Are You Stuck in a Mommy Style Rut?

Are You Stuck in a Mommy Style Rut

I distinctly remember having a conversation with my friend Suzie back in September about how I felt like Tina the person didn’t seem to exist anymore, only Tina the mom, Tina the cook, Tina the maid, Tina the teacher. I love my family, I love doing things for my family, I even love being a teacher, but somewhere there had to be more, there had to be something to look forward to, something just for me. I thought I was speaking selfishly until she nodded her head up and down and said she knew exactly what I was talking about, which made me feel better since I wasn’t sure I knew exactly what I was talking about. I knew I was feeling something but it was hard to put it into words. Was it my hormones? Was it a mid-life crisis? Was I just depressed? Was I stuck in a mommy rut?

So, for the past few months I have been on a mission to reclaim me. Initially it started with something as simple as buying myself some Boxycharm and Fabfitfun subscription boxes to try out new products and spoil myself a little. Then it led to getting my bottom layers cut off of my hair so I could start to grow it long like it used to be. Next came subscribing to a few new magazines that were about restoring and finding yourself again.

One day in mid-November I was searching for spoilers on Google for the December Boxycharm box when up popped a link to YouTube videos with people unboxing their boxes. I couldn’t wait to see what I was going to get in my next box so I clicked the link. This one little action opened up the world of YouTubers to me. Initially I was just watching unboxing videos and seeing if there were any other subscriptions I might want to join. Then, I saw a video for recreating a smoky eye, or a review of the best concealers at the drugstore.

In the months that have followed since I have discovered several awesome YouTubers that I actually look forward to watching. Most of these women are in their mid-twenties, which oddly I like, because they are still excited with life. Remember your twenties? Back when you went out to eat several times a week. Back when your “baby” had four legs and fur. Back when you didn’t feel the need to justify the expense of buying new clothes or shoes or paying for a night out at the movies. Back when you could pack a bag on a moment’s notice and go out of town for a three day weekend.

I have tried watching several mom vloggers on YouTube and honestly, I just don’t enjoy them as much. They post vids on healthy meals, grocery shopping hauls, buying organic, school issues, and I find these videos are just too close to my real life. I like the escapism that comes from watching a vlog on YouTube. The videos are usually 5-15 minutes long, which I can usually watch on my iPhone while folding a basket of laundry or putting my make-up on in the morning.

Plus, you wouldn’t think that someone in their 40’s would be inspired or learn something from someone in their 20’s but I really have. I have become much more adventurous with make-up, a lot more knowledgeable, tried new products I had never heard of, and this month when I went shopping for a new summer wardrobe to take to Florida I bought items I wouldn’t usually buy, but I did buy them and I love them.

Here is a list of some great YouTube Beauty Channels you might want to check out. None of them are endorsing this post. I have never contacted any of them, but I eagerly await their new videos.

Essie Button

Lily Pebbles

Ingrid Nilsen

Amelia Liana

Tanya Burr

Vivianna Does Makeup

Jessica Murphy

Fleur DeForce

Many of these ladies have a secondary vlog on YouTube as well showing their personal life, their favorite shops, their fur babies, and more, which you can connect to from the pages I posted above. Also, many of them are British or living in England which also helps me to vicariously fill a life long dream of mine.

Anyway, check them out and let me know if you liked any of them!
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Vaccinations Don’t Cause Autism~But there are a Thousand Toxic Substances the Just Might

Vaccinations Don't Cause Autism

Intro~ I am not a scientist or a doctor. I am a mom of 14 years and person who has been educating children for 24 years. I worry about my children as well as my students. I want their futures to be filled with endless possibilities and good health. I have observed greater health challenges to my students over the years in increasing numbers. I have spent a great deal of time researching the environment and what is surrounding our children. I wanted to get real facts, not pseudo science or jump on band wagon trends that are meaningless. I also learned that the more I learned the more I needed to learn as information is constantly changing and updating. 

I am not an expert, but I have some knowledge that I really want to share because I want all children to be safe and healthy.

