Jumpstart Read for the Record 2012 [ + Giveaway]

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Jumpstart, a national early education non-profit organization, annual Read for the Record event is coming up and I wanted to share the information with you!

This year, on Thursday, October 4th, 2012 Jumpstart will host nearly 250 Read for the Record events where people from all over pledge to read the same book on the same day in an attempt to set a new world record and raise awareness of the importance of early education.

This year’s book selection is Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad, by David Soman and Jacky Davis.  You can click here on how to get the book or you can even read the book online!

Do you want to join in the fun? Click here to take the pledge to read! I know I will be reading this Ladybug Girl book to my two ladybug girls on 10.4!

Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

[Disclosure: I was sent a free copy of this darling book!]

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Now is the Time

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I have written about this topic for years now because I feel passionate about sharing information on what parents need to do to make sure their kids would be taken care of if the worst were to happen to them.

It’s an awful thought, but better to get it done so you can move on with your life  with peace of mind.  If you haven’t already done this for your family yet, I hope now is the time.

Here is a guest post Darlynn Morgan from Morgan Law Group in Newport Beach wrote about this topic. Darlynn holds free workshops to educate parents on the steps to take to get your legal stuff in order, how to legally name guardians for your kids, etc.

There are two local OC workshops coming up at the end of the month to learn more. Details at the end of the post. Here is what Darlynn had to share about what she speaks on…

Today I’m going to share the secret to FINALLY getting your financial house in order, and I’m going to tell you up front that it has nothing to do with budgets, selling everything on Ebay or working longer hours! This is information you’ve probably never heard before from your financial advisor or CPA, but it’s going to shift your thinking and give you incredible peace of mind.

Before I get into it, if you’re a parent with minor kids at home, the very first thing you should do is visit www.kidsprotectionworkshop.com and register for one of our FREE fall Kids Protection Workshops happening on Saturday, September 29th, 2012.

We’re hosting one at Xpecting at 9:00 am and one at Granola Babies at 2 pm.  These workshops are fast, fun and will teach you everything you need to know about naming legal guardians for your minor kids, leaving a legacy for your loved ones and protecting your family’s wealth if the unthinkable happens.  I’ll touch on why this is so important in just a minute.

But in the meantime…

You’re young and smart —and working hard to build a solid financial foundation for the benefit of your family.  Financial freedom is starting to feel within reach and the future looks promising.

Or is it….?

The “typical” definition of financial freedom means no debt, 6 months savings in the bank, a paid off house and saving towards retirement so you can stop working. The pop culture “teachers” of personal finance tell us that this is when you’ll experience financial freedom …. and so we spend our lives working towards those goals.

But what if we look at it in a different way….

Because maybe you’re just starting out, and have lots of student loan debt, or bought a house that is now upside down. Or maybe you’re just starting a family and are overwhelmed by the reality of the costs of those little mouths to feed. Maybe you’ve even lost your job or your biggest client and you’re wondering where the money is going to come from.

Or, maybe you’ve got millions in the bank, but you’re afraid because you’ve just seen your accounts or your house lose a chunk of their value. Isn’t it funny to realize that sometimes financial freedom has nothing to do at all with the amount of money you have in the bank?

So how can you experience this financial freedom if you don’t have a big savings account, or you have loads of debt, or you’ve not saved enough for retirement, you don’t know how you’re going to pay for college, or if you feel fearful when you think about your financial situation? (Even though by the standards of most of the rest of the world you have plenty.) 

The first step is to get your financial house in order. Do you know with absolute and total certainty what would happen to all your stuff, your business, your kids ….if something happened to you? Or if something happened to your spouse? Do you have a plan in place to make sure that at the end of your life (whenever that may be) you leave the world a better place? That you improve the lot of your family not just financially but emotionally and that you don’t leave behind a big mess?

Now a lot of people think “oh that’s too scary to think about” but it’s not. It’s actually very empowering. Because right now, everything is just fine and you have a clear head and you can start to think about why are you here. How will you leave the world a better place?

