If you have ever been in a vehicle accident, especially one where your kids were in the car, you understand just how scary that feeling really is. I know it all too well, unfortunately! We have been in a few accidents, and while none of them were any fault of my own, thankfully, it was no less scary.
Every 33 seconds in 2015 a child under 13 was involved in a car crash in the United States. Car crashes are actually a leading cause of death for children 1 to 13 years old and 1 in 3 children killed* in car crashes are not restrained properly. Car seats, if used correctly, can dramatically reduce the risk of fatality or injury. But more than half of car seats are misused in a way that could reduce their effectiveness.
September is the perfect month to be asking yourself very important questions. Is your child in the right seat for their age, height, and weight? Is their seat installed correctly? If you aren’t sure about either of these questions- there is help!
During Child Passenger Safety Week (September 17-23, 2017), more than 1000 events are expected in 45 states across the country to raise awareness for proper car seat installation and usage. The week culminates in “Seat Check Saturday,” where Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will help parents and caregivers make sure their car seats are installed correctly. In most cases, this service is FREE.
If you don’t want to wait, you can visit NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat, which has videos about how to install car seats and booster seats correctly and guides to picking the right seat by age and size. The right car seat can make all the difference in a crash.
To make sure you have the right seat for your child, visit NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat, or find a Child Passenger Safety Week event in your area. During Child Passenger Safety Week, many communities will have Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians on-hand to provide education on how to use car seats, booster seats, and seat belts for children. To find events near you, including free car seat checks, visit bit.ly/CPSTech.
*According to 2015 data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
It is really hard to believe that my kids are headed back to school on Monday – just three days from now. This summer FLEW by eternally faster than any other summer that I can remember. This back-to-school year feels different, it is so bittersweet that thinking about it brings me to tears. It is the last back-to-school that we will have with our kids because they are starting their Senior year in high school. And as I sit and think about what we must do to prepare them for a fresh start this school year, I am also left thinking about the years that have gone by and the many challenges they have faced and overcome throughout those years.
Our son has always been one of those kids who is enthusiastic about returning to school. Excited to see his friends, excited to learn about the classes he is going to be in, and excited to see what the year brings. He has also been one of those blessed children who is just book smart – the ones who really don’t even have to try. So, you would never imagine that he might be categorized as having a learning or attention issue – mainly because there are many issues people face that go undiagnosed and even unnoticed by parents and teachers. He manages, don’t get me wrong. But he has to really stay on top of things to keep himself organized and focused – it takes real work for him.
Our Daughter is an entirely different story. While she never openly complained about returning to school, her enthusiasm wasn’t nearly the level of her brothers. She had a close-knit circle of friends and she has to work very hard to earn the good grades she continually maintains. Many years ago, though not diagnosed with a learning issue, she did struggle on many levels. It hurt her pride, her spirit, and made school a sad place for her to be. It took hard work, planning, organizing and help from teachers and great resources to figure out how to get here where she needed to be, to boost her spirit again, to show her that she could succeed – just like every other child in class.
Every child has a different story – some may love school, some may dread the thought of going back, and for some, it may scare them enough to cause real issues for them. Starting school can be an exciting, confusing and even scary time for kids with learning and attention issues, and for their parents. New teachers and classmates, new schedules and demands—these changes can be a lot to prepare for and absorb.
Did you know that one in five children in the U.S. have learning and attention issues? Many of them have never been formally diagnosed. The Ad Council and Understood.org have partnered to promote ways children and their families can be First-Day Ready. Understood.org is offering a free First-Day Ready Guide to help parents with students at every age successfully manage back-to-school transitions. Understood.org is a free, easy-to-use online resource and community designed to support parents and caregivers of children with learning and attention issues.
As the new school year approaches, we were excited to get personalized tips from the First-Day Ready Guideto help our kids make a great start.
Check out these back-to-school tips from the Understood.org website. They helped my family; hopefully, they can help yours too.
