Planning for the Unplanned: A Lesson in Grace

So this started out as a post for Instagram, but it got a little wordy, so I decided to turn it into a blog post.

Last week’s meal plan was an epic fail. It was our first full week of distance learning with both kids, and I spent a majority of every day with one or both of them getting settled and accustomed to their schedules.

As a result, I didn’t stick to the meal plan, or get any writing done. This week, we’re trying it again, day by day. We didn’t starve either. We ate a lot of meals that came from pantry staples: Bean, rice, and cheese bowls, Spaghetti with red sauce and garlic bread (I made a huge batch of meat sauce a few weeks ago and froze portions for later meals- and the big kid had a vegetarian meal). And we had take out once… or twice. It was too hot to turn on the oven for our weekly pizza night, so we opted for delivery. Thanks to coupon codes (I love the Honey browser extension- it searches for coupon codes for me!) and the Dosh App, I was able to save $7 on a pizza and get free delivery! I also had coupons for free and BOGO bowls at Panda Express (Dinner for 4 was $8). I stretched them with some frozen Asian blend veggies, which I stirfried.

Every time I looked at our Meal Planning board, I felt discouraged, but after a few days, I realized that I needed to give myself some grace. I was doing the best I could. Everyone was still eating, we have shelter, clothes, we are all healthy. So I didn’t make Chicken Tetrazinni on Wednesday? Life still marches on. The kids have been working hard on their schooling, and its a hard thing to be accustomed to- learning alone with only little faces on an iPad screen a few times a day. I spend a lot of time helping them. Guiding them through worksheets, getting apps set up, encouraging them when they are upset or frustrated.

So this week:

Sunday night we had leftovers just to clean out the refrigerator and make room for the meal prep I was doing. I start our meal plan weeks on Sunday- It’s easier for me, since Sunday night tends to be quiet, and I can focus on it after the kids are in bed.

Monday was breakfast for dinner. I am absolutely in love with the Dehydrated hashbrowns from Costco. They make having hashbrowns at dinner (or really any time) a cinch.

I scrambled eggs with a little bit of half-and-half, and cooked them up with bacon crumbles, also from Costco, top with a little Mexican cheese blend, served with fruit, the aforementioned hash browns, and a half an avocado, and English muffins.

It was quick, it was easy, it was filling, and it was pretty cheap too.

Last night was supposed to be vegetarian chili, but I didn’t have a chance to get it into the crockpot, so instead the kids had what I like to call “Meal of Snacks”. I take a segmented plate and fill each section with something yummy: Peanut butter sandwich or hot, buttered noodles, goldfish crackers, apple or orange slices, fruit snacks, a juice box, or a glass of milk, cheese stick or cheese slices, and graham crackers for dessert. I had a frozen entree.

This week I’m just focusing on quick, easy meals with stuff that we already have on hand. I did a quick shopping trip to Food4less  Monday and picked up about $40 worth of groceries, which should get us through the next 10 days or so.

We have tons of pantry staples, and I have a lot of baking supplies on hand, so I will definitely be baking a pizza and cookies this week, maybe brownies too? We’ll see how the week goes. It’s already Wednesday, so who knows. And we are supposed to have a heatwave starting tomorrow. Again. I’ll be glad when it’s no longer in the triple digits for a week at a time.

 

I’m not gonna pretend that I’m perfect, I’m not gonna pretend that my life is all sunshine and unicorns.  Shit is hard right now for all of us. I wasn’t trained to be a kindergarten teacher or a 4th-grade special education teacher. Adding the stress of teaching daily to everything else that I am supposed to be doing is hard, and stuff falls to the side. Putting away laundry, sweeping up the living room, running the vacuum, washing my hair… But remembering that we are all in the same boat is what’s keeping me going.

Pushing out all of the “Insta-perfect” of my line of sight has done wonders for my mental health. All of those perfectly cultivated and curated pics can be detrimental to our mental health. There is a lot of comparing of ourselves to these photos we see online of perfect, clean, bright white kitchens and homes. Guess what- They aren’t real. These people have helpers: Housekeepers, nannies, mother’s helpers. They aren’t doing it alone. AND NEITHER SHOULD WE. Reach out to your tribe. You aren’t in this alone. We may be limited in our in-person, face to face contact with our friends and family, but we can still make phone calls, facetime, skype, zoom, email, or even write letters the old fashioned way.