I also felt that vaccines were getting falsely blamed. I teach in a district that has a huge population of foreign born and we service immigrants from around the world. Some days I feel like I teach at the United Nations. My classroom is filled with faces that are  many shades of brown, black, tan and ivory. The children of my classroom are beautiful. Some also come from third world countries that aren’t always as medically advanced. When my children were born the issue of their being vaccinated wasn’t an issue for me at all. I knew that I could carry home to my babies any number of potential illnesses and I wanted them protected. ~

Jonus SalkIn the 1950’s Jonas Salk was a hero. His vaccine changed the lives of people around the world. Huge crowds of people all over the US wait in lines to protect their children from the ravages of polio. Similar scenes played out over the course of history as different vaccines became available and people were desperate to protect their children. polio-vaccine-line-1956-chicago

Forward to 2015 and many Americans today have no memory of what a real “outbreak” looks like. Ebola came to the US with a big fanfare and quickly left with little more than a whisper. Many people were left asking, “That’s it! What was the big deal?”

In October of 2009 I was one of many parents standing in a line that lasted four hours to get the H1N1 vaccine shots for my children and for myself since I have a compromised immune system. Just a few nights before I had sat in front of the news and cried as they showed the beautiful faces of perfectly healthy children, who had been fine one minute and then fighting for their lives just a few hours later, before finally succumbing to the deadly flu virus. One little face had haunted me the most, a little blond hair boy with bright blue eyes, who reminded me of my own sweet little boy who was only two at the time.

But even H1N1 at the end of the day didn’t turn out to be big pandemic that people were expecting. So again people blamed the CDC and WHO of being the little boy who cried wolf. Still, in just 2009 there were 274,304 hospitalizations from H1N1 and 12,469 deaths attributed to the virus. That number might not seem that impressive to you, unless your loved one was on the list.

autismo-autismeBut back to my original argument, vaccines don’t cause autism. A simple statement of truth is that vaccines have been around for generations. Autism was first identified in 1943, and it was extremely rare, only eleven confirmed cases at the time.

If you look at the history of how long people have been getting their shots and consider those numbers globally, and then look at the history of the number of people affected by autism, the numbers just don’t add up.

Autism is a condition that has come to the national forefront only in the last two decades.  As a young teacher in the early 90’s I had never heard of autism, but I was very familiar with Down syndrome, Aspersers, fetal alcohol syndrome, and other cognitive impairments. In 1993, however, autism was unknown to me and my fellow teachers, yet every person I knew in 1993 had been vaccinated, as well as the children who attended my public elementary school. If they weren’t vaccinated they were excluded from school until they returned with proof of their shots.

In the past 25 years something has happened to our environment that has caused the number of cases of documented autism to skyrocket. Part of that may be better and earlier diagnosing of the condition, but that alone can’t explain why the numbers are now staggeringly high.

What has changed in the past two to three decades that has the power to reach everyone in this country, young and old, rich and poor, urban, suburban, and rural?

If you really stop to look at it, the biggest change to happen to the US and other first and second world countries is chemicals.

In 1976, President Ford signed into law the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA. At the time there were fewer than 62,000 registered chemicals in the US and the country was fresh off the DDT scare. The law was passed to protect people from existing chemicals and regulate the safety of future ones.

To say the law failed is an understatement. Lobbyists and Chemical companies spend millions to find every loop hole and to make sure those loop holes don’t get closed. Today there are 84,000 registered chemicals in the products we use. Do you know how many chemicals the US has banned? In all this time it has only banned 11. Australia and the European Union have banned more than 1,100 in just personal care products alone.

The US doesn’t require testing to be done on chemicals. If a certain product does make people sick the FDA can’t demand a recall, only suggest one, and the EPA has no recall power at all. These are the agencies that are in charge of keeping us safe! Agencies with essentially no real power at all.

