag.  Each bag is bundled with a $100 gift card to IncrediBundles.com. Shop their carefully curated selection of toys, books and products for children.

Sam’s Club Moms & Dads Club - Enter the Fun with Mom Bundle or Fun With Dad Bundle Giveaway Right Now! #ad #incredibundles #samsclub

What Might You Buy With Your Gift Card?

Buying for children can be overwhelming with so much to choose from!  Here are some of our recommendations:

Infants Under 1

  • Bright stim toys that clip to strollers and carseats and feature a variety of textures for exploring little hands
  • Teethers and rattles made from natural materials and colored with food-grade dyes
  • Loads of books for baby, especially sturdy board books with touch-and-feel panels, bright illustrations and simple stories.  

1 & 2 Year Olds

  • Stock up on toys that allow for open-ended play like balls and blocks
  • Toddler-friendly musical instruments like bells, shakers and simple drums
  • Lots and lots of books, especially those with repetition and rhyme, basic stories and friendly illustrations

Preschoolers

  • Games that allow children to learn as they play
  • Craft kits that exercise a child’s fine motor skills and creativity
  • Toys that encourage hours of happy pretend-play
  • Award-winning books with endearing characters and meaningful stories that children will want to hear again and again. 

 


Mommy Date Time Made Affordable Thanks to Restaurant.com

by Jennifer Wieland
Mommy Date Time Made Affordable Thanks to Restaurant.com #ReviewCrew
I am part of the Restaurant.com Review Crew. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

 

I like to be able to take the kids for some one on one time periodically. It’s helps to let them know they are special to me and that I want to spend time with just them and hear about anything they want to say. When you have multiple kids it can get hard trying to find that balance to give each child the attention they need and deserve, That’s why these little mommy dates are so important. Luckily, Restaurant.com helps to keep our dates affordable.

Recently I had a mommy date with my daughter, I hopped onto Restaurant.com and found a gift certificate for a family favorite chain of Mexican restaurants, Pepe’s. I printed it off and then we were on our way to our mommy date.

Mommy Date Time Made Affordable Thanks to Restaurant.com #ReviewCrew

My daughter being the baby of six and the only girl truly believes the universe revolves around her thanks to all the older males in her life treating her like a princess. So for her our mommy date was just some time for her to beam and tell me all about everything that she finds fascinating at the moment while eating food she loves. 

Mommy Date Time Made Affordable Thanks to Restaurant.com #ReviewCrew

Chips and salsa, tacos, tamales and of course her favorite pink lemonade made the meal perfect! 

Mommy Date Time Made Affordable Thanks to Restaurant.com #ReviewCrew

Another reason my daughter loves coming to Pepe’s is that she loves the colorful murals that are in each location. She is always fascinated by them.

Learn more and connect with Restaurant.com

Restaurant.com and Specials by Restaurant.com make great gifts for everyone on your wish list. Remember, for more information on Restaurant.com be sure to check out their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, find them on Google+ or check out their blog, The Dish.

“The only thing better than going out for a great meal, is getting a great deal.  Restaurant.com has been filling tables since 1999 and is the destination for dining whether you like to plan ahead or find a meal on the go.  Restaurant.com helps diners discover the perfect dining experience and boasts nearly 50,000 dining deals available every day, even on the weekends!  And, the deals are easy to use – present the certificate to the server on a mobile device, or print out a copy, and voilà – the savings will be deducted from your final bill.  Bon Appétit!”

 

 


Sick Just Got Real

by Jennifer Wieland
Sick Just Got Real - Pfizer Products to the rescue!
Thank you to Pfizer for sponsoring today’s post. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

 

Living in the Chicago area the spring can be really tricky season. One day it can be sunny and 65º and the next day you can have snow and 30º degrees. Last week we were plagued with snow, hail, freezing wind and cold but today we are supposed to hit 70º and be able to back in some sunshine. The problem with weather like this though is that kids in school seem to end up really sick. Every time one of my babies wakes up with a cold or cough and I have to keep them home from school I realize that Sick Just Got Real™ and it’s time to gather up my sick kid supplies and get to work. 

Sick Just Got Real - How do you help your kids feel better when they are sick? #Pfizer #Dimetapp #Advil #Robitussin #ad

Luckily I always keep a good stock of supplies on hand from Target to help out in these situations. My go to medicine choices for my group that I like to have on hand are products from the Pfizer Pediatric family. Children’s Advil®, Children’s Robitussin®, and Children’s Dimetapp® always get the job done in our house. I also like that Chldren’s Dimetapp® is alcohol free and that Children’s Advil® is a great way to get those fevers, aches and pains you get when sick to go away. Of course your going to need tissue and hand sanitizer to help keep the kids from passing their sick on to their siblings.

