Authors Posts by Gwen



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Would you like your child to know how to act properly in a business setting? What if I told you this one class could improve their chances during a job interview? This class even offers scholarships and help with college admissions.







You may have heard of cotillion, but did you know how helpful it actually is for teens? Yes, it is steeped in history and tradition, but it is all about teaching manners and how to act in various social situations.  Cotillion originated in France during the 1700s, but the American South carried on the tradition. Cotillion teaches teens manners and the dances offer them a place to practice their politeness and introduce debutants.  You may be thinking that is all good and well, but what does this have to do with my kids?

Well, it can help your kids with all kinds of social interactions.  Harvard University, Stanford Research Institute and The Carnegie Foundation indicate that over 85% of one’s career success is directly connected to one’s social skills. The JDW Cotillions have two classes for kids in elementary school through high school in the Colorado Springs area: Broadmoor and Colorado Springs Country Club.  The cost varies from $220 – $265 per class, which includes about 5-6 sessions. The classes include lessons on building and sustaining positive relationship, social etiquette concerning non-verbal, verbal, and high-teach means of communication, and proper manners during a three-course sit down dinner.  The students also learn various styles of dances.

Cotillion isn’t for one type of person or social group. Classes include students from different areas of society. One class included a football player who was there because his parents wanted him to learn these manners because they were hoping he would be offered scholarships and be invited to special events.  Then there are the teens who need to learn to put their phone down and interact face to face with people. Some parents send their children because they don’t want them to feel awkward during various social settings.

Overall cotillion is meant to last three years. It starts in 3rd or 4th grade and goes through high school.  It teaches students elocution, how to be a polite guest, how to introduce yourself, greet people, making a proper toast, and so much more.  Many cotillions now teach proper social media etiquette. Students need to realize it isn’t just what they are posting on their private pages, but also what pages and organizations they are affiliating themselves with.  The bottom line is the courtesy and consideration for others matters. Sometimes, parents need a little helps teaching their kids and that is where Cotillion comes in.

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Teachers and childcare workers aren’t paid enough for the incredible work they do. Many days these caregivers see children more than the parents see them.  Why aren’t we, as a society, paying them more and giving them more thanks?






A recent report found the “median pay for child care workers is $10.31 per hour — 39.3 percent less than the median wage of $17 an hour earned by workers in other sectors.” I know a director of a childcare center who works two jobs just to support herself and her son.  Why aren’t we more outraged about this? Childcare workers welcome children first thing in the morning. They feed them breakfast and lunch, change their diapers, comfort them, read to them, rock them to sleep, keep them safe while they play, and so much more. We can do better for them.  Sure we hear stories about instances of neglect, but maybe if we paid these childcare workers more money, we’d be able to screen better and attract a higher caliber of workers.

Teachers deserve much more as well.  They spend anywhere from 8 to 12 hours a day at school. They prepare lessons, build classrooms, fill out massive amounts of paperwork, and more all while teaching and caring for our kids.  Because students spend so much time with their teachers in elementary school they build relationships and trust in their teachers.  Students confide in their teachers and create lasting relationships with them.  Middle and high school teachers not only teach, but become mentors and confidants.  We may not be able to change everything, but we can give them our support.

Teachers, stay strong and don’t feel defeated. We’ve almost reached winter break and that means we are halfway through the year. Thank you for hosting parties for our children and putting up with their bad days. Thank you for tying their shoes and reminding them to bring their lunch box home.  I know my kids aren’t always easy to deal with, but you do it and somehow manage to teach them something, five days a week.  Thank you for your dedication and hard work.

Childcare workers, thank you for loving our babies. Thank you for singing sweetly to them and reading them books. Thank you for holding their hand and cheering for them on the playground. Thank you for calming them when they cry. I know you have other kids who demand your attention, but you genuinely care for all of them in your special way. Thank you for teaching them to feed themselves and helping them pretend to be super heroes.  You are more than just a babysitter, you’re a caregiver and I’m thankful for you.

Parents, make sure you let these people, who are a large part of your child’s life, know they are special and that you are thankful for what they do every single day.

