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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

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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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My Mental Vacation From Blogging

I can’t tell you how many times I have started and deleted this blog post, both physically on the computer or mentally while I am trying to get my brain to settle down to sleep. When I decided I needed a mental, emotional and physical break from blogging, it was going to be for just a couple of weeks while we got through the end of dance season and recital. Well those couple of weeks turned into over a month and now nearly 2 months…. Even now I am not sure that I am completely ready to come back to blogging at a full-time capacity.

This past couple of months have been overwhelming and exhausting for every part of my life. Physically, I have been dealing with my body reacting to my lack of iron because I need a new set of infusions. In order to get the infusions that I need requires finding a new specialist. Anyone that has dealt with needing a specialist, knows that this is no easy feat and can’t be accomplished overnight. And before you even want to suggest it, no my type of anemia can’t just be cured by taking iron pills or eating more iron rich foods. Those things are like a band-aid that only helps for a few moments of energy. This type of anemia causes my body to literally be so exhausted that it I am weak most of my waking hours. My arms and legs feel heavy and go numb quite often (pins and needles feeling that hurts so bad). No amount of sleep helps to stave off the exhaustion which doesn’t help when you have a teething infant who has trouble sleeping some nights. This will be a future, in-depth post soon. (Which this is the tip of the medical issues going on)

Continuing with the medical issues, my mom was diagnosed with an autoimmune liver disease called PBC and will need a liver transplant. After 2 years of testing and misdiagnosis, we finally have answers to why her body has been acting the way it does but at the same time its a bittersweet result. This disease could be genetic which means, my siblings and I should be tested for it. Plus, to see what my mom will need to go through in order live a comfortable life is heartbreaking. We still have a long road ahead of us…

Next on the stress train…

If you have read some of my previous posts from earlier this year, you know that we had moved from the house we called a home for 2 years into an apartment. Our parting with that house was not our choice but one that forced on us because of our previous and then new landlords not following the laws of the state. We have had to go back and forth in court with the new owner/landlord of the old property.  Which the Judge taught him some lessons in breaking the laws and thinking he was above the law. Fingers crossed that the situation is over now because that took a huge mental toll on me. Which contributed to the rise in my anxiety and depression.

In my time away from blogging, I thought long and hard about my blogging. I love creating things, like crafts, gifts and food that I can share with others BUT that wasn’t the point of starting my blog. When I started my blog, it was to talk about my life as a mom and everything that goes with it. At that point I was a single mom, so it focused on that but since then I have gotten married and had a baby. My blog became a source of stress as I tried to figure out what I was going to write about each day…. this is not what I wanted in my blog.

Taking this break, has allowed me to assess what I want to see in my blog and social media accounts PLUS refocus my attention on my handmade business. My business and blog are a passion of mine that I love to share with others. Now, I want to get back to sharing things that I love and enhance my readers and customers lives.

With my blog, you are going to see me go back to my roots and talk about life as a mom, an entraprenuer and my family. This is my ideas on my blog schedule without killing myself mentally:

Savings Sunday: Yes, we will be getting back into the swing of savings since I fell off the bandwagon and then got ran over by the wagon…. LOL! I am going to focus on different ways to save money for the upcoming back to school and holidays.

Mom Monday: This is my big post of the week because this is where Moms can know they are not alone with dealing with family situations, babies, tweens and more!

Teach Me Tuesday: I am going to post Teach Me Tuesday posts, focusing on upcoming holidays twice a month (1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month) which will be geared more towards adult crafts rather then kid crafts.

Wednesdays: Take a break from week and have a nice drink or glass of wine!

Thankful Thursday: During this break of mine, I have gotten back into Yoga and practicing my self love techniques. I will be sharing tips on self love, positive living and how to enjoy your life because that is the most important part of living…. enjoying your life.

Feed Me Friday: Don’t fret, you will still see some of my delish recipes because I really do get enjoyment out of it. On the Fridays that I don’t have my own, original recipe then I will share recipes that you, my readers will enjoy.

Saturday: This is dance day in my mom life which starting the end of August, Danyella dances from 9 in the morning until we don’t know when this year…. no time for blogging when dancing is to be done!

I am contemplating starting a series about my handmade business, not so much business tips but featuring some of my creations that will make great gifts for the upcoming holidays. On my Facebook page, I will be featuring a product a day, at a sale price which is a great thing to look forward to!

You will see more interaction on my Facebook page and Instagram page which will feature more of things that I am making like my very first Crochet A Long. I have always missed out on the timing to partcipate in one or didn’t like the project but I made sure to take the time this year. This CAL is going to be creating a textured afgan which is a first for me! Each week (on week 3 now) we get another “clue” or instructions for another section of the pattern. It has been so much fun getting the clue and seeing the afgan take shape which I will update on my Facebook Page each week.

