34: Encouraging (and Troubleshooting) Your Child’s Healthy Speech Development

When my kids were young, I had the good fortune to have multiple friends that were Speech and Language Pathologists. So any time I had a question or concern about my kiddo's language development, I'd turn to them for assistance, reassurance or strategies.

I realize not everyone has this dynamic, so in this week's episode I've invited Sharon Soliday, a dear friend of mine (and Speech and Language Pathologist), to join me to discuss all things speech and language.

33: Money Talks: Conversations To Have With Your Kids About Money with Tim Ranzetta

Over the past several weeks, we’ve talked about creating a personal spending plan and some tips about how to save money on one of your largest monthly expenses.

But what about imparting some of that financial literacy to your kiddos?

As far as Tim Ranzetta is concerned, having those conversations early and often is key to ensuring your kids have a firm financial foundation to avoid costly spending pitfalls and proactively manage their own finances.

On this episode, Tim and I discuss all things personal finance, from saving for college (and related expectations) to opening a checking account. How to teach responsible credit card use (and why Tim recommends it!) to really understanding financial contracts. He’ll even explain how you can “lend” your good credit to your kids if you’re a long-term credit card holder.

Tune in to this episode to hear all of this and more!

32: $5 Dinners Your Family (And Your Wallet) Will Love with Erin Chase

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with cooking and meal planning. I enjoy cooking and feeding my family healthy meals, but it turns out this is something you have to do every. single. day! I get burnt out easily. AND, as you might have noticed, food is EXPENSIVE and it just seems to be getting more so. For me, it’s overwhelming to manage the logistics as well as the finances of all this eating.

My guest today happens to be a master at both meal planning AND shopping on a budget. Her name is Erin Chase and she is SO good at this, that she started what is now a successful blog called 5DollarDinners.com. Erin is crazy good at pulling together nutritious meals featuring real food and putting them together for you in meal plans you can download.

I downloaded Erin’s 20 meals for $150 from Costco and my family loved, loved, loved the lemon pepper chicken (haven't made the rest yet!). Do check it out.

So if you’re finding yourself pressed for time, money or both when it comes to meal planning and preparation, this episode is for YOU.

31: Personal Finance Strategies That Actually Work with Mindy Crary

When you sit down to do your finances, does your heart fill with dread and loathing?

Yeah…me too.

My guest in this episode is CreativeMoney.biz’s Mindy Crary and she thinks all of this finance stuff is FUN (crazy, right?) and joins me to share her approach to personal finance. Tune in to this episode to hear Mindy’s tips on the best online spending tools, how and where to start cutting back on things you probably won’t miss and ways to prioritize spending plans without going overboard.

Mindy takes a lighthearted approach to this stuff and really hones in on the psychology behind why we act and spend the way we do…and how to rein ourselves in without feeling deprived. So tune in to this episode and share your own tips on the Lifehacks Facebook page or on Twitter.

Links & Notes

30: Furry Friend Field Report from Best Friends

Last month my family and I spent a week in Utah. Several of those days we volunteered at the largest no-kill animal shelter in the country - Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

This experience was a fantastic one for the entire family as you’ll hear on today’s episode. We worked with bunnies, parrots, puppies, cats and horses. You’ll hear which ones were winners and my family’s advice on volunteering at Best Friends (hint: do it!).

This episode is a bit different than most so if this is your first time tuning in, I hope you enjoy!

29: Fear Public Speaking More Than Death? It’s Time for Toastmasters

How do you feel when you're called upon to give a presentation in front of a group of people? Nervous? Anxious? Terrified?

If your public speaking skills leave a little to be desired, whether it's simply increasing your confidence or boosting your communication skills, today's episode is for you!

Our topic today is one that’s near and dear to my heart and that’s how to overcome the sheer terror that can sometimes accompany the prospect of speaking in front of a group.

After a particularly mortifying experience in which I thought I was going to pass out during a short presentation for my job, I was motivated to find some education on public speaking. And what I found was a local Toastmasters group where I met my guest on this week's episode. Bryndl Rohan is not only a phenomenal public speaker but she’s also reached the rank within Toastmasters of “Distinguished Toastmaster”, a level to which many aspire to but few achieve.

Bryndl walks us through the ins and outs of a Toastmasters meeting, from what to expect your very first visit to how to find the right club for you.

28: Unique and Meaningful Father's Day Gift Ideas with The Good Dad Project's Larry Hagner

It’s time to start thinking about Father’s Day and all of the amazing men in your life. For some of you that means double, or even triple duty, as you consider your own father or grandfather as well as the father of your precious cherubs.

While the default may be to make a special breakfast or dinner for Dad and call it good, this week’s episode offers a thoughtful approach to honoring that special guy in your family’s life. My guest this week is Larry Hagner, host of The Good Dad Project podcast and he’s an endless source of really fantastic dad’s day ideas, from the basics all the way to the meaningful. Larry’s ideas are simple and thoughtful…the best kind, in my book!

