My Daily Smoothie Hack

I have to confess, I am addicted to drinking smoothies. Not only are they easy to make, but I can just toss a bunch of stuff in a cup without measuring and it still tastes good. The one thing I don’t like, is the clean up. Plus, rummaging around for ingredients and pulling them all out of different locations in the kitchen while I am barely awake, is a pain.

It is so tempting to sign up for a smoothie subscription and have premade smoothies delivered to my door step. I even found a local company to source them, but then I saw the price. It will cost me around $100 for one dozen premade smoothies. I can’t justify spending that much just for my personal breakfast each morning. I’d save time on the prep, but I’d still have to dispose of all the packaging and shipping materials after I transfer all the cups to the freezer. That still takes up time. But man, I’d sure love the convenience and simplicity of dumping a cup of ingredients into a blender.

So….

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That’s what I do!

I found some left over disposable coffee cups with lids stashed away on a shelf in my basement and realize they make the perfect DIY grab and go smoothie cups. I make seven smoothies ahead of time, stash in the freezer and grab one each day. My kids have caught on to this and will grab one for themselves occasionally. They won’t make their own smoothies if they have to lug out all the individual bags of produce. Now that mom has done all the prep work it’s suddenly fair game. At least they are eating healthy and feeding themselves, right? In the future, I’d like to switch out the coffee cups for glass jars with lids to minimize waste, but since my kids are young and clumsy, paper cups do the trick.

Ready to see how easy it is to make a weeks worth of smoothies in about 10 minutes?

Line up seven freezer friendly cups.

Pull out all your favorite fruits and veggies to divide between containers. You can add nut butters or protein powders, seeds or any extras you like in your smoothie.

Just layer in each ingredient, attach the lids and put in the freezer.

When you are ready for a smoothie, remove one from the fridge and fill container with your favorite milk or water (are you a creamy smoothie drinker or a watery smoothie drinker?), dump the entire cup into the smoothie blender and give it a whirl. Then you can dump the mixture right back into the cup to take along with you. If you need something fancier to transport, I’ve attached a couple of options here in this post.

I topped each cup with a piece of waxed paper before adding the lid. This provides an extra “seal” against ice crystals and it keeps the fruit from absorbing any funky flavors from the freezer. Now I have breakfast already made for the entire week (as long as neither of my kiddos takes one for themselves).

Now you have a full week of breakfast (or snacks) for significantly less money and with less wasteful packaging to have to cart to the curb. I love a good hack that gives me more for less!

Our favorite combination so far is bananas, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, kale, spinach, pumpkin seeds and peanut butter. What do you put in your smoothie?

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Meet a Mom and Cake Designer

Stephanie Feuker is a busy mom to two very energetic little boys (ages 2 and 4) and a specialty cake (and cupcake) maker. Her designs are out of this world perfect for any occasion, a kid party, mom’s night or dessert on a Tuesday. Visit Caked with Love by Steph on Facebook to see photos of her cakes. You will be so impressed (and you may drool a little)!

Not only is Stephanie incredibly talented, but she also has a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling and previously worked in the financial services industry before creating her custom cake operations. To say she is, “just baking now” would overlook how much time she puts into creating these perfect designs for each order. Baking is what gives Stephanie joy and she loves doing it in a way that she has never love anything else before.

Meet Stephanie!

Where are you located? Latham, NY

Who are you making these incredible cakes for? Anyone in need of a special dessert for an occasion!

Describe your business mission. To meet or exceed every single cake/cupcake expectation each and every time I create something.

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? Motherhood is by far the hardest (but hands down the most wonderful) thing I’ve ever done. As a mom, I am part of a tribe now, and in that sense, I feel like there’s a “we-ness” among moms in the struggles and victories we share.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I want moms to know I am a FAR from perfect mom. I feel like on social media, we tend to share the best of ourselves. In reality, my kids get to much screen time, I yell too much and I lose my patience too often. I’m constantly riddled with mom guilt (every single day). I have a lot of anxiety with the thoughts of something bad happening to my kids. But I love my boys and I try every day to be a good mom. I feel nothing short of blessed to have them. There have been several instances during this pandemic where I have stepped back and just realized how unbelievably lucky I am. It brings tears to my eyes some days.

What makes you stand out as a mom? Honestly, I don’t feel like I stand out as a mom. I feel like every day I’m just like a bunch of other moms, doing our best and trying to get thru the day without losing our patience. I’m a mom that makes fun cakes. I guess that makes me stand out. My boys think that’s cool.

How can other moms find you? You can message me through my Facebook page

Meet a Motivated Mom and Blogger

I first met Diedre Anthony through a blogger group on Facebook. I was drawn to her kindness and her willingness to support other women. She is the blog owner and writer for Are Those Your Kids where she shares her life as mom from the perspective of a mom raising three beautiful bi-racial children. She doesn’t shy away from sharing what that looks like and feels like in this world.

Besides being a mom and blogger, Diedre is also a farm wife, school counselor and runs an essential oil business and more! She does a brilliant job at chasing her dreams alongside motherhood. Even if you are not raising bi-racial children, or come from a diverse family, Diedre’s blog is still a wonderful parenting resource. And if you follow her on Instagram you get a closer look at her farm life and family fun.

Meet Diedre!

Do you offer any other products as a blogger? Curly hair guide I have dedicated this guide to providing hair and skin care tips, tools and everything in between to parents who need assistance.

Where are you located? Statesboro, GA

Who do you write this blog for? Multiracial families

How would you describe your blog mission? I want to provide resources to the multiracial family to promote curly hair care, education, identity and diversity.

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? I love that you embrace the messy side of parenting–and keep it all the way real.

What do you want other moms to know about you? That I’m an advocate for all.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I’ve got my hand in so many things–being a farm wife, school counselor, mom of 3 littles, running an essential oil business, writer/influencer. It can be done. You can be a good mom and wife and still pursue your dreams.

Where can other moms find you? My website Are Those Your Kids and on Facebook or Instagram.

Meet a Mom and Science Lover

Margaret Liberti is mom to Keaton, a science educator and a business owner. She owns Mad Science of the Capital District and provides hands on learning for kids in her community. She has hand delivered a bagful of science experiments for my own kiddos to enjoy. I love watching their faces light up as they work with magnets or take data on a set of growing brains. I also love learning right along side them. If you are looking for a way to keep your kiddos occupied this summer, need a virtual camp or want to encourage your child’s love of science, check out the Loop Lab subscription kits, camp options or the science delivered options on her website.

As a Professor, Margaret has witnessed the disdain students in higher education have for science. They’ve been told that they’re not good at science, or they’re not smart enough, or it’s boring, and they believe it. She is on a mission to change that for kids beginning at an earlier age. Oh and she is also a 2014-15 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching. This is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an adjunct faculty member in the State University of New York system. Excelling in her field, running a business and being mom? That’s a whole lot of awesome!

Meet Margaret!

What is the name of your business? Mad Science of the Capital District

What products do you offer? STEM programming such as birthday parties, backyard camps, virtual camps, camp in a box, in person camps, special events, workshops, and after school programming.

Where are you located? I am operating in the Albany/Capital District, but Mad Science is a traveling business that owns the territories of the following counties: Columbia, Greene, Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer , Saratoga, Warren, Washington, Bennington, and can travel north and as far west as Syracuse!

What age group do you share your experiments with? Ages 3-12, anyone who loves/is interested in STEM!

Describe your business mission. As both a professor and a science education business owner, I want science to be fun and exciting. I want students to learn science without thinking, “yep. This is science. Still hate it.” Science is everywhere, and once applied in a fun manner, exciting, or related to your students, you’re going to see a change in their beliefs and attitude towards science. And igniting passion (or at least a lesser dislike) for science is my goal.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I think this goes for every mom, but my son comes first above all else. I went through a lot to have him, and although he’s what I have always wanted, I don’t let him get away with bad behavior.

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? We all have to roll with the punches, particularly in the current environment.

What do you want other moms to know about you? Being mom to Keaton and a fur-mom is my greatest accomplishment. I love science, education, students, and dogs.

Where can other moms find you? Visit my website, Facebook page or drop an email at [email protected]

Pizza Cookies, the Lazy Mom’s Best Friend

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The pizza cookie is the lazy mom’s best friend.

Maybe you are not lazy, but some days I am just too tired, and I don’t really feel like making dozens of cookies. A pizza cookie is basically one giant cookie that the kids can top with their own little hands. Less work for me and dare I say, life skills for the kids?

I made this cookie from scratch, which I really don’t advise. Unless baking is your thing. Then go for it!

Otherwise you can grab a tube of ready-made cookie dough and spread it out in a circle on a pizza pan or pizza stone. Bake according to the directions on the package (around 11-13 minutes).

Once the cookie is cool, top with fruits and berries. We used strawberry sauce as the pizza sauce and topped with banana slices, frozen blueberries, chocolate chips and a drizzle of chocolate syrup, that’s it. A super easy and quick dessert any night of the week.

