When Life Gets Crazy…

file3781288474089

Oh, God.. I won’t lie. I had this entire post written, hit save, and it disappeared. Further proof that life is totally crazy right now.

I’ve got 3 weeks left of school, then (fingers crossed), I will graduate from college after a 17-year hiatus. So, I’ve got a lot of stress right now, between my regular responsibilities, studying, and getting ready for a huge almost weeklong camping event with my friends and a lot of my family.

I wanted to share some tips for how I keep it together when life is just crazy. These may not all apply to you, but they definitely help me.

Ask for help. I’ve been relying a lot on family, friends, and our respite hours through San Diego Regional Center so I can get out of the house without the kids to get stuff done. I love them, but sometimes shopping without them is just easier. Having a few hours alone to study in the library is nice. It’s hard to study when Legos are being played with right next to you.

Keeping to our schedule. Granted, there have been some changes to accommodate my schooling, but we are trying to get the kids to bed at night on time (sometimes that doesn’t happen), and out the door in the morning for school.  This includes my visits to the YMCA 4-5 times a week. I really believe that exercise helps me maintain a positive attitude and helps me manage my stress. I also have been continuing to meal plan, even though I sometimes forget to post it.

Be Flexible. This is a tough one for some of us (myself included). Sometimes life gets crazy, and you need to go with the flow. Sometimes that means cereal for dinner, sometimes it means going to bed the same time the kids do because everyone is tired.

Give Yourself Grace. Remember that this portion of your life won’t last forever. It won’t always be stressful, busy, or this hard.

Do What is Right for Your Family. This one can be hard, especially since we live in the era of Pinterest worthy, social media one-upmanship. I’m a fucking hot mess and I’ll admit it. As long as my family is loved and cared for- that’s all that matters. And sometimes that means cereal for dinner!

 

Talk Back: What do you do when life gets busy/crazy/unpredictable? 

 

Updates, and Giveaways, and Favorite Things!

IMG_2367
Thanks to the awesome stylists at the Dove Dry Shampoo and styling bar, I left MommyCon with an Awesome ‘Do!

Hey all! I’ve been busy, busy, busy lately and I wanted to let everyone know what’s going on. Two weeks ago, I went to Moms Meet Wow Summit, and this last weekend I went to Mommycon. Both weekends were full of learning, fun, and meeting so many new moms and brands. Mommycon was a great time to meet moms, and learn all about momm-ing, baby wearing, and women’s health. If you missed it this year, they’ll be back next year!

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 10.02.47 AM.pngRight now I’ve got an awesome giveaway for a prize pack of Sticky Lickits over on Instagram! I’m picking a winner on 11/14/18- so there is still time to enter.

I’ll be celebrating the upcoming holidays with giveaways over the next few months,  make sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter so you can keep up to date on the next giveaways.

IMG_2271
Crafting with our BFF!
IMG_2272
Mugging for the Camera!

We’ve also been doing the super fun Mall Stars monthly crafts at our local Starwood Branded Mall. Every month there is a fun craft for the kids, sponsored by a local business/childcare center, and snacks provided by one of the food establishments in the mall. This month it was decoupage candle lanterns, with mini-bons and lemonade from Cinnabon.

IMG_2424.jpgBesides that, I recently helped style a Marty McFly costume for the New Children’s Museum Gala. It was tons of fun to do, and the best part was it cost less than $30 out of pocket! I spent a few days combing through thrift stores and looking online, but I found a puffy vest and jean jacket for a steal! Sears is a great place to find lots of new costume staples that may be harder to source in thrift shops- That’s where the puffy vest  came from!

If you’d like to learn more about costuming on the cheap, check out my articles here and here.

I haven’t shared my favorite things with you in a while, and I’ve got a batch of them!

Everything Bagel Seasoning. It’s soooo good on avocado, poached eggs, cream cheese on top of a plain bagel. I’m pretty sure that this stuff is good on damn near anything. You can also get Everything Bagel Seasoning at your local Costco on the seasoning aisle.

