Good Financial Planning Has Positive Effects on Families

Good Financial Planning Has Positive Effects on Families

We make financial decisions every single day – from planning a birthday party to setting aside money for the children’s college education, among other important life choices can affect the whole family. With debt per capita increasing from $51,810 in 2005 to $67,010 ten years later, healthy financial management has never become more relevant. According to the National Resource Center for Healthy Marriage and Families, financial planning and money management plays an important role in family relationships.

*Bad Spending Habits May Lead to Divorce*

When partners disagree on how the other spends money, conflict is inevitable, the National Resource Center for Healthy Marriage and Families says. Not getting the right loan or not studying the financial impact of a
particular loan, for example, can cause disagreements and resentment especially if the financial savvy of one partner is not of the same level as that of the other. Spending too much on unnecessary items can become a point of contention, too. This is supported by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts based on their 2013 survey. According to the organization, financial issues is the third leading cause of divorce.

*Financial Savvy, Happy Marriage, Happy Family*

Knowing one’s rights when borrowing money and determining if the loan is truly needed reflects good financial education but couples also need to understand each other’s attitudes towards money to ensure a healthy discussion about their finances. This does not only apply to loans but is also applied in other day-to-day decisions that affect the household’s financial standing or the financial education of its more impressionable members. According to the American Psychological Association, opening a dialogue about money is healthy and involving each family member is a good idea. The APA also stresses that choosing the right words can also inspire better spending habits. Instead of saying, “We can’t afford it,” parents are encouraged by the APA to say. “That’s not how we choose to spend our money.”

*Taking Care of Household Finances*

Families need to be comfortable with money discussions as each financial decision can affect not only their budget but their future. With money being a taboo subject in 36% of American families, according to the APA, changing our attitudes towards money matters is the first step to better financial management. Households who budget and plan together are also happier than those who do not talk about money.

Rainy Day Kids’ Activities – Fun Activities for All Ages

Rainy Day Kids’ Activities – Fun Activities for All Ages

kids' activitiesMany of us are ready for Spring.  Even here in Hawaii I can’t wait for Spring and the end of Flu Season.  We’ve certainly had our fill of the flu!  Although Spring ushers in warm weather and marks the end of flu season it also brings us rain; lots of rain. At our house the kids don’t mind the rain, it just means they can play video games all day.  It drives me crazy!  I’m always on the look out for rainy day kids’ activities to keep them off the video games and doing something more productive.

Sometimes it’s hard to find kids’ activities that will interest kids of different ages.  But I’ve found some rainy days kids’ activities that works for kids of varying ages; particularly activities that involve making stuff.  You’d be surprised what holds the interest of older kids!  By the way these ideas are for snow days too!

kids' activitiesBaking

One of the most popular kids’ activities in our house is baking.  Kids love to “play” in the kitchen.

Baking cookies, cupcakes or whatever is an activity kids of all ages can do.  The older ones can mix ingredients together and put pans in the oven.  Younger ones, even toddlers can help decorate or frost the baked goods.

Be prepared for the mess, kids in the kitchen can get pretty messy.

One of the easiest things to bake are Snowball Cookies.

Kids of all ages can roll the dough into balls then later roll the baked cookies in powdered sugar.


kids' activitiesHomemade Play Dough

Kids love play dough and there are several versions of homemade play dough.  Part of the fun is in the making!

Here’s a recipe for Edible Marshmallow Play Dough from One Little Project.  This  play dough doesn’t just look pretty and fun to play with, it’s yummy too!  Click here for directions.

You can also make play dough using flour.  Click here for Paging Fun Mums No Cook Playdough Recipe!

Or you can make Jello Playdough! Click here for Modern Parents Messy Kids playdough recipe!

[spacer height=”-20px”]



kids' activitiesHomemade Slime







Fluffy slime, stretchy slime, glitter slime, you name it kids love slime.

730 Sage Street has 10 slime recipes to choose from.  Make one or make them all, the kids will love it!

Click here for slime recipes![spacer height=”-20px”]




kids' activitiesPipe Cleaner Crafts

Here’s a classic kids’ activity, Pipe Cleaner Crafts.  This has been around for ever, even I remember making all sorts of things from pipe cleaners.

