The Sleepover Set Up: 3 Ways to Keep Your Child’s Friends Safe

They make you laugh and they make you cry; and if your hair isn’t graying, you’re pulling your hair out. But, the good times far outweigh the bad. Having children has been a blessing. Who knew how much you could love someone that can act like a tipsy undergrad when they’re cranky, right?

Making sure your kiddos are well-groomed, well-fed and well-loved is what it means to be a good parent. When you bring other kids into the mix, even if for just a night, everything can start to feel a little hairy.

Taking care of your own children is one thing, but watching over other people’s children is something else entirely, even if just for a night. When your kid comes up to asking to have a sleepover for their birthday, you can feel your body suddenly break into a cold sweat. “A sleepover?” You ask. “Wouldn’t you rather go to the movies instead with a buddy?”

Nope, they wouldn’t. Being the good parent that you are, you agree to the sleepover. Okay, so how do you prepare for a children’s sleepover?

Here are three ways to keep the little ones safe and having fun at your child’s next sleepover.

Chat Up the Parents

Before hosting the sleepover, call your child’s friend’s parents to discuss food allergies, nighttime routines and entertainment. Is their child allowed to see that latest installment of that hot new dystopic, or, are they only allowed to watch Disney? Can they eat peanuts, or do all nut provisions need to be removed from the house?

Lifehack writes that as the host parent, you need to make the sleepover’s activities clear to the other parents. With everyone in the know, the sleepover will have a better chance of going well as both the parents and children will know what to expect.

Set Up a List of Ground Rules

Kids (as you know) can get really excited, especially when they’re spending an evening away from mom and dad. To maintain some normalcy and authority, let the kids know that there are certain rules that are to be followed to make sure that everyone has a good time.

Rules should include:

  • No running in the house
  • No jumping on the furniture
  • No running with scissors at craft time (why do kids like to do this?!)
  • No eating after an adult has gone to bed
  • No screens after lights out

It’s necessary to set up a list of rules so that you can avoid a sleepover accident. Imagine that you didn’t tell your short-statured guests that there’s no running in the house. Ten minutes after visiting your home, one of your child’s friends runs full-speed into the sliding glass door. The door shatters and cuts them up, resulting in a trip to the ER. Not only is the child hurt, their parents can sue you for damages.

Rules will help to alleviate potentially nasty situations. For double protection, make sure your homeowners’ insurance can handle a home accident. It’s easy; compare homeowners’ insurance rates online and you’ll find a policy that’s sleepover proof.

Locked and Bolted

After you’ve gone to bed, the children will get a second wind and want to go tearing through the house, be it by playing hide-and-seek in the dark or crank calling their parents and other school friends.

Make sure the kids know that once it’s lights out, it’s time for bed. Make sure all doors and windows are locked (you don’t want the wandering outside) and that all electronics are protected with a passcode. Without the option to indulge in a little late-night fun, the kids will have nothing else to do but go to bed.

That’s it, you’re ready to host! Have fun planning the sleepover!

How To Teach Your Children To Manage Their Money

It’s never too early to start teaching your children about how to manage their money. Keeping track of your spending and managing your finances is something that everyone struggles with from time to time. We all know that a direct payday loan lender can be necessary to help you get by until the next pay day, but teaching your children how to budget is a skill for life and will hopefully keep them out of debt in the future.

Teach Them The Value Of Money

Most children don’t grasp that money needs to be spent carefully and isn’t just used for buying the things they want. The easiest way to show children the value of money is to talk about it when you are food shopping. Ask them to help you to choose the items you put in your trolley and explain whether they’ve chosen the best value item. Point out deals and cheaper alternatives, this will teach them to shop by value and shows them how expensive some items can be!

A Savings Jar

Children who instantly get everything they ask for don’t learn the true value of money. Teaching them that they must wait and save up before they can buy something they want is an important money management lesson. Although a savings account can be useful for older children, a savings jar is a good way to visibly demonstrate to children that the pocket money they save is building up over time. This makes the purchase more satisfying and teaches children the importance of savings and being patient.

Give Them An Allowance

Some parents may disagree with giving their children money. But giving children a small monthly, or weekly, allowance is a good way to teach them some basic budgeting skills. If they know that their allowance is the only money they will have to spend that month, they will soon learn that they can’t have the latest new toy or game every week.  If your children still impulsively spend their money as soon as they get it, try challenging them to wait a few weeks.

If an allowance isn’t something you are comfortable with then offer them the chance to earn their pocket money by completing basic house hold chores. This shows them that hard work can be worthwhile, setting them up for the future.

