Category Archives: Family Life

Gifts Your Kids Really Want for Christmas

Christmas gifts your kids really want | Money Savvy LIving

Wondering what to get your kids for Christmas?  Get some great deals online and avoid the crowds this year.  Great gift ideas for small kids through pre-teen: sports, educational, books, and more!



Super Mario Bros Wii U

kids super mario bros wiiuNew Super Mario Bros. U


You can really never go wrong with LEGOS:

LEGO Disney Princess Elsa’s Sparkling Ice Castle

LEGO Minecraft 21116 Crafting Box

LEGO Star Wars 75043 AT-AP


Holiday Barbie 2015

Holiday Barbie 2015 Barbie Collector 2015 Holiday Doll


PAW PATROL is set to be some of the most demanded items for young kids:

Paw Patrol Collage

Nickelodeon Paw Patrol Pop Up Game

Nickelodeon Paw Patrol – Look-Out Playset, Vehicle and Figure

Paw Patrol Action Pack Rescue Team

Paw Patrol Giant Puzzle (46-Piece)



kids star wars planetariumStar Wars Science – Death Star Planetarium

kids star wars r2 d2 bop itBop It! R2-D2 Star Wars Game

kids spelling game

The Learning Journey Match It! Spelling

kids alphabet memory gameThe Learning Journey Match It! Alphabet Memory


kids color shapes puzzle

The Learning Journey Lift and Learn Colors and Shapes Puzzle


kids gear set Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears!

kids brain quest
Brain Quest Smart Game

kids states trivia
Professor Noggin’s The Fifty States

kids science game
Educational Trivia Card Game – Professor Noggin’s Wonders of Science



Popular books for Kids | Money Savvy Living

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series 1-8
Diary of a Wimpy Kid 1-8 Complete Set

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 10
Diary of a Wimpy Kid #10: Old School

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 9
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

Are You My Mother?
Are You My Mother? (Bright & Early Board Books(TM))

Charlotte’s Web
Charlotte’s Web (Trophy Newbery)

Pat the Bunny
Pat the Bunny (Touch and Feel Book)

Magic School Bus Series
The Magic School Bus Chapter Book (20 Book Set)

Tuck Everlasting
Tuck Everlasting

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.


*This article does contain affiliate links, so if you choose to purchase through here, I will make a commission, although it does not increase the cost to you, the consumer. However, I highly recommend that you get an activity tracker whether you purchase through here or elsewhere.


It’s Not Just a Clump of Cells: It Is A Baby

It’s Not Just a Clump of Cells: It Is A Baby

It's Not Just a Clump of Cells, It's A Baby // Dealing with the emotions of a baby miscarriage //  Money Savvy Living #miscarriage #baby


In October 1988, President Reagan proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. “When a child loses his parents, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses his or her partner, they are called a widow or a widower. When parents lose a child, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS and other causes.”



photo via the web:

photo via the web:


On September 28, 2006, the U.S. House passed a resolution recognizing the movement to make October 15 of each year as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.


photo via the web:

photo via the web:


So how do you deal with the emotions of a baby miscarriage?


While there are many voices out there that will tell you that it’s not a baby, it’s just a clump of cells and it doesn’t matter, I want you to know that your loss does matter.


That sadness that you feel, the tears that you still have years later, the feeling of wondering what that child would be like… it’s real pain.


You aren’t crazy.


You have a right to feel sad.


You did suffer a loss.


The loss of a baby, not a clump of cells.


And you deserve to grieve that loss without being told that your loss was insignificant.


Now, I realize that there are many on the other side of the spectrum that feel that ending a pregnancy isn’t ending a life. And if you are one of those women, I want you to know that you have the right to your opinion and your choice to not be a parent, but don’t you dare tell me that it’s not a baby.



From the moment of conception, the instant of fertilization, your baby’s genes and sex are set. If the sperm has a Y chromosome, your baby will be a boy. If it has an X chromosome, the baby will be a girl. The egg stays in the fallopian tube for about 3 to 4 days. But within 24 hours of being fertilized, it starts dividing fast into many cells. It keeps dividing as it moves slowly through the fallopian tube to the uterus. Its next job is to attach to the lining of uterus. This is called implantation. Some women notice spotting for 1 or 2 days around the time of implantation. The lining of the uterus gets thicker and the cervix is sealed by a plug of mucus. It will stay in place until the baby is ready to be born.


This isn’t my opinion. This isn’t conjecture. It is proven scientific fact. All of this happens before most women even know they are pregnant. It is a baby.