But these days pipe cleaners come in a host of colors!

Click here for In The Playroom’s Pipe Cleaner Animal Crafts![spacer height=”-20px”]





kids' activitiesBird Feeders



The kids will love making these adorable bird feeders by Eighteen 25!  When their done you can hang them outside and watch the birds they’ll attract!

Click here to for instructions![spacer height=”-20px”]





kids' activitiesBuild an Indoor Fort or Tent

Keep kids busy by building and playing in a tent or fort.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, a sheet covering a table is good enough.  The kids’ imagination will do the rest!

Click here for indoor fort ideas from[spacer height=”-20px”]






kids' activitiesScavenger Hunt

Give the kids a list of things they can find around the house and send them on a scavenger hunt.  This activity will keep them busy and active for quite a while![spacer height=”-20px”]





kids activitiesEdible Sculptures

Building sculptures with candies and toothpicks is fun, educational, and creative.  Turn sticks, toothpicks, or straws into creative sculptures.   You can use any type of soft candies like jujubees or marshmallows to connect the sticks.

Click here for ideas from Kids Craft Room.[spacer height=”-20px”]







kids' activitiesPainting – with fingers , brushes, or sponges

Painting is always a fun activity!  Save money by making your own paints.  It’s easy, the kids can help too!

Click here for paint recipes from DIY Joy. [spacer height=”-20px”]






There are lots of kids’ activities to keep your kids busy on rainy or snowy days.  Do you have a favorite indoor activity?  Please share it with us!





Tips to Keep Santa “Real” for Your Kids

Tips to Keep Santa “Real” for Your Kids


Image by Savvy Nana Travel

I’m not sure how everyone feels about Santa Claus.  I know that there are two schools of thought, those that love the magic of this beloved Christmas tradition, and those that refuse to perpetuate the myth.

The Santa debate briefly raged in our house a few years ago just before my youngest daughter’s wedding.  Her fiance, tho not entrenched in the non-believer camp, put forth the argument that children should not be encouraged to believe in a mythical man. My daughter declared this to be a deal breaker; if their future offspring could not be raised believing in St. Nick the wedding was off.  They are happily married and the doting parents of a precocious 4 year old who will be celebrating Christmas this year complete with an annual photo and breakfast with Santa.  The skeptical man is now fully invested in Santa; he even takes the family dogs for photos with the jolly old elf!  We surely made a believer out of him!

Our family definitely falls in the believer camp.  We do everything we can to keep Santa real for the children in our family.  My then 12 year old grandson wavered in his belief one year, but with a little help from technology we were able to keep Santa real for him at least another year.  (He’s now 15, unfortunately there is nothing we can do to persuade him that Santa is real.  But he keeps up the front for his younger brother and cousins!)

I know some will disapprove, but in my opinion kids grow up to soon in our fast pace world.  I see no harm in encouraging them to believe, reality will come crashing down on them soon enough.

Eventually when they discover the truth they might be disappointed, but if you’ve focused the what the holidays mean to you – family, friends,, faith, and sharing – then the magic of Christmas, and Santa will remain with your children forever.

Here are some tips and activities on how to keep Santa real for your kids this year.

Breakfast, Lunch, or Tea with Santa

We have been going to Breakfast or Lunch with Santa ever since my kids were small.  It’s a tradition we keep up with the grandchildren.

[spacer height=”-20px”]

Image from Package from Santa

Letters from Santa

Watch your kid’s eyes light up in wonder when he receives a letter or package from Santa.  This brought a sparkle to my 5 year old grandson’s eyes and even impressed his doubting 12 year old brother that year.

You can order personalized letter and packages starting at $14.95.  Click here to begin!

[spacer height=”-20px”]



Image from itunes

Phone calls from Santa

Download this App for $1.99 and use it every year.  Santa will call and speak to your child, you can even request a “naughty” message.

Click here to purchase!

[spacer height=”-20px”]


Image from itunes

Emails from Santa

Kid’s can email Santa on this App and a few hours later he will respond.