Sick Just Got Real - How do you help your kids feel better when they are sick? #Pfizer #Dimetapp #Advil #Robitussin #ad

I like to keep a stash of busy stuff for the kids when they are sick. Coloring books, notebooks to draw or write in, some simple card games all work out really well when the medicine kicks in and they feel better and want to do something but you know that they still need rest and don’t want them over doing it. You can usually find a great selection of this stuff in the Target Dollar Spot. 

Sick Just Got Real - How do you help your kids feel better when they are sick? #Pfizer #Dimetapp #Advil #Robitussin #ad

Our go to sick meal is some chicken noodle soup. It’s a classic for a reason. Something about it just makes you feel better. Add in some fun shaped crackers to help with any upset tummies and orange juice to up their vitamin C and your kids will be on the mend in no time flat. 

Sick Just Got Real - How do you help your kids feel better when they are sick? #Pfizer #Dimetapp #Advil #Robitussin #ad

How do you help your kids feel better when they are sick?

 

 


How to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy

by Jennifer Wieland
How to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy

 

 

Most parents will tell you that getting their kids to eat healthy is an uphill battle, surpassed only by wrestling kids down for a nap or perhaps getting them into the tub for a much-needed bath. And yet, it’s critical to get something of real, nutritional value into your kids’ bellies. They can’t just eat pizza and fruit snacks all day, every day—so what’s a poor parent to do?

Well, a lot of it boils down to creative thinking. Think critically about how you prepare, present, and plate healthy foods, and you may be surprised by how willing your kids are to eat substantive, nutritious foods.

We’ll show you what we mean in the list that follows.

Creative Ways to Present Healthy Food to Your Kids

How to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy

Img: foodbeast.com

Some unique ways to make healthy eating fun for your kids include:

  • Turn sunny-side-up eggs into egg flowers! Use colorful bell pepper pieces to create the outer edges of the flowers, with the eggs themselves in the middle.
  • You can also use veggies to create a skeleton! Use a bowl of ranch dressing as the head, making a face in it with tomatoes or bell paper pieces. You can use sliced cucumber, peppers, and carrots to fill out the rest of the body. This is an especially fun idea for a Halloween-themed veggie tray!
  • This one will be a bit labor-intensive, but if you’re willing to cut some equal-sized cubes of fruit, you can stack them together to form a visually stunning Rubik’s cube fruit salad! Whoa!
  • Another fun idea is to cut an apple into the shape of a friendly owl! To see how, check out these images and instructions.
  • You can pretty easily smuggle broccoli into your kids’ mac and cheese—a great compromise, letting them enjoy one of their favorite meals while also ingesting something of actual, nutritional substance.
  • Make a bread boat! Cut pieces of whole grain bread into the shape of a boat and its sails, then use celery sticks and raisins to decorate. Goldfish crackers can make for a thematic side dish!
  • Use colorful fruits and berries to make your own original work of art—a colorful arrangement or design that will catch eyes and get your kids pumped about eating something yummy.
  • For dinner one night, create a burger bar! Lay out some yummy toppings and replicate the experience of your kids’ favorite burger place! Make black bean burgers if you want to really play up the healthy angle; your kids likely won’t be able to tell!

Really, anything you do to make the food look exciting and fun will go a long way toward helping your kids forget about their qualms and give it a try. Of course, some of these strategies will work better than others, just depending on your kids and their taste. Play around with some of them today, and see which ones go over the best!

 

 


Facing the Crossroads of an Autism Spectrum Parent

by Jennifer Wieland
Facing the Crossroads of Autism Spectrum Parent when you've reached your limit with the school district do you then homeschool?

 

 

I worked for our local school district last year. I am the president-elect of our PTA and chair or co-chair of four other PTA areas as well as serve as room representative. I am that parent who tries to help and make their children’s schools the best they can be. It’s getting harder and harder for me to do this though. To say that my time and devotion to this is worth it when my 11-year-old son who is on the Autism Spectrum cries or goes into a meltdown every morning before school or shuts himself away in his bedroom as soon as he gets home from school and has tears in his yet again. So now I’m facing the crossroads of an Autism Spectrum parent. 

Facing the Crossroads of Autism Spectrum Parent when you've reached your limit with the school district do you then homeschool?

What are the crossroads you ask? Well, I’m sure it’s different for every Autistic family but for me it’s that I can’t support a school district anymore that does not meet my child’s needs. That his left him to flounder and suffer on a daily basis. A school that reports of bullying are said they are being managed but aren’t. So how did our family reach this point and what should we do now?

