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Jenny Minard http://www.jennyminard.com Wed, 03 Jul 2019 06:07:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://i1.wp.com/www.jennyminard.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/cropped-diamond-icon-1.png?fit=32%2C32 Jenny Minard http://www.jennyminard.com 32 32 12 Things to Do When Your MLM Closes for Good http://www.jennyminard.com/12-things-to-do-when-your-mlm-closes-for-good/ http://www.jennyminard.com/12-things-to-do-when-your-mlm-closes-for-good/#respond Wed, 03 Jul 2019 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.jennyminard.com/?p=1555 Whenever I hear that another network marketing company, or MLM, has closed its doors for good, I’m always sad. I’m a BIG believer in this business model and in how it empowers average people to have opportunities and incomes that they could only ever dream about! There are many people who absolutely hate MLMs, and […]

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Whenever I hear that another network marketing company, or MLM, has closed its doors for good, I’m always sad. I’m a BIG believer in this business model and in how it empowers average people to have opportunities and incomes that they could only ever dream about!

There are many people who absolutely hate MLMs, and if that is you, I would invite you to pass this post by. It’s definitely not for you, friend. ūüôā I’m writing to give hope to those people who feel hopeless after their company calls it quits, especially those who’ve worked in their company for MANY years.

I see you. I feel your pain, and I hope these twelve tips will inspire you to move into the next phase of life with confidence! And please understand that I will be sharing about my network marketing company because, well, I’m a HUGE fan of our products, company mission, and compensation plan!

Let’s get started!

#1 | Pray immediately!

If you’re like me and you are the praying type (but if you’re not, I encourage you to give it a try), then stop what you’re doing right now and talk to the Lord. He is the creator of the universe – this trial you are going through is miniscule compared to what the One who spoke the stars into existence can do. Give all your worries to Him, today!

#2 | Contact your people

Whether you’ve been building your business for a week or for several decades, gather your list of clients, customers, and downline members, no matter how big or small the list may be, and communicate the upcoming changes. Tell them something big is on the horizon for you, and you will keep them posted about what that is. Keep your passion and enthusiasm up – no one will want to follow a Negative Nelly or Debbie Downer! #justkeepswimming

Find out all the final details from your company and pass that along as well. There might be sales or housekeeping things your people NEED to know, so keep them in the loop.

#3| Resolve your accounts

This step may not be necessary, and hopefully it’s not, but if you have ANY outstanding debts or resolutions, take care of those immediately. This might even include interactions between you and a client. Dealing with a company closing can be frustrating or even embarrassing, but just do your best to stay positive and take care of any loose ends. #yougotthis

#4 | Don’t lose your rewards

Most companies offer some sort of incentives or rewards for loyal distributors, so if you have racked up any rewards or points, NOW is the time to cash them in. Don’t wait until the last minute because the company could shut down the program (I have sadly seen this happen).

#5 | Sell your stash

If you have an overflow of products on hand that you just don’t need anymore, then now is the time to have an awesome destash event! Start a private Facebook group, invite all your customers, friends, and family and have a flash sale – dropping prices as low as you can to move product!

Take the profits from this sale and save it for later!

If you don’t want to sell anything because you love your products and use them daily, skip this step and move on to the next one.

#6 | Take advantage of “going of out of business” sales

If you’re like me and are a die hard fan of your company’s products, then you will definitely want to pay close attention to any last-minute sales they might have. Sometimes prices can drop 50% or more, so be diligent about staying abreast of your company’s news.

Here’s an important thing to think about as well…

It’s very tempting to purchase a LOT of discounted products during a final sale thinking you will sell it later, but this is super risky! Other than loyal customers like yourself, many people will not be overly interested in purchasing products from a failing company. Just get the things you really want, and get out.

#7 | Save your last check or two

If you’ve been in network marketing for awhile now, you are most likely a big fan of the business model. So you’re probably going to be looking for a new company to join very soon (maybe you’ve even started researching, which is very wise). If that’s the case, be sure to set aside one or (preferably) more paychecks to get you started in your new company.

The best thing about most MLMs is that it doesn’t cost much to join, but you’ll definitely want to know what that investment is going to look like. And you’re going to want to have enough funds to get started right. You’ll probably want to be able to qualify to earn commissions right away as well, so having enough money in the bank to cover your first few months of orders is pretty smart!

To give you an idea what that can look like, I am a builder with Young Living Essential Oils, and my only monthly commitment for my business is about $100 or so. It’s such a small overhead, and because at home we personally use the products we purchase each month, it’s an easy thing to budget for. So save those checks, and be ready to use them on new and better things!

#8 | Research other companies

I’m sure you have already started doing this, but it’s really important you look at some key components with each company. First of all, most companies that close do so in the first five years, so find a company that has been in business for while. Although this isn’t always the case, it’s a good place to start.

Next, look at the products. Are they high quality? Do you like them? If so, could you see yourself recommending them to others? Don’t write off a company if you don’t really understand their products. They could be the perfect fit, but you’ll never know unless you dig in and learn more.

Lastly, thoroughly dig into the company’s compensation plan. Some plans are more complicated than others. Don’t get scared away! I have found, sometimes, the more it appears complicated, there are actually more opportunities to earn. #showmethemoney

In Young Living, not only is our compensation plan super generous, but we also earn rewards points AND freebies, all in the same month. This is just for ordering monthly in order to get our commissions. And the best part is that even as you rank up, you still only have that $100 monthly commitment! Yes, even at the very top!

Not every company has an income disclosure (not really sure why not), which tells you what the average person at each rank earns, but WE do! You can check it out HERE. I’m currently an Executive, so you can get a rough estimate as to what I bring home. I’m still working this business hard though, and mark my words… I won’t stop until I’m Royal Crown Diamond (RCD)! #joinme

So, obviously, I LOVE my company, but really, you just need to find something that feels right for you! Maybe it’s Young Living, or maybe it’s something totally different. Find what makes you feel passionate and what products you feel with help change lives!

#9 | Weigh the pros and cons

So this is basically a follow-up to #8, but once you find a couple companies that feel right to you, make a pros and cons list. After writing that all out, prioritize all your points with some sort of ranking system. Maybe company A has 10 pros and only 1 con, but all the pros are low ranking. Company B, however, has fewer pros, but they are VERY important to you.

After looking at both lists, pray again for guidance on making a wise decision. It’s possible that neither would be a wrong choice, so you could even reach out to people working in those current companies and pick their brains. See if they have any other pros and cons to add to the list that you didn’t realize or think about.

#10 | Make a decision and sign up, when you’re ready!

So you’ve looked into lots of companies (including Young Living, right? wink wink, lol) and you’re finally ready to make a decision. The big question is WHO should you sign up under?

Find someone that is passionate about their business, but also someone who feel you can work closely with. Research shows that people that work alongside a friend in network marketing, get amazing results.

I’m still in the early stages of business, but I love working with people who not only love to joke around and have fun, but those who are insanely creative and love all things business. Isn’t work WAY more enjoyable when you LOVE with you do? Since starting my business, I have loved every minute of it, but it’s always more fun to work with like-minded people.

#11 | You’ve jumped into a new company, now what?

The very first thing I would do, before digging into all the new information your company offers its builders, is contact your followers – your past clients, customers, and downline members. They may be scared and unsure of what to do next. You’re their leader, and you’ve done all the work of researching a new company, so now’s the time to share your knowledge with those you care about and who deeply care about you.

I have found that live videos are always the most genuine. People can see the pain you’ve endured as well as the passion you exude for the journey you are now on. Show them what you’ve learned, and help lead them to their new venture.

#12 | Get to work!

I joined Young Living back in July of 2015, but I didn’t start building a business until the end of 2017! It’s not because the business side of essential oils is weak – quite the contrary. Business is booming! Our company is one of the fasting growing in the world!

I didn’t start building a business right away because our company is all about the products. We don’t focus on recruiting because our goal is simply to get essential oils into every home. Once people (like me) start consistently using their products, realize the life-changing benefits, the next natural step is to tell everyone their story. It was when I realized I had a story to tell that I started my business.

You’ve joined your company, now it’s time to get to work! Sift through every file in your back office, read through every book and resource you can get your hands on, start following the companies top leaders on social media, watch every YouTube video your company puts out, and be wary of nay-sayers. Everyone’s a critic, right? No company is 100% perfect, so try to avoid those people who enjoy sowing seeds of hate into the world.

So that’s it guys and gals!

These are my twelve tips for getting you through this tough transition! My heart hurts for you, it really does. I can’t imagine the panic and hopelessness this situation has caused, but know that God has a plan for you! Maybe it’s you reading this blog post, reaching out to me, and letting me show you what Young Living has to offer.

Or maybe it’s something else entirely, and that’s OK. Just know you have a compassionate friend in your corner, and I am happy to chat with you or simply pray for you.

