2015 Northwest Arkansas Summer Fun Printable!

One of the worst phrases a parent can hear from their kids over the summer is, “I’m bored”.

That’s why we rounded up a list of fun things to do in Northwest Arkansas in this UPDATED 2015 Summer Fun Printable. We also added a few summer camp ideas (click here for a more detailed list of 2015 camps with links and descriptions), rainy day ideas and annual events that happen every summer here.

We couldn’t include everything, of course, because that would fill an entire book! But if we missed one of your VERY FAVORITES, click on the words “post a comment” below and tell us what your family loves doing in the summer here in NWA.

CLICK HERE to print out the Summer Fun list. Stick it on the fridge as a reminder of all your options, no matter what your mood.

Summer Fun Printable 2015

Savvy Banking: How should I start saving for my child’s college?

savvybanking FNBNWA use this

In this new nwaMotherlode segment, Savvy Banking, you’ll find the answers to your most pressing money questions.

Local moms asked lots of questions in last week’s $50 Visa shopping card giveaway (courtesy of FNBNWA) and financial experts will answer them here — in this new money category.

Many of you wanted to know the answer to this question: How do I begin to start saving for my child’s college?

Don Paul, an investment executive with First National Investment Services, offers some good advice here:

Saving for your child’s college education can be a very difficult and tiring journey. It’s already challenging to save money for any purpose, but putting the money in the right places to save for college funding can make it even tougher.

Before you get overwhelmed with this challenging task, let’s break it down to smaller, more manageable tasks.

Step 1: Determine what to save each month.

piggy bankLook over your budget and come up with a dollar amount that you are comfortable saving each month. The amount may be small, which is perfectly fine. Rome wasn’t built in a day! If it’s $25 a month and that is all you can do, then start saving that $25. You can always increase the amount later!

Step 2: Determine where to invest the savings.

There are two good options. One is the 529 College Savings Plan account. This account can be started with as little as $25. There are very strong tax savings to this type of account for now and for the time when you pull the money out for college.

A very important note on the 529 Plan is that the money can only be used for “Qualified College Expenses” which is primarily tuition, room & board and books. There are many things that a college student needs and uses that would not be considered “Qualified Expenses” so you must be careful with how you save for this account.

The 529 Plan is a very popular option however it may not necessarily be the best option for you and your situation.  Don’t be too quick to open one of these without looking into the next option.

The next option for College Savings is the UTMA account or Uniform Transfer to Minors Act. This is a great place to save money for college but also for all types of expenses that a child will have during Jr. High, High School and College.

There is no restriction on what you can use the money for as long as it is for the benefit of the child. The UTMA account is opened under the child’s social security number so none of the taxes related to the account would be a burden on the parents.  This account can also be opened with as little as $25.  It is just more flexible and a very good option for college savings.

Step 3: Get Started

Like most things, the hardest part of executing any plan can be making the first step and getting the plan into motion. After completing the first two steps, all you have to do is press play!

My encouragement would be to sit down with a financial advisor and discuss these options and figure out the best option for you. Our children are not getting younger and every day that goes by is moving them closer to that first day of college classes. Start savings for their college education today.

You won’t regret it!

Don Paul, FNBDon Paul is an investment executive for First National Investment Services. He has been working with individuals and families in the areas of financial services for over 23 years specializing in Financial and Retirement Planning. Don is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and is the father to three boys. He and his wife Terri live in Fayetteville.

The fine print: Arkansas Insurance Producer License #32555 located at 3706 Pinnacle Hills Pkwy, Rogers, AR 72757. Securities and Insurance Products offered through Cetera Investment Services LLC, member FINRA/SIPC.

Advisory services are officered through Cetera Investment Advisors LLC. Neither Cetera Investment Services nor Cetera Investment Advisors is affiliated with the financial institution where investment services are offered. Investments are: Not FDIC Insured ·  No bank guarantee ·  May lose value ·  Not a deposit ·  Not insured by any federal government agency

Which of these cute accessories would you like to see at James + James?

collage2We do love our hogs here in Razorback country. So which of these home decor accessories pictured ABOVE would you be most likely to want for your own home? Number 1 or Number 2?

Okay, here are two more fun accessories featuring bamboo, so decide on your favorite. Number 3 or Number 4?

collage1And what about these last two options for kids, which are similar push toys but in different designs. Do you like Number 5 or Number 6 best?

collage3These are the kinds of questions we’re asking the local women and moms who are in the James+James Advisory Group. (If you love furniture and home accessories, you can still get in on this group. The members get some special “perks” just by sharing their opinions and feedback with the buyers at James+James Furniture. To join the group, just email us by clicking here.)

Time to vote! Please click the words “post a comment” below and vote for your favorites. (Also, be sure to tell us which one of the 6 items pictured above is your absolute favorite out of all the items.) You can also send your vote and any comments you might have about them to us via email by clicking HERE. We’ll be sure to pass it along to the James+James buyers.

