May 242017
 

Struggling to find ways to connect to your older kid? If so, below are very simple and easy ways to make effort to connect with your child. They grow so fast, and before you know it they will be off to college! It is so important that you get in time to connect with your kid when you can! 

No matter what your child’s age is, they still crave love and attention. So that is the main thing, just make time for them, listen if they want to talk and be there! The best way to raise a child is with love! Below are easy ways to connect to your older kid, ages 8-12. 

Simple Ways to Connect With Your Older Child

If they are being quiet: If you see they are being extra quiet, try to get them to talk. Ask them about something you know they are interested in. Maybe a video game, movie that they love, or something else. Showing you care and trying to help them if they are having a rough time, without coming right out and asking can help them a lot. 

Ask How Day Was: Even if you only get a one word answer, it shows them that you are interested. One day you might be surprised and get a little story of something cool that happened!  Continue reading »

May 232017
 

The hot weather has arrived and with that comes all kinds of worries: sunburn and dehydration top my list. Despite being of mostly Italian descent, I am a pale gal and I burn to a crisp. But that is a story for another day. We all hear every summer that we need to stay hydrated (and being a nurse, I am constantly pushing fluids on people and educating them on the importance of it), but do you know what dehydration looks and feels like? I consider myself somewhat of an expert on dehydration and rehydration (the rehydration part is generally not fun for you if you’re seeing me for it at work).

That was until my son, who was 9 or 10 at the time, came out to me one night at about 9 PM crying and telling me that he had the worst headache he had ever had in his life. He’s not a kid who complains, so I knew it must be serious. And being a nurse, I just wanted to make it go away so I gave him Tylenol. That didn’t touch it. I had no idea what else to do; he was literally grabbing his head and crying. I paged his pediatrician who, knowing my son’s lengthy medical history, sent us on our way to the ER. The ER is a nightmare, as you all know.

After several hours, labs, and much crying the diagnosis was……dehydration. WHAT??? Surely, they were kidding. I’m a nurse. I know all about dehydration and how to prevent it. Except that he had been at his summer program all day and it was hot. There was no AC and despite my constant lectures on drinking enough, he just hadn’t. I had never seen it present this way and it a real eye opener for me. So the next summer when we were on vacation and spent the day at Hershey Park and he started to complain of headache and became irritable, I knew what we were up against. Now when he gets aggravated with me constantly reminding him to drink, I remind him of that awful headache. Continue reading »

May 012017
 

If you are planning to tackle a home project, make sure to utilize these Home Depot hacks to make sure you never pay full price on items again! These hacks are a great way to get the most out of your money and make sure you are getting the best deals possible. 

From price matching, saving money on clearance lumber, and so much more! This is really a great way to cut corners on expenses and still create the project you are wanting. 

Save Money at Home Depot With These Tips and Tricks 

Price Match Guarantee: Make sure to check your competitor stores in your area, if you find a price cheaper, Home Depot will price match. But to make it even sweeter, they will give you an extra 10% off on the item! Just bring in the flyer to show them the price.

Join Newsletter: Make sure to sign up for their newsletter, new members get a $5 off coupon! Plus you can get emails on special sales available and sometimes extra discounts. 

Rebate Center: Make sure to check out their online rebate center. You can save quite a bit of money on their larger items most of the time! 

Clearance Lumber: Okay, this one is awesome. You can get a discount on leftover lumber, up to 80% off. So make sure to check out the clearance wood. They will be different sizes and such, but you can always find some way to use it! They mark the clearance wood with purple paint.  

Trees and Plants: Did you know that the trees, perennials and house plants all have a one year guarantee. You just dig up the item if it dies, and take it in for a replacement plant.  Continue reading »

Apr 182017
 

Did you just get an Instant Pot for a holiday gift or birthday present and have no idea what is next? Maybe you read the manual and the *beginner’s guide* (link to the first article!). Now, you’re ready to start cooking! Before you get started, there are a few things I want you to know. You can cook healthier foods with your Instant Pot from simple entrees to gourmet dishes. I also want to show you that you can use your Instant Pot daily which can make it one of the most valuable appliances in your kitchen.