Here are just a few of the great topics and gift ideas we discuss in today’s episode:

  • Socks, ties, belts, watches, sunglasses (yes, these are still great gifts)
  • Monthly subscription gifts
  • Why guys love to grill
  • Grill-related gifts (rubs, cookbooks, lights, accessories, meat thermometers and more)
  • Beer, wine and cigar-related gifts (see mentioned links below for specifics)
  • Words of affirmation and appreciation 
  • Photo books and memories
  • Handmade cards
  • On Jim Gaffigan
  • Best day-of ideas for dad (dinner, breakfast, dinner table memories of dad)

Mentioned Links

Find Larry at The Good Dad Project online or Facebook. And be sure to check out his fantastic podcast The Good Dad Project. Have other great Father's Day gift ideas? Send Larry and me a tweet! Larry's @GoodDadProject and I'm @MeganStrand.

27: Greener Thumbs Greener Gardens with Shorty’s Gardening Experts

It’s almost here. I can feel it. Summer and its glorious sun. 

As I say ‘good riddance’ to cloudy, damp weather and prepare to relish longer days and a more relaxed schedule for the kids, I dream of a summer garden. The promise contained within a flat of vegetables inspires visions of freshly picked produce on my dinner table.

Each year, I try to take a teeny step forward in my gardening skill. I’ve finally reached the point where I can grow cucumbers, tomatoes and snap peas without too much trouble. I fight a mostly losing battle with the slugs over my kale. And the bunnies love all of it.

The challenge of gardening for me lies in the upkeep, the maintenance and the pest management. And, if I’m honest, in the planning of it all. While I look forward to summer’s arrival all year long, when it finally appears I feel my garden plans haven’t happened in time and I’ve lost precious growing days.

For those of us not born with a green thumb, gardening can be a little intimidating. Which is why I’ve invited not one, but two gardening experts to join me on this episode.

26: Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Simple Appliance Maintenance You’re Probably Not Doing But Should Be

How much time do you spend thinking about your home appliances?

Probably zero until you’re faced with a leaky fridge or dryer that’s no longer drying your clothing. And then it’s a minor emergency because the truth is, we depend on these appliances for modern day living.

Did you know your major appliances should last 10 years or more?

The key to long happy lives for your appliances is to maintain them. Angie’s List’s Cheryl Reed joins Megan in today’s episode to share some very simple ways to extend the life of these lovable hunks of metal.

They walk through your home room by room, from kitchen to laundry room to bathroom sharing simple tips to keep everything from your dryer to your garbage disposal running smoothly. You’ll learn at least one new tip that could save you money and add years to the life of your appliances.

Learn all of these tips plus the Angie’s List Rule of $5,000 and how to determine whether it’s better to buy a new appliance or repair the one you have.

25: Hacks to Organize, Manage and Enjoy Your Photos with Photojojo's Laurel Sittig

A few weeks ago I took to my Facebook page to ask what projects you knew you SHOULD be tackling but you just didn’t know where to start. One neglected project mentioned repeatedly had to do with photos...“organizing all my photos” or “sorting/printing pictures” and “creating yearly memory books for my kids.”  And BOY can I relate.

So today, I’m calling in an expert. Laurel Sittig is Editorial Manager for Photojojo, a blog and online store for photography gear and cool photo ideas. Laurel walks us through:

  • Why we’re all so overwhelmed by our photos
  • The “lazy” tools to use to organize (and share) your photos
  • Ways to back up your photos (even if the internet disappears)
  • Fun things to DO with your photos, like massive engineer prints, photo pinatas and sunglass photo frames 
  • Products that will help you be a better phone photographer

24: Essential First Steps of Emergency Preparedness Your Family Should Know

If a natural disaster struck tomorrow, would you be ready?

Odd are, your answer is, "no".

We've seen communities all around the world touched by horrific natural disasters, the most recent being the earthquake in Nepal. What if that was your community? Do you even know where to begin?

The sad reality is that many of us are NOT prepared. But the good news is that, by listening to today's episode, you're going to get some terrific resources from my guest, Marcie Maynes. Marcie teaches all about family emergency preparedness at PreparingHeroes.org.

23: Get Rid of the Calendar Game Time Suck with Calendly

How many hours each week do you spend playing the calendar game over email trying to coordinate a simple phone call or in-person meeting?

If your answer, like mine, is "a lot!", then keep reading. This minisode is for YOU.

I've been on the hunt for a web-based tool that will essentially schedule my meetings for me. I've finally found it in Calendly. This Google-calendar-based online scheduler provides you with a link to share with others that displays only the times you tell it to, based on some general parameters as well as you existing calendar appointments.

This tool is literally saving me HOURS each week. I did this minisode to explain all about it.

Tune in by clicking the player bar above or on iTunes?

And let me know how you like Calendly once you give it a shot! I'm @meganstrand on Twitter.

22: Streamline your Digital Life with Pete Wright

Do you ever wish your digital life would just synchronize itself?

I mean, it seems conceivable, right? That technology could self-organize to your benefit? You could just sit back and watch it all happen, tweaking now and again.

Well, hang on to your mousepads because...wait for it...it can. And that's what we're delving into in this episode. It's a web service called IFTTT (If This, Then That, rhymes with "Gift") that enables you to create 'recipes' linking one platform (channel) to another.

