Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Smart Debit Card That Will Teach Your Teens Money Management

If you are looking for an easy way to help your teens learn to manage money, look no further. The Greenlight smart debit card for kids is exactly what you need.

Greenlight is a debit card that gives teens and younger kids independence while keeping parents in control. It's a great tool for teaching kids how to manage their money.

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

A couple weeks ago, my 16-year-old daughter, Bria, called me over to her computer to look at a pair of shoes she wanted to buy online. She has plenty of her own money in the bank from her summer job, but no bank-issued debit card until she turns 17 (bank rules).

"Mom, I really want these shoes," she said. "Can you put them on your credit card and I'll go to the bank tomorrow and get some money to pay you back?"

The shoes weren't cheap—they were $60.00 on sale—but I knew that she had been watching for the price to go down so she could justify spending her hard-earned money on them. I also knew that she didn't have enough cash in her wallet to pay me right away, and I was hesitant to pull out my card before she paid me.

"Please, mom? There is only one pair left in my size and I've been waiting all summer to get them! Pleeeaaaase?"

I sighed and got out my wallet. Her shoes arrived the other day and I still haven't seen my $60 because she doesn't get home from her Cross Country practices until after the bank has already closed each day.

And then there's my 14-year old daughter, Chloe. She's always needing money for this or for that. Technically, I owe her for the chores she's done, but I long ago gave up on our chores and allowance system because I never seem to have enough cash in my wallet.

Instead of paying them a regular allowance, I find myself scrounging up the cash they need pretty often. I don't mind giving it to them, but they rarely give me enough lead time to actually procure enough cash, so I usually end up running down to the ATM before they have to leave.

Nobody ever told me about this part of motherhood!

Teaching my teen daughters money management is a surprisingly huge job. I think it's important for kids to have their own money to learn how to save and how to spend responsibly. I was thrilled that both of my teens had jobs this summer and were able to buy a good portion of their own school clothes. It was clear that they felt a sense of independence and pride as they made their own purchases and I loved watching them shop.

I would like to see them have that ability all year round, and have often wished for some sort of magical tool that would make it easier for me. Lucky for me, that bit of magic may just have arrived in the mail the other day in the form of two Greenlight debit cards with the names Bria and Chloe on them.

Greenlight the Smart debit card for kid comes in the mail and is ready to be activated and used by kids.

While they didn't arrive in time for Bria's shoes, I am excited to get started using them at our house. Not only are these debit cards going to make my life easier, they are going to help teach my teens the money management skills they need to learn before they leave home.

Greenlight—the Smart Debit Card for Kids

Here's how it works:

1. Sign up for Greenlight by either downloading the app or heading to the website. 

I did the whole sign up process on my phone from the Greenlight app. It was very simple and only took me a few minutes to get everything set up including ordering the debit cards and linking my bank accounts. The app is available on both iOS and Android.

2. Greenlight sends each of your kids a debit card with their very own name on it. 

This service costs only $4.99 a month for up to 5 debit cards. At first I just ordered one for each of my teenagers, but after having them for two days and understanding the app more fully I have now ordered one for my 11-year old daughter, too.

3. Transfer money from your linked bank account(s) to your children's debit cards. 

You can do this manually, or you can automate a specific amount to go on their card weekly or monthly. My kids are going to be so happy because they are finally going to get a regular allowance again since it will now be so easy to pay them. I am going to be happy because I can set it and forget it, it doesn't cost me any extra to do it this way, and I can stop scrounging for cash or making a mad dash to the ATM.

Automate allowance by using the Greenlight smart debit card for kids
I was also happy to see that you can link more than one bank account. This will be nice for Bria, because she can put her own money onto her debit card as well, thus ending anymore online shopping issues for her.

4. Monitor the kids' spending from your app

The app is very easy to use. The kids can add the app to their phones and sign up with their own accounts so they can request money from you or send you messages via the app. You will get alerts whenever they use their card telling you where they spent money and how much they spent. You can turn off the card if necessary (especially nice if it is lost or stolen), and continue transferring money in from your bank account to the children's cards as needed. It is all super slick and user friendly.

Greenlight app-parent's wallet

How does Greenlight teach teens money management skills?

1. They have independence to spend their own money.

The money on the card is theirs to spend. But mom and dad are in control of how much goes on the card, when it is transferred, and even where it can be spent.