The strawberry sauce:

1 cup of strawberries (frozen or fresh)

2 TBSP cane sugar

Sprinkle the sugar over the strawberries and leave in the fridge for a few hours. The sugar breaks down the berries until they are juicy. I used a potato masher to squish them into a sauce. Spoon over the cookie crust as the pizza sauce.

You can get as fancy as you want and add whatever fruits or berries your kids will eat. If your kiddo can have nuts, drizzle on some melted peanut butter. You really can not mess this up, just make it your own and enjoy!

Check out my cheater recipe for beignets or pizza rolls.

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Roxanne Ferber is a blogger mom and freelance writer. She enjoys the sweet silence of kids sleeping in and has a crippling coffee addiction. Motherhood has changed her in many ways, but remaining non-judgey and ready to support other moms are her strong suits. If you’d like to work with her, visit the work with me link in the side bar. If you want to send her happy thoughts or share your motherhood story drop a line at [email protected], or find The Whatever Mom on Facebook.

Meet a Mom and Licensed Massage Therapist

Sakinah Irizarry is a mom to two young sons (ages 10 and 12) and a licensed massage therapist. She has a lot to balance between raising two amazing kids and running a business, but that doesn’t stop her from investing time and energy in her own community. On top of her mom life, she volunteers for the PTA, raises funds for local charities, champions inclusive school activities and works hard to elevate her mission for educational equity.

Her pursuit for equality for students doesn’t stop at making sure her own sons are included, but that every student is included. Sakinah stresses the value of having students in special education classes incorporated regularly at school events. She advocates for a broader presentation of American history in school and she works to break down barriers of race, ability and gender in early education. Beginning with her own small town, she is creating a stronger foundation that encompasses equality for her children and their peers. I truly admire her strength, her courage and the energy she commits to making the changes she wants to see in this world. You know, all while working the toughest job in the world, being mom.

Meet Sakinah!

What do you do as a massage therapist? I offer massage for stress relief, pain relief and prenatal massage.

Who can benefit from massage? My niche is caring for caretakers, such as teachers, nurses and new moms, also people caring for elderly family members or special needs children at home.

What is your business mission? My mission is to hold space for those who give so much of themselves to receive and be cared for, not only as a necessary component of being a caretaker, but because they are deserving as an individual.

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? Parenting is the hardest job I ever loved, and I often have to remind myself that perfection can be the enemy of the good. I do my best to lead with my heart and allow my kids to see me strive and overcome my own challenges.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I want other moms to know that educational equity is my passion. I am striving not only for the benefit of my biracial black and latinx sons, but for the benefit of all children in our district. I am of the belief that changing our society for the better begins with how we educate our children. They deserve equitable opportunities, a curriculum that reflects a wider variety of lived experiences and an age-appropriate and accurate reckoning with history.

In addition, I am a huge Star Trek fan.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I stand out in some obvious ways (I’m over 6 feet tall), but as a mom? I’m still learning and always willing to learn.

Where can other moms find you? Stop by my website or my Facebook page to learn more about my business.

Frozen Treats for Your Furry Child {Dog Moms this is for You!}

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Summer is finally here, and it has been so hot! Of course, when it is hot outside, our minds drift right to ice cream and icy treats. Our pup always gives us the sad eyes while we enjoy our ice cream, so of course we have to spoil him too. Except dogs shouldn’t eat dairy and the puppy ice cream in the stores we purchased a few years ago was made entirely with chemicals. Not one drop of food. We really questioned what was in it when it didn’t even melt while sitting in the direct sun. Yikes!

After making some strawberry and banana ice cream cupcakes for ourselves, we set out to make some fun bite-sized frozen treats for our best friend (and sometimes the most well behaved child in my home).

My furry child knows when we are whirling up frozen bananas, he is going to get a treat too. In fact, we have a special bone shaped silicon mold just for this recipe. If you couldn’t tell, he is a bit spoiled by his #dogmom and family.

If you want to make these for your fur-baby you do not need a special mold, you can just fill a lined muffin baking tray and put in the freezer. Before you serve them, simply peel off the paper and put the cupcake into your pup’s bowl and I guarantee they will eat it up!

Here is what you need:

2-3 overripe bananas (you know the ones the rest of the family won’t touch) peeled, sliced and frozen.

1 TBSP peanut butter (make sure it is natural, made without Xylitol).

Splash of non-dairy milk.

Blender or food processor

Silicon mold, or paper lined muffin baking pan

Place the frozen bananas in the food processor and add a splash of milk to help break up the bananas. Once the bananas begin to break up (about 1-2 minutes in the processor) add in the peanut butter (or another nut butter you know your dog can have safely). The consistency should begin to look like soft serve ice cream.

Scoop the soft serve bananas into your silicon mold (we used mini dog bone shapes) or into a lined muffin tray and place in the freezer for one hour. Pop the shapes out of the mold and store in freezer safe container. Serve on a hot day or when you think your doggie could use a tasty treat.

If you want to make dairy free ice cream cupcakes for yourself, you literally make them the same way. Except maybe make the cupcake sized treats for the humans? Listen, I won’t judge you if you use the little tiny bone shapes. They are supper cute.

Our guy loves this easy ice cream recipe so much, we always make him his own batch to keep in the freezer. Just look at the excitement on his face!

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and blogger. She enjoys the finer things in life like drinking coffee in total silence and driving alone in the car listening to her own play list on full blast. You can join her private Circle of Moms Facebook group if you need mom support (but there’s a strict no selling stuff policy) or follow along on The Whatever Mom Facebook page if you need some laughs. Thanks for reading along!

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Meet a Mom and Kindness Hustler

Jessica Negron, mother of two and the owner of Three Wishes Boutique has been a friend for a few years. Not only is she a wonderful part of The Whatever Mom community and circle of moms, but she is busy living The Whatever Mom philosophy by empowering other women and staying true to herself.

Raising two amazing humans is a lot of work, but Jessica makes it look effortless along side college classes, fundraising for the St. Baldrick’s organization, fostering dogs in her home, and volunteering for every cause that speaks to her. She recently made sure our front line medical workers in the community had access to PPE and self-care kits. If there is a person or creature in need, Jessica will create a way to lend her support.

Meet Jessica!

Where does the name for your business “Three Wishes Boutique” come from? The “Three Wishes” in the business name stand for my wishes to:

1.) Be able to support my family without compromising my time with them while supporting other female made local small businesses!

2.) Be able to give back to the community & create a safe community for women through clothing & accessories!

3.) Remain successful for years to come so I can continue the first two wishes!!

Where are you located? I am located in Port Ewen, NY. I also travel with my renovated delivery truck. It has a fitting room and additional shopping displays filled with products made by other local moms.

What makes you stand out as a mom? Oh wow, well this is a tough one…. “Stand out?” I feel like I do what most moms do. Maybe juggling school and small business ownership adds a layer of chaos that I struggle to manage well, but I still try my best to give my kids my best. I think that’s what we all do though. I love being involved in community causes and signing up to chair mega fundraisers and coach sports teams despite the chaos it can bring to my schedule. I know it is a struggle to find parent volunteers that have the time to commit to causes. (Which is another reason my small business has been an AMAZING blessing to me, it offers me the flexibility to be in all the places!)

What do you want other moms to know about you? I am a hot mess, just like (and probably more than) you! The connections I’ve made through my business have created the most amazing and LOVING network of women who have helped me through hard times, and helped me help THEM and find the community where the need is! It is THAT, that fills my cup every day and keeps my purpose alive! I love that I have the support of my community rallied behind me in everything I do! And I love sending that support anywhere it is needed as well!

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? My business works to create a safe space for women to NOT feel judged, to help learn to love their bodies and where they are on their journey in life. Letting go of the “perfection” and being kind to yourself is what I try to demonstrate through sharing my vulnerabilities with the community of women I’ve created in my group.

Where can other moms find you? Please join me at Lularoe Jess Negron _Three Wishes Boutique

Dairy Free Ice Cream Cupcakes

Picking your own berries and fruit is a great way to get kids outside and enjoying nature. Strawberries, cherries, blueberries and raspberries are all in season right now. And we are here for it!

This week we picked 4 gallons of strawberries and 8 lbs. of sweet cherries. We definitely could have picked more, but the storm clouds were moving in fast. We climbed into the car to go home just as the first raindrop fell. Perfect timing! My kids love cherry picking the most because they can climb the trees to reach the top branches. Thankfully, cherry trees are’t terribly high. Tomorrow we plan to pick blueberries and I can only imagine how many we will come home with.

After we picked all of our strawberries, I washed them and divided into freezer bags and tossed in the freezer. This assures me they will be usable later. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve let the berries sit for too long and wasted them, literally spoiling the fruits of my labor.

We have our standard uses for Strawberries. I toss them into our smoothies, pancakes and baked goods. And every year I make fresh strawberry ice cream. I make it right in my food processor and it is ridiculously easy.