Sound confusing? Yeah, I thought so too until Rash Pixel's Pete Wright (and this show's producer) explained in a bit more detail with a few examples. Here are some simple 'recipes', to give you an idea:

If my daughter posts a photo to Instagram, send me an email.
Get emails for new posts from my Craigslist search
Mute my phone ringer at bedtime
Text my husband when I leave work

Thankfully Pete is an amazing teacher and walks us through the ins and outs of IFTTT. Give a listen. 

21: Changing the Game of Youth Sports with John O'Sullivan

If you have a kiddo that’s into sports, you’re going to want to pay close attention today because I have a guest that may very well change the way your family approaches those sports activities.

John O’Sullivan has been involved in soccer full time as a player and coach since 1996. He is now an international speaker and national best-selling author of  a book called Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High-Performing Athletes. 

20: How One Family Traveled the World with Taking the Big Break’s Kathrin Spaccarelli

Does travel run in your blood?

Ever dreamed of taking your kids to another country?

If so, then today’s episode is a dose of inspiration for you. In September of 2013 Kathrin Spaccarelli and her husband sold most of their belongings, including their home, and traveled the world for a year with their two sons who were ages 6 and 10 at the time. They visited 25 countries on 5 continents in the experience of a lifetime.

Kathrin joins me in today’s episode to share a little bit about their journey, how they made it a reality and why they were motivated to embark on this adventure.

19: Turn Summer Learning Into an Online Adventure with Brain Chase’s Heather Staker

Raise your hand if you purchase those thick summer learning workbooks for your kids.

Now keep them raised if you’re successful in getting them to complete their allotted assignments all summer long.

If you’re hand is still raised, congratulations, you’re the one super parent on the planet who has accomplished this feat. The rest of you, read and listen on!

I have a confession to make. Part of me really hates summer vacation because it’s a long stretch of 10 weeks when my kids are not in school, not in a routine, are either running from camp to camp or bored out of their minds. As someone that works from a home office, it’s really challenging to manage. Arguing over doing workbooks just adds another dimension of strife to our summer days.

That’s why I was so excited when I heard about a cool summer adventure called Brain Chase to help the kiddos keep their academic skills strong and give them a consistent task to focus on. 

I’m joined today by Brain Chase co-founder Heather Staker. Heather gives us the audio tour of what Brain Chase is all about and why she and her husband Allan felt strongly that this product needed to be invented.

18: Create Your Family Adventure: Volunteering Abroad with United Planet’s Dave Santulli

Do you ever feel the itch to do something just a little out of the ordinary?

Something that would have a lasting impact on you, your family and the world?

I do. All the time.

One thing I’ve been researching seriously over the last few months is volunteering overseas with my family and today’s episode is all about that: having a meaningful volunteer adventure abroad.

I’m joined by Dave Santulli, Founder & Executive Director of United Planet, an organization that offers volunteer opportunities in 35 countries. And Dave walks us through the ins and outs of what that means if you choose to volunteer through his organization. It’s pretty fascinating stuff!

17: Mom Entrepreneurs Unite with The Founding Moms’ Jill Salzman

Do you own your own business?

Or have you ever dreamed of starting your own business?

If so, today’s episode is for you.

According to Jill Salzman, moms make the best entrepreneurs because we know how to make it up as we go. Jill created the mom entrepreneur MeetUp, The Founding Moms. Their mission? Helping moms get down to business. 

Jill shares what happens at these monthly MeetUps in cities around the world, a few amazing and inspirational stories of successful mom entrepreneurs and why getting together with other women is so powerful.

If you own your own business or have dreamed of starting one, today’s episode is a must-listen.

16: 10 Questions To Ask When Choosing a K-12 School with Noodle’s Suzanne Podhurst

How important is your child’s education?

Hard to quantify, right?

It’s probably safe to say that your knee-jerk response is something along the lines of, “Very!”.  At least it is for me.

Choosing the right school for your child can be a weighty and complicated decision, no matter their age. Whether you’re deciding where to settle as a family based on the public schools or checking out private or charter school options, there are so many factors that come into play. Where to start may well be the most difficult.

In this episode I’m joined by Suzanne Podhurst, Editor-in-Chief of the education website Noodle. Suzanne shares a list of 10 critical things you’ll want to add to your list of questions when considering a K-12 school for your child.

Oh, how I wish I had had this list several years ago when I was considering where to enroll my own kids. But, luckily for you, this episode provides you with the learnings from my own experience as well as Suzanne’s expertise.

Tune in today!

15: Fashion Tips for Busy Moms with Wardrobe Therapy’s Elizabeth Smith

Do you ever feel like your wardrobe could use a serious makeover but don’t know where to start?

I work from home, so the motivation simply isn’t there most days to do much other than shower and pull on a pair of yoga pants and a hoodie. The challenge comes when I do need to go to a professional meeting or just want to look put together. I’m at a bit of a loss. I have a few go-to outfits but that’s where it ends.

For today’s episode I pull in a fashion big gun to help. Elizabeth Smith founded a company called Wardrobe Therapy to help the fashion frazzled like me navigate her way past the yoga pants and to a style she loves.