If you are interested in learning about Young Living’s income opportunity, fill out the form below with your info and any questions you might have, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

Proudly brought to you by BuddyForms

If you are ready to jump into the amazing world of essential oils, I’d LOVE to help you get started today. Simply follow THIS LINK and purchase your starter kit. It has twelve of the highest quality oils in the world, plus a beautiful diffuser with 11 awesome light settings. It will be the easiest and smartest $165 (plus tax and shipping) you will ever pay PLUS you will be a member of the Blue Crew, our team community!

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A Mother’s Nightmare – the Loss of a Child http://www.jennyminard.com/a-mothers-nightmare/ http://www.jennyminard.com/a-mothers-nightmare/#comments Tue, 04 Jun 2019 01:21:25 +0000 http://www.mommawren.com/?p=892 I have been thinking about writing this post for the past three years.  I finally found the courage to publish it.  Please understand that this is a very sensitive topic and it is my personal story.  I share it now to not only educate others about what it’s like to lose a child (at any […]

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I have been thinking about writing this post for the past three years.  I finally found the courage to publish it.  Please understand that this is a very sensitive topic and it is my personal story.  I share it now to not only educate others about what it’s like to lose a child (at any age), but to offer hope to those grieving mommas, daddies, siblings, and family members.

Deep breath…

The Loss of a Child

On June 2nd of 2016, I arrived at my OBGYN’s office for a routine checkup.  I was nineteen weeks pregnant, and ecstatic for my fourth baby to be born that October.  After waiting only a few minutes, they called me back, took my vitals, and directed me to an exam room.  That appointment lasted less than an hour.  What happened that day turned out to be my worst nightmare.

My baby had died.

The sweet, young nurse and had tried finding the baby’s heartbeat.


She called a veteran nurse in.  Surely she could find the heartbeat.


They called a third nurse, who suggested I have an ultrasound to see what’s going on.  By this point, I had knots in my stomach and was preparing for the worst.  I prayed, “God, please don’t take this baby from me.  Please don’t let this be my third loss.  Please work a miracle.”

I was escorted to another room.  The ultrasound tech scanned my belly.


My baby was gone.

I was strong.  Really strong.  At first.

The tech asked me if I’d like to call my husband and see if he could come to the office.  No tears.  I knew he was really busy, plus we only had one car.  Still no tears.  I didn’t want to inconvenience others by begging for rides.  Be strong, Jenny.

I said, “No, it’s ok, I can drive myself home.”  But as I said those words, I realized I’d be driving home alone.  The baby in my belly wouldn’t be listening as I sang along to the radio.  He wouldn’t feel the bumps as his momma drove over a pothole.  He wouldn’t be soothed by the beating of my heart.  I’d be alone.

And that’s when I lost it.

I no longer had to worry about where we were going to fit a fourth child in our cramped, two-bedroom apartment.  I sobbed.  I didn’t have to get out all the baby clothes, wash them, and organize them.  My heart ached.  No new carseats would need to be purchased.  The tears rolled off my cheeks and onto my shirt.

I cried so hard, I could barely see.  I had to take my glasses off and just cover my face with my hands.  The poor ultrasound tech was so compassionate.  She got me some tissues and asked if I’d like a few moments alone.  I said yes.

As I sat in that little room, still looking at the image of my motionless baby on the screen, I still prayed for a miracle. “God, please bring this baby back to me.  Please don’t take him just yet.  Don’t let this be real.”  Yet I still cried.  I knew he was gone.

I decided not to call my husband while I was at the office.  News like this would be too difficult to share, or hear, over the phone.  That thought made me sob even harder.  No one knew but me.

My baby had died, but I was the only one who knew it.

A short while later, a doctor came in and took me to another exam room.  Here, she discussed with me what had been found on the ultrasound and what my options were.

We talked about doing a D&C. Absolutely not. If you don’t know what that is, please go look it up. Removing my sweet baby was not going to be a “procedure.” I knew, before even leaving the office, that I would deliver this tiny baby, and that we would bury his remains. I had no idea what they would really mean or look like, but I knew that’s what we needed to do.

The next 24 hours were rough. I went home and told my husband. We both cried together. He was the sweetest and so compassionate! Man… we’ve been through so much – two other losses, financial struggles, job changes, moving from one state to the next, living across the country from each other when we were newly married, ER trips, a child born with cancer. So. SO. much!

But I knew we could make it through this. How did I know? One word…


Without Him, I don’t know how I could’ve survived ANY of our past and current life obstacles.  Our baby might be gone, but we know where he is. We might have a pain deep in our hearts, but we have a Savior that can heal that pain – He is the great physician. We have His Word that can cut through the fog of depression and sadness!

But we’re human. We will still struggle. We will still grieve.

So although I was dealing with same major heavy emotions, we made plans to be back at the hospital the next day. I would be induced, and would give birth to my baby. I had no idea how that would go, but I didn’t want to feel physical pain. So I opted for an epidural.

I regret that now.

I wish I had experienced the delivery all-natural. It might sound weird, but when you can’t take your baby home, and you don’t have photos all over your house of this precious little life, sometimes the pain is all the memory you will have. I wish I had felt the pain.

So Gabriel was born on June 3, 2016. He was tiny. He was sweet. A friend of my parents who owns a local funeral home picked his fragile body up and took him to prepare him for the burial. He was SO respectful of our wishes. Thank you, Chip!

I kept hearing people tell me that what we were doing wasn’t the norm, and it made my heart smile. This was a part of our testimony. This is how we view a life. One that didn’t even make it half way in the womb. We love him. We miss him. I wish he were here today.

Of course we were going to go the “more difficult” route of planning a funeral, buying a casket, designing a tombstone, but it is quite an experience doing this for a baby would wasn’t even full term.

My family is the best – so supportive. No one tried to talk us out of doing things this way. Love you guys!

Below is the video I made which played at his memorial service.  The images are hard to see because he doesn’t look like the normal, chunky-cheeked, pink baby. He has dark spots and areas where fluid was pooling. Please be respectful and know that this is a birth video of my baby – Gabriel Joseph.


This video is dedicated to ALL the women who have lost a children through miscarriage, stillbirth, or from illness or accident. I see you, momma! I see you!

Today we celebrate his birthday. He would be two and a half if he were alive today.

Happy Birthday, Gabriel!

Photos of the funeral and burial by Memories by MAK. Song is “Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher.

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How to Make NingXia Red Gummies http://www.jennyminard.com/ningxia-red-gummies/ http://www.jennyminard.com/ningxia-red-gummies/#respond Tue, 12 Mar 2019 05:25:54 +0000 http://www.jennyminard.com/?p=1371 OK guys and gals. It’s been… awhile…. since I’ve posted anything on here. I’ve missed my old blogging schedule and just being able to sit down and write. Oh my goodness, it’s been so long, I just misspelled “write.” Oy! I need to drink some NingXia Red now! lol The truth is, I have added […]

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OK guys and gals. It’s been… awhile…. since I’ve posted anything on here. I’ve missed my old blogging schedule and just being able to sit down and write. Oh my goodness, it’s been so long, I just misspelled “write.” Oy! I need to drink some NingXia Red now! lol

The truth is, I have added a lot to my plate these days (at least, it seems like a lot to me), and I just wasn’t sure I could commit to keeping up with my blog. I like to keep my life simple, and sometimes I find myself saying “OK” too often which results in me feeling overwhelmed.

So I just stopped writing.

I quit writing here, but I actually haven’t quit posting. You can find me on Instagram where I am VERY active! I’d LOVE to have you join my tribe, @jennyminard. ūüėČ

Below is a video my hubby and I did one evening and posted to Instagram. We have started making gummies with NingXia Red because we want our kids to have some of this amazing liquid GOLD! Instead of giving each kid their own 2 oz. packet to drink daily, we just decided to make these little gummies and give them one daily!

They love them SO much and are pretty sad when we run out!

How to make NingXia Red gummies

NingXia Red is SO amazing, and when just one ounce of this stuff has an ORAC value of 1500, you know it’s worth keeping in your fridge! Oh, and these gummies? Soooo delicious!

Wanna get some NingXia of your own? Just click HERE! You won’t regret it!

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11 Tips for Planning a Trip to the Legoland Discovery Center http://www.jennyminard.com/11-tips-for-planning-a-trip-to-the-legoland-discovery-center/ http://www.jennyminard.com/11-tips-for-planning-a-trip-to-the-legoland-discovery-center/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 05:29:39 +0000 http://www.mommawren.com/?p=781 It took him three years, but he finally did it. ¬†My sweet little seven-year-old had saved up $100 all on his own. ¬†What was he going to do this this load of cash you may ask? ¬†And yes, it was all cash! ¬†Well, we decided to take him to the place that is every first […]

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It took him three years, but he finally did it. ¬†My sweet little seven-year-old had saved up $100 all on his own. ¬†What was he going to do this this load of cash you may ask? ¬†And yes, it was all cash! ¬†Well, we decided to take him to the place that is every first grader’s dream. ¬†The Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg, Illinois!

If you are thinking about trying out Legoland, I strongly suggest you start small by visiting the Chicago discovery center.  With lots of activities and family-friendly attractions, this is a vacation worth taking.  Here are 11 tips to consider before heading to the windy city.

