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5 Things To Be Thankful For In August

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August is my birthday month and my husband’s birthday month so there are lots to be thankful for in August. Besides our birthdays here are 5 August related things I am grateful for:

1. Thankful for NO snow!

I am not a cold weather person at all so I soak up the heat as much as I can while it lasts. I would rather be sweating then freezing cold plus nothing beats the feeling of the sun shining down on you.

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2. Thankful for living near the shore!

Yes, I am from Jersey so I don’t call the beach the beach but I call it the Shore. Before you even get the image in your mind, I don’t mean the Jersey shore as seen on MTV because families don’t party and get drunk on the beach. We have only had the chance to have one shore trip this summer but we had a great time until our sunblock failed and suffered through a week of sunbun. (Maybe I should do a review of sunblocks that fail for super pale skinned peeps like my family??!)

3. Sunday Family Hiking Days

To help ease my body back into working out, we started a family hiking day almost every Sunday since Father’s Day. In addition to helping my body work out, it is a chance for us to bond as family since we are dealing with the stepdaughter/stepfather resentment situation right now. It has been great to get into nature and explore our surroundings. I always feel at ease being outdoors just hate the bugs and bug bites. Evie loves being in the carrier and looking at everything that passes her by.

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4. Getting Ready For Back To School

This year is even more exciting…. for me at least because Danyella is going back to public school! She is not a happy camper to stop homeschooling but I just can’t do it mentally, physically or emotionally anymore. At least she is going back to a school that she attended in the past (not the school I pulled her from!) and will have her best friend to enjoy her 6th grade year. (This will be a more in-depth post in the future)

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5. Pumpkin Everything is Coming Soon!

Yes! Yes! Yes! I am one of the crazy pumpkin loving people who if the world would let me, I would enjoy pumpkin everything all year round! Typically, the end of August brings back my much-loved Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. My local DD, next the dance studio, will sneak pumpkin flavoring from other locations just for me and “Christina” to enjoy as much as we can. Pumpkin season here I come!!

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What are you thankful for in August?

 

 

 

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Crunchy Mom in the Works

am I a Crunchy Mom_

It is my first official post back since my hiatus and so much has changed in my mom world that I need to catch you all up on! From starting Evie on foods to changing to cloth diapers to Danyella going back to public school! Not all of these will be talked about today but I can’t wait to talk about Evie’s World (singing Elmo’s World in my head because it is on repeat in our house!) with this first post.

What is a Crunchy Mom?

Have you heard of the term Crunchy Mom? I heard it about a year ago when I decided to start blogging more consistently and was surprised at the meaning. In my mind, a Crunchy Mom was some who wasn’t always nice, told it how it was and didn’t hold back. Boy was I wrong!!!

By social definition, a Crunchy Mom is a mom who loves to baby wear, uses cloth diapers, breastfeeds, makes everything from scratch (think soaps, sprays and anything else that you can buy at Walmart!), co-sleeps, feeds her family all-natural and organic everything and no electronics for kids. Its is pretty determined kinda mama. What I thought was a Crunchy Mom is actually a Salty Mom!

I give those Moms so many kuddos for being able to do all of that and keep their sanity! It is definitely a committment to a Mom’s kids and family to be a Crunchy Mom. That kinda dedication is one that I wish I could say that I want to have for my family but the reality is completely different.

I have started to walk down the path of the Crunchy Mom but not yet ready to get in the car and drive down the Crunchy Mom highway…

Here is what I do that counts as a Crunchy Mom:

I kinda breastfeed…. well Evie wouldn’t latch correctly so I have been pumping everyday, every 3 hours since she was 2 weeks old.

Both Doug and I baby wear and are proud baby wearers! I started off with the K’Tan wrap and then we have moved to an Infantino soft carrier. My goal is to one day own a Tula or Lillebaby carrier! We take Evie everywhere in her carrier but she loves our Sunday morning nature walks the most.

About a month ago, our diaper supply started to dwindle down to 2 packs left. We are super grateful for the diapers that we received as gifts that lasted us the first 6 months of Evie’s life but the cost of diapers is just too much for my blood and wallet. In my mom’s group, there are some cloth diaper moms that show off these cute baby bums with their diapers. I decided to try a 4 pack of the pocket diapers and inserts and have loved it. Yes, it is a learning process of where the snaps work the best and when to double up on inserts for overnights. I can’t wait to start buying more cute designs to cover my Evie’s little bum!

