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Updated throughout the week, Kim's Blog combines home front experiences with informative updates on area events, unique opportunities and of course, dynamic deals!  Follow us on Twitter twitter or Facebook facebook for event reminders, recent posts, coupon links and more.

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We're all swimming in papers at home, and Christine Carrels offers practical suggestions on what to purge and what to keep.  Who knows — maybe this weekend will present the time to actually tackle some of the paper piles! 

Put Your Files on a Diet

An organized home office is a good place to start. The first hurdle is figuring out what records need to be kept and what can be purged.

 Things you can shred and get rid of:MomsOrg Shred Day Banner_ 339x100

• Annual reports for investments. Get them online if needed.

• ATM or credit card receipts not needed for tax purposes. Reconcile your receipts with your statements, then save only the monthly statements – or access the statements online.

• Expired insurance policies.

• Expired warranties.

• Monthly or quarterly 401(k) statements. Make sure they are correct, than keep only the year-end statements. Better yet, access them online.

• Most paycheck stubs – keep only the last one of each year.

• Tax return documentation older than seven years, unless it deals with a taxable investment or asset that you still own.

• Deposit slips. As soon as you check them against your monthly statement, shred them.

• Household bills older than one year. For services you have cancelled, keep the final bill and any proof of its payment.

• Old wills, trust and powers of attorney that have been replaced by newer versions.

Things to keep:

• Paperwork concerning vehicles you still own – registrations, maintenance and repair receipts, warranties, owner’s manuals, titles.

• Credit card statements. You need to have seven years’ worth of credit card statements to support your tax returns. Consider accessing yours online rather than keeping paper copies.

• Receipts for the purchase of items of value.

• Paperwork showing you have paid off a loan.

• Mortgage paperwork or your lease agreement if you rent your home.

• Home improvement and repair records.

• Records of taxable investments – you want a record of how much you initially paid for the investment. Keep statements for as long as you own the investment plus seven years after you sell it.

• Records of IRA contributions.

• Tax returns. You can toss supporting documentation after seven years, but keep the returns.

• Vital records such as birth and death certificates, adoption papers, marriage licenses, military service papers and divorce decrees.

• Wills, powers of attorney and other legal documents.

• Savings bonds, certificates of deposit, securities certificates and the like.

• Current insurance policies.

• Family health records.

• Education records.

MARINE BANK 200X120Submitted by Christine Carrels, the Director of Marketing for Springfield Moms sponsor Marine Bank, and aunt to Cole and Brynn.

 

 

 

Spring is an exciting time, especially with three little ones. It marks the chance to finally get outside after a long winter. Unfortunately, in spring there is often too much mud to be outside as often as we would like.

Something I have found to combat the mud blues and get ready for spring is to make a big deal about putting out hummingbird feeders. Hummingbirds are one of the most exciting birds to watch, especially for kids. They are fast, they are loud, and are easy to find and watch since they are not easily scared off by people.

It is fun to keep an eye on the hummingbird’s migration at www.hummingbirds.net/map. This promotes a whole host of smarty-pants learning opportunities. Map skills, computer skills, estimation skills, and is just plain exciting!bird on ledge

Our family prefers to set up a humming bird feeder to view from our living room window. Our family just puts out one feeder, and we usually get 3 or 4 regulars. Hummingbirds are kind of like goldfish – the bigger the tank, the bigger the fish, only the more feeders, the more birds!

Keeping a hummingbird feeder in working order is a great introduction to chores for even the littlest child. Kids can see direct results from their chores, and experience direct consequences. Nothing makes you feel worse about shirking your duties than when a hungry little bird flies up to an empty feeder, and then looks in the window at you wondering where their food is!

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Position your feeder carefully. Keep in mind neighborhood cats as you try to put the feeder out of leaping distance.
  2. It is easier and cheaper to make your own nectar:  Bring a 4:1 water: sugar mixture to an extremely slight boil. Let cool. Fill your feeder. Really, that’s it. (you can keep extra in the fridge, and do not use food coloring)
  3. When picking out a feeder consider:
  • Ease of cleaning. I have found that some very attractive feeders are impossible to clean.
  • Ease of filling. When pouring in the nectar mix, be sure you can set the feeder on the counter without it falling over. A funnel may be necessary for some feeders.

Bees, ants and butterflies may take advantage of the feeder too. That is okay! Just be sure to clean the feeder regularly and keep children away (this avoids bee stings and sticky messes).

If your little ones get into this project, there is no end to how far you can take it. Research into a bird/butterfly garden or just an idea of a new porch plant may inspire your family to enjoy nature with a new interest.

Contributed by Kathleen Clark of Palmyra, mother to Nathan, 4, Augie, 3 and Abe 1. She is a lover of anything that takes place outdoors.