(1.) Getting there

Travelling to Legoland in Schaumburg is expensive! You’ll end up spending an arm and a leg on tolls! ¬†At least, that’s what it felt like to us. ¬†We were coming from the west, so we passed two toll booths where the attendant gave us change back¬†– thankfully.

However, once you start taking exits into Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, you’ll need to have exact change – no dollar bills! ¬†So be ready! ¬†In total, during our three days in the windy city, we paid about $20 in tolls! Next time we go, I’ll probably take $10 in bills and $10 in quarters, nickels, and dimes. ūüėČ

(2.) Lockers are available

For a quarter, you can rent a storage locker to keep your things in. ¬†I was happy to have a place to store my purse and diaper bag so all I needed to carry around with me was my phone. ¬†There are some machines that make change for you, but the day we went, they were ALL out of order. Of course! ¬†So bring some loose change (if you haven’t spent it all on tolls). *wink*

(3.) The rides

There are two rides at the Legoland Discovery Center: Kingdom Quest (a¬†gun-shooting, point-acquiring carriage ride) and Merlin’s Apprentice (a more grown-up version of a merry- go-round). My boys, aged seven and four, loved both of these – especially Kingdom Quest.

Babies are not allowed on either ride, unless they are old enough to walk freely on their own Рunassisted.  Thankfully, our one-year-old can walk, so we were able to do the rides as a family.

(4.) The theater

Another¬†attraction we enjoyed included watching a movie in Legoland’s 4-D theater. ¬†We had to wear 3-D glasses the whole time, but it was lots of fun. ¬†It wasn’t a long film – perfect for young kids. ¬†It was probably about 15 to 20 minutes long. ¬†I don’t want to give anything away because I was surprised by the experience. ¬†It was definitely one of my more favorite things about Legoland!

(5.)  Attend a class

Kids are invited to join a class in Lego Master¬†Builder Academy for free! ¬†You have to line up outside the door, and then the instructor let’s the students (and their parents) in when it’s time. ¬†Kids will get to follow along as the instructor explains how to build a small set. ¬†You don’t get to take the sets home, but they ARE available for $5¬†in the Cafe.

Be sure to arrive at least 10 minutes early on a busy day.  Parents are welcome to come in, sit, and watch, but be prepared to stand or put your child on your lap if there are a ton of kids.  We were fortunate to have a pretty small class so even the adults could sit!

(6.) Strollers are welcome

I was happy to have our stroller but really wished I didn’t need it. ¬†There is a special stroller parking area near the lockers, and we were able to leave it there while¬†riding Kingdom Quest. ¬†After the ride was over, we put our one-year-old back in it and were off to more adventures.

In all honestly though, having a stroller was kind of a hassle.  I mean, it was nice to keep our baby girl strapped in and unable to wander around the center aimlessly, but trying to push it through throngs of people was a bit annoying.  We wanted to go to Legoland as a family, so there was no question about whether the baby would go with us or stay home with family.

(7.) Activities

At this location, kids will have¬†lots of opportunities¬†to build with Legos. ¬†When you first enter Legoland, after you’ve purchased your tickets, Miniland will welcome you. ¬†It’s an awesome display of the Chicago skyline and locations created solely from Legos. In Miniland, they have set up a table so kids can build whatever they like while the parents or other family members check out the displays.

Throughout Legoland, there are stations set-up so kids can build. ¬†There’s a room full of tables just for building with Lego Friends, and it seemed that was pretty popular. ¬†While we were in line at the theater, kids or adults could add Legos to a giant mini-figure silhouette on the wall.

Then, in the cafe area, there are two building stations. ¬†One is for building a racecar and testing it by sending it down a track. ¬†The other, which we didn’t have time to do, was where you could build a boat and try to float it on water.

The last activity that my two youngest enjoyed was Pirate Adventure Island.  Kids can climb through a tunnel, build structures with large, soft Lego blocks, and play on the pirate ship.  My youngest was not happy to move on from here.

(8.) The food

Here is how Legoland explains the Cafe:

The Caf√©¬†is located in the middle of the LEGO¬ģ Build and Test¬†area, so is a great place to sit while you watch the kids play.¬† The Caf√©¬†offers cold snack options such as salads, sandwiches, chips, candy, granola bars and bottled drinks.

You are not allowed to bring your own food or drink unless you have a severe food allergy, and we chose not to spend out money in the cafe. ¬†However, they sold these really cute lunch boxes, so we could one for each of the kids. ¬†I’m not planning on using them for food in the future. ¬†Instead, we’ll probably have the kids store their own Lego creations!

(9.) Prices

It’s no secret that Lego and everything under its brand is expensive! ¬†Admission in the Legoland Discovery Center cost us $79.80. ¬†For adults AND kids aged 3 to 12, tickets were $19 each! ¬†Children under three, thankfully, were free! Sometimes you can find Legoland tickets floating around that will knock down the price, but we weren’t so fortunate. Interestingly enough though, two of our tickets have a $5 coupon on the back. ¬†These can be used for a future visit!

(10.) Photos

There’s loads of photo ops at Legoland, but you can also purchase the group photo they take for you when you get there. ¬†I know most people probably wouldn’t choose to buy the photos they sell, but I do, and I’ll tell you why. ¬†We are all¬†in the picture. ¬†Hello! ¬†Usually I’m taking pictures so I’m never in¬†the pictures with my family. ¬†On most days, I’m OK with that, ūüėČ but I know my kids will appreciate seeing my lovely face from time to time in photos.

Also, I’m a big-time scrapbooker, (I’ve just discovered that I love¬†Project Life) so having a full-family photo from this trip is a must-have! Lastly, I figured that Momma should get a souvenir, so I choose to buy the pictures. ¬†For $32, I bought two 5x7s and get digital copies to go along with them.

(11.) The Lego Store

The last stop on our trip to the Legoland Discovery Center was to visit the store. ¬†My son’s eyes were as big as saucers as he shopped for his favorite sets. ¬†He was super excited to have such a big budget, but he had a hard time narrowing it down. ¬†The store, like most Lego stores, is organized by theme, so that made shopping much easier.

Now, I noticed some things about the prices at this Lego store that I thought I’d mention. ¬†My son was looking at¬†Lego Minecraft Waterfall Base, and it was priced as $70 in the Lego store. ¬†However, I noticed that the retail price is actually $68 at Walmart, but even better, the price at my local Walmart is only $50!!! I would suggest looking at prices before going to Legoland.

Another thing I noticed was the minifigure station was actually less expensive at this location than at the Mall of America! ¬†Every year, I buy three of the “make it yourself” minifigures for $15 at the MOA. ¬†You pick one of each: hat or hair, head, body, legs, and accessory. ¬†I’ve made some pretty interesting minifigures over the years. ¬†I was pleasantly surprised to see that to do the same thing at this Legoland, it was $3 less!

So, in case you were wondering, here’s how my son spent his $100…

Lego Minecraft The Nether Railway | $30

The Lego Batman Movie Clayface Splat Attack | $35

Lego Power Functions | $30

He also made his own adorable little minifigure $5. ¬†I would’ve posted a picture to show you, but I couldn’t find him! ūüôĀ ¬†All in all, the trip to the Legoland Discovery Center was a HUGE hit for our kids. ¬†They were telling us that¬†it was the best vacation and best day ever! ¬†Woohoo!

So thanks for stopping by and seeing how we enjoyed a fun-filled day at Legoland in Schaumburg. ¬†We definitely had a blast, but next time we go, I’ll be rethinking some of these tips I listed above. ¬†We’ll make a game plan to have an even better day than this one!


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8 Reasons to Homeschool http://www.jennyminard.com/8-reasons-to-homeschool/ http://www.jennyminard.com/8-reasons-to-homeschool/#respond Mon, 20 Aug 2018 17:36:53 +0000 http://www.mommawren.com/?p=766 I’m saying this in public now because a lot of my friends and family have been asking (or maybe wondering). ¬†It’s official, and no, you can’t talk us out of it. ¬†The decision was actually made when we put our kids in private school, but we just didn’t know it. Are you ready? Here it […]

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I’m saying this in public now because a lot of my friends and family have been asking (or maybe wondering). ¬†It’s official, and no, you can’t talk us out of it. ¬†The decision was actually made when we put our kids in private school, but we just didn’t know it. Are you ready? Here it is…

We are going to homeschool our kids!

My husband and I have been discussing and praying, and we know this is the best decision for our family. ¬†Although it may not be a decision you would make for your family, it’s one that we know is right for us. ¬†We weighed the pros and cons and have come up with a list of why we are saying YES to homeschooling.

(1) We want to really know what our kids are learning.

My husband and I want to be able to choose what curriculum our kids will have for their education. ¬†Knowing what our kids are learning is important because we want them to have a strong Christian foundation, and we feel their whole education needs to be centered around Christ. ¬†The only way to ensure this is to hand-pick our curriculum ourselves. ¬†Wanna know what curriculum we’re choosing for the 2017-2017 school year? ¬†Check back soon!

(2) We want our kids to be academically challenged.

