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.

Mabel’s Labels: Early Bird Pricing on School Labels!

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

Back to School Season… So much money spent on school supplies, backpacks, lunch bags, whatever else they need.

Keeping tabs on all of this stuff can be a pain, so that’s where Mabel’s Labels come into play.

We have the Ultimate Back-to-School Combo Pack, which is great, as there are labels in tons of various sizes for all kinds of needs (including tags to go into shoes- perfect for tap shoes!)- and it includes two tags.

IMG_6867.jpgI’m sure everyone is hip to stranger dangers, but one thing that I see time and again is kids with their names embroidered on the outside of their backpacks. Yes, it’s cute, but it gives strangers more info than they need.

This is another reason that I put the name tags inside of Henry’s backpack and lunch bag.

When we go to Legoland or someplace where he might be easily separated, he has one of the Mabel’s Tags that reads, “Lost & Autistic Call my mom ###-##-####” I attach it to one of the belt loops of his pants.

He is not very good at remembering phone numbers, so this is a perfect solution for us. He knows if he gets separated he is to go to e park employee and show them the tag.

Mabel’s Labels has labels and tags to solve so many issues!

Back to School Deals!

Ok, so as much as I’ve been posting about summer fun and adventures, Back To School is lurking around the corner.

Here are some awesome deals and freebies:

Office Depot has a great selection of $10 backpacks, some of them (like the two above) come with pencil cases, lunch bags, and water bottles too!

Most office supply stores have great deals on markers, crayons, and markers right now too.  Deals are changing weekly.  If you don’t have time to chase deals, I’ve found a couple decent deals. Prices on Amazon change quickly, so I haven’t listed them, but you can click on each link and check them out.

 AmazonBasics Pre-sharpened Wood Cased #2 HB Pencils, 150 Pack
Elmer’s All Purpose School Glue Sticks, Washable, 7 Gram, 30 Count
Crayola Crayons Bulk, 24 Box Classpack, 24 Assorted Colors

If you are a teacher/educator, check out these three freebies:

If your kids are like mine, they lose stuff all the time, so I’ve invested in The back to school pack of label set from Mabel’s Labels.

If you need some help obtaining school supplies for your kiddos, there is help out there for you.

Free Backpacks with School Supplies at Boost Mobile

If you are an East County Area Resident (San Diego County), check out this awesome offer from the Santee Mobilehome Owners Association, INC (SMOAC) is handing out backpacks full of supplies for kids Kindergarten and up. Each backpack has age/grade-appropriate supplies.  This event takes place at the Santee Library from 10 AM until they run out. In addition, there will be free haircuts for girls and boys and many other surprises that day.

Talk Back: If you know of any free school supplies or deal, please share!

First Week of College, and Beyond!

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I survived the first week of college! After ::cough 17 years cough:: a long time, it’s quite an adjustment getting back into the swing of studying, doing homework, and all of the other things that go into being a mom, wife, blogger/Influencer, and special needs advocate for my big kiddo.

I wanted to share with you some things that have helped me, and the family adjust to the change.  It’s just two classes, but that’s 10-12 hours a week of studying, reading, and homework outside the classroom, and that time comes out of the time I previously spent with the kids, working on the blog/social media, petting the cat, ya know, mom stuff.

Bitty is now going to preschool two days a week. Our city’s Parks and Rec department has a drop off preschool two days a week. It’s approximately $150 for 8 weeks, which is a great price, and she is in a class with 13 other kiddos her age, several of them she knows from her daily visits to the local YMCA Child Watch. While she is at preschool, I have three hours to work on school work. It’s amazing to be able to read and work on my homework in peace. If you need a few hours to get work done, check your local Parks and Rec department for this type of preschool.

Family: As someone who has family nearby, having my family able to help out with school pick ups and therapy drop offs, it is a Godsend. My parents, brother and sister-in-law have really stepped in and helped us with the kids and house. Last week Miss Sally (my car) needed new front and rear brakes, and two new tires. Thanks to my Sister-in-law, niece, and my parents I didn’t have to walk home with Bitty (5 miles with a 3 year old- No thanks) or call an Uber.

Schedule: As a family, we have a shared calendar on iCal, in which I put all of the kids appointments, weekly commitments, birthdays, deadlines. In addition, I also have a calendar (this one) in the master bathroom on my cork board. Yes, I have a cork board in the master bathroom next to the vanity, so we can see whats on the schedule for each day.  Having everything in the palm of my hand (on my phone), and in a place that is visible to us (calendar) has really helped keep us focused and on task.

Remembering my Skill-Set: I’m not reinventing the wheel here. To maximize my productive time, I make sure to use my previously honed skills: Meal Planning, Meal Prep, setting out everyone’s clothes the night before, making lunches the night before, organizing areas of the house to help us get out of the house in the morning on time.

So while you may see less blog posts until I get in the full swing of it all, but I’m still posting on Social Media like a madwoman.

I want you all to know that it doesn’t matter what your age, if there is something you want: College, new job, more time with your family, vacation.. Do it! Change can be scary, but believe in yourself and have a plan! It might be rough at first, but stick with it.

Enough motivational speaking from me, I have homework to do!

Talk Back: What have you done recently that moved you out of your comfort zone?

