Teaching kids about money!

Annora: “Can I have this money to put into my piggy bank? (It is a $20 bill!)

Me: “No honey, you didn’t earn it! Mommy and Daddy earn their money to put into our piggy bank called a bank account.”

I am adamant about teaching the girls how to handle their money. I actually don’t think you can ever start too early. I want to set them up for financial success just as much as any other success. I have struggled financially in the past and my parents have too…it isn’t anything I want my girls to go through.

It’s an unfortunate fact that our public school system does little to teach children about money and finances — and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. Therefore, as a parent, that responsibility lies with us alone.

Teaching our children about money at an early age is a priceless gift, as it puts our kids on track to make intelligent, educated financial decisions as they grow older. Here are five tips that I have gathered from various sites along with my own tips and ideas to help you impart sound financial advice to your kids:

1. Speak to Them on Their Level
Your message is not likely to sink in if you’re not talking to your children at their own level. When you teach them money lessons, sit together on the floor or kneel down next to their desk.

2. Use Concrete Examples
If you want to get an idea an idea across, use examples that your children can relate to. For instance, make mason jars for money they will give, spend, grow and save. Seeing money in each jar will train kids to use only the money they allotted for spending.

3. Train Yourself to Say No
If you say “yes” to your kids every time they want a new toy, snack, or anything else that costs money, you are impressing upon them that reckless spending has no consequences – which couldn’t be further from the truth. Children need to understand that there are limits to spending, and while you don’t want to cease all purchases, exercising restraint demonstrates a valuable financial lesson. Consider establishing a monthly toy budget, and let your kids make their own purchasing decisions, keeping them updated throughout the month as to how much they have left to spend.

4. Instill in Them the Desire to Save
If your child has received a sum of money for a birthday as a holiday gift, this is the perfect time to encourage saving. You may wish to take your child to the bank and help him or her to open a savings account, as this is a great way to encourage financial responsibility. Don’t know a way to do this? Dave Ramsey has many valuable tips to follow.


Final Thoughts
If we can effectively teach our children how to responsibly handle money, they’ll be able to more actively participate in their own savings for college (which I worry about already and my girls are 4.5 and 2 years old). This will lessen the burden on us, and can also reduce the amount of student loan debt they graduate with. There are many benefits to teaching kids about money, and we’ll be doing both ourselves and our kids a disservice if we don’t start now.


One thing I have learned about myself…I am NOT the gourmet chef I always wished I would/could be! In fact, my brothers got the “cooking” gene in our family…GO FIGURE! I am a recipe girl and LOVE new recipes. You could say I am NOT one of those people that can throw something together and make a meal. That being said, I am mindful of keeping our meals “clean” (meaning healthy). I have found a few recipes (from Beachbody’s repertoire…I wish I could claim them as my own) that are my family’s favorites (or recipes we can’t wait to try) and a good kept secret gets no one anywhere so without further ado…


  1. Hearty Chicken, Sweet Potato and Apples                                                                                hearty-chicken-sweet-potatoes-apples_bobroj

This is a great recipe to use leftover chicken and baked sweet potatoes. Don’t have leftovers? We’ll let you in on a little secret: the dish in the photograph above was made with a chicken breast from the deli section of the supermarket and a bag of frozen cubed sweet potatoes. And it was indeed hearty, and delicious!

Total Time: 23 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 13 min.
Yield: 4 servings

3 tsp. olive oil, divided use
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium tart cooking apples (like Granny Smith or pippin), peeled, cored, finely chopped
2 cups cubed baked sweet potato, cut into cubes
¼ cup raisins
8 oz cooked chicken breast, boneless, skinless, chopped
1 tsp. chopped fresh sage
¼ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. paprika

1. Heat 1½ tsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add onion and apples; cook, stirring frequently, for 6 to 7 minutes, or until mixture begins to brown. Place in a large bowl.
3. Add potato, raisins, chicken, sage, salt, pepper, and paprika; mix well.
4. Heat remaining 1½ tsp. oil in skillet over medium heat.
5. Add apple mixture, pat into an even layer in pan; cook, without stirring, for 2 minutes.
6. Stir gently; cook an additional 2 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Serve immediately.


