JWU: Experience Your Future Now

When my oldest went to college we only visited one school. Looking back I wish we would have visited and applied to more schools because the school she ended up attending was not the best fit.

With my sixteen year old, we’ve already started discussing college options. Here are some of things things we are discussing in our family and I think every family should discuss.

  • Does this school have a strong program for your child’s intended major?
  • Is your child looking to attend a large university or have a smaller more personal experience?
  • Is your child involved in an extracurricular activity and is that offered at potential schools?
  • Can we afford it?
  • What are their financial aid and scholarship options?
  • Will your child be able to live on campus?

Last month we were able to visit Johnson & Wales University in North Miami. Before being asked to tour the campus, I had never heard of this school. That made me realize that there are probably many great schools all around me that I haven’t even considered. Since my children have grown up with a nontraditional education model (primarily homeschool and university model schools) sometimes these smaller private schools end up being a great fit.

This JWU campus offers majors in Culinary Arts, Entrepreneurship, Fashion Merchandising & Retailing, Hotel & Lodging Management, Business & Marketing, Restaurant, Food & Beverage Management, Sports/Entertainment/Event Management, Tourism & Hospitality Management, and several more. They will even offer Software Engineering and a master’s degree in business administration beginning in fall 2017!

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Living in Florida it was exciting to visit a university that has so many opportunities for kids in our tourism driven economy.

Our tour started in their culinary department and by the time we walked out of the building I was ready to go back to college!

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JWU’s College of Culinary Arts has multiple technologically advanced kitchens to give students the opportunity to work and learn in a variety of environments. They also have gardens behind the building where they grow many of the fruits and vegetables used in the kitchen. They hope to eventually expand the program so that the college can grow much of the food that is used in the culinary classes.

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They don’t waste any of the food that is prepared by the students. Much of the food produced in the culinary labs is donated to local charities and they even have a program for local elementary aged students to come and participate in a cooking class as a reward for perfect attendance.

My son and I were truly blown away by the talent displayed in the culinary department. These flowers (made from gum paste) were one example of what students are learning to create in class. In every department we visited on campus you could tell the students took pride in their coursework.

These flowers are edible and made of out gum paste!

These flowers are edible and made of out gum paste!

We then moved on to the library and computer lab area. Their computer lab is open 24 hours which is great for all the night owls, and students are able to print for free.

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For a small university the library was very large. It even has a large collection of movies and students can request a movie that is not currently in stock.

While we were visiting the library, they had cakes on display from the baking and pastry arts students that were all literary themed. I was impressed (and hungry)!

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We then visited the fashion merchandising & retailing department. One aspect of JWU that really impressed me throughout our tour was that classrooms were not set up like traditional classrooms. One classroom was set up like a boutique, complete with racks of clothing, mannequins, floor sets, and more.

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Another classroom was set up like a hotel lobby. The culinary department had a small restaurant and bar set up in one of the spaces.

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This real-world approach to learning is something I really appreciate. I feel like many times a young adult graduates from college and has a lot of book knowledge, but little real world application. JWU seems to turn traditional learning on its head. Not only are classrooms nontraditional, students have the option to start their freshmen year taking some of their major courses instead of waiting until their third year to begin core classes. Students are able to quickly determine if a major is a good fit for them, and they are excited about their major from day one instead of wading through two years of humanities and college algebra to get to what they are interested in. These core subjects are woven in throughout the four years, which is a great idea.

Restaurant set up inside the culinary department.

Restaurant set up inside the culinary department.

Another great feature of JWU is their entrepreneurship lab. This is a place where students can come work on their business ideas, brainstorm, and get advice from other successful entrepreneurs. Every year they hold a “Sharkfest” competition where students compete to earn seed money for their businesses.

3-D Printer in the Entrepreneurship Lab

3-D Printer in the Entrepreneurship Lab

The walls of the entrepreneurship lab are all painted with white board paint, which was another great feature. As someone who loves to brainstorm and is a visual learner, this is a great way for students to develop their business ideas. We even got to leave messages on the white board for the students.

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The student body is diverse and everyone we met during our tour were friendly and excited to talk about their experience at the university. It was especially fun seeing college students interact with the elementary children during their field trip.

