Have Your Hot Girl Summer on a Budget

I’m sure by now everyone has heard the phrase “Hot Girl Summer”, but do you know what it means? The phrase can be traced back to a Megan Thee Stallion song a few years ago.

On Twitter, she explained: “Being a Hot Girl is about being unapologetically YOU, having fun, being confident, living YOUR truth, being the life of the party, etc.”

A couple of my friends have embraced it, and I think that it’s a pretty amazing outlook to have, especially since last summer was, well, Sad Trombone Noise? I know the kids are looking forward to having fun, more adventures, and getting out of the house. Here are a couple ways I’m bringing Hot Girl Summer (and sharing it with the fam).

New Bathing Suits. Kids grow, but what about me? Well after having the same swimsuits for 3 years, it’s time. Especially since we swim daily.  I bought a few new suits from Amazon. Since I’m fair-skinned I picked up one with long sleeves, the kids tease me about working at SeaWorld. This is just one of the many suits I’ve got. It’s perfect for prime sun time.

 

New Pool Bag and New Pool Toys. Every Summer it seems, we need new pool toys and a new pool bag. The Chlorine wrecks our bag (which is mesh- this helps the pool toys dry quickly), and daily use of toys leaves them.. wrecked. Dollar Tree has a great selection of sturdy pool toys, including inflatables for kids (We have a cool cookie ring that has a “bite” taken out of it). For me, I picked up a sweet inflatable float pool chair. 

Plans to meet up with friends. Now that most people have access to the vaccine, getting together with friends is a lot more feasible. We are still limiting ourselves and staying away from large gatherings where we don’t know everyone, but dinner and drinks with friends sound amazing. I’m hosting dinners a couple times a month over the summer for a few reasons: 1. To keep all of our costs down (Dinner out with drinks costs $$$ these days), and honestly, I don’t feel super safe going out for dinner all that often, especially now that there are no mask regulations in our state. And I’m having a weekend getaway with some girlfriends in a few weeks. I am really looking forward to a weekend away in a vacation rental doing a whole lot of nothing!

Take Advantage of the season: What does that mean? Summer has all sorts of fun advantages: Long days, Amazing fruit and veggies are in season, nice weather. Spend time outside (poolside, at the beach, exploring nature), enjoy a big bowl of fruit salad, make a huge salad! Community events are starting to come back (with limited event sizes), and there are lots of free events throughout the summer. EventBrite is a great place to find community events.

Make Time for You: I know… So many blogs and social media tell you to get self-care time and spend time doing things that you love, but as a parent, it can be hard without staying up late or waking up before dawn. Finding a sitter can be tough too. It’s ok to lean on family and friends. The past year has been exponentially tough on parents, and you need time to yourself. Swap child care with friends, or if you want to have a night out, split the cost of a sitter. Your kids can hang out together, while you and your friends get some time away.

Take Care of Yourself: And I don’t mean the stereotypical self-care of putting on a mud mask and drinking water with lemon slices. That’s fun, but I mean the simple acts that we often overlook as caregivers.

  • Sunscreen for your face and any exposed areas when you’ll be outside for more than 10 minutes during peak sun hours (usually 10am-4pm). Don’t forget the tops of your ears. Being super fair-skinned I also wear a sun hat too. Not super sexy, but I don’t want skin cancer.
  • Take something to drink with you. I know most of you pack snacks for your kids when you leave home, but take a few extra minutes to make yourself something that you like (bonus if it’s a snack that your kids do not like- No sharing!), and fill your water bottle. This is the water bottle I use. If you like fruit-infused water, bottles like this are great.  You can also opt for an infuser to go into your favorite bottle or insulated cup.
  • Find Something to Keep You Occupied.  Besides your kids. Pick up a book, grab a craft kit (I like embroidery- it’s easy and portable), Craftsy has some cool online classes to get you started.

I’d love to hear about how you are bringing Hot Girl Summer. Leave a comment below!

 

 

 

Holiday Light Displays: Socially Distanced Family Fun!

One of our favorite family activities this time of year is to drive around the county and check out Christmas lights. I pack some snacks and hot chocolate (or just white milk for the Bitty Bird- She doesn’t like cocoa- I know…), and we head out for an adventure. I usually grab a couple extra fluffy blankets too. They tend to fall asleep on the way home!

I’ve included our family favorites, as well as some that came recommended by my Facebook fans. I did not include any that charge a fee to see. There are quite a few professional displays that charge a fee to drive-thru all over the county.

There are a few that I did not include as I have heard they are dark (Knob Hill in Vista), or the owners of the homes have moved or chosen not to do a display this year.