Many of the products that are around today have little in common to the original formulas that came out decades ago. Detergents, shampoos, fabric softeners, and cleaning products that have been around for generations are all different. Every time a product comes out with the claim, “Cleans even better,” or “New and Improved” what it really means is they just added new chemicals to the product. Do the clothes look brighter? Yes. Is my floor shinier? Yes. Is my hair softer? Yes. Is my body wash creamier? Yes, but what is the cost to our health, to our reproductive systems, to our hormones, and most importantly to our children?

As adults we come into contact with toxic substances every day, but our body mass helps to protect us. Think of medication. All meds are based on body weight, this is why you have adult and child sized doses. But a child takes the same bubble bath that an adult takes. A child uses the same amount of shampoo, the same amount of sunscreen. Children are actually exposed to greater amounts of cleaners because they spend so much time playing on the floor and on surfaces that adults don’t use.

Not only are these chemicals in our cleansers and hygiene products but they are in our food. We have all heard about how you can’t buy rainbow colored crackers in Europe, and that soda is made using cane sugar, and use of GMO crops has been limited thus far. I have heard more than one person grumble about how products are better in Europe and if companies can make healthier versions of their food for over there, why can’t they do it here?

That is a great question. If crackers can be colored using natural ingredients in the UK, why can’t the same natural ingredients be used in America. Why does American yogurt get colored using Red #5 and Blue #2 but British yogurt remain in its natural uncolored state? Personally I view it as an insult to American children that food, especially processed snack foods, must always be made into primary colors.

Children in Europe just might be benefitting from their countries stricter chemical laws. According to the Washington Time’s, autism rates in Europe have reached a plateau. Studies from 2010 have shown that the rates of new cases of autism in Europe have remained the same as 2004, where as  the US rates of new cases of autism in that same time span have continued to grow. The study does not focus on chemicals as the cause of autism, but then again, it is nearly impossible to find a study on chemicals and autism because the sheer numbers of chemicals is overwhelming. People are exposed to so many chemicals it is impossible to study a single chemical and its affects in isolation, which is essential to having concrete results.

This is why all the studies that have been done in the past few decades come out with results that say “it seems to suggest that this chemical causes cancer,” or “results show a correlation between chemical A and this illness.”

So what is a parent supposed to do? How do we protect our children from 84,000 registered chemicals?

The truth is you can’t do anything about the world beyond your front door. Even if people ban together and start to demand change from the government it will still be years and years before change is reflected in the environment surrounding us.

The only change you do have control over is what happens inside your own home and how you choose to spend your money. Nothing changes the way a company behaves faster than the spending patterns of the American consumer.

When it comes to food, buy as much organic and non-GMO as you can afford too. Once upon a time you could only do this at Whole Foods, but today Kroger, Costco, Meijer, and even Target have lines of organic foods available for a lot less than what it costs at Whole Foods. I’m not knocking Whole Foods, they were the front runner in the organic industry and we owe them a debt of gratitude, but the truth is you average person really can’t afford to shop there.

Also, always buy hormone free diary products and as much hormone free meat as you can afford to. Children’s bodies are entering puberty earlier than ever before because milk, cheese, and meats are loaded with growth hormones to make the animals produce more milk and meat. This is an example of chemicals being used where we can actually see the visible results right in front of us.

When it comes to cleaning stick with plant based cleaners as much as possible. Many great companies are out there working hard to produce amazing products that work and keep us safe. For laundry care, search out detergents that are formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane free. Also, only purchase products that are fragrance free or scented with essential oils.

In personal care products avoid: SLS (sodium lauryl  sulfate), parabens, pthalates, fragrance, dyes, sodium chlorides, formaldehyde, MEA (monoethanolamine), DEA (diethanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine) and fragrance. There are many studies you can Google to show a correlation between these chemicals and endocrine illnesses, hormonal imbalances, and reproductive complications as well as others.

After reading all of this some of you may be feeling overwhelmed and clueless where to start and what to do next. Below you will find links to websites to help you get started in the next direction, as well as companies I find to be trustworthy.

