4 Hacks to Help You Save and Pay for Your Child’s Higher Education

Allow me to introduce you to Jacob. Jacob is a finance blogger over at Dollar Diligence, where he writes practical tips like this post on food budgeting. Today I’ve asked him to share with us about college savings accounts. I hope you’ll stop by his blog and say hello!

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As a fairly recent college graduate — and as someone who just paid off hefty student loans — I know firsthand how expensive getting a college education can be. The cost of a degree is rising. What you may have spent on your own tuition and fees may not even cover a semester of your child’s tuition by the time he or she is ready to head off to a college university. The thought of paying for college in this era can be daunting. However, » Read more

What it’s Like a Year After Moving

One year after moving…

A year ago, we were the new kids in town. It’s an exciting place to be, but it’s not a secure feeling at all. Perhaps that why it’s so exciting. You’re all out there without roots, marching out into the unknown, hoping the people will be kind and the environment friendly.

Phew! It’s exhausting to be new: always putting your best foot forward…Actually, sometimes it’s an accomplishment just to remember to smile at everyone and keep your foot out of your mouth. Forget about your best foot. Which one is best anyway???

That’s why the one-year mark is a much happier place to be. No, we don’t have “roots” here yet, but at least we’ve met people, we’ve been watered in, so to speak, and the garden is feeling less scary and more familiar.

 

3 of my guys, passed out “watching” the NBA finals a few weeks ago…Is it called the finals? Or the championship?  They were rooting for the Golden State Warriors. We’ve held on to a few favorite sports teams from each move. We may always be #TeamWarriors and #TeamNats and of course, #rolltide!

 

 

This is at a park across town. Last year that park seemed like a million miles away, and I could not have made a single turn without the help of the GPS. This summer it seemed so much closer!

Last year I had a LIST of things I was NERVOUS about:

  1. School uniforms for the boys–Did we buy the right thing? Will they ever adjust to wearing collared shirts everyday?
  2. Switching back to regular school–Will we survive it???
  3. Meeting people– Will anyone like us? Will the boys make friends? What if there’s a bully? What if one of them gets in fights at school?
  4. My face is broken out like a teenager–WHYYYYYYY????
  5. Church people–We picked this church, but will it work out? What sort of people will they turn out to be? Do they pretend to be perfect and expect me to do the same? I’m not playing that game. I’m much too old for that.
  6. The village–Is this a good place for my children to be raised? Why is this crime report so horrible? Is this place less safe than D.C.? Because it sort of seems like it is!!!
  7. Dropping off J.D. ANYWHERE is impossible. He will NOT let me leave him. Will he ever stop crying???

The boys have taken turns killing spiders for me this summer. Perhaps I should call pest control…

This year I have about 1,000 LESS worries and anxieties!!!

All of the worries from last year are gone. We are happy with our school, our church, and JD usually lets me drop him off without too much of a struggle.

I can’t tell you much it warmed my heart to have ONE successful VBS year with my boys. First of all, VBS and our boys have not always been a great combination.

Most of my boys don’t enjoy crafts, singing, dancing, or listening. Sigh. That list pretty much sums up VBS, doesn’t it? Plus, they are a little shy, and they dislike large crowds, especially large crowds of kid where they don’t know anyone.

This week has been completely different for us! We have achieved VBS success. I can’t believe it!

First, of all, I taught Bible story time, so three of my four boys got to have me as their teacher for 20 minutes of the morning, which helped.

Secondly, they divided the 100 children into groups of 6 to 12 kids of like ages. I can’t tell you what a blast Joshua had getting to hang out all morning everyday with 5 other 11-year-old boys.

And Daniel made a new friend who likes baseball as much as he does!

Seeing them so happy made my day because most years they just feel like the outsiders at the family reunion. You know? Going to events in a new place where you don’t know anyone is like going to a high school reunion for a high school you didn’t attend.

It was also a relief to not be moving this year. Without all the unpacking boxes and living in hotels, we’ve had more time to do fun things this summer. We’ve gone to weddings, visited old friends, played with new ones, celebrated birthdays, and hung out together at home.

 

We have a lot of fun. Sometimes they make up their own costumes…

JD has developed a passion for puzzles, and he does these completely by himself.

swimming with friends: Here’s Daniel’s favorite girl squirting Caleb in the face with a water gun.

We actually had to say good-bye to Daniel’s favorite girl and her brother this summer, who is one of Caleb’s best buds, so we do know the sadness both in moving and in having friends move.

He wears a Batman t-shirt every single day.

We’ve visited both sets of our parents multiple times. My dad really loves having his picture taken, as you can see…

John David turned 4 and built up his Lego collection.

The boys had a ball getting to sleep in hotel beds.

I’ve almost recovered from sleeping in hotel beds….

 

 

visiting our old best buds on Caleb’s birthday

So this summer finds us in a much more secure place than last year.

We have friends. We know how to go most everywhere we need to go without looking at a map, and best of all, we have about a hundred acquaintances.

It warms my heart to see my boys relaxing more and being themselves.

I hear people knocking “acquaintances” sometimes, but those must be people that never move. When you move frequently, you learn to treasure even the acquaintances, because thanks to them, you can walk around town and be reminded to smile and nod because you spot a familiar face.

