On Your First Day of Middle School

First Day of Middle School The house is eerily quiet after a summer full of laughter and yelling.  And,  as I put the last load of laundry in the dryer, and sit down to relax before bed,  so many thoughts flood into my head. You finished your first day of Middle School.  Around this time last night, your Dad and I  sat and debated all the things that could go wrong and how we would handle it, if it did.  We were both nervous for you and dare I say shook. As we sat there with the tv off for almost 40 minutes just staring out into space.  It seemed unreal that our little timid girl was turning into this tween right in front of our eyes.    On our way home from dropping you off and speaking with your counselor, your Dad told me that he wrote you a note.  I grimaced a little, after all Dad is often known for his boyish ways (less frills and curls and more blunt and direct).  But, when I got home and read the letter. tears literally filled my eyes. (I thought about posting the note, but some things should be between a girl and her Dad.)  Now, I know that this doesn’t surprise you because over the years Mom has turn into MUSH.  Long gone are my hard exterior and Sky High Walls, blame your Dad for that.

But, I am in tears for many reasons.  There is nothing like knowing that your child is loved.  I know you are saying he is my Dad and he is supposed to love me.  Which of course is true, but it’s the way that he loves you that chokes me up.  It is knowing that we were all, you, me and Dad sitting on pins and needles for the last two weeks coming up to the New School Year.  It is the little secret conversations that I would catch a second or two of when walking by, over the summer.  The way he thought of how to prepare you as best he could for what comes next. Or the pride that I saw in his eyes when you walked across the stage at your Elementary School Graduation in May.  And, it is my own understanding that there really is nothing like a Daddy’s love for a little girl.

So as I brace myself for the Middle School Years and the changes that I know you will make and the person who you will become.  I remember something that I thought of when you were just a wee little girl.  I hoped that you would always be able to feel the love that surrounds you.  And, that means when we don’t see eye to eye, or when discipline feels more like punishment and my caring seems more like “stalkery”. And, all these years later as you embark on yet another part of your journey, I hope this still.  You are one of my greatest accomplishments and you are loved, supported and wished well in more ways than you will ever know.

 

Quick and Easy Steps to Making Your Own Candles

Quick and Easy Steps to Making Your Own Candles

I enjoy DIY projects.  But, I should explain I do not enjoy projects that have too many moving parts or require too much work on my part.  So, if you ever see me share a project or a recipe, you can be sure of two things.  It will be quick and it will be easy. Today’s DIY is no different.  I will confess this isn’t the first time that I have made my own candles.  But, it literally was back in 2008.  And, back then I was making them as gifts, so I rarely enjoyed them myself.

Fast forward to this summer, as I was making my summer bucket list.  I tried to come up with projects that I thought the kids would be excited to be a part of.  Now, I know you are probably thinking kids and hot wax, but I promise I did that part all myself.  So, let’s get started.

Moving Parts aka Things You Need.

Moving Parts

  1. Glassware of Some Type
  2. Microwaveable Soy Wax
  3. Candle Wicks with Metal Base
  4. Plastic Mold Sealer (to secure Metal Base)
  5. Straw or Pencil
  6. Fragrance
  7. About 10-15 minutes

I used Mason Jars, because… well I love Mason Jars.  The Microwaveable Soy Wax was Quick and Easy.  The directions on the packaging shown in the first picture.  Indicates that it will take up to a minute to melt.  It took me about 3 minutes to get it all the melted.  I have a Microwave that I don’t use to cook in so I used that for this project.  I am mentioning this because, of course you probably don’t want tomorrow’s left overs smelling like wax.  But I am sure if you give it a good wipe down right after you would be fine.  Candle Wicks, this is one of those things where you will have choices galore.  This go around I used the Soy Wicks with the tabs.  But, if I was to do it again, I would do the braided wicks, because I like the way that they burn better.  And, I would probably go for the simple white wicks just for a cleaner look.  I used a small piece of the Plastic Mold Sealers to secure the Metal Base of the Wicks.  This is not something you have to do but, I feel better knowing that when I start pouring the wick will stay in place.  My favorite part and the reason I made the candles in the first place is the fragrance.  But, I am going to warn you fragrance is NOT CHEAP.  And, if you want a noticeable scent.  You may want to pour between 3-4 bottles of 1 oz  Liquid Candle Fragrances into the melted wax and stir well, for even distribution.