Books to Read:

Healthy Child Healthy World by Christopher Gavin

Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World by Phillip Landrigan

The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True to You by Jessica Alba

Safer and Greener Products:

Earth Friendly Products at http://www.ecos.com/

Method at http://methodhome.com/

The Honest Company at http://www.honest.com

Tom’s of Maine at http://www.tomsofmainestore.com/

Burt’s Bees at http://www.burtsbees.com

Babyganics at http://babyganics.com

 I hope you find this information useful but more importantly I hope you don’t just take my word for it. Purchase the books listed above or click on the many references I cited below and find out for yourself. If you have more to add please share it in the comments. If you are too busy to do your own research but want to have a safer environment in your home then check out the websites I listed.  Most of these products are sold in stores as well as online. Many can be purchased at Target and I personally buy my Ecos laundry detergent and Honest Shampoo and Body Wash at Costco for much cheaper than what they sell it for elsewhere.

References:

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families www.saferchemical.org/resources/tsca.html

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics www.safecosmetics.org

Consumer Product Safety Commission www.cpsc.gov/businfo/8002.pdf

Food and Drug Administration www.safecosmetics.org/downloads/FDA-regulatory-short-comings_Cosmetics_Jul2010.pdf

FDA vs EU http://safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=346

Top 10 Chemicals Most Likely to Cause Autism and Learning Disabilities by Robyn O’Brien http://www.robynobrien.com/_blog/Inspiring_Ideas/post/Top_10_Chemicals_Most_Likely_to_Cause_Autism_and_Learning_Disabilities/

Autism rates rise in U.S., plateau in U.K. by Cheryl Wetzstein http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/16/rate-of-autism-rises-in-us-hits-plateau-in-uk/?page=all

What’s in My Carry-On Bag?

How to Pack Your Carry On Bag

Most of our vacations are car trips. We go on several car trips a year. With all that traveling I have gotten very good at packing but this time we are flying and I can’t lie, it was a bit of a challenge to down size to just the essentials, yet still have the things I like. For some reason that I can’t explain, though, I love packing. Maybe it is the promise of a new adventure, but I look forward too packing and spend weeks making lists.

This post will cover the contents of my carry-on. It is important to note that this is my carry-on and I am only putting my things in it. Both boys will have their own carry-ons that holds their electronics, toys, wet wipes, and etc.

DSC_7323The first thing I did was find a great bag. I found this big boy on a clearance rack at Kohl’s. After I found my carry-on I also selected a tiny cross body bag. Every time we go on vacation I make the mistake of taking a large purse. On the one hand it seems very practical to do so, but what ends up happening is both boys and even Bill end up asking me to put everything in my purse. The next thing I know I am lugging 20 pounds on my back while everyone else is walking around burden free.

I have decided that I am going to enjoy being at Universal Studios as much as everyone else. This little cross body is big enough to hold my iPhone, the room key card, some cash, and an ID. In the side pocket I slipped some deodorant wipes, tissues, and hand wipes. That is all I plan to carry around the park. Bill will have to carry his own camera, Casey will have to carry his own bottle of water, and AJ will have to tie his North Face fleece he refuses to leave behind around his waist!

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The next thing in my carry-on is my quart sized bag of liquids. I actually purchased this one from the travel department in Target instead of using a Ziploc bag. It is a little more durable than the Ziploc and I like the fact that I can wash it out and reuse it in the future.

I watched several YouTube videos to make sure I was following the TSA rules when it came to liquids. What I learned is if it pours, squirts, or sprays, it needs to be in your quart sized bag, plus no container is allowed to be bigger than 3 ounces.

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I am taking items that I can’t live without. Make-up items include Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Pore Minimizing. This product is amazing. Just a few dabs and your face looks like someone spent hours photo shopping. Next is Too Faced Shadow Insurance in Champagne. My favorite concealer is Maybelline Instant Age Rewind in light pale, and my foundation is L’Oreal True Match in classic ivory n2.

I have several skin care items. My facial cleanser is by First Aid Beauty. I love how this product removes everything, even eye make-up. I love my Olay Regenerist Serum but the bottle was too large. I used a GoTubb to take just the amount I will need. The last skin care item is my Roc Retinol Daily Moisture with SPF 30.