Back to School Tips:
If your child struggles with schoolwork, or has been identified as having a learning and attention issue, here’s a preview of some of the kinds of tips you can get from the First- Day Ready Guide…
If your child is starting a new school, schedule a walk-through to learn the lay of the land and help your child feel more comfortable finding their way around
Connect with teachers ASAP
If possible, reach out before school begins to discuss your child’s needs or learning style. You can fill in this card in advance to help guide that conversation
If you can’t meet with the teacher in person, send your child to school with an introduction letter that can help your student speak up about his challenges. You can find a sample introduction letter here
Many parents and students are going through the same experience. Ask around at your school to make connections and build your support network
You can also find community online. Understood.org and Understood’s Facebook page connect parents across the country to share information and learn from each other.
So, no matter your child’s age or needs, make this Back-to-School season a seamless transition and positive experience! If you could use some help getting started on the right foot this school year, Understood.org is a great place to start.
All kids learn in different ways and at different paces. With the right support, all kids can thrive in school and in life.
More About Learning & Attention Issues:
Learning and attention issues are real, brain-based issues and are not the result of where or how a child grows up. Having a learning or attention issue doesn’t mean a child isn’t smart. All kids learn in different ways and at different paces. It’s important to support each student’s individual needs, skills and strengths.
When a child struggles in school, it can be difficult for parents to recognize and understand these behaviors as symptoms of learning and attention issues. Parents often mistakenly believe that their child just needs to try harder or is just going through a phase.
Some signs of learning and attention issues—like refusing to read aloud, having a consistently messy backpack or not wanting to go to school—can seem so commonplace that they’re easy to overlook. If you’re concerned about your child, talking to their teacher or doctor is a great first step.
More About Understood.org:
• Created by 15 nonprofit partners, Understood.org is a free resource that empowers parents of the 1 in 5 children with learning and attention issues through daily access to experts, personalized resources, interactive tools and a supportive community of parents.
• Understood.org provides free daily access to experts through chats and webinars, personalized tools, interactive resources, and a safe online community that encourages parents to reach out to and learn from each other.
• Understood.org is available in English, Spanish and Read-Aloud mode and is operated by the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD).
Growing up – I did not really learn the value of a dollar. I do not think it was a lack of my parents trying to teach me, I think it was more a lack of listening and paying attention to what it all really meant for me as I became an adult. I was required to do chores, I was paid an allowance, and I even had a job at 15 years old making pretty good money. But for me, I was living in the moment. Savings just was not something that I thought about.
I am not yet old, but not really young anymore either. Middle of the road? When I was 18 I could not wait to get out on my own. I loved working – I always have. So making a paycheck wasn’t an issue for me. I knew I could make the money I needed to live. But I soon understood that simply paying the bills wasn’t all you needed to do in life.
It didn’t take long for me to realize I needed to make a better plan for my finances. I wanted to save more, but my habits and daily routine needed updating. I saw many friends who had to move back in with their parents, or get multiple roommates, or came close to being altogether homeless when unexpected bills maxed them out, and I definitely don’t want to end up in that position. And I’m not alone. Research shows that one in three millennials (34%) ranked saving as their number one goal for the year.
I was excited to find FeedThePig.org. It has great resources to help me, my family, and my friends save more and spend wisely, including a new game called Yesterday’s Tomorrow. The game is like a “choose-your-own-adventure” in the form of a digital photo album! You get to develop a relationship with a future version of yourself, jumping through key life stages and instantly seeing the outcomes of those choices from teenage years through retirement. As you think through some life decisions like school, job, and awesome vacations, you’ll see how your choices may save, or lose money. No one wants to blow their money needlessly, right?
We have been using Feed the Pig games since its launch in 2008. At that time, my kids were just 8 and 9 years old. After struggling with student loan debt and other debt that we have piled up over the years – I really wanted to play this game for myself – and I wish I had done it years ago! The new Yesterday’s Tomorrow game lets you not only have a little fun but also see that financial literacy is important. I love that you can virtually see how adopting healthy financial habits can pay off!