OK, so that explains all the things you will need EXCEPT for the Pencil or the Straw.  Now the first time I did this, I bought longer wicks, so I simply attached the Metal Base and tied the remaining wick around a pencil centered on top of the jar to keep it centered.  This time the wicks I purchased were shorter was shorter, so hubby “jimmy- rigged” it.  My Mommy would always tell me necessity is the Mother of Invention, and she would be right.   He came up with the idea to puncture a hole in a straw and thread the wick through it and then center it on top of the jar.  I was skeptical, but he was right.. hes good with these things.

Making Candles

So there you have it, go forth…and make some great smelling candles.  Not to mention how impressed all your friends and family will be.  I find that these candles are always a most welcome Hostess Gift.  With the holidays coming up, it’s something to consider.  Slap a Personalized Sticker on here or dress it up with a ribbon or two.  Don’t say I never told you anything (smile).

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!

 

Advocating for your Child’s Future

Advocating for Your Child's Future - Does your Child require an IEP? Do you need to know what lies ahead of you? Be an advocate for your child's future with these tips from a fellow IEP Mom.

Being a parent is the hardest job that I have ever been entrusted with for all the obvious reasons.  There is no manual, no two children are the same, my normal way of creating templates that I can repeat mindlessly doesn’t work here.  All the ways that I can work smarter rather than harder in other roles, can not be applied to this job.  I learned very early on that parenting was just not a job that I could prepare for. I bought everything on the suggested nursery list, and tried to anticipate any need I felt that they would have before they arrived.  But… still there were just things that could not be anticipated .

It is often said that a parent is a child’s first teacher and also their first example of God’s love.  Both scary sentiments, if you ask me, but equally true.  And, as such it is our responsibility to advocate for them and their needs.  I don’t often talk about my daughter and her speech and educational challenges, and I think most people keep these things within the family.  But, recently the thought occurred to me that there are parents who do not advocate for their children because they are afraid, embarrassed, uncertain and unaware of the resources that are available to them.  And I don’t know, maybe I would have felt this way too if I was not surrounded by knowledgeable friends and family who were able to point me in the right direction.

Even though my daughter is just 11 years old, I feel like we have already been on quite a journey together.  At an early age she was diagnosed with a Significant Speech Delay and Auditory Processing Disorder.  She has been in Speech Therapy since she was 3 years old and has had an IEP since the 1st grade.  I know first hand how hard it is to accept that your child has a delay or special needs that make her different.   But, once you come to peace with this, the world is literally your oyster.  Now, I won’t lie to you and tell you that the sea will part and the mountains will crumble.  You are in for an uphill battle, but one that is possible and even if progress is slow, one that can be rewarding.

