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5 Creative Ideas for School Fundraisers

Posted on Sep 2, 2014 by No Comments

With so many schools strapped for cash, fundraisers have become a vital part of helping to fill in budgetary gaps. But, there’s only so many rolls of wrapping paper and boxes of chocolate that one parent needs.

If you’re looking for something different to do for the next school fundraiser, here are some ideas:

  1. Collecting Spare Change: If you need a fundraiser that requires next to nothing in terms of actual planning and preparation, consider setting up large piggy banks at your school and at various local businesses. Encourage people to donate their spare change to your cause.
  2. Group Garage Sale: I think the idea of a group garage sale has promise because everyone has a least a box or two of stuff in their home that they need to get rid of. Organize donations in the gym or school lunchroom. If you don’t want to price each item individually, have a few tables with different price points or simply ask shoppers to make a donation of their choice for each item they want to purchase.
  3. Hosting a Community Carnival: A community carnival can be a wonderful school fundraiser, although I should caution that this requires a lot of manpower. My son’s school does a carnival every other year. However, they’ve had to scale back considerably due to a lack of volunteers to help with the planning and running all of the activities during the event itself.
  4. Raffling off Teachers: I found the idea of raffling off teachers on the Scholastic website. I think this is a wonderful fundraising idea if you have enthusiastic teachers who are well liked by their students. Scholastic suggests that each teacher come up with a list of activities he or she can do with the winning student, such as dissecting a frog, baking cookies, or playing Guitar Hero for the afternoon.
  5. Selling a School Anthology: Another unique fundraising idea that I love is creating an anthology of stories, poems, and drawings from children in the school and selling copies to parents, grandparents, and community members. As a parent with a child who loves to draw and write, I know I’d purchase several copies of anything that featured his work. Even if I wasn’t a parent, however, I’d buy one just because there’s nothing more adorable than kids who are expressing their creativity.

Photo credit: MorgueFile

PMS.com Makes That Time of the Month a Little Bit Easier

Posted on Sep 1, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re the forgetful type, PMS.com aims to make your life a little easier by offering a convenient way to get all of your menstrual supplies delivered straight to your door.

PMS.com founder Erin Kathleen Gargan says, “PMS.com started when our all-female marketing agency had our menstrual cycles synced. We were so busy that no one ever remembered to buy tampons! A client showed me the razor delivery Dollar Shave Club’s video and inspired this similar concept for women: convenient, awesome period prep without overpaying for big corporate name brands.”

For $15 per month, you’ll receive a box with 15 regular absorbency gliding tampons, 15 feminine wipes, and 16 PMS pain relief tablets. The products are made exclusively for PMS.com in the USA and have exceeded rigorous quality assurance standards.

In addition to being a convenient way to get your period essentials, a subscription to PMS.com helps you give back to the community. The company donates 10% of all proceeds to a carefully selected female-focused nonprofit organization every month.

Charities the group supports promote causes such as domestic violence prevention, breast cancer research, and education for young girls. If you have a favorite nonprofit you think the company should support, you can nominate the group on the PMS.com Facebook page.

You can sign up for this new service at PMS.com. You can choose a delivery date that works best with your monthly cycle and cancel at any time. All new subscribers receive their first month’s subscription free of charge.

What do you think of this idea? Would a subscription to PMS.com make your life a bit easier?

Photo credit: PMS.com

Mistakes to Avoid When Saving for Retirement

Posted on Aug 29, 2014 by No Comments

Retirement planning is something that many of us put on the back burner in favor of dealing with more immediate concerns. But, in order to make sure you can make the most of your golden years, you need start making retirement plans ASAP.

The biggest mistake most women make when planning for retirement is waiting to save. You need to start saving early so your money has time to grow. Even $20 a week can go a long way over time. With an average benefit of just $1,237, Social Security benefits alone are unlikely to provide the retirement lifestyle you want.

If you want a low-risk savings option, you can check out fixed indexed annuities (FIAs) at www.FIAinsights.org. Market-driven options like mutual funds or securities have a higher risk, but they also have the possibility of greater returns on your initial investment. You can research a variety of retirement plans on the IRS website.

Aside from saving, remember that you need to pay off as much debt as possible before you retire. Credit card bills, student loans, and mortgage payments are difficult to meet on a fixed income.

Most people base retirement plans on a specific retirement goal age, but you should be cautious when selecting a goal age. Even if you’d be happy working until you are 70, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be physically able to do so.

