Make a Difference with Branch Out Market!

Recently the awesome folks at Branch Out Market reached out to me. Their message and products really spoke to me. Branch Out Market is a marketplace of incredible handmade items and tremendous hope. They represent nonprofits and artisan groups around the world in their efforts to reach a wider market. All of their partners/suppliers follow fair-trade practices, create jobs where needed most, and give back through lifting up!

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Per Henry, “Don’t wake the Pangolin!”

They partner with nonprofits who are teaching a skill, working with women, young artisans, or refugees to help create economic opportunities and income streams for their projects. Branch Out Market spreads kindness and significance not only to their customers but also our non-profit partners, our producers from South Africa, India, all around the world! They don’t have sufficient access to a broader market like Branch Out Market does. Branch Out Market helps them focus on their missions and building jobs.

 

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Henry has been sleeping with his new buddy.

We received this super cute Pangolin in the mail. He was knit in Zimbabwe by a lady called Gladys.

Henry loves Pangolins- There is one at the San Diego Zoo. They are protected animals, as they are trafficked heavily for their meat and scales (which are keratin). They are super cute little animals.

10% of the sale of the Gogo Olive products go to support the work of the Tikki Hywood Trust.

 

IMG_7417.jpgIn addition to these cute little hand knit stuffies, Branch Out Market sells home goods, holiday ornaments, clothing, accessories, and paper goods.

When you buy a simple gift from Branch Out Market, you are spreading kindness, too. Every product has a story; every purchase makes an impact!

When Life Gets Crazy…

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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? 

 

2018 Holiday Resources For Those in Need

2018 has been a hard year for so many families. Thankfully there are many local groups that are offering help to neighbors in need.

The holiday are more than food and gifts, but no one should go hungry any time of year!

Here is my post with a list of food banks/pantries in San Diego. Many of the food pantries also have special holiday distributions, it is worth a call to find out of any additional food or gift distributions will be done.

unnamed (1).jpgMeet the Need at Faith Chapel is giving away 100 6-7 foot Christmas trees this Sunday, December 2, 2018 to the first 100 people who register.

If you desire a tree, plan on coming to Faith Chapel to register as early as 8:30am. Trees are limited to the first 100 registrants. Bring tie downs or whatever else you need to take a tree home with you.  From their email, “Meet The Need will be held at the Faith Chapel Activity Center at the top of the church property beginning at 1:00pm. There will be lots of fun activities and a wonderful Mexican Themed meal!

Registration for Meet The Need will be held in the church lobby at the top of the campus in the main foyer. Registration will begin as early as 8:30am and will be open till 10:30am. We only have 100 Christmas Tree’s, available for the first 100 registrants that want a Christmas Tree. So if you want to guarantee yourself a tree, show up as early as possible.

Registration will be from 8:30-1:00pm Feel free to register at this link now. It’ll help the line move faster but please know this does not count as saving your place in line for a tree. Doors open for Meet The Need at 1:00pm.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 1.53.34 PM.pngToys 4 Joy has 3 San Diego area events on December 8th. Toys for Joy is open to all children and families and no registration is required. One free toy will be given to all children attending the event ages 0 – 11. Free lunch will be provided in addition to free entertainment, kids activities and giveaways. All three locations have free groceries and one location has free gently used clothing available.
Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 10.24.34 AM.pngThe Cameron YMCA is hosting a free Cookies and Milk with Santa on Saturday, December 15th.
Bring the entire family and join us for our annual Cookies with Santa!
Enjoy Cookie decorating, ornament making, letters to Santa, pin the
heart on the Grinch and photos with Santa!
Pre-Registration Required. Thanks to PetSmart of El Cajon, all children registered will receive a plush toy at the event while supplies last.
This event is not limited to YMCA members! To register, please call the Cameron YMCA in Santee at 619-449-9622.
46483028_285394222087178_1187343279482470400_o.jpgEast County kids are invited to meet Santa, enjoy crafts and snacks with the Santee-Lakeside Elks Lodge on December 15th.
Here is the event page with details and the address

In order for your kids to receive a gift, please sign up your kids up to 12 years old via email to Jerrilynn: Kids_Christmas_Party@cox.net by December 7th please include name, age & gender and gift idea under $20.00

 

Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 10.08.55 AM.pngNew Christian Fellowship in Hillcrest is having an fun, free event on December 22nd. There will be toys for kids 12 and under, as well as food, games, and fn. You can find more information on their Facebook page here.
And if you are in a position to help out, please consider donating to your local food or toy drive. Many grocery stores have red donation barrels, schools are doing canned food drives for their local food banks this time of year too.
46917582_1434957259969602_6344294160849174528_n.jpgIn Santee, Santee Santas and our local Chick-Fil-A have teamed up to “Stuff the truck” this Saturday, December 1st.
Bring a toy or non-perishable food item and receive a free menu item (see the flier). You can learn more here.
Firefly Wellness Day Spa is also holding a food drive.
When you donate, not only will you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping others, but you will also get a thank you coupon from Firefly Wellness Day Spa. Each person who donates ten (10) or more items will receive a coupon for a FREE brow wax or a $20 coupon to use at Firefly Wellness Day Spa which can either be used as a holiday gift or use it for yourself on your next visit. (Limit one coupon per person.)
You can get details and learn more here.
Talk Back: What is your favorite way to help others? 