  1.  Know your child’s strengths and weaknesses.  What I mean by that is,  be an expert on your child.  Don’t allow anyone else to tell you what will work for him or her.  When my daughter started school, she was VERY VERY VERY shy.  Now, I am sure that you are thinking that most Kindergartners are.  And, that is true.  But, in her case, it took her a while to warm up to strangers.   And, I knew that.  So I let everyone who would be working with her know that.  She would also get frustrated when she was trying to express herself and others could not understand, and any kind of aggression towards her, made her shut down.  So I made all of that known.  In fact, call me a  “Helicopter Mom” if you like.  But, I would literally write a letter to the teachers at the beginning of the year to make sure that they went into the new school year knowing just who she was and the best way to reach her.
  2. Be diligent in your pursuit of services.  It is the public school systems responsibility to see to it that your child is educated.  You might think ok, well I can leave that there.  Wrong.  You can not.  There are seven different recognized learning styles.  Knowing which ones work  best for your child can improve both the speed and the quality of your child’s education.  That being said, If the arrangements that are set in place for your child are not working it is your responsibility to seek out a situation that better suits their needs.  The key to this is being involved enough to see the red flags.  For example. even though IEP’s are pretty common now a days, you may  have to request that your child be evaluated to determine if he or she needs one.  The meetings can be long and tedious, but it gives you an opportunity to both get your concerns across and work with those who come in contact with your child to make sure that he or she has the accommodations that she needs.  Extra time for testing, a Small Group Setting, or  Additional Study Skills just to name a few
  3. Build a team.  I was beyond lucky when it came to my team.  And, I don’t just mean the people who interact with your child at school.  But, a support team, I had my Mom, my sister, and my husband who I felt were all equally vested in my daughter’s success.  And then as fate would have it, the very first Speech Therapist that the school paired her with was hand picked by God.  She was able to pull my daughter outside of herself and give her some of the confidence that she was lacking by helping her with her speech and by her sweet and encouraging nature.  In addition to that , she was the gentle hand that guided the team at school that worked with her.
  4. Be both forgiving and flexible.  For me this was a new experience, so I say be forgiving because you are learning as you go.  But, even if this is not your first time at the rodeo, no experience is going to be the same.  And, sometimes the goals and milestones you put in place originally, will need to be revamped and changed, or even thrown out all together.
  5. Accept limitations.  As I said before things may not move as quickly as you would like, and that could be as far as how quickly your child is learning and making strides.  Or, it could mean how long it takes to get additional testing done or to receive additional  resources
  6. Don’t Give Up!!  This is the most important point that I will make in this whole post, because it is a frustrating process.  It is hard to see your child try and fail, and be discouraged.  It is hard for you not to become emotionally drained on their behalf.  Or to stop yourself from feeling like what you are doing is not yielding results.  But, you have to stay strong because you are the only one who can fight this fight for them.

” WHAT LIES BEHIND US AND WHAT LIES BEFORE US ARE TINY MATTERS COMPARED TO WHAT LIES WITHIN US.”   rALPH WALDO EMERSON

Get Ready for Back to School with these Free Personalized Binder Covers

Back to School Binder Cover Blog

As always, summers around here don’t seem to last.  There are literally just 16 days left until the start of school here in Atlanta.  So, I am in full Back to School Planning Mode, much to the chagrin of my little ones who are still very much in “lounge mode”. Most of our School Supplies have been purchased, and the only major thing we still have to do is clothes shopping.  I don’t know how it is at your house, but for me, my Middle School-er is the hardest shop for.  She after all, has strong opinions on her look and fashion in general.  Who knew??  I thought I had a few more years, lol.

Last year, I made a Binder Cover for her and somehow I ended up having to make one for most of the girls in her class.  We had to have the whole discussion about volunteering Mommy’s services.  But, they were such a big hit, that I added a few to the blog right before School started last year and they, to this day are one of most downloaded and shared items.

And, you know I am all about a freebie.  So this year, I gave you a few more options.  Five Funky & Fancy Binder Covers for you to choose from and Personalize for your little ones.  To Download – Right Click on the Picture – Save.  You can choose to hand write their names and grades or if you choose to edit it via the computer.  You will be able to open this document in pretty much any program, since I made it a JPEG image.  If you like these and decide to download and use please share your pics on Instagram with the hashtag #spbacktoschool.

FREE Download Back to School Binder Covers Colorful

Colorful

FREE Download Back to School Binder Covers Blue Bubbles

Blue Bubbles

FREE Download Back to School Binder Covers Counting Sheep

Counting Sheep

FREE Download Back to School Binder Covers Pink Hearts

Pink Hearts

FREE Download Back to School Binder Covers Fanciful

Fanciful

  • All content (copy & images) are copyright protected and property of Stage Presents, unless otherwise stated. All designs are for personal use only.  You may NOT use photos or designs for commercial purposes, unless otherwise stated on the terms of the actual design.  Please do not redistribute.