East County:

  • Jingle Bell Hill (also known as Pepper Dr. Lights). Solomon Ave./Pegeen Pl. and surrounding area. Off 67 & Bradley. Dec. 8-26, Mon-Th 6-9 pm, Fri-Sun 6-10 pm.
  • 10248 Paseo Palmas Dr. Nicknamed “Tinsel Town”. Dec. 1-25, 5:30-9 pm. Most of the houses on this street are very well decorated with lights and moving displays! They have a Facebook page too!
  •  Starlight Circle, East and West Glendon Circles. Through December 26th, 7-10 pm. This is extremely popular!  Starlight Circle even has a Facebook page!

North County:

  • 12631 Stoutwood St., Poway Off Twin Peaks Rd. & Deerwood St. Nicknamed “The Griswolds.”
  • 23542 Bassett Way, Ramona  Sun-Th, 5:30pm -10pm; Fri & Sat, 5:30pm – 11pm

Be safe, stay in your cars, or mask up and stay socially distant from others.

If you know of any light displays in San Diego County that are active this year and free- Please leave a comment! (that you have gone to- please no linking to other websites)

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? 

 

April is Autism Awareness Month: How You Can Help & Support Those in Your Life Touched by ASD!

ribbon-large.jpgIt’s been 3 years since our big guy was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We work hard each day to spread awareness and acceptance in our local community and circle of family/friends.

You or someone you know is effected by Autism, whether you know it or not.

If you are looking for more information about Autism support for you or family/friends, I recommend:

The Autism Society- They have links to local branches, where you can find local support groups for moms, dads, and siblings. Most branches have monthly meet ups and events. It’s a great way to meet parents who are in the same boat you are!

National Federation for Autism Research- Based in San Diego NFAR has many great resources, including monthly Mom and Dad meet ups, where you can have a hot meal, network with other Autism parents, and listen to a speaker. They also have a fun program for kids 2-8 called Engage & Connect at Kid Ventures in San Diego.

Screen Shot 2019-03-29 at 11.56.08 AM.pngIf you are looking for a fun way to meet other special needs families and do a fun activity, iFly has a great All Ability Night. The San Diego location has it’s all Ability night on June 2, 2019.

Easterseals also offers assistance to families with kids on the spectrum, including respite, and help for caregivers.

Finally, here is my post: 5 Ways you can Help a Special Needs Mom.

 

Host a Frontera Whole Foods Party!

House Party by Ripple Street Frontera™ Whole Foods Party House Party

Houseparty by Ripplestreet has a great party coming up, and they are accepting applications right now!

Show your friends how they can make authentic, delicious dishes for their Cinco de Mayo parties and how Frontera™ products will help them make it quick AND simple. Available at your local Whole Foods Market® for Cinco de Mayo.

This event is only open to residents of the contiguous US.

If you’re selected and confirmed as a host, your exclusive Party Pack will contain:

  • Whole Foods Market® gift card
  • Frontera discount coupons for your guests
  • And more

If you’ve never heard of Houseparty by Ripplestreet, you can learn more here. I’ve already applied!

Dinner Party Idea: DIY Ramen Potluck!

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We love to entertain. Dinner parties are a great way to have friends over to hang out and enjoy a good meal without breaking the budget.

We also love Ramen- not Top Ramen, but delicious, mouthwatering, tempting noodles, velvety broth, veggies, and soft boiled eggs. Doing a Ramen potluck is great way to try out new flavors that you may have never thought of.

In doing research for this article, I found out that there are so many ramen toppings and ingredients that I had never heard of (like corn, which you can see in the picture above). So some of the ingredients listed below may not make it into your potluck, but know that somewhere out there there is someone putting it on/in their ramen.

The host can provide the broth. As far as ramen broths, there are lots of options. I like Tonkatsu, which is pork and chicken based. Here is a great recipe.  Not interested in making it from scratch? You can buy Tonkatsu broth concentrate on Amazon.

If you are vegan, Ocean’s Halo makes a great seaweed based ramen broth. Miso is also a popular ramen soup base (Ocean’s Halo also makes great miso, pho, and veggie broth). We usually try to have two big pots of broth to choose from.

Screen Shot 2018-12-30 at 9.26.13 AM.pngAs far as noodles, you can get regular ramen noodles at any Asian grocery store (or most 99 Cents Only locations). I’m not talking about the kind that come in a little bag with a pouch of salty broth, those are fried so they cook super fast and aren’t really all that healthy.

I like the Organic Millet & Brown Rice Ramen from Lotus Foods. As a bonus these are gluten free and have protein in them. Our local Costco sells large packages, which is great for parties.

Some people like Soba noodles (thick buckwheat noodles), and some people like zoodles (the spiral cut zucchini “noodles”).