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For hair, I have a sample sized container of Bed Head Rockaholic Dirty Secret Dry Shampoo. I have talked about this product several times on my blog and on Facebook. I use it daily. It gives lift and volume to clean hair and maintains your style even on three day old hair. I don’t usually use hairspray in the winter, but during the summer months a touch helps to reduce frizz. Since I am going to Florida I figured I better take it to be on the safe side. This is Bed Head’s Mini Masterpiece. In another GoTubb is a product I have been using forever, Bed Head’s Small Talk, to add thickness and hold the style.

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For those of you wondering where is my shampoo and conditioner, I poured large amounts into 3 ounce GoToobs and slipped them into Casey’s carry-on bag. Casey and I both use Honest Shampoo and Body Wash because of sensitive skin issues, and I also use Honest Conditioner. If you are interested in purchasing GoTubbs and GoToobs I will post a link at the bottom.

The last item in my liquids bag is eye drops, both my Restasis and Systane Ultra High Performance.

Make-Up Case

The next thing in my carry-on is my make-up bag. I was torn between two eye shadow palettes and finally decided to just being both of them. The first is my Naked 3 by Urban Decay. Not only is it a fabulous pallet but it has a great mirror in it. The second pallet is a Tarte one that came in the Sweet Indulgences collection that came out at Christmas time. Both pallets are filled with soft pinks, purples, taupes, and cinnamon shades. I was able to pick just one blush, and that is Tarte Amazonian 12 Hour Blush in the shade Pampered, which was also in the Sweet Indulgences collection. I love Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Powder in fair-light neutral. It seems to melt into your skin and just disappear.

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DSC_7342Eyeliners were another case of me not being able to make up my mind. Since this is a family fun vacation I am leaving at home all black eyeliners and liquid eye liners. Since Bill and I won’t be having a date night on this vacation it just seemed unnecessary. Instead I am taking my Urban Decay Naked 3 double sided liner in Darkside and Blackheart. I am also taking a Tarte liner in Plum and another in Charcoal. I only needed one mascara, and that is Lights, Camera, Lashes by Tarte. I admit it, I love Tarte products. They just really work for me.

Getting close to the end, the next couple of products are Benefit’s Browzings in medium, Mica Beauty Cosmetics Eye Primer, and my mini traveling brushes. I also have a sample pack of Yes to Cucumbers facial clothes and Secret Deodorant. The last items in the bag are tweezers, nail clippers, and an eyelash curler.

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For on the plane or pool side I have my Kindle. I have downloaded several new books I am excited to read. I also have this darling little umbrella that folds up to almost nothing.

On my Kindle:

  • The American Heiress by Dorothy Eden
  • The Truth About Faking by Leigh Talbert Moore
  • The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot

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I have one outfit in my carry-on. For the record my luggage has never been lost during a flight, but I have this irrational fear that it just might. So in a worst case scenario I have a clean pair of black jeans and a fresh t-shirt to wear the next day. I discovered these cool bendable ties called Gear Ties that I used to wrap up my iPhone cord and my Kindle cord. I even bought Bill a set of these in navy blue for Christmas. This way we will know whose cords are whose.

That’s it. I admit, its a bit heavy but I will have everything I need for a great trip!

Happy Travels,

~Tina

Carrying Bag AClick here to purchase Gear Ties~ Gear Ties at Amazon

Click here to purchase GoTubbs~ GoTubbs at Amazon

Click here to purchase GoToobs~ GoToobs at Amazon

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Cherry Vanilla Scones

Cherry Vanilla Scones

Thanks to a deep love of Duran Duran that I developed in the 7th grade, and all things Jane Austen, I am a serious Anglophile. For years I dreamed that when I grew up I was gong to run away and live the remainder of my days in merry ole England, marry Simon le Bon, and live happily ever after nibbling on tea and crumpets, attend polo matches and watch the annual regatta on the English Channel. Remember that movie Oxford Blues with Rob Lowe? To me that was living the dream.

I never moved to England, Simon le Bon married a super model, but I am still very much an Anglophile. So over the years I have learned several great recipes for making scones.