Overall, our visit to JWU was a great one. The nontraditional learning environment is something I’m passionate about with my own children and it’s great to see it at the university level.

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If you’d like to learn more about JWU and its nontraditional approach to learning you can visit their website, and connect with them on Facebook , Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. In addition to their Miami campus they have campuses in Rhode Island, Denver, Charlotte and online.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Johnson & Wales University. The opinions and text are all mine.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Prayers Appreciated for My Son

This weekend my fourteen and sixteen year old boys were burned in a bonfire accident. My sixteen year old son has 2nd degree burns on his foot and was treated and released.

My fourteen year old son Liam has 2nd and 3rd degree burns on 20% of his body (both legs).

He’s being treated at a hospital two hours from our home in a pediatric burn facility.

Currently we are trying to manage pain and keep his spirits up. He has a long road of recovery ahead, and I’ll try to update when I can.

If you think of it will you please pray for him? To see your child is this much pain breaks a mama’s heart. We are so thankful it wasn’t worse and that no one else was injured, but our hearts hurt for our son.

-Toni

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Five Simple Ways to Keep Cavities Away!

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With seven children, trips to the dentist can be quite the adventure. Since my children were young we’ve always emphasized good dental habits because frankly, I didn’t want to pay for fillings x 7!

When they were very small, the dentist would line them up against the back wall and do their exams standing up since there wasn’t enough room in the chairs for all of them.

We’d usually have high fives all around when all seven would be declared cavity free, once again. Over the past 22 years we’ve only had three cavities! I’d consider that a success.

With the largest candy holiday of the year only a few weeks away, now is a great time to teach your kids how to scare those cavities away. So what are my tips for keeping the cavities at bay?

Drink Lots of Water

While my children love fruit juice, sodas and other beverages, we’ve always encouraged our children to drink water throughout the day and with their meals. This is especially important in the evening hours. I’ve known families who put their children to bed with a sippy cup full of juice, which is basically like giving them a cup of sugar!

I purposefully didn’t buy soda or juice when my kids were little, because I wanted them to drink as much water as possible.

Limit Sticky Sweets

When your child comes home with a bag full of candy, it’s okay to remove many of the biggest cavity causing candies, like sticky sweets, gummies, and lollipops. Your child will probably have so much candy they won’t even notice if you take these cavity causing candies.

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In addition to removing some of the worst offenders, limit the amount of candy your child is allowed to have each day. Don’t let them store their candy in their bedroom or a place where they have easy access to it. I remember one year, I found about fifty candy wrappers under one unnamed child’s bed after Christmas.  That was the last time we let them keep candy in their room when they were little!

Set Them up for Success

We make sure each child has their favorite color toothbrush, toothpaste they like, and we helped them brush and floss when they were little. We sing brushing songs, use timers (and timer toothbrushes), and even got them little cups so they could swish and spit like the big kids.

Once they were older, our orthodontist recommended ACT Kids Anticavity Rinse* (recommended for children 6 years of age and older) which can deliver the power of fluoride to all of the surfaces of your children’s teeth to help prevent cavities, strengthen tooth enamel and protect their teeth.

My kids LOVE using ACT Kids Anticavity rinse and beg to use it regularly. It’s an easy way to prevent cavities that they never forget to do.

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When my children were very young, we brushed their teeth in the bathtub. Instead of getting the bathroom counters covered in toothpaste and mess, everything washed down the shower drain when they were done. (I have some adult friends who still do this!)

At Christmas time, when cookies, candies, and sweets seem to be everywhere, my kids get a toothbrush in their stocking every year. Hopefully it helps remind them to brush after they eat all their chocolate!

Reward Cavity Free Trips to the Dentist

Years ago I met someone who paid their children $10 each time they went to the dentist and they were cavity free. Considering the cost of a filling was about $75, $10 was a bargain!

I loved this idea and decided to try it with my own kids. My kids look forward to going to the dentist because of the free goody bag and new toothbrush, but also because they know they are going to earn $10 if they keep up the good dental habits between visits. Even though it hurts the pocketbook a bit when I’m paying out $10 per kid, it’s still cheaper than filling one cavity.

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Trade the Candy for Cash!