I also make frozen banana ice cream pretty regularly. So, when I eyeballed those sad little bananas on my counter just turning brown, I had an idea. Why not make banana strawberry ice cream cupcakes? I’ll throw a little peanut butter into the banana ice cream for protein and it will practically be a health food! ~ genius

Here is the recipe I whipped up for my family to enjoy. It is dairy, gluten, soy, dye free and there is no added sugar. We did add a layer of graham cracker crumbs between the ice cream layers, but that is optional. Next time I am going to make the strawberry ice cream with coconut milk to see how that changes the texture. This makes six cupcakes, however, there will be about a pint of additional strawberry ice cream you can tuck away for yourself for later. You’re welcome!

I hope you make these and enjoy! Do you get out to pick your own berries? What do you make with all of those sweet berries?

Roxanne Ferber is a blogger mom and freelance writer. She enjoys the sweet silence of kids sleeping in and has a crippling coffee addiction. Motherhood has changed her in many ways, but remaining non-judgey and ready to support other moms are her strong suits. If you’d like to work with her, visit the work with me link in the side bar. If you want to send her happy thoughts or share your motherhood story drop a line at [email protected], or find The Whatever Mom on Facebook.

Eco-Friendly Play Kits from Love Play Create

Summer time is here and I am stocking up on all the play kits and science experiments I can to keep my kids busy. My kids are almost ten, but they still enjoy creating with playdough and using their very active imaginations. Since we are an eco-friendly family, we are always looking for healthy options for playing and living.

I purchased two awesome play kits from Love Play Create because everything is made with love and attention to detail. My kids fell in love with the bumble bee and the dragon themes. Take a look at what’s inside!

How cute are these bees? The play dough is made from all natural ingredients and stored inside glass mason jars which keeps the playdough fluffy for longer. All the play things my kids use to build their imaginary meadow, or bee hive are made from paper, wood or glass.

The shipping materials are all paper based and can be put in the recycling or compost bin, which we love! For preschool aged players this would pair perfectly with a story about bumble bees in the garden or how bees pollinate our food supply. Planting flowers after playing with bees helps little ones connect the busy work of bees! (Always supervise little ones while playing with small parts).

The dragon theme box is an equal favorite and truly indulges a creative imagination. The toad stools are hand painted wine corks and the adorable dragon cookie cutter is reusable. Don’t you think this set calls out for an after play time tea party with dragon shaped cookies to decorate? This is such a fun box!

Here’s what my kids say:

What is your favorite part? The playdough is fluffier than store bought.

What do you think of the accessories? These things are fun to use to design the picture I have in my mind.

What do you think of the materials? I love that it’s safe for us and healthier for the earth!

Which theme do you like better? I love them both, I just can’t decide!

There you have it, we are in love with these adorable play boxes! Now you can get yours for 10% off THROUGH SEPTEMBER 1ST 2020!! That’s the entire summer! Check out all the awesome themes available to keep your kids busy at the Love Play Create Etsy store, and use code WHATEVERMOM.

What is your kiddos favorite way to create?

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Summer Hydration Tips for Kids

Do you have a kid that just will not drink water, no matter how much you remind them? I have two kiddos that I have to constantly remind to drink water on the daily. It is frustrating. I barely remember to drink my own ounces and somehow I have to remember to get them to drink enough too?

Water is essential for so many things, but most importantly, it is essential for our mood and energy levels. So, if you want the kids to have enough energy to log off of their video games without an attitude make sure they are properly hydrated. OK the attitude part is not a guarantee, but at least they should have enough energy to log off the screens for a little bit.

Thankfully, water isn’t the only way to hydrate. If you have a kid that is not a water drinker, there are still plenty of ways for your kids to get their ounces each day, including water dense fruits and veggies and icy cold treats.

Go nuts – coconuts! Coconut water is a fantastic way to hydrate and replenish electrolytes without artificial dyes or added sugar. You can purchase coconut water in a variety of flavors, or as a powder to mix into your bottled water.

Just add ice – puree your favorite berries, or fruits and pour into ice cube trays to freeze. Then just add to a glass and add water. It will keep things cold while slowly adding flavor to your water.

Skip the mix – fresh squeezed lemonade is a tasty way to get those ounces with the added benefit of vitamin c. As my kids say, homemade lemonade is easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Harness the power of the sun – Sun tea requires very little effort and brews while you are playing in the yard. Add 2-3 caffeine free herbal tea bags to a gallon pitcher of water and place it in the sun. Pour over ice to cool down while you rehydrate.

Go Natural – fill up a gallon pitcher of water and add slices of your child’s favorite fruit, or frozen berries. It will add flavor and antioxidants to your next drink.

Solid advice – freeze herbal teas or fruit infused coconut water in popsicle molds. Your kids will be more than happy to eat an icy treat on a hot day. Or offer your kids fresh fruits and veggies with high water content like apples, oranges, watermelon, blueberries and raspberries. Snacking on fresh foods through the day goes a lot further for hydration than eating salty processed snacks. Plus there will be more salty snacks left over for you to enjoy once those little cherubs go to sleep. 🙂

Water can taste bland and seem like a chore for kids to finish. But if you keep a few of the flavorful options listed above, on hand, they may be more willing to sip through out the day.

How do you make sure you and your kiddos get enough hydrating ounces each day?

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Meet a Mom and Owner of Three Sisters Herbals, LLC

Meet Kimberlee Tompkins, owner of Three Sisters Herbals, LLC. Kim creates hand made herbal skin care, aromatheraputic essential oil products, lip balms and more. My family began using these products nearly ten years ago when a friend introduced me to using Wicked Salve for my daughter’s diaper rash. Then we tried the Bug Away spray while my kids were toddlers. These products work so well for us, we keep them in supply all year long.

Kimberlee is mom to three biological children and two bonus children, a business owner, gardener, nature lover, wife and business owner. She has an eye on sustainability and it is reflected in her packaging and business practices. She even offers a recycling program for empty containers her customers use (including brands not her own). Kim is generous with her community and even during this pandemic she made sure the front line workers were taken care of with essential product care packages to keep them healthy and cared for. She is as nurturing to the world around her as she is her own family.

Meet Kimberlee!

What is your business? Three Sisters Herbals, Inc.

Who does your business serve? Mom, usually between 35-45 years old, who have an interest in non toxic living and the environment.

What is your business mission? To help families reduce the amount of chemicals in their homes by providing them with all natural and organic products, that have multiple uses and are budget friendly. To provide opportunities for our customers to give back to the community we live in by offering donations to local charities.

What local charities do you support? We routinely raise product donations for Sparrows Nest clients, Hope on a Mission, Dutchess Outreach and now essential workers in the Hudson Valley.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I think this is a really hard question. Becoming a parent has been a journey of self discovery. As I saw undesirable qualities in my kids, I had to face up to the fact some were from me. I began to really dig deep to be the best person I could be, so my kids would be better. It has catapulted an epic life changing spiritual journey. I let my kids see me, all flawed and weird and stressed and laughing and human (hopefully not at the same time!), and I think it makes them better people, to realize we are all just humans.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I am an introvert who would rather talk to her pets or her houseplants over most people 🙂 I struggle with social anxiety and various health issues, which makes working from home so valuable to me, it affords me the time to rest if I need. My husband and my kids are the most important thing to me. I love to hug people (which is in direct conflict with being an introvert, but I’m also a Scorpio, so don’t try to figure me out). And lastly, just to keep it real, I sleep with multiple stuffed animals every single night.

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? How Roxanne keeps a judgement free zone. We are all moms, we all have struggles and good/bad days. The more we can support and lift each other up, the better the world will be.

Where are you located and how can other moms find you? I am located in Hyde Park with products available in local retail locations which are listed on my website. For great updates about products everyone can follow along on Facebook, Instagram and my Momsteading blog.

Family Pizza Night Recipe

My family has had a long-standing tradition of making our own pizza every Friday night. It began while my kids were toddlers using their little chubby hands to sprinkle the cheese topping and smuggle extra pepperoni to their mouth while I wasn’t looking. Cooking together is one of the first educational activities we enjoyed together as a family.

I confess there have been several pizza nights we skipped the DIY process and just ordered out, because it was easier. Since we have been home and easing up on take out during this pandemic, we have found new tasty and fun ways to enjoy our family DIY pizza night. This is the next big hit at my house – pizza rolls. These are ridiculously easy to make at any age and it is a huge time savor since it uses store bought ingredients.

You will need:

Any store bought, pre-made canned biscuit dough.

Pepperoni slices

Shredded mozzarella

Grated Parmesan cheese

2 TBSP melted butter

Dried parsley (optional)

Tomato sauce

Begin by rolling out the individual biscuit slices until flat and three times larger than original size.

Next, sprinkle on a little shredded mozzarella and top with 2-3 pepperoni slices.

Now you can fold the ends of the biscuit dough toward the center and close it up. It looks like a cute little bun! Place the roll seam side down on a baking sheet (I love using my baking stone).

Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with grated parmesan and dried parsley.

Bake according to the directions on the side of the package (about 12-14 minutes depending on your oven).

You can serve with your favorite tomato sauce for dipping or serve plain for the picky eater refusing anything tomatoey this week. You can bump up the veggie count by adding puree veggies to the dipping sauce. You can bump up the vitamin and fiber content by sprinkling some nutritional yeast over the shredded cheese or swap out the melted butter for olive oil. You use whatever ingredients works for your family and just enjoy the silliness and conversation while building these delightful little pizza bundles!