You aren’t alone. I see you. I recognize you. I’m here for you.

Until next time: Wash your paws, wear a mask, flatten the curve.

My Quarantine Beauty Favs and a Giveaway!

Here in California, as well as all over the nation, many businesses that are not essential are closed. That means no hair cuts, manicures, pedicures, massages, all the fun stuff that helps us relax and de-stress. Lemme tell you, after 5 months (as of Thursday) of being home with the kids all the time without knowing what is going on most of the time (or what is coming up next), I’m feeling a little stressed.

Most of you, I’m guessing, are in a similar situation. Recently I took some of my side hustle cash and splurged. Well, for me it was a splurge. I spent money on myself on some self-care items that were very much needed. These are my favorite beauty/personal care items that are helping me get through these uncertain times. 

I’m in love with this scrub! Everything by Tree Hut is awesome, but this sugar scrub is tits. It’s got Shea Butter to moisturize, sugar to exfoliate, and it smells like summer. I usually buy it at Walmart, but Amazon has it cheaper (especially when you subscribe and save).

 

Nature Nut Hair Conditioner for Dry & Damaged Hair– I discovered this conditioner through one of the companies that I test and review products through, and for the life of me, I can’t remember which one. Regardless- I am HOOKED. First of all, it smells great. Second, and most importantly, it makes my hair feel great. Smooth, soft, shiny, all that good stuff. And that’s important because my hair has been through some ish this past year. Purple hair is a lot of work. The shampoo is good too, but the conditioner? That stuff is tops!

Speaking of purple hair, I use Ion Permanent Brights Creme from Sally Beauty in Purple. Of course, you gotta have a developer, and a bowl and brush, and gloves too. I color my hair with this about every 8-10 weeks. My hair grows pretty fast, and to be honest, my hair is coming in more and more grey, so it’s super noticeable. To stretch my permanent color, I’ll hit the ends with a semi-permanent dark pink about week 4-6, and refresh the remaining all-over color with a semi-permanent purple. Right now I’m digging Color Jamz ( Reapsberry Kamikaze and Purple Passion to be exact). I use the pink on Bitty Bird’s hair too- It washes out in about 2-4 weeks.

I’m a huge fan of good skincare products. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen my self-care DIY facial flat lays. A couple of my go-to summer skincare products are:

Noexema– Seriously. It is incredible for soothing sunburned skin. I keep a jar under the skin for this very reason. Slather on a thick layer over sunburned skin and rest for about an hour. Rinse off any excess on a cool shower. Pat skin gently to dry.  

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater This toner is very soothing and calming. I stash this in the fridge in the summer and give myself and the kiddos a spritz a few times a day. And it smells nice too. 

I know that some extra time in the shower, scrubbing with some yummy sugar scrub isn’t going to make all the shenanigans going on in the world melt away. But if I can give myself some grace, chill the fuck out, and have a few extra minutes to myself, I’m going to do it. 

Oh, and if you are wondering what kind of hand sanitizer (called hanny-sanny by my daughter) we like- Usually I’d say whatever is on sale, but since there was a recent debacle about some imported Hanny-Sanny being poisonous (WTF?), we’ve got a couple of large bottles of Kundal Fresh Water Hand Sanitizer that are pretty good. And it’s not sticky. Having used many types over the past few months, I’ve come to discover that some types/brands are sticky. EW. Also, I’ve come to realize that most of it smells like cheap vodka, and now I have no desire to drink vodka. 

And now for the Giveaway- I want you to splurge and get yourself some awesome self-care goodies too. Leave me a comment on this blog post: What would you buy FOR YOURSELF with a $25 Amazon GC? You can earn a bonus entry by commenting on this Instagram post. I’ll choose a winner on 8/23/2020. I’ll notify the winner via email.

Warrior Shirts from Cents of Style!