Co-sleeping…. yes Evie and I co-sleep because this is the only way I would get any sleep and survive the day. Since Evie outgrew her Rock N Play, she won’t sleep in her Pack N Play and would cry all night until she was sleeping next to us. Add to the fact that Doug works overnight, so it is all me at night. Life is easier when she sleeps with me. I did this with Danyella and I plan on moving Evie to a regular crib one day but right now this works for us.

All natural Mama right here! I was doing this before the term Crunchy Mom was a thing because Danyella had severe skin allergies. I learned how to make my own soaps and lotions from scratch (no melt and pour soaps here) to know exactly what was going onto Danyella’s skin. This is where my body product line was born. With Evie, I have been steaming and pureeing all of her foods. We a slowly starting to eat little pieces of food that I make her like pancakes and other yummy foods. Evie is my little foodie!

What I am not doing as a Crunchy Mom:

If it is on sale or a good deal, then I will buy organic but if it’s not then my family gets what they get for food to eat. I am definitely not going down the organic road because it doesn’t fit into my budget.

As I said early, Sesame Street plays on our TV all day because Evie loves Ernie and Elmo. Yes, I am one of those moms that lets her kids watch TV so that I can get something done during the day. Having a husband that works at night and most days works before he goes to his night job and finds a couple of hours to sleep, I am home with the kids 24/7 which can be so hard to get things done. Danyella is a big help with Evie but she will be going back to school in a couple of week. Then it will be Evie and I all day which if Elmo helps her stay occupied for a few minutes so I can wash dishes and clothes or write this blog post then I will take it until she wants to play with Mama again.

I kinda laugh because I am more than just a Crunchy Mom but I am a Dance Mom, a Salty Mom, a Baby Mom, an embarrassing Mom (according to the tween daughter!) and a million other names to call me as a Mom. What kinda mom are you?

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World’s Greatest Farter Father’s Day Gag Gift Tutorial

In our family, we love to pick on each other and have a good laugh.We love to give gag gifts and funny cards. Every family should laugh together and have some fun because life is to short to always be serious.

In typical Dad fashion, my husband spends lots of time in the bathroom which is usually when I need to pee. Doug loves to gross Danyella out by farting next to her and then blame it on her. So she decided she wanted to create a gag gift for him for Father’s Day.

After doing some searching on gag gifts, Danyella decided she wanted to give him a roll of toilet paper and write her jokes to him on the paper. Well you can’t just write on toilet paper. So we came up with the idea of taking one joke and painting it on the toilet paper.

I am sure you will get different results with different toilet paper with different thickness and ply. We used what we had on hand which is soft, thick, double ply toilet paper and acrylic paint. She had to go over the words twice to get the letters to stand out. The black seemed to be thinner which was hard when it soaked into the toilet paper faster than the blue.

If you are looking for a quick and easy gag gift for father’s day or a birthday all you need is: Toilet Paper and Acrylic Paint!

Paint your message on the toilet paper, let it dry, wrap it up and give your gift!

joy

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2 Strawberry Infused Water Recipes for the Summer

Summertime is coming which means lots of fresh fruits and herbs to enjoy. It also means lots of heat so hydration is important. I’m not one that likes to drink water just plain… I need some taste to my water. One of the best ways to add taste to my water is by infusing it with fruits, veggies and herbs.

When Summer comes so does all of those delicious fruits, veggies and herbs. Plus, when our local grocery stores put some of the fresh fruits on sale I will stock up and freeze them for my waters. Last week, our local grocery store had a super coupon which I had to use… 2 pounds of strawberries for $1.99! I bought 4 pounds which Danyella ate just about 2 pounds herself. The other 2 pounds were cut and frozen. Plus, the best part of freezing the strawberries is they double as ice cubes.

Everyone talks about how the infused waters are great for detoxing your body and other health benefits. I am focusing more on the taste with my infused waters because just drinking water helps to detox the body and gives so many health benefits. I a bottle from a tea company because it has an infuser built into the lid so the leaves don’t get out while I am drinking the water. I use 2 bottles because while I am drinking one then the other one is infusing.

These are my 2 favorite strawberry infused water recipes for the summer:

Strawberry Lemon Basil Infused Water:

1 cup strawberries; sliced or cut

1/2 lemon; sliced or cut

3-4 basil leaves, fresh

16+ ounces of water

Add the strawberries, lemon and basil to the water jug of your choice. Add your water over the fruit then store in the fridge until you are ready to drink it. I will continue to add water to my bottle through the day while I am switching between my 2 bottles. The fruit continues to infuse the water throughout the day and still tastes yummy.