 

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 1.26.56 PM.pngPlus CBDoil – CBD Spray (in Peppermint). I have friends who use CBD oil for a lot of reasons and I was interested in trying it, but I wanted to learn more without a hard sell, so while I was at the Wow Summit, I took a class all about CBD- How it works, what it can be used for, and even how to gauge dosing. If you follow my on Instagram, you know that Bitty broke my bottle this morning. I’m bummed, especially since it was really helping me with the anxiety I’ve been feeling that my prescription meds haven’t been able to touch. Thank fully I have some gummies to tide me over until I can order more.

 
True Lemon I love True lemon- It’s a great way to make all the water I drink taste like something without adding calories or weird faux sweetness.  I was worried about all of the waste from the packets. I found this big 10.6 ounce bottle on Amazon. And the bottle is recyclable!

 

 

The Field Agent App– Ok, so this isn’t a tangible “thing”, but I’ve been doing a lot of audits and secret shops with Field agent over the past month. I’ve earned a few hundred dollars with less than 2 hour work. I time the work to line up with my errands and other trips out of the hose, so no additional gas is wasted. You can learn more about Field Agent here.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about what you are up to lately, or what your new favorite discovery has been!

6 Tips for Combating the Mid-Year Frugal Slide

8517c9bb93cc1354d4320f323cf0afa6.jpg

It’s July, and for most of us, Our New Years Resolutions are a thing of the past. Mr. and I were talking today about ways we could reign in our budget. We’re not making it rain by any means, but… we could make a few changes. Here are my top ten tips, and trust me, I’ve already started incorporating some of these. I’ll have all of them back in the works by weeks’ end.

  1. Back to meal planning and sticking to it. No more trips to Denny’s when I am feeling lazy in the morning, or Mondays after group therapy.  That means I’ll be back to meal planning posts and new recipes too. And I’ll have several “back up dinners” on-hand in case the day gets away from me, or it’s too hot to cook the original meal. I took advantage of the sale on chicken breasts at Smart & Final the other day, and picked up 10 lbs. I came home and cut up the whole half breasts into more manageable sizes, and marinated some of it with different spices and put it in ziploc bags in the freezer. 10 lbs of chicken should get us 5 dinners, plus leftovers from each meal.
  2. Back to maintaining a robust snack bag in the car, refilling it daily, and remembering our water bottles when we leave the house. I fill our water bottles (we have these for the kids and these for the adults- in 40 oz) with water and ice before we leave in the AM and refill them as needed throughout the day in various places.
  3. In conjunction with #2, start taking surveys on receipts for deep discounts and free stuff again. I am Sonic’s text list, so when they have a daily deal that I have change in my car for, the kids and I stop for .50 ice cream cones, 1/2 price drinks (cherry limeade!). Frequently when you check out, there is a survey on the bottom of the receipt that will score you an XL (Route 44) size beverage for free! I really need to get back into stretching the buck.
  4. Check all my apps before I go shopping. I’ve been bad about this over the past few months. I’m sure I’ve missed out on Ibotta deals, Checkout 51 offers, and Cash Dash promos. No More! I’m back, baby!!
  5. Allowance. Yup, just like a teenager, I’m putting myself on an allowance, and Mr. is going to as well. I’m sticking to $40 in the summer, and $25 once we are back to school. This will just be for “fun money”. I still shop around for gas to stay within budget for gas each week. Costco is usually the cheapest.
  6. Keeping eyes open for cheap entertainment. Big Dude is in ESY (summer school) for the next few weeks, so a lot of the traditional summer things that are fun and cheap we haven’t been able to do (like Regal Summer Movies). We’ve mostly been doing fun stuff at the library, which is free, but I think we need to look beyond that. It’s starting to get too hot for park play dates!

I’d love to hear from you about how you combat the frugal slide. What do you do when you feel yourself slipping off your track?

Why I Love… Denny’s

purple crocus

I’m serious. Stop laughing! I love Denny’s. Here is why: When you have a kid on the spectrum, a lot of stuff is about textures, sounds… the “feels”, if you will. And almost every Denny’s looks the same. The menu is the same, the food tastes the same.  So, no matter where we go, he can have something to eat he likes in a place that is familiar.