Get this App for .99 Cents here!

[spacer height=”-20px”]

You’ve Been Jingled!

Play the neighborhood game You’ve Been Jingled!  Have older kids help out Santa boy delivering anonymous gifts to the neighbors, they can be one of Santa’s elves for a day.  This game helps teach   kids that Christmas is just about getting gifts, it’s more about giving and sharing.

 Click here for free printable!  [spacer height=”-20px”]


Track Santa as he delivers gifts on Christmas Eve!

Track Santa’s progress around the world on Christmas Eve, we certainly do!  Norad has been tracking Santa since 1955.  These days they have an awesome website complete with maps, videos, and a peek at Santa’s Village.  Click here for the officila Norad website. 

Read a “Santa” book with your children during the holidays.

We always read Clement C. Moore’s classic “Twas the Night Before Christmas” poem before bed on Christmas Eve.  We have several illustrated copies in our home library. [spacer height=”-20px”]






Santa Snacks!

Help your kids set up cookies for Santa.  You can learn how to make this simple Santa plate set hereor use what ever plates and cups you already have.

The most important things is to remember to consume the milk and cookies before the kids wake up Christmas morning![spacer height=”-20px”]

Found on

Don’t forget Rudolph and his pals.

Be sure to leave out reindeer food, you can have kids make some, learn how here!  Or leave out some carrots.

Whatever you use be sure it’s gone by morning.[spacer height=”-20px”]


Give Santa Access

If you don’t have a chimney and fireplace help children make a Santa Key to your place and leave it out on Christmas Eve to make it easy for Santa to visit.  Click here for instructions and  a free printable from Nellie Bellie.
[spacer height=”-20px”]






Embrace the Elf!

Buy and Elf on a Shelf, share the concept of the Elf with the children, and have a great time devising and keeping up with the Elf’s antics![spacer height=”-20px”]

Found on

Leave Santa evidence.

Just follow the directions here![spacer height=”-20px”]








“Santa” Gift tips:

1.  Make “Santa” gifts fun and unexpected.

Kids will surely know it’s not from Santa when they open a “Santa” gift that’s a pair of socks or mittens.  You don’t have to buy anything very expensive nor does the gift have to be something on a potentially long wish list.  Just make sure it’s fun and not something you would normally gift your child.

2.  Shop for Santa gifts without the kids.

No matter what you say if the kids see the gift in your Walmart shopping cart they will KNOW it’s not from Santa.

3.  Hide Santa gifts where the kid’s can’t see them.

Keep them hidden until the kids go to bed on Christmas Eve.

4.  Use special “Santa Gift Wrap”.

Don’t use the same wrap you use for all the other presents.  Keep the Santa wrap hidden as well.

5.  Make sure Santa’s handwriting doesn’t look like your handwriting.  This is a first give away, specially for older kids who are familiar with your handwriting.

Other tips:

1.  When kids ask questions about Santa it’s best deflect the question with your own questions “What do you think?” and ask them why they think that.
2.  If you do have to make up an answer keep it simple so you can remember it and reply with the same answer the next time you are asked.  You may not remember your answer, but trust me the kids will and will call you on it!
3.  Watch what you say when kids are around.  It really is true that “Litter pitchers have big ears”.
4.  If you have friends and families who don’t encourage the belief in Santa, respect their opinions and ask that they respect yours.  Meaning they should tell their children to refrain from sharing their non-belief with your children.
5.  Sooner or later school age children will come home from school to say that one of their friends or classmates has challenged his belief in Santa Claus.  It’s a good time to teach children to respect other people’s point of view.  You can start out by asking your child what he thinks and why.  Keep your discussion positive and simple.  You can tell your child that there will always be people with differing opinions and that we should respect those opinions even if we don’t always agree with them.
Here’s a printable Christmas Eve checklist from to help you play Santa this year.  Be sure to keep it away from kids’ eyes!
Found on
Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music!

Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music!

Sesame Street LiveI have to admit that this year’s Sesame Street Live performance is the best one we’ve seen in a while.