Got a good family pizza night recipe? Feel free to email me at [email protected]

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

Meet a Mom and Energetic Entrepreneur

If you haven’t met Jenny Yeung, you haven’t met her creative vibe and non- stop energy. I’ve watched her (through social media updates) build and create two Asian/Mexican fusion restaurants and two satellite Bunsen Tea Lab locations for her amazing bubble tea and bites. I may also eat my fair share of shrimp pad Thai on a regular basis.

Jenny owns and manages two brands and several restaurant locations while she works hard raising two young children. Her food creations and flavor combinations are unique and just plain yummy. I seriously asked if her secret to this kind of energy comes from drinking bubble tea, because I’ll have what she’s having!

Meet Jenny!

What is your business? Crazy Bowls, a Asian/Mexican fusion restaurant with two locations, Kingston and New Paltz, NY.

Who is your ideal customer? Anyone who appreciates good food!

How would you describe your business mission: Serving the community quality food fast and at an affordable price. A better alternative than fast food chains.

How do you relate most to the Whatever Mom Philosophy: Wine before coffee. Coffee before the face of my kids.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I think all moms are strong and unique in their own way.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I built a restaurant from scratch during my pregnancies and then grew those businesses while dealing with two little demons at day and angels at night.

Where can moms find out more about your business? Feel free to drool along with Crazy Bowls food updates on Facebook and IG.

Summer Grilling Made Easy with Foil Packets

Perfectly delicious when topped with grated parmesan cheese.

I really rely on our grill to get me through the diner time rush during the summer. Everything seems to cook easier, quicker and cleaner on my grill. Plus, the heat stays outside and not inside where I have the air conditioner running.

A friend of mine introduced me to foil packets years ago and it is one of those things I question why I never thought of it before. Super easy clean up! You can wrap almost anything in foil and cook it on the grill and get amazing fast food!

My picky eaters are currently into asparagus and tomatoes, so I made both!

Seasoned asparagus topped with heirloom cherry tomatoes.

Start by pulling enough foil to be wrap around the food you will place inside.

Drizzle oil directly onto the foil, layer on the veggies, drizzle on more oil and sprinkle with seasonings. We like to add salt, pepper and garlic powder. Once the veggies are grilled we shake on some parm cheese. Nice and simple.

To wrap, bring the short edges together (folding the long rectangle into itself) and roll them downward in one direction. Next, fold the sides or roll them up to create enough of a seal to keep the oil and steam from escaping.

Secure the edges of your foil packet to avoid dripping.

Put the packets over a medium flame for about 10-12 minutes, flipping half way. You’re done! Super easy side dish with very little clean up!

How do you like to grill your veggies? Got a recipe you’d like to submit? Please email it to me at [email protected]

Meet a Mom and Creator of Bespoke Commodities

Meet Kristen Haefner!

Kristen is the owner and creator of Bespoke Commodities. What started out as having fun making cute bows for her daughter to wear, has blossomed into a full on creative business that includes hosting craft parties, boxed gift sets and subscription boxes. Kristen built her dream business from the ground up while raising her little girl.

When Kristen isn’t working hard as a mom and creative genius, you might find her relaxing at the spa to escape the constant demands of parenting, raising awareness for the Bully Proof Project and playing gift fairy behind the scenes at Bespoke. She is known for randomly surprising a shopper or two with an entirely free order, just because.

What kind of products can moms expect from Bespoke Commodities? Personalized Gifts ranging from t-shirts and wine tumblers to gift boxes of all sorts, craft kits for kids and subscription boxes.

Describe your business mission: At Bespoke Commodities, we promise to help you celebrate life’s special occasions (or every day!) with personalized products. We provide superior value in terms of product quality, price and satisfaction and we offer a fun and ever-changing product line.

Do you make things just for moms? We make great gifts and personalized items for everyone!

What makes you stand out as a mom? I drop everything I’m doing when it comes to my daughter – whether she’s with me or at her fathers. She reaches out to me at midnight from the other house and I am there for her.

How do you relate to The Whatever Mom philosophy? That parenting isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.

What do you want other moms to know about you? That it is absolutely worth it to follow your dreams – I took the jump from working for someone else to working for myself and I won’t look back!

Where can other moms find you? My website and Facebook

Arnold Palmers by the Gallon

This week’s recipe was submitted by reader Sandra McKeever. Here’s how she makes a refreshing gallon of Arnold Palmer Iced Tea.

Enjoy!

You will need:
A gallon sized pitcher

Ice

6 Tea bags

2 scoops of powdered lemonade

Begin by filling the pitcher to the top with ice and adding all 6 tea bags. Next, top with the two scoops of lemonade powder.

Boil 1.7 liters of water and pour over the ice/teabag/lemonade poweder.

Add as much cool water as needed to fill the pitcher.

Stir and let it blend together in the fridge for about an hour. Remove the tea bags and enjoy!

How great is this to enjoy through the week or to put out at barbeques? Super simple and doesn’t require a lot of time in the kitchen.

Thank you Sandra!!

If you’d like to submit a favorite recipe to be featured on The Whatever Mom blog, email your original recipe along with photos to [email protected] Make the title: What’chya eatin’?

Meet a Mom and Certified Stress Management Coach

Meet my friend Lisa Zawrotny!

Lisa is an amazing conversationalist, stress management coach, decluttering expert and mother of two. She loves coffee, making music and spending time with her family. After living through the overwhelming experience of juggling her combined roles as a wife, mother, care taker (for her mother) and business owner, she founded Positively Productive Systems LLC. Lisa is now a Certified Stress Management Coach specializing in Productivity & Organizing and the host of the Positively Living Podcast. She shares the powerful healing of simplifying, self-care, and structure through speaking engagements, and offers coaching to overwhelmed moms and women everywhere.

Lisa Zawrotny is the owner and founder of Positively Productive Systems, LLC.

How do you help overwhelmed mamas make positive change? I offer personalized coaching and content relating to stress management, time management, decluttering/organizing, gratitude, and more!

Where are you located? I just moved from the Hudson Valley region to Finger Lakes area of New York.

Who are you looking to help? Caregivers, nurturers, the overextended, the overwhelmed, the ones who give until they hurt, the mamas, the multitaskers, those with chronic conditions, those who feel like there has got to be a better way, those who believe in simplifying and not sweating the small stuff, the ones who are daring to dream again and define who they are, the empaths who feel the weight of the world and still show up.

How do you serve others through your business mission? It is my mission to be the antidote to stress, not simply another task on a todo list, to encourage action in a way that is livable, and a guide to true and lasting change that fits each person’s life.

How do you most relate to The Whatever Mom philosophy? I adore the non judgmental “we’re all just trying to make it through here” philosophy. Why does it matter *how* we do what we do? Unity is key.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I get it. I’ve been there. And even when my positivity is flying high, my heart still feels your weariness and pain. I’m here to help and encourage…to highlight Hope in your life. 💗

What makes you stand out as a mom? I respect my kiddos and laugh a LOT with them. I am real with them. I show them I am human and I think they respect me all the more for it.

Where can other moms find you? My website: Positively Productive Systems, My Podcast, Facebook and Instagram.

What’chya Eatin’ Wednesday

One of the things my readers respond to most are my posts about food! Every Wednesday I ask my friends, what’chya eatin? The results do not disappoint.

One of my easy favorite go to recipes in the summer is corn on the cob. We especially love it on the grill. Grilled street corn is a favorite for my husband and me. I bring it out all summer long as an easy week night side dish. I know everyone hates having to scroll through a long story about a recipe before getting to the actual recipe, so I won’t keep you! Just comment below if you give this recipe a try!

MEXICAN STREET CORN

Ingredients:

4 ears of corn

1/2 cup of mayonnaise

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp chipotle powder

Shaker parmesan cheese

1 lime (for zest and cut into wedges)

*optional* Cilantro

Begin by grilling your corn on the grill. We clean the husk and the silk form the corn and place it directly on the grill. Turn it to a new side every few minutes for a total of about 15 minutes.

While the corn is grilling, it’s time to mix the creamy topping. Zest the lime into a bowl, add in mayo, chipotle, garlic and paprika. Set aside.

Once your corn is finished on the grill, let it sit until cool enough to touch. You can also use cob holders in the end of the corn to make it easier to hold and turn while topping. Slice the lime into wedges and rub one lime wedge on each ear of corn. Then brush the corn with the seasoned mixture of mayo and top with grated cheese. That’s it!

This makes an easy side dish for adults and kids to enjoy. But if you have a picky eater kid (like mine) skip the mayo and slather the corn in butter, top with salt and parm cheese and it’s good to go.

Have you ever had corn this delicious?

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

Meet a Mom and the Owner of Olive & Elm Crafts

Meet my friend Kelly Fears! Not only is she a mother and business owner, but she also donates her time to supporting other moms. She runs a support group for moms surviving infant loss and a group dedicated to helping other moms run a businesses.