It is a baby, just not a fully formed baby that is ready to live outside of its mother’s womb yet.


fetus stages | It's not just a clump of cells, it's a baby


I realize that it is not going to make you feel good to know that ending a pregnancy through an abortion is more than just getting rid of a clump of cells. It might even make you feel regret or remorse for that decision, knowing that the clump of cells you are getting rid of has all the genetic code necessary to develop into a fully formed person—a baby. Well, I’m not going to sugar-coat it for you because you chose to end your pregnancy. And despite what we are constantly told, that is not an empowering choice for women.


But I didn’t choose to end my pregnancy, you see, I personally lost a baby to a miscarriage in June 2010. I helplessly went through the process of a miscarriage with no choice at all and nothing that I could do to save that “clump of cells” so it could further develop into a baby.


At that point, I already had two beautiful, healthy little boys. I never imagined that my third pregnancy would be anything other than what I had experienced with my first two pregnancies. But it was very different. And for reasons unknown to us and the doctor, the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. We were devastated. As I sit here, even now, I have tears in my eyes thinking about what that baby might have been like today. Why am I sad? I don’t know. I can’t really explain it. I never met this child. But it is still a loss. A loss that 1 in 4 women will experience. And even though we have never met these babies, we still love them.


1 in 4 women


It is a baby. Any woman who has actually been through pregnancy knows that her body changes, you feel that life inside of you move and kick. That’s not a clump of cells that are meaningless. Each of those cells has a specific purpose. Some will continue dividing and form the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys…some will become fingers and toes…each of those cells has a genetic code that defines it as the beginning of a life. It is not a random clump of cells. It. Is. A. Baby.

It's Not Just a Clump of Cells, It's A Baby // Dealing with the emotions of a baby miscarriage //  Money Savvy Living #miscarriage #baby



Domestic Violence Being Joked About in Fourth Grade Curriculum

Lab Safety? | Money Savvy Living


This is not a topic that I would have even thought to write about on my own. It wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. Until, I was helping my son review for this science test a few days ago. I mean, why would I have even had reason to believe anything about domestic violence would show up in a “Thinking Like A 4th Grade Scientist” packet? Well, it did.


There were a couple of page on Lab Safety. Makes sense. Teach the kids to be safe when conducting experiments in the lab. Most of the rules and explanations sounded fine, until we get to “Horseplay out.” Here’s the entire excerpt of that section:


“Horseplay can lead to chemical spills, accidental fires, broken containers, and damaged equipment. Never throw anything to another person; be careful where you put your hands and arms; and no wrestling, punching, or shoving in the lab. Save that for when you get older and start dating.”


Did you catch that? “Save that for when you get older and start dating.”


Exactly what are they supposed to save for when they get older and start dating? Wrestling? Is this a lewd comment about making-out or some other sort of hanky-panky? Punching or shoving? Why would anyone need to save punching and shoving for dating?? Punching and shoving within a relationship is not a joke, it’s not flirtatious—it’s abuse. And why is the mention of dating even necessary when talking about lab safety for 4th grade science class anyways?


At best, this sentence is meant to be a joke—a very bad and inappropriate joke. At worst, it is trying to somehow justify physical violence within a relationship as acceptable. Either way, no student (not even in high school) should be exposed to this type of rhetoric, especially, not a child as young as fourth grade.


Why am I making such a big deal of this? It’s only one, little sentence, right? Well, the things we say to kids matter. They remember it. They are like little sponges, soaking up information about what we, as adults, say and do. So if they bring home something from school (a trusted source) that nonchalantly jokes about physical violence within a relationship—“when you get older and start dating”—then we are sending a message to our kids that it’s not a big deal, probably even acceptable, and should even be expected. That’s not the message that I want to send to my children.


Don’t get the wrong idea here. I am NOT blaming the school or my son’s teacher. As a teacher myself, I understand that it is totally possible and reasonable to expect that a teacher, or the Board of Education who probably approved the curriculum, has NOT read every single sentence of every textbook or supplemental material packet that is going to be used. They are looking at an overview of the curriculum and trusting that the publisher has taken their due diligence within the writing and printing of materials. It is not until teachers actually start teaching from a particular series that they can fully know how the implementation of that material is working.


We are very fortunate to be in a great district and when I contacted the teacher, he was very understanding and said he didn’t know that sentence was in there until the packets had already gone home and would remove that sentence for future use. I truly couldn’t have asked for a better resolution in this situation.


But I still had to think, what if my son’s teacher wasn’t so understanding and willing to resolve this issue immediately? What if I hadn’t read through my son’s curriculum to find it in the first place? I’m sure there are many districts across the country that do actually use controversial curriculum and probably don’t even care the message it sends to kids. How many other publishers, like the Wild Goose Company—the creator of this ridiculousness—are slipping in controversial remarks or weaving inappropriate undertones into curriculum that are slowly and methodically ingrained into our children as core beliefs?