On the app, there are 4 spending categories you can assign money to when you add it to your child's account: Spend anywhere, gas station, restaurant, or a specific store. This is a great way for you to be sure that money that has been earmarked for a specific purpose does not get spent elsewhere, but also for kids to have the "spend anywhere" category that allows them to make their own choices about how they spend the money.

Greenlight app--how to add money to a card and designate spending category

2. They learn to budget with the money that is available on their card.

Because of the categories and limits that may be placed on spending, they will be learning budgeting more effectively. If they know they are given a certain budget for gas, then they will hopefully be more mindful of how much gas they are using. And because the card itself has a limited amount of funds available to them, they will learn to pay attention to what they have spent and how much they have left. Hopefully this will help them to begin to make smart money choices and differentiate between needs and wants.

3. They learn how to use a debit/credit card without the risk of going into debt.

I have occasionally sent my girls into a store with my card to buy something for me. Apparently I don't do it often enough because using the card always makes them super nervous. And they both worry that since it has my name on it they will get into trouble.

Having their own card with their own name will alleviate that particular worry, and will also give them a lot more practice using the card machines.

My very first credit card was a gas card to a specific gas station. I didn't really realize how quickly I could go into debt by using it, though. While it was a good life lesson for me, I wish I would have had the opportunity to practice using a card without the risk of going into debt.

Want to try Greenlight with your kids?

Sign up for Greenlight before 9/30 and they'll deposit a $20 bonus into your account after the 30-day free trial ends. *deposit bonus made approximately two weeks after free trial ends

I am super excited to have this amazing tool available to us! I can't wait to see the growth my kids experience as they use the cards and begin to learn money management skills that will last them the rest of their lives.

Using this smart debit card for kids, teens and even younger kids will begin to develop money management skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Feast on the Words of Christ—General Conference Printable & Family Activity

For the past couple of years, we've been doing a fun General Conference tradition that my family loves. I wanted to find a good way to make conference something they looked forward to and that somehow inspired them to pay attention.

I saw a few ideas that incorporated food—always a great motivator, especially for my family! I especially liked the idea that said every time a member of the Quorum of the 12 or the First Presidency speaks, you get to eat something.

We introduced several new General Conference traditions for the kids now that they are older, but this one was by far their favorite.

Use these printables to keep your kids interested in who is speaking during General Conference. Food motivates!

I printed out and laminated cards for each apostle, and then I went shopping. I tried to get a mixture of snack foods that spanned the food pyramid. A little fruit, a few veggies, chips, granola bars, juice, and enough candy to keep my kids looking forward to it.

Unfortunately for me, the very first conference we tried this ALL the speakers I had assigned to candy spoke on Saturday. The kids didn't look forward to the speakers quite as much after the sugar was all gone, but that first day was super exciting! And the next conference the kids couldn't wait for our General Conference Feast.

I love it when things I try are a big win with the kids!

How to make your own General Conference Feast

Materials needed:

(affiliate links)

Apostle cards
Laminator—I have this inexpensive laminator and I use it all the time.
Laminating pockets
Mini Clothespins—these can easily be found at craft stores, but I like these ones, and these ones.
Paper plates, napkins, paper cups, plastic utensils
15 food items

Some ideas for food to use in your General Conference Feast

Ideas for food items:

Granola bars
Potato chips
Trail mix
Baby carrots
Apple slices
Snap peas
Cherry tomatoes
String cheese
Juice boxes
Chocolate milk
Easter candy for April Conference
Halloween candy for October Conference

I make our family's favorite Jell-O salad for when President Monson speaks. It helps them to really look forward to hearing from the prophet.

Start a new tradition and create a General Conference FEAST. Download the free apostle printables and motivate your kids to listen to General Conference with food.


1. Download and print out the apostle cards onto white card stock. I have also included a "Feast on the Words of Christ" printable to use as the centerpiece. You can get the printable at the end of this post.

2. Laminate and cut out the cards.

3. Go shopping!

4. On Saturday morning of General Conference, set a table up near where you will be watching. I just use a card table since there isn't a table in our family room at all.

5. Set out your smorgasbord and assign each food item to an apostle. I try to use the clips as much as I can, but sometimes I have to just set the card on top of the food.

6. I like to divvy out the candy into plastic bags—one for each family member—and clip them all together. In the photo above you can see I've done that with Rolos and Peanut Butter Cups. You can also tell it was April Conference because of the Cadbury Eggs.

