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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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Going Back to Public School plus June Student Writing Prompt

May Writing Prompt (3)

It is June and for most students that means the school year is coming to an end. Also, June is the start of the Summer season which kids look forward to but parents who need to occupy the kids do not. Whether school is still going or has ended for your student, it doesn’t mean that the learning has to stop when school stops.

Danyella’s homeschooling school year ends at the end of June but she is will be going back to public school starting the end of August. We will be using the month of July to prepare for her testing back into public school. Which she is fighting every step of the way.

This decision to go back to public school was not an easy one because of Danyella’s anxiety and difficulties in Math. At home, I am able to take the time to explain the work to her but at school the teacher may not have that time to go one on one with her. I am scared she will get lost between the kids in the school especially going into 6th grade and they will be switching classes and having multiple teachers.

On the other hand, I don’t think she is truly thriving in a homeschool setting because she fights me on doing anything and everything. I have tried to find subjects that she enjoys but she loses interest. She just wants to rush rush rush through all of her computer and written work. She tries to put the minimal amount of effort into whatever she is doing and it has caused fights between her and I.

Danyella feels that she should just be unschooled and learn when and what she wants to learn. That is not my style as a homeschooling parent. Don’t get me wrong, if unschooling works for you and your family that is great but for my child she needs the structure of a school environment. If I left her to unschool, she would sit on her iPod or watch tv all day and learn nothing to succeed when she is an adult.

In New Jersey, there is no structure for homeschooling and no monitoring unlike our neighboring Pennsylvania. So, I have had to create all of her lessons and pay for all of the materials to teach her at home. That adds up just on ink and printer paper alone. Then add the monthly fee for the homeschooling school that I found for her, workbooks, field trips, projects and other things and we easily put out $2000 a year on homeschooling.

When she goes back to public school, she will be going with her best friend and back to the first elementary school she attended where the students and teachers still remember her. I know she has anxiety about this big change in both of our lives but I think going back to this school will help her with the transition.

One thing that I will continue to have Danyella do, even when she is back in public school, is daily writing prompts. I think it is important that kids have time to write everyday whether it is journal writing or prompt writing. They need that outlet to get things out. Writing prompts have been a great way to get Danyella’s creative juices going and she doesn’t realize that she tells me things through the prompts like things that she likes/dislikes. These are things that she wouldn’t just tell me if I asked her.

Here is the June Writing Prompt which is good for 3rd-5th probably even 6th graders: June Writing Prompt PDF

May Writing Prompt (2)

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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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DIY Ribbon Bookmark plus May Writing Prompt Calendar

DIY Ribbon Bookmark Tutorial

Hooray its May! After a cold, snowy Winter and wet, rainy April…. we have sunshine on the first day of May! Add to that the fact that its Teach Me Tuesday and you have a near perfect day!

This week’s Teach Me Tuesday is for our readers and writers, young and old with a DIY tutorial to make ribbon bookmarks plus a writing prompt for the month of May. If you know someone (including yourself) that loses bookmarks every time they read then this is the perfect bookmark to make!

The bookmark is very cute and customizable with the type of ribbon and buttons you want to use. You can use recycled ribbon from gift boxes or other places you find ribbon. If you are like me, you find buttons everywhere but don’t know where they came from so you can use those buttons for this project. The great thing about these bookmarks is that they created so they do not slip out the books and get lost. For the May Writing Prompt, keep scrolling past the bookmark tutorial!

Supplies:

Ribbon

Buttons

Hair Tie (preferably new but you can recycle your unused ones too)

Hot Glue Gun and glue stick

Directions

  1. Cut ribbon to 12″ long or as long you want/need
  2. Place hair tie over one side of the ribbon, fold the ribbon over the tie and glue down
  3. Glue the button on the other side of the ribbon
  4. Allow the glue to dry
  5. Read and bookmark your place!

May Writing Prompt:

As a homeschooling mom, I love having Danyella write something everyday. The writing prompts are a great way to get the creative juices flowing and sometimes make her think outside of the box. In the past, we have used prompts that I have found on Pinterest. While we loved them, there was something usually missing from them. Danyella prefers to have the prompts in a calendar form which has been a great way to teach her about calendars and planning.

This May writing prompt is formatted for 2018 but can be used at any point, in any year. I hope you enjoy getting your child’s creative juices flowing and encouraging them to use their words to write something beautiful everyday of May!

Here is the PDF to print off: May Writing Prompt and the JPG:

May Writing Prompt

If you like this prompt please share the picture below to Pinterest or your favorite social media!May Writing Prompt (1)

 

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Time Out Tuesday

Time Out Tuesday

With the start of the school year for both Danyella and I, life has become so overwhelming that I feel like my brain is just spinning out of control. For the remainder of September, I am taking Tuesdays off from blogging so that I can get myself on a schedule with school, pregnancy and life. Starting Tuesday, October 3rd, I will be starting Teach Me Tuesday with DIY projects for the upcoming holidays for adults and kids to make the holiday season fun.