Another fun thing we are doing this summer is a family camping trip. Currently, we are scouting out new locations because our trip to Hershey park got flooded and most of the rides will be closed for the next couple of weeks plus the campground is severly damaged and the rain is expected to continue this week. We are looking at the shore (yes I am from Jersey so I don’t call it a beach) or staying at a local campground.  Wherever we end up going, you know that my social media will be featuring lots of fun photos!

I look forward to a fresh start and look at my blog and to chatting with all of you!

Take the time to give yourself a mental vacation from life. It will recharge your mental, emotional and physical juices for a fresh outlook on life.

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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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Track Your Spending Challenge

Track your spending challenge

Ever wonder where all your money goes? You get paid one day and it’s gone a few days later. You paid some bills and grab something to eat and ran to Target…. where did it go??

Does this sound familiar to you? It sounds familiar to me and my family. We get paid one day and then poof it’s gone but you don’t know where it all went. What I failed to realize that those cups of Dunkin coffee and donuts or stops at Burger King all add up! Do you know what you spend your money on?

Yes, it is easy to say oh this is only a $1 or $2 so what’s the big deal. Well after 5 of those its only $1 adds up to $5 which enough to buy milk and bread for the week in my house. The coffee I love to grab with a bagel and donut on Saturday mornings… $8! If I bought coffee, bagels and cream cheese at the grocery store and brought them with me the break down would be about $2 for my breakfast. (I totally don’t need the donut and its an impulse buy every single week lol) I could use that other $6 towards groceries, gas or savings.

For one month, I am taking a little notebook that I bought a while ago (yes we have a collection of those that I wasted money on) and tracking where my spending goes every day. This will help me see, on paper, where the money goes and where I can cut back on spending.

I am breaking it down into 5 categories:

Household/Groceries (g)

House Bills (b)

Transportation/Gas (t)

Misc Spending (m)

Saving (s)

In my notebook, I will record day by day what I spend money on and use my codes to keep the categories straight. This way at the end of the week and month, I can easily track where the money is spent. At the end of the money, I will be putting this into a spreadsheet on my computer so that I can lay out my budget plans for next month. My goal is to add more into our savings for incidentals and vacations.

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Check out my facebook page which will be updated on Sundays with my tracking numbers and watch where I am spening my money: Kaella Facebook Page

Are you ready to start tracking your spending and see where your money goes?

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Do You Need A Lifestyle Audit?

Have you Audited Your Life Lately_

I am sure most everyone has heard how you will repeat the same bad habits or cycle until you do something to change it. How do you change those habits or the cycle of life you are in? You need to evaluate and audit your lifestyle!

What is working in your life?

  • Do you love your job and it brings you happiness?
  • Do you love being a mom and taking care of your kids?
  • Do you love the hobby you participate in?
  • Do you love taking a walk everyday?
  • Do you love to take the time to read?

What isn’t working in your life?

  • Do you love your job but not your hours?
  • Do you love being a parent but need other adult interaction?
  • Do you dread going to play basketball with your league?
  • Do you look for excuses to get out of something you used to enjoy?
  • Do you avoid doing things because you know you won’t enjoy them?

These are all questions to ask yourself when you are doing a lifestyle audit!

For myself, I am a creative person so I am having the same routine everyday feels like it kills my creative brain cells. I do not thrive in that situation and end up never finding the time to be creative because I lose that drive from focusing on my routine. Its a fine line to be a creative work at home mom and have the same daily routine with kids. Evie loves having a routine where she is fed, takes her naps, baths and bedtime at the same time everyday. With holidays and summer parties, there are days where her schedule is messed with and boy do we pay for it with a baby that refuses to sleep.  With Danyella being homeschooled, she has to have a routine or she will try to get out of doing her schoolwork (common occurence with a sassy tween). So what’s a creative mom to do when her kids need a routine? Find little ways to break up my routine so I don’t get into that blah feeling and avoid my creative side like changing up how I do my day each day. Plus, I tend to end up staying awake way to late after the girls are asleep to accomplish some of those mundane chores on my list that I avoided earlier in the day.

Now it is your turn! Print out the Lifestyle Audit PDF that I created for you to take a look at what is good and bad in your life. This will help determine what you need to change and what can stay the same to make your life the best it can be for today.