Kelly started her own business making customizable gifts, shirts, tumblers, totes and more, as a way to express her creativity while staying home with her two adorable children. She built her business from scratch and is dedicated to helping other small mom run businesses succeed.

How did you come up with the name for your business? Olive & Elm is a mash up of all my children’s’ names. My twin daughters Ellie & Emma past away on their due date, and I really wanted to make sure all my children were included in the name.

What types of products do you offer through Olive & Elm? Signs, Gifts, Décor, Shirts, Tumblers & more. I also co-admin a local, small business mamas group on Facebook. I put several hours in each week curating content to help small business mamas navigate being a mom & running a small businesses.

Where are you located? I have two locations, one in Dutchess County NY an one in Saratoga County, NY.

Describe your business mission: I create customized items people need with a personalized touch, and offer them the experience to talk to the creator of their products.

How do you relate to The Whatever Mom Philosophy? Honestly, since reading your blog it has helped me to let go of the imperfections that I felt were a character flaw and my failures as a mom/wife etc. So, Identify with your struggles and the reminders to sometimes just say “Whatever” and embrace the messiness.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I also run a support group for moms who have lost mono/mono twins. I started the group in early 2014 after my mono/mono twin loss. It is an extremely rare and extremely high risk pregnancy survival rate, at best it’s about 50%. It was hard to find groups that understood the rare nature, the high risk and then the loss. I created the group in hopes of connecting families who have walked the same path as we did for support and understanding.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I think I’m fairly funny and easy going despite having gone through some of the darkest pain most parents could ever imagine. And, I love owning my small business. I try to help other moms find the in’s and outs of owning a small business as well.

Where can moms find you? Olive & Elm Crafts Facebook Instagram and TikTok.

What is Going Right During this Pandemic?

Several weeks ago, I asked the moms in my Whatever Mom Circle private group what is working for them during quarantine. What is something positive they are gaining from this time at home? Almost everyone said, slowing down has made a big difference in how they feel.

Normally, as moms, we are rushing from one drop off to another, running errands and racing through our day in a blur. Now that we are home more, that hectic pace has shifted. Yes, we are now handling more educational tasks than before, but there is less pressure to get everyone out of the door by a certain time. Most of us are letting the kids sleep in a little longer. It is sad our favorite activities are on hold, but it’s also nice to not have to crack the whip to get through dinner on time for soccer practice.

What else is going right?

Well, I for one feel less anxious about sending my kids off each day into the unknown. Will they be bullied today? Will they be afraid during a lockdown drill and I won’t be there to comfort them? Will they eat their full lunch today? Will they feel ill and sit in the nurses office? Now that we are home together all day, I don’t have to worry so much.

Then there is not having to pack lunches! Shout out to the gods above because I HATE packing two lunches every night. Lunch planning is the bane of my school year! I count down to every Friday because the cafeteria serves pizza. The one school food my kids willingly eat. God bless the lunch ladies! I haven’t met them, but I hold each of them in my heart.

My kids are connecting more with each other. The hectic pace of the school day, shuffling from one classroom to the next and using manners seems to wear them out entirely. This leaves very little patience for one another. As soon as they return home it is non-stop bickering and arguing. They still argue in quarantine, but they are a bit more patient and more accepting of each other in their respective spaces.

Overall, this pandemic at home thing is not ideal. It’s not my favorite experience. But, I am grateful my kids are home with me where I know they are safe. I like that we can slow down and we have less obligations on the calendar. I like that we are eating better. I like that we are using our local farms more, have more time to grow things and my kids are learning life skills.

Plus, there is a lot more wine in the house lately. Perhaps one silver lining to this pandemic.

What is working for you during this pandemic?

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

Meet a Mom Monday

This post kicks off my new weekly series, Meet a Mom Monday! I thought it might be a fun way to introduce some moms already in The Whatever Mom community. I put out a call to moms already following along to introduce themselves and tell us more about how they are making a difference within their communities alongside being a mom. It’s easy to lose ourselves in motherhood, especially in those really early years. It’s hard to remember that life will get a little easier and there will be more time for ourselves. I hope the amazing women you are about to meet will inspire you to keep your own dreams alive! I know they inspire me. So, without further ado, meet Nakeyia!

Nakeyia Jones is an author and owner of Uniquely Purposed, LLC a publishing company focusing on children’s books and novels. She has authored children’s books, family devotionals and a recent novella of her own. Her first book, Super Spots shares the story of a young girl living with a skin condition known as Vitiligo, a condition Nakeyia herself lives with. Her hope is to inspire others living with this condition and to raise awareness and acceptance.

Describe your mission: To inspire children to embrace their differences and those of others. I want to reach moms of twins, children with special needs and rare diseases and adults that want a little suspense out of a book.

How many children do you have? Two children and one grandchild.

How do you relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? We are not given a handbook on how to raise our children. The Whatever Mom helps us all to know we are human, will make mistakes and we are not alone on the parenting journey.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I am passionate about the future of young people and it’s my calling in life to help them find purpose and keep them motivated.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I raised a hyper-active child successfully, that is my super power!

Where can other moms find you? I am on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Virtual Activities to Keep Your Kids Feeling Social

I know moms miss having the kids in school right now, for obvious reasons. There’s no time to work and teach and there is no time to work and teach and cook a million times a day.

Not being in school is incredibly hard on the kids too. Especially the kids who really love going to school each day to see their friends. My kids are social creatures and look forward to conversations with their bus drivers, their teachers, school staff and friends every day in school. There just aren’t as many people to talk to at home. So, we have to get a little creative with how we participate in our friendships from home.

Thank goodness for technology! We use Zoom and Google Meets to keep in touch with teachers and classmates and to have individual virtual play dates. My kids are young so they still like to play on play dates. Here is what they’ve loved so far:

Bake Some Treats – pick a recipe you both have ingredients for (we chose chocolate chip cookies). Follow the steps together and show off your progress. Kids can keep the conversation going while they are waiting for the cookies to finish baking. Once the cookies are cool enough to eat, it’s time for both friends on either side of the screen to grab some milk and get to dunking. There is something so comforting in sharing fresh warm cookies and chatting with a friend.

Play games – There is a whiteboard feature on the Zoom screen. Kids can use this to play tic tac toe, hangman, Pictionary or share the screen to take turns completing a drawing project. This one is so much fun because both kids can participate and no one needs to rummage for the same game pieces.

Watch funny videos together – Zoom and Google Meets allows you to share the screen so you can load up some funny pet videos from the Internet, or share a movie experience together. Everyone can grab their own snacks before they sign on and pick a video or movie to watch together.

Build things – If your kid loves to build with Legos, Blocks or magnetic tiles, or scraps of recycled materials, they will love building something along side a buddy to show off when complete. Kids absolutely love show and tell and sharing their creations.

Get artsy – my kids love to paint or draw or make their own books. Grab all the supplies you need, log on and let the kids brainstorm their own themes and get to work. This is a great way for kids to share in the creative process together while socializing.

Read together – it can be hard to encourage kids to read outside of classwork and school time. But if they have a reading buddy it makes it more fun and feels less like work. Have your child grab a favorite book to read to their friend (and their friend’s pet if they have one). They can chat together in the end about the books, or just about life and connect.

Host a virtual sleep over – we haven’t tried this one yet, but it is on our list! No need to leave your kid logged in all night (mine would never go to bed!). Just hop into some comfy pajamas and get ready to eat some snacks and play some games! You can throw in homemade facials, or chit chat while painting nails. Maybe watch some videos together or make your own silly videos to capture the memory of this really unique slumber party.

Even with the use of technology, it can be hard not seeing people up close and personal. So, we’ve had a few creative socially distant get togethers too. One morning we called our friends and told them meet us outside. We drove to our their houses with music blasting and had a dance party in our car while they were in their yard. We’ve dropped off surprise gifts and we’ve had friends do walk-bys and stand at the end of driveway to offer hellos and air hugs. Just parking 6 feet apart with our cars side by side so the kids can talk across the divide does wonders for their social emotional health.

Now that spring is here and we can be outside, it doesn’t mean we are ready to rush getting together. We still need to keep our socially safe distance apart to keep everyone healthy. We can’t participate in our friendships and socialize the same way as before, but with a little bit of creativity, we can find some new ways to stay together even while we are apart.

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

Spring Cleaning During a Pandemic? Leave it to the Professionals!

This post contains sponsored content.

Anyone else feeling overwhelmed by the thought of yard work and exterior home clean up? Between crisis schooling the kids, cooking every meal, sanitizing protocols and working from home I am so exhausted. I am ready for a nap by 2:30 p.m. every day! By Saturday, the last thing I want to do is spend hours on yard clean up and power washing the deck. I feel like as a family we work hard during the week on school assignments, cleaning and chores that I feel guilty doing more work on the weekends.   

As my husband and I made our list of springtime chores, we realize at our current pace and weather patterns, we are so behind. Even when we include our kids in the work, it takes us triple the time to get it done. So, now we are working through the week and on the weekends checking off our springtime cleaning tasks. I am a firm believer that professional help is worth every penny especially when it saves my sanity! So, I want to share with you a family run business out of Clifton Park, NY that I recently discovered, E&J Cleaning and Floors.