You start by knowing that your financial house is in order and that your family, the people who love you and who you love are going to have an easy time of it when you’re gone.

So that is your first step to financial freedom! It’s not about 6 months of savings and getting out of debt and paying off your house, although all those things are great…. but you could do all of those things and still not experience the freedom you’re looking for.

If you’re always waiting to experience freedom until you “arrive” you’ll never get there.

Here’s the good news:

If you don’t have an action plan, then now is the time… you can learn how to create one by joining me for one of our upcoming Fall Kids Protection Workshops

These workshops are fast, fun and offer critical information in a way that’s easy to understand, empowering and broken down into action steps that you can implement right away.   Plus they are FREE to attend and filled with other young families…just like yours!

I know you’ll find it to be an hour well-spent and that you’ll leave with incredible peace of mind about your future.  Here is just a taste of what you’ll learn:

The 9 simple steps you can take immediately to ensure your children are cared for by the people you want, according to your values, should something happen to you.

~ The 9 simple steps you can take immediately to ensure your children are cared for by the people you want, according to your values, should something happen to you.

~ How to help your family by making sure your assets are passed down to the people you want—without interference from courts, creditors, relatives or the IRS.

~ The 6 common mistakes parents make when naming guardians for their young children…. And how to avoid them.

~ How to protect the assets you’ve worked so hard to acquire and how to make sure they are passed down to your children in a way that’s safe, secure and free from the financial dangers of divorce or bankruptcy.

~ Common mistakes parents make that may allow the police the to take their minor children out of the house and into the hands of foster care …even with family members ready and willing to help….if you were temporarily or permanently injured in an accident.

~ How to ensure your money is immediately and privately available to your chosen guardians so your children will have everything they’d need and would be prepared for a life without you in case something happened to you.

~ How to make smart financial choices about things like saving for college, keeping your money safe, and buying life insurance

After attending this workshop, you’ll know without a shadow of a doubt that your legal and financial house is in order—and that you have the tools and resources necessary to keep it that way!  You’ll also confirm that you are making smart financial choices about things like saving for college, keeping your money safe and buying life insurance.

So don’t wait to register for one of our upcoming Fall Kids Protection Seminars at 2 great locations in the OC (Granola Babies and Xpecting!).  Spaces are limited, so reserve your seat now for yourself or a friend at no-charge by visiting www.kidsprotectionworkshop.com !

Darlynn Morgan is an estate planning lawyer at Morgan Law Group, a unique law firm that she created to truly make a difference in the lives of her clients. She’s really good at making it easy for your family to talk about and plan for tough subjects like money, death and taxes. 

[Darlynn is a Tiny Oranges sponsor and I am honored to get to spread the word about her valuable workshops and services!]
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Our Serta Mattress Selection for our Kids

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A few weeks back I did a post on how to choose the right mattress for your child. As it turns out, there is a lot to think about when making a new mattress purchase for your little one!  Especially if you want to invest in a quality one to last throughout childhood.

Recently, we went through the process of selecting new Serta mattresses for review for both of our daughters, ages 3 and 6, as result of my participation in the Serta blogger program for 2012, which included complimentary mattresses to help facilitate firsthand reviews.  My girls have NO idea just how lucky they are. No idea.

But I do! My husband and I have been sleeping on the dreamy Serta iComfort Sleep System for a year now and it is the best night’s sleep I have ever had. We also received a complimentary mattress from Serta as part of the 2011 blogger program. Again, LUCKY us!

Since choosing a new mattress can be a confusing process, I wanted to walk you through how we came to our decision on which mattress was right for our little ones.

The first thing we had to consider was what size?

Seeing that we were going to be receiving high quality mattresses, the type of mattress that could last them until they went off to college, perhaps longer, we had to think long term.

For Emma (6 years old), we decided it was time to move her room to our guest room, which was the largest of the sleeping room options. It seemed silly to have the largest room be the one that was least utilized.

Given the fact that she would have more room, we wanted to go with the biggest size that seemed reasonable in the space, which was a Queen. I figured that even if she doest’t take her Queen bed to college, we could always move a Queen size to a guest room down the road.