Five Ways to Help a Special Needs Mom

158b3ea47eb4b5467a381bf7aa1d910b.jpgAs much as love and tolerance for others is taught these days, sometimes the first reaction when someone sees a special needs kid in public having issues (read: meltdown or stimming/self soothing) can be to stare wide eyed, make offhand or rude comments, or just bristle at “the weird kid”.

Please remember that the parents are doing the best they can, and that just like your neuro-typical kids, their kids have bad days too. Here are my five tips for how anyone can help a special needs mom.

  1. Offer to Help:  Offer to carry a bag or box they may be struggling with, especially if they are trying to remove their kiddo from public. I remember a few years ago, we were at Chick-Fil-A and Our big guy was done. He was tired, there were 15-20 kids in the little sound-proof kids area, so it was crazy loud in there and he was over stimulated. He just broke down and started crying and was wailing like a banshee. Two moms at the next table helped us pack up our leftovers, got our drinks refilled, and helped us carry everything out to the car, so I could carry both kids out. No shame, no dirty looks. Just compassion for a situation that every mom faces: THE PUBLIC MELTDOWN.
  2. Be a Friend:  It can be very isolating to have a special needs kid, trust me. Text your friend. Offer to get together at a park or some place that her kiddo(s) can play, so you can spend time together. Some special needs parents have hectic schedules with therapy appointments or doctors visits sometimes weekly. Keeping in contact with your friend can really help “normalize” her life.  I so seldom see other moms, that texting and Facebook are two of the ways I am able to keep up friendships.
  3. Starbucks Run: Ok, so it doesn’t have to be Starbucks, but if you know she’s having a rough day, bring her a coffee or a treat. I had someone (and to this day it’s a mystery), send flowers to me after a really rough week.
  4. Expect to hear NO- and be OK with it: As much as you want to see your friend, hang out, go to the movies, get a pedicure, or just gossip over coffee, it can be hard for special needs moms to get away. Not everyone has family that can handle their kiddo, and special needs respite/care can be expensive. Sometimes, even the offer to hang out is better than being left out completely.
  5. Give Your Friend Grace, and Pray for them: Recognize that your friend may have a harder road to hoe that you and your family, and that’s ok. If you aren’t religious, think of them or send them good thoughts, dedicate your meditation or yoga session to them.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about a time when you helped another person!

Earn Gift Cards with Radial Insight!

With Halloween coming up, I’ve been busy busy busy! Trying to find fun and free events for the kids (and to share with you!), making costumes, and getting into fall with baking. I had to put the brakes on all my crazy busy-ness to share a great way to make money: Radial Insight.

Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 9.40.56 AM.pngIn addition to doing surveys to earn money, Radial Insight has a program called Receipt Rewards. Receipt Rewards is a new and exciting way to earn rewards from Radial Insight. By submitting receipts for your online shopping at Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Target.com, Jet.com, Costco.com, and DollarGeneral.com, you’ll earn instant rewards.

Please note — you must be a member of Radial Insight’s public opinion panel to participate in Receipt Rewards. If you want to join, leave me a comment with your email address and I’ll shoot you an invite!

 

It’s super easy and quick. I joined and added the Chrome Extension to our browser yesterday and followed the steps (it took less than 15 minutes, BTW) to get everything connected to my Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Costco accounts. I really wasn’t expecting to earn that much, since I’ve been cutting back on our online shopping, but look what was in my inbox this mornings:

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Uh…. WOW. And it’s totally legit because I just cashed out for a $49.60 Amazon Gift card, which I will use to buy stuff that has been on my wish list for a while. And I’ll earn more rewards! There are gift card options for over 25 retailers and restaurants.

Still unsure that Radial Insight Receipt Rewards is for you? Here are the FAQ:

Receipt Rewards Frequently Asked Questions

From which websites does Receipt Rewards accept receipts?
Receipt Rewards accepts receipts from Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com, Jet.com, dollargeneral.com, and Costco.com. If and when we accept receipts from new websites, we’ll be sure to let you know.

How old can the receipts I send in be?
There is no limit to how old your receipts can be.

Are there any types of receipts you do not accept?
We do not accept receipts for Amazon.com digital orders or gift card purchases, balance reloads, or in-store pick-ups from any website.