7. Whenever an apostle speaks, assign one of the kids to pass out the corresponding food.

Note: We eat the food assigned to whoever speaks in Priesthood Meeting first thing on Sunday morning. And if an apostle doesn't speak, we just eat that food whenever it becomes apparent he won't be speaking.

That's it! Hope you enjoy the printables!

Note: These printables are current as of October 2017 General Conference

To download:

Enter your name and email into the form below. The printables will be sent straight to your inbox.

Start a new tradition this General Conference. Download the free printables and use food to inspire your kids to pay attention to who is speaking this General Conference.

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Monday, September 18, 2017

How to Create and Remember Secure Passwords and Security Questions

In the midst of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Equifax announced that it had suffered a breach that affected around 143 million people. That is nearly half of all people age 18 and over in the United States, which seems to mean any adult has roughly a 50/50 chance of having had their personal information compromised during this breach.

When a company like Equifax—which is supposed to be protecting our identities and personal information—gets hacked, it makes people begin to wonder just how secure their online accounts actually are.

In my experience? Not that secure.

When I was first introduced to the internet (right before I graduated from college), I was told to NEVER write down my passwords in order to keep them secure. Back then, the biggest threat to our personal information would be someone happening upon our bank account password or PIN and then using it to gain access to our online accounts. Nowadays, the actual likelihood of that scenario happening is almost nil, and our personal information is less safe than ever before because hackers can decode passwords and other security information so quickly.

A few months ago, my access to my online banking was revoked because someone had called in and tried to get into my accounts. According to the representative I spoke to, this person knew my name, birthdate, and the last 4 digits of my social security number, but was not able to answer the security questions or my mother's maiden name.

I immediately changed my security questions and password, but a few weeks later I woke up to find that my entire account had been drained. The thief had taken several thousand dollars via an ATM in Miami, Florida over the course of four different transactions. I quickly checked my wallet—even though I'm all the way up in Michigan and I knew I had had my card just the night before. Just as I thought, the only known card to that account was safely in my possession and I had no idea how my account could have been accessed via ATM!

I took a deep breath in preparation for what I knew would be a long day on the phone, and called my bank. It turned out that this time, someone had called (I assume it was the same people) and was able to answer every question correctly. They also somehow activated a new debit card, which is how they were able to get the money from the ATM.

Keep your online accounts safe and secure by learning how to make a very secure password and how to answer security questions in a way that keeps your personal information safe and secure.

I was stuck on the fact that they were able to answer every question. 

My mother's maiden name is quite uncommon. Sure, anybody can guess Smith or Johnson or Jones and have a pretty good chance of landing on someone's maiden name, but I really don't think anyone would be able to pull my mom's maiden name out of the air.

But it would be relatively easy to look me up on social media and possibly figure out who my mother is and then figure out what her maiden name might be. Even though she uses her married name on Facebook, she has plenty of family and her maiden name would be a common thread on her list of friends.

Is that how they knew? I don't know. Because they also knew my other security question. And maybe I had somehow left the answer to that question in my internet trail, who knows?

My experience was interesting because my account was not hacked via a computer, but the bank assured me that the information they had was most definitely acquired electronically.

It took nearly a month to get everything squared away, but I did get my money back and in the process I learned a lot about keeping my personal information secure.

Let's talk about passwords and security questions and a few simple ways you can make them more secure—and don't forget to scroll down to the end of the post to download a free password keeper to help you keep it all straight!

Creating secure passwords

We have been trained to think that a complicated password containing a combination of special characters, upper and lower case letters, and numbers is the most secure type of password. And while that is true to a certain extent, there are a lot of other things that factor into creating passwords that will be difficult for hackers and computer algorithms to decode.

To show you what I mean, I have entered a few passwords into the password checker at Online Domain Tools. It's an excellent way to see if the passwords you have created are secure, and shows how long it would take different types of password cracking programs to break it.

This is the password I commonly used before it was recommended to add in special characters and numbers:

Low security password example.

You can see that even using the slowest method of cracking—a standard desktop PC—it would only take hackers 15 hours to guess this password. And the fastest method—a medium size botnet (and I have no idea what that even is)—could crack this password immediately.

Let's try the more secure password I used for just about everything once I changed over to special characters and numbers:

medium security password example

This password has bought me a little bit of time, but not much. That darn medium size botnet still only needs about 2 hours to crack it. And, as you can see, I was diligent about using all the required elements of a secure password. But it still isn't very secure.

Now let's try the password I currently use for ONE website:

High security password example?