Before I understood my personal finances, I made the mistake of maxing out a credit card as soon as I opened it. A majority of millennials (65%) attributed their lack of saving to impulse buying and not establishing a personal budget (62%), so I’m not the only one who has done this (and immediately regretted it!).
After using Feed the Pig’s resources, I realized that just by switching up how and where I spent my money, I could really begin to save. It felt impossible before, but playing through Yesterday’s Tomorrow helped me to focus more on my future self and realize the different ways to reach those goals for where I want to be financially. The game and FeedThePig.org helped us a lot.
While we are a lot older now than when we first set out on our journey of adulthood, we still have financial goals that Yesterday’s Tomorrow has helped us see. We want to be debt free and we want to have a comfortable retirement. Those are our two main goals right now.
What are your financial goals? Make sure to play Feed the Pig’s Yesterday’s Tomorrow and figure out how you can make them happen!
I don’t know about you – but in our house, we accumulate stuff fast. Or at least it seems that way. We have been in the same house for eight years now and every year when we embark on our spring cleaning adventures, it seems like we have more stuff than we did the last year at the same time. Mind you – this is after spring cleaning last year, too.
There are only four of us, so I find myself baffled every year at how we possibly can still have so much stuff! We aren’t like, borderline hoarders or anything. Though, my husband might have hinted at that to me, a few times. I think I just have a hard time getting rid of stuff I *think* I might need next year – or I feel like as SOON as I throw it away, I am going to need it.
Our current situation:
So, this year we are trying some new tactics to get rid of stuff! And so much of the stuff we accumulate is still GOOD useable stuff – so instead of just taking it to the dump – we send it on to our local Goodwill store for someone else to love. Not only does this solve our problem of stuff accumulation, but it also greatly benefits our community too!
You can even calculate how much your donation helps your local community by using Goodwill’s Donation Impact Calculator, a feature available within the Goodwill Locator App available for Android and iOS devices and at http://www.goodwill.org/. Simply input the items you’re donating to calculate the number of hours of career counseling, on-the-job training, résumé preparation, financial planning classes, and other services you’ve helped provide people facing challenges finding employment.
The older my kids get, the more they tend to lean toward wanting less clutter, less mess and having themselves more put together. So, that has been a blessing when it comes to spring cleaning. We have always included them – but now, as teenagers, they can really understand what it means to help the community as they clean their closets.
Thanks to the programs and support services made possible by donations of clothes and household items, Goodwill helped place more than 312,000 people in jobs in the United States and Canada in 2015 – that’s one person finding a job every 23 seconds of every business day.
Have old dresses laying around? 5 of them is 55 minutes of on the job training!
Jeans that don’t quite fit anymore? 4 of them is 48 minutes of on the job training!
It’s helpful to ask yourself some questions when you are unsure about getting rid of an item. Here are some of our favorites:
When is the last time you used this item?
What does it cost (in both time and money) to replace this item? And how hard would it be to find and purchase this item again?
What is the worst-case scenario if you did donate this item? The answer to this question might not be so bad, and just the act of considering it makes decision making easier.
Since April is World Autism Month, I’ve decided to #LightItUpBlue with Autism Speaks to increase understanding and awareness of autism.
Each and every one of us is unique and special in our own ways. Being unique and understanding one another is important, especially today. Thankfully, knowledge is at our fingertips for just about anything you need to know. As a parent, having this knowledge at our fingertips is especially important.
Today, 1 in every 68 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism. That being said, it is highly likely that you know someone with autism. Personally, we have both friends and family who have kids of all different ages who have been diagnosed with Autism.
My mother-in-law has been babysitting a boy, for nearly all his life, who was diagnosed with autism at a very young age – he has a difficult time communicating, he cannot speak using words, but uses sign language and other methods of communication. He is largely misunderstood by people who are not educated on autism and I feel like this is something that we need to generate as much awareness about as possible! The more we know, the more we are able to understand and understanding is a huge step toward meeting their needs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in 68 children in the United States. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.
An estimated 50,000 teens with autism become adults – and lose school-based autism services – each year.
Around one-third of people with autism remain nonverbal.