My oldest son is a little smarty pants. ¬†This kid, two years running, scored at least two grade levels ahead in most areas on his standardized tests and can do math like a wizard. ¬†Can wizards to math….?

When I started homeschooling him at the start of first grade, I was having him do second grade math from Horizons and he was excelling. ¬†I would’ve had to move him to third grade math by the end of the school year easily. ¬†He was also writing in cursive and reading middle school chapter books like these from this¬†Roald Dahl set. ¬†We want to be able to push our kids ahead and not be tied down to a particular grade level.

In making the decision to homeschool, we knew it was because our children needed to be challenged. ¬†Private and especially public school settings make it difficult to achieve this because of the student to teacher ratio. ¬†For this point alone, homeschooling just can’t be beat.

(3) We need more time to train them up right.

When my kids went to school, their day went like this… When they woke up in the morning, they could expect about 60 minutes¬†with me and then they were off to school for the next seven hours. ¬†I’d pick them up at 3:10 in the afternoon, and they’d spend only about four hours with us before going to bed. ¬†That means I got a measly five hours to parent and spend quality time with them a day, and they’d get even less time with their dad.

Yes, we had the weekends and yes we had holidays, but haven’t you ever heard that cramming before a test is NOT the way to study? It’s best to start studying right away and review the information daily to really learn it. ¬†The same goes¬†for parenting. ¬†How can we expect great results if we are cramming bible lessons and virtues into our kids minds during their “off hours” or only on Sundays? We want all the time in our kids’ day for their spiritual growth.

(4) We want them to learn how to properly socialize.

How many times have you heard that putting your kids in school is “so good” because now they can be socialized? ¬†For me, too many to count. ¬†Here’s the thing, I don’t WANT my kids to learn to socialize at school. ¬†The last thing I want is for my kids to learn to be like the other kids their age. ¬†I can already name a few kids I wish my children weren’t friends with. ¬†Yikes…

“What? I can’t believe you said that? Your kids are gonna be so socially awkward!”

No, no they won’t. And I’ll tell you why.

My kids will learn to be able to talk and make friends with people of any age. ¬†How? Because they will have many opportunities to do so. ¬†They’ll have a chance to tell the cashier, politely, why they are not in school in the middle of the day. ¬†They’ll be able to converse with workers at the zoo while we’re on a field trip. ¬†They’ll be able to chat with kids younger and older while at our weekly co-op.

In addition, I live in my hometown where my husband and I both grew up and graduated high school. ¬†I have lots of friends still in the area who’d love to get together for playdates. ¬†Oh, and of course, my kids go to church so there are probably 400+ people with which my kids can meet and converse. It’s not going to be a problem for my kids to socialize.

(5) We want to strengthen our family identity.

Every family has a family identity, even if you don’t realize it. Try sitting down with your spouse and even your kids and figuring out with it means to be a ____ (insert last name). ¬†For us, it’s loving the Lord first and family second. ¬†It’s taking care of, supporting, and encouraging each other.

But there’s¬†more.

Being a part of our family means you love hotdogs and baseball (GO CARDS!).  It means you are polite and never rude, generous and giving, loyal and a good friend. We give hugs and kisses every night before bed, play games like this and this, and we make a huge, ridiculous deal about birthdays.

That’s just a small portion of our family identity, but it’s what makes us, us!

(6) We want to have a more flexible schedule.

During the 2016-2017 school year, my two oldest kids were in private school. ¬†This means I had to drive them to and from school, and we couldn’t just pack up and go visit family or go on vacation without making lots of arrangements. ¬†My daughter and I could sometimes go on day trips to nearby cities, but we had to get back home in time to pick up the boys from school.

This is was one of the biggest drawbacks to putting our kids in school that year, but that will all change starting the fall of 2017 – Hurray! ¬†Having a flexible schedule is great because, whenever I want, I’ll be able to go and do anything during any time of the day or week.

I’ll be able to go visit my grandma, which means all my kids will get quality time with her. ¬†We can go to the grocery store in the middle of the day so that my kids can practice their manners in public. ¬†When someone in the family has a baby, I can quickly go visit. If my husband (who owns his own business) decides he wants to take time off for a few days, we’ll be able to hang out as a family!

(7) We want Momma to be home more.

When our kids were put in school, my schedule was all over the place.  If you are a mom that works outside of the house, this may seem like no big deal to you.  However, we believe that, for our family, I should be home as much as possible, taking care of the house and kiddos!

I have always been a slob, and my husband isn’t much better than me. ¬†So, in our marriage, it’s been tough having a consistently clean house. ¬†This has been especially true since adding children to the mix. ¬†In one word, it could be called “chaos” at times.

We have been really working hard on keeping the house nice.  I have been reading The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark which has really helped!  However, we feel the best way to ensure it stays this way is to allow Momma (me) to be home more.  Check back later on future posts about how the five of us live in (and organize) our 952 square foot apartment!

(8) We want our kids to have more opportunities to learn.

Homeschooling allows kids to learn anywhere they go. ¬†Grocery shopping is a time for kids to learn math. ¬†We can read, study, and research at the library. ¬†Anytime of the day, we can go to the park for recess or “PE.” ¬†Visiting my grandma helps our kids to learn about their genealogy. ¬†We will have all hours of the day to go anywhere and learn anything we want.

So that’s it!

Eight reasons we’re saying YES to homeschooling our kids. ¬†What are some of your reasons? ¬†I’d love to read about them in the comments below. ¬†Also, please let me know if you have any questions, and I’d be happy to answer them in a future post!

Momma Wren | Disclosure

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Christmas LEGO Sets for 2017 http://www.jennyminard.com/christmas-lego-sets-2017/ http://www.jennyminard.com/christmas-lego-sets-2017/#respond Sat, 26 Aug 2017 20:51:01 +0000 http://www.mommawren.com/?p=987 One of the coolest things I remember about my sister’s old house, was walking into her dining room and seeing her table all decorated with a bunch of seasonal LEGO sets. ¬†Now, try to imagine. ¬†My sister has a family of THIRTEEN, so this wasn’t just a little six-chaired dining room set. ¬†This was a […]

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One of the coolest things I remember about my sister’s old house, was walking into her dining room and seeing her table all decorated with a bunch of seasonal LEGO sets. ¬†Now, try to imagine. ¬†My sister has a family of THIRTEEN, so this wasn’t just a little six-chaired dining room set. ¬†This was a banquet table, people!!

The display eventually moved to her mantle, but the feeling was still the same.  It was adorable!

My favorite of her LEGO displays was definitely the one she set out for Christmas. She had her own little Christmas village which consisted of multiple “Decembery” sets. ¬†From the moment I first laid eyes on it, I decided I wanted to start collecting these sets myself.

Can you believe that Christmas is only 121 days away?  Are you wondering how I know how many days away it is?  I use my Amazon Alexa to ask about everything, which includes days until Christmas, the current weather, how many miles I am from Disney World (1,010 miles, FYI), or how to spell antidisestablishmentarianism (thanks Alexa).

Anyway, I shop for Christmas all year long. ¬†Mostly I’m searching for sales or gifts that I can snag at deep discounts. ¬†However, I also like to shop to unique gifts – some of which are only available at certain times of the year. ¬†I especially love searching for (oh, and buying) Christmas sets!

Current sets available through the LEGO store:

DUPLO Santa’s Winter Holiday (10837) – $29.99

Winter Toy Shop (10249) – $79.99

Winter Holiday Train (10254) HARD TO FIND! – $99.99

Current Sets Available on Amazon:

Creator Santa’s Workshop (10245) – $103.92

Christmas Build Up 24-in-1 (40222)

So there you have it – a handful of Christmas LEGO sets to get you started! ¬†Wanna save on shipping? ¬†Try Amazon Prime for 30 days FREE and never pay shipping! ¬†Let me know in the comments below if you are a LEGO aficionado and what your favorite Christmas set is! ¬†Mine is definitely Santa’s Workshop.

Call for Submissions

If you’d like to have your LEGO display featured on our blog, please email your photos to contact@jennyminard.com with the subject “LEGO Display Submission,” and maybe you’ll see your amazing creation in a future post!

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How to Start a Bullet Journal http://www.jennyminard.com/how-to-start-a-bullet-journal/ http://www.jennyminard.com/how-to-start-a-bullet-journal/#respond Sat, 20 May 2017 04:17:36 +0000 http://www.mommawren.com/?p=818 I’m a stationery junkie, and every chance I get, I buy pens and notebooks. ¬†I can’t help myself, but I’ve always been drawn to art supplies. ¬†I wouldn’t say¬†I’m an artist – more of a doodler. ¬†So a year ago, when I accidentally stumbled upon the concept of bullet journaling, and all of the beautiful […]

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I’m a stationery junkie, and every chance I get, I buy pens and notebooks. ¬†I can’t help myself, but I’ve always been drawn to art supplies. ¬†I wouldn’t say¬†I’m an artist – more of a doodler. ¬†So a year ago, when I accidentally stumbled upon the concept of bullet journaling, and all of the beautiful pages they contain, I was intrigued.