Strawberry Mint Infused Water:

1 cup strawberries; sliced or cut

3-4 mint leaves; fresh

Add the strawberries and mint to the water jug of your choice. Add your water over the fruit then store in the fridge until you are ready to drink it. I will continue to add water to my bottle through the day while I am switching between my 2 bottles. The fruit continues to infuse the water throughout the day and still tastes yummy.

*Another alternative to the mint is using chocolate mint, which I plan I finding a chocolate mint plant soon so I can try it. Chocolate Mint Strawberry water sounds divine!

I love hearing new ideas so what are your favorite infused waters to drink?

 

 

 

 

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When Your Child Loses Their Passion For Something They Love

oatmeal cookies (1)Does you child have something that they love to do more than anything else in the world? Playing a sport? Creating art? Reading books? Participating in an activity like boy/girl scouts? Have you ever experienced your child lose their passion for this activity?

This past week, I have experienced Danyella telling me that she doesn’t know if she wants to dance anymore. What the What?? This must be someone else’s child because my child would NEVER say this about dance but she did.

Here is some background story about why this is so unbelievable to me….

Since Danyella was little she LOVED to dance. In order to get her to start walking, I put on Happy Feet and this child danced before she could walk but the movie encouraged her to walk/waddle around the house. As she got older, she experimented trying different things like gymnastics, soccer and girl scouts. She liked them (ok not soccer, she ran the other way) but nothing gave her a spark to wake up and want to do it everyday.

A little over 3 years ago that all changed. She asked to take a Musical Theatre class at a local dance studio so I signed her up for that and a Jazz class. Danyella loved her classes and she was naturally good at dancing. We added a ballet class to her line up and she couldn’t be more in her element. Just a year after dancing, Danyella made the studio’s first ever Mini Elite competition team. She takes 7 classes a week plus competition team or the special recital team’s rehearsals. On Saturdays she dances for 11 hours with breaks throughout the day. This is when my kid is in her element. She is a great dancer and quick to pick up choreography.

Now after 3 years, she lost the spark she had because of a couple of girls in 2 of her classes. She still loves to dance but now she only wants to dance in her room. She dreads going to her first 2 classes on Saturday mornings because it feels like torture to deal with these girls. The nail in the coffin is that next year she only has one option for ballet and it forces her to be in the same class with the same girls with the same teacher that doesn’t seem to care to control the class. She doesn’t want to go at all next year.

When my child is unhappy then I am unhappy!

What to do what to do? Danyella doesn’t want me to say anything to anyone for fear that this girl will hear that her mom opened her mouth and will retaliate against her. Well, she should know better because I will open my mouth. I don’t want to see Danyella avoid doing the thing she loves because a few girls have ruined this year for her. I will advocate for my child because when she dances, she has a magical spark about her and twinkle in her eye. You know that she doesn’t have to dance but she choices to display a beautiful form of art for everyone to enjoy.

Yes, I could be the parent to take the easy way out and let her just quit. What does letting her quit teach her? How will she feel in 10 or 20 years that she gave up on her dream to be a professional dancer? I want her to push to be the best person she can be and for her that means being a dancer. Dance has given her friends that she can relate to and enjoy spending hours upon hours with. Dance has given her a discipline that she didn’t have before. Dance has given her a passion about something in her life, something to look forward to doing every single day.

Not only has Danyella given her heart and soul to dancing, but so has the rest of our family. Evie has become the team mascot for the Mini Elite team and dance studio. The teachers love to get the chance to hold Evie and dance with her. The other moms have become a second mom to both girls. I have formed friendships that will last a lifetime. The studio has become our second family and I don’t want to give up our second family without a fight to help Danyella get to a place where she is comfortable for next year’s classes and that she will participate in all of her recital classes this year.

Moral of this story: Don’t let your kids just quit when they have a passion for something. There are negative people in the world that will always try to extinguish your flame but when they do just relight it and burn them with it. Ok not literally burn them but you get what I mean…. make them realize they can’t force you or your child out of what they love. Fight for your kids dreams and passions!

There will always be Negative people trying to extinguish your flame. Reignite that flame and show them No One can extinguish your passion!

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Easy Foil Lemon Fish Packets

img_3653This is one of my favorite fish meals to make because it is easy, yummy and it can go in my oven or on the grill in the summer. Personally, I love white fish like tilapia because it is a mild fish. Though, when it comes to my sushi, I pretty much eat any fish.

