Back-To-School Ready With Understood.Org

The back to school season can be a trying time for both parents and children. You have to get your child re-accustomed to waking up at a certain time, picking out their clothes the night before and then there is the dreaded new school year paperwork that seems to never end. But the beginning of a new school year can be an even more challenging time for families with children who struggle with reading and writing, math, focus, and organization.


One in five children in the U.S. have learning and attention issues, like ADHD and dyslexia. Children with these types of challenges can feel especially stressed during the back-to-school season as they face new subjects, teachers, and schools. Together the Ad Council and have partnered together to promote ways children and their families can be First-Day Ready. is offering a free First-Day Ready Guide to help parents with students at every age successfully navigate back-to-school transitions and manage challenges with academic, organization and social skills. Below you will find some tips from the guide.

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.

Plan early – A few weeks in advance, make checklists and calendars, and start settling into the school year routine with earlier bedtimes and wake-ups. 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.

Get support – 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 follow Understood’s Facebook page to connect with 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, 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.


Unique Ways to Preserve Family History

Connections are a critical part of our culture. It is in our basic nature to search for connections with other people. Ancestors and families can assist in creating a huge sense of connection. Many times though, we can feel as if we are alone, but if we reach out and try to learn more about our ancestors, it can at times give us the answers and or the sense of belonging that we need. We feel as if we are a part of something larger than ourselves. Each family has its own heritage and it is well worth it to preserve that heritage.


How many boxes of old family photos do you have in your attic? How many photo albums are on your shelves? Now, how often are those photos looked at? Maybe once a year? When family comes in from out of state? At reunions? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have some special photos, or one special photo to pass down that would be looked at more often? That is easy to do. Now, you can have custom photo blankets made. Just find that special photo that you want to remember and for your progeny to remember for years to come and have it made into a blanket!


How many of you remember mom, dad, or some other older family member chasing you around with a video camera of some sort? That was a great way to capture more than just a moment. Do you ever go back and watch those old home movies though? You might consider having a family movie night one night and get out all of those old home movies and watch them. This could be a great way to show your kids what life looked like when you were their age.

Record Those Memories

Yes, media changes through the years, but you can always have recordings changed over to the latest and greatest media. How cool would it be if you had recordings of your great grandparents’ voices as they were telling stories? This is a great way to preserve family memories. Even if you don’t have recordings of your elders, you can make recordings for your future generations to listen to. You can also interview your elders to make recordings for you and for the future. Preserving living memories and connecting with your family members are critical aspects of a family history. You can use a digital recorder or even a smartphone app. A camera will also help you preserve those old stories and share them with other members of the family while preserving them for future generations.

Record Everything You Learn

As you begin to learn more and more about your ancestors, you can add the information you come across to the family tree. You can also share it with other members of your family. Remember to encourage them to share what they learn with you as well.

Start a Blog

This doesn’t have to be for the general public, but it would be a good idea to start a family or personal blog. It can be a fun way to make sure that the important experiences in your life will be recorded for future posterity. You can also share the blog with your family and friends. Many of the blogging services you can find online are free and most of those free ones are also quite easy to use.

Social Media

There are so many tools that you can find online today. Take advantage of these tools to share your photos, or other types of updates with your friends and family. You can even upload images of important family documents. Social media is a great way to make sure that your family history is shared with the family.

Remember that your family history consists of so much more than simply research, records, and dates. It is the stories behind the people. It is the culture and knowing where you came from. It can’t define you, but it can let you know what is in your past. It is important that you learn this and then save it for future generations. Knowing your family history can give you a sense of purpose and belonging. It can connect generations past, present, and future. Take the time to discover and preserve your family history while you can.


Giving Made Easy This Season #DoneStuffCreateJobs


Ever thought about how many household goods and clothing end up in landfills? Me neither until it was time to clean up and declutter our home this year. Face it, we hold on to a lot of things. Clothes the kids have outgrown, clothes that have gone out of fashion or that don’t quite fit right anymore. Home décor that for whatever reason, no longer fits our style. I bet you could probably load a truck with all the things you have that you don’t need, want, or use anymore.

So why let it go to a landfill in the first place? We know it’s bad for the environment but millions of pounds of items end up in the trash every year. As long as those items are in good repair and still work (or aren’t full of holes or stains in the case of clothing), why not donate it? If it’s going to be hauled off to the trash, we might as well put it to someone else’s good use and I’m not just talking about thrift shopping.

Goodwill’s “Donate Stuff, Create Jobs” campaign is all about taking what you don’t use and putting it to use for someone else. The proceeds from every item donated to Goodwill supports and helps fund job training programs for people with disabilities and disadvantages.