So what is a bullet journal?

First off, if you like to know exactly what a bullet journal is, I’d recommend watching THIS video. ¬†The creator of the bullet journal system, Ryder Carroll, not only shows you how to utilize it, but he also explains what it is. ¬†If you’d prefer to hear my explanation, then keep reading.

The way I’d explain it is that it’s a planner, diary, sketchbook, and record keeper – all in one! ¬†Different people use it for different reasons, but those seem to be the most popular. ¬†The system is designed to help you be the best you (sorry if that’s a little corny) by helping you be more productive in all areas of your life.

Is bullet journaling right for you?

I think anyone can customize a bullet journal to be whatever they need it to be, but not everyone will do it the same way. ¬†Ryder’s style is more minimalistic. ¬†He does this because it helps him use the system fast and efficiently. ¬†Other people, myself included, love the artistic and creative aspect and you’ll see lots of color, drawings, doodles, and fun lettering.

The trend in bullet journaling (or bujo for short) is big and beautiful illustrations, but yours doesn’t have to be like that. ¬†You can keep it totally simple. ¬†Use it just to help organize your life! ¬†However, do take a few minutes to search on Google, Pinterest, or YouTube, and you’ll see that no two bullet journals are alike. ¬†You’ll quickly see what style you are drawn to.

How this Momma is using her bullet journal

From the very beginning, I knew exactly how I was going to utilize the whole bullet journal system.  I had some main goals.  Here they are:

  • Keep track of events
  • Make t0-do lists
  • Organize my thoughts and doodles
  • Do quick, daily journal entries
  • Jot down family memories and funny quotes from my kids
  • Record blog stats and post ideas
  • Brainstorm on paper
  • Combine all my random notebooks into one

Basically, I wanted to have one book to “rule them all!” ¬†Seriously though. ¬†I just needed one notebook in which to keep everything in my life, instead of carrying around five books and losing four of them! (for real)

Are you ready to dive in?

If you think this system might work for you, then now it’s time to get started. ¬†Like I said, I actually became interested in bullet journaling a year ago, but it wasn’t until last month that I did thorough¬†research and ordered my current notebook and pens. ¬†I will use my knowledge of the system and what research I did in order to help you get started with your own bujo! ¬†I’m so excited! ¬†Let’s get to it.

First, choose a notebook

Any notebook will work as a bullet journal, but I have noticed that most people use the same kind – the Leuchtturm 1917 notebook with dotted pages. ¬†This particular journal costs about $20, and comes in a variety of colors. ¬†It measures 5.75×8.25 inches, has two ribbon bookmarks, and an expandable pocket. ¬†The product description says the paper is ink proof and acid-free, and it apparently even comes with stickers!

Most bullet journalists would highly recommend this notebook, and if you’re overwhelmed with notebook options, this would be a great place to start.

After seeing numerous videos, blog posts, and pinterest images, I decided to ignore all the recommendations to use the Leuchtturm and do my own thing. ¬†So, in the midst of doing a search in Amazon, I discovered this adorable notebook called Scribbles That Matter. ¬†I just fell in love with it – those adorable imprinted doodles on the cover, though…

Momma Wren | How to Start a Bullet Journal

At just $20, I felt it was comparable to the Leuchtturm 1917, but it was WAY cuter!  There are a lot of the same features with the Scribbles That Matter notebook.  You can see by the photos below that it has an elastic strap for closure, two colored ribbon bookmarks, expandable pocket, and numbered pages.  Oh, and this notebook actually has an elastic pen holder.  Love that so much!

Momma Wren | How to Start a Bullet Journal, Scribbles That Matter

Momma Wren | How to Start a Bullet Journal, the key and index

And speaking of the key and index…

Setting up your bullet journal

My Scribbles That Matter notebook not only has a key, but it also has a “colour code” column. I’m not sure if I will use it, but I love that it gives me this option. ¬†I love color, so having it organized in a code might be beneficial for me. ūüôā

Bullet journaling is all about rapid logging, so the key is super important.  You can use whatever symbols you prefer, but most people stick with the same general ones.  For example, a task is represented by a dot. When that task is completed, you cross it out with an X.  If the task is in progress, just draw one slash through the dot.  Refer to the picture above for other ideas for your key.

The next¬†thing you’re gonna want to do is add your future log on the first TWO empty two-page spreads after the index. ¬†Basically, the future log is a yearly calendar with some space to write key events or things to remember for¬†each month. ¬†I started mine this month (May 2017), so I was easily able to fit all eight months between these two pages. Another thing people also do is write all twelve months out on one page – just as a reference.

Momma Wren | How to Start a Bullet Journal, Future Log

Now, remember that index? Once you have your future log (yearly calendar) all written down, then you turn back to your index and record the page numbers they’re on. ¬†For me, it was pages 1 and 2. ¬†You can see how I wrote it down above.

Next, you’ll want to decide if you want to include a monthly, weekly, and/or daily log. ¬†I haven’t decided yet what I will ultimately use consistently, so I’m using this month to experience.

Momma Wren | How to Start a Bullet Journal, Monthly Log

So far, this is probably my least favorite spread in my bullet journal, and obviously I had a pen bleed through from the following page. ¬†Still, it serves an important purpose. ¬†I’m able to see everything I have going on in the current month – so helpful! ¬†I wanted this spread to be one that I refer back to constantly, so half of it is designed for my business, too.

Like I said up above, one of my goals for this bullet journal¬†is to record quick, daily journal entries. ¬†Some people create a¬†“One line a day” collection, but I wanted to include more details in mine. So, my daily log is more of a diary!

Momma Wren | How to Start a Bullet Journal, Daily Log

Here you can see how I started my entries. ¬†In the future, I will not dictate ahead of time how much room to give each day, because I don’t want to feel like I can only include a certain amount of information. ¬†Also, did you notice the matching¬†washi tape behind the “20” on Saturday? I made a boo-boo, and to fix it, I just covered it with the tape and wrote right over it. ¬†Thankfully, the color matched perfectly!

After you have created your monthly and daily logs, make sure to go back and record them in your index. Now’s the time for all the fun.

Create trackers and collections

Think about things that you might want to keep track of and make some trackers.  Some people like to record how much water they drink, how many hours of sleep they get each night, or making sure they are creating healthy habits.

Then there’s my personal fave – collections! ¬†With collections, you can organize similar things into groups. ¬†Some ideas include favorite restaurants, movies watched, birthdays, recipes, vacation plans, daily routine, bucket list, brain dump, quotes, and so many more.

Momma Wren | How to Start a Bullet Journal, Birthday Collection

Remember, always be sure to go back and record page numbers in your index.  This is so important so you can find things later!

Lastly, if your bullet journal doesn’t already have a pen test page printed in it like these Scribbles That Matter notebooks, then make sure to create your own. ¬†The last thing you’re gonna want, is for your spreads to get ruined because your pen ink bled through the page or the marker was dying – so disappointing! ¬†Try every pen and marker out before adding to your journal. ¬†You can also do what I did, and write the names down so you remember what colors look good and which¬†ones are your favorites.

Momma Wren | How to Start a Bullet Journal, Pen Test Page

So that’s it!

I’m so excited to add more and more to my bullet journal. ¬†I feel like it’s going to be my Indiana Jones’s dad’s little leather notebook (shout out to anyone who knows what I’m talking about). ¬†Please follow me on Instagram @momma_wren to see more of my bullet journal spreads!

Anybody else in love with bullet journaling? Let me know in the comments below! <3  Interested in knowing what supplies I use in my bujo?  Check back soon for a complete list of resources.

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28 Ways to Be a Great Mom http://www.jennyminard.com/28-ways-to-be-a-great-mom/ http://www.jennyminard.com/28-ways-to-be-a-great-mom/#respond Sun, 14 May 2017 05:16:32 +0000 http://www.mommawren.com/?p=799 This post is a collaboration between myself and my three sisters. ¬†We put our heads together, thinking about how our mom is the best mom ever. ¬†We are pretty sure other moms could learn a thing or two from this awesome lady! The following list includes¬†ways that any mom can be a great mom – […]

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This post is a collaboration between myself and my three sisters.  We put our heads together, thinking about how our mom is the best mom ever.  We are pretty sure other moms could learn a thing or two from this awesome lady!

The following list includes ways that any mom can be a great mom Рthanks to our mom, who was the shining example!

(1.) Be willing to listen to your kids

Growing up, I always felt like I could talk to my mom about anything. ¬†Even if she didn’t particularly care about what I was telling her, I was never pushed away or told to leave her alone. ¬†She always seemed willing to hear about my day, latest drama, or newest idea!

(2.) Raise your kids to love the Lord

Every Sunday, without fail, we were required to attend church. ¬†That was expected from all of us, but our upbringing consisted of so much more than just worshipping on the Lord’s day. ¬†Mom always encouraged us to love God and obey His word. ¬†We prayed as a family, and even to this day, we love to discuss and study¬†Biblical topics. ¬†If it weren’t for us having a Christian mother, all four of us wouldn’t have personal relationships with Christ today!