And honestly, as far as diner food goes, it’s pretty good. They have heathy choices, they have junk food, and I can get a plate of scrambled eggs and chocolate shake at 2am if I need it.

Other reasons that Denny’s is the bee’s knees:

  • They have coupons. Sign up for their rewards club here, and they’ll email you coupons frequently. They also publish coupons in the Sunday paper, and sometimes in the junk mail too- just keep your eyes peeled.
  • When you are a rewards member, you’ll get a free build your own Grand Slam on your Birthday. SWEEET! That is Henry’s favorite birthday freebie- He knows that I’ll share it with him.
  • They participate in Dosh. We get 5% back when we eat there, can I can combine that with the coupons mentioned above.
  • The four of us can have a meal there for less than $25.00 (before coupon and Dosh cash back). Frequently there are leftovers too. Can’t beat that.
  • The do have Kid’s Eat Free twice a week, but my kiddos are pretty big eaters, and I find it easier (and cheaper) to order them something from the “grown up menu”. Right now, they are obsessed with sharing the Everyday Value Slam. Henry eats the pancakes (with butter), and Bitty eats the eggs and sausage. breakfast for 2 kids for just $4…. uh, ok. And I don’t have to wash the dishes!
  • We frequent the same 3 or 4 locations and the waitresses know the kids. They are always so sweet.

This week, I am professing my love for Denny’s. What do you love this week?

Playing and Learning with Safari LTD.

2B6678AB-B924-49B9-81D9-A9E4F2510AAE.jpgEver since Henry was itty bitty, one of his favorite kinds of toys were what he calls “Mean Animals”, you know those plastic animals that you can buy everywhere? Some of them are realistic, and some not so much.

We have a pretty hefty collection/menagerie of mean animals, but we are always open to increasing our herd. Last week we received a package from Safari LTD that contained our three newest friends: Frogfish, Hermit Crab, and Sea Turtle. As you can see from the picture above, Margaret has taken a shine to Sea Turtle.

IMG_8450.jpgThese new friends are not the usual tiny animals that come in a plastic bag or tube, these guys are BIG! I mean, look how big the Sea Turtle is in Margaret’s hands! And they look realistic too! That’s what I love about the toys from Safari LTD. Regardless of the size, all of their toys look real. No purple rhinos or bright green whales. Everything looks like it could come from a nature magazine. In fact the hermit crab scared the cat!

Safari LTD. has a great selection on Amazon, but you’ve probably seen their “Toobs” at Michael’s and some of the Good Luck Minis and Fun Packs at museums and aquariums. You can also buy them on the Safari LTD. Website too. Henry loves animals. Some of our favorite family animal based shows include: Wild Kratts, Octonauts, Blue Planet, Dinosaur Train, Zoboomafoo, and Coyote Peterson on Youtube (it is one of the few things I am ok with the kids watching on YouTube), so I was stoked to discover the SafariPedia on the Safari LTD. website. The SafariPedia has a full, amazing wiki with tons of information about all of the animals and creatures of the toys they make.

IMG_8457.jpgWe play really rough with out toys, and our ocean gang has held up to some pretty rough play. They are no worse for the wear.

I asked Henry if he would recommend the Safari LTD. toys to his friends, and he said, “Yeah, these guys are awesome. They are cool and look real. I think we should buy some Mean Animals for (insert the name of two of his friends) for their birthdays!” So there you have it- Mom and kiddo approved!

Thanks to Safari LTD. and Mommy Con for the three new animals. All opinions are my own, and I received no financial compensation for this post. Some of the links posted may be affiliate links that may generate a commission or revenue. Please refer to my disclosure policy.

 

 

Why I love….

purple crocusThis year, I wanted to add  a few new weekly posts in. I already have Meal Plan Monday, and I try and post freebies on Fridays.  This year, I’ll be adding in Why I Love… on Tuesdays. Each post will have a Talk Back question. I’d love to hear from you to help make my blog more about what you want to learn about and be a part of.