Now that you’ve got broth and noodles down, it’s time to get creative with toppings! Here are just a few ideas for guests to bring:

  • Eggs: I love a good soft-boiled egg on my ramen.
  • Scallions/green onions
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Seaweed/Nori sheets
  • Canned Bamboo shoots (they will need to be rinsed and probably sliced to made bite-sized.
  • Corn Kernels (defrosted frozen, fresh, or canned with no salt- drained and rinsed).
  • Mayu/Black Garlic Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Chili Sauce
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Pickled Ginger
  • Fish Sauce
  • Kimchi
  • Fried Tofu
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sliced fresh Jalapeños
  • Fried or pan steamed Gyoza
  • Roasted /braised slices of pork (fattier cuts of pork are great in ramen)
  • Cooked Shrimp (I can’t really give you any other suggestions on cooking/serving, I’m allergic to shellfish)
  • Fish Cakes (available at your local Asian Market)
  • Bok Choy
  • Mushrooms (Sliced shiitakes are nice, as are enoki)

And some people like rice as a side to their ramen. I prefer sticky rice, it’s easier to eat with chopsticks.

If you’ve got friends that don’t cook, don’t forget you’ll need chopsticks, bowls, spoons, and beverages.

Talk Back: What is your favorite type of Ramen? 

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!

Find (Frugal) Family Fun in Your Community

xmas eve 013.JPGSummer vacation is on the horizon, and that means that there will be choruses of, “I’m bored!”

Having a kid who has ADHD and ASD, I frequently hear that lament after school (like, before we even pull out of the school parking lot in the afternoon) complete with body slump and flailing of arms.  To combat this, I’ve assembled a list of events that can keep kiddos entertained with little to no cost.

Everyone knows about their local, neighborhood parks for free fun outside, but don’t forget your local libraries and community centers for sources of free fun!

Our local library has events after school (starting at 3pm) for kids grades K-3, including:

  • Read with Grandma Marcia ~ Every Tuesday
  • Kids Exploration Day ~ 2nd Wednesday of the month
  • LEGO Club ~ 3rd Wednesday of the month
  • Creative Play ~ Each Saturday from 10:30-11:30 am. Children learn through play! Meet new friends and have fun while developing early learning skills. Geared for ages 5 and under (but they are not strict with it- as long as the kids behave).

With all of these activities, a responsible adult must be present and participate.

Check out your local library’s website.

San Diego County Libraries

San Diego City Libraries

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 6.38.53 PM.pngIf you have a Starwood Mall nearby you (Here in San Diego, Parkway Plaza is a Starwood property), check out their kids club called MallStars. From the Parkway Plaza website, “MallStars Kids Club offers exclusive kid friendly events in a safe, community environment, throughout the year. MallStars Kids Club is a FREE kids club open to kids 10 years of age and younger.

The program features exclusive, kid-friendly events for its members throughout the entire year. MallStars members also receive free giveaways; a quarterly newsletter with upcoming events and special offers; as well as priority registration and exclusive invites to mall events.”

Last Month we got to make pizzas, and learn how to roll out dough with friends at Fuertes NY Pizza!

My kiddos love the beach- I know not everyone has the beach near them, but if you do- take advantage!  Google your favorite beach and Tide Chart and find out when low tide it. Low tide is the perfect time to hunt for shells. If you are in San Diego, or will be visiting this summer, check out Coronado for the SS Monte Carlo. It’s a sunken ship that is visible and explorable at low tide.

If you have a YMCA membership, check out their free programs for members. Our local Y has Open Gym three times a week, plus a mommy and me craft time for little kids, and lots of other fun programs that are included in our monthly dues. If you are interested in checking out the YMCA but are lacking funds, I encourage you to visit your local Y and ask about scholarships or financial aid.

I also find lots of local events and free fun stuff by checking the “Events You May Like” section on Facebook Events.

Talkback: I’d love to hear what kinds of free (or cheap) fun stuff your family does!

How to Save Money with Bartering in 3 Easy Steps

savemoneybarterYou’ve probably heard or read about bartering to save money, but you aren’t sure where to start, or how it works. I’m here to demystify it for you!

I barter all the time! Thankfully, a lot of my friends have large vegetable and fruit gardens, fruit trees, or chickens produce eggs. I trade my time and services that I can provide for these things. I love to trade my ability and skill with sewing for farm fresh eggs. The price of eggs in California is insane! A dozen eggs can be almost $6.00, depending on where you shop.

Here are a few tips that I recommend you try in order to stretch your budget with the use of bartering:

Step One: Make a list of the skills you have. Can you sew? Can you babysit? Do you have a lawnmower and some free time to mow lawns? There are lots of things that you can do the people need help with. Maybe you have a great eye for organization and you could help a friend or a neighbor organize their pantry or their garage. Maybe you Love to clean? You can use that skill to either earn money or to barter for goods and services that you need. Maybe you have an overflowing garden or hen house!

Step Two: Make a list of stuff that you need. Do you need help sewing, cleaning house, or do you need to stretch your grocery budget a little bit further with the help of homegrown fruits and vegetables, farm fresh eggs?

Step Three: Ask! Ask your friends or if you’re feeling shy post on your Facebook page or whatever social media that you use. If you’d like to get a broader reach you can even post on websites like craigslist or fiverr.com.  You’d be surprised at what kind of offers you get!
I’d love to hear about the types of things you barter for!