Keeping Track

Try to encourage your children to keep track of their spending in a notebook. Try to put a fun spin on it by making it a game or giving them an old purse to keep their recipients in. This will help you to explain that some of the things your children are buying- typically things like sweets or the latest fad- are using up a big chunk of their allowance. Alternatively, show them how you manage the family budget. Explain that you have to work so you can afford to buy all the things on the list, so they understand that money doesn’t just get given to you by the bank!

Am I a terrible future dad? Be honest. I kind of am.

So I posted up my annual budget a few weeks backs. A surprisingly high number of you all seemed to ask the same question in the comments section of that post.

“Uhhh, Ninja… where’s the college savings fund line item?” -You Guys

Excuse e moi?

I’m sorry.

I punched Sallie Mae in the face a long time ago. College fund? I’ve already been to college. Why do I need to save for it again?


You mean where is the college savings fund for my fetus? Gotcha. You really should be more specific.

Well amigos, there isn’t one.

It’s a fetus. 

College Fund


In all seriousness, I’m not quite sure exactly how I feel about a college savings fund. I mean I know I will save for my children’s college, but I don’t know in what capacity, or where it will fall on my priority list.

If you’ve been reading my blog over the last couples years, this shouldn’t really be a shock to you considering I literally wrote a post titled My kids will be dumb.

Before I worry about whether my kid will get a B.A. or a B.S. I need to make sure I’m properly taking care of myself and my bride. That means putting a roof over our head, food on the table, and saving money for our future via retirement and personal savings.

Even if the crap hits the fan and we weren’t able to put any money away, there will be options for our kid.

  • Pay his way through school.
  • Community college.
  • State school.
  • Student loans.

I don’t think these options will need to be considered, but they are still options nonetheless. Heck, I didn’t have a college savings fund set aside for me and I turned out alright… I think. 

For now, I’m holding off on opening up an official college savings fund (like a 529 or ESA) until I get a better handle on how parenting (and losing an income) will impact our overall financial picture. Maybe this makes me a terrible person, but I like to think it makes me wise 😉

Where does your children’s college education fall on your priority list? Above or below retirement funding?

I’m legitimately stressed.


strollerOver the last week and a half I’ve spent a solid three hours discussing baby strollers and car seats. As first time parents, we know there is a lot to be learned about parenting, and a million different opinions on how to parent the best.


The only thing that causes me to lose sleep at night, thus far, is the thought of having to buy a car seat and a stroller.

There are arguably no two supplies more important than these. They’ll be used on a daily basis for years and years. They both come in a million different shapes, sizes, styles, and price points.

I’m suffering from analysis paralysis. 

What if I buy a stroller that I realize, six months down the road, isn’t the most efficient to collapse.

…Or is too heavy.

…Or doesn’t fit well in our trunk.

…Or isn’t compatible with our car seat.

…Or can’t handle a variety of environments (bumpy sidewalks, narrow shopping mall aisles, gravel parking lots).

…Or can’t hold two kids (assuming we have another a few years from now).

And don’t get me started on car seats.

…Do I need to buy two of the same seat (one for each car)?

…Does it need to work for both newborns and one year olds?

…Why do car seats expire?

…Does my car seat need to fit in my stroller?

…How many car seats will I have to buy for each kid?


I feel defeated and I’m not even a dad yet. I seriously fear buying a stroller, and six months down the road realizing there was a different stroller I should have bought that would have been a better fit for our lifestyle.

I seriously don’t want to mess these two purchases up, but everyone I ask has a different opinion.

I’m annoyed.


Should I take a sabbatical


In college, I remember being jealous of the professors who had earned a sabbatical. They would take a whole semester off, with pay, to basically do whatever they wanted. It seemed like the sweetest gig in the world. Every ten years they worked, they could take a three-month sabbatical.

About a year ago, I asked my boss if sabbaticals were a “thing” in our field. He told me Heck No and laughed in my face. I was bummed to say the least.

But guess what guys! I had another meeting with my boss yesterday, and thanks to future baby Ninja, I can finally take a sabbatical. Okay, not a sabbatical, more like unpaid time off because of FMLA benefits. But hey, I’ll take what I can get. 

My boss explained things like this…

I can take off as much (or as little) time off as I want, up to 12 weeks, immediately after our baby is born. Do you realize what this means! I could take ALL SUMMER OFF!!!! How incredible would that be!? I’m sitting here thinking of all of the different ways I can take advantage of these FMLA benefits. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

Option A:

Take the whole summer off WITH pay. I think I have about 550 hours of sick leave banked currently (14 weeks). So if I wanted, I could take virtually the whole summer off, with pay, by exhausting my sick leave. Awesome to take three months off with pay. Not awesome being “sick leave poor”. What if baby has a serious medical complication down the road, or I break my leg six months from now? I’d be screwed if I needed to take more than three weeks off.