I don’t know if the teacher would have caught it. I don’t know if other parents caught it. What I do know is that we have the right, and responsibility, as parents to speak up for what we want our kids to be taught, and when something doesn’t seem right, say something.

As parents, be involved in what your children are learning. Be an active participant in their education.

Every Kid in a Park: Fourth Graders and their families get FREE admission to National Parks

Every Kid in a Park | Money Savvy Living


Is your child a fourth grader for the 2015-2016 school year? If so, your fourth grade student—and entire family—qualifies to visit all national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and other federal park lands throughout the 2015-2016 school year—for FREE as part of the Every Kid in a Park initiative!


Every Kid in a Park passes are scheduled to be available on September 1, 2015. Passes will be good for one year. Details on obtaining and using the passes will be announced September 1, to coincide with the launch of the program. As information is released, or as updates are made, check the Every Kid in a Park page for the most current program details.


Every Kid in a Park joins the National Park Foundation’s Open Outdoors for Kids program in helping children learn history, culture, and science while exploring the great outdoors. With kids spending more time in front of technology these days—smart phones, video games, tablets—it is more important than ever to encourage children to learn by experiencing and not just researching online.


Because the fourth grade student and their entire family can get into the parks for FREE, visiting one of America’s beautiful national parks would be a frugal—and educational—vacation for your family this year.  Want to plan a trip?  Click here to get a pass for your fourth grader and family.


Following is a list of the parks that are a part of this program. Check out the locations and links and start planning your visit today:


Acadia NP—Bar Harbor, ME

Arches NP—Moab, UT

Big South Fork NRRA—Oneida, TN

Biscayne NP—Homestead, FL

Bryce Canyon NP—Bryce, UT

Cape Cod NS—Wellfleet, MA

Cape Hatteras NS—Manteo, NC

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal NHP—Hagerstown, MD

Death Valley NP—Death Valley, CA

Everglades NP—Homestead, FL

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP—Fredericksburg, VA

Glacier Bay NP and PRES—Gustavus, AK

Glacier NP—West Glacier, MT

Grand Canyon NP—Grand Canyon, AZ

Grand Teton NP—Moose, WY

Great Basin NP—Baker, NV

Grand Sand Dunes NP and PRES—Mosca, CO

Great Smokey Mountains NP—Gatlinburg, TN

Harpers Ferry NHP—Harpers Ferry, WV

Lassen Volcanic NP—Mineral, CA

Mammoth Cave NP—Mammoth Cave, KY

Mesa Verde NP—Mesa Verde, CO

Mount Rainier NP—Ashford, WA

Olympic NP—Port Angeles, WA

Ozark NSR—Van Buren, MO

Rocky Mountain NP—Estes Park, CO

San Antonio Missions NHP—San Antonio, TX

Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP—Three Rivers, CA

Shenandoah NP—Luray, VA

Sleeping Bear Dunes NL—Empire, MI

Theodore Roosevelt NP—Medora, ND

Virgin Islands NP—St. John, Virgin Islands

Yellowstone NP—Yellowstone NP, WY

Yosemite NP—Yosemite NP, CA

Zion NP—Springdale, UT


*The initiative is an administration-wide effort among the National Park Service, Forest Service, Department of Education, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Ultimate Guide to Summer Fun: Discounts for 250+ Attractions Nationwide

Summer Fun Discounts 2015 | Money Savvy Living

If you are looking for some summer fun that the entire family can enjoy, check out this list of over 250 attractions, theme parks, and water parks offering special discounts in over 35 states nationwide.  As a U.S. Family Guide blog member, my readers can enjoy savings by clicking on the links and printing coupons or codes to save money at each of the attractions below:

2015 Theme Park, Waterpark and Summer Attraction



Printable Coupons and Promo Codes, by state:

