Get A Job Kid!

Chores. Allowance. Rewards for a job well done. There are various ways you can put a little bit of money in your child’s pocket. But, parents often wonder how to teach their child the value of money? How do you teach them to spend wisely and save for a rainy day? A child’s brain is wired for the here and now and the moment they have some cash in their pocket it begins burning a hole. Even though your child may really want that $50 Lego set at Target, saving up for it can be a daunting task. Most children would rather have the instant gratification of the $5 toy than painfully saving up for the bigger expensive one. So what are some effective techniques for teaching children about money?

Pay in Cash

Whenever possible, pay in cash in front of your children so they can see the exchange of money for goods. The old saying “money doesn’t grow on trees” has been replaced for modern children with the idea that money magically comes from a plastic card. The concept of having money in a bank somewhere is too abstract for kids to grasp. I know I have been told by my children more than once “Just use your card to get more money.” Sorry kid, it’s not a magic lamp, it doesn’t work that way. When they wish to buy something with their cash have them bring it to the store to pay themselves. Even if you are making up the difference by using a card at least they are seeing some money being exchanged.

Each Chore Has a Price

Create a chore chart and the amount they will earn for completing each chore. A chore chart should not include things they are expected to do anyway such as keep their room tidy, clean up after themselves, put their dishes in the sink etc. Instead it should be those extra jobs that could benefit Mom and Dad if they are done. For example, taking the trash out, vacuuming, and doing their own laundry. You will have to find the right set of chores that work for your household, but by making a list and affixing a cash amount to it they will understand that hard work pays.

Get a Piggy Bank

Seems simple but it’s true. Get them a bank to store their money in. Every time one of mine gets some cash they love to pour it all out and count it again. By having a special place to watch their money grow they will be more inclined to save it. A bank doesn’t have to be anything fancy, it can be as simple as a coffee tin with a slot in the top. As long as it is all theirs it will do the trick!

Avoid Telling Children You Can’t Afford Something

Our children think we are cash machines and that being an adult means we can purchase whatever we wish, we know that’s not the case, but we could go blue in the face trying to explain that to little ones. When your children ask for big things that just aren’t in the budget simply tell them that. When you tell children you can’t afford something it may scare them into thinking you can’t afford essentials such as food and clothes. Instead say, “I haven’t budgeted for that this month” or “I don’t have extra money for that right now.” These phrases will highlight for your child that big things need to be saved up for.

Talk About Money

This doesn’t mean your children need to know how much you make or what the mortgage payment is, but don’t shy away from talking about the cost of everyday things. Too many parents make the mistake of not educating their children on money and then when they get out in the real world as young adults they have no concept on how it works! Start a savings account for your child so they can put money away over time and learn about banking and interest. When kids learn about money they are more responsible with it as adults.

Role Play With Them

Engage in games that are centered around commerce. Pretend to run a coffee shop, doctor’s office or a grocery store. Discuss how much things cost and use play money to pay and ask for change! Games like Monopoly and Life are another option to help your child learn money concepts. Purchase a set of play money and a toy register and let your child be the boss of their own business!

The important thing is provide plenty of opportunities for your children to see money in action, to have hands on experience earning it and spending it. Talk through purchases your child may wish to make to make sure they fully understand why it is that they want an item. Sometimes, you may need to bite your tongue and let them make the bad purchase so that it can be used as a teachable moment once the realization hits that their money could have been better spent. I have spent what felt like hours in the toy aisles of Target with my oldest spending birthday and Christmas cash and as tedious as it is at times, I am glad he is being thorough and thought out in his buying process. As with most things in parenting, you want to guide them in the right direction, offer advice and help as needed, but also allow enough space for questions and explorations. Teaching your kids about money is definitely a knowledge is power situation!

Are Dresses Without Pockets Even Worth It?


No.  A resounding no.  Nothing is a more perfect and essential garment than a maxi dress with pockets.  Done.  I could end the post here.  Of course, I am not going to because I feel the desire, not the need, to expound on why dresses with pockets are a must.  If it needs explaining, then this post probably is not for you. 

Photo by Joanna Malinowska

First, where else will I put all the lovely things my children and students give me throughout the day?  A hundred tiny pieces of white paper my son handed me saying they were diamonds for Valentine’s Day, glad I have a pocket.  The 37th pipe cleaner bracelet one of my students has made me?   In the pocket, it goes; I love my students, but even I have difficulty keeping up the excitement after the 10th bracelet in a row.  Snotty tissue, you guessed it, in the pocket.  Every single damn Lego you find because they are never actually in the Lego container, viola! Pocket.  Pockets are one of the most essential tools when interacting with younger kids. 

