• By Jessica of A Parent in Silver Spring. Ah, winter after the holidays. That soul-sucking time of year when we're faced not only with the cold weather doldrums, but also forced to face the music from our holiday shopping spending AND our upcoming tax payments.

    It's the time of year when I personally decide to clean up my spending act and make subtle changes that effect our family cash flow. Just as others resolve anew to get up at 6 a.m. for morning runs or avoid the beer and cookie aisles at the market, come January, I re-pledge allegiance to excess spending.

    My spouse and I have done everything we can to avoid debt, protect investments, blah blah, but I'm not talking about "the market"...unless you mean the supermarket. I'm no Suze or personal finance manager. Please don't call me about fixing your credit score or for advice on a hedge fund.

    I deal in the shallow end of the baby pool with easy-peasy ways to spend less household cash. I personally am making small changes in our

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  • Following in my footsteps...

    I think we always hope that our children will be the better version of who we are. While we dream that they are a somewhat recognizable copy, and that the core of their footprint in life is attributable to their upbringing, the desire to have them be all that they can be, and then some, is the universal parental hope.

    The two questions I am often found asking myself are:

    - Do my childhood dreams effect my parenting regardless of my children's gender?

    - Do I feel that my childhood dreams should also be their dreams?'

    For example, as a girl scout in my youth, a soccer player in my pre-teen years, and a cheerleader in my teens- 'do I hope that my daughter will follow in my path?' Not necessarily, those were different times, with fewer social activities; I opted in because they were available. What I do think I can pass along are those activities that are core to each of the activities; girl scouts inspired the ability to set and achieve goals; soccer taught team work

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  • Since the day she was born, my Girl has been a mini-me in every way. She was blessed with giant, deep set King eyes but other than that, she has my physical features (even the teeth-poor kid).
    What people don't see, yet what I am painfully aware of, is that she shares a bit of my spirit. To the outside world she is bright and cheery. She is dramatic and easily fits in anywhere she goes.
    But I have heard her struggles with confidence and they break my heart.
    I know them intimately and I know what they are capable of keeping her from.
    My Girl wants to be a performer. She wants to sing and dance and act for crowds. She has already planned out a life as a waitress in New York as she is realistic about what a life in the theater might entail. And, she is good. I have literally been stopped by people who enthusiastically tell me I "MUST" get her into performing. On some level, she knows it. She has a light about her after every show she does that proves she knows she's got something.

    Read More »from User Post: When Their Dreams Might Have Been Yours
  • I still can't believe my first child will be going to Kindergarten this Fall. It doesn't seem real. The years are going by so quickly; jam packed with family functions, doctor appointments, preschool drop-offs and pick-ups. I thought I was ready for this transition but I had a little reality check recently at parent information night.

    I was fine, really, until I walked through the elementary school doors. I looked around at the classrooms, lavatories, and kid's artwork hanging on the wall in the hallway. Wow. I can't remember the last time I was actually in an elementary school. This time, I was there to get familiar with the school district and new student registration process.

    As I sat there, along with the other first-time kindergarten moms and dads, I started to fidget. I remembered how I felt, as a child, about going to school. It's been so long since I've felt those feelings. I wasn't a huge fan of school. I had a difficult time concentrating and pretty much coasted through my

    Read More »from User Post: Don't let her hear my thoughts about school

  • Do you ever explore the realities of trying to achieve 'perfection' as a mother and as a successful business woman or working mom? Can it be possible? Is it even worth trying? Why do moms continually strive for perfection? And is there such thing as a balanced mother? Share you thoughts and comments about how you achieve contentedness within you life. We're all dying to hear!

  • My Girl Guide troop at sleepaway camp. That's me in the bottom left-hand corner.
    Don't laugh! Ok, go ahead.