Around one-third of people with autism have an intellectual disability.
Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias.
Autism refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.
The “Light It Up Blue” campaign is about more than awareness — it is about increasing understanding and acceptance of autism. This includes advocacy and support for anyone diagnosed with autism throughout their lives. It also includes advancing research into personalized treatments for autism and related conditions. I encourage you test your understanding of autism by taking this quiz!
Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include GI disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias. All of these issues are manageable, and we all know someone that is working to manage these every single day. The more we know about what others are faced with daily, the better we can understand where they are coming from and how we can help.
Did you know that every 33 seconds a child under 13 is involved in a car crash in the United States due to incorrect or misuse of a car seat?
That probably isn’t the first thing you think about when you are hauling your kids to school, the grocery store, or anywhere else around town. And really, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not your child is safely snuggled into the right car seat every time you get in the car. Instead, make sure your child is in the right seat from the get-go.
Safety seats, if used correctly, can dramatically reduce the risk of fatality or injury. But over half of car seats are misused in a way that could reduce their effectiveness and 1 in 3 children killed in car crashes were completely unrestrained at the time of the crash. Just the thought of that is devastating.
So why not select the right car seat from the start?
And just because you THINK you know you have the right car seat, think again. Wouldn’t it just be best to know, without a doubt, that your child is in the right seat?
When both of our kids were born, we made sure we had the car seat correctly installed before we took our first car ride with them. I had it checked and triple-checked by a certified child passenger safety technician! We have also done this same thing each time one of our kids has had to move from one seat to another due to growing in age, weight, or height. I’m grateful for resources like SaferCar.gov/TheRightSeat with videos about how to install car seats correctly and how to make sure we had the right seat for size of each of our children when they were young.
Check age and size: Find a car seat that fits your child. As children grow, how they fit in their car seat will change. Make sure the car seat you purchase is designed to fit your child’s current size and age and allows room for growth.
Read the manual: Before installing your car seat in your vehicle and putting your child in the car seat, read the manufacturer’s instructions so you know how your car seat works.
Test it in your car: Not all car seats fit in all vehicles so test the car seat you plan to buy to make sure it fits correctly in your vehicle.
Register it: Register your car seat and booster seat at SaferCar.gov/TheRightSeat so you will be informed if there is a safety recall on your model.
All-in-one Seats: “All-in-one” seats can be a great option for your child as they grow. They offer you the advantage of using the same seat for the following positions: rear-facing, forward-facing with harness, then booster seat. These seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time, which safety experts strongly recommend.
Get it checked: Be certain you’ve installed your car seat correctly by having it checked by a certified child passenger safety technician. Bring the car seat instructions AND the vehicle owner’s manual with you to a car seat inspection appointment!
General age guidelines: Remember, the best car seat is the one that fits your child properly, is easy to use, and fits in your vehicle correctly. The information here can help you choose the right seat for your child. Keep in mind that:
Children under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.
Children ages 1-3 should be kept in a rear-facing seat until they reach the car seat’s top height or weight limit.
Keep your child in the back seat until at least age 13.straint type (car seat, booster seat, seat belt) too soon.
Make it your priority to make sure your child or a child you love is safe when they are buckled in. To make sure you have the right seat for your child, visit SaferCar.gov/TheRightSeat.
If you have ever been in a vehicle accident, especially one where your kids were in the car, you understand just how scary that feeling really is. I know it all too well, unfortunately! We have been in a few accidents, and while none of them were any fault of my own, it was no less scary.
On impact, you are first startled and then your adrenaline is rushing through your body – you are ready to break out into tears. But then you look behind you, at your kids (and in our case, our dog!) buckled up in their seatbelts, and realize that everyone is okay. It is all okay. I still broke out in tears, but had to hold it together for my kids. One of those accidents was probably the scariest thing that has ever happened to me while driving. A car (with no insurance) pulled out and slammed hard into the side of our van. The impact was so great, that it pushed us across 2 lanes of traffic. Thankfully, there were no oncoming cars and we were able to get out of the way quickly.