Teachers: Score a Free Taco at Rubios!

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Back to school has started for most of us, but by 9/8/16, most teachers will be ready for a little pick me up! Check this pretty long list of folks that qualify for a free taco on September 8th in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day!

While you are checking it out, scroll at the way to the bottom of the page and join the Beach Club. You’ll score a free taco, as well as all sorts of awesome perks through the year (Like free noms for your birthday!).

Two VentureFlex Shoes for $40 Plus Free Shipping at Reebok!

**The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

If you haven’t finished your BTS shopping yet, here is a great sale. Through tonight, can get two pairs of  two pairs VentureFlex Shoes for $40 + Free Shipping with the code Venture.

After years of Lil’ Man destroying shoes (Boys have some crazy super powers!), I wised up and started buying him better made shoes. They may be a little more expensive at the start, but they last so much longer that I’m saving money in the long run!

Reebok has a lot of great sales coming up! I’ll try to post about them as they go live!

Save 15% on iTunes gift cards $25 or more at JCPenney! #iTunesJCP15

file0001262541721I’m a big fan of gift cards, especially when they are on sale, so this deal is right up my alley!

Starting today through August 29th at JCPenney’s you’ll save 15% on iTunes gift cards $25 or higher! If you haven’t finished your Back to School shopping, make sure to stop by JCPenney’s and check out this deal.

But wait… It gets better. You can double dip if you’ve got a rewards credit card. We’ve got the American Express Blue Cash credit card and we receive  2% cash back rewards on purchases made at department stores including JCPenney. Check your rewards credit card to see if you get a special amount or even extra rewards at department stores.

And here is a triple dip idea: If you’ve got the Receipt Hog rebate app (learn more about it here) you can scan in your receipt to earn points towards an Amazon Gift Card or cash via Paypal.

I love buying gift cards on sale because it’s like getting money for free. I am always on the hunt for gift cards on a discount- it helps stretch our gift giving budget.

Whether you opt to give these discounted gift cards as gifts (they’d be well paired with some new earphones or as a stocking stuffer), or keep them for yourself to purchase apps, music, movies or ebooks. Did you know iTunes Gift Cards can be used in the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or Mac App Store? iTunes gift cards make a great gift for pretty much anyone- especially college kids, teachers, or that hard to shop for teenager on your holiday shopping list.

To celebrate this awesome deal, the sponsor of this post is hosting an awesome giveaway of a $25 Amazon e-gift card. Everyone could use an extra $25, right?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I had to share this deal with you and I hope you’ll share it with your friends!

This deal is only valid on iTunes gift cards available for purchase in JCPenney stores that have a $25 value or more. This deal specifically excludes $15 iTunes Gift Cards. For more details, check with your local JCPenney store. This is a sponsored post from our friends at Tatu Digital Media, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Frugal ways to help your Child’s School!

For most of us, school starts soon, if it hasn’t already started… That means the fundraising will start.  Wrapping paper, candy, candles, you name it, you’ve probably seen a catalog and a doe-eyed child selling something to raise money for their school.

We’ve got a pretty tight budget around out house, and $12/roll wrapping paper is not in my budget, but I do want to help Lil’ Man’s school. Here are a few ways that you can help your kiddo’s school. If your kid isn’t in school yet, ask the parent of your favorite mini-fundraiser if their school participates in any of these programs!


Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 10.21.07 AMBox Tops for Education (BTFE):
This Program has been around for a while, and it’s probably one of the easiest ways that you can help the school of your choice. Look for these little box top doodads on hundreds of products that you probably already buy (here is a list), clip them, and drop them by your school’s office. LIl’ Man’s class sends home a cute themed Sheet for us to attach up to ten each month. If I have more, I just staple a ziploc bag full to the worksheet. Any parent would be thrilled to receive an envelope of bag of BTFE from family or friends!

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 10.21.16 AMLabels for Education: Similar to BTFE, but this program is run by Campbell’s. To find products that are a part of the Labels fro Education Program, click here.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 10.21.24 AMTarget’s Take Charge of Education®:
Choose your kids’ elementary school, the neighborhood middle school or any other eligible K–12 school. We’ll donate up to 1% of your REDcard purchases at Target stores in the U.S and at Target.com.

 You can learn more here. 

Escrip: Now this one has been around since I was in High School. It’s super easy. Once your school is registered, all you do is sign your various loyalty cards (like your Vons Card), and shop like you usually do. You school gets a percentage of your total purchase!

The best part about these four programs is that you just do what you already do: Shop and save money! Clipping Box Tops for Education and Labels for Education are not that much different than clipping coupons off of packages.

 

Get a $10 Aéropostale eGift Card!

I don’t shop at Aeropostale, but I bet some of you do!

Just spend at least $20.00 with your registered VISA credit card at an Aéropostale store. This would be a great way to add a a little bit extra to your back to school clothing budget!

Valid through August 6, 2015, or while supplies last.

Please note: Purchase must be made in-store. Online or gift card purchases do not qualify. Limit 1 per person. TrialPay will email you the eGift Card within 1-2 days of your in-store purchase. To get started, click here.

(FYI-Don’t worry! The offer only need your card number to know when you make your qualifying purchase for this offer. It won’t be charged. And it’s an HTTPS address, so you’re safe.)