USA Triathlon 2015 Splash & Dash



AZ Air Time Scottsdale

Kiwanis Park Recreation Center

Arizona Museum for Youth

SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium

Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium

INSPIRE Entertainment

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center – Tucson

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center – Phoenix

Carrie Curran Art Studios

Arizona Rafting



California’s Great America

Gilroy Gardens

Hollywood Wax Museum

Madame Tussauds Hollywood

Newport Landing Whale Watching

Pirate’s Dinner Adventure

Raging Waters

Waterworld California

Mulligan Family Fun Center

Guinness World Records Museum

Bladium Sports & Fitness Club

BounceU – Orange

Downtown LA Walking Tours

Fillmore & Western Railway



Copper Mountain Resort Association

Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park

Water World

Pirates Cove

The Splash at Fossil Trace

Boondocks Fun Center

Dinosaur Resource Center

Children’s Museum of Denver

Butterfly Pavilion

Downtown Aquarium

Evolve Action Sports Park

A+ Athletics

Adventure Golf and Raceway

Earth Treks Climbing Center

Broken Tee Golf Course

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

American Paintball Coliseum

Grand Adventures

SK Horses

Putter’s Pride Mini Golf

FatCats Bowling Centers

Putting Edge Glow-in-the-Dark Mini Golf & Arcade

Snow Mountain Ranch

Dart Warz

Unser Karting & Events

Bladium Sports & Fitness Club

K1 Speed

Colorado Sports Hall of Fame

Denver Firefighters Museum

Blitz Paintball

Silverthorne Recreation Center

Friends of Dinosaur Ridge

Gateway Park Fun Center



Flight Trampoline Park

My Gym Enfield

My Gym Glastonbury

My Gym of West Hartford

Lakeside Pottery Ceramic School and Studio



Adventure Landing

Adventure Landing & Shipwreck Island Waterpark

Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park

Bluefoot Pirate Adventures

Everglades Holiday Park


Putting Edge Glow in the Dark Mini Golf

Sky Zone Fort Lauderdale

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo



Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

Lane Southern Orchards

LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Monster Mini Golf

Wild Adventures Theme Park

Georgia Renaissance Festival

Smoke Rise Summer Camp



Hawaii Game Truck

My Gym Kailua



FatCats Bowling Centers



Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm

Go Bananas LLC

Jump America Indoor Trampoline Park

Odyssey Fun World

Pump It Up Chicago

Putting Edge Glow in the Dark Mini Golf

Safari Land

Discovery Center Museum

Exploration Station

My Gym Aurora

My Gym Buffalo Grove

My Gym Chicago

My Gym River Forest



Monkey Joe’s Of Des Moines



All Star Adventures

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Kansas City

SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center Overland Park

Wichita Riding Academy



Gattitown Lexington



Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

Steamboat Natchez



Earth Treks Climbing Center

Madame Tussauds Washington, D.C.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

