Posted in Ongoing Journey

Tech Updates

In addition to getting updates from the blog, there are a few new ways to keep updated.

  • Follow the blog on Twitter – The Twitter name is tohighchairs
  • Become a fan on Facebook – The fanpage name is From Hedge Funds to High Chairs
  • There is now a webpage – – This page currently re-directs visitors to this blog.  In the future, the site will house  information.
Posted in Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday – Teaching Your Children about Money

According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the real national debt is $56.4 trillion dollars as of the day this was posted.  Not only is our nation in debt, many of our fellow Americans also have deep personal debt.  These debts, amongst other things sent our country spiraling into a recession last year.  We experienced the worse financial market volatility since the depression.  Many people are now facing the stark realization that they will not be able to pay for their own retirement. 

Looking at our own financial situation, addressing the problems, making decisions and putting away money for retirement is a conversation even many adults avoid.  What can we be doing now to raise children that understand money?   In a society in which our children are barraged with material goods, how do we get them to understand save, invest, donate and spend on the important items?

Todays featured must have addresses many of these questions.

This is the Money Savvy Pig.  Instead of just one slot at the top there are four: save, spend, donate and invest.  Each of these are important lessons to learn on the road to fiscal responsiblity.  The product has won the ‘Parents Choice Gold Award’ ‘Napa Gold, National Parents Publications’ and the ‘Prefered Choice Award Creative Child Magazine’ to name a few.

In addition, there is reading and curriculum resources.  The above is the Money Savvy Kids Activity and Coloring Book.  According to the site “These 24-page books are the perfect accompaniment to the Money Savvy Pig or the Money Savvy Cow because they help teach many of the same important concepts contained in our school curriculum. Kids can color the pages while they learn about important concepts such as bartering, interest on your savings, goal-setting, smart-spending, philanthropy, long-term investing and entrepreneurship. Other activities include establishing personal savings goals, creating a spending wish list, designing a worthwhile charity, and crafting a business idea.”

You can find out more including cost and other products at the Money Savvy Website:

In addition, there are some great website for kids such as the U.S Mint ( and even banks like Valley National Bank (

Happy Savings!

 The blog is in no way compensated for items featured.  Parents should evaluate the appropriateness of any product in their own child’s situation.  Please feel free to check the consumer product safety commision ( or with other groups that test the safey of children’s products.

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in Must Have Monday

The Perfect (Educational) Gifts for your kids – finding them and ‘gift-listing’ them.

I am often asked by parents where to look for quality (educational) gifts for  their children.  Parents today are faced with hundreds if not thousands of choices when it comes to purchasing toys, books, dvds and video games for their children.  Walk down an aisle in Target or BabysRUs or any store for that matter and you will see the extent of the options.  In addition, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, friends and your children’s peers ask you for wish lists around birthday and holiday time. 

Today, we will address these two topics:  where can parents find information on quality products for children and how can parents’gift-list’ them for those that would like to buy their children a present?


In doing product research, I found the Parents Choice Award.  This award is given by The Parents’ Choice Foundation. “It is the nation’s oldest nonprofit guide to quality toys and media.”  “The Foundation’s purpose is to search out and recommend products that help kids grow – imaginatively, physically, morally and mentally—fairly priced products that are fun, safe and socially sound.”  The group has given these awards in the following categories:  audio, book, dvd, magazine, software, television, toy, video game and website.  The foundations principles include: children deserve material to sharpen young minds not blunt them, children learn most easily when they enjoy it, knowledge gives parents confidence to teach their children.  Parents can access the website for the Parents’ Choice awards here  The website is a great resource and provides guides for parents, adventures in your area news and recalls plus information on reading, learning and play.

So now that you have identified some great gifts, where do you store the information and share it?  Amazon is a great place to search for the toys.  Amazon now has a great feature called Universal Wish List.  It allows the user to find items on ANY website and then add it to their Amazon Wish List.  Therefore, all the great toys you find on the Parents’ Choice website or else where can be stored on one personalized list and shared easily with Grandparents and friends. Instructions are listed here

Universal Wish List

Happy Shopping and Enjoy Playtime!