2. Whole Wheat Waffles


Total Time: 40 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 30 min.
Yield: 10 servings, 1 waffle each

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
¼ cup ground flax seed
½ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2¾ cups unsweetened almond milk (or low-fat (1%) milk)
¼ cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp. sunflower oil
Nonstick cooking spray

1. Combine flours, baking powder, flax seed, and salt in a medium bowl; mix well. Set aside.
2. Combine eggs, almond milk, maple syrup, and oil in a large bowl; mix well. Add flour mixture. Mix until blended.
3. Pour ¾ cup of batter at a time onto hot waffle iron, lightly coated with spray. Cook waffles until golden brown and crisp.
4. One serving equals one waffle; leftover waffles can be wrapped up and frozen.


3. Tuna Noodle and Veggie Casserole


Total Time: 1 hr. 19 min.
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cooking Time: 1 hr. 4 min.
Yield: 6 servings, approx. 1 cup each

4 oz. dry small whole wheat pasta shells
3 tsp. olive oil, divided use
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chopped kale
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk
1 cup low-sodium organic vegetable broth
½ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt), divided use
½ tsp. ground black pepper, divided use
1½ cups frozen green peas
2 cans (6-oz. each) chunk light tuna, packed in water, drained
½ cup whole-grain panko bread crumbs

1. Cook shells according to package directions; drain. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 375° F.
3. Heat 2 tsp. oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
4. Add onion and kale; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
5. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated.
6. Add remaining 1 tsp. oil; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
7. Add flour; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until flour and oil form a paste.
8. Slowly add milk, broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low.
9. Add peas, tuna, and shells; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes.
10. Place tuna mixture in a 2-quart baking dish. Top evenly with bread crumbs. Bake for 30 to 32 minutes, or until casserole is bubbling and brown.
11. Serve immediately.

Tip: For the best tuna casserole, stop cooking your noodles and drain them when they are still al dente (a little bit firm). They will continue to cook in the oven and absorb the flavors of the sauce without becoming mushy.

4. Spanish Brown Rice


Total Time: 30 min.
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cooking Time: 15 min.
Yield: 8 servings, about ⅔ cup each

1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
½ medium onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium jalapeno, seeds and veins removed, finely chopped (optional)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste, no added sugar
1 tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
½ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. ground smoked paprika
1 dash ground black pepper
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups frozen peas and carrots
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat oil in medium saucepan medium-high heat.
2. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
3. Add tomatoes, garlic, and jalapeno (if desired); cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
4. Add tomato paste, salt, cumin, paprika, and pepper; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until vegetables are coated.
5. Add rice and peas and carrots; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until heated through.
6. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

I’m a “Baby Wise” momma!

Man it can get ugly when you are trying to figure out the best system for you and your family when trying to “train” your baby. I was tugged in all different directions while carrying my oldest, Annora. Do this, DO NOT do this, make sure you are doing this, etc. It can get overwhelming very quickly. What I did do was carefully listen to both my sister-in-laws who each have 4 kids. Experience is the best advice right?!? They expressed the system they used and how it worked. The system is found in the book Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo. I bought the book soon after the suggestion and started reading…NUMEROUS times. That book was so informative and really helped me understand the system of getting your kids into a  solid routine and the importance of it. I decided to go “all-in” with the tips the books offered and see where I landed. Besides…it worked like a charm for my sister-in-laws!

Baby Wise has been a lifesaver for us and our family. My first daughter slept through the night at 6 weeks and my second daughter at 9 weeks. We simply followed the book and it worked. It is now the book I give to all of my friends having babies. It is my #1 baby shower gift I give and it is the advice from this book that I give to EVERYONE!


Best described…Baby Wise is a lifestyle. When you get to know the why of what you are doing, you don’t reference the book to “tell you what to do” with your baby. It just all comes naturally. You don’t worry and stress out about meeting that sleeping through the night goal by 7-8 weeks because “the book says that is the norm.” You know and can tell baby is headed in that direction and these night wakings will soon be a distant memory. You also know that if your baby starts sleeping through at 14 weeks instead, that is fine. No problem.

This doesn’t mean you have to follow Babywise principles with an “all or nothing” approach. I think that in just about any parenting book you read, there will be things you agree with and things you don’t agree with. There will be things you will do and things you will think, “not for me.” I think the only way you would agree with something 100% is if you wrote it yourself–and in a couple of years, you will likely find things you disagree with!

Are Play Dates Really That Necessary?

I FIRMLY believe in the weekly play date! Both of my girls have been going on play dates since they were itty bitty and I believe it is the main reason they are well-adjusted when it comes to sharing, treating others with respect and plain old getting along. I have come up with a list of things I make sure to do when getting ready for a play date.