Once after my nephews had an exceptionally large trick-or-treating candy haul, my brother had an excellent idea. He allowed his boys to sample some of their favorite candies and then offered to buy their entire bag from them. Since the boys were saving up for some electronics, they quickly decided to trade in their bags of sugary sweets for some cash.

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If you don’t want to trade candy for cash, you can trade candy for a special event (trip to the zoo or museum), a toy, or something else your child really wants.

This year, don’t let the upcoming candy filled holidays scare away all the good dental habits in your kids. Start these habits now, before the candy comes through the door and help prevent your kids from dealing with cavities down the road.

Do you have a great tip for keeping the cavities at bay?

Leave a comment sharing your tip and be entered to win an awesome anticavity prize package, which includes better-for-you snacks, ACT Kids Anticavity Rinse, fun certificates for the kids and much more. ACT provided me with one of these “Anticavity Goody Bags” and is offering one to a lucky winner, as well.

Giveaway is open only to US residents ages 18 years of age or older. A winner will be selected using Random.org on October 24, 2016 and will be notified via email or message on social media.

*ACT Kids Anticavity Rinse was ranked as the #1 recommended children’s mouthwash by pharmacists in the 2016 OTC Guide from Pharmacy Times.

Five simple ways to keep cavities away in kids. How I've managed to raise 7 kids with only 2 cavities in 22 years.

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7 Activities to Keep Your Toddler Busy on the Plane

Flying in a plane is an exciting adventure for a toddler, but a toddler’s attention span is quite limited. The excitement will wear off and the boredom will commence. Not only are you trying to keep your toddler busy for your sake but also for the sake of everyone on the plane.

A busy toddler is important because you want the time to pass quickly for them. Check out these 7 activities that will keep your toddler busy on a plane.

A busy toddler is important because you want the time to pass quickly for them. If you can find a way to do that and avoid any tantrums, you are winning as a parent. The best thing you can do to make this a good flight is to prepare in advance, and you can do that with these tips! Check out these 7 activities that will keep your toddler busy on a plane:

1. Play I Spy

I spy is a great game on any trip, but it can be even more fun from the window of a plane. If you are too high up to see the little houses below, play I spy in the clouds. Have your toddler spot the cloud that looks like a lion, a tiger, or a bear.

2. Sing Songs

Singing songs is one way to keep your toddlers busy. Whether you bring a portable CD player or sing a cappella, toddler songs like ABCs, the wheels on the bus, and hot cross buns are great options for keeping your little ones busy.

3. Bring Coloring Books

You can’t bring a lot on the plane, but a couple of coloring books and crayons are a perfect plane activity. You can also bring blank paper and crayons and let your toddler use his creativity. Take a look out the window and draw what you see, or draw some portraits for people on the plane. Or, make paper airplanes decorated with color. Paper and crayons can add excitement and entertainment in various ways.

4. Read a Book

Toddlers may not want to sit still for long, but on a long plane ride, you can get them engaged in a few books. Bring Where’s Waldo? books, picture books, and short books that you and your toddler can talk about. The more they feel involved in the book, the more interested they will be in it.

5. Decorate the Window

Window clings are a great way to keep your toddler entertained for hours. Grab different themed clings and let your child sit by the window. Since you will be up in the sky, think birds, bugs, and bats to put up in the sky. Let your toddler be creative, and see what he can come up with.

6. Make Lace-Ups

Make or print letters using card stock, hole punch various holes around the letters, and bring some shoe laces. Your toddler can learn their letters while working on their fine motor skills. Not only does it keep them busy, but it’s educational. If you don’t want to make your own, you can purchase some like these Lace and Trace Pets.

7. Make Puppets

Bring a couple of paper bags (brown bags or colorful ones) for you and your toddler to create some puppets that can easily be transformed into a barf bag if need be. A couple wiggly eyes and a glue stick can easily go in a pocket to add a bit more fun. Or, if you want something different, try these Little Hands Paper Bag Monsters. If you know the people in front of you, you and your toddler can use the back of the seats as a puppet theater.

When you have a toddler, it can be tough to go on vacation. With a little creativity and planning, your toddler can be entertained for the duration of the flight. Do you have any tips to add to this list?

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