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in Ongoing Journey

Blog Announcement – New Features

You will be seeing some new features on the blog over the next few weeks.  These items will not be published every week however the topics will help to categorize the information provided on an ongoing basis.  The topics are as follows:

Must Have Monday – This will highlight educational and age appropriate products for children.  The blog is in no way compensated for items featured.  Parents should evaluate the appropriateness of any product in their own child’s situation.  Please feel free to check the consumer product safety commision ( or with other groups that test the safey of children’s products.

Teachable Moment Tuesday – This will focus on  current news.  As news stations report on issues such as natural disasters, wars,  gossip and even happier stories the articles will suggest how to make these teachable moments for your children.

Well Rounded Wednesday– This will have  articles on culture, arts, music, sports, travel and other topics for a well-rounded child.

These above series are in addition to the following regular features:

Building my Nursery School – Following my transition from the world of finance to the world of early childhood education.

Building your Child Development Knowledge – articles, research and suggestions featuring current child development knowledge.

The Care and Feeding of your Pre-Schooler – Articles on nutrition, finance and all additional matters to help in the care and feeding of your child.

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in The Care and Feeding of Your Pre-Schoolers

The Care and Feeding of your Child – Washing Fruit

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention ( 76 million people get sick every year due to food borne illness.  Some of the causes are E. Coli, norovirus and Hepatitis A.  Certain groups have a higher chance for severe infection including infants and young children. 

So how do we prevent infection?  How do we get the fruit clean?

At first glance, the marketplace seems to offer many solutions.  With a quick search for fruit wash on Amazon ( I came across these products:  Fit Fruit and Vegetable Wash ($22.11), Citrus Magic Fruit and Vege Wash ($9.67) Environe Fruit and Vege Wash (18.80)  I looked at the ingredients for some of these washes and came across  Ethyl Alcohol, Potassium Hydrate,Baking Soda and Citric Acid .  Is there a way to clean without using additional chemicals?   There has to be a simple, more budget friendly way.

In Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, I found a solution (literally.)  In the ‘Keeping a Cleaner, Safer Kitchen’ article from the January & February 2010 issue they discuss washing produce (  A recipe of 3 parts water and 1 part white vinegar removed 98% of surface bacteria.  This is the SAME amount the expensive fruit washes report is removed following use of their product  This water/vinegar solution can be used on fruit like apples but also fruits with peels or rinds.  The items with surfaces you typically remove (like an orange or watermelon)  may also be harboring bacteria on the surface.  This can get on your fingers and then on the fruit inside or if you cut the fruit it can be transferred to the knife and then subsequently onto the fruit.  By taking a few extra steps, you can significantly cut down on harmful bacteria.  Just spray the solution and then rinse with clean water.

© 2010  All rights reserved.

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Posted in Ongoing Journey

The First Steps in My Transition – Career Change From Finance to Early Childhood Education

The prospect of going from a financial role to the ribbon cutting at my own Nursery School is thrilling and daunting.  I am of the ‘immediate gratification generation’ and so of course I would like this done yesterday.  Despite my impatience, I have tried to be as thorough and strategic as possible while diving head first into the world of early childhood education.

For the record, I have captured some of my early steps as I begin the shift. 

The idea of opening my Nursery School is a discussion that I have been having for years.  Many of my friends and family were aware of my long-term intentions.  As the time is now, I have reached out further into my circle of friends, acquaintances and my network to discuss my ideas.  The amount of ideas, contacts and opportunity that is available in our very own circles will never cease to amaze me.  I will discuss some of these connections as well as my first steps. 

1.) Telling the World – At the point the decision was made I began reaching out to my network.  The excitement, ideas and contacts that came from these conversations were invaluable.  It is also a strategy to now have ‘the world’ holding me accountable.