Spring Break – Perfect in It’s Imperfection

our “perfect yet not so perfect” spring break

Recap of Spring Break 2016 - www.stage-presents.com

Spring Break is over and things are getting back to normal around here.  I have been out of pocket for a few days, that normally happens over extended breaks.  The blog and the business run around my family life and not visa versa.  Last week was Spring Break, so I spent as much time as I could hanging out with my little ones.   I am always trying to teach my kids lessons that I am still learning and yes,  I know just how hypocritical that sounds. But, I guess it’s in hopes that by teaching the lesson, they  will avoid some of the same mistakes that I have made in my own life.  One of the things that I am always telling them is that they have to roll with the punches or that certain things are beyond their control and they are.  But, it is a lesson that I struggled hard with and for a  long time.  My mom always tells me that God will keep teaching me to be patient and understanding until I am both.  Spring Break was an exercise in just that.

Our trip to Florida for Spring Break was great!! But, I am not sure that you would have agreed taking it at face value.  I have been back and forth to Florida three times in less than 30 days.  Now, my sister lives there, but that has never happened before.  As I am sure you remember me saying in my last post, we lost my sweet niece on the 15th.  So, I went down when she was sick and was there when she passed.  I went back for the service and then I returned for Spring Break and to physically lay eyes on my sister.  Saying this to say there was a melancholy under tone to our trip, but we were determined to make some good memories, in spite of it.

The first night there we had date night.  We left all the kids with the nanny, and we went out and enjoyed some grown up time.  It was great to spend some time with my sister and her hubby that was just light and fun.  The next day we took the kids  to the Central Orlando zoo.  Now, if you know me at all, you know that outdoors and heat are not my thing, but the kids had a ball.  The highlight of the trip was to be our trip to the beach.  After all nothing says Spring Break like the beach.  On the day of the beach trip it was COLD… Yes, I said cold in Florida.  But, we went anyway thinking that maybe the weather would warm up.  When we arrived at the beach, the tides were so high that they actually closed the entrance to drive on to the beach.  After circling around we we were able to get in, and when we got on the beach and out of the car the wind was so fierce and sand was blowing everywhere.  So we had to vacate.  Talk about three disappointed girls, yes I said 3 because I included myself.  So pouts and all we packed back into the truck and headed to go get something to eat.  The plan was that we would eat and stay in the area for a while in hopes for a change in the weather.  But, the change never came so we ventured back to my sisters house.  On the way back, we decided that since they were already dressed to get wet we would take them to the “Splash Park” not too far from where we were.  By that time it was getting warmer, and though a little apprehensive at first, with each splash the beach became a distant memory and we once again in their good graces.

Since we paid for admission to the beach, hubby and I managed to escape back there later in the day, the kids stayed with my sissy and we got to have some one on one time.  I will consider that her anniversary gift to me this year.  Yesterday made 7 years since I married this man.  And, still just a couple of hours alone with him ALWAYS refresh my soul.  Even when I don’t feel like I need it.  So Shout out to him today + this was the first year that he was able to take off the entire week to spend with us.  Another Spring Break survived and enjoyed and now back to our regularly scheduled programming. (P.S. – I know there were no pictures of me.  But, you know how that it is, I am always the one behind the camera. #mommylife)

Time Spent with Family Quote - stage-presents.com

What did you do to celebrate Spring Break this year?  Feel like sharing, we would love to hear your story in the comment section below.

Check out Our Previous Spring Break Shenanigans Here.

Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye: Explaining the Pain of Loss to Your Little Ones

As a mother, I think we realize pretty early on that parenting is not a task for the faint of heart.  We are faced with the fact that even though motherhood may be the most rewarding job that we will ever have, it also the hardest .  We realize that we are going to be forced to be teachers sometimes, when we don’t consider ourselves qualified to do so.  This is exactly how I felt with the sudden loss of my two year old niece.  I literally found myself thrown abruptly into unfamiliar waters, dealing with more emotions than I knew what to do with and  such all consuming loss.  I struggled with how I would explain this unspeakable thing to my babies.    At almost 40 years old it was the first loss of a close family member, that I had ever experienced.   While feeling cheated, devastated and lost, It seemed so very unfair that they should have to experience this pain at such an early and impressionable age.  I wondered how I could explain something to them that I in no way, shape, or form understood myself.