1. Prepare ahead of time. Avoid fights and meltdowns by scheduling playdates at times when toddlers are likely to be in a good mood, such as in the morning or the late afternoon (post-nap, of course). If the play date will be at your house, be sure to double-check your childproofing beforehand — your little guest may get into something your child knows is off-limits.

Tea Parties!!!

Tea Parties!!!

Reading Aloud is always FUN!

Reading Aloud is always FUN!

2. Keep it small. Try to limit get-togethers to one friend at a time, especially if the kids are playing indoors. Your toddler will have a much easier time learning to socialize with just one other child; plus, fewer kids means there’s less chance a fight will break out. Also keep the time of play date limited to an hour and a 1/2. I try to get together around 10:00 AM and end right about 11:30 AM so we can quickly get home for lunch and naps.


3. Go over the house rules. Tell the kids what they can and can’t do, but keep the list short and simple (“We always eat in the kitchen, and we don’t play in Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom”). The longer you lecture, the more they’ll forget.

The looks I get when the house rules are addressed!

The looks I get when the house rules are addressed!

4. Let the kids choose the agenda. Plan a few activities you think they’ll like, but let them decide what they want to do. (Just make sure you come up with plenty of ideas, since toddlers have a notoriously short attention span.)


5. Turn off the TV and computer. Toddlers won’t learn social skills staring at a screen.

Obviously there are many other tips that could be done prior to having a play date. These are my top 5 MUST DO’s when planning one.

A Father’s Relationship with his Daughters!

I know I have talked about this before but it is worth bringing up again…it is that important! Growing up, I had a great relationship with both my mom and dad. They both taught me so much and influenced my life for the better. My dad played an intricate role in who I became as a woman and who I ultimately chose to marry. I can’t overstate the impact this had on my life and how it gave perspective on how I see life, how I treat others (and expect to be treated), and even how I see myself. It’s so important for fathers to cultivate a good relationship with their daughters. 

5 Reasons I feel Father-Daughter Relationships Are Important:

1. Dad’s influence their daughter’s self-image.

First and foremost, dads should always tell their daughters how beautiful they are and help their daughter develop a good self-image, while also reminding them that inner-beauty is more important than outward beauty.

Annora playing dress-up

Annora playing dress-up

2. When dads encourage their daughters to dream big, they empower them for the future.

When I was growing up my dad told me that I could do anything that I set my mind to doing, and I believed him; and it empowered me to pursue my dreams. Dads can’t underestimate the influence they can have on their daughter’s life by encouraging them to dream big dreams for themselves.


3. Dads set the bar for future dates/boyfriends/husband.

When it comes to dating, dads set the standard for how dates should treat their daughters. Dads can set the bar high by taking their daughters on dates when they are little girls and pre-teens. When a dad opens the doors for his daughter, engages her in good conversation, and treats her with respect, then she will naturally expect that from anyone who wants to date her.


4. A Dad who is involved in his daughter’s life teaches her that she matters. 

One of the most important things a father can do for his daughter is just show up. Dads are notorious for wanting to fix all their daughters’ problems, but more important than fixing problems, is just being there and offering a listening ear, giving a hug, and promising to love her no matter what. Simply, showing up at big life events, whether that’s ballet or a basketball game, is important too. Whatever it is, be there, and show her that she matters.

delise-swim-lessons delise-trusting-ben-in-the-pool fly-a-kite

5. A daughter who has a protective father feels safe.

Daughters may roll their eyes when their dad acts overprotective, but she will appreciate knowing that Dad has her back no matter what. She’ll know that she can call Dad at any hour of the day, and he’ll be there when she needs him.  That’s just what dads do.


Raising “Good” Kids

Moms and dads of the digital age are well aware of the growing competition for their children’s attention, and we’re bombarded at each turn of the page or click of the mouse with both cutting-edge ideas and newfound worries for raising great kids.

Delise Technology

We want our kids to achieve their goals and find happiness, but Harvard researchers believe that doesn’t have to come at the expense of kindness and empathy. They say a few tried-and-true strategies remain the best ways to mold our kids into the morally upstanding and goals-oriented humans we want them to be. Here are six tips:

  1. Hang out with our children!  This is, like, the foundation of it all. I try to spend regular time with my kids, I ask them open-ended questions about themselves, about the world and how they see it, and actively listen to their responses. Not only will do I  learn all sorts of things that make them child unique, I’m also demonstrating to them how to show care and concern for another person.