My Gym Bethesda

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center of Timonium

My Gym Owings Mills



Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

Classic Harbor Line – Boston

On Location Tours

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center

Rock Spot Climbing



Bavarian Inn Lodge

Berlin Raceway

High Velocity Sports

Putting Edge Glow-in-the-Dark Mini Golf & Arcade



Castle of Chaos

Hollywood Wax Museum

SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium

The Bretts

The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum

America’s Incredible Pizza Company – St. Louis

America’s Incredible Pizza Company – Springfield

Cool Crest Family Entertainment Center

Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Kansas City

Putting Edge Glow in the Dark Mini Golf

Shoot for the Stars Mini-Golf

World’s Largest Toy Museum & Attraction

The Little Gym of Fenton

Mad Science of St. Louis



Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center



My Gym Childrens Fitness Center – Lincoln



Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas

BounceU – Henderson

 $5 Off Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus – XTREME


New Hampshire

Liquid Planet Water Park And Zip Lines

Water Country


New Jersey

Wild West City

International Sports Skating & Fun Centre & Deptford Skating & Fun Center

Pump It Up – Roselle Park

Pump It Up – Freehold

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center – Glen Rock

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center – Westfield

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center – Manalapan


New Mexico

Tours of Old Town


New York

Adventure Landing – Greece

Adventure Landing – Tonawanda

Adventure Speedway

Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

Classic Harbor Line

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester

Madame Tussauds New York

On Location Tours

The Ride

New York Baby Show

Bounce Magic

Gamin Ride

My Gym Children’s Fitness – Stony Brook

The Little Gym of Kingston


North Carolina

Adventure Landing – Gastonia

Adventure Landing – Winston Salem

Adventure Landing – Raleigh

Adventure Landing – Pineville



Magic Mountain Fun Centers – Polaris

Magic Mountain Fun Centers – East

The Beach Waterpark

Ohio Renaissance Festival

Akron Fossils & Science Center

Family Karate



Andy Alligator’s Water Park

America’s Incredible Pizza Company

Bouncin Craze

Bouncin Craze II



USA Triathlon 2015 Splash & Dash



Flight Trampoline Park

Fun Slides Carpet Skatepark

Monster Mini Golf

Sunset Mini Golf

Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway

Slide The City

BounceU – Exton

BounceU – Warrendale

Snapology Discovery Center – South Hills

Snapology of East Pittsburgh

Gymkhana Gymnastics

Soccer Shots

The Valley Skating Center

Color Me Mine Pottery Studio


Rhode Island

Rock Spot Climbing


South Carolina

Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors

Hollywood Wax Museum


Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry

Hollywild Animal Park

My Gym Northeast Columbia



Castle of Chaos

Guinness World Records Museum

Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors

Hollywood Wax Museum

Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Odditorium

Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini-Golf

Ripley’s Haunted Adventure

Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze

Ripley’s Old MacDonald’s Farm Mini-Golf

Dickson Stampede Days Rodeo

America’s Incredible Pizza Company



Adventure Landing

Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

Cascade Caverns

LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Moody Gardens

Natural Bridge Caverns


SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium

Shore Club Volente Beach

Splashtown San Antonio

Trinity Forest Adventure Park

Woodlawn Theatre

Amazing Jake’s Plano

America’s Incredible Pizza Company

Gatti’s Pizza


Inflatable Wonderland

Nickelrama Arcade

Drama Kids International

Olympian Fencing Club



Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

FatCats Bowling Centers – Salt Lake City

FatCats Bowling Centers – Ogden

FatCats Bowling Centers – Provo

This Is The Place Heritage Park

Boondocks Fun Center

Discovery Gateway: The Children’s Museum of Utah

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center – Layton

Adrift Adventures



Flight Trampoline Park

My Gym of Hampton Roads

Mad Science of Hampton Roads



Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt


West Virginia

West Virginia Mountain Rail Adventures



Blue Harbor Resort & Spa

Door County Trolley

Egg Harbor Fun Park

Gravity Trails

Badger Bouncers

Sky Zone Milwaukee

Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley


The One Thing Every Mother Needs to Hear

The One Thing Every Mother Needs to Hear | Money Savvy Living


We went on what I like to think of as a “mini-vacation” this past weekend. We took the boys out of school a couple hours early and headed for Chicago.


Since the kids have been born, I have to admit that I am not much of a vacationer. It. Is. So. Much. Work. Yes, work… not relaxing. Work. It really seems like I need to take half of the house with me in order to be prepared for anything that we may even possibly think about needing. You know, like diapers, wipes, bottles, snacks, Band-Aids, extra clothing… now that they are getting bigger this is getting a little better…


We have gone on a few vacations though—to Disneyworld and the beach, and things went well. For the most part, the kids have always done well. Of course, we do hear the typical things that you would expect to come from the back seat: “Are we there yet?” “I need to use the bathroom!” “Mom, he’s touching my stuff!” Did I mention we have THREE boys?


Even though the kids do pretty well and are excited when we go on vacation, I still don’t really feel relaxed though. I mean, it’s a lot of pressure to make sure all three kids actually stay with us so that we don’t come home with only two… or just one…


The boys standing by a huge Lego giraffe at Legoland

The boys standing by a huge Lego giraffe at LEGOLAND


So on our mini-vacation, this past weekend, we went to Chicago and tried to make it fun for the kids—riding the train into downtown, going to Skydeck Ledge, visiting Legoland… even getting to try authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza.


Yes, we were actually all brave enough to step out over the city at the Skydeck Ledge (photo via:

Yes, we were actually all brave enough to step out over the city at the Skydeck Ledge (photo via:


But the event that stood out to me this weekend was brunch at the hotel on Sunday morning. It was crowded. Really crowded. There was a long line for the waffle maker, and of course, the kids wanted waffles. There were no tables big enough for our party of five. But there was a table in the corner for two. So I asked an elderly couple sitting close by, if we could borrow a couple of chairs from their table. They indicated that no one was sitting there, so I scooted them over to our table. Ok. Now the kids could be seated while I worked on getting their breakfast and my husband could watch them to make sure no one got away. Whew. See what I mean, even just getting a table for breakfast was work. So I got the boys eggs and some cereal to be eating. Then went back up for extra plates, napkins and silverware. Work. Then back up for water and orange juice. Work. Everyone was happy—sort of, “Mom, can I please have a waffle?” Of course, the little guy only wanted pancakes. And there were no pancakes.


By this time, the line died down for waffles, so I put some batter in the waffle maker and even got my husband some eggs and juice to be eating while he made sure no one escaped. Finally, we had a waffle. So everyone was happy. Time to relax and eat my breakfast. Then the little guy spilled his water—and started to cry. I told him it was ok… And as I tried to make my way around the table (it was very crowded, so I had to go past that elderly couple again), that sweet elderly lady stopped me and said,

“You’re a good mom.”

The One Thing Every Mother Needs to Hear | Money Savvy Living


I thanked her. I should have hugged her. She will never know how much I needed to hear that. That little bit of encouragement made my day. It was all I needed to realize that this work was my life. My life with little kids that will soon be big.


If you see a Mom with little kids, give her a word of encouragement today. It may mean more than you know.

A Day in the Life of a Work at Home Mom

A Day in the Life of a Work at Home Mom | Money Savvy Living


I have struggled for years to reconcile my conflicting goals of wanting to be there for my kids as a work-at-home mom and continuing to advance professionally with my career.  Notice, I say “work-at-home mom.”  Whether a mother works outside the home or not is irrelevant—she still works at home. The only difference is income.


I never wanted to put my kids in daycare and never have. Not because I think daycare is bad, but because I wanted to be there for them. And I have been fortunate that family members have helped watch the kids over the years when I did work.