I especially love this recipe because the scones keep for days in an air tight container. I really like to make a batch of these on Sunday and then have them for breakfast the next couple of days, or as an evening treat with a steaming cup of tea.

Ingredients:DSC_7168

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) cold butter cut into pieces
  • 1 jar (10 ounces) maraschino cherries drained and the cherries cut into halves and fourths
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk

Glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  You can grease or use parchment paper to prepare two baking sheets.

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In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Wisk dry ingredients to make sure they are all blended.

 

Here is where you have several options. You can cut the cold butter in the old fashioned way, or using an electric mixer if you have one. I prefer to use a food processor. It is by far the fastest and easiest way to do it. Put about 2/3 of the flour mix into the processor and all the butter chunks. Pulse for about 20 seconds. Add the remaining flour and pulse again for about another 20 seconds. The butter will all but disappear into the flour.

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Pour all of the flour and butter mix back into your mixing bowl. Add the milk, cherries, and vanilla to the bowl. Stir initially with a spatula but you will need to finish the dough with your hands. The dough is rather sticky so make sure you take your rings off!

Once the dough begins to form a ball I like to dump it onto a piece of parchment paper to finish the blending. You can also use a floured surface to form the dough but be careful not to incorporate too much extra flour into the dough.

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Cut the ball of dough into two halves. Then turn each half into a round pizza shape less than an inch thick. Cut each circle into 8 wedges.

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Transfer your wedges onto your prepared baking sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until they are golden on the edges. My oven took 14 minutes to produce raised and golden scones.

After the scones have cooled it is time to glaze. Mix the remaining milk, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Then lightly brush the glaze over the scones. This recipe makes 16 scones in all.

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Store in an air tight container and they will last for several days.

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Enjoy,

~Tina

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How to Pack Everything Your Child Needs in a Single Carry-On

How to Pack Everything

Soon my family will be taking its first trip to Universal Studios.  To say we are excited is an understatement.  We were happy to score decent prices on our planes tickets but quickly realized that baggage fees added up really fast if we checked a suitcase for every member of the family.

I quickly decided Bill and I would share one checked suitcase and use carry-ons for the rest, and the boys would use carry-ons only.

DSC_7084Step 1 was to call the airline and find out the exact measurements of a carry-on.  Delta informed us that a carry on is limited to 22”x14”x9”.  Armed with my measurements I went where I always go first when I need something. I went to Costco, and they did not let me down. I managed to get an adorable rolling carry-on for Casey with a telescopic handle for only $29.99.  Similar ones at Target were $50 and up. Then for AJ I purchased a rectangular carry on case that has a sleeve on the back so it will slide on to the handle of Casey’s and roll as one unit. That bag was only $24.99!

Step 2 was to assess what was left of Casey’s summer wardrobe that would still fit him for a trip to Florida. I wasn’t surprised to find that he had outgrown most of it. He has had two growth spurts in the past couple of months. Luckily for me a Kohl’s coupon arrived and it was the super spectacular 30% off. I managed to get Casey’s entire summer wardrobe in one shopping trip.

Step 3 was to lay it all out on the floor so I could see it. I am a visual person, I need to see everything to be sure I haven’t missed anything. First was clothes, an outfit for each day, pajamas for each night, a coming home outfit, and swimwear.

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A seven year old doesn’t require much in the way of toiletries. A Ziplock holds his toothbrush, toothpaste, and sunscreen. Next comes games, electronics, a small art kit and a few other fun items to make the plane trip easier and to have fun in the hotel room.

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Clothes and Crocs went in the bag first.

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The top of the bag held a new little art kit he received as a Christmas present along with a block toy. In the side pockets went some favorites, Uno and Spot It!, as well as a small puzzle, a Nintendo 3Ds and game chips.

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In the front pockets I placed his bag with his toothbrush and a travel size packet of baby wipes to wipe sticky fingers.

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In the end it all fit inside the bag just perfectly. Casey is ready to roll!

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Stay tuned. I will be packing my teenagers carry-on very soon!

