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? 

Simple Ways to Help Others This Holiday Season

With the holidays approaching (Hey, tomorrow is Thanksgiving), you will probably start to see charities and organizations ask for assistance with their holiday campaigns. If you are on a budget, writing a check may not be feasible, but there are other ways to help.

1-Donate to your local food bank food drive: Most food banks see an increase in clients at the end of the year, and need everyday foods. Clean out your cupboard and donate some IN DATE, un-dented cans or boxed items.  

I know most of us have some extra (and unexpired) items in their cupboard they could part with. If you are unsure what kind of items to donate, here are items that the food bank always needs:

  • 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!)

2- If your local area doesn’t have a food bank, check to see if there is a  Little Free Pantry in your area.  These are stocked by neighbors in the area, and most of them can always use some extra boxes or cans. Our neighborhood has a Blessing Box located at the nearby church.  Sometimes neighbors are too embarrassed to seek out help. In those cases, Little Free Pantries and Blessing boxes are saving graces.

3-Don’t forget to check out your local Buy Nothing Groups. Within local buy nothing groups, your neighbors are offering up items for free, and you can offer items from your home that you no longer need.

4-Donate! Charities sometimes accept gently used items to sell to raise money for their causes (such as AmVets, and DAV). You can drop off stuff you no longer need/want and help others at the same time!

5-Donate to a Clothing Swap. I’ve written about clothing swaps here before. With the holidays coming up, some local organizations have an increased need for clothing, especially if they offer clothing without requiring a donation from those in need.  If you are in need of clothing, but have nothing to swap, two good free clothing resources in San Diego are The Closet on 54th (Men, women, and children’s clothing) and Naomi’s Closet (only women’s clothing). 

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!

Stretching your Food Budget….

ball_jar.jpgTimes are tough for a lot of us right now. Coupons and deals are drying up left and right. Here are some ways that you can stretch your grocery budget without wasting time or energy.

My Top Ten 99 Cents Only Buys

The eternal question at Costco: Is Bigger Better? Learn about Price Per Unit here. 

In addition to price per unit, you might consider starting a price book as well.

If you live in San Diego County, check out this list of Neighborhood Distributions all over the county. You can pick up 15-30 lbs of free produce each week. No proof of need is required. Just show up with your reusable grocery bags!

If you are low-income, have kids under 5, are a senior citizen, or a college student struggling with food insecurity, there are programs out there that can help you! Don’t be afraid or ashamed to admit that you need help!

There are also food share programs in almost every community in the US.  They provide low cost food boxes to families and individuals. A quick google search can help you find one near you!

In San Diego County, there are monthly distributions through the San Diego food bank at various locations. Colloquially called “commodities”, it’s officially called The Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP). Locations throughout the county distributes USDA food each month. If you live outside San Diego County, check with your local county or municipalities food bank network for more info on this service.

Don’t forget there are tons of money saving and rebate apps. My list is here.

Bartering: Most of us know someone with a backyard garden. Trade your skills (housecleaning, organizing, babysitting, car washing, you get the idea) for some home grown produce, or eggs (some of us live in areas where backyard livestock is ok).  This may not be available to everyone.

Menu Planning is another great way to cut down on food waste- It’s a lot easier than you think once you get started.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear your tips for stretching your grocery budget!

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.