Coupled with all the emotions already coursing through my body was FEAR.  Blinding FEAR.. The kind that made you want to lose your lunch. roll up into a ball and pull the covers of my head and just not acknowledge that tragedy like this really existed.  But, luckily for me, my dh stepped in and made me realize that this would help no one.  So together we sat in our bed, in the middle of the day, with our tears and our grief and talked out what and when would be the best way to tell our children.  At the end of the conversation, spent and not totally convinced in what we had decided, we just laid there staring at the ceiling fan.

There was no way to predict just how our babies would respond, so we decided to wait until the weekend.  At least, they would have the weekend to be alone “in their feelings”.  I grew a little choked up prior to the conversation, so hubby jumped in.  He explained to them what happened and explained that our “sweet girl” would not be coming back to us, but that she was resting with the angels.  I watched so many emotions cross over their faces, confusion, hurt, disbelief, all emotions, I was still experiencing.  It was hard for them to process.  Our youngest is only 5 and I am still not sure how much she really understood.  But, my 11 year old took it very hard.  She spent the whole day crying on and off,  and I honestly couldn’t blame her.  This experience in no way makes me an expert, and I pray it is not a subject that I am ever an expert in.   But, if I had to share my thoughts with any one of this subject this is what I would say.

  1.  TIME:  As adults,  more often than not death comes and we are not prepared for it.  I am not sure if that is a blessing or a curse.  But,  as parents, I say take the time you need to prepare yourself for the conversation.  Even though you can’t predict what their reaction will be, no one knows your child better than you.  So go with your gut and tell them your own way.  It’s easy to be influenced by what every one else thinks is the right time or thing to say.
  2. ACKNOWLEDGE:  Even though you may be in pain too.  Make the time and effort to acknowledge their pain.  Let them know that whatever they are feeling, be it hurt, anger, sadness, etc. is OK.  They don’t have to justify the way that they feel.  Help them work through their emotions, as you work through yours.
  3. ACCEPT:  Accept the fact that things may never be the same.  Life has changed for them.  Life has changed for you.  Everyone has to grieve in their own way, and in their own time.
  4. HOLD ON:  Hold on to each other.  Hold on to your faith.  Be their source of strength and allow them to be yours.  Family is EVERYTHING, and don’t any of your forget it.

Some of you that follow me via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc… have reached out to me and my family with kind words and sentiments and that means more than you all will ever know.

Our lives will never again be the same, but we are and were blessed to have had Skylar Janae in our lives.  She will forever be missed and loved.

Memorial Garden Stone

Photo Source: TheComfortCompany.net

 

hearts

 

Planning Your Own Way

Planning Your Own Way

Hi, I’m Sheree and I am a planner/list addict.  As if you didn’t already know that.  I have owned almost ever planner known to man.  The Franklin Covey, The Day Planner, Student Planners, Mead Planners, Goal Planners. Financial/Budget Planners, you name it, I’ve had it.  In the past, planners have strictly been for organizing and scheduling your day.  There was no glitzy, preppy, girly element to it.  But, let me tell you, things have changed.  The planner craze has taken over and with it has come the need to make it look good and feel good(embellishments).  For some, the planner has replaced the Family Control Center, as a way to plan out their lives in one portable location.  I personally have a planner that I use for my Household/Mommy/Wife Life and another one I use for this blog and my Etsy business.  But, I am the person that needs to compartmentalize everything, each thing must be in its individual box.

This year I purchased my very first Erin Condren Life Planner with the Horizontal Weekly Layout.  I had a pretty lengthy list of all the planners that I was interested in and after much deliberation I chose this one for my business needs.  Let me tell you about it.  Well, this was not the determining factor but… I was able to have it personalized.  So that was a major plus for me.    I need things to be horizontal. My planning is more like writing or journaling.  If you are into Bullet Journaling then the vertical one is probably a better option for you.  Included in the package with my planner was Pandora’s Box.  It came with all kinds of stickers and dots, Coils, books, etc.  And, at that point, I knew I was in trouble.  It was the equivalent of Apple products. For example, if you got the iPod, at some point you probably got the iPhone, and then the iPad, and eventually the iMac.   You probably have the Apple TV and you could probably think of a million other Apple products you would love to have.  I went straight to the Erin Condren site and I was in seventh heaven.  From there, I went to Pinterest and Searched Planner Stickers and then I was on to Instagram for more ideas/inspiration.