Photo by Xenia Bogarova

Second, pockets are perfect for the socially awkward adult that I am.  I have no problem talking to kids all day but put me in a social situation where I am expected to speak to adults, and I have no idea what to do with my hands.  Even worse, are one on ones where there is no one to get me out of the conversation I do not want to be having.  For example, when the woman in front of me at Panera Bread turned around to exclaim to me that nobody should eat the food here because it causes cancer, hands in the pockets. Or, how about when my co-worker started telling me about the problem she has been having with her vagina.  Perfect. Pocket. Situation. Or, what about when checking out at the grocery store and the woman scanning my items was talking to the cashier the next station over about her nail fungus? Put ’em in the pockets. 

Third, pockets are everywhere in our life because they are functional.  You have pockets in your car door, and on the back of the seats, I am not currently utilizing any of these pockets, but it makes me happy to know they are there.  Purses and backpacks have pockets because it makes finding things easier.  I love pockets so much that when my mom made me a themed bag as a gift for a theatrical production, I was in, I gave it back and asked for her to add a pocket (which she did, thanks Mom!)  Cabinets are basically pockets for your kitchen, I mean where would you put all your stuff if your kitchen didn’t have pockets?  As a side note, I decided on the spot that I will hence force refer to cabinets at kitchen pockets.

Photo by Amy Humphries

Now perhaps you are not pocket dependent like I am, and if so, I probably am falling flat on my face as I describe the importance of pockets to you.  But, if you love dresses with pockets as much as I do, I know you’re standing beside me in perfect pocket solidarity.  I love dresses with pockets so much that I am wearing one right now as I write this.  This spring, I have systematically started to replace every dress I own with one with pockets.  I have been known to squeal with glee when I discover a dress I like has them; at times, that is the only impetus I need to purchase the aforementioned dress.  When I am wearing a dress with pockets, I lord it around the house like a queen in her castle; somehow, they make me feel instantly better.  Pockets provide a sense of security.  Whether it’s a place to put things, hide my hands or for comfort, I need pockets in my life.  I cannot always hide from the world, but I can slide my hands into those delicious pockets concealing at least a part of me; for that alone, I will always love a dress with pockets.

Too Early for Wine

It’s a rainy Friday and everybody is stuck inside at the end of another long quarantine week. I mean I did get to go to the grocery store this morning and had the opportunity to make multiple trips from my car to my house in the pouring rain. Yay for outside time! There are loud but not concerning noises coming from the basement and no amount of coffee seems to be doing the trick as I go about my tasks for the day. It reminded me of this photo from December when I thought the two weeks of winter break were draining, wasn’t that a cute thought. It’s only noon and there is school work I will have to wrestle with them to complete, I’d like to find the energy to finally finish my book, and did I mention the mountains of laundry waiting to be folded and washed? I think today I just need to get by, ignore that crash I just heard, it may have been the Lego bucket, and power through the day. The coffee may not be working but eventually the socially acceptable time for wine will be here and that always helps.

These are a Few of my Favorite Things… for Kids

As both a mom and a Pre-K teacher I have purchased and interacted with A LOT of toys. Some have been fantastic and surpassed my wildest dreams while others have left me out to dry. I’ve complied a list of some my top toys. If you’re not familiar with these already then I hope I just introduced you and your child to their next favorite thing. Click on the name of any of these items to learn more!

Zingo! This a fan favorite in my four and five year old classroom. The set in my classroom used to be my personal game before my two outgrew it. It’s Bingo but requires letter and word recognition. It also promotes memory and hand eye coordination skills.

Lego Marble ~ Few things keep young children busier than Legos. Combine that with a marble run and there are endless opportunities. This is the perfect toy to boost STEM skills, problem solving and creativity.

Lazada Pig Pillow ~ My six year old has this and it goes everywhere with him. It’s so incredibility soft I want one of my own. It comes in a variety of sizes and options and is bound to be your child’s new best friend.

Chalk. Colored chalk is one of the most popular toys I have ever utilized. It is open ended and provides so much opportunity for creative expression. Plus it’s a great way to get everyone outside and enjoying the sunshine!