You can either get fresh fish fillets from your local fish place or grocery store’s fish section. I prefer to get the frozen fillets that are individually packaged because I can just take out how many I want at a time and not end up with leftovers that won’t be eaten. Let’s be honest, fish the next day is just not something you want to eat.

This pairs great with rice or fresh veggies or salad in the summer. I love tilapia with grilled asparagus in the summer. Plus, I use fresh herbs from my herb garden to enhance the taste of my fish. Win-Win!

Now, I can’t get Danyella, aka the sassy tween, to eat fish but she tried this and loved it. This is a huge accomplishment in my mom life!

Foil Lemon Fish Packets

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fresh, light, easy fish recipe.


Credit: kaella.net

Ingredients

  • 2-4 fish fillets
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced or chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 lemon sliced
  • 1/2 lemon for juicing
  • olive oil for foil
  • a piece of tin foil for each fillet large enough to create a packet
  • salt and pepper; to taste

Directions

  1. Set oven to 350 degrees or fire up your grill. Fold the sides of each piece of tin foil to create walls. Drizzle oil in each.
  2. Place a fillet on each piece. Sprinkle each piece with garlic, basil, parsley, salt and pepper.
  3. Squeeze lemon and place lemon slices on each fillet.
  4. Fold each packet around the fish. Set the fish in a glass or tin baking dish or place directly on your grill.
  5. Cook for 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the fillets. The last 5 minutes I like to open the packets and let the lemons bake into the fish a little more.
  6. Serve with a yummy side and enjoy a nice dinner with your family.

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ABC Your Positive Life with this Gratitude Starter List

SpringInspiration

If you are anything like me, you can fall into a funk with keep a positive life all of the time. Things happen that can cause stress in your life which can lead to negative thoughts. It can be easy for your mind to get distracted by negative thoughts and forget everything we should be grateful for.

The other funk I fall into is being grateful for the same things over and over. Yes, I am thankful for my house, my children, my husband, my family etc… you get where I am going with this. Now, it is time to find the details of those general things that I am grateful for not just my kids, etc.

One way that helps me sort through these funks is to use my ABC list. This allows my brain to open up and think outside of the box for the things that I am grateful for in my life. Some of the letters make me get very creative which helps in exercising my brain as well.

Such as… A: I am grateful for apples and that my baby girl is big enough to start eating applesauce now.

You can start off with one letter a day or a few at a time. You can go in order or skip around. In the end all that matters is that you are working on your positive life and gratitude towards what is in your life.

I created the sheets in yellow and purple to brighten your day while you write, the first link is the pdf to download, the second is a jpg:

Yellow ABC’s of Gratitude

ABC's of Gratitude

Purple ABC’s of Gratitude

ABC's of Gratitude (1)

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How to Create Your Dream Bucket List

How to Start a bucket list

A bucket list is something that people have been doing for years, decades even centuries. People have written books about bucket lists and movies have been made about them even one move having the title The Bucket List. (Great movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) You might even have a mental bucket list but have yet to put those things on paper.

I think I started my first bucket list when I was 5 or 6. Any girl at that age, the top of their bucket list is Disney World or Disney Land (depending on what coast you live on). Which I accomplished when I was 22. Now, I want to take my girls to Disney to experience the wonders they offer as kids. I have always had travel locations that I want to tour on my bucket list(s). I want to tour Italy which could take a lifetime with all of the history, architecture and art that I want to enjoy. Ireland, Germany, France, England and the rest of Europe are on my list. Plus, Hawaii, the different countries in the Caribbean, Bali and other exotic locations. In more recent years, I have added a cross-country road trip to the list so that I can show the girls different landmarks in the country we live in.

Beyond travel, I have things that I want on my bucket list. Like purchasing a house is on my list. I would love to stop renting and paying someone else for the house we live in and call home. Finishing my degree is an important one on my list. Hopefully, this will happen sooner than later. I want to eventually have my tattoo on my leg finished.

Some things I have marked off my bucket list: becoming a Philadelphia Horticultural Society member, seeing Pitbull and U2 in concert, going to Las Vegas, having a girls trip with my friends, learn how to crochet (turned into a business!), learn how to screen print on clothes (so much fun!)

A bucket list gives you something to look forward to in life… goals for your future.  Your bucket list just needs to start with one thing that you want to accomplish in your life.