Planning Your Own Way Planner Pics

Planning Your Own Way Planner Sticker Views - Instagram Pages

Photo Source: Instagram Pages – PlannerStudio ThePlannerSociety

Thankfully, I was able to apply the brakes here. Being a former Scrapbooker, I was able to see the trap before I fell into it.  While I certainly aspire to have my Planner Pages look like some of the ones shown above.  I knew that this would be a job all to itself.  And, trust me when I say that I do not need ANOTHER JOB.  Now, I won’t lie to you and say that I didn’t  order any stickers because, I did but I tried to keep it simple.  If you are up to the challenge – Check out the Links to the  Instagram Pages in the links above. I decided to compromise with myself and put together a system that I could manage without feeling overwhelmed.

  1.   Key/Legend/Color Coding- I decided that this would be easiest way for me to keep up with my tasks by creating a Key and Color Coding. I split my Household Planner up  into these categories:  Household – Kids/School/Family – Meal/Diet/Fitness – Financial/Diet -Me/Other.  I split my Business Planner up into these categories: Blog – Social Media – Etsy – Ideas – Me/Other.  Take some time  and figure out what categories work for you before setting up your system.
  2.   Stickers –  If you are concerned with the looks/aesthetic of your planner than you will most likely get sucked in here.  For me, I need maximum writing space.  But, I found the smaller stickers were useful when tracking things like vitamins, water intake, exercise, and appointments.
  3. Tabs/Arrows – I find these helpful as ways to draw attention to certain areas or upcoming projects.  And, with all the color  and style options they can look cute too.

We are almost through February and I think I have found a system that works for  me.  I am sure I will make more tweaks as the weeks go on but for now, this seems to be working.  What is your favorite planner?  And, how do you keep it organized?

“a goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Free Printable Valentine’s Day Coloring Pages for Kids

Valentines Day Coloring Sheet Mockups

CURE THE B-O-R-E-D BUG WITH THESE FREE PRINTABLE COLORING PAGES

With less than a week left before Valentine’s Day 2016,  I thought I would share some free Valentine’s Day Printable Coloring Pages for your little ones.   When the kids are stuck indoors, a phrase I often hear is that they are bored.  I can’t believe that they even fix their mouths to say this considering all the entertainment that they have at their disposal.  We will be working on getting their Valentines ready for school this weekend.  And, we will also be doing some coloring pages as Valentine’s Day Gifts for Grandma and Grandpa.  Grandparents just love pictures that they can throw up on the refrigerator.  Or at least my parents do.

Looking for something to keep your little ones busy.  Download your FREE VALENTINE’S DAY PRINTABLE COLORING SHEETS.

You’re A Star

All About That Honey

Looking for More Valentine’s Day Freebies —  Get Your Printable Classroom Valentine’s Day Cards here.  Download and Print Add Candy or Fruit Snacks or Whatever You Wish and They Are Set To Go.

Free Printable Valentines Day Cards 2016 stage-presents.com

Need Some Gift Ideas for Her, Check Out Our Valentine’s Day Gift Guide here.

Valentines Day Gift Guide Mockup

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, we got you covered!!

Things being a parent has taught me

Things being a parent has taught me - Life Lessons When you find out that you are going to be a parent, I am not sure you ever give any real thought to what things you will learn from your children.  The entire time that they are growing inside you, you think about the things that you will teach them and show them. But, the moment that you look into the eyes of your child, everything changes. You realize that you will never love anyone anyone more than you love that little person, at that time. There are sleepless nights and incessant crying and you are not sure that you can put one foot in front of the other because you are exhausted. But, your love instead of diminishing keeps growing.  You once again get to experience life through the eyes of a child and your perspective on life inevitably changes.