I think I've done it now. This password is good for 119 quadrillion years!

Want to know how I did it?

After my big account hacking, I remembered the online training I had taken at work about how to keep passwords secure. (Here's where I admit that I took the training, but did not actually apply it until it was too late.)

The training I received recommended coming up with a sentence that you will easily remember as the basis for your password:

Twinkle, twinkle little star how I wonder what you are

Now, take that easy to remember sentence and use a combination of upper and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers to abbreviate it:


I entered it into the password checker, and this one is EVEN better than the example I used above. It is safe from the medium size botnet for 874 septillion years!

The best thing about this method is that it's pretty easy to remember. I mean, I already have that memorized—don't you? I am all about using passwords that are easy for me to remember but difficult for computers to crack!

Bonus? I think it's kind of fun to create this type of password.

Creating Answers to Security Questions That are Actually Secure

Once you've got a good password, most sites require you to have answers to one or more security questions. They usually supply the questions and you supply the answers.

Reading through a list of common security question options, you can see that the answers are going to be known only by you and a very small group of people who know you well. However, that isn't really enough to keep the answers truly secure anymore.

My bank recommended to me that I do one of two things with security questions:

1. Lie
2. Use a two factor security question 

I know your mama taught you never to lie, but I think that if it's to protect your personal information and the money you've worked hard to earn, she won't mind.

First and foremost, always lie about your mother's maiden name. That information is simply too easy to find these days and that question is not as secure as it once was. Unfortunately, many financial institutions continue to use it as a required security question.

I have now made up many different maiden names for my mom. None of which is actually a name, and none of which is actually connected to her in any way. Choose a random word and use it.

I was worried about doing it this way at first, but the bank loss-prevention representative (who is basically now my BFF after spending hours on the phone with her) assured me that it is the best thing to do.

Make up nonsense for all of the other security questions, too. We are going from easy to remember security answers to ones that you won't remember off the top of your head, so that is why I have created a printable password log for you to use to keep all of the information straight.

How to keep track of online passwords and security questions.

You can also request that your bank give you a two factor security question. This was something my bank offered to me. I have used it when I call them—since I was hacked over the telephone, I want to be sure my account is just as secure there as it is online.

Basically, a two factor security question will be a common security question with a follow-up. You could lie on the answers to this, too, but I figured that having the follow-up made it safe enough to be truthful. It's up to you to decide.

Examples of two-factor security questions:

Name of first pet + breed
Name of favorite teacher + school or grade taught
City you were born + hospital name
Where you met your spouse + how old you were

You get the idea.

Create a Secondary Password

My bank also offered me a special phone password. The way that works is that when I call them, I verify my name, birthdate, social security number, mother's (fake!) maiden name, and a two-factor security question. And then they ask me for one last password by saying a word to which I reply with another word.

For instance they might say "sweetie" and I would answer "pie."

The one I chose is much less obvious than that, but that's the basic idea.

It may seem like a lot, but it has worked well so far and has definitely made me feel a lot more secure about my bank account!

Never Use the Same Password Twice

I had made the huge mistake of just using the same password across most of my internet accounts. That is a huge no-no! Imagine if somehow one of your websites was breached and then someone took that same username and password and tried it out on other websites. If you do what I did, you would have a much higher likelihood of being hacked across multiple internet sites.

I did it because I can't remember more than 2 or 3 passwords! And I knew I shouldn't have my browser save them because that isn't secure, either.

So, I am now doing what we were advised against doing so long ago: Writing them down. The likelihood of someone finding the password log that is kept in my desk is much, much lower than the likelihood of my passwords being cracked by an outside source or being the victim of a website hack.

The password log I am providing to help you keep track of all of your passwords, security questions, and nonsense maiden names can be downloaded at the end of the post. Along with it, you will be getting 9 other preparedness printables to help you be prepared for all sorts of disasters—the least of which is identity theft!

Free Preparedness Printable Bundle

Download this free preparedness printable pack and be ready for any disasters that my come your way including hurricanes, fires, car emergencies, identity theft and more. Create a 72 hour kit.

Annette from Tips from a Typical Mom has a Family Evacuation Plan which includes things like Meeting locations, emergency contacts, shelters and evacuation routes, and other emergency numbers.

Katelyn from What's up Fagans? has a Personal Document Protection printable, which is basically a simplified checklist to help you make sure your old photos, videos, audio files, journals, and other documents protected physically and digitally!