To see more of the fun, eclectic mix of home accessories as well as some amazing, hand-crafted furniture, click HERE to browse around the James+James website. (Did we mention that this is a Northwest Arkansas company that has grown to enjoy nationwide sales? Yep, it is.)

Thanks for your opinions, comments and your good taste! :-)

james slider

It’s April 1! Here are some fun ways to fool your kids {insert evil laugh}

cat with mustache

Happy April Fool’s Day, mamas!

Are you a prankster? We think harmless pranks are fun, so we thought we’d share a few to make your kids laugh. Well, let’s face it: mostly to make you laugh.

Some ideas:

If you have a sprayer on your sink, put a rubber band around the handle and make sure it’s pointed out. That way, it will be on soaker mode for the next person to turn on the kitchen faucet. If you don’t want to miss the fun, call one of the kids into the kitchen to wash his hands.

Superglue a quarter to the sidewalk and watch your kids try to pick it up. And try. And try.

whoopie cushion If you want to go old school, just buy a whoopee cushion and put it in your kids’ favorite chair around the dining room table (or in his “usual” chair). Surprise! Don’t forget to say April Fool’s!

If your kids drink juice, mix up some jello, then pour it into clear cups and go ahead and pop in the straw. Put the cups into the refrigerator so the jello will set. The kids will be confused when nothing comes out when they sip through the straw.

After they try to drink their jello, the kids will need to go brush their teeth. Be a nice mom and load up the toothpaste onto their brush early, to save them some time. Except why don’t you use vanilla frosting instead of white toothpaste? If your kids use the gel kind, use a gel icing for the perfect switcheroo.

Paint a mustache on them with a black eyeliner pencil while they’re sleeping. That first look in the mirror will be a surprise!

Freeze plastic bugs in ice cubes. Serve up some with your kid’s dinner. (First, the whoopie cushion, then a bug in her drink. Ha!)

bug in ice cube

We hope you have a fool-ish day! Happy pranking!

Marathon Mama: Tips for making a race day plan

By Beth Gallini, mama of 2 and runner

keep calmRace day for the Hogeye Marathon is approaching quickly!  At this point, many of you are likely knee deep in training and the anticipation to see it all come together on race day is starting to build.

Having a race plan is critical to having a good race.  Although there are a number of things you cannot control on race day, there are a number of things you can control and these things can make or break a race.

Before the race:

Taper. The length and amount of your taper will depend on which race you are running – the longer your race, the longer you will taper.  You want to go into the race well rested and with fresh legs.

Have a realistic goal. In the weeks leading up to the race, it is important to review your training and to be honest with yourself when thinking about your race goals.

Review the course map and elevation chart. Race websites should offer you a course map and elevation chart so you know what to expect.

Plan your morning. Plan what time you need to wake up, what you are going to wear, what you will eat, what time you need to leave, where you will park, and what time you want to arrive.

Sleep. Two nights before a race is commonly thought to be the most important night to get a good night’s sleep because most people have too many race day jitters to sleep well the night before.

Race day:

Don’t try anything new. Race day is not the time to experiment with anything new!  What you eat, drink, fuel with, and wear should all be tested during your training.

Be prepared for the weather. If it is cold outside, you will want something to keep you warm before the race.  Most races will donate clothes runners toss at the start or during the first few miles (the Hogeye Marathon donates all clothes to 7 Hills Homeless Center).

You can either wear something you won’t miss or pick up something on clearance at a discount store.  If it is raining or the ground is wet, bring a trash bag to keep you dry.

Line up in the right corral. If the race has a corral system, it is best to line up in your assigned corral.  You will be assigned a corral based on your expected finish time and it will place you near runners of comparable ability.  If you start too far up, you will be in the way of faster runners.  If you start too far back, slower runners will be in your way and you will have to weave around them.

Don’t start too fast! This is a hard, but important point.  It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a race and to start faster than you intend.  It is also easy to think you can “bank” time.  However, starting too fast causes you to go through stored energy, your muscles to fatigue, and you end up losing more time in the end.  Instead, starting a little slow or at your target pace will not have a negative effect on your overall time.

Run the tangents. Race courses are measured on the shortest possible route, but most runners will end up running slightly over the race distance.  If you wear a watch with GPS, this is why you will often see a distance on the watch that is longer than the race distance.  To run the tangents, you want to run turns close to the curb and generally run the shortest distance between two points.  You also want to avoid weaving around other runners as much as possible.

Remember to have fun! There are many things you can’t control on race day.  You may have a great day where everything goes perfectly or you may have a day where you wish you stayed in bed.  Regardless of how your race goes, remember to have fun and to be thankful that you are healthy and active enough to be out there!

Beth Gallini runningAbout Beth: Beth is mom, runner, running coach, and the blogger behind RUNNING around my kitchen.  She and her husband adopted two boys who are a month apart and are 1 year old. Beth serves on the board for the Hogeye Marathon and is interested in helping other moms with their training and answering any questions you have.   Be social, connect with other Hogeye runners, and let them hear from you by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!  #hogeyemarathon