Hopefully, if you have ever been in a car accident, it was minor enough that everyone was okay. But not all accidents are the same – some are much worse than others. From 2011 to 2015, an estimated 343,000 children age 8-14 were injured while traveling in passenger vehicles, and an additional 1,692 children died! YIKES, that is so sad! A full 50% of those who died were unrestrained at the time of the crash. Those are sobering statistics and as a parent of children that fall into that age bracket, I can only imagine asking the question, “What if they had been buckled up?”
My kids know that when they get in ANY car, the first thing that they do is buckle up! It has been that way since they were old enough to be out of a car seat and into a regular seat belt. And if any child was getting into my car, I would make them buckle up, even if they were not my own kids. As parents, we can also encourage them and lead by example – we buckle up first thing, every time we get in the car.
Now, my kids are 17 years old and that is still the first thing they do when they get into their own cars or when friends get into their cars with them. It is just second nature to them to buckle up – without question.
This spring, the Ad Council and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are unveiling new PSAs featuring characters from Fox’s upcoming summer road trip adventure Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. The PSAs remind parents and caregivers that even if kids argue and plead, parents should stand firm and always insist that their kids buckle up and sit in the back seat (the safest place for kids under the age of 13). The movie chronicles a family’s misadventures throughout their summer road trip, which makes for a perfect fit with NHTSA’s road safety message.
Sometimes, fighting the kids to buckle up and making them understand the importance of it can be a never-ending battle. But when it comes to their safety, I am relentless and that is just something that I do not compromise on. Buckling up is not a negotiation! That’s why the new PSAs encourage us to: “Never give up until they buckle up!”
For more information or if you need more tips to convince your tween to buckle up, visit SaferCar.gov/KidsBuckleUp. If you have a great tip, join the conversion on social media using: #KidsBuckleUp.
The holidays are a time of love, joy and pure magic for most of us. But if we are really being honest, there are a lot of people who struggle through the holidays. While everyone is celebrating, cooking, gathering with friends and shopping – there are those out there who are struggling to find jobs and keep the lights on.
So in a time of giving – a time that is a joy for some and a struggle for others – how do you help?
It’s simple. When you donate your stuff to Goodwill®, you create opportunities for individuals in your community looking to find a job and build skills, including veterans and military families, single mothers and many others.
Last year, people helped local Goodwill organizations collectively place 312,000 people in employment in the United States and Canada. In addition, more than 35 million people used computers and mobile devices to access Goodwill education, training, mentoring and online learning services to strengthen their skills. WE did that. Those of us that are donating our items and shopping at Goodwill. That is all it takes – it really is that easy.
Walk around your home and collect items you and your family no longer need — that shirt that’s been hanging in the back of your closet for three years, the toy trike your five-year old has outgrown, the holiday gift from grandma you never quite found a place for, etc.
Donating items that are in working condition, contain all of their pieces and parts, and are free of stains and rips is the best way to ensure that your goods do the most good. While they accept most clothing and household items, there are a few things they can’t accept – if you are unsure, it’s best to give your local Goodwill organization a call first to find out any rules or restrictions around these items.
Ready to drop off your items? Just use the Goodwill locator app and check the box for “Donation Site” to find your nearest Goodwill drop-off location. Donating a lot of items? Some Goodwills offer donation pickup services – give yours a call to find out what’s available in your area.
While you are there – shop around! They have so many gently used and even new items that you may find that you didn’t even know you needed or wanted. When you shop at Goodwill, you are also shopping for a cause.
November is national adoption month. That can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. But it holds a very special place in the hearts of my little family. You can read a little more about it in our small story here.
When you think about adoption, there are many many ways that you could go about it. And oddly enough, I have had the blessing of experiencing adoption in more ways than one. But today I want to focus on foster care.
It is term that I am sure everyone has heard before, but what does it mean, really? Even after adopting a child who had been placed in the foster care system, I have found resources that I never knew about – and wish that I had. It is my hope that by sharing today that people will become more educated and get more involved.
