A Unicorn’s Tale: Teaching Kids About Money

Posted 05-25-2010 at 04:59 PM by MyFrugalFunLife

Like most parents my husband and I have struggled with how to teach our kids about money.  Growing up I had no education at all on this subject and when I became an adult I had absolutely no concept of things like credit, budgeting and debt.

Knowing the heartache of foolish financial decisions I vowed to give my kids the necessary tools to make wise choices as adults. But how do you start?

Recently we went to a friend’s garage sale and as soon as we got out of the van I knew I was in trouble-there nestled in between baby clothes and an old air mattress was The Unicorn. It was not your run of the mill pony; it had tassels, you could sit on it, it had a horn. My five year old daughter was in LOVE.

After seeing that the toy was $3 I decided to use it as a way to introduce my daughter to the crazy world of money. A while back my daughter got a piggy bank as a gift with some change in it. She had no idea what money was but with the wisdom that all toddlers possess-more means better. She started adding to her collection of coins by finding them on the ground and doing special projects for me.  Her little piggy bank had accumulated a lot of change and now it was time to explain to her what we do with it.

After she had kissed the unicorn and named her Rosa my daughter started begging me to have it. I told her that I was not going to buy the unicorn but she had the opportunity to buy it with her own money. I then gave her brief break down of how we use money in exchange for the things we want and need. It was a simple discussion but I think my daughter started understanding what her little coins actually were.
Later that day we came home with Rosa. Before I could even remind my daughter, she was heading for her piggy bank. We counted out the money together and I think this little lesson was a great start to explaining the very big world of finances.

Dave Ramsey suggests teaching kids about money in their pre-school years. You don’t have to get too detailed-simple lessons on how money works can set a great foundation for bigger discussions down the road!

Diaper Swapers

Preparing Your Children for a Move

Posted 05-25-2010 at 03:22 PM by MinnieBees

My children and I on vacation at Glacier National Park

We’re a military family, and summer is just about upon us, and that means it is PCS (permanent change of station) season! We’re relocating from California to Texas in less than a month (gulp), and I wanted to share some of the strategies that we use to prepare our children emotionally for a big move.

For each child we need to use different strategies. Not only are they different ages (7, 5, and 2), but they are also very individual and have individual needs.

For the 2 year old, there’s not much you can do beforehand. They have no sense of time of place at this age, so what we do for her comes during and after the move. We travel quite a bit, so we’re ahead of the game a little bit here, because she is pretty used to staying in hotels. We always bring her Arms Reach Cosleeper for her to sleep in. It never worked out as a cosleeper, but it’s a great travel bed. She also has her favorite toys that she is attached to (all handmade by Pam at The Indigo Onion, she is a fabulous WAHM), and a blanket and pillow that I made for her. Those items make her feel at home, even when we are not at home.

For the older two, we are making them as active a participant in the move as possible. We have boxes that they are supposed to put toys in that they want to take with us, but don’t want to play with until after the move. This makes them feel like they are in control of their precious items, and that they aren’t being ripped away from them when we leave. We have also been showing them houses and will take them house hunting with us. Another thing we are doing is playing up all the fun we are going to have in Texas, especially things that we can’t do in California.

I also have been collecting a slew of new toys and new blankets and pillows. We have a 3 or 4 day drive ahead of us, and so I bought/made them new blankets to keep in the car. These blankets will help give the temporary lodging we are staying in feel homey, and give them something new and exciting for their new room. And the new toys will give them exciting new things to play with until our household goods show up. We have a DVD player in our minivan, so new movies are a must as well. My oldest is an avid reader, so I have new books for her to read also. In addition to new things, we are also letting them choose favorite toys to take in the car with us as well, so they have some comfort items from home.

They obviously have their fears, such as my 5 year old thinks that there are no children in Texas. But listening to their questions and anxieties and answering them very seriously usually assuages any fears they may have.

Life is an adventure, and I think we are ready!

So You Want To Work From Home: Every Day is Bring-Your-Kids-To-Work Day!

Posted 05-25-2010 at 03:16 PM by Harmony96

Balancing work and family is hard enough when one or both parents work outside the home. Stressors at the job may manifest themselves on the weekend, sometimes work has to be brought home, or a long commute or hours can all affect quality family time. Working at home only compounds these issues, so here are some tips on keeping work at work and still having a home life.

1. Enlist family support. It would be rather difficult to work at home if your spouse and/or children are against it. To try and gain some support, it may be helpful to make a pro/con list of what working at home would be like versus what going to the office would entail.

2. Find time to work. Evaluate your day-to-day schedule to see when you could squeeze out some work time. Do your children take regular naps? Are you a night owl and can work after they go to bed? Is your work of the type where you can work and be with your children at the same time (like some crafting jobs)? Do you have older children who are in school for part of the day? These and others are questions you would have to ask yourself when determining your “office hours.” When finding time to work, you also want to factor in “growth” time – time that you spend marketing or otherwise growing your business.