I’ve been attending Sesame Street Live performances for years now.  That’s what you do when you have 5 grandchildren ranging in age from 2 – 15!  We attend the show every year when it makes its way to Honolulu, usually sometime in the summer, but we’ve also seen it performed in Colorado Springs.

Every year Sesame Street Live has a new story to tell.  This year’s theme was all about MUSIC, hence the title “Elmo Makes Music”.

Sesame Street LiveThis year’s show revolves around “Jenny” a music teacher who has just moved into the neighborhood.

When Jenny introduces herself to the various folks in the neighborhood (Ernie, Burt, Big Bird, Elmo, and the gang) they are all thrilled that she will be there to teach them how to play their favorite instruments.  But there’s a problem, of course there is!  The truck bearing Jenny’s instruments hasn’t arrived and everyone is worried and a bit sad.

So Jenny teaches them that you don’t really need real instruments to make music.  You can use anything you have around including hands, feet, pots, cookie jars, and more.

Once the monsters on the street learn that anything and everything can make music they decide to make to each make Jenny a surprise musical welcome gift, just in case the real instruments fail to arrive.

Now remember this is Sesame Street so the show also has a letter and a number of the day.  This year it’s the letter “J” (for Jenny) and the number 8 (the musical scale has 8 notes).

I’m sure by now you’re wondering why I said this year’s show is the best one I’ve seen so far.  Sure the past shows were all entertaining and educational for the kids, but this year even the adults were entertained.

This year’s show showcased a variety of music genres.  From Broadway to Disco, Rock N’ Roll to Hip Hop; this show covered music that was familiar to most of the audience no matter their age.  Of course the lyrics were altered to fit the show.

Sesame Street LiveSo along with all time favorites including the Sesame Street theme song and the Alphabet Song you’ll sing, stomp, or clap along to many types of songs.

In one segment the monster and Ernie busted out on stage doing the “Hustle”.[spacer height=”-20px”]

Sesame Street LiveThen you had Burt channeling John Travolta in his rendition of “Staying Alive”, the song made popular in the Travolta movie Saturday Night Fever.  [spacer height=”-20px”]

Sesame Street LiveAnd everyone loved Big Bird’s rendition of the popular 50’s classic Rockin’ Robin!

For Carpenter’s fans they did a lively performance of “Sing” as well as many other songs from different genres.

I’m fairly sure everyone had a great time, I know we did!  My 2 year old granddaughter, Harper, spent the entire show dancing and singing on her seat, her twin brother, Sadi, was enthralled.  I caught my 9 year old grandson, Devon, and his friend, Chase, tapping their feet and clapping to the beat of the music.  (They weren’t really sure they wanted to be their in the first place and to this day refuse to admit they had a good time!).  And I have to confess the show had me chuckling more than a few times!

So if you and the kids want to have a great time don your Sesame Street T-shirts (the twins did) and get ready for an hour and a half of great music and wholesome family entertainment when you go see Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music!

To find a show near you click here!








Monster Spray to Vanquish Bedtime Fears  – Free Printable

Monster Spray to Vanquish Bedtime Fears – Free Printable

A couple of years ago when my grandson Devon was 4 he developed a fear of sleeping in his own room.  He claimed there were monsters in his room just waiting to get him.  Bedtime became a nightmare.  Many nights we’d find him sleeping in our bed.  Other nights he’d sneak in to his brother’s room and curl up on the floor.

We tried night lights and leaving the door open.  I’d even stay in his room until he fell asleep, but he’d wake up in the middle of the night and move to a different room or start crying until someone went to comfort him.  Nothing seemed to work.

I searched online for more suggestions and ideas on how to get this child to sleep in his own bed.  I came across a company that was selling “Monster Repellent” for $7.99 a bottle, it comes with a little tale to tell the child as you spray the room.  It was really aroma therapy, a small spray bottle filled with this magic liquid that keeps monsters away.  I thought it was worth a try and was ready to buy it, then the light bulb went on…why buy something I could easily make with ingredients I already had at home?