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Breakfast Banana Split Sundaes

Breakfast Banana Split Sundeas

What child doesn’t want to have dessert for breakfast? With just a few simple ingredients and a little presentation they can!

DSC_7108aMy boys love the Fage Fruyo Vanilla Greek Yogurt. It is incredibly thick and rich and filled with vanilla bean. It makes a great base for all kinds of breakfast combinations and even night time treats.

Simply fill a sundae glass up with the yogurt.

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Casey loves to help me in the kitchen so he was on banana slicing duty this morning.

DSC_7114aFor toppings we added the sliced bananas, fresh blueberries, and granola with flaxseeds. A tiny drizzle of chocolate syrup topped it all off and ramped up the fun factor. A drizzle of chocolate syrup will usually win over even the pickiest of eaters. Plus they never need to know that they are actually eating a breakfast filled with protein, potassium, calcium, anti-oxidants, and omega 3’s.

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Breakfast was a hit!

~Tina

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How to Save Your Clothes From Set In Grease Stains

How to Save Your Clothes

It’s amazing really. I own three aprons. Yes, really, three, and do I ever remember to use then when I am cooking? No, not really. So it should come as no surprise that I am always getting grease spots on my clothes from cooking, or the occasional dropping of a meatball down the front of my shirt.

Further, I switched to strictly organic laundry products a couple of years ago because of sensitivity issues for both myself and my youngest. I love my Ecos and Honest laundry products for daily washing, but I can’t lie, quite often the products aren’t strong enough to remove set in grease. So, I was intrigued when my sister shared with me her results from using Dawn dish soap on spots, a trick she picked up from Pinterest.

I decided to try it out on two of my favorite knit tops that I used to wear all the time but were now no longer usable for work because the stains were too obvious.

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It was incredibly easy.  All I had to do was pour the Dawn right on to the stains and let it sit for about ten minutes. Then I used the kitchen brush to give each stain a quick scrub. I only took the brush back and forth about five or six times because I didn’t want to damage the fabric.

Dawn scrub

After that I tossed the shirts into the machine with some other items that needed a wash along with a bit of Ecos detergent. After they tumbled dry I pulled them out and searched for the stains.  I was really happy with the result. The stains are about 95% gone.  You have to be looking for them to actually spot them. So now instead of having two shirts for the Salvation Army I now have two shirts that are back in my closet and ready to be worn to work.

It worked 2 It worked

I have since worn these shirts and I can say that I did not have a reaction from the Dawn dish soap. The amount needed to remove the stains wasn’t enough to make my clothes give me a reaction. However, if you think you might have a reaction from the Dawn I would recommend rinsing some of the soap out of the garments after it soaks and then wash as usual.

Hope this tip helps save your laundry as it has mine.

~Tina

 

Activities For the Best Snow Day Ever

Activities for the Best Snow Day Ever

 

Snow days can be just as over whelming as they are wonderful. What starts off as, “Yay! We have the whole day off!” can quickly turn into, “Mom, I am so bored,” or, “Mom, he’s looking at me!”

What every busy mom needs is a plan of action. Or, put better, a plan of FUN! So below is an easy and very loose schedule with some fun activities using things you hopefully have in the house.

Morning:

pancakes2

Start the day with a pancake breakfast.  I love to buy the big bag of Krusteez Pancake mix from Costco.  A trick I have learned to make them fluffier and thicker is to swap some of the water for milk. If the batch you are making calls for 2 cups of water I will swap ½ a cup of it for milk and add in one tablespoon of vanilla extract. Get the children involved in making the batter. One can be the scooper, one can be the mixer, and if you have fresh strawberries or bananas one can slice the berries with a plastic knife. Having pancakes on a snow day is great because pancakes on what should be a school day just doesn’t happen in my house. Top with butter and syrup or fresh fruit and whipped cream.

Peter PanNext, it is time for a morning movie. The children can pick the DVD of their choice (preferably a long one), and pajamas, teddy bears, and blankets are a necessity.