What do “job training programs” really include? It really encompasses so much more than you or I could imagine. Things that you and I may take advantage of: education, mentoring, training, job preparation such as counseling and resume prep, financial education, job placement services, and childcare. Shew! That’s a lot. Who knew your old husband’s old golf clubs or that old toaster oven and stack of out-grown children’s clothes could benefit in so many ways?#DoneStuffCreateJobs

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

When you donate to Goodwill, you help the environment and build your community in ways that will last long after you’ve lost the love for that pair of old acid washed jeans (you know the ones I’m talking about). Show off your donations and encourage and inspire others to do the same by posting your Goodwill haul photos to Instagram using the hashtag #DoneStuffCreateJobs.

Make a difference, choose to donate.

The Glow at Monmouth Park Racetrack, NJ

If holiday lights are your bag of tea, or if October is your favorite time of year, you will love The Glow.   The Glow at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, NJ is fun for everyone.  This walk through seasonal event is a Halloween lovers dream, with over 5,000 carved pumpkins ranging from pirates, to rock stars, to movie stars, and even dinosaurs and Pokemon carved into them.

pumpkin carving

There is a carving that is destined to be your favorite.  Your visit starts with a warm Fall beverage and a meeting with a real pumpkin artist as he creates a work of art.  Then there is a small tour through some Halloween themed exhibits, with various Jack o Lantern, pumpkin, and Halloween facts on display and indoor pumpkin decor.

halloween events

Then comes the main event, a walk through outdoor light up event where you can go scene by scene through the time of the dinosaurs, an extreme skate park, and more.  There are even local NJ spots like Asbury Park to visit in gourd form.  Check out government officials commemorated in pumpkin, as well as those running for president.  Best thing about those? They rot quickly, LOL.


Some of our favorites of the night were definitely the 15 foot tall T Rex, the pirate ship along with pirates and loot all made out of pumpkins and carved with intricate detail, and the Pokemon collection.  Some displays are animated, but all of them have ambiance and accompanying sounds to complete the experience.  Once you are done walking through the display there is a chance to walk through a pumpkin patch and get a pumpkin to bring home and start your own display. There is also a little stand where you can buy snacks and drinks- a candy apple and some cider really are a must.

pokemon pumpkin

The Glow is a great way to spend a nice evening  it’s  a fun, family friendly Halloween event, just be sure the weather is co-operating.  The Glow is on display throughout the month of October Friday and Saturday from 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm and from 6:30 to 9:30 Sunday.


Visit Chuck E. Cheese for Helen Henny’s Birthday! #ad

How long has it been since you have been to Chuck E. Cheese?  Hopefully not too long, but if it has been, this is your reason to take the kids- Helen Henny is having a birthday, so head on over!  They have some really fun promotions that you will want to take advantage of.


Helen’s Birthday Promos

  • $1.50 Dippin’ Dots
  • $2 off Helen Henny plush dolls
  • Everyone gets a Helen Henny coloring sheet with 5 free token coupon when they leave
  • Helen Henny will be there to celebrate + take photos with guests
  • Chance to win a pair of virtual reality headsets, a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones and guest passes in the Helen Henny birthday sweepstakes (last day to enter is 5/27)


Make sure you know your “Helen Henny Fun Facts” before you go!

  1. Helen Henny’s deep passion for music began at an early age, growing up in New York City—right down the street from Broadway!
  2. Helen is a vegetarian – no meat for this chick!
  3. Helen is a great singer, but she’s also an amazing gamer and takes pride in mastering every new game at Chuck E. Cheese’s
  4. Helen first met Chuck E. when he challenged her to a game of Pong (which of course she won!)
  5. ChuckE. invited Helen to join his band right on the spot when he heard her sing a victory song after their Pong match

My son had the best time playing games and listening to the band play- he loves Chuck E. Cheese, and always has a great time. The pizza really has improved, and there is also new “thin and crispy” pizza if you’d prefer- so if it’s been a while, give it another try mom and dad.


What kid wouldn’t love to spend some time playing games, eating pizza, and collecting prize tickets?  It’s a really fun way to spend the afternoon (evening, what have you).  On killer hot days, rainy days, or during endless winter- you know where to go.


You can also follow Chuck E. Cheese on social media- here are some links;


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Chuck E. Cheese’s. The opinions and text are all mine.

November is National Adoption Month #NAM15 #perfectparent

November is National Adoption Month, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, AdoptUSKids, and the Ad Council are spreading the word about and encouraging prospective parents to adopt older youth from foster care.

The theme for National Adoption Month is, “We Never Outgrow the Need for Family.” That’s because older children and youth still have many big milestones in their life they need a family for.