Momma Wren | 28 Ways to be a Great Mom

(3.) Don’t be a friend to your kids

This includes teens, too! ¬†During the first 18 to 20 years of your children’s lives, your job as a mom is to be a parent. *GASP* I know, shocking. ¬†But the truth is that many parents don’t do this these days. ¬†Our mom was very strict, and I don’t think any of us girls would’ve said as youngsters, “Yeah, my mom is my friend.” ¬†That woman parented the crap out of us, and as a result, we all love and respect her to this day. ¬†While your kids are young and impressionable, you need to be a parent first. ¬†End of story!

(4.) Be a friend to your adult kids

Here’s where there’s great news. ¬†Once your kids have the maturity to prove they are adults, you can now enter the “friend zone.” Haha! ¬†The best part about our¬†relationship with our mom today is that we can honestly say that now we are friends. ¬†We all love spending the afternoon talking, hanging out, having dinner, or travelling with Mom.

Momma Wren | 28 Ways to be a Great Mom

(5.) Don’t give your kids everything they want

We didn’t grow up with a lot of money, but we’re so thankful that Mom didn’t make us think that we did. ¬†A lot of parents are afraid that their kids will be unhappy if they don’t have everything their hearts desire. ¬†Or they’re worried that their kids will be “messed up” if they don’t have what other kids have.

We never wore name-brand clothes or had all the awesome stuff, and we never felt resentment for it. ¬†Trust us, it won’t eternally scar your kids to say “no” sometimes.

(6.) Match your kids’ and grandkids’ excitement

Mom is so. stinkin. good. about this! ¬†She gets super excited when we tell her things or show her something we made or bought. ¬†She’s even good at this with the grandkids, too, so they love telling Nana things that are important to them. ¬†Here’s how to do it…

When you child approaches you with a gift, news, or discovery, take a quick look at their face and notice their tone of voice.  Your job is to match that excitement, or do what our mom does, and go above and beyond.  Be more excited than they are and they will always appreciate it!

Momma Wren | 28 Ways to be a Great Mom

(7.) Encourage your kids’ interests

When I asked all my sisters to submit a list of things that make our mom great, three of us included this.  Our mom and dad are both very musical, and in turn, we all grew to love music, too.  Mom loves all kinds of music and encouraged us to not only listen to the music we liked, but to also learn good music.  Mom also nurtured our love for music, and she encouraged us to use our God-given talents in many ways.

(8.) Be accessible

We moved around a lot as kids, but Mom seemed to always be able to find a job in the schools where we attended.  It was nice being able to go to her room after school was out, and just knowing she was nearby made life just a little bit more comfortable.

Momma Wren | 28 Ways to be a Great Mom

(9.) Be a good teacher

Being a teacher goes hand-in-hand with being a mom,¬†and our mom is a great example of this. ¬†She could literally teach anything, and she’d be amazing at it. ¬†She’s really patient with people who need to learn, and she can even make learning fun. ¬†So so hard to do! ¬†The fact our mom was such a great teacher is probably why three of us became teachers ourselves.

(10.) Work hard and let your kids see it

Some moms do their work behind the scenes or when their kids go to bed.  Not our mom, she did her work during our wake hours, and we saw the amount of time and effort she put into it.  No matter if she was working on something for her job or something for home, she always, and still does, put 100% of her heart into it.  Showing your kids how hard you work encourages them in an indirect way to do the same.

Momma Wren | 28 Ways to be a Great Mom

(11.) Put family first

Regardless of what goes on from day to day, when family things come up, they are top priority.  If two events happened on the same night, there was no question which to attend Рfamily before friends.  Always!

(12.) Don’t be afraid to talk about the hard issues

Life is hard and messy, but you can’t be afraid to sit your kids down and sort it all out. ¬†I never felt like mom kept anything from us – especially those things that needed to be said. ¬†I’m sure there was¬†plenty of teenage angst-filled eye rolling, but that didn’t keep her from her mission as a mom. ¬†To train us up right!

Momma Wren | 28 Ways to be a Great Mom

(13.) Keep a clean and organized house

Mom has almost always been a working mom, out of the home.  Yet, somehow she has managed to keep a neat and clean house.  Many of us know that life can get busy and messy, but having a clean home is essential to being stress-free.  Our mom is a great example of a wonderful homemaker.

(14.) Create family traditions

Every family has traditions. ¬†Some stick around and others fall to the wayside, but every family has them. ¬†For us, some of the least favorites included Saturday morning chores and Sunday night popcorn for dinner. ¬†Oh, the horror…

But then there were the awesome¬†traditions. ¬†Things like doing the advent calendar leading up to Christmas, Dairy Queen after a winning ball game, and singing the “Johnny Appleseed Song” at every family reunion.

Momma Wren | 28 Ways to be a Great Mom

(15.) Demand high standards

And speaking of chores…

We were all required to do our own laundry, pick up after ourselves, and keep our rooms clean.  Some of us did better than others, but we still knew what was expected.  Like I mentioned earlier, Saturdays were cleaning days, and everyone was supposed to help.  Mom demanded more than household participation, though.  We were to keep our behavior in check.

Table manners were a must! ¬†No elbows on the table, chewing with your mouth open, talking with your mouth full of food, or reaching across the table. ¬†We were taught not to be rude by asking for things you weren’t offered, inviting yourself to a friend’s house, or interrupting others. ¬†The list goes on, but one thing is for sure. ¬†Mom had high standards, and our job was to strive to meet¬†them.

(16.) Celebrate BIG

Mom was (and still is) great about celebrating each person for their birthday. ¬†Now it’s getting a little tough because the family has grown so large, but Mom still does her best. ¬†We get together just about every Sunday for lunch after church, and if a birthday falls near that day, we celebrate that person.

(17.) Have fun and be silly

Whether is a game, musical, sport, or song, Mom always ends up involved somehow. ¬†She loves to win, and is actually quite talented when it comes to competition. ¬†One year, during a family fest, Mom and Dad actually beat ALL the kids during a Badminton tournament. ¬†“No fair, Mom. ¬†I’m telling… uh…. Grandma!” ¬†We always have an amazing time when Mom plays with us.

Momma Wren | 28 Ways to be a Great Mom

(18.) Plan road trips

We do this more now than we did as kids, but every year, we go on a girls’ road trip. ¬†All the girls are invited to drive to Minnesota to spend an¬†evening at the Chanhassen dinner theater and then shop at the Mall of America the next day. ¬†It’s always such a fun time filled with great memories.

(19.) Be helpful and encouraging as your kids become parents

Mom has been so great when our babies were born. ¬†Many times, she was their when we gave birth, and sometimes she was even able to spend a few days with us. ¬†She did this not to spend the first few days of the baby’s life being constantly held and cuddled by Nana, but to help with dishes, laundry, watching the older children, making meals. ¬†It means the world having a mom that not only offers sage wisdom to new moms but one who also gives her time and energy in acts of service.

Momma Wren | 28 Ways to be a Great Mom

(20.) Pray for your family

Mom always said that she prayed for all of us, before and after we were born.  She prayed that we would seek and find the Lord, and to give our hearts to Him one day.  Be a great mom and make sure to pray for your kids (and hubby) every single day!

(21.) Be willing to let your kids have a pet

Sometimes the best way to teach your kids responsibility is to have them take care of a pet. ¬†We had a good number of animals when we grew up! ¬†At some point in our childhood, we owned¬†dogs, cats, fish, hamsters, gerbils, a rabbit, chickens, cows, pigs, and even a really mean pony (not all at one time, thankfully). ¬†We all had the opportunity to clean out cages, fill food and water dishes, and keep our animals clean. ¬†This is a useful skill that can prepare kids for #adulting one day! ūüėČ

(22.) Let your kids fail

Encourage and push your kids to experience all sorts of amazing things in life, but be aware that they won’t be great at everything. ¬†Not all of us girls were good at sports, but we all played. ¬†Some of us more than others. ¬†If we got beamed in the eye with a fly ball, Mom would wipe away our tears and push us back in the game. ¬†Quitting was not a part of her vocabulary. ¬†No matter what, even if we failed, we were taught to try.

(23.) Be strong in the midst of hardship

Last June, one of us endured a loss that many moms can understand Рthe death of a child.  So many women have miscarried, had a stillbirth, or even had a child pass away from cancer or other heart-wrenching issues.  Our mom is always a solid rock during times of extreme sorrow, and she is always there, willing to help in numerous ways.  Being a great mom means sometimes going out of your comfort zone and serving others in ways that only a mom can!

Momma Wren | 28 Ways to be a Great Mom

Photo credit Memories by MAK

(24.) Take good care of your own mom

Want to be taken care of in your old age? ¬†Then be an example to your kids by loving and caring for your own mother. ¬†Mom visits our¬†grandma and invites her for “sleepovers” from time to time, and we always love seeing them together. Even this Mother’s Day weekend, Grandma will be staying with Mom.

