Tips for Celebrating Mother’s Day

Your life may be busier than ever right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take some time to prepare a special surprise for your mother (or a mother-figure in your life). For most of us, Mother’s Day usually means searching for a gift and scribbling in a mass-produced card. This time, go above and beyond and do something a little different than last year. It may be a hassle. It may take some thought. So below are ideas to help the special women in your life feel appreciated this Mother’s Day.

Last year- Gave flowers.
This year- Leave a flower in each room of the house.

Last year- Gave gift card to favorite store.
This year- Take her to her favorite store and shop with her.

Last year- Bought perfume/gift.
This year- Create a photo album of memories.

Last year- Went out to dinner.
This year- Surprise her with a home-cooked dinner (and make sure to leave the kitchen spotless when you’re done).

Last year- Framed an old photo of the family.
This year- Reenact an old baby photo as adults and frame it.

Last year- Drove to a destination.
This year- Fill up her tank of gas before and drive her to her destination. You can also write a song and sing it to her (don’t worry if you can’t sing), it’s the thought that counts.

Last year- Cleaned a room of the house.
This year- Clean the whole house and leave a note in each room with a memory of you and your mother that you will always remember.

Last year- Watched a movie together.
This year- Watch a movie together, but mute it and create your own dialogue. Or, make it in to a family movie night with a special snack, meal, or activity.

Last year- Allowed mom to have her “alone time.”
This year- Schedule an appointment at a local spa. Don’t let high prices intimidate you if you can’t afford it. Get together with a few friends and see if you can negotiate a package deal for the group, or go for a basic treatment (such as a manicure or pedicure, which can cost as little as $25).

Last year- Gave gifts.
This year- Give time.

Written by: Nada Elhertani, Project Manager, Child and Family Learning Network

Live Large, Spend Small

You want to live the ‘good life’ but your budget is always screaming, “Hey! Stop! We can only afford mediocre living!” Well that’s okay. There are several ways to look and feel like you are living above your means while at the same time being smart with your finances, and it’s really just a matter of making minor adjustments in your day to day living. I’ve noticed that most of society today obsesses about two things- staying healthy in order to live a long active life and having enough money to last for our long active life. According to a survey by Bankrate, 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. So roughly, three-quarters of Americans are living with little to no emergency savings. It can be difficult to find a balance between living for today, doing things we enjoy while we are healthy enough to do them, planning for the future and making whatever assets we have last a lifetime. Below are a few strategies for getting some of the things that you want out of life- even if you believe you can’t afford them:

  • Cherish your long-term goals- “Bend your budget to your values, not your values to your budget.” If you and your partner’s goal have always been to buy a house, don’t give up on that goal. Change all your passwords on your laptop to something to remind you about your goal, such as “dreamhouse123” or “20kby2015.” Also, set up automatic transfers from checking to savings every month to gradually build up your fund. Getting in the habit of creating and meeting financial goals will strengthen your financial success.
  • Scale down your vacations- vacations are important because they renew and reinvigorate your spirit, help you think more clearly, and boost your outlook. But it’s difficult to enjoy a vacation when you’re worried about how much it’s costing. Yes, plan that fantastic getaway but just scale it down a bit- instead of a week at that exclusive resort, go for three or four days. Weekday prices can be as little as one-third of the price of weekend rates. Take advantage of package deals such as booking your airfare, hotel, and rent-a-car all at once. And don’t forget to use your frequent-flier miles whenever you can.
  • Lease not buy- Some people wants a car that describes who they are (or at least, who they’d like to be). If what you drive is a status symbol to you, consider this: instead of buying a brand-new car, consider leasing one that’s a year old. Leasing a car is a completely different ball game than buying one. By leasing a car, you’ll get the car that you want but at a significantly lower price.
  • Buy smarter- It’s very important to carefully consider every purchase that you make. Instead of buying on impulse, make a shopping list every time you hit the grocery store or mall. That way you will only buy what you need- those little extras add up!


Moore, R. & Jetkey, H. (2013). Guide to Spending Smarter. Retrieved from:

Dolan, T. (2011). 5 Keys to Spending Less and Living Well. Retrieved from

Written by: Nada Elhertani, Project Manager, Child and Family Learning Network


Safety Tips for a Spooktacular Halloween


The night of Halloween is one of the best of the year for children, but for parents, trick-or-treat time can be a little troublesome. Parents know the drill—they want their children to have an enjoyable but not too spooky time trick-or-treating, all the while staying safe. But trick-or-treating can come with some risks, aside from the dental ones. According to the U.S. Census, there are about 41 million potential trick-or-treaters between the ages of 5 and 14 the night of Halloween. Parents should take precautions to make sure that their little vampires and princesses have a fantastic time.

Introducing your child to Halloween can be the start of a great tradition. But nothing can turn fun into fright faster than an accident. Follow these handy tips and your little Elsa, Batman, or Optimus Prime should be good to go!

  • Supervise your children- if your child thinks he/she is too will look “uncool” to have mom or dad tag along, you can always walk on the sidewalk of each house.
  • Teach kids to obey traffic signals and signs- as well as advising them to walk on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic (although kids should always stay on sidewalks when possible)
  • When choosing or making a costume, pick fire-resistant materials and bright colors.
  • Use reflective tape- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends fastening reflective tape to your children’s costume, especially if the costumes are dark-colored, so drivers will be able to see them.
  • Reconsider the mask. If your child wears one, make sure it doesn’t obstruct vision or breathing.
  • Before you let your child dig into that glorious mass of sugar he/she collected, carefully inspect all food and candy before letting your child eat it (when in doubt, throw it out).


DiBenedetto, A. (2013). Trick or treat! Tips for Halloween safety. Retrieved from

Harris, C. (2014). Halloween Safety Tips Every Parents Should Know. Retrieved from

Written by: Nada Elhertani, Project Manager, Child and Family Learning Network