2.)  Reaching out to my professors from undergrad university – I attended West Virginia University and received an undergraduate degree in Child Development Family Studies (  During that time my practicum course was spent at the WVU Nursery School.  I reached out to my professor (13 years later) to speak about my intentions and ask for guidance from someone running a succesful school.  We discussed joining the National Association for the Education of Young Children or NAEYC ( for network and up to date research.  She spoke about changes in state policies to look for including state sponsored nursery school and we discussed which degree would best prepare me for the road ahead. 

3.)  Signing up for the NAEYC – This organization, the National Association for the Education of Young Children ( is the largest organization in the world working on behalf of young children.  There is a focus on development and education.  Through the organization I have started receiving periodicals including ‘Young Children’ and ‘Early Childhood Research Quarterly.’  In addition, I was able to purchase books in areas I need to strengthen my knowledge including the ‘Handbook for Early Childhood Administrators,’ ‘Reachind Standards and Beyond in Kindergarten,’ ‘Managing Money – A Center Director’s Guidebook’ and ‘Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves.”

4.)  Looking at Schools in NYC – I have looked at programs online periodically for years.  I have since attended information sessions for the Early Childhood Education program at the Steinhart School at NYU, the information session and tour at Bank Street College ( and met with an advisor at Hunter College.  I am most excited by the program at Bank Street and am eager to apply.

5.) Talking with current students and former students – In doing research on the schools and discussing it with my network, I discovered I knew or my friends knew many people who attended these programs.  I was able to meet with these individuals to speak about their experience at school, likes and dislikes, quality of the programs and what to expect.  I met with former and current graduates of Bank Street College at Little Sisters in Harlem.  I met with a former grad of Bank Street College that is now an assistant Vice Principal.  I spoke with a friend of mine who was a former graduate of the NYU program.  I also discussed the schools and their reputations with board contacts of mine from Children of Bellevue within Bellevue Hospital and NYU Hospital.  Since it has been 13 years since I was in school these discussions were helpful on so many levels for me.

6.) Visiting Nursery School – During out honeymoon, we met a couple from NYC.  We have become friends back in NYC as well.  She is a head teacher at a Montessori School.  She invited me to observe her class.  This was one of the best things I did.  I left with such excitement for what lies ahead I had tears in my eyes.  It was great to see a current program, how the day is run, what is available to the children and what parents expect from a quality program.

7.) Working with a business coach – Throughout my career, I have been a big believer in continuing my education.  I have taken business practice management courses such as Strategic Coach and Mission Control.  I am continuing a monthly call with a Mission Control Coach, Todd Benton (  It is a great source of knowledge, business practice skills, cross-pollination of ideas from other industries and a forum to hold me accountable.

8.) Business Lunch – A friend of mine, successful in her first career is in the midst of a similar change, the transition from one career to something completely different.  We have committed to a monthly lunch to keep each other posted, to share ideas and again to hold each other accountable.  Our first commitment is to write first drafts of business plans, for her to think about writing a blog and for me to complete my Grad School application.

9.) Social Networking – This is the way of the world!  People are extremely tech savvy and get information from the web.  I worked with my research dept (Dad) to set up a webpage through  ( and a blog utilizing ( It has been a great outlet for my ideas, for the research I come across and a way to communicate with parents of young children before my school is open.

10.) Ongoing Research for myself and for my writing – As I mentioned earlier I now receive periodicals, have ordered books and am constantly reviewing research online.  Once I apply, get accepted and start class, I will be refreshing my knowledge, learning more and doing observation and research. 

11.) Apply to the school of my choice  – I need to sit down and write my application!!!!

This list is bound to grow and change and as it does I will continue to keep you updated!  Perhaps, when complete, this can serve as a map or guide to others that stand before the long and exciting road to their dreams.