(25.) Be great with your words

This has to be one of our mom’s greatest strengths. ¬†She is an amazing wordsmith! ¬†More than one of us has referred to her if we’re not sure what to say or how to word something. ¬†Without a doubt, we’ll always ask her. ¬†Words can have such a powerful effect on people, so this is kind of a big thing.

(26.) Cherish your kids

Just take a minute and think about this Рyour children are yours.  They are yours because God wanted them to be, and does God make mistakes?  No way, Jose!

(27.) Let your kids be kids

It can be frustrating to beach clothes and give baths after kids have been rolling about in the mud, but sometimes, it’s the little (hey, and free) things that make the world to your kids. ¬†Let them get messy, let them go on an adventure, and let them have ice cream for breakfast. ¬†Just let them be kids!

Momma Wren | 28 Ways to be a Great Mom

(28.) Cook with brown sugar

As much as you might think this is silly, it’s kinda true in our eyes. ¬†It’s a running joke in our family that¬†Mom puts brown sugar in everything. ¬†Ok, maybe not EVerything. ¬†Just those things that are important – spaghetti and meatloaf to name a couple. ¬†For the rest of my life, when I sprinkle brown sugar into my dishes, I’ll always think of Mom.

Thank you Mom for all you’ve done and all you do!

In the beautiful words of my sister Betsi…

I’m thankful because God does everything for His glory, and He sovereignly gave me the mom that would fulfill His eternal purpose. ¬†That’s huge. ¬†I never could have, nor should have, had any other mom!

Love Julie, Jenny, Betsi, & Katie

Momma Wren | 28 Ways to be a Great Mom

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How to Use the Envelope System http://www.jennyminard.com/how-to-use-the-envelope-system/ http://www.jennyminard.com/how-to-use-the-envelope-system/#respond Thu, 16 Mar 2017 14:49:56 +0000 http://www.mommawren.com/?p=616 Not too long ago, when my husband and I started to get our financial act together, we realized we were spending a ridiculous amount of money on eating out. Wanna know how ridiculous? This is embarrassing… we were spending $400 a month on restaurants!¬†We were having a budgeting crisis in the form of not doing […]

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Not too long ago, when my husband and I started to get our financial act together, we realized we were spending a ridiculous amount of money on eating out. Wanna know how ridiculous? This is embarrassing… we were spending $400 a month on restaurants!¬†We were having a budgeting crisis in the form of not doing it at all. ¬†It was time to come up with a system.

To solve our problem, we learned a trick taught by one of the most famous financial gurus in America, Mr. Dave Ramsey! ¬†This little trick is simple. ¬†It doesn’t involve you going out and getting a second job or even selling some of your favorite toys. ¬†All you have to do is change your money-spending behavior by paying only in cash. ¬†Here is my step-by-step process¬†to explain how to adopt this brilliantly elementary method.

Momma Wren | How to Use the Envelope System

Before you start, create a budget

Doing a monthly budget (or bi-monthly, in our case) means sitting down and writing out how much money you will be receiving and figuring out where you are going to be using it. ¬†Schedule time, the night before payday, to map out where the money will be spent. ¬†Don’t forget anything. ¬†Every penny needs an assignment!

Then, you need to give each money assignment a name.  We use categories such as bills, debts, water, phone, groceries, gas, haircuts, mad money, entertainment, date nights, and many others. Making sure every penny is placed in a spending category dramatically cuts down or even eliminates surprise or frivolous spending!

(1) Get yourself an envelope system

You can use whatever cash-management system you like, but I would strongly encourage you to purchase either Dave’s starter envelope system or the deluxe version. ¬†I have been using the starter system for about seven months now, and I totally love it. ¬†It’s been working great, but there are two cons.

The biggest downside is that the envelopes start to wear down, but you can always buy replacement envelopes here. ¬†To remedy this, instead of buying more envelopes, I’ve just taped them up. ¬†The other drawback is that the starter system doesn’t hold my checkbook or debit cards. ¬†However, the deluxe version does! ¬†So, if you want more of a total wallet, then going bigger is the right choice for you!

(2) Decide which categories will be CASH ONLY

Now that you have your envelope system, write down your “cash only” category titles in the spaces provided on the envelopes. ¬†Not every category will be cash only though. ¬†For example, we use our¬†debit cards for things like bills, debt payments, hair cuts, phone, and gas. These are categories in which we aren’t tempted to overspend. ¬†We have a very specific amount budgeted which we¬†hardly ever ¬†exceed.

Now, think about where you struggle staying on budget and strongly consider using cash for those things. ¬†Right now, we use cash on groceries, eating out, date nights, holidays, entertainment, and mad money. ¬†Food, gifts, and fun are the areas where, if we’re not careful, we will easily break the bank. ¬†So¬†if you decide to budget $300 for groceries, put that much cash in one of your envelopes.

Momma Wren | How to Use the Envelope System

(3) Fill those envelopes

So you’ve budgeted your entire monthly or bi-monthly income and acquired an envelope system; now it’s time to get the cash! ¬†On payday, once the check has been deposited, take out the amount of cash you will need by adding up your “cash only” categories. ¬†With the dough in hand, fill your envelopes with the budgeted money. ¬†Now you are ready to go shopping! ¬†Just kidding….

(4) Spend wisely

Up until now, the whole process has been relatively easy, but now it’s time to be smart. ¬†Dave recommends that you spend money from each envelope and to not borrow or steal from another. ¬†Oh, and when the money is gone, it’s gone for good! ¬†No more spending! ¬†Period.

So what might this look like? Let’s say you budgeted¬†$100 for eating out. ¬†You enjoy a few glorious meals away from home, but then you realize the envelope is now empty. ¬†It is a big fat NO NO to steal money from, say, the groceries envelope to pay for a quick meal of McDonald’s. ¬†Nuh uh, girlfriend! ¬†Once each envelope is empty, you are done for the month. ¬†Next month, you can tweak your budget to allow for more or less money. ¬†We do this by collecting all of our receipts, totalling our spending, and seeing where we can make adjustments.

Be smart, be wise, and stick to the budget.

The envelope system is your new best friend!

Paying with cash using Dave’s envelope system is a simple trick¬†and it’s so¬†worth doing. ¬†So why is adopting¬†it so important?¬†Knowing how to use this system, and following through with it, will save you so much money in those areas where you might be a little out of control. ¬†So don’t waste another minute. ¬†Get your money to behave, as Dave would say, and start using the envelope system today!

Momma Wren | Full Disclosure

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How We Scored a Vacation for $99 http://www.jennyminard.com/how-we-scored-a-vacation-for-99/ http://www.jennyminard.com/how-we-scored-a-vacation-for-99/#respond Fri, 24 Feb 2017 21:23:41 +0000 http://www.mommawren.com/?p=565 Other than my honeymoon, I’ve never gone¬†on a big, fancy trip with my hubby. ¬†I love to travel and experience new things, especially with my BFF. ¬†But we’ve just never been able to. ¬†Well, four years ago, we were lucky to finally take a family trip together. ¬†This post will explain how we scored a […]

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Other than my honeymoon, I’ve never gone¬†on a big, fancy trip with my hubby. ¬†I love to travel and experience new things, especially with my BFF. ¬†But we’ve just never been able to. ¬†Well, four years ago, we were lucky to finally take a family trip together. ¬†This post will explain how we scored a vacation for $99, but what I really want to stress is to work hard and research in order to save money on your next family vacation.

Momma Wren | How we Scored a Vacation for $99!

Now before I get into how we were able to go on such a cheap trip, I need to write a little disclaimer. ¬†I am not telling you my story to encourage you to go out and do this. ¬†In fact, I would strongly encourage you NOT to. ¬†However, if you decide to do something crazy like this, and you are up for the challenge, then by all means! ¬†I will never do this again, but let me explain….

The vacation opportunity

It was Christmas 2012, and my hubby, two boys, and I were at Bass Pro Shops¬†in Springfield, MO. ¬†We were visiting Santa, participating in all the Christmas fun, and shopping for gifts. ¬†By the way, did you know, you can get your photo with Santa for FREE! ¬†We did this two years in a row before moving back to Iowa. ¬†They print you a 4×6″ photo to take with you – it’s great!

Momma Wren | How we Scored a Vacation for $99!  Bass Pro Shops - Springfield, MO

Anyway, as we were getting ready to leave, some random guy comes up to us and asks if we’d like to go on a mini-vacation for just $99. ¬†Well, I was immediately intrigued because, like I said earlier, we had never taken a family vacation (other than going camping). ¬†So I stupidly said, “Sure!”

He chatted with us for a while; he was a really nice guy. ¬†It turns out that for $99, we would stay in a really nice hotel for two nights in Branson, AND we’d get $175 in free Bass Pro gift cards IF, and only if, we sat through an entire timeshare presentation! *insert dramatic music*

Yep, it was a timeshare trap!  And I got sucked in.

Making the decision

No matter how hard they would sell to us, we just couldn’t afford a timeshare, so the trip would still¬†be worth it in the end. PLUS, we’d have our two small kids with us – they couldn’t keep us there forever! ¬†Now, some of you who’ve experienced a timeshare presentation are probably snorting with laughter at this point (no offense), but keep reading.