    Remember sleep-away camp? Some of my best childhood memories are from spending summers making friends, singing campfire songs, and making friendship bracelets at sleep-away camp. My Girl Guide troop (the Canadian version of Girl Scouts), was very active and one summer we had the opportunity to camp at a site owned by a Hungarian couple out in the wilderness. My mom dropped me at the bus we were taking to the campsite and I trotted off, bedroll, homemade poncho and sit-upon in hand. I had an amazing, enriching experience that I will never forget. Yes, we had to use lats and got bitten to the hilt by mosquitoes, but I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. To this day - and I'm not exaggerating - I haven't tasted a better Hungarian Goulash than the one that our campsite hosts made for us over an open fire at camp. Or maybe it just seems that way because I was having a

    Read More »from User Post: To Camp or Not to Camp?
  • Before I had kids I thought a lot about what I would pass on to them. Would they have my eyes? Their father 's drive? Or their grandmother's artistic sense? Would they love to travel? To eat? Would they get cancer?

    I never thought that my legacy would be fear. When I was a little girl, when I was old enough to ride a bike without training wheels, but long before I ever struggled into skinny jeans with zippers at the bottom, I was terrified that the Germans would come again. We were still living in France, and spent many weekends at my grandmother's house in the village my mother grew up in the Loire Valley. During the day, I would sit with my grandmother or my aunts, peppering them with questions about living through the German occupation. My mom's oldest sister was a toddler at the time, but the tales of the German soldiers who had taken over the family home were part of our family lore. I couldn't get enough of the stories about being forced to co-habitate with German officers or my

    Read More »from User Post: Passing on a Legacy of Fear
  • Maybe it was over-the-top, or maybe I'm just from a bit of a different generation that my kids, but my childhood was filled with a mix of wild fun and play dotted by perfecting manners and etiquette from the age of 8. I spent endless weekends learning to pour tea (pour from the right, eldest/most senior woman served first) to working on my punch-drinking skills (take white gloves off, lay in lap, keep your head up). In retrospect, it seems a little intense, but I gots me some Emily Post skilz. I want to teach my kids manners that will help them navigate conversation and environment, and demonstrate grace when not nailing each other with Nerf darts.

    Four tips I learned in finishing school (HA! DID I JUST TYPE THAT?!), that I'd like to pass along to my kidlets:

    1. Ballroom Dancing: The Ode to Commander Unander. Every Friday night my brother and I would go to a hall with other kids in my neighborhood in our dressy clothes. I'd say it was itchy and uncomfortable, but actually, I

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  • In my (after)life, as a parent, many people wouldn't now know me as an athlete. After (almost) eight consecutive years of being pregnant or nursing, I haven't had much time to pursue my prior love of anything sporty.

    In my past life, I may have been someone to be feared on the volleyball court or the ultimate frisbee playing field. I miss the feeling of instinct ruling muscle and the victory that results from a full body sacrifice.

    Like many parents, I may have been guilty of thinking that my daughter would be able to live out my dreams of being a sports hero, whether playing on a national circuit, ascending the podium at the Olympics or just winning a regional championship for her school. After all, with the genes she has been given through me and her tall and athletic father, she should be a shoe-in for a variety of athletic honors.

    Sadly, I think there has been a malfunction in the handing down of DNA. While she clearly has my eyes and her dad's mouth, athletic ability does not

    Read More »from giving up my dream (for her)
  • It's the new year, time to create family finance resolutions, revisit your financial habits, make new goals, and start anew! It's a great opportunity to create a brand new budget, reorganize, and gain control!

    Step 1:

    Review your budget. It's best if you compare your actual expenses to your original budget for 2010, and see if it's still realistic. If not, redo your budget, see if there is anything that can be reduced, and work with your new budget in 2011.

    Step 2:

    Organize your finances. Depending on your current situation, this could be a simple process or a longer one. First, put together a folder for your 2010 taxes, as you should be receiving important paperwork throughout January. Next, put together folders for bank statements, credit card bills, and other necessary files.

    Step 3:

    Plan your debt payoffs for 2011. Do you have debt that you are planning on paying down in 2011? If so, plan out exactly what you hope to pay each month, and set a goal for the

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