Carrie of A Mother's Shadow has a great Dutch Oven Guide! In many emergencies, you may find yourself without power which can make cooking food difficult, unless you have something like a dutch oven which is easy to carry and to cook a wide variety of foods in.

Katie of Clarks Condensed has a very helpful 72 Hour Kit Checklist. Should you find yourself having to leave in a hurry, you and your family can simply grab your 72-Hour kits and head out the door, knowing that you'll have the food, bedding, clothes, tools, medicine, toiletries, fuel, and personal documents you need.

Kristina from Mother's Niche has an Emergency Car Kit printable so that you are never stranded helplessly on the side of the road, not knowing what to do, nor having the tools and supplies to help in this emergency.

Janine from Confessions of a Mommyaholic has a handy printable about teaching your children about emergencies and what they need to know before an emergency situation happens.

Camille of My Mommy Style has a handy Family Fire Safety Log where you can track your family's readiness in case of a fire in your house, as well as make sure you are checking your smoke and CO detectors.

Herchel of Gym. Craft. Laundry. has practical hurricane tips for when things you need are sold out! As a Florida native, her prep hacks are genius!

Sarah of Thank You Honey has an easy Hurricane Checklist printable to help you make sure you have everything in place before a hurricane heads your way.

Lara from Overstuffed has a Password Log to help you keep track of your online passwords as a means to help you avoid being a victim of identity theft.

Receive all of the above printables for FREE when you sign up for our lists below. May you be prepared for whatever may come your way!

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This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

See the linky parties I link up to here.

Friday, September 15, 2017

This Powerful Phrase Will Help Your Child Turn Failure into Success

As a parent, it's tough to watch your child fail at something—especially when it's something they've worked hard for. Maybe they get cut from the basketball team or don't get a part in the school play. Maybe they fail the math test that they studied hard for. Maybe they have a falling out with their best friend.

Or, maybe on their first chance to run with the varsity cross country team they get lost and come in last place.

That's exactly what happened to Chloe last week.

She had been so excited that her JV time at the previous meet was fast enough to bump her up to varsity for the next meet. As a freshman, this was a huge deal to her and she had worked hard for it. Unfortunately, that meet was two hours away and I couldn't attend to watch her run on the varsity team for the first time.

I texted her around the time I knew her meet would be ending to see how it went.

Text from Chloe—I'll tell you when I get home.

I know Chloe well enough to know that "Well. I'll tell you about it when I get home," was hiding a very long story and I couldn't wait to find out what it was. The bus finally got to the school around 10:00 pm and Chloe ran to the car, got in, and wailed, "I got 55th place! Out of 56!!!"

I asked her what happened, and the very long story I'd been waiting for came pouring out.

I will spare you the details of her very long story, but she got lost. Cross country meets in our area take place in the woods. Some schools mark the path very well and have people stationed at every turn, but this one didn't do either.

Somehow she made a wrong turn and didn't realize it for quite a while. After her wrong turn, she came across a deer standing right in front of her and immediately burst into tears—because the animal was so beautiful and majestic (that's Chloe!) but also because she knew no deer would ever be standing in the trail where 56 kids were running by. So she turned around to try to find her way and ended up crossing the finish line with about 10 extra minutes on her usual time.

Help children to develop a growth mindset

But as she was telling me this story, she was laughing about it. I was amazed that she seemed to have bounced back so quickly from something like this, because normally when she fails at something that was super important to her she stews over it for days. She worries that she'll never be good at it. And sometimes she just wants to give up.

When kids fail, their first instinct is often to give up.

Kids today are growing up in a world where everyone wins. Everybody gets a trophy, everyone gets a part, and nobody is allowed to fail. Except that sometimes they DO fail, especially as they move into middle and high school where things become more competitive and it becomes more difficult to protect our kids from failure.

At the first cross country meet of the season, Chloe had been devastated at her performance. She didn't get lost that time, but she stopped several times and was just out of the mental game. Consequently, she was unhappy with her time because she knew she could do better and she didn't live up to her abilities. Tears were shed and she was seriously ready to quit the team.

But she didn't quit and the very next race earned her a spot on the varsity team.

I wondered if that was why she wasn't so upset this time. Did her failure at that first meet and subsequent success at the second help her to realize that failing isn't such a bad thing after all?

Kids need to learn that it's okay to fail

While it isn't easy for me to watch my kids fail, I actually do want them to fail sometimes.  Kids who are allowed to fail learn that failure is not a permanent solution and that they can and will eventually succeed if they continue to try. Furthermore, failure is an opportunity for kids to acquire something called "growth mindset."