Call / Text For Your Free Estimate Today 518-419-4683

Hiring professionals during this COVID crisis can feel uneasy. We want to make sure they are following safety protocols and social distancing practices. Thankfully, E&J Cleaning and Floors has adapted to create a no contact service call to help knock those big cleaning tasks off your list and free up your time. They offer power washing for your siding, deck, fences, driveways, patios, etc., and window washing. All these services can take place at a distance on the exterior of your home, and can be arranged via email, phone or text. Estimates are free and payment handled over the phone before work is completed. That means no face to face, no hand shaking and no pen sharing. This is perfect for families overwhelmed by working, educating and isolating at home, or older homeowners who need the extra help. And, getting these chores taken care of safely will be a huge relief.

Photo credit: E&J Cleaning and Floors

You can visit their website for details and to see before and after photos of all their individual cleaning projects on their Facebook and Instagram pages. Speaking of the details, I notice they also clean home interiors and are providing a unique sanitizing system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help businesses and homes safeguard against the COVID-19 virus, they are using a special Electrostatic Disinfection technique. The technique includes using a designated applicator that administers a negative charge to the EPA approved cleaning solution as it applies an even coating of the solution onto surfaces and into hard to reach places. The E&J Cleaning crew is already using the system inside campers and offices and adapting for residential use. Staff will arrive wearing masks and gloves and keeping a distance from anyone in the house. This service sounds ideal for homes of essential workers who may be worried about exposing their families to the COVID-19 virus, doctors’ offices, families who may be more vulnerable to contracting the virus, etc. I did some quick research and find that it is most effective after a deep clean of your home. E&J Cleaning and Floors also offers in-home deep cleaning and sanitizing those high-touch surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs and handrails.

As a local, small business E&J Cleaning and Floors is ready to serve the greater Capital District area of NY with dedicated and individualized service that includes keeping your health and safety in mind. You can also grab a gift certificate for a cleaning to use when this stay at home life is over. If your house is anything like mine, after four humans living here 24/7 for two months it is probably screaming DEEP CLEAN right about now. (Ahem, Mother’s Day is in 11 days! And nothing says thank you like giving mom the day off from any chore!).

Earth Day Coloring Contest!

Happy 50th Earth Day!

Today is the 50th celebration of Earth Day and on a personal note, it is my 30th celebration. I began celebrating as a high school student when I joined the Student Environmental Action Committee (SEAC). Every Earth Day we hosted a campus wide cleanup of the school grounds and planted trees. During the year we wrote letters to our state representatives asking them to consider funding recycling programs, and we wrote letters to large corporations asking them to stop testing on animals. And right in our own school we worked with our administrators to amplify our recycling efforts and limit the amount of waste we generated as a school community. It was my first lesson in creating change right in my community. I can’t remember if any of our larger efforts outside of our school made direct changes, but I do believe that all of our collective efforts helped power the eco-friendly movement. Thirty years later, I am so excited to share with my own family how to reduce, reuse and recycle what we have. We do our best each day to keep our planet and living creatures healthy, from recycling to pitching single use plastics from our home, we make sure to put thought into our impact on the environment.

This week, my daughter designed an Earth Day poster to share with her class. I shared her design with my friend Kelly at Olive & Elm Crafts who generously jumped on board with an Earth Day coloring contest! Use THIS LINK to find the FREE Earth Day Turtle coloring page. Let your kiddo color it and snap a pic to share on Olive & Elm’s Facebook post announcing the contest. We will pick a winner next week to receive a FREE reusable tote bag with their artwork on it! This is our fun way of celebrating the day with all of you!

* * * Now for the awareness part! * * *

Read on to learn more about small changes your family can make at home for a big impact!

Making eco-friendly changes can feel overwhelming when you aren’t sure where to start. The key is to make changes that your family is most likely to stick to and not give up on. We are so reliant on convenience, but there are plenty of swap outs you can make that are still convenient (and affordable) for a busy family. I always tell families to start with just one simple change and once you have that down pat, look for another. Every bit helps and the more families making small changes, the bigger the long-term effect!

Here are some simple changes families can make to help keep the planet healthy!

  1. Swap out your paper napkins for cloth. This might sound like more laundry, but it really isn’t. I toss our cloth napkins right in with the weekly load of kitchen towels. I am just pitching them into laundry I am already doing, so no extra step. I found our cloth napkins at thrift stores for near pennies!
  2. Recycle properly. I have learned over the years that not all plastics are created equal and many of us just toss all our plastic items into the bin assuming it will be recycled. The term for that is, “wish cycling.” The truth is, not all plastics are accepted in every town. Go to your town’s website and search for a listing of acceptable items. Hang the list on your fridge so everyone in your family can refer to it. Try to avoid buying plastics or other materials that are not recycled in your area.
  3. Pitch the plastic water bottles and sippy cups. Switching to stainless steal is a much healthier alternative. Not only are plastic bottles plaguing our waterways, but we can ingest microplastics and plasticizers (chemicals in plastics). We fill up our stainless bottles and leave in the fridge for a grab and go cold drink during the day and I send them along in the school lunches.
  4. Switch to bamboo toothbrushes instead of using plastic. Did you know every single toothbrush ever manufactured is still living in a landfill or floating in our oceans? It takes hundreds of years for the plastic to bio-degrade. Bamboo is compostable and biodegradable. Plus, it is antimicrobial which stays cleaner than plastic. These brushes are quickly becoming more affordable and only need to be replaced every 6 months.
  5. Reduce convenience packaging. Everything about modern parenting is created with convenience in mind from travel pouches and storage bags to plastic to-go cups that transport easily in the car. We will buy bulk sized snacks (or make our own) and store in reusable containers like mason jars or a soup Thermos for every day snack options and leave the convenience packages for long trips.

I could keep the list going. Every year my family and I take on one new eco-friendly habit to change. The ones listed above are the easiest and most affordable changes for families to make.

What is one change your family is planning to make in honor of Earth Day?

Picky Eater Solutions: How to Minimize the Fight

Many of you know by now, I have two very picky eaters. There was a day I could feed them anything without a problem. Suddenly, they decided food wasn’t exciting anymore. They began limiting themselves to the familiar favorites of macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets.

Before kids, I was not a meal planner nor spent hours prepping ahead. I love the joy of cooking and spontaneously creating a meal from ingredients I’ve tossed together. I love sampling the food combos I’ve dreamed up. Unless it is made entirely of cheese, my kids could care less about my craftiness in the kitchen. So, over the years I’ve learned to push passed my frustration with their picky habits. I’ve realized the main focus is getting food into the belly. Not just any food, but nutritious food. So, how do I get nutritious food into such picky eaters? Here are some lessons I’ve learned over the years.

1. PICK YOUR BATTLES: If you are tired of missing out on meals because your entire time is spent fighting a kid to eat, let it go. If that means prepping a smaller side dish that your kid will eat, then do it if it works for you. To me that is easier than missing my own meal to focus on a battle I am not going to win. I let my kids eat boxed mac and cheese and stir in a couple spoonful’s of squash or cauliflower puree. It makes them happy to eat what they love and it makes me happy they are getting extra nutrition.

I like this hidden veggie mac and cheese recipe from My Fussy Eater.

2. FOCUS ON NUTRITION: Often as parents we get caught up in subscribing to the clean plate club. But this doesn’t help kids understand their hunger cues. Portion sizes vary widely for kids, some enjoy larger portions than others. I try to make sure what I am serving is so packed with nutrition that even if they take two bites, it counts for something. I have become the queen of concealing veggies in my kids’ favorite foods.

My picky eaters don’t even notice the spinach in these Secret Ingredient Pistachio Muffins from Making Thyme for Health.

3. GET THEM INVOVLED WITH FOOD: My kids may turn their noses up to sitting at a table with a full meal before them, but they will nibble all day long on familiar favorites. I encourage them to make their own foods by putting out a sandwich bar or a “picky” tray filled with proteins and nourishment like cold cuts, devilled eggs, hummus and veggies, fruit and dip, etc. It makes things easier for me and we all win when our bellies are full.

Related post: Moms to Kids Everywhere, Make Your Own Damned Sandwiches

4. CHANGE THE WAY YOU CELEBRATE WITH FOOD: Before kids, the only meal planning I did was around the holidays. I created a menu combining my and my husbands favorites from childhood. All I had to do was pull out the recipes and go shopping. But my kids really aren’t into stuffing and Ambrosia Salad. If your kid isn’t into your favorite holiday meals, move your celebration to the meal they love the most. Make a special breakfast, or lunch and enjoy a less stressful experience. You can still enjoy the traditional foods you love at dinner and let them eat smaller portions or something they will stay at the table for. Memories of being at the table together without a war will mean more to them in the future than whether or not they finished the dreaded peas.

We make this Dublin Coddle for St. Patrick’s Day from Fit Slow Cooker Queen. My kids just pick out the parts they will eat.

