What I’ve Been Up To…

_DSC2099As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t been posting a lot lately, either here or on Social Media. I’ve been busy. Distance learning is coming to a close for the year, so we’ve been doing a lot of meetings and paperwork (I’ll be glad when the mountains of homework packets stop).

In addition to supervising all of the learning (for both kiddos), I’ve also been taking a more active role in helping my big kiddo find behavioral therapies that will work well on his journey through life. My big kid is on the Autism spectrum (ASD) and that means that we do behavioral therapy a few times a week in addition talk therapy. So lots of time helping process feelings and emotions, and that leaves this mama bear feeling tired.

I (try to) get up early about 6:30 each morning, make coffee, do emails, and work on getting stuff set up for the day before the kiddos wake up. Sometimes I’m super successful and get it done. Sometimes I’m lucky if I get a shower.

Successes for the days are measured so much differently now. Did we make it through a day without tears? Missing friends, regular routines, going to the gym, extracurricular activities- all of these weigh heavy on the kids, and grown-ups.

We’ve also been trying to get our home more organized, and we’ve been getting some help from a family friend who is a Konmari guru. We’re about halfway through the process, and it’s been super liberating to get rid of stuff that no longer serves us. We sold all of the DVD’s/video games that we no longer wanted, and raised over $200, that we’ll put towards family fun (maybe sock it away for a 2021 vacation?). Thankfully our local thrift shops are accepting donations at this time. We’ve been loading up the back of my car weekly to donate goods.

In an attempt to wear the kids out physically, I’ve been taking them out for a walk a few times a week with my parents at a local park. Social distancing and masking occur- Also a liberal application of mosquito repellant is applied- The kids and I are very tasty according to the local ‘squito population. We also picked up a small pool for the patio- We are on our second. The first was not heavy-duty enough. This is the one I recommend. We also put tarps under it to protect it from the textured decking. I also use this solar fountain to keep the water moving all day, and we cover it with a tarp at night. I usually dump the water and refill it 2-3 times per week.

downloadSaving money has been a challenge as of late- There aren’t as many deals as supplies aren’t being delivered to stores regularly, less staff to stock shelves, etc. And really, who has been shopping lately for fun? Not many of us. I’ve been using coupons when I can find them, but what I have really found useful is Honey. Honey is a browser extension that helps you find coupon codes and sale prices on items that you are shopping for online. I used it to save over $145 when we bought the big kids new bed a few weeks back.

And I’ve been making masks for family and friends- I made some especially for the kids this week too.

kalecutI’m here y’all! I’m up to my eyeballs, but I’m here. And of course, I’m doing the Always Eat After 7pm program, so I’ll be posting about that. There are so many good recipes I am excited to try (dark chocolate dipped PB cookies, uh, yeah). and I’ll be posting some recipes this weekend- I’ve got a killer Kale Salad recipe that is so tasty and easy (and it keeps in the fridge for a few days too).

I’ll be hosting an Amazon Gift Card Giveaway soon! I want to spread the love with you!

 

Talk Back: What have you been doing lately? 

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!

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? 

DIY Cloth Masks- Links and Tips

There are a lot of patterns and videos floating around the internet for non-medical personnel to make their own masks to keep safe in public when we have to go out for necessities.

These masks don’t filter all dangerous pathogens, but they are a good way to remind ourselves not to touch our faces, and keep our germs to ourselves.

MyBluprint has patterns and info here. There are several options/patterns, including a pattern for those who cannot or do not sew. MyBluprint is also hooking us up and staving off boredom by extending their FREE online crafting classes until 4/16/2020.

92393442_10157973738991061_532184793442418688_nIt’s a great way to learn some new crafts, or just watch the videos and plan for later.

I’ve been making masks for family and friends who are essential employees, you can see some of the pics of me making silly faces and modeling a couple different ones here on Instagram. *Warning*- Quarantine hair in the pics.

I used the pattern from Kaiser Permanente, which you can see here. There is a printable pattern on page 11 of the PDF.

92493115_10157984846031061_3631192701837246464_n
This fabric came from Dollar Tree!

Here are a few helpful hints that I’ve discovered in making over 20 masks this week:

  • Make a few masks per person. They need to be washed after each wearing in hot water.
  • If you don’t have any fabric in your home, you can use cotton bandanas, old sheets or pillowcases. The fabric needs to be tightly woven like cotton pillowcase fabric. Avoid sheer and or gauzy fabric.
  • Elastic is very hard to find these days, so I used new elastic hair ties, like these in the kids masks (I made the ear loop masks for them). I got hair ties at Dollar Tree (some Dollar Tree locations have precut quilters cotton fabric too). The majority of the masks I made have ties and are for adults. We are keeping the kids out of public as much as possible.
  • If you want to make the masks a little more protective put a layer of shop towel or interfacing between the layers of mask. I couldn’t find either at the time, so I skipped this.

I’d love to see what your DIY masks look like! Leave a comment. If you need masks but don’t sew, there are a lot of local seamtresses and costumers that are out of work right now who are making masks to help pay their bills.

School’s Out… for 4-8 Weeks!

alphabet letter text on black background

For us, school has been canceled for the next two weeks, and then we are having our regularly scheduled 2-week spring break.

Big kids school sent home a big ol’ packet of worksheets (about 50 pages), which would be most of the work they would do in the classroom. Little kids preschool has been cancelled, so I did a quick google search for free preschool printables so she can do “homework” alongside Big Brother. But I’m not stressing too much about worksheets.

There have been a lot of schedules and ideas posted on social media.