The one catch for this deal was that we had to use it before the end of February. ¬†“Ok, that’s fine,” I thought. ¬†No big deal. A family vacation in the middle of winter will still be fun. ¬†So we made the reservations, and we were ready for our adventure.

The hotel

Branson was only about an hour from where we lived at the time, so¬†we ate dinner at home, and then we were off! ¬†When we first booked the hotel, we realized there was no continental breakfast (what’s up with that?), so we came prepared with our own food.

Vacation tip: If you want to save some money while on vacation, bring a cooler with meals, snacks, and drinks!

At the hotel, there was a glorious pool and hot tub, so as soon as we got settled into our room, we took the kiddos down for a swim. ¬†We all had a wonderful time, enjoying the water and spending some quality, much-needed time together. ¬†At the end of the night, we got all cozy and snuggled into our luxurious beds, and didn’t even think about what we might experience the next day.

Momma Wren | How we Scored a Vacation for $99!  Hotel fun

The drama

The next morning, I was a mess!  My anxiety (and probably my blood pressure) was at an all-time high.  I was a nervous wreck thinking about what we were gonna have to endure at this timeshare disaster presentation.  We ate a quick breakfast in the hotel and then got in the car.

We were headed to a resort called the Bluegreen Wilderness Club at Big Cedar in Ridgedale, MO. ¬†It was only a 15 minute drive, which was unfortunate for me because it didn’t give me enough to stew and worry! *smirk* ¬†When we got there, we searched for the place where we’d be having our “meeting,” unloaded the kids, made sure we had snacks, diapers, and toys, and made our way into the resort.

After waiting only a few moments, we met our “guy” – I don’t know what you’d all these type of timeshare people. ¬†To me, he was the “guy.” ¬†His name was Lenny, and he looked to be about 65 years old, minimum. ¬†He introduced himself and asked us questions about ourselves; such a nice man.

The tour

He first wanted to give us a tour of the resort which sounded fun.  My husband and I like to get to know people, so we asked Lenny lots of questions about his life.  Turns out, he was just working this position as a post-retirement fun job.  Fun?  Ok, Lenny.  If you say so!

He led us all around the property, and as we walked, my nerves started to settle down.  It was absolutely beautiful there.  We saw some amazing rooms, a mini water park, and even family cabins!  Oh how fun to stay there!  But the fun was short-lived, because Lenny explained it was now time for the sales pitch.

Saying “NO!”

So I won’t bore you with all the details of the sales portion of the presentation, but it wasn’t AT ALL as bad as I had imagined. ¬†Lenny explained to us that Bluegreen Vacations wasn’t like the normal timeshare company. ¬†They were much less salesy and in your face. ¬†We were immediately offered a free Coke beverage, of which I took advantage. ¬†My hubby was worried that they’d try to charge us for it, but by that point, I was like, “It’s ok. I’ll pay for the dang drink.” ¬†Hehe…

Lenny took us to a table and started going through all the variation payment plans. ¬†One after the other, we kept saying “no.” ¬†We literally just could not do it. ¬†I told Lenny, “we wouldn’t be able to afford to feed our kids if we do this.” ¬†He totally understood, however, his job meant that he HAD to go through each pricing structure before he could¬†let people leave. ¬†Seriously.

So we ended up moving to three different meeting places, we were shown the rock-bottom prices (which were actually pretty tempting – I can see why people get sucked in), and then Lenny excitedly told us that we’d get our free Bass Pro gift cards. ¬†He took us to the lady that handed them over to us, and THAT’S when I was finally, mentally, back to normal. ¬†I could relax. ¬†We were done!

Thankful for Lenny

I really think God sent Lenny to us that day. ¬†A retiree who just loved the resort and wanted to meet new people and maybe make a buck or two, he didn’t need the income, but it just kept him busy. ¬†He took care of us; I really believe that. ¬†I’m not sure the experience would’ve been as pleasant as it was had it been someone else.

To top it off, Lenny also told us that we could use our¬†gift cards at a restaurant called the White River Fish House. ¬†This is a floating eatery owned by Bass Pro Shop, and that’s why we could use our gift cards there. ¬†Awesome! ¬†Now we could eat out a couple of times on our fancy little vacation!

Lenny also told us that if we were looking for some free fun (which we totally were), then we should go check out the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery.  He handed us a map, we thanked him for everything, and we piled back into the car.  Before we left, we stopped at the resort gift shop so I could memorialize the trip with souvenirs!

Post-timeshare fun

It was well past lunchtime by the time we left the resort, so we went looking for a cheap lunch somewhere. ¬†Usually, on a vacation, I’d like to try new restaurants like unique local dives, but we were more concerned with our budget. ¬†So after accidentally ending up in Arkansas, we headed back towards Branson where we ended up eating at Subway.

Momma Wren | How we Scored a Vacation for $99!  Lunch at Subway

After lunch, we scoured the map, looking for the fish hatchery, and we realized it was only six miles out of Branson – woohoo! ¬†We were really interested in seeing how enjoyable this freebie was going to be. ¬†Turns out, it was actually pretty neat. ¬†We watched a short little (and quite interesting) video about how the fish hatchery works, and then we could tour the place and, my son’s favorite, feed the fish! ¬†We did pay a quarter here and there for fish food, but it was totally worth it!

Momma Wren | How we Scored a Vacation for $99!  The Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery - Branson, MO

When we were done at the hatchery, we considered visiting the Table Rock Dam, so we went for a scenic drive, but for reasons I can’t remember, that didn’t end up panning out. ¬†After being unable to find another free option, we opted to pay for just one really fun adventure, but it would have to wait for tomorrow.

A Bass Pro dinner

By this point on our vacation, the sun was starting to set, and we figured there might be a wait at the White River Fish House.  So, we decided to find the restaurant and put our name down. Now, remember I told you that we got free Bass Pro gift cards for doing that lovely timeshare thing?  Well, now we were gonna get to have dinner for FREE!

Well, there ended up being no wait at all, which was great! The boys and I were ready to eat, and we were pleasantly surprised by the food. ¬†I’m not a huge fish lover, but there were loads of options! ¬†In addition, the appetizer was this delicious mini cast iron pan of cornbread. ¬†Oh my goodness, I need to find that recipe!!! ¬†If anyone knows what I’m talking about, please help me figure out how to make this divine dish for a future post!

We would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone that is in Branson! ¬†The plan was to have lunch there the next day, before heading home. ¬†When we left the restaurant, Bass Pro was already closed, so we took pictures by this funny bear statue and then headed back to the hotel. ¬†The boys hadn’t gotten their usual nap that day, so they both slept like logs!

And we were grateful for it!

The Butterfly Palace

One our last day of vacation, our one big splurge on this trip was going to The Butterfly Palace in Branson.  For about $40, my hubby and I, and our two kiddos, got to spend a few hours visiting some of the neat attractions within the Palace.  Some of our favorites included the Butterfly Aviary (of course), the Emerald Forest Mirror Maze, and the Banyan Tree Adventure. After playing with the beautiful winged creatures, we watched a short movie about Monarch Butterflies in the Rainforest Theater.

Momma Wren | How we Scored a Vacation for $99!  The Butterfly Palace - Branson, MO

This was the highlight of our trip, and I’m so glad we spent the money to do it. ¬†In the end, $40 was totally worth the lifetime of photos and memories we now treasure. ¬†If we are ever in Branson again, we are definitely going back!

Vacation tip: We were told that butterflies are attracted to the color red and sweet-smelling perfumes.  The day we went, I was wearing a red shirt and cherry vanilla perfume.  So, the butterflies were all over me!  Dress in red and make yourself smell sweet!

Shopping and dinner

After the Butterfly Palace, the four of us drove to Bass Pro Shop. ¬†We have always enjoyed going there and now, with our glorious gift cards, we were even more excited to shop! ¬†Each year we go camping, so we actually picked out a couple of kids’ sleeping bags!

Lunch was at White River Fish House once again, and we enjoyed choosing different entrees to try.  We were so glad to once again have our meal paid for!  With our tummies politely full, we loaded up into our car and headed home.

Final Thoughts

So we scored a vacation for $99, but that really only covered our hotel stay. We did end up spending some of our own money including the following:

  • Lunch at Subway: $25
  • Admission to the Butterfly Palace: $40
  • Gas for our trip: $70 (YIKES! Gas prices were $3.49!)

Our vacation grand total was $234. ¬†Not too shabby for a three day, two night trip. ¬†Yeh, it wasn’t too far from our home at the time, but Branson is such a unique destination. ¬†Oh, and I actually ended up with $7.03 leftover on one of my Bass Pro cards! Woohoo!

If you are planning a small vacation, I would NOT recommend sitting through a scary timeshare presentation just to save money on your hotel. ¬†Most people don’t end up with the happy ending that we did – no timeshare and free gift cards!

The advice I would give you is to do lots of online research about the location, and try out some freebie activities. ¬†No matter what you do on vacation, you’ll make memories doing! ¬†So don’t forget to take photos!

Momma Wren | Full Disclosure

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