3. Make time to play. Avoid getting burned out by also remembering that family should come first. It’s easy to fall into a trap of working all the time, just because you can. But doing so will only cause undue stress, and both your work and your family time is likely to suffer because of it. Remember the reasons you started working, and keep your life fun, so you don’t go “out of business” instead of thriving.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So You Want To Work From Home: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Posted 05-18-2010 at 11:44 AM by Harmony96

Finding your niche, or figuring out what exactly you want to do at home to produce an income is easy if you follow a few simple steps.

1. What do you like? This is important because if you happen to be great at something, but hate it, you will get burned out quickly. Sometimes you can turn a favorite hobby into a business. Other times, hobbies from your past that you loved can come back for an encore performance. Take a moment and think about what you would really enjoy doing. I enjoy typing, so I looked for something where I could type.

Target businesspeople2. What can you do well? Sometimes, work-at-home moms get caught up in wanting to get up and running, so they learn a brand new craft and have one round of testers and then are “in business.” The best thing to do if you want to work at home would be to take something you already know how to do and have had a lot of practice doing. I took an online typing test to check my speed and accuracy and was pleased with the results.

3. What’s in demand? This may be the hardest thing to determine when you’re deciding what to do to bring in some income. But, it’s probably the most important one because if you love making some awesome dohickeys, but nobody wants them, then it’s probably not the right path for you. I found that there was still a need for transcriptionists, so I decided to apply my typing and listening skills and choose that as my work-at-home path.

I hope this series is helpful as you think about working from home.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Behavioral Strategies for Kids with ADD/ADHD

Posted 05-18-2010 at 10:45 AM by MinnieBees
My daughter horseback riding

 

“Why don’t you just put her on medication?” I hear this from a friend of mine all the time. She has a son who is about the same age as my daughter, and they both have ADD/ADHD. We have chosen to use behavioral strategies for her, and not medication. It works, it just works slow. But, I think that the life long lessons are invaluable. I have seen a huge improvement in her behavior just by doing a few simple things.

One thing that helps her remember to do things is writing everything down. She is a major note writer! Sometimes they are a bit passive aggressive, like the note she wrote in chalk on my patio telling me how much she hates the rule in the house that the water hose can only run on the grass and not the patio. But many of them are useful. Like lists of things she wants for her birthday, lists reminding her of things she needs to bring to school, and so on. The physical act of writing down a note helps cement the task in your mind, so it is easier to remember.

Another strategy we use for my daughter are her to-do list charts. This is similar to a sticker chart or token board. We have 2 white boards, one for tasks in the morning and one for after school. On the left side is a list of items she needs to do, and at the top I have the days of the week. For every task she checks it off herself as she gets it done. Every day I put a check at the bottom – if she completes tasks without me reminding her. At the end of the week, she earns something special, like reading time with mom, a craft project with mom, or a movie night. One thing to remember for kids with attention issues is to break the tasks down to very small tasks. Putting “Get ready for school” is too broad for a child with ADD/ADHD. You need to put, eat breakfast, pack your backpack, brush your teeth, put on your clothes, put your dirty clothes in the laundry room, put your shoes on, etc. Baby Steps. If the tasks are too long or complicated, then they will be unable to complete the task.

Routines are also a great way to keep kids with ADD/ADHD on task because if they are doing the same things, in the same sequence every day, then they can fly through on auto-pilot. It becomes second nature to take off her clothes and put them in the dirty clothes if she does it in the same order, at the same time, everyday. Also, allowing a child with ADD/ADHD an appropriate way to fidget can be helpful at times, such as small toys with pieces that are easily manipulated, so the child can channel fidgety energy in an appropriate way, instead of bad habits like biting nails.

Reasons to Cloth Diaper- Beyond Saving Money

Posted 05-18-2010 at 10:20 AM by whitneywalters

The longer I am a cloth diaper user the more reasons I am finding why I love my cloth diapers. What started as a way for me to save money and stop rashes on my daughter is now a full blown addiction and I try to educate everyone I can on why cloth diapers are the best option.

When I talked to my grandmother about my choice to cloth diaper she was puzzled to why I would want to use them. I showed her how much cloth has changed and she was amazed. Cloth diapering is no longer flat diapers, pins and plastic pants. Cloth is very cute, easy to use and there are so many options and diapers to try.

My daughter has extremely sensitive skin which was the main reason we made the switch to cloth diapers to begin with but I did not realize how many diaper rashes would be prevented. Before the switch my daughter would get a rash almost every time she pooped or got to hot. The rashes just kept getting worse and worse. When we made the switch they stopped. The only time she got rashes from the time we made the switch to when she potty learned a few months ago was when she had a really bad stomach flu. The skin on her bottom was finally soft and smooth like a babies butt should be.