How to Cook Healthy Foods in Your Instant Pot

Easy does it. If you’re a beginner, start off easy. Skip long or heavy recipes until you get the hang of it. With simple recipes with few ingredients, you can learn how to make adjustments and discover how the Instant Pot works. You will learn how your food cooks and what you might need to read up on to truly master your Instant Pot. Try rice to learn the rice cooker setting and shredded meat to learn how to make your meat flavorful.

Start with a whole chicken. If you’re not sure how to get going with your Instant Pot, a whole chicken could be just what you need. While there are many recipes online for a whole chicken in your Instant Pot, you can add your own flair with seasonings and broth. Don’t forget that your Instant Pot should always have a cup of liquid in your pot when you cook. Continue reading »

Apr 122017
 

Have you thought about organizing your kitchen cabinets lately? I opened one of mine yesterday and a bunch of stuff fell on me, so I figured it was time for a little cleaning and reorganization. Honestly, it doesn’t take much to get started and to keep them organized and here are some easy tips to get you started on organizing those kitchen cupboards.

Tips for Cleaning & Organizing the Kitchen Cupboards

Clean out the cabinets first.

Before you decide to organize the kitchen cupboards, take the time to clean them out. This is the perfect time to get rid of all broken Tupperware out of the cabinets. If there’s something you don’t want to keep, then now is the time to throw it out.

Take out all of the dishes.

In order to organize the cupboards like they should be done, take out all of the dishes in the cupboard. I try to be incredibly careful during this part because I don’t want to break any dishes. I set all of the dishes on the table until it’s time to put them back into the cupboards. Continue reading »

Apr 052017
 

Freezer meals are a quick way to meal plan healthy dishes. The main idea is to freeze some of your meals for use at a later day. You can cook the meals ahead of time, freeze them, and heat it up at dinner time in an oven, on the stove, or even in a slow cooker. It saves you a lot of time and energy throughout the week, and it helps you stay on track with your healthy eating goals.

Here are a few ideas for easy freezer meals for your family. It is important to note that there are two different ways of “freezer meals.” The first is by adding ingredients to a freezer bag and freezing. The second way is preparing the actual meal first (in the oven or on the stove) and freezing it. Both ways have their benefits, but the second way provides a way to slash prep time. You just simple defrost, heat up, and serve.

Easy Freezer Meal Ideas

Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Create a comfort meal for everyone with mac and cheese! It is a classic dish that is much tastier when made from scratch. Skip the powdered cheese and make your own with whole wheat noodles (or even vegetable pasta if you dare!), cheddar and low-fat cottage cheese, some vegetables like spinach and broccoli, and cream. Bake, cool, and freeze the entire container. What a time saver! Continue reading »

Apr 032017
 

Can you believe that Easter is right around the corner. This year is flying by, and soon we will be coloring Easter eggs and having scavenger hunts. I thought it could be fun to share some really inexpensive Easter inspired crafts that are from the Dollar Store. You don’t have to be super crafty to do these! Plus if you have children, they could really enjoy helping make some of these.

Below you will find a list of different Dollar Store Easter Crafts for you to create this year. You could give these as gifts to friends and loved ones, or use to decorate your home with. Either way they are fun to create and adorable to look at!

Dollar Store Easter Inspired Decor For The Home

DIY Spring Wreath (The Happy Housie): In five minutes you can create this simple, yet adorable spring wreath. Everyone will be asking where you bought this beautiful piece.

Easter Mason Jars (Mason Jar Crafts): These are beyond adorable, and would be great to display on your kitchen table or on a shelf! If you can’t find a mason jar at your store, just buy a neat jar! Anything will work!

Easter Nest Hurricane Glass (Salt and Pepper Moms): This is a stunning piece and would look gorgeous to display in your home for Easter. Continue reading »

Mar 272017
 

April Fools Day is coming up quick guys and I am already planning out some awesome April Fools Food Pranks to play on my boys.  Growing up, there was absolutely no pranking in parent’s house.  They didn’t go for that sort of thing, so my sister, brother and I behaved. Then I met my husband, Christian, and he happens to come from a family full of pranksters. Christian knows I am not a fan, so they rarely get played on me, but my boys are a whole other story.