I changed up one of the super colorful schedules going around, included stuff that we like to do, and more relevant activities, and posted it here on my google pages. You can copy it and change it as needed for you.  And I made it black and white to save your printer some ink.

There are tons of free educational activities online for kids to do. Here is a Google Doc with tons of links that has been making the rounds.

Scholastic set up a ‘Learn From Home’ website with four categories: PreK and Kindergarten, Grades 1 and 2, Grades 3-5, and Grades 6+. Each section is already equipped with one week of content for students with 15 additional days on the way.

I’m not too worried about keeping the kids busy. Big dude brought home his school iPad and has access to his math and reading stuff, plus we have craft supplies and toys to play with.

girl wearing multicolored dress making bubbles
Photo by John Cahil Rom on Pexels.com

And failing all that- Frozen 2 is on Disney+, and we’ve got Minecraft. If you don’t have Disney+, you can score Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN for a pretty low monthly price.

And sooo many bubbles. I’m not sure why, but kids love bubbles.

Don’t forget that March is National Craft Month! There are kinds of freebies and deals here.

Talk Back- What are you doing to keep yourself and your family from going stir crazy?

Simple Things You Can Do To Make Your Stay Indoors Easier

file9831347376219.jpgA lot of people are posting about stocking up on essentials, or ways to make your own hand sanitizer in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.

I don’t want to freak out or spread any misinformation, so instead, I’m going to focus on how you can get your home ready in case you have to quarantine, either because of illness/exposure or because of a government mandate.

What can you do to prepare your home?

Make sure that you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet. I don’t mean a years supply, maybe just enough to get you through an illness (like you would buy if someone in your home came down with a cold or cough), or in the case of #4, enough menstruation supplies for 1 period (most of us with periods have that in our homes anyway).

  1. Enough of your daily prescription meds for 14+ days.
  2. Pain relievers- Tylenol, Motrin, Advil.
  3. Cold /cough remedies- Sudafed, Mucinex, cough syrup. Don’t forget to have kid versions too!
  4. Menstruation supplies- Pads, Tampons, Cups, period panties.
  5. Any other OTC meds that you and your family use regularly.

Food– This is a tough one because each family is different. I recommend doing a pantry, fridge, and freezer inventory and make notes on what you have. I’d pick up a few extra things that are “must-haves” in your home. For us, that’s bagels and cream cheese. Bread products can be frozen, so I tossed a few extras in the freezer, as well a few extra quarts of milk.

I also picked up some of the shelf-stable milk quarts, like these. They are great for camping, as they don’t have to be refrigerated until after they are opened. They are also great for cooking.  I have also picked up some pantry staples so that we can have homemade baked goods (it gives us an activity and food!).

If you are worried about not having enough food because your budget doesn’t allow for an extra stock-up trip to the grocery store, there are food resources to help you. Check out this page for San Diego County food resources. If you are in Northern SD County, there is a list here. If you live outside San Diego County, but within the US, call 211 for assistance.

Cleaning Supplies-I cleaned out under our kitchen sink and organized all of the cleaning supplies- and I also have been cleaning the house. It was originally because we were hosting a birthday party, but, now it will be nice to have a clean house in case we are stuck inside.

A few of the cleaning supplies that are good to have on hand include:

  • Bleach
  • Ammonia (but never mix it with bleach or any other cleaning chemical)
  • Pine-Sol or Fabuloso
  • Spray bottles for bleach/water mixtures, Ammonia/water mixtures
  • sponges
  • Magic Erasers
  • Paper towels
  • baking soda or Comet/Ajax (to scrub sinks/toilets/bathtubs)
  • White vinegar
  • Oxi-Clean
  • Laundry Soap
  • Laundry stain pre-treater

These are what we keep on hand all the time. I am pretty old school. I use ammonia as a degreaser to clean the stovetop, range hood, and mop the kitchen floor.

Something to do- I think this is something that most of us are forgetting about. Without school, work, the gym, clubs, or other outside activities, Netflix is going to get really boring really fast.

I did a craft supply reorganization yesterday and pulled together stuff for a bunch of different crafts the kids can do. If you have crafty kids, but not a lot of craft supplies, a quick trip to Dollar Tree with $20 can hook you up with a decent selection of supplies. If you don’t have a chance to go, Dollar Tree has “Pick and Pack” service. They have some craft supplies that would be great- canvases, construction paper, glue sticks, etc.

I will be finishing up the basket of UFO (Unfinished Outlying Projects) sewing, and probably start on a few new things that I’ve been planning (like curtains). I’ve got plenty of fabric and thread. No trip to the store will be needed.

We’ll be hitting up the library today or tomorrow for some books for the kids. But we’ve also got Epic on the iPads, and well as some other educational apps (I’ll be posting a list of free apps later today).

I went through all of our games and pulled out some newer ones that the kids haven’t played, or haven’t played in a while. I foresee lots of family game time.

Some government officials and municipalities are telling people to keep a 6-foot distance from others and no handshakes/hugs. That’s is great to control the spread of illness, but I can’t keep my kids inside all the time. Which is why we’ll be playing in our outdoor space/patio, and the green area outside our home, while carefully avoiding others. I may also take them hiking- many of the trails that we frequent are not heavily used. It is rare that we see other people. The fresh air will do them good. If you have a yard, send your kids outside to play or read outside. We want to avoid others to contain the spread of disease.

file801244167702.jpgAnd my final bit of advice: WASH YOUR HANDS FOR AT LEAST 20 SECONDS OF SCRUBBING. Use soap. Dry your hands with a paper towel. Use hand sanitizer as needed, but it is not a substitute for handwashing. Try not to touch your face (This is super hard, I know). 

Please be safe!