We asked SpringfieldMoms readers for their best parenting survival tips. GREAT responses! Thanks to all who submitted advice!

"While you tried your hardest to avoid the parking spots near the cart corrals before you became a parent, sacrifice your vehicle and embrace them. They're life savers!" – Jodi M.hug

"Let them hug you for as long as they want, always let them be the first to pull away." – Stacey D.

"Babywearing was a huge one for me with a toddler & newborn. I could meet the needs of both children at the same time. Also lowering my standards of a clean house. The messes & laundry will always be there, play with the kiddos, they grow up too quickly as it is!" – Shauna J.

"We like to always have rainboots and little shovels or rakes for the kids to "explore". This is best to do after it rains. We look under rocks and different places where we can find "little critters" to pick up with our gardening gloves and inspect them. If we find something really cool then we take pictures. Kids really LOVE it!!" – Tammy

"Online shopping! Amazon moms club and subscribe and save ensured I always had diapers and wipes without having to pile the kiddos in and out of the car to go on a shopping trip!" – Janel V.

"Assigning chores, having a large family calendar – to keep track of who needs to be where." – Kymberly E.

"Accept help from others. As a single mom it has saved me." Kim W.

"Ensuring that I get me time for a couple hours a week." -Sarah B.broom

"At home: I let my little one "help" me with things I'm doing. It helps to teach them chores, responsibility, and keeps them occupied while I'm being productive! Out & About: we have a mini travel DVD player that we take on trips and with us to restaurants! So many parents eating out always compliment "that's such a great idea!".. and we get to enjoy a family meal out without a bored and screaming little one!" – Amanda V.

"Best parenting tip to keep the household moving along and minimize the outburst is to set boundaries and stay consistent with them. We use the 123 Magic approach. Kids then understand expectations and abide by rules with you stay consistent with the punishments." – Ashley W.

"To minimize outbursts and to let my kids feel that they have some control, every morning I tell them what we are going to do, starting with that morning (i.e. first we're going to eat breakfast, then get dressed, then brush hair, and if you do all of those things we can turn on cartoons)…then tomorrow we are going to the grocery store, in two days we will rent a movie, in three days we will go to the library, etc. etc." – Katie

We randomly chose two responders to win tickets to We're Going on a Bear Hunt on April 16th at UIS. Congrats to Kim Walton and Stacey Dunlap for winning the tickets!

Illinois Women in Leadership is pleased to announce the 2014 ATHENA Leadership Award® in Springfield, Illinois. This is the first year that the award is presented by IWIL, a local women’s leadership organization with over 150 members. 

Nominations are now being accepted for the ATHENA Leadership Award® and may be submitted at www.iwil.biz through May 15. The 2014 Award will be presented on July 24 at the Inn at 835 to an exemplary leader who has achieved excellence in their business or profession, served the community in a meaningful way and, most importantly, actively assisted women to achieve their full leadership potential. Nominations are sought throughout the community, and the recipient will be selected based on the criteria above.

ATHENA International is an organization that supports, develops and honors women leaders. Over 6,250 community leaders from hundreds of cities and eight countries have received the ATHENA Leadership Award® since its inception in 1982. Recipients hail from all professional sectors. Its rich history, international scope and emphasis on mentorship make this award unique and one of the most prestigious leadership awards.

Past Springfield ATHENA Recipients include: Gail Lorenzini (2013), Darlene Weaver (2012), Sarah Mackey (2011), Deb Shultz (2010), Evelyn Brandt Thomas (2009), Lisa Pierce (2008), Linda Dillon (2007), Alison Novak (2006), Amy Hagen (2005), Cindy Davis (2004), Judith Teller (2003), Sue Myerscough (2002), Linda Waldron (2001), L. Gay Davidson (2000) and Desiree Logsdon (1999).

ATHENA Leadership Award® Recipients are presented a hand-cast bronzed and crystal sculpture that symbolizes the strength, courage and wisdom of the ATHENA Recipients.

IWIL supports ATHENA’s philosophy of recognizing those who incorporate the talent and expertise of women into the leadership of our businesses, communities and government. Reflective of a quote attributed to Plato, “What is honored in a country will be cultivated there,” the ATHENA Leadership Award® honors and illuminates the leaders and leadership styles of individuals who support and mentor women.

For more information, contact Illinois Women in Leadership Vice President Jamie Stout, 836-6365.

 

We're giving away two sets of two tickets to area readers.  To enter, please share your best parenting tip to keep the household moving along and minimize the outbursts or share your favorite must-have toy or activity for making memories with the younger kids!  

We will draw two winners on Sunday morning April 6th to the show Wednesday, April 16th at UIS.  Ticket info here!

Post here, email to springfieldmoms.org@gmail.com or post on our facebook page!