What do you do with my receipts?
We use the receipts you send us to learn about how Americans shop online and about current retail trends. Your personal information is kept secure and used according to the Radial Insight Receipt Rewards Terms provided below.

How will I get paid?
After you’ve accumulated $1 in Receipt Rewards, and for each full $1 you earn, you’ll receive a Tango Card with your reward. Tango Cards may take 24 hours to be sent.

And if doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, but are still looking for some other ways to make money, check out my post about side hustles.

Helping Neighbors with Blessing Boxes

So for those of you that live in San Diego, one of our local Methodist Churches (The one in Santee-8964 Magnolia Ave, Santee, CA 92071) has a Blessing Box where neighbors can put food, toiletries, diapers, formula, etc. to share with neighbors who are in need but can’t make it to the local food bank for whatever reason. It was started last year. You can read more about it here and see some pictures.
I try to stop by every few weeks and put some stuff from our pantry in it. I pick up a few extra items at the grocery store (or 99 Cents Only or Grocery Outlet) when I shop each week. Instant oatmeal, canned soup, tuna, or beans with a pop-top (in case someone doesn’t have access to a can opener).
When I walked to the blessing box this AM there were 4 packets of oatmeal, some citrus fruit, and a fleece blanket (in the grocery bag).
I quickly scoured my car for everything I had. I didn’t have a lot extra in my trunk, but I emptied it of all of the food I had- I even went through the kid’s Snack bag that is for “emergency car snacks”.
IMG_8728.jpgHere is what it looked like after I put in my donation. I picked up a package of wipes from Huggies at a bloggers summit a few weeks back. I hadn’t yet opened it, so I added it to the Blessing Box.  I know that this box gets utilized by a lot of locals with great frequency. I will be back to add more groceries tonight.
Some of you may have Little Free Pantries or Free Food Boxes in your area too. If not, it’s easy to start one! Many local schools also have a food pantry for kids whose families face food insecurity. Santana High School has one!
My call to action for you is this:
  1. Look into your pantry and pick out 5 things you can live without. They must be in date and something someone actually wants to eat (I’m looking at you, jar of cocktail onions).
  2. Find someone in need. Add it to your local Little Free Pantry, post it on a neighborhood forum, a local parents group, or donate it to your local school food pantry.
  3. Give freely and with love.
  4. Repeat.
I know that most of us have grocery budgets. Imagine if we all cut $5 out of our budget and bought 5 (or more) items to share with a neighbor in need- That would go really far to help hungry families!
If you aren’t sure what to donate, here are a few suggestions:
  • Canned Meats
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Canned Fruits
  • Canned Soup
  • Peanut Butter
  • Cereal & Oatmeal
  • Rice & Pasta
  • Powdered Milk, beverage mixes (like shelf stable juice concentrate, instant coffee, hot cocoa pouches)
  • Infant Formula (The sample sized canisters or sample pouches that you may have received free in the mail are perfect donations!)
  • Toiletries and hygiene items
 I can’t wait to hear about how you’ve helping a neighbor!

Holiday Resources For Those in Need

thanksgivingturkey.jpgIt’s getting to be the season of giving, and for some families there isn’t the means to give this year. For some families there isn’t the means for a sit down family meal either.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are more than food and gifts, but no one should go hungry any time of year!

Here are some resources for those in San Diego County who might need some help.

Here is my post with a list of food banks/pantries in San Diego. Meet the Need at Faith Chapel has a lot of great events coming up to help you get through the holidays:

  • 11/19/: Faith Chapel is giving out Food Boxes and Turkeys starting at 10:30am.
  • 12/3: Meet the Need’s first Sunday event will be featuring a limited number of free Christmas trees in addition to the usual free lunch and bag of groceries.
  • 12/17: Faith Chapel will be distributing toys to children in need after the 10:30am service.

Feeding the Flock and several other ministries are sponsoring a Thanksgiving food box (turkey included). More information and sign ups can be found here.

You can also find local food banks/pantries from AmpleHarvest or by calling 211 in your area.

Toys 4 Tots is a well know toy charity, however their deadline to request toys is early November. If you missed the cut off, there are a few San Diego based toy charities that can help out.

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 1.53.34 PM.pngToys 4 Joy has 4 San Diego area events on December 9th. Toys for Joy is open to all children and families and no registration is required. One free toy will be given to all children attending the event ages 0 – 11. Free lunch will be provided in addition to free entertainment, kids activities and giveaways. All four locations have free groceries and one location has free gently used clothing available.

We Care Toy Drive provides 750 toys to local San Diego area kids. You can learn more by visiting their website.

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 8.09.41 AMThe Closet on 54th has a great free clothing closet you can shop at once a month, they also have a free food pantry that is open three days a week. You can find more info on their Facebook page here.