It’s reassuring to me to have tons of just acquaintances. Why? Because those are all potential people in your corner right there! Just seeing a familiar person, someone whose name you know, is enough to put you at ease when you sign up for something new and you walk into a room full of strangers.

Walking around in a sea of strangers feels a lot less welcoming to me than passing by people who smile and say hello because they know my name or they know my children.

So I would say that actually having a ton of surface level friends is not so bad.

Yes, you need a few close friends too, but you can only pour into so many bosom buddies. It’s pretty awesome just to be somewhere long enough to know people’s names and have a few friends to say hello to. It reminds you to smile, and when we smile we start to feel good, as though we belong. And you know what? You do belong.

Happy summer, y’all! I hope you’re having a good one too.

 

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A Parent Review of ABCmouse: Keeping Our Brains Working Through Summer

 

Like most moms, I TRY to keep my children from letting all of their knowledge fall out over the summer.

Any “book learnin'” my four boys accomplish over the summer is typically solely because I forced them to do it. Maybe your kids aren’t like mine, I don’t know, but my children never ASK me to do workbook pages and catch up on their reading logs.

When I was a little girl, I LOVED doing workbooks, but that is not my kids. I can’t even fathom that.

Have we read this summer? Yes, tons. Have I recorded half of those books on the required reading logs? Um, no. Like I don’t have enough things to remember to do.

So at the end of the summer, I’ll basically stand there with the boys, wracking my brain, while begging them to think back, to remember what all they read this summer so we can fill out that bless-ed log.

Reading is the perfect start to keeping our minds active all summer long, but there are other skills to focus on in school too, and for that I have been looking for a good phone app that I can put my younger boys on!

After years of hearing of ABCmouse.com, I finally decided to download it and let my younger boys (ages 6 and 4) try it out.

I am happy to tell you it is everything I had hoped for, which means that they cover both letters, numbers, and other topics, and they can even play it unassisted.

You do need to help them at first, so they know where to find all the different things the app or website can do.

Actually, if your child is new to iPad games or is preschool age, I would help them the whole first week that they use it, just so you can guide them to less frustration and point them to the games that they could benefit the most from.

John David is 4, and I sit down and basically just watch him use it, and say things like, “Great job!” as he zips through a map (which is like 6 mini-lesson activities). After that, I turn him loose on it, and he can play with it however he chooses.

It’s a big deal to him that we do it together, and he cuddles in my lap while he works on his activities.

Daniel is 6, and he requires no supervision on the app at all.

My favorite thing about it is the sight word games. I also appreciate that each lesson is age appropriate. Too often, game makers over-estimate the finger dexterity or involvement of the parents.

Daniel’s favorite thing: Getting to play games on my phone

John David’s favorite part: Puzzles!!!

I went through today’s lessons for John David and Daniel and screen-shotted to show you what to expect with this app, a sneak peek if you will.

Actually, I should clarify that ABCmouse.com is not just an app. This entire program can be done on a mobile device or on a computer.

What to Expect

 

A Parent Review of ABCmouse

This puzzle sentence was on a K4 lesson. John David had no trouble dragging and dropping the words into place.

A Parent Review of ABCmouse

This is found on the initial preschool/kindergarten screen. Once you past this puzzle, you get a new one. We focused on puzzles because they were JD’s favorite.

 

Both of my boys love an app where you can color.

 

I forget what section this game was under, but Daniel had to choose the starting letter of each picture to spell the word.

 

There are many books in this app, which they read to your child. As the story is read, they highlight words as they go. This particular one was a lesson on the letter b.

 

In this sight word game, you get to smash the bugs with the correct sight word. I thought this one was so fun that I could have played it myself. Not even kidding.

 

An important lesson!

Choosing Your Kids’ Level

I goofed when I signed Daniel up, and I started him on Kindergarten lessons. When he opened it up to a lesson on “Aa”, he got insulted and put it down, so be careful what level you choose! Haha!! He is in 1st grade now, so I switched it to the 1st grade level.

It was very simple to sign in as the parent and switch his level up one, and then he had better lessons.

John David, on the other hand, is not accustomed to playing games on an iPad, so I put him  on K3 so it would be super easy while he learned how to use the app. Once he got used to it, I upped him to K4 lessons.

John David LOVES these games. He’s already amassed hundreds of tickets, which he can use to buy all sorts of little digital things for his ABCmouse avatar and room. He was even excited to earn his avatar a pair of blue pants. “Oooooh! Blue pants. I wike blue pants!”

I know you’re wondering, and I was too! How much does this cost???

The first month is FREE. Afterwards, it’s $7.95/per month. Nice!

 

me and my little scholars

 

“Mom, can I pway dat game on your phone?” Batman is quite a fan of ABCmouse!

I wish had discovered this website years ago because I feel like it’s truly going to help the boys to keep ahead this summer!

Now, y’all, if you decide to try it out too, PLEASE click on my links in this post or on my website to take you to the ABCmouse.com website because I do earn a small fee for each referral I send them who signs up.

Let me know if you try it and what you thought! Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments!!

 

 

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