There are 415,000 children in the U.S. foster care system and 108,000 are waiting to be adopted. AdoptUSKids’ maintains a national photo listing service for children waiting to be adopted. Since the project launched in 2002, more than 25,000 children who were once photo listed on have been adopted and nearly 38,000 families have registered to adopt through the website.  Nevertheless, older youth are disproportionately represented – approximately 41 percent of children and youth photo listed on are between 15 and 18 years old, but only 17 percent of those adopted have been in this age group

Older youth and teens have lower adoption rates than younger children, and they often wait longer to be adopted. But no matter their age, all kids need a supportive, loving home and the teenage years are a critical period for growth. The new TV PSAs, which were created for the campaign probono, portray a dad giving advice to his teenage daughter after her first breakup, and a mom giving her son a haircut at home. The humorous, lighthearted scenarios aim to overcome fears adoptive parents may have regarding their own imperfections. The PSAs end with the tagline, “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent,” reassuring prospective parents that even if they are not ‘perfect’, they have the ability to provide the stability and security that older youth in foster care need and deserve.

The PSAs direct audiences to visit or to call 1-888-200-4005 (English) or 1-877-236-7831 (Spanish) to receive the latest information about the foster care system and the adoption process.

For more information about adoption, or about becoming an adoptive parent to a child from foster care, please visit or visit the campaign’s communities on Facebook and Twitter.

Why Older Youth?

  • All of us – and that includes older youth in foster care who are waiting to be adopted – need and want families throughout life to support us and to share important life events. Learning to drive a car, applying for higher education, and birthday and holiday celebrations are just a few examples of the times in life we need and want to share with family.
  • Older youth are overrepresented in the foster care population, as they generally wait longer to be adopted, and have lower overall adoption rates.
  • On, roughly 41 percent of the children and youth actively photolisted are between the ages of 15 and 18 years old. About 58 percent are male. (Most recent stats as of May 31, 2015)
  • Families who adopt older youth, are providing them with the support and stability of a family during a critical period of normal adolescent concerns and additional self-identity issues.

Some of the Misperceptions about Adoption from Foster Care:

  • Adoption is expensive.  Unlike the private adoption of an infant or adopting internationally, there are virtually no costs associated with adoption from the US child welfare system. In addition, the vast majority of youth adopted from foster care are also eligible for monthly adoption assistance up to the level of the foster care rate.
  • You have to be married. You do not have to be married to adopt in most states. Many children have been very successfully adopted by single parents. Single-parent families accounted for 29 percent of all adoptions from foster care in 2014 (AFCARS).
  • You have to have a college degree. Having a high school diploma or college education is not required. What is important is that you are stable, flexible, and compassionate, and that you have a good sense of humor. Most importantly, you must have the support and commitment to raise a child and to be there for him throughout his life.
  • You have to own a home and each child has to have their own room. You can rent your home or live in an apartment or a mobile home so long as your living situation is a stable one.
  • You have to be of child-bearing age to adopt. Experienced parents and empty-nesters are encouraged to adopt. In most instances, you’re eligible to adopt regardless of age, income, marital status or sexual orientation.
  • You can only adopt a child who is the same race and ethnicity as you. Federal law prohibits the delay or denial of an adoptive placement based on the race or ethnicity of a child in U.S. foster care and the prospective parent or parents who are seeking to adopt them. The only exception to this law is the adoption of Native American children where special considerations apply.
  • You can’t adopt if you’re in the military. Military families stationed overseas and within the U.S. are eligible to adopt children from the U.S. foster care system.

Family Easter Outfits at Kohl’s

Spring is the perfect time to refresh your wardrobe, and with Easter looming, it’s a great reason to drag even the most resistant men in your life out for at least a small upgrade, true?  We recently headed to Kohl’s to see what we could find for both of the men in my life to wear for the holiday this year.  The smaller one is usually pretty compliant, it’s the bigger one that can be somewhat of a fighter, lol. They both agreed, however, on getting new pants and nice shirts.  We got them things they could wear not only on Easter, but for future events.

20150314_135829Now that I look at it, it seems they are almost matching, though not intentionally- one blue on top and beige on the bottom, the other reversed, ha. My son decided he wanted to go in shorts (can you tell we’ve had it with winter and he’s looking forward to warm weather?) and my husband decided to get new jeans, which he could use. They both picked out their outfits without the other one seeing- my son was with me, and the husband was in the men’s department all by himself- I was amused when I saw how similar their selections were when we met in the boy’s department 😉
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When Your Teen is Drifting Away

You’ve been a dedicated parent, always involved in your son’s life. You are his biggest champion, the one who will be by his side through thick and thin. That’s why it troubles you to no end when you see him making poor choices. You’ve done everything in your power to lead by example. However, it’s like the old expression, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” If your teen is not following the right path in his life, you can talk until you’re blue in the face. It still might not do any good. Try some tips to turn the situation around.


Cut Off the Extras
If your teen is being irresponsible, take away privileges. That means no car, spending money, computer, or cell phone. Cutting him off will show that you mean what you say. Make it hit home that the extras in life must be earned. Adults don’t get hand-outs that they don’t deserve. The same holds true for your son. He may get his act together and head in the right direction once more.
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