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You’ve probably seen the story about two moms, eight kids, and a dollar store clerk who lost it. If not click here to read it or scroll down to see the video and I’ll give you the rundown. Two moms took their eight kids into a dollar store.  The kids were acting wild and unruly.  The clerk screamed in frustration after the mothers would not control their kids.  Now, the moms say the clerk should be fired. I say, no way, those moms need to take responsibility for their kids.


The mothers never once tried to say their children were not acting unruly. It’s safe to assume that the 8 kids, playing in a dollar store, were misbehaving.  The store clerk hasn’t given her side of the story, but she doesn’t need to for me. If your kids are in anyway misbehaving in a public space, they do not need to be there. Period. This means a restaurant, store, public transportation, church, anywhere there are other people. The only exception I can think of would be a child-friendly space where kids are welcome to act like kids – Chucky Cheese, jumpy place, outdoor park, etc. Kids who are allowed to act out in public as children turn into unruly teens and adults who have no respect for other people.

Store clerks aren’t paid to clean up after your kids and they should be able to ask you to leave if your kids are causing problems.  How would you feel if kids came into your workspace and caused problems? I’m not sure we would all be super nice. One of the moms said, “It didn’t matter how many kids we had or how they were acting…You could have said what you needed to say in a nice way.” I agree, she should have asked nicely, but it does matter how your kids were acting. Parents needs to teach her children respect and how to act appropriately in public.  

These mothers are acting like victims. They are getting their 15 minutes of fame for their unruly children. I feel sorry for the clerk, that she felt the only way to get through to these moms was to scream like a child. Hopefully, these children won’t pick up on their mother’s entitled attitudes. They seem to have the idea that just because they are the customers they are entitled to act and do whatever they please in a store.  The bottom line is that kids who act like this when they are young don’t magically change when they are older.  Please, moms and dads, don’t let your kids act out in public spaces.  Teach them to respect other people and act appropriately.

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Tis’ the season for parties and that means you’ll probably be taking treats to a party. Of course we want to take something pretty, something everyone will eat, and something that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Here are three party platter ideas that will please at your local class or work party.


  1. Vegetable Tray:  You can usually buy a prepackaged tray at your local grocery store. They almost always include celery, carrots, broccoli, baby tomatoes, and cauliflower.  I’ve found the celery and cauliflower are the least favorite choices.  You can buy plastic trays and make your own. Include vegetables that your kids eat, at least that way you know somebody will be eating something from the tray. Try adding sliced bell peppers, they come in orange, red, and green and will add some color to the tray. Instead of offering ranch dressing, try adding blue cheese, hummus, or a yogurt based dip. vegetabletray07
  2. Fruit Tray: These are super simple to make and sure to please.  Just like any other tray make your own with the fruits your family actually eats. Strawberries, pineapple, watermelon triangles, blueberries, grapes, melons, and kiwis are popular choices. You can also make some fruit kabobs, similar to these, for easy pickup and handling by party-goers.  If you want to sweeten the deal add some marshmallow dip or even chocolate dip. One of my favorite variations on the fruit tray is a caramel apple tray. Use sliced apples, both green and red, along with a bowl of caramel and you’ve got a lovely treat people will eat. fruit_tray
  3. Meat and Cheese Tray: These are the classic party platters. You can buy almost any variety of meats and cheeses at your local store in a prepackaged platter. If you are looking for simple and quick, that is the way to go. Of course you can always make your own. Try dicing up cheese sticks (if you have kids, you’ve probably got these). Sharp cheddar cheese is a classic that almost everyone likes. If you don’t want to pre slice your cheese, you can use a cutting board, maybe a fancy or wood one, and add a small pairing knife. Do this only if this is an adult party, definitely precut for school or kids’ parties.  Cured meats like prosciutto and sweet salami are nice, but you can also go with pepperoni or ham. Add a variety of olives and you’ve got a party platter everyone will love. file8431294756912

Don’t forget to add toothpicks to any tray, just to make things easy.

What are your favorite party platters? What are some unique party platters you’ve seen or created?


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A two-year-old was killed after accidentally shooting himself. Mom was in the kitchen, the kids were playing in the next room, and a loaded gun was within their reach. Unfortunately, this is a story we see all too often in news across the country. Parents, we need to do a better job keeping our children safe in our homes. Yes, guns are legal, but if you are going to keep guns in your home make sure you are locking them up. There is no reason for one more child to die because parents failed to follow gun safety.