  1.  The way you feel about parenting and parents change.  You are going to be a new Mom and even though you technically know that you know nothing, I venture to say you had lots of opinions, on the lady with the screaming toddler in Aisle 3, or the friends who were late because of one kiddy crisis or another, or even just about the fact that whatever it was, you would certainly not raise your kids that way.  And, since every child is different this may not only apply to new moms it works for second and third time moms as well.  My first child was a breeze (at least when he was little).  He always minded his Mommy was very polite and pretty much towed the line (lol).  But when baby number two came home he was not exactly excited about his position being usurped – Enter the drama.  My middle child, had a temper tantrum in Macy’s when I was almost 8 months pregnant with the baby and I had to hoist her over my belly to get her back in the car because she wanted new Dora The Explorer Sneakers. (don’t try that at home).  Oh and my baby, had a melt down in Kroger over the Witch Display during Halloween, so I spent the entire checkout process with her head buried in my chest howling incessantly.  So yeah… it’s fairs to say the way I looked at parenting and parents changed.  If anything it made me feel empathy instead of aggravation for other Moms.  Hell, the struggle is real.
  2. They taught me the true meaning of perseverance.  How?  Well, have you ever said no to a toddler?  They will ask you the same question over and over and over again in an attempt to wear you down.  Or have you ever watched a child try to wedge their body into a space that you know is way too small for them to get into?  So you ignore them and hope they will tire themselves out only to look up and find them wedged between section 1 and section 2 of your sectional.  On those days when I am ready to give up I almost have to ask WWMRRD?  What Would My Rug Rats Do?
  3. They taught me the true meaning of forgiveness.  Or should I say they are teaching me, this is an area I still struggle with in everyday life.  They have pushed you to your edge, you are tired frustrated and just flat out DONE.  And, then they make that little face and squeak out how much they love you and that they are sorry.  And, try as you might you can not prevent the corners of your mouth from turning up.  Or being human you lose your temper and you feel like crap on a stick.  You are guilt riddled and before you can go back and say just how sorry you are they wrap their little arms around you and you know all is well with the world.
  4. They taught me how to be less rigid and not to take myself so seriously.  I am a planner girl, I want to be able to anticipate everything.  I want to always have a change of clothes, extra diapers, wipes, know exactly what time they ate last.  I need to know.  Well, the day of my oldest child’s baby blessing, he had the ear infection to rival all ear infections.  The baby who rarely every cried was going ape…. sh!@,  and I had no idea what was wrong with him.  He was super whiny, clingy and I had family from out of town there to celebrate his big day.  I am still not sure how we made it through the day.  The next day I took him into the Pediatricians office and she told me the poor baby had an ear infection.  He was my first baby and I was clueless.  My middle child had what we call colic.   I say we will call it that, because no one technically still knows what the heck was wrong with her.  She cried all the time.  She was a sickly baby and the only one who was able to comfort her until she was about 4 months old was her Grandpa.  He somehow had the magic touch.  Then my last sweet girl,  was my true lesson in flexibility.  She was allergic to everything under the sun.  Her formula cost us as much as her Nanny.  The Nanny she needed because on top of all that she had acid re-flux and had to be held up for 45 minutes after every meal.  I would literally come home and change out of my work clothes and anticipate the hot milk down my back.

I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that learning each one of these lessons was not painful or at times, hard pills to swallow, but being their Mom continues to shape me.  And, for that I am extremely grateful.

What lessons have your little ones taught you?

What Financial Foundation are You Laying for Your Child(ren)?

Guest Blogger - Michael G. Thomas Jr. - What Financial Foundation are You Laying for Your Child(ren)?

As a financial counselor, I have had the privilege to serve people from all walks of life and socio-economic statuses. During those experiences, I’ve learned that we are more alike than different. Every family, whether they earned $15,000 or $200,000 a year, sought my services for the same reason – they were STRUGGLING to manage their personal finances.

Now, you might be thinking, how can somebody who earns $200,000 a year struggle???

It’s simple. If you make $200,000 then turn around and spend $200,000, you end up with $0. That person might have more stuff but, at the end of the day, they still don’t have any money. Let’s be honest – saving isn’t the American way.  Amassing more stuff is. Despite its momentary satisfaction, getting more “stuff” rarely creates the peace of mind and satisfaction most people think it will.