For Morgan (3 years old), we had more space constraints.  Now that Emma was moving rooms, I wanted to move her to Emma’s old room, but it a rather small space.

But again, seeing that we were receiving high quality mattresses, I didn’t want to opt for a Twin, one that she would end up outgrowing, so we went with the Full. For me, having a GREAT bed that will last a long time took priority.  Now we would just have to do some creative space planning in her new room.

I am really happy we went with the Full, as we now have the flexibility to have both girls sleep in Morgan’s bed, and offer Emma’s Queen along with our other guest room Queen when having multiple house guests like at Thanksgiving with my husband’s whole family comes to visit.

With the sizes selected, we were now off to find the right one!

We took our girls to a local Sit N’ Sleep to try the Serta mattresses out themselves. I might be aging myself, but does anyone remember the children’s book Corduroy?  That cute little bear who finds himself wandering the department store at night amazed at the sea of mattresses? I used to love that book. And after seeing the sparkle in my girls eyes looking at all the beds it reminded me of that!  It was their very own Corduroy moment!

The Serta Mattress selector online suggested the innerspring Perfect Sleeper line for children, so we were definitely interested in having our girls test out the Perfect Sleepers, which is the Official Mattress of the National Sleep Foundation.

I also wanted to look at the Serta iSeries line, which is an innerspring / memory foam hybrid mattress. Now that my husband and I are sleeping on the iComfort memory foam mattress, having experienced the benefits, especially the reduction of tossing and turning, I am a big memory foam fan. And since the girls were used to sleeping on an innerspring mattress, I thought the combination of the two might be a nice choice.

Furthermore, the Serta Cool Action gel memory foam is made with an open-cell structure which is less likely to trap dust and other allergens.  My oldest has a dust allergy, so I thought this might be helpful.

Important to note: Serta does not make claims regarding their memory foam and dust allergies. The most important thing when dealing with dust allergies is the use of the right bedding and mattress protectors, but still, I figured the iSeries might be a good choice given her sensitivity.

But in the end, I really wanted them to decide on the mattress that felt best to their little bodies. So, the rest test began with Serta sheep plushies in hand…

My then two-year-old was no help in the mattress selection, she was still too young and it was a big game to her to bounce from bed to bed.

But my six-year-old knew EXACTLY the mattress that was “coziest” to her. I sort of expected her to say they were all comfortable (which they were) but she truly had one specific model that was the clear choice, the iSeries Merit.

Doesn’t it just look dreamy??

And after my husband and I laid on it, we could see WHY.

It is soooooooooo comfortable!  Soft, and plush, but also really supportive. 

I was somewhat surprised she chose a partial memory foam selection, but after thinking about it, both of our girls spend quite a bit of snuggle time in our iComfort bed, so I think there was something about the iSeries that felt familiar and comforting to them.

The iSeries Merit was the clear winner ~ a choice we were thrilled with!

After the first night sleeping in their new beds, it must have been a pretty big difference to Emma.  Her previous twin mattress was probably the cheapest mattress that could have come with the daybed we bought at the time, and her daybed was a bed I used in our guest room years before she was even born, so I never initially intended for it to turn into her real bed.

When she walked out the first morning after sleeping on her new bed, when I asked how she slept, she said,

“Mom! It’s like a magic bed!  I don’t have to put myself to sleep, it puts ME to sleep!”   

You can’t make stuff like that up ~ my husband looked at me and said, “you won’t get better blog material than that!” She LOVES her new bed.

Morgan went from the crib mattress to her new Full mattress and big girl bed, and transitioned beautifully.  Although she is too young to really tell me how she slept, she often will snuggle into her bed and shout, “cozy!!”

My girls have always been good sleepers as far as sleeping through the night, so I can’t claim that the mattress made them sleep longer or better, but I have to believe that their quality of sleep has improved, because for me personally I noticed a big difference in my quality of sleep once sleeping on our Serta.