What is growth mindset?

The concept of growth mindset was first put forth by psychologist Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Her research has focused on the idea that there are two different mindsets—fixed mindset and growth mindset.

People who have a fixed mindset believe that their intelligence and talents are fixed traits that cannot be changed. Children who have a fixed mindset believe that they are either smart or that they are stupid. They believe they are good runners or that they cannot run. Because they do not believe that there is any way to change these qualities, they tend to learn at a slower rate than their peers who have developed a growth mindset.

By asking kids a simple question when they experience failure, they can begin to learn growth mindset.

Even more alarming, Dweck's research has shown that when children who have a fixed mindset experience failure they will do one of two things. They will either claim that they will never be able to do the thing they failed at (I'm not good at math—I'll never understand geometry!) or they will rationalize the failure (I would have gotten a role in the play, but the teacher doesn't like me). Children with fixed mindsets tend to give up after they experience failure and eschew challenges completely.

On the other hand, children who have learned growth mindset learn more, learn it more quickly, and embrace challenges and even failure as opportunities for learning and growth. According to Dweck, they "believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment."

I honestly hadn't heard much about growth mindset until the past year or so. I think I have tried to instill the basic idea in my children, but not in any sort of conscious way. While I see the growth mindset in some aspects of their learning, I certainly also see some evidence of a fixed mindset in each of them. My eldest daughter Bria "isn't good at math" and my youngest daughter Sophia "will never be good at playing music." (Their words, not mine!)

And a couple weeks ago, Chloe was "a terrible runner," yet here she was laughing at her mistakes and promising me she'd do better in the next meet.

Where had she found this awesome new growth mindset in regards to her running?

The powerful phrase that will help your child develop a growth mindset

As Chloe continued her story, I soon figured out where her new attitude had come from.

When she crossed the finish line—#55 out of 56 runners—her coach asked her what happened. She explained to him that she had taken a wrong turn and gotten lost, worried that he would be angry with her.

But he wasn't angry with her at all. He simply smiled and asked her one simple question:

"What did you learn from this?"

Instead of focusing on the fact that she made a mistake, he turned it around and helped her look at it through the lens of growth mindset.

As she explained this to me, I was amazed at how that one simple question had dramatically changed her attitude.

"Wow," I said. "So what did you learn?"

"I learned that I should pay more attention when we are walking the course before the race and not spend that time chatting with my friends. I also learned that I should walk the whole course and not trust the other girls when they say we don't need to. And, I learned that I can run more than a 5k."

My mind was blown. She had taken that failure—one that she was quite upset about until her coach spoke with her—and used it as an opportunity to learn.

It's only been four days since that cross country meet, but I have put that powerful little phrase in my pocket of parenting tricks. Not surprisingly, I have had several chances to take it out and use it these last few days, and I'm here to tell you that it works.

Not only does it help diffuse the feelings of failure, it immediately opens up a wonderful discussion. So, when Sophia came home a little upset about something that had happened at school with a friend, I simply asked her what she had learned from the situation. Her feelings of anger and disappointment melted away as she thought about that. We had a nice talk about it, and she was able to come up with several solutions to the problem with little help from me by simply taking the time to think about what she had learned.

So, next time your child experiences failure—big or small, in any aspect of their lives—ask them the one question: "What did you learn from this?" and observe the power of developing growth mindset.

Children should experience failure in order to learn GROWTH MINDSET. Help children turn failure into SUCCESS with this simple but powerful question. #parentingtips

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Books I Read: July/August 2017

We were out of town so much in August that I was never able to get the July book report up, so I am combining July and August. I didn't have the chance to read as much as I would have liked this summer, anyway. I really enjoyed the books I did read, though, and the pile next to my bed and on my kindle is just growing taller and taller!

Book reviews of Right Next to Me by Rachel Ward, Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, The Final Silence by Stuart Neville, and When I'm Gone by Emily Bleeker

Books I read in July & August 2017

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Book review of Right Next to Me by Rachel Ward

Right Next to Me by Rachel Ward

I read Rachel's first book (Dear Jane) a while ago and really enjoyed it. She has a fun writing style and it was a good, clean read that one of my teenagers also picked up and loved. I was sent a copy of her newest book, Right Next to Me, to review and I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first one.