There are 428,000 children in the U.S. foster care system and 112,000 are waiting to be adopted. That is just TOO many. And to make matters more complex, so many of those kids are seen as “too old” to be adopted by a family.
We know that feeling all too well, don’t we? Being told we are “too old” for something. You know, like being told we are too old to wear jeans or that cute chic unique outfit. I call BS, on both accounts. Adopting an older child can be a beautiful experience, especially if you are an older parent too. You skip the diaper changes, toddler stage, and move right into the fun – albeit difficult sometimes – stages.
Approximately 41 percent of children and youth photo listed on adoptuskids.org are between 15 and 18 years old, but only 17 percent of those adopted have been in this age group. Don’t those kids deserve to have a loving family just as much as any other child?
Dominique, our daughter, was 8 years old when we were blessed with bringing her into our home. Not yet a teenager, but also not what some would consider young. But not once, not or a single moment, did I think that she was “too old” to bring into our home.
The children who are in the foster care system are stuck. They need people who want to provide them with a loving, caring family. People who will simply bring them in and show them what compassion is. Someone who will give them a forever family, no matter how old they are, no matter how old you are.
Most of these kids grow up never having a family to count on. They move from home to home, never knowing how long they are going to be in one place. Most of them develop the idea of the perfect family, something that exists in their mind, and something that they think will probably never exist for them. And it breaks my heart to think that many of them will grow up without ever having known what it truly feels like to have a family.
I thank god every single day that we have our daughter. She is now almost 18 years old and she is an incredible young woman. You would never know her past unless she came out and blatantly told you about it. She is balanced, she is respected, and she has a heart that is so filled up. I hope that her story will inspire you to reach out and learn more about adoption and the foster care process.
No matter what their age, youth need the love and stability that a family can offer. I hope that you will take a few minutes and check out the Adoptuskids.org site. Look around and learn about fostering and adoption. Learn more about the success stories of those kids who have been adopted and how much of an impact it had on their life. Maybe today you can make a difference in the life of a child.
No one thinks it can happen to them, but it does happen. I am talking about foreclosure. It is a nauseating word, but it happens every single day to millions of American families. While there are signs that the country and the housing market are recovering from this most recent financial crisis, there are still too many homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments or facing the prospect of losing their homes. About one in 13 homeowners nationwide has fallen behind on his or her mortgage payments, putting them at a higher risk of foreclosure.
Don’t go through this alone!
Through the federal Making Home Affordable (MHA) program, 1.8 million families have received much-needed help by reducing their monthly mortgage payments an average of nearly $500/month.
The deadline to apply for mortgage help through MHA is Friday, December 30, 2016.
While the end of the program is quickly approaching, don’t worry—there is still time to gather your information and apply. Homeowners who submit an application on or before December 30, 2016 will still be considered!
If you’re struggling to make your monthly mortgage payments, call 888-995-HOPE (4673) ™. Housing experts are available around-the-clock (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) at no cost. They will help you understand your options and design a plan to suit your individual situation. You can also visit MakingHomeAffordable.gov to access free resources and information to help deal with your mortgage problems and avoid foreclosure.
With less than 3 months remaining to apply for help through MHA, we need your help spreading the word to the approximately 1 in 17 homeowners nationwide who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments, putting them at a higher risk of foreclosure! Please help us spread the word. You never know who you know that might be struggling to pay their mortgage and could use this help.
Share on social media:
#DYK the Making Home Affordable Program ends in 2016? Here are 4 things you need to know from @MHA4You #KeepYourHomehttp://bit.ly/2aJ3JvE
MHA ends December 2016. 4 things you should know about the application deadline from @MHA4You #KeepYourHomehttp://bit.ly/2aJ3JvE
Having trouble making your mortgage payments? Get help through @MHA4You: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzo40F7l3xQ#KeepYourHome
1 in 17 U.S. homeowners have fallen behind on their mortgage payment. Making Home Affordable can help struggling homeowners reduce their monthly mortgage payments & avoid foreclosure. Call 888-995-HOPE (4673) or visit MakingHomeAffordable.gov to learn more. [image]