When our first son was born, my husband was definitely not on board with me staying at home full time. Because I had been at my job for several years, the company that I was working for allowed me to work from home most of the time. I think that it was during this time that my husband actually started liking the fact that I was more involved at home… that meant less for him to help with when it came to dishes, laundry, and helping to make dinner when he got home from work.


Then our second son came along. At this point, we made the decision that I would work only part-time. Plus, getting family members to babysit two small children was not going to be as easy as it was just one… it is a lot of work.


So, when baby number three came along, we decided that I would stay home full time. Now, keep in mind that each of these moves for me to work less outside-of-the-home had a huge impact on our budget and finances.  We have had to make lifestyle adjustments: not eating out as much, not taking a vacation every year… but having this time with my kids—totally worth it.


My kids are my world and I love them with all my heart, so having the opportunity to be at home with them has been absolutely wonderful, but I still had that desire for career advancement. I just couldn’t be content to be a stay-at-home-mom. I don’t know why. After all, it is what I wanted. Even though taking care of three active little boys is a lot of work, I just didn’t feel like I was doing enough. I had a job since I was 16 years old. At this point, I really felt like part of my identity was gone.


So I started writing finance articles online, then I started a blog… and then something wonderful happened, I started making money for doing this! I really had no idea that it would be possible to do something that fits into my schedule that I could be paid to do something that started out as simply a means to stay relevant professionally.


All of this brings me to today. Today was the first day that was warm and sunny and, while my two oldest boys had to go to school, the little guy did not have preschool today… and he knew exactly what he wanted to do—go outside. And we did. For four hours. I literally had to drag him in the house for lunch. But as we did all the things that he wanted to do: ride his tricycle, went for a walk, and stopped on our walk to throw rocks in the pond, I felt so very blessed to get to enjoy this time with him, just as I have my other kids. Yes, I had other stuff I could have been doing… writing articles, doing laundry or dishes, cleaning, but that stuff was all there for me when we got back.  Those chores didn’t miss the fact that I wasn’t paying attention to them, but I’m sure my little boy would have noticed.

Having fun throwing rocks in the pond... something so simple, but look how happy he is... LIFE IS GOOD.

Having fun throwing rocks in the pond… something so simple, but look how happy he is… LIFE IS GOOD.

He actually wanted to go for a walk in the stroller-- at least I got a little exercise in too!

He actually wanted to go for a walk in the stroller– at least I got a little exercise in too!


I don’t want to be the parent that is just there physically. I want to be there for my kids, interacting with them and letting them know that they are more important than any of the other things that I have on the to-do list. Today was a wonderful reminder to me that LIFE. IS. GOOD.

The False Assumptions of Common Core and PARCC

PARCC practice test question

You are probably aware that Common Core testing started last week in a state-wide rollout in Ohio. For our state, it was the implementation of the PARCC test (Partnership Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). Even if your state didn’t give the PARCC test, if you live in a state which has adopted the Common Core standards, your child may very well be receiving a very similar round of testing.


The Common Core math textbooks have been in schools for several years now, spreading as the accepted “new” way to teach math and adopted by many schools nationwide. As this way of teaching math has become more prevalent, parents have started speaking out.


As a parent—and educator, and professional—I try to keep an open mind to change. Just because we have always done things a certain way doesn’t mean that there isn’t something better out there—but it also doesn’t mean that the change isn’t for the worse either. Either way, when a change is implemented, we need to be able to look at the effects and objectively analyze the results, then make necessary adjustments.


But sometimes we just get change for the sake of change.


I have tried to rationalize the concept of Common Core math, and I absolutely embrace the need for teaching students to think critically; however, I have not been able to figure out how on earth Common Core math even comes remotely close to meeting its lofty goal of raising the standard. In fact, I’m pretty sure it does the opposite.


So, let’s take a look at an example question from the PARCC practice test for third graders:

Cindy is finding the quotient 27 / 9. She says, “The answer is 18 because addition is the opposite of division and 9 + 18 = 27.”
Part A: Identify the incorrect reasoning in Cindy’s statement. Enter your explanation in the space provided.
Part B: Show or explain how Cindy can correct her reasoning. Find the quotient when 27 is divided by 9. Enter your answer and your work or your explanation in the space provided.


Honestly, it is hard for me to know where to start. Not with solving the math problem, but with pointing out all the things that are wrong and inappropriate about this question.


Common Core is negatively reinforcing math concepts.


First of all, the wording of this question is not directly asking the child to solve the math problem—or find the quotient—with the correct quotient actually being the answer. Instead, the math problem is posed with a hypothetical Cindy getting the wrong answer, based on faulty reasoning. Let’s think about this for a second. Why are we even posing questions that have misinformation in them to students? This can be a very destructive way to teach. I can guarantee that a small percentage of students will pick up on the phrase “addition is the opposite of division” and will remember this, even though it is explained in the question as “incorrect reasoning.”


Let me give you an example of the selective hearing that will lead to some students gleaning the incorrect statement of “addition is the opposite of division.” The other day, my third grade son came home from school and asked to play on his ipad. I told him that he could after he had a snack and did his homework. He came over and ate his snack, then went to the living room to play his ipad. I reminded him that he needed to do his homework first. His response was, “but you said I could play my ipad.” Does this scenario sound familiar to any other parent out there? Sometimes kids hear what they want to hear… maybe they only listen carefully to part of what is being said… maybe it was because that was the last part of the sentence and it stuck with him… who knows, but it is not out of the question to think that a third grader, who is just learning multiplication and division might get confused by the wording of this question. Perhaps, an older student, who has a more firm grasp of multiplication and division would be a better group of students to present “incorrect reasoning” questions to.
Second, let’s look at what the actual question is asking the student to do: “Part A: Identify the incorrect reasoning in Cindy’s statement. Enter your explanation in the space provided.” Now, the test is actually reinforcing the incorrect reasoning by asking students to only identify the incorrect reasoning and enter it in the space provided—this part of the question is not explicitly asking the student to explain why it is wrong. It is not until Part B of the question that the student is asked to identify how Cindy can correct her reasoning. Finally, the second action item of Part B asks the student to solve the math problem of 27 divided by 9 to find the quotient.


Let’s make sure we are keeping this straight. The student is reinforced of faulty information in the wording of the question and then asked to identify and explain the incorrect reasoning—two times being negatively reinforced—before being asked to come up with correct reasoning as to how to solve the problem and finally coming up with the quotient.  So the tests are not positively reinforcing that a child know the correct answer, but are negatively reinforcing the concept if they don’t now why hypothetical Cindy got the question wrong.  Hmmmm…


My suggestion for better wording for this question for a third grader: Find the quotient 27 / 9. Show all your work or explain how you got your answer. The wording of this question asks the student to solve the math problem, positively reinforcing the concept. Asking a student to show all work or explain how they got the answer will give the teacher (or test grader) an idea of the student’s reasoning.


But let’s be honest, math is numbers, not writing essays. If a third grader can solve basic math facts correctly, time and time again, I don’t really think the explanation is necessary because getting a correct answer indicates that a student has basic understanding of the concept. So if the student can come up with the quotient of 3 for this question, but is unable to identify hypothetical little Cindy’s faulty reasoning or explain what she can do to correct her reasoning, do we say this student missed the question? How much credit does the student get for arriving at the correct answer, but failing to come up with a satisfactory essay for the other parts of the question? Did the teacher fail to teach multiplication and division if the student cannot come up with an adequate essay answer? Is this fairly evaluating a teacher’s ability to convey math concepts?


Reasoning for how to solve 27 divided by 9 and identifying strategies to do so is what goes on during classroom instruction. Really, the only person in a third grade classroom that needs to be able to identify Cindy’s incorrect reasoning and figure out what she needs to do differently, is the teacher. The TEACHER.


Finally, the computerized implementation of these tests assumes that all students are fully computer literate, able to seamlessly navigate between screens and understand all button functionality. I think it is safe to say that it would be a pretty accomplished feat for a third grader to be able to type with correct finger placement, let alone expecting them to toggle back and forth with the math symbol keys at the side or knowing when to flag a question for review.


Teaching students how to use a computer is great—and should definitely be a part of their education, integrated throughout the years, but why must we place even more pressure on students by making this the basis for high stakes testing?


I know there are some people out there that think something along the lines of “What’s the big deal? I was tested when I was a kid. We want to raise the standard, don’t we?” Yes, of course we want to raise the standard. Yes, standardized tests have been around for a very long time. But Common Core and PARCC are different.


The purpose of the PARCC testing is also different than typical standardized tests. In the past, standardized tests have been given to students every few years to benchmark education. When fully implemented, some students will be tested 12 times during a school year, which will consume several days and take 18-24 hours away from necessary classroom instruction, not to mention test prep time. The purpose, according to PARCC’s website is to now assess students, several times a year: “The PARCC states’ high quality assessments will allow parents and educators to see how children are progressing in school and whether they are on track for postsecondary success. The PARCC assessment also provides teachers with the ability to identify students who may be falling behind and need extra help.”


So is PARCC is telling us is that teachers do not know how to do their jobs? A teacher’s ability to assess a student throughout the year and keep them progressing is a pretty basic teaching skill. Why do we need these high stakes tests—putting unnecessary pressure on students and teachers? Why are so many teachers remaining silent when they disagree with Common Core and PARCC? Because their jobs are being threatened. So where are the unions? Why aren’t they standing up for the teachers?


