Friday Finds


1. Century Knob | Anthropologie 
2. Abstract Ceramic Knob Set of 10 | Zulily
3. Hex Brass Bar Knob | CB2
4. Hand Picked Bow Knob | Land of Nod 
5. Handpainted Mushroom Knob (Set of 4) | All Modern 
6. Modernist Novelty Knob | All Modern 
7. Nori Knob | Anthropologie 
8. U-Turn 2 1/2" Center Bar Pull | All Modern 
9. Geo Mineral Knobs, Set of 2 | World Market  




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The debit card for kids

This post was sponsored by Greenlight.

I never carry cash.

It's not that I'm broke. I just consistently forget to get cash out. In these modern times, I am more apt to PayPal someone then pay with cash money. I use my debit card for just about every transaction. And I rarely go to the bank these days. So having cash on hand is one of those things I'm constantly forgetting. In fact, as I am writing this, my wallet consists of some leftover bills from guitar, a random 20 euro bill that I keep forgetting to exchange, and a tattered blank check.

I can usually get by fairly well without having cash. There are those random moments where I actually need it… The parking garage at the theater, when a room mom asks the class parents to send in cash for a group gift, or when my kids want to go buy something themselves.

My kids wanting to have some financial independence is probably one of the big challenges of being a person who doesn't carry cash around. They are at an age where they need some autonomy financially, and I don't like having them on a cash system. With four kids, doling out cash they need means that not only do I need it on hand, but I need it in amounts equally divisible by four. Also, my kids are very prone to losing cash. But they are too young for a traditional debit card.

There is a new debit card for kids called Greenlight that I have been using for the past few weeks and I am loving it. It allows each child to carry a debit card in their own name. I have complete control of the debit card from my phone. I can add cash to their own card at any time. It's incredibly convenient, especially for those moments when they want to go to a movie or the store with a friend and my wallet is empty. I just pull out my phone and add cash to the card. I can even do it remotely. For example, the other day Kembe went home with a friend to carpool to practice. I forgot to give him money for dinner, so all I had to do was open my app and add enough money to cover it. Or Jafta was picked up by a friend to go to a trampoline place with their youth group. I didn't have cash on hand so I sent him with his car and loaded the admission fee from my phone.





Another feature I love about the card is that you can specify where they can spend their money. So instead of them having free reign, you can designate a specific store, or that the funds are only to be used for gas. I can see where this will be really useful in the future, so that they are spending money I give them on gas instead of candy or soda.



Some other great features… You can set it up to auto pay your child for their allowance if you have them on a regular system. You can also track your child's expenses in real time. You can set it up to notify you for every purchase that they make, which allows you to be able to review their spending with them later. It's a great way for parents to track what kids are actually doing with their money.

You can try Greenlight for free for 30 days to see if it's a system that could work for you. After that, it's just $4.99 per month for the entire family. I am loving the convenience and plan to have my kids on the system until they are old enough to balance their own bank account.



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Wednesday's Child: Willie & Willene


Every Wednesday I feature a child recently highlighted by a local Wednesday's Child newscast to share the stories of children from around the country who are waiting for a family. My hope is that this can broaden exposure for the children highlighted, but also serve as a reminder that these children represent thousands of children currently in the foster-care system. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to consider opening your home to a child needing a family. For more information and to learn about other waiting children, visit AdoptUsKids


         






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A look at the Secrets and Dreams Resorts in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

A few weeks ago, my kids had plans to spend a week in Yosemite with their dad. I needed to get some writing done, and I also needed an escape from my house. Sweltering temperatures, no AC, and some construction being done have made my house a miserable place to be. I needed a getaway.

I'd been dreaming of returning to a Dreams Resort. I stayed at their property in Tulum a few years ago and immediately fell in love with their whole vibe. They call it "unlimited luxury" and it basically means that everything is taken care of. From food to drinks to little details, they've thought of everything and it's all included.

I reached out to the good folks at Dreams and they invited me to spend a few days at their resort in Cabo, but they also invited me to check out their sister resort in Cabo called Secrets Resort so I could do a little compare and contrast of the properties. I was thrilled because I've always wanted to stay at a Secrets Resort as well. It's their adults-only sister resort, so it's all of the unlimited luxury, without kids. A two-hour flight from LA and I was on my way.


I spent my first few nights at Dreams. It's a gorgeous beachfront property in Cabo, away from the party scene of downtown. 


They have two pools at the property, a big pool with fun activities all day for people of all ages, and a quiet pool. Since I was introverting on this trip, I spent most of my time there. Both pools were gorgeous, and overlooking the beach.