GraphicsI love the shirts from Cents of Style! I am super excited that today’s weekly sale is some incredible Warrior Women shirts. While these shirts are in ladies’ sizes S-3XL, a lot of these shirts are great for anyone!

They sent me this shirt with a quote attributed to Joan of Arc: “I am not afraid. I was born to do this.”

Right now, we are all warriors, fighting for ourselves, our families, our health. In the past 6 weeks, our lives have all changed so drastically. We have all had to step up in various ways. I am proud of all of you. I see so many friends and family members struggling, and I am proud of what you do every day: Going to work as essential employees, taking care of family and friends, supporting and lifting up others in need.

Here is my other favorite shirt:

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If you want to express your inner warrior, Cents of Style is having a sale on these shirts right now:

Take $9.95 Off + FREE Shipping w/code: IAMSTRONG

This sale is going on through 4/30/2020.

I will be picking up a couple of these shirts for friends and family members during this sale. If you want to see how the shirt fits on me, check out my Instagram feed here. I took a few pre-coffee pics with Little Bit this morning. For reference, I ordered a size 3xl because I like my shirts loose/baggy. Let’s face it, I am not an Instagram model, but I am digging this shirt.

 

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Talk Back: I would love to hear about how you are a warrior through these crazy times. 

How I’ve been keeping busy…

I’m busier now than I have been in ages! Most everyone has started distance learning, including our family.

Thankfully, Big Kids’ teacher is in communication and sent us an email with tons of great resources and links. I am trying to keep the kids entertained without relying on screens all day (even educational screen time). My kids are not motivated by worksheets either, so we need to do hands-on stuff.

Besides schoolwork, we’ve started our annual spring garden. Big Kid and I donned masks and hit up the local nursery. We picked out Catnip, Rosemary, Basil, and a hanging strawberry plant in addition to a few kinds of seeds. Our patio looks great, and the kids are outside daily tending to their plants and harvesting ripe strawberries. I kept the pots from last year’s garden.

The other night after the kids were settled, I decided to clean out the junk drawer (ok, 1 junk drawer, we have a couple), the utensil drawer, and the silverware drawer.

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I threw out old condiment packets, broken serving spoons, knives with broken/chipped handles, lids that had no corresponding cups, and I vacuumed out each drawer.

After I had completed that herculean feat, I dove headfirst (metaphorically) into the pantry.

I pulled everything out pantry and set it on the counter.

I checked all the expiration dates. Anything expired got the boot.

92843855_2893563990733604_4081992026843774976_o92828483_2893564054066931_3193846550136619008_oWhen all of this madness started a few weeks ago, I had gone to the store to do my weekly shop, and so many of the things that I’m used to buying were not available. I decided to purchase some alternate products from what we usually have in the house. Some were met with success, some were not so good- I’m looking at you Fideo Noodles.

As a result, I filled a reusable shopping bag with some food that did not cut the mustard. I took most of those items over to our local blessing box to help some of our neighbors in need. The rest I shared with some of the neighbors on our local free food group.

Our pantry is horribly laid out. It is very narrow and deep.  The dangerous part of our cupboard is you cannot reach all the way in the back without help. Last night I used a very long spatula to assist me. One of the things that I found was baby food. Little Bit is 4 1/2. I managed to clear out the pantry 100% and then refill it and move items around so it is easier to gain access

I get food in the mail or events from brands to cook with and post about on social media. Most of the time they give me a couple of each item, rarely they send cases. There were a lot of odds and ends of food from PR campaigns.

I’m also working my way through our closets to get rid of broken toys, clothing we’ve outgrown or don’t wear, or junk. I’ve come to realize that after all of this is over we’ll need to replace our towels (Our current set is from our wedding 12+ years ago), the kids need new sheets, and Big Kid is getting a new bed (which was in the works before Covid struck). And I’ll probably have enough clothing for a clothing swap- Both kids are mid-growth spurt.

It may seem like a lot of busywork, but we haven’t had a deep clean/in-depth declutter since we moved in- 5 years ago. I go through the kids toys several times a year, as well as their clothing and books. But, I’m bad about doing it with household goods and my personal items.