Dan&Darci Flower Growing Kit ~ Spring is the perfect time to take your kids outside and teach them about gardening. This kit is a great starter garden for your budding botanist and bonus it comes with paints to decorate the flower box!

Flybar My First Foam Pogo Stick ~ These are fantastic! Both my boys received these this year for their birthday and they are loving them! They hold up to 250 pounds, so you better believe I tried it out too. This toy is great for building balance and gross motor skills. Hey, if your kids don’t want one get it for yourself!

Kanoodle ~ This is a fantastic logic game that has even stumped me at times! Admittedly, when it comes to logic puzzles, I am not the best. I had to order a second one of these for the house because my kids were fighting over who got to play with it. Logic and problem solving are the key skills honed by this marvelous, inexpensive toy.

Piano Music Mat ~ We had one of these for years in our home and it was always a favorite of my two. Your kids can jump and dance around and make sounds with the instrument options and it has a record setting so your little Mozart can play back the music they made. I used it to reenact my own Tom Hanks “Big” Moment.

I could list so many more, and I will probably will down the line! When purchasing toys for kids I like to think about what possibilities the toy presents and what senses it engages. For me, the less electronics the better. Guide your children while playing by asking them open ended questions as this will engage and enhance their language and literacy skills.

If your quarantine brain is starting to fuzz on what to do to keep your kids engaged then I hope this list can give you some ideas or at least set you down the right path!

Things I’ve Learned During Quarantine

Today marks the 6th week since my personal quarantine started and I have learned quite a bit about myself in that time, I imagine you have too. I am lucky because I have not been completely alone. I own a house with my partner so I have adult contact daily, which is important when I happened to be quarantined most days alone with my two boys ages 9 and 6. Additionally his two youngest children (12 and 14) are here part time so more human interaction there. Overall, I have to admit I’ve managed this well. I started thinking about where this journey to no where has taken me and this is what I learned.

1. I CAN live without Target. It’s true. I haven’t shriveled up and died due to lack of Target. I went in the day I was furloughed to pick up some items to entertain my children and I have been inside Target exactly once to purchase my favorite brand of razors, David’s, and a few other household and bath items my grocery store doesn’t carry. Huh. Who knew I could go so long?

2. I am perfectly happy not interacting with society on a daily basis. I have always been a loner and introvert, more comfortable with children than adults, but even I thought I’d crack after 6 weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my close friends and my students. I miss my twice monthly karaoke outings and I am bummed I haven’t seen my sister’s new puppy in person yet. I talk to the people close to me on a regular basis but otherwise, I think I could be a hermit if required.

Yeah! I made that!

3. I like cooking. Not only have I learned to like cooking, turns out I’m pretty dam good at it. It was never something I enjoyed and usually found it to be a mind numbing task trying to keep track of all the ingredients, measurements when I was supposed to add this or add that. Something would usually burn, an ingredient was almost always forgotten or left out and that 30 minute weeknight recipe? Ha! We’ll eat in about an hour and a half. During quarantine I have had time to cook and little by little I mostly stopped using recipes. I may look up ideas for inspiration or guidance but I can actually create on my own and, if I may brag, 9/10 times is tastes great!

4. I am not as patient or creative with my kids as I thought I would be. The first few weeks I was super teacher-mom. I had daily activities in art, science, cognitive skills…. then homeschooling started and since I have to practically drag my children to the computer to do work it seems my Mary Poppins desire blew away on the wind. My bag is still filled with everything imaginable so hopefully one day soon the magic will come back to me, spoon full of sugar and all!

5. Daily mediation and Yoga have become essential to me. Again, these are things I have always enjoyed but never seemed to have the time for before. Yoga and meditation help me wake up in the morning and a few simple stretches can diffuse so much stress. One of my favorite techniques is to sit with my eyes closed and listen to what’s going on around. Presuming it’s not the screams of my children having a fight in the basement, it is a very peaceful exercise.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on

This has been a stressful time for all of us, no doubt, but I hope you have been able to find your own little silver lining and time for self reflection too. Things are still uncertain, but hang on, we’ve got this.

5 Books to Read if You Need Escapism

Everyone needs an escape from reality now and then, and I would hazard to say now, more than usual, people are looking for that “other place” they can travel too. You may love movies, or be binge watching TV shows or even getting that beach perfect body with your free time. But if you are like me, you love to get lost in books. Here are 5 books guaranteed to help on that journey. As Belle says to Beast, “They help me escape, at least for a little while. ”

This is the novelized version the childhood classic “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. It is based on the recent movie version and is a much more adult themed story. It is guaranteed to take you to a land of magic as Max battles his inner demons in his alternate reality.