It is a sweet romance about Sydney who is just leaving for her first year of college. Her boyfriend is also starting college, but he is at a university all the way across the country. But there is another boy who has always been her best friend through high school, and while he isn't attending the same college as Sydney, he is a lot closer. Perhaps it's not so surprising the way everything turns out, but I enjoyed the flashback story telling style and the characters were well written and I enjoyed spending my time with them. This is a super quick and clean read that I'm sure you'll enjoy. 4 stars, and one that I will be handing to my teenage girls to read knowing they'll really enjoy it.

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Book Review of Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Paula Hawkins is the author of the widely acclaimed The Girl on the Train—which I devoured. You all know that mystery and thrillers are my favorite to read and so I was really hoping for Into the Water to be just as engaging. Don't get me wrong, it was good, but not quite what I was hoping for. There were so many characters to keep track of that it really slowed the story down for me.

I did enjoy it and the twists were surprising which is definitely a plus for me. I'd give it 3.5 stars. *Strong language found in this book.

I purchased Into the Water as an add-on to one of my recent Book of the Month boxes. I'm loving Book of the Month, by the way. Such a great way to get access to new books for a lot cheaper—especially if you're like me and tend to buy books more often than you use the library.

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Join Book of the Month and get three new releases for just $10 and a free tote bag!

Book Review of When I'm Gone by Emily Bleeker

When I'm Gone by Emily Bleeker

One of my friends had mentioned this book on Facebook as being her favorite of the 2016 Whitney Award nominees. I went and looked at it on Amazon and found it was on sale for Kindle that day, so I downloaded it and finally got around to reading it in July.

When I'm Gone is about Natalie—a woman who has died of cancer. The book begins just after her funeral and follows her husband and children as they deal with their loss. Her husband finds the first of many notes she has left for him that day and it sends him on an emotional ride as he uncovering secrets long buried.

It was a good read that had a few mysteries buried in there, too. I give it 4.5 stars.

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Book Review of The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

I picked up this book simply because the cover looked like The Girl on the Train. Shallow reason, hey? But it didn't disappoint. It was definitely Girl on the Train-esque (so much so, it's received quite a bit of criticism for it). Lo, the main character, finds herself on a cruise as a member of the media and some strange things happen that only she seems to be aware of. It gets pretty scary since everyone is confined to a small cruise ship, and Lo is a pretty unreliable witness anyway.

Despite the main character not being super likable, I still loved the book. It kept me on my toes and it took me a while to solve the mystery on my own. I give it 4.5 stars. *Strong language found in this book.

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Book Review of The Final Silence by Stuart Neville

The Final Silence by Stuart Neville

Our library does a summer reading program where you can earn rewards for reading. Every year I make sure to do it with the kids to encourage their own summer reading and we picked up our rewards a few weeks ago. One of the rewards is that you get to choose a free book. I was having a hard time finding one that I hadn't already read or that looked interesting to me, but Sophia picked this one up and felt I would like it because it was a murder mystery. It looked interesting enough, so I got it.

It takes place in Ireland, and a girl is cleaning out the home she just inherited from a long-lost uncle and discovers a gruesome book detailing serial killings. Her father is a well known politician and will not allow her to take it to the police. There are several other stories that intertwine with this one and while it was an interesting plot, it was a little too graphic in its violence for me. I also hated the ending. I give it 2.5 stars. *Strong language found in this book.

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I did not manage to listen to any books—mainly because my kids were home all summer and they were the ones using the bluetooth speaker and I couldn't put it on when I clean like I usually like to do. Maybe this month I'll have more chances for that.

What good books have you read lately?

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Stand a Little Taller—2017 Back to School Feast and Family Theme

School started last week and we held our traditional back-to-school feast the night before the first day of school. This is one of our most beloved family traditions and the girls look forward to it every year.

Table set for back to school feast

I usually spend a great deal of time planning the feast as well as what our new family theme will be for the school year, but this year we had way too much going on in the month of August. I ended up throwing it all together at the last minute, but luckily the girls didn't mind too much!

The theme we chose for this year is "Stand a Little Taller." It's based on a quote by Gordon B. Hinckley:

"Let us all try to stand a little taller, rise a little higher, be a little better. Make the extra effort. You will be happier. You will know a new satisfaction, a new gladness in your heart."