5. USE COMPASSION: Some kids have anxiety around food, or sensory disorders, they will stick to the foods they know are familiar. Ultimately, it was this discovery in my own kids that made it easier to accept there are times I need to make two different dinners. The old school technique of forcing kids to eat, DOES NOT work for kids with anxiety, or sensory issues. It only forces them to become more rigid with their choices. It can really do more harm than good.

Learn More at Anxious Toddler.

Do you have a picky eater? How do you plan for meals?

My Favorite Turmeric Tea For Immune Health

A couple of weeks ago I posted on Instagram how I upped my adulting level to drinking Tumeric tea. I was shocked by how many questions I received asking why I drink it and how do I make it.

Well, to tell the truth, drinking tea is one of the ways I make time for self care. The act of making tea kind of slows me down and gives me a moment to pause. Once I pour the hot water into the cup, I hold the warm cup in my hands to soak up the heat. (My hands are continuously frozen from October through May).

I started adding turmeric to my favorite lemon, ginger tea to help tame the inflammation from my arthritis. Getting through the winter in the North East is tough. But, this has truly helped me keep up with my kids hectic pace. Turmeric also gives the immune system a boost. Pairing it with the Vitamin C in the lemon and combining with the health benefits of ginger makes for one tasty, healing tea. I add just enough honey to balance out the spiciness of the turmeric.

There are all kinds of recipes you can find that uses whole fresh ginger root that you peel and slice, then you add a squeeze of fresh lemon…but I don’t have time for that in my day. I use my favorite brand of bagged tea and add in 1/8 tsp of turmeric and 1 tsp of honey. Easy peasy without the lemon squeezy.

I still love my coffee to get me going in the morning, but I love a warm cup of slow sipping tea a few times of the day to slow me down and keep me feeling connected.

How about you? Are you a tea drinker?

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

Come Spend the Day with me at Mom University! *Exclusive Discount*

Mom University is a one day event just for moms.
This is a compensated post, but all opinions are authentically my own.

This time last year I was in deep need of a mental and physical break. I had just left a horrible job and was under stress at home while trying to get work lined up. My husband and I were fighting so much, and one of my kiddos was having a rough time at school. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with all the demands coming at me all at once. I was stressed to the max.

I needed a break so badly, that I drove an hour all by myself through the snow and rain to get to an event called, Mom University. It is a one-day event from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. with food I don’t have to make and coffee and conversation with other moms in the same boat as me. I arrived alone, but I wasn’t alone for long. Other moms invited me to sit at their table and the organizers Jen, Alicia and Laura made me feel welcome. After settling in with my cup of hot, fresh coffee and rooting through my swag bag of goodies, I dove into the breakout session topics. I was excited to spend time with experts in the areas I was struggling with the most, nutrition, finances, self-care and kid behaviors. And, the chair massage and blow out bar were an amazing extra in my day. I laughed so much, and I even cried a little when some of us shared our mom stories. It was a powerful day.

Mom Swag! So much more in the bag, but I couldn’t hold it all up for a selfie.

I came to the event feeling like a hot ball of stress. But when I left, I felt more relaxed, uplifted and ready to face the chaos at home. I had tools to use to take care of myself and my family and the best part, I knew I wasn’t the only mom struggling.

I am excited to return to the gorgeous Locust Grove Estate in Poughkeepsie on March 29th, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. for another exciting line up of experts to learn from and this time, meet up with mom friends. And I am even more excited to share with my readers and local moms an *exclusive discount* so you can experience Mom University for yourselves! You can buy your tickets —> here <—- and use the code WHATEVERMOM at checkout (before 3/1/20) to take $10.00 off your ticket which entitles you to a full 7 hours of time to connect and recharge. (A full hour alone at the spa costs more and there’s no one feeding you).

Julie Ciardi 2019 Key Note Speaker

As moms, there is no manual for how to make all the things work. It’s kind of a learn as you go job. That’s why we need a village of other moms to talk to and learn from. Mom University is like a career development day for all moms where we can learn to master the challenging parts of motherhood. I’ve been a SAHM, a WAHM and a work outside the home mom and this day applies to every single mom out there. Every mom needs connection. Every mom needs solidarity. Every mom needs time to grow. It’s hard to do all those things with a toddler tugging at your back pockets, or a boss breathing down our neck.

The 2020 event has over 16 workshops lead by professionals and guest speakers to help ignite your passions and help you find balance. This event is created by moms, for moms. You might recognize Jen and Alicia from The Mommy Dash; both moms struggling to make it all work too. It is their vision and passion to bring this day to all of us. (I don’t think they ever sleep).  I am so thankful they still have the energy to take care of all of us with a catered breakfast and lunch, snacks and coffee, mini massages and a mommy marketplace, oh and a DJ dropping the sound track to our lives.

Jen, Laura and Alicia all sporting their fabulous Mom U Sweatshirts from the Mommy Marketplace.

Being a mom myself, I know how hard it is to take an hour for myself, let alone an entire day, but I assure you the house will still be standing when you get back home. The kids will eat garbage while you are gone, and your husband will tell you it was all easy. But you will be ready to let it all roll off your freshly massaged shoulders. And nothing can replace feeling recharged and connected. So don’t wait, go grab your special discount and shoot me an email at [email protected] and tell me to look for you there!

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

A Parenting Book Every Kid Will Want to Read!

Working book title selected by The Whatever Mom. Not up for grabs.

For years friends and family have asked me to write a book about my life as a twin mom. How do you survive two babies at once? How do you handle raising two girls the exact same age? That’s a damned good question, because I am not sure my cursing and personal tantrums set the parenting bar very high. Surviving for me, looks like a lot of running to another room to hide from my family, so that I can curse into a closet and come back a wholly refreshed human being.

Nearly every minute of the day, I am writing a book inside my head. Or I am at least ear marking a moment to share later. I really believe we each have our own struggles as parents, and we all think we are the only ones struggling. I can GURANTEE YOU, you are not alone! And I think we can also agree, parenting would be so much easier if it weren’t for the kids.

And that’s why I’ve created this book just for kids! A simple strategy guide for making their lives easier and moving up the ladder to become their mom’s favorite child. By chapter 3, EVERY kid will be able to usurp their siblings place in line as the family favorite. It is filled with real stories of all the times my kids lives would have turned out much better if they had just listened to their mother.

Perhaps you can relate, and are looking for a solution? If your child is old enough to read, they are old enough to follow this easy guide!

How many times do you tell your kid not to do something because they could get hurt, and literally before your very eyes they are doing it and getting hurt? Or how many times have you asked your child to finish a simple task, only for them to throw a 20 minute tantrum and get a consequence they could have avoided if …. they just listened to their mother?

Childhood would really be much easier for kids if they just read my book and follow the cautionary tale of a set of twins refusing to listen to their mother. It could help them avoid countless hours of punishment and countless tears. Gift your child with my book today, and set them on the path to thriving, not just surviving.

Other titles from the author’s child series you might recognize: Just F$#@ing Do It! – A Simple Guide to Clarifying Your Intentions.” “Because I Said So – How to Avoid the Wrath of Mom!” “I Swear to God I Will Throw the Xbox Away! – And Other Ridiculous Things Moms Say.” “Just Get Out of The Car! – How to Be More Efficient With Your Time.”

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

Lilla Rose Accessories Review & Giveaway

This is a sponsored post. I received product and payment for my review, but all opinions are honest and my own.

Have you ever found yourself in a hairstyle rut? I used to take the time to at least brush my hair every day, but now that I am a mom, I just swipe it up into a messy bun in the morning. There it stays. All day long. Lately I’ve noticed a lot of my mom friends take the time to do their hair. They look good! And it makes me wonder, “when did I become so bad at just brushing my hair?”

I can’t just blame it on motherhood. I also work from home so the need to style my hair isn’t a big necessity anymore. I usually don’t even notice how crazy my hair is until I pass my reflection in a store window. Then I remember, “whoops! I forgot to do my hair today.”

So, I partnered with an independent stylist from Lilla Rose.  Marianne sent me three Flexi clips to try. I admit I panicked a bit when I thought these clips were two separate pieces. My mom brain would lose them in half a second and it would be extra for me to keep organized. Thankfully, the stick piece of the clip is secured to the decorative clip making it all one piece. Convenient!

The large size is great for twists and upsweeps but did not work for a straight ponytail for me. I have super thick hair that everything slides out of, even hair ties and scrunchies. So, I wasn’t surprised by that, but I was surprised by how quickly I could assemble a more sophisticated and polished style in the same amount of time it takes to throw my hair into a sloppy bun.

Round center with a jet stone and jet bead accents.

The medium size is perfect for a half up, half down look. This is often a go too look for me, but in a hair tie it looks like a fallen sloppy bun. In the clip, it’s a cleaner look with very little effort. This is the perfect size for me!

Silhouette of the moon with a face and gleaming star charms.

The small size is great for a little side sweep. Naturally my daughter fell in love with the tiny size and wanted it for herself. Of course, we had to play with it in her hair too. Like her mother, she enjoys the simplicity of a ponytail, so this was something different and fun.