This book is short but it delivers a punch of a story. Beautifully told, every old soul book lover will fall in love with Juliet and the journey she takes to find herself and connect with others through a shared love of books.

Yes, full disclosure, this is my sister’s first novel (her second book, They Did Bad Things, being released next month) but that aside, it’s a great book. A modern Gothic that will keep you turning page after page.

This is one of the funniest books I have ever read and it has the distinction of being on my shelf of my favorite books ever. Take it with a grain a salt and laugh your ass off.

I found this book to be absolutely thrilling. I love Ray Bradbury to begin with, and this was book was an absolute page turner. Dark magic, adolescence and the power of a father’s love wonderfully portrayed in this fantastical carnival of a story.

Twelve Amazing (and real) Quotes on Motherhood

Motherhood is a mixed bag of a journey. At times there is sorrow, anger, guilt but mostly there is joy, laughter, forgiveness and love. I have compiled twelve of my favorite quotes related to motherhood that are close to me. I hope you feel a connection to them as well.

He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves it’s own mark.
~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter

Everybody wants to save the Earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.
~P.J. O’Rourke

It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My mom says some days are like that. ~Judith Viorst, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

There’s no bitch on earth like a mother frightened for her kids. ~Stephen King

Perhaps it takes courage to raise children ~ John Steinbeck

I know how to do anything—I’m a mom. ~Roseanne Barr

I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet, there would be no more wars.
~ E.M. Forster, Howard’s End

Any mother could perform the jobs of several air-traffic controllers with ease. ~Lisa Alther

When you’re in the thick of raising your kids by yourself, you tend to keep a running list of everything you think you’re doing wrong. I recommend taking a lot of family pictures as evidence to the contrary. ~Connie Schultz

Raising a kid is part joy and part guerrilla warfare. ~Ed Asner

Art is the child of nature on whom we trace the features of the mothers face ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In a child’s eyes, a mother is a goddess. She can be glorious or terrible, benevolent or filled with wrath, but she commands love either way. I am convinced that this is the greatest power in the universe. ~N.K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Laughter is the Best Medicine*

*unless you have wine

I have done this oh so many times……


I personally think the worst one is after I’ve put them to bed, I poured the glass of wine, my ass just every so slightly grazes the couch and then “MOOOOOMMMMMY”.

This is 100% me with my 2nd grader’s work right now. None of it makes any sense.

My youngest son. Every. Single. Day.

But seriously. I want to know why my six year old insists on wearing skinny jeans he can’t get off himself without an entire acrobatic routine.

How I know many of us feel right now!

This is a difficult time for everyone right now and humor has always helped me. Love your kids even though they drive you up a wall, to which my literal 9 year old replies “I can’t drive you up a wall, I don’t have a car”, and hang in there as best you can. Remember to practice self-care, reaching out to friends and loved ones, and of course, reading blogs like this one!

Mixed Martial Arts Momma


Welcome to my blog! This has been a process years in the making debating all the should I or shouldn’t I thoughts. News flash, I decided I finally should. There is nothing quite as stressful, hair-pulling, drink inducing, wonderful as raising children. Add to that I’ve spent the last 14 years of my professional life in a classroom surrounded by 3, 4 and 5 year old students that also call me mom half the day, I have more than earned a black belt in the realm of Mommy-hood. Parenting and teaching young children requires a set of skills nothing can prepare you for. My advice, take each step at time and figure out what works and level up those belts as you go. Find your mix of tricks and moves and make yourself a master in the world of parenting.

There are many things you could, and if you continue to read this blog, will find out about me, but the important stuff is as follows: I have two sons, one with Anxiety, Sensory Processing Disorder and a wicked high IQ, and another with ADHD, Anxiety and that pesky high IQ. Basically it’s like raising two raptors. I love reading. I love it to the degree I have a home library named “The Belle-Cave”. I am obsessed with Disney and Harry Potter, and a more than average Star Wars fan. And, lastly, I am a trained actor and singer.

Thank you for reading this far, assuming you’re still reading, and welcome to my journey of how I became and continue to be a Master of Mixed Maternal Arts.