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Dr. Christopher Emdin's 2017 SXSW Keynote


WeeSchool Baby App or How I'm Learning All Over Again

This is a sponsored post in partnership with WeeSchool. All opinions my own. Download the WeeSchool App here by June 1, and you can register for free, lifetime access to all premium WeeSchool content and features


When I started blogging over 10 years ago, I rarely talked about my children in a way that showed how I parented them. Or, at least that’s what I thought. What I realized, later, was that every thing I was sharing actually had some facet of my parenting and it came out anyway. Whether it was about I responded to my daughter as she wanted an expensive dress for homecoming or how I was attending parent-teacher conferences, I was discussing parenting. 


Yet, I still hated the term mommy blogger. 





How appropriate, then, that I am still writing and doing so as a grandmother. GRANDMOMMYBLOGGING IS TOTALLY A THING.  

 I mean. Just LOOK at this peanut right here.



Three months ago my oldest daughter gifted us with a granddaughter (and we have another one on the way, too!) who has brought a lot of joy into our lives and she spends quite a bit of time with me since we live so close to one another. The benefit, as you know, to being a grandparent is that you take things slower, have more time to consider choices, and you can send them home at the end of the day and get a full night’s rest. These are not things I was able to enjoy when raising my own children. 

We've nicknamed her Mugsy and she's just giving me all my life right now. Here's a little video of me, her mom, and sweet Mugsy.



Video by Mason Wickham

That means I’m seeking out things to enhance her upbringing and, with technology growth as it is, have been able to find really good resources that I will be using with her. Enter WeeSchool, an all-in-one smart parenting app that provides parents with everything they need to support their wee one’s preschool readiness, as well as making parenting easier, more effective — and more fun. Sure, she’s only 3 months old now, but I’m already thinking about what it means to be preK ready because I’m also an educator. This is super important to me and I have enough background to really impress this on my daughter as she raises her own child.


So, what is WeeSchool? It's an app I'm using to track her growth and development and I'm also using it for educational play when Mugsy comes over on Saturdays for a visit. (Saturdays are for Gigi and Papa, the grandparent names that The Cuban and I have come up with I KNOW LIKE WE NEEDED MORE NAMES.) 

 Here are a few of the features of the WeeSchool app:  

  • More than Milestones: WeeSchool tracks your child’s development through 117 key milestones, providing research-based insights and play prompts for each so you’re not just tracking your baby’s natural development— you’re supporting it.
  • Play smart with Play Plans: The first-ever curriculum for babies from birth to age 3 may sound serious—and it is based on sound education principles—but for the parent and the child, it’s all about play, with recommended activities, toys, books and music.
  • Enrich your daily Routines, with tools created to make WeeSchool the all-in-one go-to resource, with original videos, classic musical tunes, a catalog of original ebooks, and soundtracks and soundscapes to support play time, bath time and bed time.
  • Capture your memories in the Journal: The app will automatically file your monthly photos and your milestones photos and videos into journals you can share with friends and family, or export to save it.
  • Be a smart shopper: with the WeeSchool Toy Store, which showcases the only 43 toys you need to get your child from birth to age 3 with a fully rounded learning experience! 
  • FREE PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP: Parents can sign up until June 1, 2017 to become a Charter Member and receive lifetime access to all Premium WeeSchool content and features.

WeeSchool is an app that enriches the daily routines for children with tools created to make WeeSchool the all-in-one go-to resource. There are original videos, classic musical tunes, a catalog of original ebooks, and soundtracks and soundscapes to support play time, bath time and bed time. THIS is a definite change in how I raised my own children while cobbling together the things I thought they should know in life. Most of all, I appreciate the classical music and the ease of which I can find and play them (something that was made far more difficult before smartphones!) for her while we’re having tummy time or when I’m talking to her and introducing her to sounds. 


Right now there is a FREE PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP for WeeSchool and parents can sign up until June 1, 2017 to become a Charter Member and receive lifetime access to all Premium WeeSchool content and features. I highly recommend this and can’t stress enough for parents to get this.