Lifestyle Audit

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3 Ways to Recycle an Old Shirt into No Sew Headbands

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If you have read some of my other Teach Me Tuesday posts, then you will know that I LOVE to upcycle other things into a new thing… especially clothing! Clothes can be given new life as something else if you put a little creativity into it.

Today, I am showing you how to take one shirt that is stretchy like a t-shirt or something similar and make it into 3 headbands. You don’t need to sew or glue anything just tie some knots and you are good to go. This is also a great way for a child who is learning how to tie knots to practice and make their own headbands for the summer.

Headband #1: The Turban Style Headband

Headband #2: The Tie a Bow Headband

Headband #3: The Double Braid Headband

Happy Crafting!

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5 Kid Friendly Summer Activities That Won’t Break the Bank

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Don’t break the bank this Summer trying to keep your kids occupied and entertained. Here are 5 activities that will get you and the kids out of the house but won’t cost a lot of money. Bonus points for the air-conditioned activities to keep you cool while the kids are having some fun!

**Please note that I did not receive any compensation or anything in return for the suggestions and links that I provided. This is just helpful information from one parent to another parent or caregiver.

Fly a Kite: Let’s go Fly A Kite, Up To Its Highest Point… yes I totally had to sing that for you! On a more fun note: kids love to accomplish things and feel that wonderful feeling of doing it. Flying a kite can be a challenge that you can both do together because it requires getting that kite up in the air and keeping it up there. On a really windy day, flying a kite is a fun activity and you can find kites at walmart for $5.

Visit Your Library: Another great place to stay cool and keep the kids occupied is your local library. Both our local library and county library hold summer programs for free or a small fee. The local library has a reading program that the kids have different activities that they need to accomplish every week, bring the sheet to the children’s librarian and prove they accomplished these tasks. Then they get a sticker and small prize. They also get entries into a larger weekly prize or the big end of the summer prize (last year was a gift card and a tablet). Our county library holds different crafts and other activities throughout the summer which the kids love to make and take home.

Watch a movie: I mean go to the actual Movie Theater and watch a movie in their air-conditioned facility. The Regal Movie Theater hosts $1 movie days on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am throughout the summer which is awesome on the budget. The movies are all kid loved movies and some are from the current year. This summer they have Paddington 2, Despicable Me 2 and 3, Sing, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Trolls, and a bunch of other awesome movies. Here is the link to see the schedule for the one closest to you: Summer Movie Express

Visit a museum: Many museums either allow kids in for a discounted amount or free as an educational encouragement for families. We love to go into New York and visit the Met which has suggested rates but kids under 12 are free and students with an ID can pay what they can which being an adult college student, I qualify for which is great. Check out museums near you and see what they offer for kids/students/families.

Local fairs and events: The town next to ours has a free Music in the Park one night a week. We can take a blanket or chairs and snacks or they sell snacks and ice cream for $1-$2. It’s nice to watch the sun go down while listening to a local band that’s kid friendly plus we support our local bands.

What free or budget friendly activities do you have planned for the Summer?

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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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100 Act Of Kindness Days

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Danyella has been dealing with bullying and mean girls the past year so as her mother, I have been working on her self-care routine through her school work. She doesn’t realize that when I have her write a positive sentance everyday… its self care. She doesn’t realize that when I have her take 15 minutes before bed to write down her feelings…. its self care. There are many way I have incorporated self care into her homeschooling routine but self care isn’t just about what we do for ourselves.

Self care is doing things for other because it is good for our soul. It doesn’t mean you need to go all Oprah and giveaway cars, electronics or other awesome gifts (unless you can afford it). You have heard the stories of the people who start the giving lines at Starbucks where the car in front of them purchases their order for them and then it keeps on going. Or the person that surprises a child with a new bike that their parents can’t afford to buy them.

These little acts of kindness make us feel good about helping others and to see the smile on someone else’s face makes those acts completely worth it. Yes, we do need to make sure we are happy and secure in ourselves but doing things for others when they don’t know it’s coming or asking for it adds to the happiness we feel in our lives.

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It is small things like:

Giving a friend a hug when they are down

Holding a door open for a mom with kids in each arm and on each leg

Writing a letter to a soldier serving our country

Leaving a cold bottle of water for the mailman in the summer

Making a meal for someone who is ill

Donating food to a food bank

The possibilities are endless….

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Danyella and I are starting our 100 Act of Kindness Days challenge today. Each day we will find something nice to do for someone else. We will record what we did and how it helped someone else. I want to teach Danyella that among all the mean people in the world, be one of the nice people. Who wants to join us in this challenge?

Here is the pdf printable of chart we will use to keep track of our days: 100 Act of kindness Days PDF

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