Friday, June 23, 2017

Please pass the milk

My son and I are having breakfast before I have to take him to camp. I like this extra time together in the morning. And I like what we are eating: Muffins and milk. My son drinks milk like most children do, so when he pulls the cup away from his face, there is a white mustache above his top lip.
We are milk drinkers. Specifically, we drink cow's milk. I fully appreciate the wide-range of other milks out there for people who are lactose intolerant, but I also chuckle at the idea of milking an almond. There are no allergies in our family, so when my son turned one we introduced him to cow's milk and haven't looked back.

So, I pay attention to milk studies, like this one that questioned my belief in all the "does your body good" ads of my youth. And this new one that points out that children who drink alternative milk (read: non cow's milk) tend to be shorter than those who do.

Granted, it is not a lot shorter, but since my son has declared that he wants to be taller than my husband and I, we are not going to take any chances: We are going to stick with cow's milk.

What type of milk does your family drink? List your favorite in the comments.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Finding friend time again

I'm a little bummed. I got a text from a faraway friend who is going to be in my city next week, but it happens to be on a day I will not be around. It is one of those spontaneous meetings that just didn't work out and I am trying to take comfort in the fact that I will see her again in a few months for our twice-a-year gals getaway.

That missed opportunity made me think about my time with friends: It is special and precious and memorable. It also made me realize that my son has reached an age when he doesn't need me around as much and for the first time in ages, I have my own free time again.

What to do with all that found time?

One smart option would be to spend more time with my friends. A series of studies researching friendships and health over time have found that friendships have a stronger affect on our health as we age than family does.

It's important to remember that the effect goes both ways: So toxic friendships can stress us out and affect our health adversely just as easily as happy friendships can give us a boost in our lives when we need it the most.

Most parents have a hard time mixing friends into the mix of their new families - it's difficult to balance baby and work and sleep and time with your spouse and friends. Because of that, friends fall by the wayside...but they are still there. True friends are still there for when you are ready to pick up right where you left off.

How do you make time for your friends? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Children on planes

I was flying to San Francisco and had an aisle seat. Next to me (in the middle seat) was a little boy of 6-years-old. The man next to him at the window seat wasn't his dad.

When I located his dad (in the row behind us), I had assumed that they had been booked on the flight in the only seats available. The other gentleman and I in the row asked if the dad wanted to switch with one of us. But he declined. He said that he and his wife wanted to let their children experience the responsibility of what it was like to fly alone. (His wife was in the opposite side of the aisle from me with her daughter seated in the row in front of her between two strangers.)

While I can appreciate wanting your children to have more responsibility, the little boy seated next to me was not ready for this. He was six. So, he needed help with his iPad, ordering a drink, opening the free cookie snack, understanding the turbulence and...everything else. The other gentleman in the row and I helped him, but I wanted to reach into the row behind me and smack some sense into the little boy's dad.

As a parent, I understand that flying with your children is hard. There is more luggage, more planning, a bigger need to stay flexible and (probably) more tears. A lot of other travelers are not nice about it (one study found that 52% of people believe that parents should have their own section of the plane). But why make traveling with children even harder by not sitting with them?

For the record, the little boy was very polite and well behaved and listened to me when I asked him to stop kicking the seat in front of him. But he was six. And he needed help. He needed to travel with his parents.

What's your secret to traveling with children? Tell me in the comments.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Affording that future college bill

I am not sure if our son will ever want to go to college. He's a long way off from that day, and by the time he is old enough for higher learning, college may or may not still be seen as necessary for a successful career. Additionally, he has announced that he is building a transporter in our loft, and if that works out I see no reason why he should need college learning for a career. What I am saying is: You never know.

What I do know is that we still save funds as if he were going to college one day. Saving all that money now is (in theory) easier than getting hit with all those bills at once. And that avoidance of one lump sum is good advice whether you are the student or the parent footing the bill.

And because it usually is parents helping to foot the bill, GoBankingRates did some fancy math to determine how much a family would need to earn in order to afford college tuition bills on top of all their other expenses (groceries, cost of living and health care.)

The results can be found in this nifty chart that tells me that families with students wanting to go to college in Hawaii and California have got bad news, while parents of students attending midwest universities can celebrate. It's a little odd to think that the number one thing a family can do to help save for college is...move.

Do you have a college savings plan for your children? Tell me in the comments.