Friday, February 13, 2015

A Daily Binder for Kids

Every day, we write down the day of the week,day, month, and year  on our dry-erase board. We add the season and then write down a few sentences; sometimes about our plans for the day, sometimes about what is to come that week, or sometimes something that has already happened. I add a number to read out loud {we have recently advanced to reading to in the 1,000's} and then draw a picture of a clock to tell time. It takes about 5 minutes, and it's a great starting point for our structured {yet, not-so-structured-learning}.  In other words, this gives us a little structure in a day that is otherwise go-with-the-flow.

Well then I got to thinking and I thought about how I could incorporate another addition to what we have been doing daily, and that's when the binder idea came to mind.

I've already changed it up and made something different than my original, and I'm sure it will continue to change, but here are some things that are in our binder:


In the front is a picture of the calendar for the current month {February}. And then we write anything special that is planned for the month {Valentine's day, birthdays, classes, gymnastics, etc].
The actual print out can be found here


The month is:                                                          

The day of the week is:                                    The day is:                            The year:                         

The weather is: {They circle, then write it out:                                                                         

image print out can be found here

I feel:                                                                                                                            

Number: 4,238                                            

Bible Verse:

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
Genesis 1:1

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

In the blank space, I draw a clock with different time for her to write in.

I imagine that as each month changes, we will have different things added to the sheet to change it up and give her something different to do.


But the favorite part of it, is that she gets to draw a picture {anything she wants} on the back of each sheet and then we talk about it. It's really fun to see where her creative mind takes her and to see all the changes as time progress. I can't wait to make something like this for Graham when he gets older!

I'd like to make Graham a large poster board similar to this, but one where he can just pin stuff to the board instead of the writing aspect since he does not know how to write just yet.

Any more ideas to incorporate? Love to hear what I could add on!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Taxes with TurboTax is the best decision I ever made.

“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and TurboTax, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #TurboTaxACA

I was 15 years old when I first walked into a tax preparation office with my dad. I got my first job at age 14 working at Meijer as a bagger, and I was the proudest girl there ever was to hold a W-2 in my hands. It felt so real, it felt so responsible, it just felt accomplishing.

And then I sat there going over every little detail of my taxes with a man that knew nothing about me, and yet wanted to know everything about me. Again, I was 15. I didn't own a business. I didn't have rent, mortgage, or even school interest to pay. I didn't invest, and I surely didn't have stocks or retirement funds. So what exactly was I doing sitting in an office getting my taxes prepared by someone who was going to take it all? And he did.

I may have been young, but I wasn't stupid. When he told me my return, and then told me the amount that would be going towards his fee, I vowed to find a new way after this year. And I wasn't going to start tomorrow or next year, I was going to go home and find out my options right away. Little did I know, I really did have options. My parents, who were never internet savvy at the time, had no idea there were options, and the greatest of them all: TurboTax. Now it's their only way as well. To think of the money we have saved year after year.

For over ten years, I have now been using TurboTax, I have conformed others around me to turn to TurboTax, and I have never ran into one single problem in those ten plus years. I no longer have a "simple" return either; I'm married and file jointly. I own a business. I have investments. I have a retirement, student loans, 529's for the kids, and more. And yet, it is still just as "simple" as the day that I started with just a W-2.

I want to tell you that I was worried when I had heard about the Affordable Care Act, but the truth is I wasn't. Somehow, I knew that TurboTax would make it a smooth process, and sure enough, I was right. When I was doing my taxes and came to that section of the process, I simply had to check a box stating that I got insurance from work. The rest was taken care of from me. No extensive filling out of forms and going through multiple boxes, it was just a click of a box and then we moved on to the next question.

Does all this sound foreign to you and making you worry a little? Don't. Don't worry.  I'm here to tell you that TurboTax has a great guide, the TurboTax Health to get yourself familiarized with the Affordable Care Act and what you need to know in regards to your taxes this year; whether you are uninsured, have medicare or medicaid, have insurance through your work, or insured on your own.

I know that everyone is looking forward to Valentine's Day this weekend, but another very important date is February 15th, the day that open enrollment for health insurance ends before one has to face a penalty. You can go to TurboTax Health to find out if you are exempt from paying a penalty, and even file today. An even better incentive? File an easy return {1040A/EZ} before February 16th, and the cost will be free to you.