    Some Daddy/daughter time

    Some Daddy/daughter time

  2. If it matters, say it out loud! According to the researchers, “Even though most parents and caretakers say that their children being caring is a top priority, often children aren’t hearing that message.” So be sure to say it with them.
  3. Show our children how to “work it out.” Annora and Delise has this sibling rivalry thing going on lately. I have learned that if I walk them through decision-making processes and take into consideration people who could be affected, the situation dwindles quickly.girls reading
  4. Make helpfulness and gratitude routine. The researchers write, “Studies show that people who engage in the habit of expressing gratitude are more likely to be helpful, generous, compassionate, and forgiving — and they’re also more likely to be happy and healthy.” So it’s good for parents to hold the line on chores, asking kids to help their siblings, and giving thanks throughout the day. And when it comes to rewarding “good” behavior, the researchers recommend that parents “only praise uncommon acts of kindness.”
  5. Check your child’s destructive emotions. “The ability to care for others is overwhelmed by anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings,” say the researchers. Helping kids name and process those emotions, then guiding them toward safe conflict resolution, will go a long way toward keeping them focused on being a caring individual. It’s also important to set clear and reasonable boundaries that they’ll understand are out of love and concern for their safety. I HIGHLY recommend the book Boundaries with Kids by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.
  6. Show kids the BIGGER picture! Almost all children empathize with and care about a small circle of families and friends,” say the researchers. The trick is getting them to care about people who are socially, culturally, and even geographically outside their circles. I try to do this by coaching them to be good listeners, by encouraging them to put themselves in other people’s shoes, and by practicing empathy using teachable moments throughout the day.Annora puzzle with me

In Conclusion:

“Raising a caring, respectful, ethical child is and always has been hard work. But it’s something all of us can do. And no work is more important or ultimately more rewarding.”

Date Day…What’s That?!?

Ben: “I have a surprise for us!”

Me: “Good or bad?”

Isn’t that the truth…once you have kids and the honeymoon phase has long gone, you get into a rut and surprises may or may not be a good thing. Poor Benny…he tells me he has a surprise and I come back with, “Good or bad?” LOL

(He surprised me with a Date Day to Cedar Point!)

Fun times at Cedar Point on our "Date Day"

Fun times at Cedar Point on our “Date Day”

cedar point 2 cedar point 3 cedar point

Ben and I find it so difficult to get out of the house and enjoy each others company. We found that if we don’t make it intentional, it doesn’t happen. I have come up with a list of cheap date day/night ideas that will reignite the spark in something that may have dwindled.


*Go to an amusement park or arcade. It doesn’t have to be one of those fancy, expensive parks. Go without the kids and BE kids again. Do those silly arcade games like skee ball or whack-a-mole.

*Play a game from your childhood – croquet, badminton, hide and seek, miniature golf. Reminisce and be playful together.

*Pretend-You’re-a-Tourist date. Look around your city and do the things a tourist might do – go to an overlook, a quaint neighborhood, the botanical gardens, a museum, whatever is special about your hometown.

*Build something together – ice cream sundaes, a pizza with your favorite toppings, a tower of blocks.

*Plan a “Favorites Night” around your favorite food, clothes, games, sports, etc. Each spouse could choose a favorite activity which you then combine into one evening.

*Go to a cooking class and cook together or a wine tasting event.

*Look through old photo albums and tell each other stories of your childhood and families. If you feel really energetic, make it a time to put all those loose photos in albums or on a disc.

*Hang out at a bookstore. Browse through your favorite sections. Many bookstores have cozy reading spots or a café connected with them.

*Do something to nurture your spiritual life. Go to a church service together or volunteer in the community.

*Visit your local zoo. Spring is often an especially engaging time since your likely to see some endearing zoo babies and glorious flowers.

Ok so our Toledo Zoo trip wasn't exactly a "date" between the 2 of us...but it was FUN to go with the family and our Aunt Anita (not pictured)

Ok so our Toledo Zoo trip wasn’t exactly a “date” between the 2 of us…but it was FUN to go with the family and our Aunt Anita (not pictured)

toledo zoo 3 toledo zoo

*Try a theme date like one around “quarters.” Think of all the things you can do that use quarters like play a juke box, wash the car, take your picture together at a photo booth, play video games at an arcade.

*Thrift Store Date. Pick a spending limit (like $5 each) and see what crazy gift(s) you can put together for your sweetheart.

I know I plan on taking my advice and carving out time throughout the month to “date” my spouse again!