When asked, many of my clients can connect their upbringing to their current spending habits. For instance, hypothetically, I might have a client who loves to shop. When exploring the client’s upbringing, we might learn that her family expressed themselves by buying – You Guessed It – stuff! Up to that point, our hypothetical client hadn’t a clue that she was following financial patterns she learned as a child.

This brings us to our main point:What financial foundation are you laying for your child(ren)?

Every parent I know, myself included, wants to ensure that the next generation does better than the last. Unfortunately, although we are well intentioned, we equip our child(ren) the best way we know how – with what we’ve always known. If our children only know how to do what we’ve done, how are we equipping them to be better than we are?

As a parent, it is important for you to know that although you may not have a master’s degree in personal finance, you have a Ph.D. in Life. Your financial experiences, whether good or bad, can be turned in to invaluable learning opportunities.

For example: grocery shopping! You may not create a budget and shopping list at the present time, but you know you should. If you did, you would be less likely to walk out the store with a lot of unnecessary stuff, right??? If your child(ren) experience you repeating this behavior over and over again, you’ve unknowingly set a financial pattern that your child(ren) are likely to repeat when they comes of age.

What can you do about it?

The next time you go to the store, have your child(ren), this works for kids age 6 and up, help you create a grocery list that will not exceed a spending limit of $20. Make it a game! To win the game, your child(ren) must ensure that Mommy or Daddy don’t go over the budget. The prize doesn’t have to be money. It could be more time on the computer or TV, a favorite meal, an extra scoop of ice cream, etc.

While at the store, and you know it’s coming, allow your child(ren)to grab a few random things that are not on the shopping list. Be certain they grab enough items to place you over the $20 spending limit. At checkout, when the cashier rings you up and goes over budget, ask her to make the executive decision on which non-budgeted item(s) should be put back so you do not exceed the spending limit. Most important of all, be sure to pay with CASH! Kids tend to think debit cards have magic fairy dust and an unlimited supply of money.

Now, the thought of making your child(ren) put something back at checkout may sound a bit harsh to some, but you’ve just taught your child(ren) several financial skills without even knowing it:

  1.  You’ve Empowered them by allowing them to be a part of the financial decision making process.
  2.  You’ve taught them how to Plan Ahead.
  3.  You’ve shown them  that it is important to Honor the Spending Limits They Help Set.
  4.  You’ve demonstrated, by using cash, money is not an unlimited resource –No More  Fairy Dust!

As your child(ren) get older, increase the size of the grocery list and the budget they are in charge of overseeing. It’s amazing how kids rise to the occasion when they are empowered to do so! Beyond that, it’s important to make the process fun. My three year old won’t let me brush his hair unless we make a silly game and song out of it. Whether your child is three or fourteen, remember to keep it light.

I’ve worked with a countless number of teens and college students who have never handled money. In many instances, a number of these young adults have never had any meaningful conversations with their families about money. I understand that many families do not feel qualified to teach their children money skills. However, if we truly want the next generation to do better than the last, we have to equip the next generation with better tools than we had. That said, please feel free to like my Facebook page: Modum Solutions. You will find some amazing content throughout the year that will help you become more financially savvy and confident when it comes to talking to your child(ren) about money.

Lastly, if you reside in the state of Georgia and have a child between the age of 11 and 14, I will be co-facilitating a week long financial literacy/awareness camp at the University of Georgia in July of 2016 – Money Dawgs. Follow this  link for more details. For families with limited resources, scholarships are available!!!

Guest Blogger - Michael G. Thomas Jr. - What Financial Foundation are You Laying for Your Child(ren)?

Michael J. Thomas Jr., Servant, Family Man, Public Speaker, Blogger, Author in the Works, Ph. D. Student at UGA, Financial Counselor and Founder of Modom Financial Services

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Dr. King’s quote pretty much sums me up in a nutshell. My life’s work, with regards to my calling, is to provide holistic financial services to under served populations that strengthens families and builds stronger communities.