If you’re on a tight budget, remember that saving for retirement needs to take priority over saving for your child’s college education. Your child will always have access to loans, grants, and scholarships for college, but there’s not a lot of support available for those who have failed to save for retirement.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Treat Yourself to a Sexy Swimsuit from Seraphine Maternity

Posted on Aug 25, 2014 by No Comments

I’m not a big fan of swimsuits in general, but I was extra self conscious about my swimsuit when I was pregnant. I wish I had known about Seraphine Maternity so I wouldn’t have spent my pregnancy avoiding the beach.

If you’re looking for a flattering suit to accommodate your baby bump, check out the styles from Seraphine Maternity’s glamorous maternity swimwear collection. In recent months, Seraphine swimwear has been spotted on celebrity moms like Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, and Sienna Miller.

Seraphine offers colorful swimsuits crafted with fabrics and cuts to flatter a woman’s pregnancy shape and show off her curves. All options include panels to support and hold the tummy and chest areas.

Styles range from a classic full coverage one piece to a sexy bikini, so there’s something for everyone. My personal favorite, however, is the halter tankini style. I like that the ties are adjustable so you can show as little or as much skin as you’re comfortable with. Also, when I was pregnant, I had to pee constantly and a one piece suit is really hard to get on and off all the time!

Seraphine Maternity suits range in price from $60 to $89 and most swimsuits come in XS through XL sizes. Although this is a little pricey for a suit you’ll probably only be able to wear a few times, I think it’s well worth splurging for a little extra confidence at the beach.

Seraphine Maternity offers free US returns, which I think is a huge plus for anyone who isn’t sure what size they will need when swimsuit season arrives. Visit the Seraphine Maternity website for details.

What do you think of the Seraphine Maternity swimsuit line?

Photo credit: Seraphine Maternity

Look Beyond Theme Parks for Fun Family Vacations

Posted on Aug 22, 2014 by 1 Comment

Theme parks are the most popular family vacation destination for parents with young children, but these types of outings are also the most expensive.

If you’re on a tight budget, you need to get creative with your vacation planning. Mickey and Minnie may be popular with the little ones, but you can still have a memorable vacation experience without a trip to Disney World or Disneyland.

Museums and zoos make for affordable family-friendly vacation destinations. If you already have a membership to a museum or zoo in your area, check to see if your card entitles you to a reciprocal membership with an establishment near your vacation destination. Terms will vary, but reciprocal membership agreements often allow free admissions, free parking, and/or discounted food and souvenirs.

The Association of Children’s Museums website has a searchable directory of museums and information about reciprocal membership benefits. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums website has a downloadable list of zoos and aquariums in the United States, Canada, and Mexico with reciprocal membership agreements.

If your kids are curious about how their favorite sweet treats are made, a factory tour can be both educational and economical. Family Vacation Critic lists 12 of the best tours for kids, including PEZ Candy in Orange, CT and PEEPS in Bethlehem, PA.

Camping is another popular thrifty vacation activity. A weekend at a scenic campground provides plenty of time for little ones to run, jump, and play outdoors. Older kids will enjoy fishing or telling scary stories by the campfire. Visit the America’s State Parks website to check out state parks within driving distance.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Creative Yet Inexpensive Vacation Souvenirs

Posted on Aug 20, 2014 by No Comments

If your kids are old enough to talk, you’ve probably noticed that buying souvenirs tends to be one of their favorite parts of the vacation experience. Unfortunately, these small purchases can easily take a big chunk out of your travel budget if you’re not careful.

For younger children, it’s best to gently guide them away from the overpriced toys and trinkets towards items that are within your price range.

Ideas for inexpensive souvenirs include:

  • Pressed pennies
  • Postcards
  • Key chains
  • Refrigerator magnets
  • Notebooks
  • Folders
  • Coloring books
  • Stickers
  • Pencils or pens
  • Drinking glasses
  • Hats

If your children are over the age of eight, give them a set dollar amount they can spend and let them choose what to buy accordingly. I’ve found that kids tend to be much more selective with their purchases when they know they will be limited to $20 or $30 for the entire trip. Of course, this only works if you’re strong enough to not give in to requests for more money later in the trip!

I love souvenirs myself, so I never make my son skip the souvenir shop entirely. But, if you have multiple kids, it might be best to forgo purchased souvenirs and let each child create a small vacation scrapbook.

Give your children small photo albums with paper, markers, glue, stickers, and scissors, then have a contest to see who can design the most unique layout describing your family vacation. Encourage the kids to incorporate maps, brochures, ticket stubs, restaurant napkins, pressed flowers, and other forms of free memorabilia into their creations.

When you return home, you can finish the books by adding copies of your favorite vacation photos. If you live near a Walgreens, I’ve found that they often run promotions for free 8×10 prints or photo collages that make fabulous scrapbook additions.