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in Child Development

Building a Baby Conversationista (Action Steps Included)

There are those in the world that can walk into a room and everyone notices. My friend’s daughter is one of those people. She has a way of making everyone feel loved, important, interesting and heard. These individuals can capture your attention and entertain you with their stories. They are present and fun.  After working in Corporate America for 13 years, I have recognized these are common traits of the leaders of organizations, the top sales people and the ones that are frequently promoted. Granted, there are other necessary factors such as education and experience but the art of human interaction is invaluable in work, in life and in relationships. 

I fear for many children this is a lost art. At a young age children begin to grab cell phones from their parents: this interesting, blinking noisy toy that Mom and Dad love. TV, hand held games, iPods and so on have replaced the need for conversation. Car trips are made easier with DVDs and Playstation.

Where is the time to practice? When can they daydream and why would they want to when someone has already made something to watch.  So many of my dreams were formulated when I had the moments to let my mind drift. Daydreaming as a child has become a useful in grown up terms as mental rehearsal. Coming up with car games and stories has made me a person that can make any situation fun (without gear!) Most importantly, many in my generation were taught early on a proper handshake, to look people in the eyes, how to be an active listener and how to acknowledge and be nice to people who cross your path regardless of their look, language or station.

I recently sat in on a friend’s nursery school class at a Montessori on the west side of Manhattan. To welcome each child to the class, she sat at their level, shook their hand and made sure there was eye contact. Little rituals such as these keep children engaged and teach them the importance of something as simple as a greeting. After years of work and visits to all sorts of offices, I can tell even as adults some of us can work on our morning greeting!  The addition of simple rituals in your day is easy, free, fun and an amazing way to get to encourage your child’s inner coversationista.

Action Steps – here are a few ideas to get you started.

1.) On long car trips, make a deal. Try talking, games and family fun first, perhaps even a required time period without t.v. Ex (Geography Game, the license plate game, going on a picnic)

2.) Teach your child to acknowledge when someone joins the room or a conversation with a greeting or handshake.

3.) Instate some family rules – no electronics at the dinner table, time limits on TV, time limits on internet (this can even be automated)

4.) Have family game night!

5.) Read to your kid before bed.

6.) Model these behaviors yourself. If you don’t care neither will your child.

7.) Finally try everything! Go to museums, go outside, try foods and sports. This way once your child says hello…they will have plenty to talk about and share!!!!

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in Children's Literature Series

Make Reading a Habit for You and Your Child (action steps included)

During my time as a Board Member of The Children of Bellevue, which initiates, develops and funds special programs for the children at Bellevue hospital and their families, I learned about the Reach out and Read Program and in turn the benefits of reading for your children.  Language, school performance and curiosity are just a few of the many benefits to reading to your child and encouraging your child to read.  The more words parents use the greater the child’s vocabulary.  No matter where you look the positives are endless.

In Reach out and Read, volunteers sit on the floor with children.  Kids are allowed to touch the book, to look at the pages, they are encouraged to ask questions and discuss what is happening to the characters in the book.  In this way the volunteers are modeling great reading skills to parents and encouraging curiosities in the children as well as a love of reading.

So the question is what are the benefits of reading correlated to?  Is it having books in the home?  Is it actually reading them?  Or is it modeling reading behaviors.  According to Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner in their book Freakonomics (pg 167) there are many factors correlated with test scores including many books in the home but also including parental age, income and involvement.  What is clear after reading through the websites and statistics is that books are important for you and for your child.  Currently fewer than half (48%) of American children are read to daily (Reach out and Read)

Why not take the time to read a book to your child each day?  Carve out time for personal reading as well.  Your child will see that this is an enjoyable, relaxing activity that is worth your time and theirs.

Action Step –  Want to make reading a habit?  Try  Enter your goal to read to your child or carve out personal reading time.  The website will check in daily on your goal.  It takes 21 days to form a new habit. Start now!