I love the $5 rack of DVD’s at Target. There are many great movies that have been made that children today don’t even know about. As a teacher I can honestly recommend some tried and true winners. All are available on Amazon and are a great alternative to watching Frozen for the hundredth time.

  • Matilda
  • A Little Princess
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (with Gene Wilder!)
  • Holes
  • The Secret Garden
  • The Sandlot
  • James and the Giant Peach
  • The Tale of Desperaux
  • Peter Pan (2003 edition staring Jason Isaacs as Captain Hook and Mr. Darling)
  • Nanny McPhee
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Because of Winn Dixie (Dave Mathews is great eye candy for mom)
  • The Princess Bride
  • The Never Ending Story
  • Baby’s Day Out
  • And finally, Mary Poppins

Midday:

resized 600After a quick lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Annie’s Mac & Cheese, (It’s a snow day. Easy is the rule of the day.) it’s time to go outside. Snowballs, snow angles, and forts are ready for the making. If you have a teenager send him or her out to snow blow the driveway or help dig out the car.

Things to keep in mind:

*Everyone MUST go to the bathroom before putting on snow suits.

*A tissue needs to be shoved into coat pockets. Cold air means runny noses.

*Snow piles created by snow plows are totally big enough for little ones to slide down on a sled.

*Absolutely, under no circumstances, are children allowed to dig a cave into a giant snow mound.

To make playing in the snow more fun fill a spray bottle with water colored with food dye. Little ones can paint the snow while you are shoveling. If you have two water bottles make a red and a blue so the children can double spray and make purple!

hot chocolate2After snow play is the mandatory cups of hot chocolate. Any brand of hot chocolate will do. I like to fill the cups ½ full with hot water to dissolve the chocolate and then add cold milk to cool the cups down so the kids don’t have to whine that it is too hot or risk burning their mouths. Of course, marshmallows, whipped cream, and a dusting of cocoa powder make the hot chocolate seem all the more magical.

Around this time the children are ready for some quiet time. This is when I send each child to their own room to read books for about an hour. It will also give me a chance to clean up the kitchen and have a cup of tea. The bribery to get the children to do this is the promise of video games after quiet time. When Casey was too young to read but too old for a nap I used to insist on quiet time. This was simply him, in his room, playing quietly with toys. He’d play with Legos or his action figures, look at his books, or more often, look at the new Lego catalogs of all the things he wanted to get. I am a huge believer in children knowing how to self entertain.

Since it is a snow day, I will let the kids play video games for about two hours. I know a lot of moms will say that is too long, but as long as they got exercise outside, did a little reading, and have eaten lunch, why not let them have fun.

Other Activities to Fill the Day:

Board Games ~ Uno, Spot It, Trouble, Chutes and Ladders, and Scrabble

Make a movie ~ Let the kids dress up and make their own movie so when Dad gets home from work he can see what they did. I suggest putting your camera on a tripod so the children aren’t picking it up and possibly dropping it. Or let them make their own music video that they can share with grandma and extended family.

Arts & Crafts ~ If you are brave enough, you can let them paint with water colors. I admit I am not a “painting” kind of mom. I prefer Play dough. Yes, it crumbles and falls on the floor, but it will dry rock hard in about an hour and then can be swept up easily. I am all about the easy.

Build a Fort in the Living Room ~ Pull out the sofa cushions for walls, grab blankets for the roof, and turn chairs around to add structural support. Draw the blinds, turn off the lights and add flashlights to make it even better. The only rule is that everyone has to help put the room back together when play is done.

Bake Cookies ~ Just like the pancakes, assign tasks to different children and make a batch of your favorite cookies.

Roast Marshmallows ~ If you are lucky enough to have a fire place then it is time to pull out the left over marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate and toast them over the hearth. Even if the chocolate and graham crackers are long gone toasted marshmallows all by them selves are still yummy and fun to make.

Dinner Time:

This one is a no brainer! It is time to call the Pizza Deliver Guy and have him bring a hot pizza, bread sticks, and a big salad to your front door. It’s been a long day and it is time for mom to relax!

~Tina

 

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