Today was more of a lazy day for us: We played some games, did some sight word writing, played Bingo, and made this stuff called Ooze Baff, which was 100% gross, do not recommend. If you want to try it, I bought it at Dollar Tree. For a Dollar.  In a little while, we’ll have bath time, and I’ll read to them. We may pull out the couch into a bed and all cuddle on the couch for a bit.

I would love to hear about how you and yours have been keeping busy! Leave me a comment!

Personal Care in the Time of Covid-19

**This post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

If you’ve seen some of my Instagram posts lately you may have noticed my greys. Yeah. I’m sporting almost 2 inches of roots/re-growth, and I’m feeling kinda shabby.

Now that most of us are settling down in our weird “New Norm” and are getting settled into a new (and weird) routine we are starting to notice that our regular personal care rituals have fallen to the wayside. It’s healthy to do self-care in whatever form you prefer: Hair color, painting your nails, doing a cleanse. Whatever you need to do to help yourself feel better in this strange new time.

Madison Reed has come to my rescue! I’ve used their service off and on for the past 5 years, usually when I couldn’t get to Sally Beauty to pick up my favorite Ion hair color. I ordered my kit on last Friday, it should be arriving this week.

Besides selling hair color kits, Madison Reed’s website has some of the best articles and tips on their blog.

deadlynightshadeIf you are a little more in the know or want more of a DIY experience, man Sally Beauty locations are offering curbside pick up.  You can order hair color, developer, shampoo, conditioner, spa stuff, nail stuff, even waxing stuff if you are feeling up to it online, and then pick it up at your local Sally Beauty location. Pretty sweet, right?

I was at the drugstore yesterday (getting our rX refills), and I happened down the hair color aisle and it looked picked over. Lots of blues and greens available, but nothing in tamer colors.

The CEO of Walmart has commented that we are Hair Color phase of panic buying (source), and I 100% agree. Cruising the HBA (Health and Beauty Aids) aisles of CVS, it’s pretty barren. Most of the nicer/pricier brands of shampoo and conditioner are sold out, there isn’t much in the way of DIY facial supplies (Secret Tip: Dollar Tree sells name brand skincare masks. I’ve seen the same masks at Walmart for over $3 each).

Remember:

  • Wash your hands
  • Cover Your face
  • Flatten The Curve
  • Take Care of Yourself

Keeping Kids Active During the Quarantine!

There are all kinds of ways to get your kids active during the best of circumstances. However, life during the quarantine has proven challenging for all of us.

Chuze-RECT-rgb.jpgThanks to the awesome people over at Chuze Fitness, we can get our wiggles out as a family on the daily.

 On Chuze on-Demand new videos are posted each day, so the whole family will be able to break a sweat without breaking out of the house. This workout series was made in an attempt to bridge the gap when it comes to family-friendly workout videos by providing 20-minute classes designed for both big and little Chuzers to get their wiggles out.

On-screen, instructors lead their kids in stretches and fun movements that feel like a throwback to your own P.E. classes growing up – all you need to participate is a big room and a WiFi-connected device to follow along with. To access these Family Workouts, you can find them either on the Chuze on-Demand website or the Chuze Fitness YouTube page.

b0e5d5e05457e2c8a12dc87c9b6eafc7If this isn’t your cup of tea, or your kids need something that’s just for them here are a few other exercise options:

Go Noodle: Either from their website, or their YouTube Page. There are lots of fun videos to dance along to- we like Kitty High Five, Cat Party, Pop See Ko, and Run the Red Carpet.

Cosmic Kids Yoga: Jaime is a fun Yogini! She leads kids on fun asanas that often follow themes of their favorite movies, TV shows, or games. It’s a great way to make Yoga accessible to kids. We love Star Wars Yoga.

Dance Party: I’ll put on fun, funky, or silly music and the kids and I will dance for 20 minutes. Family favorite songs to shake our tails include anything by Grand Funk Railroad, Thrift Shop by Macklemore, Last Friday Night by Katy Perry, Rock Party Anthem, Uptown Funk, What does The Fox say.

Talk Back: How are you keeping your kiddos active during this tough time?