I’ll be sharing products, services, books, whatever I am into at the time. Starting off, I’ll be sharing my love of… The YMCA.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 11.41.46 AM.pngWe joined our local YMCA two years ago when Bitty Bird was about 6 months old. What drew me to our local Y was all of the incredible options it held:

  • Child care for 2 hours a day while I exercised, took classes, swam, or just went and took a shower.  There is child watch for kids 5 and under, and kids club for bigger kids. Each area has toys, games, and books, as well as a staff that interacts and plays games with the kids. When the weather is nice, the bigger kids go outside to play field games. When it’s cold or wet outside (or crazy hot- come on, this is a desert), the kids get to go into the gymnasium and play games, do obstacle courses. Both kids love to go. I try to go at least 5 times a week.
  • Great fitness classes included in our membership fee.
  • A great pool with an area just for kids.
  • Our membership includes access to all of the YMCA locations in San Diego, and access to YMCA locations across the country if we go on vacation.
  • Guest passes to bring friends.
  • Free classes and events for kids and the family (Our local Y does a free movie night once a month or so).
  • Free local community days- Usually on holidays, our local Y offers the community free access. It’s a great way to bring friends and neighbors to see what the Y is all about.
  • Free guest passes- I can bring friends whenever I want!
  • Low cost personal training and speciality classes. They offer personal training, TRX, and other specialty classes for a low rate. It’s a great way to get a “boost” to my fitness goals and stay on budget. There are also classes for kids: Gymnastics, karate, tumbling, art-pretty much anything they could want!
  • Scholarships and discounts. If you have an EBT card, receive WIC, SSI, or other social services, or you are active duty or retired military, you can qualify for a scholarship (a discount on your monthly dues), or a military discount.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 11.42.45 AM.pngRight now, most YMCA locations are offering deals for the new year.

Join the Y anytime in January and get up to $50 towards any program of your choice! From personal training & swim lessons to summer camps, at the YMCA, there is something for everyone!

For more information and details, contact your local YMCA.

And if you join a San Diego area YMCA, please give my name as a referral: Abby Hewes. I can earn discounts or a free month for referring new members (and once you are a member, you can too!).

I can’t wait to share more about what’s going on in our lives and what we are into.

Talk Back: If you are a member of the YMCA, what is your favorite part?

 

Super Busy Summer!

I haven’t had much time to sit at the computer and write lately, but we’ve been busy! There are so many free and frugal things to do in the summer, and we haven’t even done a 1/3 of what we have planned!

Here are just a few of the adventures we’ve been having (and you can try them too)!

 

 

IMG_4379
Henry’s Handiwork!

Rock Painting!  Some of you have seen pictures of the painted rocks we’ve been making, hiding, and finding all over town on my Instagram feed.  Santee Rocks was started by a local teacher to spread kindness.  There are lot of other “rocks” groups all over San Diego, and the US! We even hosting a Rock Painting party at a local park! Over 30 people showed up, painted, and played. We hope to host another one in July.

We’ve also been hitting up our local libraries for all sorts of fun events and activities. Our favorite is the El Cajon Library. They serve lunch M-F, 11:30-12:30.  Afterwards there are a variety of events and activities from special speakers, concerts, and even crafts! And they even serve an afternoon snack!

There is a small play area for kids with an interactive discovery structure, and a Duplo Wall! There is a shaded playground out front as well. It’s a great way to spend a few hours in a climate controlled place without visiting the mall or any place where you might spend money. We usually end up bringing home a few library books too.

We’ve been on adventures with friends! Playing T-ball at the park and going on the hunt for decorated rocks was the biggest hit so far.

IMG_4534
Playing dress up is a frequent stay at home activity. Here we have the Pirate T-Rex, trick or treating for meat.

And of course, We spend time at home, doing crafts, swimming in the community pool, playing Legos, and just hanging out!

I’m of the mind that summer doesn’t need to be packed with activities sun up to sun down. Frequently, we spend our time at home spending time together. We have friends over to play, but it’s super low-key.

I’ve taking a break from trying to pound out an article or post each day. I want to spend time with the kids and family.

What kinds of activities and adventures has you family been having this summer?