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Mommy is a College Student #thankfulthursday

Mommy College Student

Today was my first official day of classes that I attend at the actual college (my online classes started already)! It was scary as hell to pull into that parking lot surround my kids that were closer in age to my oldest child then to me. I swear you could feel my heart pounding out of my chest as I looked for a place to park (note to self show up earlier so I can park closer and not in the outskirts of town). Why am I so damn nervous?

The reason I am so nervous is because I was living in fear of being judged by all of these millennial that will shape the future of our lives with new technology, politics and so much more. Here I am… the old, pregnant woman taking classes among all of these young kids who are concerned about their Snaps and the latest party. How can I keep up with them?

My first class today was Speech which is something that comes pretty easily for me because of my background in theatre plus making speeches for the Homeless Shelter that I have been associated with for a few years now. I walked into class a few minutes late because with my belly I can only walk so fast from the other side of the parking lot and then up to the second floor to class. Already red in the face….

I take a seat in the front of the class because that was a close seat to the door and the other people at the table looked a little older than 18 and out of diapers. The professor keeps going and I start to feel more at ease until I look around the classroom and see all the young kids. Wow I begin to feel so so so old! There are a few of us older people though I think I am the oldest out of 24 and definitely the only pregnant one.

The first video we watch is about how we need to have self-confidence in ourselves and about our character. It was a wonderful video and one that I needed right in that moment. I needed to get past my fear of these kids in my classes because I would be spending 3 hours a week for the next 14 weeks with them plus I was going to have to get up in front of the class and talk to them.

I am thankful for being able to take this opportunity to get past my fear of these millennial and take courses that will help me not just in my career but in my everyday life. When I am at work or on stage, I don’t think twice about what I need to do or say but getting up in front of these kids gives me massive anxiety but I am thankful that I will work on getting past my fear this semester. I might be old and I might be pregnant but I want to further my education and life which is worth every single moment of fear and anxiety.

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Importance of Sticking to A Schedule when Homeschooling

The Benefits of Providing a Schedulefor yourkids (1)

When I woke up this morning, I really had no idea what I was going to write about today but I did know that I wanted to start a series on homeschooling since that is now our life. The good, the bad and the ugly of homeschooling since homeschooling has a stigma attached to it.

When I homeschooled Danyella before and would go out in public during the day, the looks and questions we would get were enough to make me snap… which at times I did because I refused to send my child to a shitty public school and not learn anything when I can provide her with a useful education at home.

Something that I learned when I homeschooled Danyella before was that she is the child that needs the structure of a schedule. If I let her take a million breaks or get up and walk away from something to many times, it became a game to her. One that she used to push-off her schoolwork as long as possible. Not this time!

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A comment on my Instagram post of Danyella and Max while she was doing her schoolwork and Max looked sad that his buddy wasn’t playing with him really bothered the hell out of me last night and this morning so that is where this post is coming from. The comment was kinda asking, kinda implying that Danyella should get lots of breaks in the beginning to start homeschooling…. ABSOLUTELY NOT!

When public school kids go back to school, do they get lots of breaks to start their year off? NO! Most come home with homework for both themselves and their parents. Just because she is being homeschooled doesn’t mean that we just fly by the seats of our pants. We have a daily schedule of what happens from 8am-5pm everyday. We have meals, chores, school and other activities scheduled throughout our day.

Yes, she does get some free time like kids get recess BUT it’s not multiple times through the day and it is not to play with the dog because he is lonely. Teaching my child structure and a schedule is important because as adult we live by structure in order to be successful (or at least the successful adults that I know do). As parents, if we do not structure our schedules and our children’s schedules then we have chaos and chaos leads to negativity which leads to unhappy, disconnected children.

Danyella is a dancer, a competitive dancer, and is taught a schedule and structure for each of her classes and her competitive team. Each teacher has a different style for their structure but the child thrives in class when there is structure.

Whether your child is a toddler/preschooler and you are teaching them at home or if they are older and you are homeschooling, a schedule is key to keep them on track and you sane. When a child wakes up, knows what they need to do for the day and at what times, life just runs smoother and happier for entire family.

Benefits:

  1. Schedules teach structure which is important to instill for adulthood
  2. Schedules keep the expectations of the child in focus
  3. Schedules help the child understand that School is serious not a game
  4. Schedules keep parents sane
  5. Schedules help families stay on track with their life goals
  6. Schedules make for happy children which make for happy parents

What are your thoughts on keeping your child on a schedule (whether you homeschool or they attend a school)?

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Looking For the Bright Side

It’s a Tuesday morning which means life will be less stressful than Monday morning and a little more relaxed.

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That was my exact thoughts as I lay in bed this morning debating on whether to sleep in a little longer since Danyella spent the night at my mom’s and I don’t have an appointment first thing. I mean if there is no rush to get up then my pregnant butt should relax for as long as I could… right?

Well that was BEFORE I made the mistake of looking at my phone….

First email that caught my eye was from the HR department of my job basically telling me that I was in non compliance because my OB hasn’t been able to finish the 30 pages of paperwork for the FMLA so that I can collect a little for a little bit time while I am on bed rest. So that has been a going back and forth  with HR all day hoping and praying that I will still be able to collect something because my family needs any extra money we can to get ready for this baby girl.