Here are some ideas:

Camping

Traveling to different areas

Concerts to See

Events you want to attend

Eat at a favorite restaurant

Attend an art class

Learn a new Hobby

Remodel a Room in your House

Start a new Self Care routine

Learn how to Bake/Cook

and the list is endless!

This Bucket List list can help you kick start your bucket list with different areas to think about adding to your list. This is the PDF printable version: My Bucket List

My Bucket List

 

 

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Lucky Penny Picture Frame With Free Father’s Day and Graduation Printable

Lucky Penny DIY Frame

Now that Mother’s Day is over, our next concentration is Father’s Day and Graduation. This frame really can work for a holiday like Father’s Day or celebrations like Graduation or Birthdays. This DIY project is super easy and an affordable gift for a loved one.

The frame is from the dollar store and the pennies are from my wallet and savings jar. The only other thing I needed was a hot glue gun. You can use one of the printables below or have your kids make a special poster for the frame.

For the penny frame, I used a hot glue gun to glue the initial row of pennies then staggered the top row to give it a unique look. You can replace the pennies with nuts and bolts, golf tees or something else related to Dad’s hobbies.

For the Dad Printable: Father’s Day Lucky Dad Printable

Let ourchildren play

For the Graduation Printable: Happy Graduation Printable

Happy Graduation

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Just Another Mother’s Day or Is Everyday Mother’s Day?

As I scrolled through Facebook and Instagram yesterday, it was filled with tributes to specific moms and grandmoms, quotes about moms and motherhood and photos of special celebrations and gifts.

For my Mother’s Day, I spent a special lunch with my Mom, Danyella and Evie. Our original plan was to go to a special restuarant my mom and I have been dying to go eat fish and chips but sadly they never answered their phone to let us know what their hours were going to be or if we need reservations. Sorry but super bad business practice for a place to eat! Since it was going to be raining all weekend, outdoor plans like going to the greenhouses and gardening centers were out. As was, going to our favorite outdoor shopping center.

Instead, we decided to go to Ruby Tuesdays since we all like the salad bar and the food is decent. We each had a good meal and our bellies were so full. It was time to walk off some of those calories we inhaled by shopping at Home Goods and Marshalls. We love shopping there for their good prices and the home decor is always so cute. We always find the cutest clothes for the girls.

Since the puppy ate one of Evie’s sandals, she got a new pair of sandals and an outfit to match. Dany picked out a couple of rompers… her new fashion must have. We looked at shorts but holy cow they were way to short to put on my 11 year old daughter! (This will be a future blog post!!) My mom found really cool HUGE glass jars that she is converting into planters. (This is where I get my gardening love from) I looked at cast iron pans but was not a fan of the ones they had so I found one at Walmart that I can’t wait to start using.

The girls gave my Mom the footprint vase that Evie and I made a while back for one of the Mother’s Day Teach Me Tuesday posts. If you want to see how to make your own this is the post: Baby Prints DIY Mason Jar Vase  Danyella was in the process of making me a card but I told her to make it for Nanny and we will include that with her gift. My original idea was to make her a salt dough thumbprint necklace but time got away from me. Plus, one day I will save the money to buy her the Ancestry DNA test that she has been begging us to get her for every holiday for the past year.

My gift this year was the love from my kids. I am blessed to have Evie in our family and all the smiles, giggles and stinky diapers she gives me everyday. I have watched Danyella go from my little girl to a graceful, crazy dancing tween. Aidan is my only boy who gave me the biggest scare with being born a preemie and spending so much time in the NICU to a football star. Kaeleigh was the first to make me a Mommy and though we have lost that special bond, she will always have that special place in my heart. She will be 18 this year and has become a beautiful young woman. I saw her prom pictures yesterday and cried at how beautiful and grown up she is now.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have adored a gift from the kids or my husband this year but that was not in the plans from the universe. I appreciate the pan that my mom gave me because it will continue to enhance my cooking skills and new passion. I loved the moments I spent with the girls. I could have used some more sleep and maybe someone else to cook dinner which maybe one day soon my husband will cook for me (hint hint).

So back to the point of this post, the day I had was like other days that I have had because my mom and I like to eat lunch out and then go shopping. I usually spend my days with the girls and cook dinner then stay up way to late to catch up on business stuff or blog stuff. It might not have been a huge, over the top celebration but I got to spend the day like I do everyday… with the people that love me living my life as a mom. I wouldn’t change my everyday is Mother’s Day for anything in the world.

How did you spend your Mother’s Day?

Everyday that we spend special moments with our children is Mother's Day