One question I get a lot is what do I do with solid bowel movements and I tell people I dump it in the potty and then wash the diaper with the other diapers I have. A lot of people think this is gross ( I used to be the same way ) and they tell me they would rather just throw it out and be done. I then tell them that dumping human waste into landfills violates the World Health Organization guidelines and is technically illegal.

Many people do not know what the amount of chemicals that are in a disposable diaper. I did not know until I did some research and what I found shocked me!

Sodium Polyacrylat which was taken out of tampons because it was causing TSS is found in diapers. Diaper makers say it is safe because it is on the outside of the body but it has been said that some workers in factories manufacturing Sodium Polyacrylate suffer from female organ problems, slow healing wounds, fatigue and weight loss.

Traces of the carcinogen Dioxin have been found in disposable diapers. Dioxin causes liver disease, immune system suppression and genetic damage. It is a byproduct of bleaching with chlorine gas and is banned in most countries. Unfortunately, the USA still allows it.

I was also really disgusted when I learned diapers basically do not decompose in land fills because it takes sun to decompose things and the landfills are too full. Since on average babies use 3,000 diapers in one year – I have three kids right now and on average kids are in diapers for two and half years – my kids alone would be putting close to 225,000 diapers in the land fill.

There just is no denying how much cloth diapers really do rock!!

***info on the chemicals was found here:

http://www.diaperware.com/information/whycloth.html

Find Hidden Treasures Around the House

Posted 05-11-2010 at 10:40 AM by DiaperShops Sarah

Reusing and repurposing can be just as beneficial for the environment as recycling.  It all comes down to keeping stuff out of the landfills.  Of course saving money by using the things you already have is another great benefit of repurposing.

 

 Here are some ideas for finding hidden treasure around the house.

  • Plastic baby bottles make great bath toys for kids.  No need to worry about them getting moldy since you can stick them in the dishwasher to clean.
  • Cleaned laundry measuring cups and scoops make fun beach and sandbox toys.
  • Worn out pre folds and old mismatched socks make great dust cloths.
  • Use shoe boxes for storing photos, recipes, bills, small toys and art supplies.  Cover with wrapping paper to make them more attractive and add a label that describes the contents.
  • Greeting cards can be cut up and used as post cards and gift tags.
  • Envelopes from junk mail can be used for to-do lists and shopping lists.
  • Spray bottles from household cleaners can be washed thoroughly and then used for household cleaners and water spritzer bottles for house plants.
  • Save orange and lemon peels and put them in a fireplace.  They will add fragrance to the room when you have a fire.

 

About the Author: Sarah is a Communications Manager for http://www.DiaperShops.com, one of the largest cloth diapering boutiques online. She writes for DiaperSwappers.com about how families can become more green.

So You Want To Work At Home: I didn’t know THAT was going to happen!

Posted 05-11-2010 at 09:50 AM by Harmony96

Working at home is a great way for many people to earn a little extra side money, supplement the family budget, or replace a full-time income. And how great is it to be able to keep your same job even if you move out of state? But before trading in your 20-mile commute for a 20-foot commute, it’s best to have realistic expectations about what working at home really means.

Businesswoman image from freedigitalphotos.net1. Not everyone can do it. Working at home doesn’t fit with certain skill sets or certain family dynamics. Many computer-based jobs and nearly all crafting jobs can be done at home, but if all you know how to do is operate heavy machinery, then you might want to keep doing the heavy lifting at the office rather than turn your backyard into an industrial area. Family dynamics, especially when children are involved, can also affect how easily one can produce an income from home.

2. It takes time to get started. A lot of time and thought are needed before you can make your first dollar. What do you want to do? How long will it take to set that up versus a different career choice? Do you need to invest time into any additional training? If you’re crafting, do you need to test your product before going live?

3. It takes time day to day. You don’t have a Human Resources person to handle your taxes or a Marketing Director to let people know you exist. Everything has to be done yourself. This is time that needs to be factored in on top of the time you expect to actually be working.

4. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. If you want to work at home and think that in a month or two you’ll be making the big bucks, then think again. It usually takes a good six months to a year or longer before your name and reputation are known to people. During the wait, it’s possible that more time and money will go into your business than will come out.

I plan on having a whole series of articles on working at home, so please check back for more over the next weeks. This thread has more great info about working at home as well.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Budget-Friendly Family Fun

Posted 05-11-2010 at 08:55 AM by whitneywalters

Trying to find things to do that do not cost a lot of money can be hard. We are a very active family in the summer and we enjoy doing things together.  Finding activities on a budget can be challenging but here are some of the fun things we do.

1. Spend a day at the park, bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it. Parks are free and it is a great way to let you little ones run off some energy.