WeeSchool, if you’re wondering, is the brainchild of the creator of  Baby Einstein, Julie Clark. WeeSchool uses today’s technology to create the most complete educational content experience for babies and toddlers. WeeSchool—it’s what comes before preschool.

Since this is my second time around and I've forgotten so much, the app helps me track what Mugsy should be doing and learning each month. I had completely forgotten when babies are supposed to sit up, teethe, and a host of other things that the app is helping me keep track of to ensure she's developmentally appropriate. This is me learning all over again and I can’t stress enough how helpful WeeSchool is for me and my daughter, Mallory, as we monitor her Mugsy's growth.

I highly recommend downloading the app, if there's a baby (or grandbaby!) in your life right now. Parents (and grandparents!) (these parentheticals are out of control!) can sign up from now until June 1, 2017 to become Charter Members and to receive FREE lifetime access to all the Premium WeeSchool content.



A Little Extra iCash for The Holidays

This is a sponsored post and all stories and opinions are my own. Note: this program is for Illinois residents but your state may have something similar.


If you've ever opened a bank account and then forgotten to close it, like I have, then you know what it's like to find money. Heck, I put on a vest that I haven't worn since last winter and found $10 in a pocket and I think everyone knows what that's like. And this year, with a brand new grandbaby, we're probably going to go through more than one pocket to find extra money. (Because we cannot stop looking at cute little things. It's so ridiculous and wonderful all at once.)

There are other ways, too, that I have recently discovered and I'm really glad I was contacted to try this program out because all I had to do was enter my name and a zip code into the search to find it. Here's how it works:

1. Click this link to take you to Illinois Unclaimed Property, a program to see if there's money to be found.

2. Put your name and zip code in to start a search.

Tip: the If you've ever changed your name due to marriage or even again due to divorce, use all variations of your name to find it. I didn't find anything under "Wickham" or "Hurst", 2 last names I've inherited, but I did find it under my maiden name.

Another tip: use multiple combinations of zip codes in places you've lived. With 3 last names and at least 5 different zip codes I've lived in for the last 30 years I spent less than 10 minutes searching.

3. Sign the claim and authenticate your identity.


So, what is The Illinois Treasurer’s I-Cash program? It's something set up in 1999 to help tens of thousands of people each year discover and claim old bank accounts, uncashed paychecks, unpaid insurance benefits and other unclaimed property. It shouldn't really sound too good to be true when I know that I, personally, have left money in accounts for various reasons. Sometimes, I thought I'd go back someday and live and bank in a certain place but once life gets going I have forgotten about it.

Currently, the Illinois Treasurer is safeguarding $2.5 billion in recovered cash belonging to millions of Illinois residents. For people who use the site they have found that 1 in 4 Illinois adults discover property with an average paid claim of $2,900. YOU GUYS. I COULD LIVE OFF THAT FOR 3 MONTHS AS I BUILD MY BUSINESS.

There's even better news for this program, not the least of which is that it frees up the state of Illinois from holding funds they need to release to individuals: most people receive a check within about four weeks of submitting their signed claim form and authentication of ownership.

The Illinois Treasurer's Office is tasked with safeguarding recovered property from banks, insurance companies, utilities, and other institutions across the country that haven't been able to be returned to rightful owners. Things like inactive bank accounts, unclaimed life insurance benefits, stocks, or matured CDs as well as other investments. 

Their database has 17 million properties that also include safe deposit boxes. YOU GUYS. I HAD NO IDEA I HAD ANY MONEY OUT THERE.

That's it. Super easy.

There really is no hassle, but make sure you can authenticate your identify for this. Mine happened to be through Prudential Financial and, when I found it, it told me that the claim was over $100 so it was enough for me to follow through and see how much it would be. Try it, Illinois friends. You may find just enough in time for the holidays to get something you'd like and the surprise of finding money with an easy, online search made it worth my time (mine was over $300).

We're taking the money and reinvesting it for our grandchild and I plan on checking back every 6 months or so because some people have found claims more than once. 

Your holidays might be a little happier with some extra cash.

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