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Lots To Love About Fall

Set your kids on the right path — and feed them a great treat!

Ashley Gravano
Ashley Gravano
Lots to love about Fall

Back to school … I can sing two to three songs in my head right now about just that. One is from my favorite movie Grease. Do you remember that?

I am both fortunate yet at times sad that my two boys are much older so back to school looks very different for me. One has been out of school for 4 years and the other is going into his junior year of high school. However, I do remember very clearly the start of back-to-school season when we prepped the kids to get back to the fun routine of bed times and early rising.

My oldest son ALWAYS had an issue with getting up for school. It took multiple calls of “it’s time to go Joe” to where my youngest was up and ready once he got used to the idea of school. He had the hardest time adjusting. It broke my heart each morning dropping him off with tears daily for months.

I checked in with two of my Mom friends this month to ask for their tips! They are Dalila Ramos, founder of Love and Tacos Media and host of Taco Tuesday! Also, Dana Galiano, director, sales effectiveness, National Mortgage Insurance Corporation.

Trade school vs Traditional College

Dana Galiano
Dana Galiano, Director, Sales
Effectiveness National Mortgage
Insurance Corporation

I thought it would be great to ask a question close to home and see how other moms feel. Trade school vs. college?

For some this is a non-starter, they feel their kids should attend college no matter what. I actually can remember getting into to a few heated conversations with some family members because I believe differently. I think and again this is just my opinion, that college isn’t for everyone and trade schools are awesome for those kids.

Dalila Ramos
Dalila Ramos, Founder, Love and
Tacos Media; Host of Taco Tuesday! 

My kids decided after many conversations that college wasn’t for them, so they pursued a career in auto mechanics. This doesn’t mean they couldn’t change their mind down the road but we let them follow their own path. I did not attend college. I often joke how PHH Mortgage was my college and the years of experiences and skills I learned over the years could not have been obtained by a college degree.

So let’s ask our moms this question.

Dalila: It all depends on the child. In my case, my oldest had a path he wanted to follow, so he chose the traditional college route and finished ahead by four years. My youngest does not. As he finishes his last year of high school, he might go with a trade school or community college until he decides what path to choose. It’s more cost effective and doesn’t put that pressure on him. We need more kids to enter the trade space. There is a HUGE need!

Dana: I would have a conversation. what do you think you want to do when you grow up? Want to be in a trade of some kind.? College is not for everyone and can be very tough academically and emotionally … some kids are not ready for this change. I believe more and more kids need to know that having a trade is just as good as going to college. The stigma of all kids needs to go to high school then college is not good.

I couldn’t be happier to hear other Mom’s express the same feeling.

School Lunches

One big stressor for many of us moms is school lunch! Do you buy or pack?

Dalila: If you qualify for reduced/ free lunch at school, take it! That’s a huge savings and blessing. If you have to pay full price, make sure you buy your meats and bread from bulk stores. You can always freeze them, and that helps with saving money.

Dana: My kids dislike buying lunch. Lucky me no! Not really. But at the same time at least if I pack what they want I know they are eating. Cheese sticks, yogurts, apple sauce packets, granola bars, cheese, crackers, and a fruit of some kind are my go to things for school lunches.

Let’s wrap this month’s edition with a fun activity and recipe thanks to Dana! 

Pumpkin French Toast

Pumpkin French Toast Sticks

One loaf French bread or brioche bread cut into 1” thick slices, then into thirds

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon


1. Set a large non-stick skillet set over medium heat, add a small amount of butter and melt.

2. In a small rectangular baking dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.

3. Dip the bread into the mixture, flip sides and then place on the hot skillet. Cook until each side is golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side.

4. Meanwhile, in a small rectangular baking dish, combine the sugar and cinnamon, set aside.

5. Remove the fully cooked french toast sticks from the skillet and immediately roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Optional: serve with syrup and butter.

Favorite Fall Activity — Leaves Art Project

Supplies needed:

  • Leaves
  • Wax Paper
  • Crayons (at least 4 colors)
  • Sticks (from outside)
  • 2 Kitchen towels
  • Iron


Collect leaves of all kinds. You can give your kids a list of leaves to look for also.

Take crayons and remove the wrappers.

Lay out a kitchen towel on a hard nonstick surface.

Place a piece of of 8x10 wax paper on the towel.

Place two leaves on the wax paper.

Take sticks and scrape off crayon wax onto the leaves.

Place another 8x10 piece of wax paper on top of covered crayon leaves.

Cover with two kithen towels.

Iron over the towel for about five minutes.

Once melted, cut out and hang up leaves for a decoration anywhere in your house.

This article was originally published in the Mortgage Women Magazine September 2023 issue.
Ashley Gravano
Ashley Gravano

Ashley Gravano is vice president of product solutions at Mortgage Cadence.

Published on
Sep 18, 2023
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