The boys think pranks are the best thing ever and pretty much live for April Fools Day because that’s the only real day that they can get away with them without consequences. But what kind of a mom would I be if I didn’t play a few pranks back?  I have experimented over the years and have found that food pranks are the best way to go with my two. It gets them every time. If you want to try some food pranks of your own, take a peek at some of these links.  There is lots of good stuff in there. Continue reading »

Mar 212017
 

Spring cleaning is one of the only things that stands between you and an amazing spring. Ok, maybe it won’t ruin your whole season, but if you are anything like me, you dread it all year long and procrastinate as much as humanly possible. The reason spring cleaning is so daunting is because it’s a lot more than just the regular day to day (or weekly) cleaning – it’s a whole lot of work. To be honest, for a lot of us starting our spring cleaning takes a quite a bit of motivation. Today I am going to share some of the ways I motivate myself to get started with my spring cleaning and hope it helps you, too.

Inspiration

The first step to motivation before anything else is to be inspired, if you have no inspiration then you will ultimately end up like me – being lazy and skipping an entire year or two.  So go out and buy some of those home decor magazines you always avoid and throw that “my house will never look this good” attitude right out the door. Sure you may not financially be able to buy all that spendy decor, but trust me when I say it’ll give you some great ideas on how decorate your house in a way that perfectly fits your personality once you are done with the deep cleaning.  I also like to call this one “the reward system”. Once you’re done cleaning, reward yourself with a little shopping spree to liven up your living space a little bit. Continue reading »

Mar 152017
 

How to keep your kids entertained during school breaks can be a little rough. Those long breaks – winter holidays, spring breaks, and then summer break can be a lot. At first your kids might love the freedom, but over time find themselves being bored more often and getting frustrated! If you are looking for ways to keep your kids entertained, you might find some of these ideas below helpful. Granted depending on your child’s age will depend what fits there needs! But, hopefully a few of these might save you from a day of, “I have nothing to do, I am so bored!”

Ways to Entertain Kids During School Breaks 

Arts and Crafts: Thanks to the world of Pinterest you can always find fun arts and crafts to do. From making bird feeders with old toilet paper rolls to making salt crystals. You can find fun art projects for kids of all ages. Plus a lot of them can be very inexpensive, but keep your child busy for hours! So search out DIY crafts and see what fun ideas you find. 

Scavenger Hunt: This can be a lot of fun, create a scavenger hunt. Create a list of items they will have to go on a hunt to find. This can be one of their favorite toys, some kitchen utensils, the sky is the limit here. Then at the end you can have a surprise like a cookie or even a cheap dollar toy from the dollar store. They will love doing it!  Continue reading »

Mar 132017
 

There is more to meal planning than cooking and freezing. There are certain things you can do before you start meal planning that will help you become more efficient in the kitchen. This guide is going to take you from overwhelmed at the grocery store to organized with a plan. The goal is to save money when you shop while enjoying healthier and more delicious food.

Pick a day. Before you start with your grand plan, pick a day that works for your family for meal prep. This would require clipping coupons if you do so, reading the sale circulars, making a list, and shopping. When you return home, instead of quickly putting groceries away, you can start formulating your meals into freezer bags and containers.

The truth is that meal prep can become over stressful over time, and you may just give up. Don’t let a setback make you quit. Write it down, shop in the early or late hours of the day to avoid crowds, and use the internet to help you track lists and recipes. Continue reading »

Mar 082017
 

We all need time to ourselves, and what better way to spend it than in the company of friends? I’ve never been one who enjoys going to bars, and I am even less inclined to do so now that I’m older. Sure, a girl’s night out is fun occasionally, but it can get expensive. My friends are I prefer a girl’s night in; much cheaper and often a lot more fun! Here are some ideas for Girl’s Night In:

Pinterest Night– I’ve done this many times. The rule was that we each had to pick a Pinterest project (sometimes we worked on the same thing, other times we did different projects). We tried out some great food, some not-so-great foods, and made some cool stuff. We typically also had a bottle of wine, but that is optional. I know that my Pinterest page has over 5,000 pins, many of which I will never make, but I have tried more than a few out this way. Give it a try!