If Common Core and high stakes testing are not acceptable or beneficial to a child’s educational process, let’s repeal them and give control back to the states and allow teachers to do what they do best—teach.

19 Action News Picked Up Our Efforts to Repeal Common Core and PARCC

Last week, I had the opportunity to talk to Reporter Dan DeRoos about concerns that parents (and teachers) here in Ohio are having regarding Common Core and PARCC testing.

I am also very happy to report that since starting the petition to repeal Common Core and PARCC just two weeks ago, we have received over 2500 signatures! If you are interested in signing and sharing, here is a direct link to the PETITION. Let’s continue to send a message, loud and clear, to our legislators that we want higher standards in education and accountability, but Common Core and PARCC are NOT the way to accomplish those goals. We need to allow teachers to teach students, not perpetually be in test-prep mode.

I have written a couple of articles on this subject lately:
The Cost of Common Core and PARCC: An Open Letter to Parents and Legislators
The Big Business of Education: Breaking Down the Dollars Behind Common Core and PARCC

The Reason No Woman Should Have Blonde Hair. Ever.

The Reason No Woman Should Have Blonde Hair. Ever.

The Reason No Woman Should Have Blonde Hair. Ever. // Money Savvy Living


If you don’t live in a bubble, you have probably heard about the great debate over what attire is appropriate for a woman to wear in public in order for a man to not have lustful thoughts. The arguments in this area are mainly comprised of how leggings or yoga pants, being form fitting, or how sleeveless shirts or dresses, that reveal a woman’s shoulders, can cause a man to have lustful thoughts.


From experience, I have one more thing that should be added to the list of lust-invoking thought catalysts: blonde hair. Yes, blonde hair.


Probably the most eye-opening, blatant statement anyone ever made to me was about my blonde hair. When I first became a manager, my superior told me that the guys on my team wouldn’t listen to me because they were too busy wanting to sleep with me. He suggested that in order to be taken seriously, I should dye my hair brown.


What? WHAT?!  Why on earth would he say that? What made him think that the men in the office wanted to sleep with me because I had blonde hair? I worked hard to get that promotion. I was good at sales and could teach others. Wouldn’t my team listen to me because I knew what I was doing?


If I dyed my hair brown would that make me smarter? Would it enable me in some way to do my job better? Would brown hair actually somehow make men hear what I had to say? I am ashamed to admit that I almost bought into his comments. I did actually dye my hair darker blonde for a while. I figured that I would try to make my hair darker gradually. My husband didn’t like it though.


Then it occurred to me. Why in the world was I trying to change myself anyways? Why was I the one responsible for the alleged lustful thoughts of male co-workers? So I went back to my regular blonde hair. As a manager, I trained employees in group settings and individually. I took over a team that was not doing well, in fact, dead last in the company, and within a year, we were number one in the company. Believe it or not, I was able to accomplish this even with my blonde hair.


Being totally honest here, I have reasons as to why women should not wear blue silk blouses, white pants, or dress-length trench coats because they invoke lustful thoughts in men. I won’t go into those stories because this is a family-friendly article, you’ll just have to trust me when I say that these wardrobe choices elicited some rather inappropriate, lustful commentary. So let’s add those to the list of banned items as well.


It is not my intention to ridicule anyone’s personal decision to wear jeans rather than leggings for the sake of modesty. I firmly believe that as women, and for me personally, as a Christian, we should dress in a manner that is respectful of our own bodies. If we demand respect, we will get respect, right? As the mother of three boys, I appreciate a movement for women to dress modestly. That teaches our sons that it is not okay for society to sexualize women; similarly, it teaches our daughters that gaining affection from a man should not be based on merely being able to attract attention with provocative attire. We should all be praising modesty, lest we end up with more Miley Cyruses, scantily clad, twerking and grinding with large foam fingers.


The Reason No Woman Should Have Blonde Hair.  Ever.  // Money Savvy Living


But what if the list of “do-not-wear-this” is not enough? I mean, we could probably keep adding to it until almost nothing is deemed appropriate, except maybe for sweatpants and sweatshirts. And even then, there may be some sweatshirt-lusting men out there. So what’s the answer?


The Bible warns men against adultery and lust; likewise, it directs women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety. Each has a responsibility to act in accordance with God’s word.



“Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes.”  Psalm 6:25

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”  I John 2:15-17



“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”  I Timothy 2:9-10

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  I Peter 3:3-4


So does this mean that I have to give up leggings, yoga pants, blonde hair, silk blouses, white pants, or any other item that could remotely have the possibility of spurring a lustful thought for a man? No. It is a man’s responsibility to have control over his thoughts and control his desires. It is my responsibility, however, to use good judgment when it comes to my wardrobe choices.


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