Stand a Little Taller free printable | Alma 37:6 By small and simple things are great things brought to pass | family traditions for back to school

The talk that quote is taken from emphasizes our quest for excellence and perfection, while acknowledging that we cannot become perfect all at once. We must do it little by little. Sometimes I notice how overwhelmed my girls get wth all of the things they are expected to do. I see them becoming discouraged because they don't reach excellence status as quickly as they think they should. And, truth be told, I notice myself feeling a bit the same way.

So for this year, our family is focusing on the idea that small changes will make a big difference in our lives.

I recently bought a letterboard (I purchased this one) just because I've been wanting one for so long, and I used it to display the scripture that goes along with our theme:

"By small and simple things are great things brought to pass." —Alma 37:6

Free printable handout - Stand a little taller (Gordon B Hinckley)

I made a Stand a Little Taller printable and framed it to be displayed all year as a reminder. I also printed out small versions for the girls to put up in their lockers or on their mirrors or wherever. (You can scroll down to the end of this post for a chance to download these printables.)

Back to school family feast. Mediterranean baked chicken

We tried an amazing new recipe called Mediterranean Baked Chicken. It was a huge hit with the entire family and we'll definitely be keeping it in the rotation.

Back to school feast crown with small printable

As usual, I made each girl a crown. Some years I have done very elaborate crowns, but this year was not such a year. They were hastily made out of scrapbooking paper, buttons, cording, and hot glue. What is truly amazing to me is that my girls LOVE wearing the crowns even though they are quite a bit older than they were when we first started this tradition!

This year is a huge transition year for all three of my girls. Bria is a senior and has to start applying for college and making some pretty big decisions. Chloe is a freshman and will be beginning her first year of high school, and Sophia is entering middle school as a 6th grader.

Ready for back to school!

I don't know how it's possible that my little girls have grown so old. I also don't know how it's possible that I am finished with elementary school. It goes so fast.

After dinner, they packed lunches and backpacks, chose their first day of school outfits, and received father's blessings from The Maestro. Such a wonderful way to begin the school year.

See previous years here: Back-to-School Feasts and Family Themes

Download your own copy of the Stand a Little Taller printable by entering your email into the form below. You will get one large printable and a page of smaller printables in PDF format sent directly to your email.

back to school crown and printable

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Thursday, September 07, 2017

Easy Meatball Sub Sandwiches

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cooked Perfect® Meatballs for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Easy meatball sub sandwiches using Cooked Perfect meatballs. Perfect for busy days.

School just started, which means that our lazy summer days will quickly turn to the busy days that the school year brings. Homework, music lessons, sports practices, dance classes, and other after school activities keep me stuck in the car running my kids around all afternoon and evening some days.

On those kinds of days nobody wants to come home and then have to figure out dinner. I like dinners that are so easy that I barely have to think about them at all! We're all so tired and hungry after a day like that, it's wonderful to come home to something fast and simple.

These meatball subs are literally one of the simplest things you can make, and they are a huge hit with my family!

I purchased some Cooked Perfect Meatballs at my local Pick and Save. I bought the Angus Beef variety, but they also come in Turkey, Homestyle, Italian Style, and Gluten-Free Italian Style. They were pretty easy to find in the freezer aisle!

These meatballs are made using select meats and real cheeses. The flame-broiling process that sears the flavors into the meatball make them a super tasty choice for any meatball recipes you have.

Easy Meatball Sub Sandwiches


Hoagie rolls

Swiss cheese

Marinara sauce

*Because the meatballs have a gluten-free variety, this meal can easily be made gluten-free. Just be sure to purchase gluten-free rolls.


Earlier in the day (while the kids are still at school), put the meatballs into a crockpot and cover them with marinara sauce. Cook on low until you are ready to make your sandwiches, about 2-3 hours.

Cut hoagie rolls in half.

Spoon 4-5 meatballs with plenty of sauce onto 8-inch rolls, or 2-3 meatballs onto 4-inch rolls. Cover the meatballs with Swiss cheese and let it melt for a minute or two.

One bag of Cooked Perfect® Meatballs will make approximately 5 8-inch sandwiches or 10 4-inch sandwiches. One 4-inch sandwich was plenty for my girls!


How simple is that?

I noticed while I was purchasing my meatballs that Cooked Perfect has a $1.00 off coupon running right now. There were some right on the freezer door at Pick and Save. You can also find the coupon and print it out at home by clicking here: Save $1

Find even more meatball recipes that are perfect for your busy family by clicking here: Browse more meatball recipes

These easy meatball sub sandwiches made with Cooked Perfect brand meatballs are perfect for busy days. The kids will love them and dinner will be quick.

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