Do you have any ideas for cheap travel souvenirs to share?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Home Remedies for Diaper Rash

Posted on Aug 18, 2014 by No Comments

When a baby has diaper rash, the skin may look raw, red, scalded, or burned. It’s not generally considered serious, but diaper rash can be quite painful for your baby.

When it comes to diaper rash, prevention is the best option. Diaper rash is caused by prolonged contact with the chemicals in urine and stool, so it’s important that you change baby’s diaper frequently. Babies should generally be changed at least once every two hours.

If your baby does develop a diaper rash, a sitz soother can be made by adding two tablespoons of baking soda to a basin filled with warm water. Soak baby for 10 to 15 minutes, then gently pat the skin dry. This can be done twice daily, if needed.

There are many commercial creams available to treat diaper rash, but you can also use the gel from an aloe vera plant for an all natural alternative. Once you’ve cleaned your baby’s bottom, spread a thin layer of aloe vera gel across the diaper area before applying a clean diaper.

Calendula is another highly effective natural home remedy for diaper rash. You can make a healing salve for diaper rash by combining one cup calendula oil with ¼ cup melted beeswax. Let the mixture cool completely, then apply a thin coat to baby’s diaper area as needed throughout the day. Store the salve in a cool place when not in use.

Simple home remedies should be sufficient to treat most cases of diaper rash. However, if your baby’s rash has extended beyond the diaper area or there is a discharge from the skin, a trip to the pediatrician is in order.

Photo credit: Sellers Patton via Flickr

Helping Children Get Organized and Stay Focused

Posted on Aug 15, 2014 by 1 Comment

As a kid, I was always the one that other kids came to when they needed to borrow a pencil or copy down notes from history class.

Sadly, however, my son does not share my interest in keeping things neat and tidy. He’s forever losing homework assignments and school supplies because his mind is on other things. The same organizational skills that came naturally to me are ones he really must work at to master.

If your child also struggles with organization and focus, Maryann Campbell, Executive Director of The Glenholme School, suggests focusing on teaching your child what is known as executive functioning skills. These are the skills that teach focus, organization, and prioritizing tasks in a way that kids can use for the rest of their lives.

The first concept is “stash and trash.” Teach your kids how to decide what is important and what they should toss in the recycling bin. I know my son likes to save everything, but I keep telling him it’s impossible to find your spelling words for the week if your folder is full of graded assignments from three months ago.

Helping your child develop a labeling and/or color coding system ensures that everything has a proper place. Your child should also have some sort of calendar or day planner where he or she can record homework and after school activities. It can be digital or a traditional paper version, depending upon what your child prefers.

At night, get in the habit of going over the next day’s activities with your child to make sure he or she has all the needed supplies and materials. Most kids either bring too much stuff or not enough. Too much stuff is better than not enough, but it’s easy to lose things in an overfilled backpack.

Finally, stress to your children that being organized make it easier to find time for the things they love. “It is important to teach children that there is a time for work and a time for play, and that they are both important for a well-balanced life!” Campbell said. “Make time for studying, after school activities, and dinner with the family.”

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The One World Doll Project Celebrates Diversity

Posted on Aug 13, 2014 by 1 Comment

If you have daughter, you’ve probably noticed that dolls for little girls have long way to go in terms of showing true diversity.

The One World Doll Project, founded by Trent T. Daniel, is promoting diversity among children’s toys by introducing the Prettie Girls! Collection. Two dolls are available now – Lena, who is African-American, and Valencia, who is Latina.

Three more Prettie Girls! – Kimani, who is African; Dahlia, who is South Asian; and Alexie, who is Caucasian – will be available in upcoming months. The dolls are designed by Stacey McBride-Irby, a former product designer for Mattel who has designed dolls such as Pet Vet Barbie, Rock Star Barbie, and Bride Barbie.

“Developing a line of dolls that represents diverse backgrounds is something that hits close to home,” Daniel, an African American father of three young girls, said. “My daughters had trouble finding dolls that looked like they did – just as my sister had a generation earlier.”

Another really wonderful aspect of the Prettie Girls! doll is that each doll comes with a back story describing her unique personality. Lena, for example, is described as a top student, cheerleader, spelling bee champ, aspiring class president, and future entrepreneur.

Valencia is described as an athletic girl who is interested in dancing, working out, and sharing healthy meal ideas with her friends. Girls who identify with a particular doll can order a t-shirt with the doll’s name and picture, if desired.

Visit The One World Doll Project website to learn more about the Prettie Girls! Collection or to purchase dolls. The dolls are regularly priced at $24.95.

Photo credit: The One World Doll Project

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