School is out Savings are in

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board, through my role as a Believer Blogger. All opinions are my own.


Hold me. Please. I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that school has been out for a week, and I now have kids about to start the 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. I HAVE A FRESHMAN. A FRESHMAN. IN HIGH SCHOOL. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?? It just feels like yesterday that I took the photo below. They were 3, 4, and 5. JUST STOP GROWING!

This school year was not without its challenges. Ronin had the flu...twice. Ronin had surgery...once. Ronin broke his arm...once. Ella had the flu...once. Ella had strep...once. Ella joined FFA and began riding her bike to school...lots of times. Haley played the flute...more times than I can count.

This was the trio on the first day of middle school, all those months ago. Ella wanted to be a marine biologist, Ronin wanted to be a video game engineer, and Haley wanted to be a musician. 

Fast forward to the last day of school. And while I didn't get a photo of all 3 of them together, I got them individually.

Ronin has found his current calling in Taekwondo. He started in late-January and has already advanced to a yellow belt. He really enjoys it. Does he still want to be a video game engineer? He has no idea. But that's okay. He doesn't need to declare a major. Yet. 


Ella, my sweet flower child. She found her voice this year. Let me rephrase that, and to quote the Duchess of Sussex..."women don't need to find their voice. They have a voice. They need to feel empowered to use it and people need to be encouraged to listen." Well, this year Ella felt empowered to use her voice. The shooting in Parkland, FL hit Ella very personally, and very hard. See, one of her besties from elementary school moved to Parkland in 6th grade. This friend's brother was a freshman at MSDHS. He was there when the school shooting happened. He saw things and heard things that no child should ever have to see or hear. Ella and her friend talked often about what had happened, and when the student-organized walk-out happened, Ella felt empowered to speak.

But this was not the only time she felt the need to #RiseUp. Together Ella and I participated in the March for our Lives Walk, and it was an incredibly powerful experience. 


 This sign says it all. The children are speaking, and it's time we listened. 

But Ella also continued with her passion of being outside in nature and she had an amazing garden! She grew tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, and lots of sunflowers. 


She loves being outside, getting her hands dirty, growing and nurturing living things. For FFA next school year she's thinking about entering the fair and growing a super big plant. Go Ella Go. I can't wait to see what you will do next.

And lastly, we have Haley. Haley who started off the year wanting to be a musician. Haley who auditioned and was selected for All-County Band. Haley who is the 4th best flautist in Pasco County. Haley who earned individual superior scores for her solo. That's the highest score you can get.

Haley who earned certificates for her grades, her music, her awesomeness. 

Haley, my sweet Haley. She has decided that she wants to attend the University of Miami. She has figured out that she wants to major in architecture, minor in Music, and play in the UM Marching Band.

I have 3 Florida Prepaid plans. I have 3 529 Savings Plans. But even that will not be enough to cover tuition at UM if that where Haley actually ends up going. It's time for me to put a little bit more into her monthly 529 account.

Do you have a 529 plan for your kids? Do you know what a 529 plan is?

What is a 529 Savings Plan?

The Florida 529 Savings Plan is an investment plan that may be used to set aside funds for future higher education and certain K-12 education expenses. Funds may be used tax-free to pay for any qualified higher education expense nationwide.

Qualified expenses generally include tuition, fees, room and board, and the cost of books, supplies and equipment required for the enrollment or attendance at an eligible education institution, including undergraduate, graduate, and vocational/technical schools.

And I keep coming back to this tidbit "if your child enrolls at a school other than one of Florida’s 28 Public Colleges or 12 Public Universities, the defined benefits covered by a particular Prepaid Plan or plans can be transferred to a private or out-of-state eligible educational institution as defined by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code." I've been saying for years that I thought Haley would end up at a private university or out-of-state. Looks like I might be right. Haley has also enrolled in AP classes AS A FRESHMAN. Provided she passes the end of year AP test, she'll also earn college credit. We'll be able to save money on college tuition expenses by her taking & passing college level classes when she's in high school.
Florida Prepaid has got a heck of a deal going on right now when you open a NEW 529 plan before June 30.  ***The 529 Summer Jump-Start Promotion offer only applies to new accounts opened between May 29, 2018 and June 30, 2018 and is limited to the first 5,000 new accounts opened between May 29, 2018 and June 30, 2018.***
Start the summer off continuing to think about school. College is expensive. Take the steps NOW to make sure that there is a little something for your kids. Just a little something is all they need. A study by the Center for Social Development found children with as little as $1 to $499 designated for college are 2.5 times more likely to enroll in and graduate from college than children with no savings account.
Now is the time to start saving for college! Open a Florida 529 Savings Plan, from now through June 30, and the college board will start your account with $25. Set up an automatic monthly contribution of $25 or more, and we’ll add another $25. $50 for just setting up an account. 