Craft Night– At one point I had a group of friends who were a crafty bunch. Some knitted, some crocheted, and some scrapbooked (I am a crocheter and a scrapbooker). We had snacks and drinks, and we always chatted the night away. We had many laughs on those nights. We made it a monthly event and rotated houses each month. Continue reading »

Mar 072017
 

If you haven’t seen the hype of Instant Pots around the internet, you are missing out! This nifty kitchen gadget can help you simplify your time in the kitchen. Instead of having a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, and saute pan, you can have an Instant Pot! This tool handles many tasks that other appliances do just in one simple cooking option. If you are ready to make the switch to an Instant Pot, here is what you need to know.

Instant Pot Starter Guide

Just what exactly is PSI conversion? One of the questions that pressure cookers users have about Instant Pots is how to convert recipes to your Instant Pot. Pressure cookers have specific recipe instructions, and it is possible to convert those to the Instant Pot. This is perfect for your family, especially if you have children in your home and you are worried about having a pressure cooker.

PSI conversion may sound difficult, but it is pretty simple. Just remember that the typical pressure cooker works at 15 PSI while the Instant Pot works at 11. What does that mean for you? Converting the recipes will result in a longer cook time in the Instant Pot. Cook them for just a few extra minutes longer if the recipe is meatless. Continue reading »

Mar 012017
 

Creating and maintaining social media profiles matters when it comes to ensuring you keep your blog awesome and running smoothly. The most recent hottest place for bloggers to promote their content is Instagram. Many struggle with trying to find a way to grow their Instagram following though, and that’s why I have written this post today. I want to share 5 ways to grow your Instagram following so that you can succeed in having another social media platform that works to promote your content.

Play on Emotions

People love to have their emotions played with and no I don’t mean this in a bad way. Photos that you share on Instagram should hit an emotion of some sort so that people will click that little follow button and keep up with your Instagram account. People are usually driven to follow someone on Instagram if the following emotional responses are triggered:

  • Ability to relate to the photo and caption provided.
  • Desire to leave a comment with their opinion on the topic.
  • Compassion to follow you along on your journey.

While there are many emotions you can play on when it comes to human beings, be certain that you try your best to tug on the right emotions. If you want to grow your Instagram following then you need to play on positive emotions of empathy, compassion, happiness and memories. Continue reading »

Feb 132017
 

If you are finding it hard to work out or need to spice up your everyday routine, try hosting a fitness scavenger hunt! This creative idea can be hosted at any time during the year, and all it requires is a little planning. The main idea is that you jog or run to find items on your scavenger hunt list as opposed to walking around the block. You can have fun, workout, and challenge your friends!

Choose the Right Location

The first thing is to pick the right location. You would like the area to be large enough to have room to exercise while running around to collect items. It should obviously be safe and be available during the daytime.

Scavenger Hunt Location Ideas:

  • Parks
  • Beaches
  • Field
  • Large backyards
  • Downtown area (one with lots of benches, walkways, parks, or historic monuments that you can use as stops on your adventure, etc.).

Plan Your Scavenger Hunt Continue reading »

Feb 122017
 

If you are a parent you’ve either been there, are going through it now, or will someday experience the joy (please note the sarcasm) of raising a teenager. Let me start off by saying that I love my son with all my heart and cannot imagine my life without him. It’s been just the 2 of us taking on the world for the last 12 years, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Some days I just don’t like him very much. He is very much a typical 14-year-old boy. He’s a good kid and doesn’t get into trouble, but the mouth, the sighs, the eyerolls, and the general “mom, you are the dumbest person alive” attitude are enough to put me over the edge. I know that I’m not the first parent to experience this, and I certainly won’t be the last, so I decided to do a little bit of research on parenting teenagers and here is what I came up with. Continue reading »