Here are some responsible ways to create a safe environment when you have guns in your home.

Parents, you are responsible for making your home safe, not just for your own children, but visiting children as well.  They may not have been taught the rules of gun safety like your children. If you let your child visit other homes, it is absolutely an OK thing to ask those parents about gun in their home. The bottom line is kids don’t clearly see the realities of guns. They don’t always connect what they see in games or on TV with real life. It is our job to keep them safe and that means locking up our guns and keeping them out of children’s hands.

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Life is stressful and some days it is all you can do just to get out of bed, make cereal for the kids, and get them out the door to school.  I get it, really, some days I just don’t feel up to life. On other days, I wake up feeling like I could climb the incline, twice before breakfast, finish the laundry, and clean the bathrooms. Courageous, I know. Of course most days I find myself somewhere in between.  I’ve learned that if I do these five things, every day, I’ll feel positive about my day and maybe even accomplish a few things. It isn’t the quantity of things you do, but the quality of what you’ve done that will make your day count.




  1. Make a “To-Do” List — It doesn’t have to be long or intense. It doesn’t have to have every single thing that needs to be done on it.  Make a list of the things you really want to get done that day. If it’s one of those heavy days, try getting one load of laundry completed or vacuuming the living areas of your home.
  2. Take a 15 Minute Break, just for you — Maybe not right after you wake up, but at some point during the day give yourself a break. This could be while the kids are napping or happily watching Sesame Street. You don’t always have to be doing something. Take 15 minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee or read a book. Maybe your 15 minutes is checking in on Facebook.  Just take a breather and relax for a few minutes, you deserve it.
  3. Make Your Bed — I didn’t think this was important until I saw this video. “The little things in life matter.” He has a point, right? If you start with one small task you’ll be encouraged to complete more tasks throughout the day. Honestly, there is a part of me that absolutely loves going to bed at night
  4. Call, Email, Text, Send a Card to somebody just to say you’re thinking about them. You will be amazed at how this simple act makes you feel. A card in the mail is great, but sometimes a simple text that says, “Hey, I’m thinking of you and hoping you have a great day” can mean the world to someone.  Or reach out to friend or family member you haven’t talked with in a while and see what’s new. It’ll encourage them and make you smile.
  5. Get Enough Sleep — I know it sounds like a pipe dream, but it helps, a lot. Try going to bed a few minutes earlier. I know it may be hard, but keep the computer, tablet, phone, etc. out of reach and off. I recently saw a sleep specialist and he told me that seems to be the most difficult thing for people to do when it comes to building better sleep habits.  There are so many tips and tricks to getting enough sleep, the goal is try to find what works for you and do it.

Some days it will be easier to make your day count. Other days it will be a struggle just to get dressed. The bottom line is that you need to take care of yourself. Whatever makes that work for you, go do it! I’d love for you to share the things you do everyday.

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You may only be stuffing stockings for the family or you may be passing out stockings to co-workers. Either way, here are 25 stuffers that are way better than the usual peppermint candy and seasonal stuff nobody really wants anyway. Feel free to tell us what your favorite stocking stuffers are.






  1. Glow Sticks
  2. Silly Putty
  3. Playing Cards
  4. iTunes or Google Apps Gift Cards
  5. Rubik’s Cube
  6. Hair Ties
  7. Bandana
  8. Socks – Fun Socks
  9. Underwear – Panties or Boxers
  10. Toothbrush
  11. Beef Jerky
  12. Flashlights
  13. Candles
  14. Pens & Pencils
  15. A Book
  16. Crayons
  17. Yo-Yo
  18. Nail Polish
  19. Lotion
  20. Bubble Bath
  21. Post – It Notes
  22. Roll of Quarters or Cash
  23. Knit Cap
  24. Gloves
  25. Cell phone charger cords


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We are living in a self-centered world. Our kids won’t learn to be kind and selfless unless we, the parents, teach them.  It isn’t a difficult concept to instill, but it does take a little work on our part. Here are five ways to teach your children to be kind according to a Harvard research study.