From experience, I can tell you it doesn't take long to set up an account. You just need your kid(s) social security number(s) and your bank routing information. 

You can learn more about the 529 Summer Jump Start Promotion by clicking here

And now, the only summer slide I want to talk about is this one...



Star Wars Day: 5 Ways the Library Strikes Back


So, you like Star Wars. Your kids like Star Wars (my kids LOVE Star Wars.)


Your kids' kids like Star Wars (which would make you a grandparent. I am so not a grandparent. And my mom does not like Star Wars, but that's not the point.) Did you know that one of the best places to celebrate Star Wars Day is at your Public Library? SERIOUSLY!! Here are 5 ways the Force Can Be With You:


1. STAR WARS EVENTS:  Lots of libraries celebrate Stars Wars Day with special events. It could be anything from meeting the characters from the movie to making Yoda cookies to building pool noodle sabers! I have done ALL of these things in my library. Check out your library's calendar to see what they have planned. Check out the events we're hosting in local Tampa libraries today and tomorrow as we celebrate May the Fourth and Revenge of the Fifth with Empire-sized parties for all ages. From the youngest Padawan to the wisest Jedi, wear your best Star Wars gear and join us for an epic experience! Click here for more details



2. STAR WARS Movies and Music:  Don't own every DVD in the Star Wars series? No sweat. I bet your library has the whole collection and if it is checked out, you can place it on hold.  (Click here to see the complete list of movies.) And don't forget the music. I bet your library has the movie soundtracks. I've been listening to A New Hope in preparation for today. My library carries it on audio CD and through Hoopla. 


3. STAR WARS BOOKS: The force is strong in Star Wars Books!! There are also a TON of books for all ages! From adults to teens to kids. Even babies can enjoy learning the ABCs with their favorite Star Wars characters. You can read stories which continue the saga, you could learn how to make special arts and crafts like Yoda ears, you could make your own Star Wars costume. If your library has Hoopla or Overdrive (which mine does), you don't even need to step a foot into the library to get the ebooks or audiobooks!   

4. 3D PRINT STAR WARS MODELS If you are lucky to have a library that has a 3D Printer (Not all of them do, but I bet there is a branch close by that does!), then you are in luck! There are so many different ways to use that printer for Star Wars trinkets:  I made this lovely Darth Vader using the 3d printer at my library.


5. Star Wars Guest Speakers and Special Guests. I am such a Star Wars Geek that I have even hosted a Star Wars SCHOLAR. That's right. A SCHOLAR. His presentation, The Music of Star Wars combined everything that I love most about the franchise and broke it down in such a way that now every time I watch one of the films, I am listening to the music for hints about what might be coming next!



So, what are you doing for Star Wars Day? Perhaps visiting your library?

Florida SSYRA Battle of the Books 2018 - 2019

It's time to start putting those Sunshine State Books on hold!

The 2018-2019 Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA) books have been announced! The list for grades 3-5 has a repeat author, Lisa Graff. I don't see any of the authors on the 6-8 list as being repeat nominees. But I see a new one that has me excited!! DJ Machale!! He writes the hugely popular Pendragon series! Ronin loved that series!!

Parents and teachers, get a jump on everyone else by having your kids read a few of the titles over the summer. I have yet to see a summer reading list that does not include at least ONE SSYRA book. And the book usually includes a project to be submitted the first week of school. And how many of you have kids that wait until that last week to read the book and do the project? Based on the number of families that I see in the library scrambling to get their hands on a copy of ANY SSYRA book for that year, it seems like a lot of kids wait until the last minute. 

 So yo,

Don't procrastinate,

Don't sleep late,

or let stress escalate

SSYRA reading is postulate

In the Sunshine State

Let the words captivate


If you live in Hillsborough County and have a library card (or a student with a HAAL pass) simply click on the links below to find your titles and place your books on hold.



So what do you think about the books this year?? Any that you think your kids will want to read? Any that you want to read??