Taking it an ‘Action Step’ Further – Find a series that your child is interested in and buy the whole series.  Instead of tuning in every night to a TV show, tune in to reading the series.  Some examples are ‘The Magic School Bus’ or ‘Captain Underpants’

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in The Care and Feeding of Your Pre-Schoolers

Care and Feeding of Your Child – Saving for College (action step included)

From my time spent in the financial industry, I understand that one of the financial concerns that tops the list of parents of young children is saving for college.  According to,  if your child is currently 4 years old and you have hopes of he/she attending a 4 year college programs, the cost in 14 years could be over $200,000!  This accounts for inflation, average annual tuition increases of 6% and time.

So what steps should you be taking as a parent?  What options or financial aid will be available to your children? What should you be doing NOW while your child is young to prepare for the future?

There are many options available to parents to begin the process of saving for college, here are a few popular options:

  • 529 plans – a 529 is a special kind of account that allows families to put money aside for college.  The government gives these accounts special tax treatment to encourage saving.  Companies like Oppenheimer Funds, American Funds or Fidelity offer plans. 
  • 529 plan – State Sponsored – Every state also has a 529 plan.  You can research the state to see what company runs the plan, what investment options are available and what restrictions if any are named for the spending of the funds.
  • Coverdell ESA – this account similar to some IRAs allows you to make non-deductible contributions and grow tax-free.  The main difference is that funds can also be used to pay for other qualified education expenses such as elementary and secondary school expenses.
  • Detailed Estate or Insurance Planning – In working with a financial advisor, there may be ways to make your dollars do ‘double duty’ Experts can help you to utilize all difference types of accounts or vehicles to maximize the money you have.

So now that you know the options, what do you do with them?  My suggestion is not to take on all the research yourself.  Between tax changes, investment options and the ever-changing price of college there is so much to learn.  Just as you would do if you have a health problem, I suggest you do for your financial concerns…educate yourself AND find an EXPERT!

to educate yourself – there is a great website to start to learn about options relevant to your and your child’s situation.

to find an expert – for a financial concern of such importance, you want to work with a trusted advisor.  Out of the many options available from the Schwab’s to the Merrill Lynch’s how do you know who to call?  A great place to get started is to check the credentials of local advisors. 

You can check their employment record and any complaints by going to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) website:

You can also check to see that they are keeping themselves current of topics such as estate and tax planning, college savings or retirement by asking for their qualifications.  Some qualifications to look for that are board regulated and require continuing education include:

Many companies have coupons or gift certificates that grandparents can use to make investments as a gift for birthdays and holidays.  This should be the top item on your wish lists.  The kids will grow and interests may wain on some of the toys however and education is forever!!

While college may seem years away, taking a few small steps now could make all the difference in the years to come.

© 2010  All rights reserved.

Posted in The Care and Feeding of Your Pre-Schoolers

Care and Feeding of Your Child – Cutting through the Nutrition Hype (action step included)

Each day we are bombarded with news snippets, emails and periodicals touting the benefit of chocolate or the dangers of fast food.  Newscasters quote the most recent studies and scientific facts.  The real studies quoted are never revealed to the listener: was it a legitimate study over the course of years or 10 people in a room for a weekend. 

Were do we go to sort our the truth and what is best for the kids?  What are the right vitamins?  What should you buy organic and what is ok non-organic?  What’s really in this tub of popcorn or the Starbucks Carmel Machiatto?  Do I need to worry about my child’s weight or my own?

There is an organization called the Center for Science and Public Interest.  They are a lobbying group that has been the voice behind many of the healthy changes in our lives: healthier options in schools, the removal of soda machines, new nutrition labels, the listing of nutrition ingredients at restaurants.  They look behind the studies to reveal what has actually taken place.  They dispel myths and work to provide information that helps with healthy decisions for you and your family.  They study food products like cereal or crackers and provide ‘best bites’ or healthiest options.  They offer healthy recipes.

So where do you get this information?  CSPI puts out a monthly newsletter.  It is short, printed in an easy to read format and best of all it is about $10.00 for the entire year.  Here is the link to their website:

© 2010  All rights reserved.