That afternoon I told Devon about my new found knowledge… I’d found the recipe for “Monster Spray”!  He was intrigued and wanted to know all about it.  I explained that together we could make this spray and use it every night at bedtime, I assured him that the spray would make the monsters go away.  He loved the idea and wanted to make the spray right away.

Together Devon and I mixed up a batch of Monster Spray in the kitchen.  I really think having him help make it up made it more believable, it also empowered him to overcome his fear of monsters.

That night he was ready for bedtime, armed with our Monster Spray and the Magic Words we sprayed his entire room, his closet, and under his bed.  We sprayed everywhere a monster could be hiding.  He had a very good night’s sleep.  He told me the next morning the Monster Spray worked great.  We sprayed his room every night, we had to mix up several more batches until he started kindergarten, at that time he assured me that he was over his fear of monsters.

The recipe for Monster Spray is below, it uses lavender essential oil and water, all natural, but don’t let the child drink it or rub it directly on the child’s skin. Most essential oils are safe to use but should always be diluted.  To avoid any type of irritation don’t spray directly on bedding.  Devon has asthma and allergies but the spray did not cause any ill effects. If your child has allergies it’s best to check with your doctor if a diluted lavender spray is safe to use around your child.

Click here for the FREE printable Label and Magic Words!

You will need:

Spray bottle – you can use any kind, I used an old one I had from L’Occitane that was used for linen spray.  I rinsed it well and removed the label.  You can buy new Fantasea Fine Mist Spray Bottle, 2.5 Ounce on

Bottled water – enough to fill the spray bottle

4-5 drops of Lavender Essential Oil.  You can buy   NaturEarth French Lavender Oil 4 oz 100% Pure Premium Essential Oil w/FREE SHIPPING on

Bottle label & Magic Words  FREE Printable click here!

1.  Fill spray bottle with water.
2.  Add essential oil.
3.  Secure bottle cap and shake well.
4.  Glue on label.
5.  Spray room while saying the Magic Words.  Be sure you get the corners, under the bed, and the closets.  Avoid spraying directly on bedding and clothing.  Don’t spray on child’s skin.  Don’t let the child drink the mixture.

Hope this helps your child overcome his fear of things that go bump in the night!

Kids and Allergies – Interview with Dr. Shahzad Mustafa

Kids and Allergies – Interview with Dr. Shahzad Mustafa

I don’t know if anyone but me has noticed, but it seems that there are more people with allergies these days, specially children.

When my kids were young they  weren’t allergic to much.  One of my daughters was briefly allergic to shell fish, but she outgrew that in her late teens.  I recall that a couple of my kids also had mild reactions (a small rash) to a particular antibiotic, but that’s about it.  There were no milk  or peanut allergies.

So why do all my grandkids have so many allergies?  Not only do they have allergies, they  have eczema and asthma too.   I learned during my interview with Dr. Shazad Mustafa, Medical Advisory Board Chair of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT) and a leading allergist, that allergies can be part of a bundle with other conditions including eczema and asthma.

All my grandkids were born with varying degrees of milk allergies.  Most of them were able to tolerate soy milk or the “sensitive” version of over the counter commercial formula, but two of them, Harper and Jett, were allergic to that as well.  Those two ended up drinking Neocate, the baby formula made from amino acids.  It was not only very expensive, it requires a prescription and must be ordered in advance because it’s not usually stocked by any pharmacy.  And of the two babies on Neocate Harper outgrew her allergy by age one, Jett who is now 3 is still allergic to dairy and a bunch of other things.

So we’re pretty familiar with allergies and allergists.  Two of the kids, Jett and Dion who’s 14, have both been thru the allergy tests and have a long list of things they are allergic to.  Jett seems to have it the worst, his list of allergens is very long and includes eggs and peanuts.  And all the grandkids have seasonal allergies to environmental things like grass and trees.  (One year Dion broke out in hives for 4 months, we never did figure out what triggered his allergies that year in spite of the battery of tests and biopsies he went thru.  The hives just disappeared one day!)

Now some folks may take allergies lightly, but they really shouldn’t.  Allergies can be serious and life threatening.  Sure some people just have runny noses in the spring and fall, uncomfortable, but usually not life threatening.  But some allergic reactions lead to anaphylactic shock which is often life threatening.  That’s why identifying and managing allergies is very important.