The second email was from my college telling me that I was selected for the IRS verification for my FAFSA application. So they give me all these instructions on how I can do this online but it doesn’t work. I go to the FAFSA homepage hoping to find answers on how to get this to work only to find out that FAFSA disabled the ability to do the online verification until the next season which who the hell knows when that is! Next option is to access my transcripts online instantly through the IRS website but I don’t have a credit card, mortgage or auto loan in my name (downfall of trying to keep my expenses down and not fall behind on loans by not having loans). So onto the third option, order my transcripts to be mailed to me. According to the site it can take upto 10 days to process my request… well classes start in 3 weeks so I might be able to start classes because I do not have any money to put towards my tuiton fees. I did email the financial aid woman but have yet to hear back about how long this will take to process will take and if I should stop my plans to go back to school (yes I shed more than one tear over this today).

On a bright note…. I stopped into work and was able to see some of my friends and eat my favorite French Onion Soup. I have 3 weeks to try to hope, pray and keep on top of the financial aid woman to process my aid so I can start classes (squeaky wheel gets the oil first). And best of all…. my local Starbucks secretly has Pumpkin Spice Lattes back plus I got 2 more maternity clothes for $10 on clearance at Target. A win win day after all!

Somedays are harder than others to find that bright side but there is always a bright side to every dark side of life. One thing that listening to The Secret (I listen to the audiobook everyday) and other positive life changing books has taught me that if you dwell on the bad then more bad will come but if you find the good in each situation then the good things will occurred more often. Stay positive and stay happy on this Terrific Tuesday!

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Do Coupons Really Matter?

Is Couponing Worth It_

For more years than I want to admit, I have been couponing on and off…. though more off then on because I would either forget it was Sunday to buy the papers, I was too lazy to cut the coupons before I went shopping or I would just forget the coupons at home when I was already in the grocery store. Also, I was doubtful that I was really saving any money because I would have to purchase 2 or 3 of a product just to get the $1 off. Well this past week taught me the lesson that I need to learn to be frugal and that there are good coupons and deals if I just pay attention!

 

So we all know of the extreme couponers that have a format to how they coupon and purchase like $200 worth of groceries for $20 (maybe a little extreme but not really if you watch the shows and documentaries). In my mind, those extreme couponers were a little crazy and had too much time on their hands which I didn’t have. Now, I do have the time on my hands and the financial need to cut down on our spending costs so I better start paying attention to what they are doing and copying their money-saving ways.

My lesson from last week is this…. Shoprite (our local go to grocery store for good deals) had Arm & Hammer laundry detergent on sale for $1.99 plus there was a coupon out in the world for a $1 off the detergent which means you can buy the detergent for just $.99! Well that $1 savings could go towards the fresh fruit and veggies that my family devours in a day or less.

Lately, at my go to couponing place, I could have easily purchased 10 bottles for $1 each BUT I only had 1 coupon for regular detergent and 1 coupon for the sensitive skin (Danyella and the new baby). So I ordered (yes I order my groceries which will be a future post) 1 bottle of regular scented detergent and 1 bottle of the sensitive skin detergent and used my coupons. After putting the groceries away, I was kicking myself in the ass about the detergent situation so I waddled my ass around Shoprite to get more of the detergent without the coupons. (insert crying face emoji here haha) I mean with how much our dog sheds, I needed as much detergent as I could get at that price!

 

Lesson learned because we go through detergent so often with a furry puppy. The next place I  have been looking for coupons has been coupons.com because I can easily print of the coupons and why would I need to go over their limit of only printing the coupon 1 time when I don’t usually stock up on things. (BIG MISTAKE AND LESSON LEARNED FOR A FUTURE POST COMING SOON!)

 

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Next lesson on coupons I learned…. I may never become one of those extreme couponers but this morning I got out of bed early (a rarity just ask my boyfriend husband) and went to Wawa to purchase 2 Sunday papers to get those coupons. (“Christina” has found us a hook up to get a set of 10 papers to split and save us the trip and money!)

As I am cutting the coupons from 2 different papers (don’t know why I decided to try 2 different papers but something told me to do it), I find out that not all papers have the same damn coupons! The one paper had more coupons than the other but the other paper had a rebate coupon that doesn’t expire until March of next year. Shit now do I buy 2 of each of those papers? Yes, I do buy the one paper for “Christina” and I and she gets us the hook up for the other paper so we can use all the savings we can get!

This is a bit overwhelming and a little exciting at the same time. I am trying to find other ways to save money before this baby gets here and we have to add baby stuff to the grocery list. Since this is going to be an ongoing challenge for me, I am starting a series on couponing and saving on Sundays. If you have any tips or stories of your own please feel free to comment below.

*Check out how to make your own coupon binder: Create your own Coupon Binder

* Need help learning couponing terms: Couponing Terms with Printable List

**Since, writing this post last year, I have been finding better ways to save with coupons and I can’t wait to share my post this weekend on using these coupons to stockpile so be on the look out!