Option B:

Take the whole summer off, WITHOUT pay. I am not required to use any sick leave under the FMLA laws. So essentially, I can take up to 12 weeks off, without pay, and keep all 14 weeks of sick leave in tact. Super sweet to maintain a healthy sick leave balance. Not so sweet to forfeit $18,500 in gross pay over those three months.

Option C, D, E, F…

Combine sick leave and unpaid leave. Here’s where things get interesting. As long as I give my boss advance notice, meaning a written plan before baby comes, I can combine my paid time off with unpaid time off anyway I’d like. So for those first 12 weeks I could do something like….

  • Take two weeks off with pay, take two weeks off without pay, work two weeks, and repeat the cycle.
  • Or how about, take every Monday off as paid leave, every Friday off as unpaid, and work every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
  • Or Take a month off paid, take a month off unpaid, work a month.
  • Or… well you get the point.

Between June 18th and September 18th I can work as much, or as little, as I want. And I can take off as much time as I want, paid or unpaid. It’s a FANTASTIC situation to be in.

Only problem is, I’m not quite sure what to do!!!

I’m seriously dreaming about taking the family to San Diego for three months and eating 10 years worth of California Burritos. Or maybe volunteering to work at a Young Life camp all summer. Or maybe knock out some major projects around the house. Or have four-day weekends, every weekend, for three months.

Put yourself in our shoes. You have a decent chunk of change in the bank, 16 weeks of sick leave banked (about what I’ll have when the baby comes), and the ability to take 12 weeks off.

What would you do?! 


Had to go with my gut.


So remember how I posted a few weeks back about the new addition to our family (a dog)? We put down a $500 deposit with a breeder in Southern California back in June, which put us at the top of the list for a puppy from an upcoming litters.

That litter was birthed two weeks ago.

Many commented on my earlier post that they were disappointed in my decision to get a puppy from a breeder, as opposed to adopting a shelter/rescue dog. I expected as much, and don’t really feel like I need to justify why I wanted a dog from a breeder. Much like I don’t feel a need to justify my love of meat to vegetarians. To each their own.

Over the last few months I’ve been doing a ton of research, preparing for the day we get to be puppy parents. During the course of said research, I stumbled upon some things that gave me uneasy feelings about the breeder we picked.

It started on a Vizsla forum, where some users expressed concerns with the breeding facility. I found a news article, dated back in 2010, that disclosed the breeders were investigated by local authorities for animal abuse by a handful of former employees. While all of the charges against the breeders were dropped, there was one thing in the article that bothered me…

Though officials did see some dogs in kennels that were too small and exposed to too much sun, none of the more than 100 animals’ lives were in immediate danger and the problems were correctable

So while the dogs may not have been abused, I was shocked at the sheer quantity of dogs on site. I mean 100+ animals forces me to question the integrity of the breeder. How can they possibly be caring for each puppy and giving them the attention/stimulation they need. Was quantity more important to them than quality?

As disheartened as I was by the news report, I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, reminding myself the charges were dropped. I also wasn’t jazzed about the idea of forfeiting my non-refundable $500 deposit.

Last week I requested a copy of the “buyer/seller” agreement for review. After reading the contract, I knew I had made a bad choice in breeder.

On the breeders website they advertise all of their dogs come with a two-year health guarantee against a variety of common health issues. This guarantee is important to me, as it shows the breeder stands behind the quality of their dogs (something puppy mills couldn’t care less about). That’s why I was totally disturbed by the following statement…

“The Seller will guarantee the puppies health for a period of two (2) years from the date of birth, if Buyer supplies the dog with NuVet Plus for Canines®  & Life’s Abundance Dog Food on a daily basis.”

What the heck? You’re only guaranteeing my dogs health if I feed it a specific multi-vitamin and a specific dog food, every day, for two years? That would have been nice to know before I gave you $500.

It gets worse.

The breeder forces the buyer to order these supplements/food with a specific order code the breeder can track. Something didn’t feel right to me about this, so I shot the breeder an email asking if they made a commission off these sales. Their response…“Yes we do.”


That was the nail in the coffin for me.

What if my puppy is allergic to the food they require be fed? What if my vet recommends a different multivitamin? What if I lose my job and can’t afford $70 for a bag of dog food?

The health guarantee was supposed to give me peace of mind, but instead was turning in to a big nightmare. I could not, in good conscience, support a breeder that gave me reason to question the integrity of their business. Especially when there are a million reputable breeders out there.

I sent them an email indicating I would not and could not sign the contract in its current language. They weren’t willing to change the agreement, so they refunded me my money and let me walk. Thank goodness!

The silver lining is that we managed to find a small time breeder out of Montana that has a few puppies available. She has owned her one female Vizsla and one male Vizsla for over five years. They are her only dogs, and they have had two previous, and completely healthy, litters together. After some lengthy conversations, pedigree verification, phone calls with the vet that has checked out the puppies, and review of the contract we’ve decided to put in a deposit on one of her pups.

I leave for the Netherlands on Friday, and our Vizsla will be ready to come to our home a few days after I get back in Mid December. We’re super pumped! 

Have you ever had an uneasy feeling about a business transaction before?


So I was suppose to write a post today about our trip to europe. But my SD card reader apparently died on me and there is no way for me to upload pictures to my computer. Hoping to have a fix within the next day or so. Instead you are getting a blog post about the Ninja family getting a dog. 

A little background…

I grew up with dogs most of my life. At one point, my parents were fostering greyhounds and we had 12 dogs in our house. It was crazy and fun… but mostly crazy. Girl Ninja, didn’t have the best of luck with dogs. She had three Maltese’s throughout her childhood. Two which died after a relatively short time frame (couple of years) and one that her family ended up putting up for adoption because of temperament concerns. We’ve always known we would get a dog, we just didn’t know WHEN we would be getting a dog.

Now is that time. Here’s why:

  1. We’ve never been allowed to have a dog before. All of our previous rentals had a strict “no pets” policy in place. Now that we own a home, we can do whatever the heck we want. Get a dog. Scratch the crap out of our hardwood floors, like I did when I moved the fridge a tiny bit. Paint the walls whatever color we want. You get the gist. A dog is now in the realm of possibilities for us.
  2. My sister lives 10 minutes away, and my parents 20 minutes. My sister has two dogs and my mom and dad have three. If Girl Ninja and I head out-of-town for a weekend, we can have them dog sit without disrupting their way of life. Our dog gets to hang out with their dogs, and we still can go on vacations. If we didn’t have family and close friends with dogs, we probably wouldn’t be ready for one of our own. Knowing we have a support system to back us up in times of need is clutch.
  3. I work from home. I’m home a good chunk of the work day and can engage with our dog frequently. This means, our night can still be relatively free. We want to make sure our dog is stimulated and well socialized. If we had to keep it in a kennel from 8am to 6pm each day, we probably wouldn’t consider getting a pup. This also allows us to be free in the evenings. Since the dog will have gotten plenty of stimulation during the day, we can still meet friends for dinner without feeling guilty that we neglected our third family member.

So how did we decide which kind of dog to get? We simply made a check list of likes/dislikes…

  • I hate small dogs.
  • We didn’t want a long-haired bread. (Girl Ninja sheds plenty for us)
  • We didn’t want our house to smell like dog.
  • We didn’t want a breed that is known to “nip” or bite. (Sorry herding dogs)
  • We wanted a dog that could be active with us (Sorry English Bulldog).
  • We wanted a medium framed dog. (Sorry Great Dane)
  • We wanted a low maintenance coat. (aka I’m too cheap to pay for grooming)
  • We wanted a dog that is known for being trainable and good with children.

After doing a bunch of research, we stumbled upon the Vizsla…



If you are like us, we didn’t know what the heck a Vizsla was. But the more we read, the more we liked the breed. They are “self-cleaning” meaning they lick themselves clean and only need to be bathed a few times a year. They have virtually no dog odor. They are teachable. And weigh between 40 to 50 pounds when full-grown.

The only potential negative we read about the breed is that they are a highly active dog. As in, require daily stimulation and exercise. If you’re looking for a dog that will be a couch potato with you on the weekends, this isn’t the breed for you. Obviously the Seattle area is known for its rain. This could be a challenge for us, considering our dog will need to get outside rain, snow, sleet, or shine.

I’m sure we will run in to situations where we want to do nothing more than relax on a cold winter morning, only to have our dog be pestering us to go throw a ball with her outside. It’s going to be a learning experience for sure, but I imagine this is how parents feel when they want to do nothing more than watch their favorite show, but instead have to run the kids to soccer practice? Am I right? 

There’s no going back for us. We are financially committed to a breeder in Southern California. Our pup will be born in Mid October and will be ready to join our family early December. Right in time for the holidays. We are really excited and slightly nervous. Can’t wait to share pictures of Dog Ninja once we get her 😉

p.s. I hate cats