So if you have never tried TurboTax, believe me when I say this: once you do, you will never go back. It stores your information for future taxes, it is extremely user friendly and it saves you money. It is what I like to call a no-brainer, and that is precisely why I have been using it for over 10 years.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The pinterest inspired Valentine craft WAR

Would it surprise you if I said that when February turned the corner and I realized that it meant Valentine's would be here in no time, that I just knew that the week of what is supposed to be a warm fuzzy lovely holiday would turn into moms yet again complaining and throwing stones via all social media outlets.

Phew, that was too long of a sentence.

In short terms, Valentine's day + Pinterest = Mom war.

What is it any way with moms complaining about what other moms do around the holidays? I know, it's nothing new, I shouldn't sound so surprised, and it truly is like  clockwork; when a holiday rolls around, you already know what's coming. With Christmas time, it's Elf on the shelf. With birthdays, it's the themed water bottles and gift bags. With Easter, it's the bunny footprints and overflow of Easter baskets. And with Valentine's day, it's homemade Valentine's. But I ask you again, what is it.

You know what I also noticed as a trend? Moms {or women in general} somehow think this is okay to poke fun these mothers, that somehow their way is definitely the "right way," and that what they are saying is justified {"because back in the day, that's how it was done."}. But guys, I'm here to tell you, it's not. Engaging in these conversations, and making subtle statements like.... "You know the kid didn't even do the crafts, it's just the mom." Or, "My kid just cares about the candy, not stuff glued together to it," is wrong in every way. In fact, it's no different than someone trying to say "Why even become a mother if you aren't even going to try to breastfeed." Or, "Feeding a child McDonalds is no different than putting a cigarette in their mouth."

Seriously. Seriously.

Somehow, it has been okay {and the norm} for people to judge moms that send their kids with little crafts on Valentine's day, but for some reason I have never heard anyone say "Gosh, those moms that send their kids with those store bought cards are lazy and doing a disservice to their kids." Man, that sounds mean doesn't it? Because it is. And so is making snide remarks about those that do the opposite.

Let me tell you what a pinterest inspired Valentine craft really does look like.

1. It looks like us going through pictures with my daughter and having her pick out what she wants to do. It's no different than doing any other craft in our house {which we do on the daily}, except that we are making tons of them this time. When I told her that she was going to be making something for all her friends, she literally shrieked. She was so excited that it was even hard for her to pick 1 out of the many that she saw. She wanted to make everything. Thankfully, we neither had the time nor the patience to do that.

2. It looks like us getting all the materials out and talking about who would be responsible for what. We both had a role, and midway through crafting, we would switch it up once one person got bored with doing the same thing. She colored all the "cheese" on the paper, and did the eyes on the mouse, and I did a lot of the gluing. Then we swapped and she did the gluing and I did the coloring. And finally, I wrote the cute little phrase, and her job was to sign her name.  

3. It looks like teamwork. What I described up there? Is the definition of teamwork. Working together to accomplish a goal, and helping each other out.

4. It looks like a lot of conversation. We literally spent an hour and a half doing these {because of simple distractions}, and so we had a lot of 1 on 1 time to just talk. From the daily mundane, to things like "When you grow up...."

5. It also can look frustrating. And it can be. My patience isn't the best, and I have to do a lot of reminding, and you know what the greatest thing my daughter said to me at the end? "Mom, can you not say it like that?" And I said like what, baby? And she did this voice {that clearly I do}, where you don't yell or are angry, but it's more of a demanding voice that I know I get once my patience runs thin.  It was such a big eye opener for me, and reminded me that I have to practice my patience more with these sort of things. Did this mean that I shouldn't have taken on this project or just quit right there and finished it all myself? No, absolutely not. It meant that we grow together, and that my daughter has a lot to teach me.

In the end, we made 16 little mice on a slice of "cheese" that said "Mice to meet you" for the kids, and we traced her hands and bought hand lotion for the teachers and wrote "Thank you for your helping hand." Elli was so proud and so excited to take it to her friends, and it was honestly worth all the time and energy put into this project. It was even worth the criticism and eye rolls that is expected to come.

But you know what, it's not about other moms. It's not even about other kids. Nor is it about the teachers. At the end of the day, what one does in their house, and what they do or don't do during the holidays should not be anyone's business.

I think there are enough breastfeeding, baby wearing, organic eating, extended rear facing, vaccination, and cry-it-out debates that surely we don't need to add crafts to the list.

Because seriously, BE MICE!

{not ours, we never did take a picture!}

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