Our history…

Luke was diagnosed at the age of four with Autism and severe ADHD. It took us forever to get a diagnosis because his doctor at the time kept ignoring me saying something was not right. She would just say, “He is a typical, hyper, little boy.” and I’d reply back with he has three older brothers and I know what typical is and this isn’t it. He was to hyper (He could stay up for days with no sleep.) and basic things seemed to be very hard for him to master. He could work in a CAD like program to develop model train plans but we could get no where with potty training. He is a sweet boy who gets frustrated easily with himself if he can’t do something in the way he perceives to be perfect. Nothing happened though until I took him for a visit again to the doctor after he had been up for days, was bouncing off the walls and in a full meltdown. Then she finally referred us for testing and we got our diagnosis, changed pediatricians and contacted the local school district about what we should do.

Kids Oktoberfest

The good…

The school district did some additional minor testing and monitoring and promptly referred him out of district to a school that would be better for him. I was leery at first and was afraid this was not a good idea. He flourished though. He loved it there and had great staff that you could tell truly loved him and since he was with other kids who didn’t fit the world’s idea of normal he made friends. He even grew so much that he was sent to a satellite classroom at a school district in another town where he stayed for a few years. He enjoyed that school experience too but in third grade his special school district said they thought it was time for him to go back to our school district. There was testing and many meetings to get everything worked out and to make the transition easier because he had only ever been in tiny classes he would start in summer school. We all figured the smaller class size and the shorter day would be a good fit. 

He did great in summer school! Made a friend or two and transitioned exceptionally well into fourth grade. His teacher that year was great and he had an aide with him all day who was just amazing! I would pull up to the school and hand Luke off to him and he’d be waiting at the end of the day to give Luke back to me and give me a full report on the day. As problems arose we would work as a team to tweak things and keep everyone involved and on the same page. He was working at a kindergarten and early first grade level when he went there but he was an avid learner. His reading specialist still says she has never had a child who loved to read so much. He had friends and was happy and developing by leaps and bounds. By the end of that year he was at a second and third grade level for most things. He did so well he was given a presidential award that year. Then came his IEP meeting for fifth grade. 

Luke President Award

Our district is broken up into learning centers. There are four schools. One is pre-k through second grade, one is third & fourth grades, one is fifth & sixth grades and then the last is of course for, seventh & eighth grades. This meant that a child that does not like change was going to be moved and transitioned yet again. His IEP meeting was very much a wreck. They had no definitive staff or placement setup for him at the new school and so I was left with very little information about what exactly was going to happen. 

The bad…

Fifth grade rolled around and I started seeing red flags left and right but tried to stay positive. Luke’s teachers did not contact me at all prior to school starting to go over anything… oookay I thought. When I did try to speak to his homeroom teacher she was very curt with me at the meet and greet.  I emailed her with a list of things that I needed to know about if they were or were not in place. They worked on the list (This wouldn’t have been a rush if anybody who was going to have him would have been at his IEP meeting.) and got stuff in place. I assumed that he would have his own aide as he had before because all of this was still new and he did need the help. I later learned he just had an aide here and there at different points of the day. The case manager he has tends to make questions, requests or problems I bring up into a pissing contest with me and not a true effort to help this child in her care. He’s in sixth grade now and still has her. They completely stopped all of his occupational therapy and have moved him to general education classes. His only positives he ever talks about is one of his teachers and she also happens to be one of his Special Olympics coaches and that is something he really enjoys. 

Luke Bowling SO

And the ugly…

Since last year he has faced bullying repeatedly. From lunch items being taken and tossed back and forth and then crushed and smashed. To kids telling him every day (literally) that he is dumb and stupid and that everyone hates him and that’s why he has no friends. To threats of actual physical violence against him from classmates. I of course contact the school about all of this and I’m told it is being addressed and yet he still has to sit with his bullies in class and at lunch each and every day. I have been at the school during lunch recess and have witnessed my child being the only kid with nobody to play with, that everyone ignores and it breaks my heart for him because I know he wants friends but doesn’t know how to make the kids like him. 

What to do?

So now I’ve reached the point where I am just tired of the fighting with the school to get them to do what’s right and what they should do. I am tired of seeing my child hurt every single day. I want to fix this for him but at this point the only way I think I can fix this for him is to pull him from school and homeschool him. He used to love school. I want that for him again. I don’t want his school life to be nothing but bad memories and feelings.

I worry though, can I do this? I am not the most organized person to begin with and I worry that maybe he will need more than I am able to do as far as education. Then I think maybe this will be better. Maybe this way he gets the one on one he needs but has been lacking? Maybe this way he gets to go out into the world and try more daily social situations? Have any of you faced this and made the switch or found a way to get the school to really listen and meet your child’s needs?

 

P.S. – Before I get a lot of negative comments here I want people to know this is just a brief overview of the problems and issues as well as the good things. 

 

 


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