Oh - and to make the pool experience even more relaxing, there were servers coming by constantly offering drinks (all included). The hardest decision I had to make each day was whether to go for a mojito or a pina colada. (I did both.)



I know some people have hesitations about the food quality at an all-inclusive, but I'm happy to report that the food was AMAZING. Dreams had several restaurants, from formal to casual, as well as a buffet. I hit the buffet most mornings, but tried a different restaurant each evening. I was particularly fond of their Italian restaurant.




This was my view from breakfast every morning. The buffet was insane, and offered everything from a mimosa bar, fresh green juice, custom-made omelets, and traditional Mexican fair.




I made two daily goals for myself: eat at a new restaurant every evening, and watch the sunset every night. I'm proud to say I met this goal with gusto. The sunsets at Dreams were absolutely stunning.



I had a great time at Dreams and can’t wait to go back with my kids. It’s an ideal place for family vacations or reunions because there is something for everyone. There is a kids’ club that keeps children entertained all day, and the main pool had fun activities happening all day as well. I know my kids would love all of the options in terms of food – and I love that I don’t have to make any decisions.






 When my time at Dreams was up, I had mixed feelings. I didn’t want to leave. I loved the vibe, the view, and the serenity. But I was also excited to experience an adults-only resort.

My sadness at leaving Dreams was quickly abated once I got to Secrets. Everything I loved about Dreams was present at Secrets: the beach views, the well-appointed rooms, the amazing food, the flowing cocktails. The only thing missing was the kids. Which . . . I mean. Clearly I love kids. But when I'm not traveling with them, it was nice to be somewhere with all adults.



I wasn't sure what to expect of an "adults only" resort. I wasn't interested in a party scene and was a tad bit worried I'd arrive to find wet t-shirts contests or a pickup scene at the pool, and I was relieved to find that wasn't the case at all. It was a diverse crowd . . .  lots of honeymooners, lots of older couples, and everything in between. People from all over the world, and even a few groups of girlfriends on a weekend getaway. The vibe was classy and not at all a frat party. The main pool had a fun party vibe with loud music and entertainment. I enjoyed it but spent a majority of my time at the quiet pool once again. I tend to introvert on vacations and spending most of my time lazing, reading, and writing.






Curious about the name Secrets? Here's a virtual tour of the room where I explain some of those fun details.



They've taken a great deal of care in the design at Secrets. There are incredible details at every turn. And at night, the lighting makes everything feel even more special. Most of the restaurants are more formal, so it was fun to walk around at night seeing everyone dressed up.









Once again, the sunsets were stunning, and I made it a point to watch them every night. It's amazing how a week of sunset watching can set the reset button on life. I truly had such a relaxing experience at Secrets and can't wait to go back again. It was therapeutic in so many ways.














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A visit to the edge of ISIS's terror

This past week I had the chance to visit Iraq and Lebanon with World Vision.  The only thing I knew, prior to the trip, was that we would be visiting with families living in refugee camps who had fled ISIS. I’ve seen footage of the violence and destruction that ISIS has wreaked on families in Syria and, like most who have seen the stories of these traumatized and desperate people, I am devastated for the Syrian people.

I wanted to go on this trip because I think that their stories desperately need to be told. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to what is happening to both the Iraqi and Syrian people because it’s happening so far away. It’s also so incredibly painful that I think it’s hard to even process it, especially for Americans who have never lived under occupation or experienced sustained violent conflict in our home country.





I also think that people tend to ignore it because to be honest, I think that it’s easy to distance ourselves from people who are culturally different. And this is all the more true when it comes to Muslim people. The media images we see of Muslims are of violent extremist, and the result is that xenophobia abounds. But while there are certainly Muslim people behind these atrocities it’s vital to remember that the majority of Muslims are victims to ISIS’s actions, and desperately want peace.

In spending time in the homes of both Iraqi and Syrian families, I was reminded again of how similar we really are. I met kids who could make a toy out of anything . . . even a piece of string. I met mothers who were desperately concerned for their children’s future. I met grandmothers who just wanted to keep their family together. I met teenagers who asked me to take a selfie. And I met people with incredible faith, strength, and determination in the midst of unfathomable grief and trauma.




Over the next few days, I will be sharing stories of the people I met, as well as some of the hard observations about refugee life and the future of the Syrian people. I will also share some of the ways World Vision is helping to meet the needs of these people, in ways that are both practical and hope-infusing. I was incredibly impressed with the work World Vision is doing, especially as a Christian organization serving a predominantly Muslim population with no agenda but love. (Literally, it is against policy for them to proselyte.) I’m hoping to share stories that bring a human connection to the crisis in the middle east, and some practical ideas for how you can help.




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