2. Take a nature walk and do a scavenger hunt while you are walking. Last fall we did a hunt right in our back yard and used the pine cones we found to make bird feeders with peanut butter and bird seed. Not only did the kids love it but they also enjoyed watching the birds eat their treats.

3. Watch for family nights at local businesses. Each year our town has family fun at the park, bring your family, lawn chair and a dish to pass. Enjoy a meal with other locals and free entertainment. Our local movie theater also passes out free tickets to afternoon shows of past movies they have had.

4. Get your kids involved in your garden if you have one. Although my kids are still very young they still had a great time helping to plant the seeds and pick the veggies when they were ready. It is a great learning opportunity also.

5. Join your local libraries summer reading program if they have one. Our library does this every summer, starting at age two. The kids have a goal amount of books they are supposed to read, at the end of the summer they get a reward for reaching their goals and the library hosts free events all summer long.

6. Have a build your own pizza night and rent a movie. It is way cheaper then going out for pizza and then going to the theater. Plus your kids will have a ton of fun building their own little pizzas. I use pita bread for personal sized pizzas.

Newborn Jaundice

Posted 05-4-2010 at 10:36 AM by MinnieBees

Almost all newborns develop jaundice, but many parents don’t know much about this common condition. How is jaundice diagnosed? Why do babies get jaundice? Why do some babies need to be treated while some don’t? Can you breastfeed if your baby has jaundice? Is breastfeeding jaundice dangerous? Hopefully I can answer some of these questions.

Jaundice is the accumulation of the pigment bilirubin in the blood. Before babies are born they have a high red blood cell count, because the oxygen environment is less rich before birth. After birth the baby will breakdown the red blood cells it doesn’t need, and that process will release bilirubin. In addition to this process, the newborn’s liver is not mature enough to adequately clean the bilirubin out of the blood. By the end of the first week of life the liver is functioning almost normally. This liver function is why premature babies are at a higher risk of having the bilirubin spill into the brain, which can be devastating. There is an enzyme in the liver that cleans the bilirubin from the blood, and at 36 weeks gestation it is working at 1/100th of the level that a normal liver is working at.

Most parents will notice that their baby looks a little yellow in their skin tone at about 2 days of life, and that color will peak at about 5-6 days of life. A baby with a low level of jaundice will be a little yellow in their face, but a baby with high bilirubin will be yellow down to their thighs, or below. Jaundice is typically diagnosed by a heel stick, or TCB (transcutaneous bilirubin, a noninvasive device that can measure bilirubin through the skin of the forehead). The number is then compared to the baby’s age on a chart to determine the risk level. This risk level is to prevent a condition called bilirubin encephalopathy. When the levels of bilirubin get too high in the blood, it can cross the blood brain barrier, having devastating effects on the brain. No one is sure what that level is, so the goal is to prevent the level from getting too high. If your baby plots out at low risk on the chart, then your baby is at a low risk of developing bilirubin encephalopathy. If your baby is at a high risk, then your doctor will probably recommend treatment. Thankfully, most jaundice is easily treated with UV lights. In rare cases phototherapy is insufficient, and then jaundice can be treated with an exchange transfusion, but that is extremely rare.

Bilirubin is mostly secreted out of the stool, sometimes turning it green in color. Because it is secreted through the stool, feeding your baby will help the jaundice reduce. And that is where breastfeeding jaundice comes in. If your baby has severe jaundice then you may think that you can’t breastfeed, but that is untrue. Breastfed babies will be jaundiced longer, but a low level of bilirubin in the blood is harmless to your baby. It is only the very high levels that can be dangerous, and those can be treated with UV lights. It is not abnormal for a breastfed baby to have jaundice for weeks, or even months, but it is not harmful. So, if your baby has jaundice, you can breastfeed! If jaundice is very severe, then supplementation may be helpful (although probably not needed), but jaundice won’t prevent you from being able to breastfeed.

Some babies are at a higher risk of bilirubin encephalopathy than others. Premature infants are at a higher risk because of the liver function that I mentioned earlier. Babies born to women who are Rh sensitized are another high risk group. This is why rhogam is recommended for women who are a negative blood type, but are married to a positive blood type father. However, there are many more Rh factors than + and -, but that is beyond this article (I happen to be sensitized to anti-E). Another risk factor is ABO incompatibility. If the mother’s blood type is O and the father’s is A, B or AB, then the baby is at a higher risk of jaundice. Asian babies also have a higher risk of jaundice that needs to be treated, but no one is sure why.

I hope that this has given you some information about a very common newborn condition. All three of my kids have had varying levels of jaundice. My first was born premature and had levels spike up to nearly 22 on her 4th day of life. My second had very similar numbers because I developed an Rh sensitivity, and my third had low levels of jaundice that did not need to be treated. So this is a topic that is close to my heart, and I hope it has been informative.

My premature baby girl being treated for jaundice

Is that a baby, or is that a pumpkin?