Most importantly, it makes me feel so good knowing that my girls are sleeping on a QUALITY mattress. One that is ultra-supportive for their growing bodies.

However, there is one problem.

When putting my youngest down for nap, her bed is so comfortable I have been known to fall asleep on more than one occasion.

Just last weekend, my husband was curious as to why it could take more than 45 minutes to put her down for a nap. My disheveled “just woke up” look probably answered the question when I finally walked out!

If you are in the market to shop for a new mattress for your child, please make sure to check out my first post with some tips and suggestions on how to choose the best mattress for your little one.  You can also go into any Serta retailer and have them test out the beds themselves, which is what I found was the most important part of all!

But the new mattresses also presented another problem: musical rooms. Emma was moving to the guest room, guest room was moving to Morgan’s room, and Morgan was moving to Emma’s room.

I was a little overwhelmed at the thought of re-doing three rooms at once. So I called my friend Shanna from www.myfavoriteeverything.com, an interior designer now getting more back into the business to ask for her help and design expertise.  Basically I gave her our budget and let her do her thang.

Project “Extreme Bedroom Makeover” had begun.

As it turns out, this “problem” turned out to be the BEST thing that could ever happen because we re-did rooms that we have been wanting to for a long time.

And you guys will not BELIEVE what she did to our rooms. They are something out of a magazine.

I am so excited to share I can almost scream. Stay tuned…

[Disclosure: I received our Serta mattresses complimentary as a result of my participation in the blogger program for 2012. And our iComfort as a part of my participation in the 2011 program. My family is so incredibly grateful for this opportunity as we have never slept better and it is a brand I believe in. Opinions are 100% my own, of course!]

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Teacher Anxiety

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In parenting, I often ask myself, “Is this normal?!” probably more times than I would like to admit.

Whether it’s something my kids are doing that I find undesirable OR something I am feeling as a mom.

Emma starts 1st grade next Tuesday. We get to find out her classroom this weekend and I am having some major anxiety over which teacher she is going to get. 

We were so lucky with our Kindergarten class last year. Awesome teachers and great group of kids and group of moms.  I think I am afraid we got a little spoiled.

Now that I have gone through a year of elementary school, I have seen firsthand just how IMPORTANT it is to have a stellar teacher.  I mean, it is everything! For all you teachers out there – I can’t tell you how much I admire you!

For 1st grade with the longer days and harder curriculum, I just so badly want her to end up in a classroom that she loves (and I love – who am I kidding?!) and it is killing me at this point because I have absolutely no control!!

So, I ask you mamas with elementary school age kids – is this NORMAL?! Do you get the same anxiety before finding out the classroom and teacher? I thought it would be easier this year because I have been through it before, but I am actually stressing out more.

Tell me I am not alone.  And if I am, please talk me off the ledge.

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How to Choose the Right Mattress for Your Child

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Recently we found ourselves in need of new mattresses for both of our girls. My youngest Morgan, newly three-years-old, was ready to move out of her crib into her first big girl bed, and my six-year-old Emma, was ready to transition from her still toddler-ish room and old low-quality, twin mattress into a “going to be a 1st grader” room.

So when Serta contacted me about being a part of their blogger campaign for 2012, which included complimentary mattresses for review to help write about our experiences, the timing couldn’t have been better.

Now that my husband and are I sleeping on our Serta iComfort mattress (also complimentary provided by Serta) and KNOW firsthand the difference a quality mattress makes to your sleep, it just killed me every night to lay on Emma’s terrible mattress when reading her books before bed and feel the innersprings coming through the top of the mattress. She had no idea – but I did. Click here to read about the difference our new mattress has made to our lives.

To know that both of my girls were going to get to experience blissful sleep on a Serta mattress made me SO happy. But now we had a task at hand – and that was choosing the best mattress for our kids. As it turns out, there was a lot to think about!

I am sure many of you at some point will have to purchase a new mattress for your child so I wanted to provide some personal shopping tips that helped us, along with input from the experts at Serta.