Jan 302017
 

Robin posted not long ago about the importance of “me time,” and one of my favorite ways to spend my “me time” is reading. I have loved to read since I was a kid but then motherhood took over, and there wasn’t a whole lot of time to read. Now that my son is older and more self-sufficient, I have that time. I read a lot, and I read fast, so buying books gets expensive, and they take up room that I don’t really have. I have two eReaders/tablets: the Nook and the Kindle Fire. I like them both for different reasons, but I tend to use my Kindle more for reasons you will see below.

eReaders are so convenient. I recently took a cruise and brought my Kindle along for the downtime on the boat before we arrived in Bermuda. I downloaded a few books before we left so there would be no shortage of reading material because I can finish a book in a day or 2. Again, this can get expensive so I made it a mission to find free and inexpensive books and am going to share them with you.

FreeBooksy is a website that has free eBooks for the Kindle, Nook (Barnes and Noble), Kobe, and Apple. You can be added to their email list, and they will send you a daily email with free books of various genres, or you can search for them yourself. They have numerous genres: romance/chick lit, mystery/thriller, fantasy, non-fiction, young adult, science fiction, literary fiction, religion, horror, and even children’s books. There is definitely something for everyone. Continue reading »

Jan 232017
 

It’s the new year, we’ve all heard about self care and how important it is to find some “me time” in our everyday lives. Let’s be real for a second; that’s not how it works. It’s not as simple as just “finding some time for me”. There are always things that need fixing or finding or fetching and half the time it’s the kids themselves. In my life, and I’m sure you’ve been here too, there’s not a lot of real life “me time”. Instead of getting upset about it or running myself ragged, I use these quick tips to make the most of my time so I can enjoy a little time by myself.

How to Find Real Life “Me Time”:

Figure Out What Makes You Happy
This is probably the hardest part of enjoying time alone without the kids. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what they enjoy and just go with the flow. One of the things I try and do is set some time aside during school, sleep, whatever it takes, to just relax and unwind. Isn’t that what all mom’s like? Quiet moments of sitting still! During those few quiet moments I try and think of something that I’d really like to do. Make a list if you have to, I know I’ll forget half of them if I don’t put it in my phone or write it down somewhere. Now I know what to do when I come across some free time. It’s impossible to schedule it so I have to be ready when the time arises! Continue reading »

Jan 112017
 

If the thought of being able to put money into savings makes you laugh hysterically, clap your hands.

If you clapped, you’re not alone. It can be incredibly difficult to put money into savings. And that’s just when the savings are your own. When you start considering how you’ll manage to save any money for your kid’s future — well, that can seem even more impossible.

If you want to save money for your kid’s future, or at least want to try, here are a few tactics to consider:

Start a 529 Plan

Like a 401k, a 529 plan is helpful, but it can be daunting if you’re new to it. The IRS has a detailed and helpful Q&A page that makes for a great introduction to this popular college savings plan.

The short and sweet explanation is this: A 529 plan allows you to save money specifically for education costs without being taxed on the account’s earnings — provided you spend those earnings on approved education costs. It’s considered your asset, so it won’t affect your kid’s financial aid and you can transfer it to their sibling if they’re not interested in pursuing higher education. Continue reading »

Jan 032017
 

how-to-survive-raising-boys

If you are raising boys then you surely have become familiar with that everlasting boy humor. That humor that is inappropriate for the dinner table yet becomes a frequent occurrence. That toilet seat that never gets put down and that ever growing smell that seems to be boy’s feet. Sure some of you are the lucky parents with boys who don’t exhibit most of these qualities on a regular basis but for the rest of us, we are just getting started in learning how to survive raising boys.

How to Survive Raising Boys

The initial step to ensuring that you survive the years of raising boys is to make sure that your weak stomach disappears. There will be times that you smell odd things on stuffed animals, wonder what’s hidden underneath their beds and why on Earth they still smell after having showered just that morning. Continue reading »