Peanuts are a very common allergen, it’s also probably one of the most serious for many people. That’s why I was intrigued by the new guideline from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  It is now calling for parents to give their children foods containing peanuts early and often, starting when they are infants, as a way to help avoid life-threatening peanut allergies.

I spoke with Dr. Shazad Mustafa about this new guideline last week.  It was an interesting turn around from previous guidelines, but as he emphasizes, do not start feeding your children anything with peanuts without the guidance of your doctor.  He emphasized that if this is something you want to consider you must discuss it with your child’s doctor and the first time you give your child peanuts it should be done in the doctor’s office so that help is readily available should it be needed.  In short do not do this at home!

Please have a look at the video of my interview with Dr. Shazad Mustafa, it answers some questions you might have about your child’s allergies.

It’s good to know that some kids will eventually outgrow their allergies, but in the mean time it’s very important to manage them.  This can be very challenging as we know from managing Jett’s allergies.  It’s not only important to avoid the things they are allergic to like milk and eggs.  Of course you won’t be giving your child milk or eggs for breakfast if you know they are allergic to them, but you might not think twice about giving her bread or cake, both of which could contain those allergens.  So here are  5 tips to help you manage your child’s allergies.

Find out what your child is allergic to.

Your first clue might be a rash or hives after your child eats something new or different (food allergies) or after going to a certain place (environmental allergies).  Or perhaps your infant “spits up” too much formula after a feeding.  Or a toddler gets a tummy ache after eating.  Look out for these signs, it may alert you to possible allergies.

If you do notice any type of reaction write down what the child ate, where you were and what you were doing, and what the reaction was.  It’s important to remember that not all allergens are ingested.  You can be allergic to things in the environment (pollen, dust, dander, etc.) and things you use at home (soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc.) Keep this list handy so you can add to it and bring it to your doctor if need be.

You may be referred to a specialist, allergists, for further testing and treatment.  This will usually pinpoint exactly what your child is allergic to.

Read labels before  you buy anything that will be eaten or used by your child.

This is probably the best tip I can give you.  Once you find out what your child is allergic to of course you must avoid them.  As I said earlier you wouldn’t feed your child milk or eggs if he’s allergic to them, but what about food items that contain milk and eggs?

You’ll be surprised to find how many things you don’t think contain allergens actually do.  And remember to read the warning on the packages.  Some items may not directly contain the allergens but are produced in a facility where the allergens are present.  Peanuts and tree nuts , and dairy are usually the most common warnings you’ll find.  To avoid cross contaminated products it’s usually best to avoid using items where the possibility for cross contamination exists.

Introduce new things to your child one or two at a time.

This allows you to easily determine what caused a reaction.  If you expose your child to multiple possible allergens it will be that much harder to pinpoint what caused the reaction.

Wash your hands after handling things your child is allergic to.  Rinse your mouth after eating things your child is allergic to.

This avoids passing the allergens to your child.  I know it seems extreme, but it’s not.  Jett who is allergic to eggs once broke out into a rash within minutes of touching an eggshell; so his mom washes her hands thoroughly after handling eggs.  He also broke out in a rash when his mom kissed him after drinking a peanut butter shake!  So to be safe always wash away possible allergens before touching your child.  Anyway hand washing is a healthy habit to have as it also helps keep harmful viruses and bacteria from spreading.

Purchase multiple Epi-Pens.

Epi-pens are prescribed to children and adults who have allergies.  I know they are very expensive.  Last time we purchased a set of 2 for Dion it cost about $500.  Some health plans do cover the purchase of epi-pens, check with your health insurance to see if yours does.  To make it even costlier these pens expire after one year and new ones must be purchased.

We have multiple pens.  We leave a pen at every facility the kids spend time at without a parent present.  In Jett’s case at pre-school, his babysitter, and daycare location.  His parents also each carry a pen with them at all times.

Also learn how to properly use the pen and make sure you take your child to the emergency room should you ever have to use the pen.

To learn more about peanut allergies and management click here!