  1. Give kids the chance to show kindness. Volunteer time with organizations that help needy people. This can be volunteering at a homeless shelter during lunch or dinner. Maybe you can volunteer to clean up trash at a local park. Children even have the opportunity to volunteer at their schools as mentors or homework helpers.
  2. Be a role model and find a role model. If children see someone doing the right thing, they are more likely to copy that person. When you have the chance to be kind and do something for someone else, take it.  This could also mean you find someone who is making a difference and ask if your kid can work with them.
  3. Show your children perspective. It is OK to show kids that there are a lot of problems in the world. There are people who are hungry, who need clean water, refugees with nothing, and so many more issues. There are also people right down the street who have no home and children who have lost their parents due to family problems. It is important to see the big picture as well as the face of the person around the corner.  Telling them there are homeless people is one thing. Going to a shelter and meeting those people makes it more personal.
  4. Help kids process their feelings. There are lots of feelings that can be counteractive to kindness: jealous, anger, shame. Showing children these are normal and giving them healthy ways to respond to these feelings helps them.  “When adults spark children’s thinking with ethical questions they put issues of injustice on children’s radar and help children learn how to weigh their various responsibilities to others and themselves.”
  5. Take responsibility, parents. We need to show our children how to do the right thing. We need to stop expecting the school or religious organizations to teach our children how to care for others. Kindness starts at home.

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Most families are looking for ways to save money or cut expenses. We usually cut corners on things for ourselves and that is OK. However, there are some things you should definitely invest in because they just make life better.




  1. A Good Mattress — You need a good mattress because you need a good night’s sleep. Sure you could save a few bucks with the cheaper mattress, but is a stiff neck and a bad back worth it? If you can’t invest in a good mattress, try a memory foam mattress topper. This Sleep Innovations Memory Foam topper is amazing and can make your bed comfortable. If you are ready to buy a new mattress, try a Casper Mattress.  It is made completely of memory foam and is designed to support your body in all the right places. file591279856274
  2. A Set of Quality Kitchen Knives — If you buy a quality set of knives, they’ll last a long time.  You probably spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Good knives can make preparing dinner so much easier.  Check out this list of Good Housekeepings Kitchen Knife Reviews to find your next set. DSCN5645
  3. A reliable car — I know, you may not be able to go out and buy a new car right this minute, but if you are considering a car, do your homework and get a good one. A good place to start is Consumer Reports Car Buying Guide. Whether you are buying new or used, they have the best info on which cars last the longest and how owners like their cars over time. Always check into warranties. I bough a secondhand car that included a bumper to bumper warranty for two years. DSC04223
  4. A Basic Toolkit — This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but it is definitely a necessary thing to have.  You never know when you’ll need a screwdriver or hammer. If you purchase a toolkit in a case you will always know where everything is located. Check out this toolkit for less than $40 and has most everything you’ll need for your home. 1toolkit
  5. A Good Pair of Shoes — Gloria Hunniford wrote, “Always buy a good pair of shoes and a good bed as if you aren’t in one you are in the other.” This is true and even truer for moms. We are on our feet a lot and need good support.  Your best bet is to get a foot or gait analysis done at a serious running store such as the Colorado Running Company.  You can also go online to check out walking or running shoe reviews.  P4010080

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It is time to start making your Christmas list and we found three great apps to help you stay organized.  These apps can help you see what you’ve already purchased and what you still need to buy. Using one of these apps can help you make sure nobody is forgotten. Using an app can help keep you on budget and even plan your spending.




The Christmas Gift List

The Christmas Gift List is an absolute must-have for the upcoming holiday season! This handy app offers everything you will ever need to create a list of people whom you can’t leave without gifts, make a list of gifts you are going to buy and keep your Christmas budget under control. The program lets you add people from your Contacts with a couple of taps and efficiently plan your spending for all of them. The Christmas Gift List offers best-in-class budgeting and analysis tools that are a breeze to use!



The Christmas List

Use a passcode to keep your list safe from prying eyes. This app also allows you to countdown the shopping days until Christmas.  It is an extremely user-friendly format that will help keep you track with your gift buying.


Santa’s Bag

Import Recipients, Set Budgets, Plan Gifts, Create Wishlists & Shopping Lists, Track Progress, Share – and so much more. Each step is carefully designed to make sure you don’t forget anyone or anything. Christmas shopping has never been easier or more fun!