How to Choose the Right Mattress for Your Child

The first thing to decide is what size do you want?  I immediately thought twin for both, because they are so little. Especially for my three-year-old, it seemed like a natural progression to go from a crib mattress to a twin.

But given the fact that we were going to be receiving high quality mattresses that will likely last them until they go off to college, possibly even longer, I had to think long term.

Even though my three-year-old might look small in a full size bed now, 10 years from now she will be 13, and who knows, she could be 5’8″ by then (I was!)

Some things to consider when selecting the mattress size:

1. How much space do you have in your child’s room? Could it fit a full size or larger?

2. Will you be “handing down” this mattress to a younger sibling at some point? Is there a chance it will it be moving rooms?

3. Will you want to consider bunk beds or will your kids share a room at some point?

4. Could you benefit from being able to use a larger bed or double up kids in a larger bed when guests visit to free up more sleeping space? How about for sleepovers?

5. Do you prefer to invest in a quality mattress so you don’t have to upgrade at some point if/when they outgrow it in a few years?

If you answered “yes” to questions #1 and #5, I would recommend to buy the biggest size mattress their room will accommodate that still makes sense space-wise.

Most children’s furniture stores now have great full size bed options and custom shops like Newport Cottages can also custom make a children’s style bed into a queen, even larger, if that is the direction you want to go.

This was Serta’s expert advice on choosing the size,

“A larger sleeping surface allows for more ‘room to stretch’ during sleep. For kids that are active sleepers, meaning they shift positions often, a larger mattress may help keep them more comfortable and help them stay asleep in the event they shift positions during sleep. The biggest benefit of a larger mattress for a child is longevity. A good mattress can stay with your child through childhood.” 

Once you decide on the size you want, next you have to decide on the type of mattress you want for your child.

The traditional innerspring, like the Serta Perfect Sleeper, is a popular choice for children. You can also consider the (now famous on my blog) iComfort memory foam mattress, or the iSeries, which is a hybrid of innerspring and memory foam.

No matter what kind of mattress you select, the most important thing to ask about is does it offer proper support? A mattress with a good support infrastructure will alleviate pressure point build-up which can cause tossing and turning and restless sleep.

From there, the level of firmness or plushness is totally personal preference.  I suggest having your children go into to the store and test them out themselves. Of course, it is helpful to narrow it down to a handful that fit in your budget before giving them free reign to chose!

We took both of my girls mattress shopping and it was quite an enjoyable event. The “rest test” was not so effective with my (then) 2 1/2 year old who thought the game of musical mattresses was one VERY fun game, but my six-year-old, after laying on probably 10 different beds, knew the one she thought was the “coziest” without a doubt.

I thought it was really interesting to see that she had a strong opinion of the exact mattress that felt best to her at such a young age.

Expert advice from Serta,

“Today’s mattresses combine advanced support systems with a varity of “comfort layers”, meaning that you can still get the support you need from a softer mattress. We suggest you look for a quality mattress with proper support, with comfort materials designed to provide pressure relief. This is important to help reduce tossing and turning which can disrupt sleep.”

So now that you have selected your new mattress, and maybe invested a little more, you want to make sure you get the most years you can out of your new bed.

Serta advises,

“The most important mattress care tip is this – use a liquid resistant mattress pad or cover.  This will keep the mattress cleaner and healthier and insure that your warranty remains in tact and prevent the comfort layers from being impacted.  There are many options out there made from breathable materials, so the mattress pad or cover won’t cause heat build up.”

Stay tuned for another post on the mattress we selected for our girls and how we came to the decision.

These new mattresses started a pretty big home project that entailed moving three of our bedrooms and a VERY fun redesign of them all. It was a project that we needed to do, and these mattresses were the perfect push to get us started. I can’t wait to show you the results.  Coming soon!!!

[Disclosure: We received complimentary Serta mattresses to help facilitate this review and I am a participant in the 2011 and 2012 Serta blogger program. It is a company I am very passionate about sharing as I have been thrilled with their products and the dreamy sleep they have brought to my family!]


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