SA_Bear_Hunt_banner

spring happyWhat a winter for central Illinois!  The fact that snow made a morning appearance earlier this week was unwelcome and converted snow to a four-letter word in my vocabulary.  Yes, I LOVE the first snow in December, and I will go on for a few months about how beautiful it is.  However, come March, it's just a nuisance covering up the signs of spring.

Our spring break doesn't hit for 16 days, so we've tried to convert as much as we can to spring around our house.  We have a very small stash of warm clothes available, one set of gloves and hats for everyone and no signs of home decor with anything snow-related allowed until December 2014.

If a coffee mug even resembles anything from a holiday or winter inspired theme, it's downstairs in the closet.

We only welcome spring-like colors and objects around here! Even though today is hiding the sun, is a little damp outside, and not exactly what we are hoping for….we keep the visions of sunny spring fresh in our mind!

Think Spring!  Check out our Parks directory for inspiration, and we will see you outside….soon!

flower-pot-pictureSpringfield Moms reader Katie Spoon wrote in with this great idea:

"If you have any birthday present you need to make this summer – this was a great idea someone gave me. My mom LOVED it, and it turned out SO cute! Cheap and easy! 

ladybug-pot1Here's the "LadyBug Flower Pot" for Grandma Georgia's Birthday – the ‘bugs' are the kids' thumbprints.

 

 

 

CMN, dance marathon, Sjh 3What happens when a few people join together and decide to set a goal… More than $124,000 was raised for Children's Miracle Network (CMN) at St. John's Children's Hospital due to the hard work of 500 + Illini Dance marathon students at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana! We were so fortunate to get to be part of the celebration and energy the students shared to support the kids and families of CMN. The students heard stories that warmed their hearts as they met several families and the special miracle kids throughout a 13-hour Dance Marathon. 

CMN, dance marathon, Sjh 1Participants had to stay ON their feet; no sitting down (only down on one knee during the times families shared their stories.)  Cheers of FTK (For the Kids!) rang throughout the night.  Dave Newton, program coordinator of CMN thanked the crowd… "what you do, and what you did today, it's so much beyond the donations."  Their efforts provide hope and inspiration.

CMN, dance marathon, Sjh 4

 

 

 

 

 

One of the highlights was the 12 minute group dance that they rehearsed throughout the night and performed for all of us in the morning. To see students laughing, dancing, and on their feet to show support to the kids!   They enjoyed a dj, basketball, dodgeball, photo booth, bounce house, bands, snack breaks (we made it to the midnight Panda Express feast :-).

As the mom of a CMN child and a UIUC alum (class of 1993), thank you from every family touched by your hard work. The child-life specialists, surgery buddy dolls, josh dolls, dog therapy, teen lounge and life-saving equipment at St. John's Children's Hospital is there  because of the support of people like you!

Did you know that the month of March is Illinois Poison Prevention Month, and this week is National Poison Prevention Week (March 16-22)?  The Illinois Poison Center encourages everyone to take advantage of a variety of ways to increase the safety of your home, play and work environments:Illinois Poison Center logo

  • IPC’s newly expanded “My Child Ate…online resource library (featuring info sheets on substances such as poop, silica gel packets, cosmetics, healthcare products, tobacco products, diaper rash cream, crayons/ink, etc.).
  • Entertaining and interesting blogs written by IPC poison experts such as: My Child Ate…Poop! Top 5 Things You Didn’t Think Could be Poisonous to Children The Top 5 Most Toxic Substances in Your House The Case of the Tube Switcheroo How Not to Gas Yourself While Cleaning the Loo Do You Know the Difference Between Carbon Monoxide and Natural Gas? Laundry Pod Poisoning in Children Are You Going to Pump My Child’s Stomach? …and more!
  • FREE online Poison Prevention Education Course (and Resource Center) which consists of 7 quick, easy lessons and accompanying quizzes which take only 3-5 minutes each and can be completed at your own convenience, one lesson at a time or all in one sitting (via smartphone, tablet or computer). After completing the course, you’ll have unlimited access to a variety of mostly free educational and presentation tools!

Submitted by Vickie Dance, mom to 3-year old daughter Piper

Given the historic winter we’ve had here in Illinois this year, I think everyone is looking forward to spring! With warmer weather just around the corner, the Illinois Office of Tourism offers these ideas for spring break family getaways.

With a variety of high-value family experiences only a short drive away, there is no excuse not to get away during the kids’ spring break. Go back in time with history in Springfield, imagine it’s summer at Coco Key Water Park in Rockford and test your superpowers at the Superman Museum in Metropolis. 

Your spring travel planning can begin on EnjoyIllinois.com. Here are a few must-see events throughout Illinois this spring: