Blogs - Merit Educational Consultants

Even before the shelter-in-place (SIP) orders, most of us shopped for groceries a couple of times per week – even if to just pick up some bread. Back then, these frequent trips to the store actually increased our monthly spending because we usually bought more things than we intended to buy. But today, planning out our meals for 2 weeks and creating a good shopping list can decrease our exposure to coronavirus AND save us money.

I created a “Weekly Menu and Shopping List” to make it easy to plan out meals and shopping lists all at the same time (link below). This list is part of the Busy Woman’s Organizer that I wrote and Prentice Hall published back in 1997. Here’s how it works:

Step One: Plan your Meals
Enter in breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the entire week. Include your family favorites as well as new meals that you’ve always wanted to try. Check online to get recipes to spice up your menus.

Step Two: Check off your Ingredients
Using the Weekly Shopping List, enter each ingredient you need for every meal. I’ve made it easier for you by listing vegetables, fruit, meat, frozen foods, seasonings, packaged goods, canned goods, bottled goods, bakery, toiletries, kitchen supplies, pet supplies, and cleaning supplies.

So if you’re planning to make chicken tacos, you’d check off chicken breasts, taco seasoning, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and corn tortillas. Continue to do this for all of your meals.

Step Three: Check your Fridge and Pantry
To reduce waste, check to see what you might already have in your kitchen before heading out to the store. My husband loves to cross off items I put on the Shopping List when he finds them in the pantry…

Step Four: Order Online
By ordering online, you’ll save lots of money because you won’t be impulse buying as you walk around the store. They’ll deliver exactly what you ordered and nothing more.

Step Five: Shop at the Grocery Store
Now that SIP restrictions are easing up a bit, you can venture out to the grocery store to do your own shopping. Still, wear a mask and gloves – and don’t touch anything unless you plan to buy it. Careful not to touch your face.

You want to get in and out of the store quickly so stick to your list. You know where things are located so put them in your cart and then check them off your list. Don’t buy anything that’s not on the list and you’ll save money and time.

Step Six: Place your Weekly Menu and Shopping List on your fridge
With your Weekly Menu and Shopping List on your fridge, you can easily remember what you’re preparing for all meals during the week. Also place a new Weekly Menu and Shopping List on the fridge so you can start planning the next week’s meals and add to the shopping list as you run of staples like mayonnaise, butter, and milk.

With the SIP order here in Santa Cruz, CA, I plan menus for 2 weeks. The first week has more fresh salads and vegetables meals, and the second week has more lasagnas, chilis, stews, and soups that require less fresh veggies. I’ve save hundreds of dollars on food while I SIP.

Click here for the 1998 BWO Shopping List and Menu

May 28, 2020

How to plan meals and shopping lists for 2 weeks

Even before the shelter-in-place (SIP) orders, most of us shopped for groceries a couple of times per week – even if to just pick up some bread. Back then, these frequent trips to the store actually increased our monthly spending because we usually bought more things than we intended to buy. But today, planning out our meals for 2 weeks and creating a good shopping list can decrease our exposure to coronavirus AND save us money.

I created a “Weekly Menu and Shopping List” to make it easy to plan out meals and shopping lists all at the same time (link below). This list is part of the Busy Woman’s Organizer that I wrote and Prentice Hall published back in 1997. Here’s how it works:

Step One: Plan your Meals
Enter in breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the entire week. Include your family favorites as well as new meals that you’ve always wanted to try. Check online to get recipes to spice up your menus.

Step Two: Check off your Ingredients
Using the Weekly Shopping List, enter each ingredient you need for every meal. I’ve made it easier for you by listing vegetables, fruit, meat, frozen foods, seasonings, packaged goods, canned goods, bottled goods, bakery, toiletries, kitchen supplies, pet supplies, and cleaning supplies.

So if you’re planning to make chicken tacos, you’d check off chicken breasts, taco seasoning, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and corn tortillas. Continue to do this for all of your meals.

Step Three: Check your Fridge and Pantry
To reduce waste, check to see what you might already have in your kitchen before heading out to the store. My husband loves to cross off items I put on the Shopping List when he finds them in the pantry…

Step Four: Order Online
By ordering online, you’ll save lots of money because you won’t be impulse buying as you walk around the store. They’ll deliver exactly what you ordered and nothing more.

Step Five: Shop at the Grocery Store
Now that SIP restrictions are easing up a bit, you can venture out to the grocery store to do your own shopping. Still, wear a mask and gloves – and don’t touch anything unless you plan to buy it. Careful not to touch your face.

You want to get in and out of the store quickly so stick to your list. You know where things are located so put them in your cart and then check them off your list. Don’t buy anything that’s not on the list and you’ll save money and time.

Step Six: Place your Weekly Menu and Shopping List on your fridge
With your Weekly Menu and Shopping List on your fridge, you can easily remember what you’re preparing for all meals during the week. Also place a new Weekly Menu and Shopping List on the fridge so you can start planning the next week’s meals and add to the shopping list as you run of staples like mayonnaise, butter, and milk.

With the SIP order here in Santa Cruz, CA, I plan menus for 2 weeks. The first week has more fresh salads and vegetables meals, and the second week has more lasagnas, chilis, stews, and soups that require less fresh veggies. I’ve save hundreds of dollars on food while I SIP.

Click here for the 1998 BWO Shopping List and Menu

May 21, 2020

On campus this fall – online after Thanksgiving?

Colleges are struggling to make decisions on whether or not they’re going to have fall term on campus or online. Seems that about 30% of the incoming freshmen are waiting to make decisions about which colleges to attend based on whether or not they’ll start college on campus. Many parents are leery of spending over $60,000 for an online college experience for their kids.

On the other hand, colleges, like businesses, have been hit hard by shelter-in-place orders, and they need student tuition to stay afloat. While they want to protect their faculty and students from the coronavirus, they know students (and parents) don’t want to pay full tuition for online classes. That’s why several colleges are planning on a half-and-half solution.

With this new proposal, colleges will open for fall semester/quarter on campus. This gives students the opportunity to get out of the house and back on campus where they can have fun and get the full college experience. Parents will pay tuition, room and board, and travel expenses just as they had expected. Colleges reap the financial security they need for this term.

There will be no fall break (like spring break) in October for colleges that normally have them. Colleges worry that students will be exposed to the coronavirus at home and then spread it around campus when they return. Each college will set up social distancing protocol to meet their local requirements.

Then, the Friday before Thanksgiving, the students pack up their dorm rooms and head back home for the rest of the semester/quarter. That way they enjoy the holiday with family and friends, and then their courses all transfer to online sessions. The benefit here is that they’ll have already completed midterms and have a good grasp of each class’s protocol so switching to online classes should be seamless.

Colleges fear that the second wave of the coronavirus will wreak havoc on campus and it will be best for students to be safely at home after Thanksgiving and through winter break. Nobody is speculating about what may happen for winter or spring terms yet. Uncertainty seems to be the only constant here.

This is the buzz I’ve heard about a new fall term scenario on college campuses. It offers something for the students/professors and the college bursars. There are many options and colleges will be making announcements about fall term in the next few months.

Source

May 18, 2020

UCs make bold plans to eliminate the SAT and ACT!

The University of California (UCs) plans to drop the SAT and the ACT, and create a new test for high school juniors and seniors. Over the years, UCs have complained about the validity of the SAT/ACT and the SAT II.

For 2021 and 2022, the UCs will not require the SAT or ACT. For students who do want to submit them, they don’t have to submit the writing test.

For 2023 and 2024, the UCs will be test blind for California applicants, which means that the SAT/ACT scores will NOT be used in admissions decisions. The SAT/ACT scores may be used for scholarship consideration and for the guaranteed admissions for the top 1/8 of California high schools. Out of state applicants could use their SAT/ACT scores.

For 2025, all California students will use the new UC test instead of the SAT or ACT. Out of state or international students will have the option to use the new UC test or the existing SAT/ACT. If for some reason the new UC test is not ready by 2025, students will not be required to submit either the SAT or the ACT – the UC will go fully test blind and eliminate standardized tests in their admissions decisions.

It’s not clear whether or not the California State Universities (CSUs) will follow suit. My bet is that they will follow the same standards as the UCs; their policies have usually aligned in the past.

The new test will be based on simulations and real performance to reveal more about the student’s reasoning potential, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. They’re hoping that this new test will assess these factors because these are important in determining college and career success. According to the UCs:

“While we acknowledge that this recommendation is multi-faceted, the university would be remiss not to offer students flexibility beyond one admissions cycle. During this period, UC will learn what it can about how its own policies can advance (or limit) student achievement, access, school choice behaviors and educational outcomes,” the plan said. “The university can also exercise its leadership in making available to students a properly designed and administered test that adds value to admissions decisions, enhances equity and access for more students, has a positive impact on student preparation, and does so in a manner that reduces the social and monetary burdens associated with the currently required ACT/SAT tests.”

I have never considered either the ACT or the SAT to be a good test to determine whether or not a student will be successful in college or career. The only reason I like the SAT and ACT is that all students, around the world, take the exact same test on the same day. Up until now, it’s the only factor that is fair amongst all of the college-bound students. GPAs vary by school and recommendations vary by teacher. Looking forward to seeing this new UC test. If it is a success, it may become the new SAT/ACT.

Source

May 18, 2020

New Podcast: Amidst chaos — Reinvent yourself!

During the chaos that the coronavirus pandemic has caused, take this time to reinvent yourself. Listen to my 10-minute podcast as I discuss where this really started and how we can use these lessons to rethink how we do things in the future.

May 15, 2020

Gen Z Slang Dictionary

I remember back in the 60s and 70s when my generation’s slang was a unique form of communication created to exclude the “square” older generation. It was kind of like speaking in Pig Latin as a code during slumber parties and in elementary school. Well today, a clever high school teacher created a slang dictionary of Generation Z’s vocabulary.

Unlike our generation where we used completely different words, Gen Z teens add a little gangsta for some of their phrases – “Witchu” for “with you.” But they also use clever phrase like “spill the tea” for “gossip – as in something you do while having tea with gossipy old ladies.”

One thing for sure: our English language constantly changes –whether we like it or not – so take a look at this slang dictionary to get up to speed with the Gen Z. In order to communicate with these young people, we need to understand their new slang.

Source

May 12, 2020

UC and CSU updates and more

UNCERTAINTY. That is the best way to describe the world of our current high school graduates and their prospects for their fall freshman experience. Normally at this time of year, I give updates on placement tests, colleges still accepting applications, orientation, and choosing fall classes, but this year colleges are reticent in making announcements. That said, I do have some information that may offer hope:

1. UC Merced, UC Riverside, and UC Santa Cruz will be accepting 2021 Winter Quarter/2021 Spring Semester transfer applications between July 1-31, 2020.

2. UC Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) is open now until May 31, 2020 for UC Merced and UC Riverside.

3. UC Merced and UC Riverside have extended their Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) to May 15, 2020.

4. UCs still expect to receive official transcripts by July 1, 2020.

5. UCs expect AP and IB scores by July 15, 2020.

6. UCs may create their own tests and they’re most likely going to do away with the SAT and ACT by 2024 .

7. CSUs have suspended SAT and ACT requirements for upcoming admissions cycles.

8. AP Tests are taking place online so students will receive their scores (1-5) that they can give to colleges with their applications. The tests are just 45 minutes and don’t cover all of the material they normally do because teachers weren’t able to complete their lectures during the SIP orders.

9. CSUs will offer online classes only this fall; UCs have not announced their decisions but they’re leaning towards online only.

Source

Source

May 11, 2020

Sharing appreciation for Central Fire!

Just wanted to share the love and appreciation for our local firefighters at Central Fire in Santa Cruz/Capitola/Soquel, CA. Not only are they on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic, they are here to protect us from wildland fires year-round. Chief Steven Hall picked up our gift bags that were filled with 3-layered cloth masks, 3D printed facial shields, and special treats, to give to every firefighter at the end of their shifts this week. They’re gearing up for a fire season that will be flanked with coronavirus pandemic when it hits the 2nd and 3rd waves. We’re so grateful! During shelter in place (SIP), our fuses are short but we need to work together to support one another. Thanks to Michele Roush for sewing more masks and to my anonymous volunteers who made 3D masks and special treats.

May 11, 2020

New Podcast: “Disenfranchised” by Michael Beck

There seems to be a generational gap between boomers and Gen X-Y-Z youth about, well, everything. Instead of sticking our heads in the sand and assuming we’re right, listening to what they have to say may help us reinvent ourselves and society as we begin to build the new normal in the wake of the coronavirus. I’ve interviewed Michael Beck, a recent graduate with a MS in robotics from Carnegie Mellon, about why Gen X-Y-Zers feel disenfranchised, and solutions he sees that I believe boomers will find intriguing. You can listen to this 20-minute podcast here, or find GakkoMom on iTunes, and subscribe to my podcast. Beck’s podcast is also embedded here:

May 9, 2020

Reflecting on my term as Mother of the Year

I am reflecting on my one-year term as the 2019-2020 California Mother of the Year today as I pass the “baton” on to Simona Grace, the new 2020-2021 California Mother of the Year. Last April, we celebrated at a gala with friends and family at the Flintridge Country Club in La Canada. A few weeks later, I joined the 50 other Mothers of the Year who represented each of their states at the National American Mother’s Convention in Washington, DC. I met dynamic women who were incredible mothers and advocates for causes important to them.

During the first few weeks in my new position, my staff and I created a new website and laid out a plan. I shared with young families, tips on how to set up free child care in their homes. By organizing their own preschools and inviting a few other children to join the programs, the hosting family receives a private, individualized program for their children for free. This is a win-win situation for parents and kids.

Next, I worked with college-bound teens to help them do projects. These projects give them experiences in potential careers, and it gives them a unique opportunity to stand out in the college admissions process. Doing independent projects also increased the scholarships and grants received. Imagine if every college-bound student did a project? They could solve many problems we’re facing with the coronavirus, climate change, fracking, GMOs, immigration – you name it!

And finally, I have put together a fire prevention plan that gives residents an easy way to give their local fire departments vital information. I’ve met with the fire chief, marshals, Cal Fire, and other agencies to get their expertise and to make sure this online form has all the pertinent information they need. I’m also working with third-party companies that will process this data and deliver reports to the corresponding fire departments. We’re doing a test run in Santa Cruz County and then we plan to expand to the state of California, and then to each state in the country.

I’ll continue to move forward on all 3 platforms – even after my term ends as Mother of the Year. I also plan to support Simona as she establishes her new platform, and the California American Mothers Association. Thank you for giving me this incredible opportunity and trusting me to represent California mothers.

May 9, 2020

Happy Mother’s Day!

Four generations of Kawana girls! My Kawana grandmother loved babies and when Nicole was born as her first great granddaughter, she couldn’t get enough of holding Nicole. My mother says that her 4 grandchildren are the highlights of her life. Becoming a mother to Nicole and Jaclyn changed the direction of my life. Every stage of their lives from preschool to college, musical theater, dance, and travel became the center of my universe. Happy Mother’s Day to all moms!