Lilla Rose offers a wide variety of hair accessories. Besides the unique Flexi-Clip there is a gorgeous selection of U-picks, headbands, sticks, decorative bobby pins and brooches. Designs range from colorful and playful to simple and elegant. There is a design to fit everyone’s fashion sense.

I like that it doesn’t require much more time than I am already spending on my hair, I can get one of these clips in my hair in the same amount of time it takes for me to put my hair into a rubber band. And it gives my look a bit more finesse when I’m leaving the house. These clips are simple, elegant and easy to use. There is a library of styling videos sharing different ways to style with your clips and Marianne can guide you through the sizes and designs that suit you. You can also host an online Style Up party so you can spend time with your other mom friends without having to find a babysitter or leave the house while earning discounts and products of your own.

I love that these are so easy to use for everyday wear, but with the holidays coming up the Flexi Clip will make a great accessory to go with my party outfits. If you’re thinking the same thing, you are in luck! My new friend Marianne is offering a Flexi clip to three lucky readers! THREE WINNERS!

Enter —> HERE <— for your chance to win! There are a variety of ways to enter, each will count as one entry. Winners will be announced on The Whatever Mom Facebook page.

Connecting with My Kids Is Worth Every Minute I am Disconnected from My Phone

Hey, hey, hey! Last week I was on vacation with the fam. It was the first family vacation we’ve taken that no one had a public meltdown! We didn’t even argue. We had a few kid attitudes and grumpiness, but I was totally impressed by my kids use of manners in all the public places.

We spent time at museums, aquariums and shopping in crowded candle shops (with lots of breakable things), we hiked and played outside and discovered we all love the hot tub. My kids not only handled it all, but they seemed to actually enjoy it. There were no complaints of being bored, or begging to go home? Color me shocked!

I never go into a family vacation with the illusion I will get time to relax. After all, parents are never off the clock. If your kids are picky eaters at home, they will be picky eaters on vacation. If your kids have melt downs at home, they will meltdown on vacation. When you are a parent, there is no real vacation, just a change of location. However, this time, I actually felt relaxed. Another shock!

This wasn’t our first family vacation together. We’ve had many colossal vacation fails over the years. So, what was so different about this trip? Was it the extra sleep? Was it less whining? Did my kids suddenly mature since our last vacation? Was it less time on my cell phone? BINGO!

It turns out, it is totally possible to unplug when you are on vacation. Before kids and cell phones my husband and I never made a single phone call, or checked an email while on vacation. We didn’t have the technology attached directly to our hip and it was cumbersome to locate the business center tucked away in a remote area of the hotel or resort, we never bothered to find it. Who has time for that?

This vacation, I decided to live like it was 1990 something. Well, sort of. I limited my social media check-ins and text message replies to early morning before the kids were up and again after the kids went to bed. I locked my cell phone away in the safe, or my purse during the day while we traveled. And surprise, surprise I didn’t miss a thing! Just like in the 90s, if there were any kind of emergency, my friends or family would have left messages for me and awaited my return call.

Besides my limited screen attachment, this was the first family vacation where my husband wasn’t bombarded by several text messages every hour asking him to put out a fire hundreds of miles away. Before cell phones people knew you were on vacation and had no way to reach you. Today, those boundaries are nonexistent with a 24 hour connection.

I noticed our family was feeling more cozy and connected. My husband and I weren’t agitated by other people’s demands and taking it out on each other. I never realized before how having a stressful interaction online or via text message made us less patient with our kids and each other. Toward the end of the week I witnessed how our connection to technology affects family life.

When we woke up to a rainy day we cancelled all our travel plans and planned to hang around the pool instead. The pool was empty except for ourselves and we took full advantage by cranking up our volume and jumping into the pool. After an hour, another family entered. Both parents remained on deck, while they sent their preteen son into the water alone. No judgement here, I don’t know their full story. Maybe it was their first day off in a while and they needed some down time for themselves too. But what I saw next really broke my heart.

One parent opened up their lap top and pulled out the cell phone and had one eye on each, splitting their attention between two screens. That left little time for their kid bobbing around the pool. The other parent laid back on a chaise lounge and pulled their screen to their face and never looked up. Here’s where my heart break came in.

As my heart warmed watching my husband willingly embarrass himself playing Marco Polo with my kids excitedly running and splashing through the pool, my heart broke watching this kid all by himself looking at us and back at his parents and back at us again. I know we don’t have to be our kids only source of entertainment, but the look on this kids face made it clear he felt like he was alone in the pool. He lasted all of 20 minutes in the water before asking his parents to leave. They willingly obliged and packed up.

In that moment I realized just how much our own addiction to being attached and busy affects our kids. I am not comparing my story to theirs, or my family to their family, but watching their child’s experience definitely made me reassess my own digital dependence. Not being connected to a virtual world made it easier to connect to the world right in front of me. And the benefits of my family feeling more balanced and connected was worth every minute I didn’t have a screen in my hand.

The Mom Gear You Didn’t Know You Need!

The Whatever Mom pre-sale logo travel tumbler and V-neck t-shirt.

My fondness and love for Rosie the Riveter began with one simple poster I hung on my wall in college. I hung that poster by my door, so it was the first thing I’d see before leaving, and the first thing I’d see upon arriving. The words, “Yes, We Can!” were written across top, her arm flexing with sleeves rolled up just below. She was ready to believe in me and now, so was I!

I have carried some form of that poster with me for over twenty years to remind myself that no matter how hard things get yes, I can do this. So, when I became a twin mom overcome by fear, confusion and exhaustion, I carried that image on my cellphone and would look at it on my hard days.

It only made sense to me while designing a logo that I incorporate Rosie’s inspiration from my life. She is one-part Rosie the Riveter, one-part me. Ultimately this little logo represents me cheering on every mom. Sloppy bun – check! A tasty cup of motivation – check! And the attitude that yes, we can do whatever it takes to get through the day with our crazy little human tornadoes – check!

Thing is, after I had the logo in hand and slapped it on every social media platform I own, it kind of sat there. Waiting for bigger things. Well that day has come. I am launching some exclusive The Whatever Mom gear this week and showcasing my logo! You can get all the details and pricing options here —-> https://forms.gle/RgmwijA4cLj28NHc7

I selected a sleek 30 oz insulated tumbler to keep your coffee warm no matter where you leave it and a wash and go V-neck t-shirt to kick off my selection of mom gear. It’s all about the lifestyle. I hope to create additional fun and useful pieces to add to my shop very soon. Right now both of these items are in *pre-sale* which means once I reach a minimum quantity of orders my friend Kelly at Olive & Elm Crafts can begin production! This sale will shape all future swag found in my shop, so no pressure! 🙂

My oath to you is that I will not promote anything that I do not use or want for myself. I ordered the tumbler and t-shirt for myself to test out how it fits into hectic mom life. My kind of hectic may not look the same as yours, but at the very least, owning one of my logo pieces will be like having a little Whatever Mom alongside you through the day reminding you that YES, YOU CAN do whatever the day demands from you.

To treat yourself to something JUST FOR YOU, click this link to grab your order form. This pre-sale closes on November 1st 11:59 p.m. EST. When minimums are met and forms complete, invoices will be sent between November 1st and November 4th, 2019. Invoices must be paid in full by November 6th 11:59 p.m. EST. (If for some reason the minimums are not met any paid invoices will be refunded and you will be notified accordingly).

I am deeply grateful and incredibly excited to show off our solidarity and connect our mutual mom philosophy – just do whatever works for YOU!

5 Ways to Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Last week I shared in my newsletter how hard it is for me to keep up when I get sick. Life gets a little derailed and the timeline of our week is tossed around like a jumbled pile of fall leaves. In my house I am the keeper of all of the details and manage everyone’s schedule. So when I need to take time out for myself to heal up and rest, things come to a halt. I can delegate tasks from my bed, but that’s not really restful now is it? My husband gets sick and stays in his room without a peep. If I get sick it’s a million questions about where things go and what foods can everyone eat for snacks.

So my plan is to just not get sick, ever. Maybe that plan is not entirely realistic, but I can do my best to keep colds and viruses from taking over. And when I do get sick, I can give myself permission to rest when I need to.

Top 5 things you need to do to stay healthy this flu season:

1. Wash your hands! Teach kids to wash their hands when ever you return to the house. As soon as they come home from school, a birthday party, or just shopping, everyone must wash their hands. 

2. Remove your shoes! Think about where your shoes go in a day. At some point you are walking through a public bathroom and not everyone is an “expert marksman” if you know what I mean. Bacteria or viruses that stay on the floor travel home with you. Take your shoes off and leave them at the front door. 

3. Change your clothes! Kids are gross. They never look before they sit and don’t seem to mind wiping things on their clothes. Put their school outfit right in the wash in exchange for a clean outfit. It might make extra laundry each week, but worth it when that laundry isn’t due to a 2:00 a.m. vomit session. I also change my clothes when I’ve been in a doctors office or emergent care.

4. Toss the lunchbox left overs! I know, it isn’t a frugal idea to toss the leftovers from the lunch you lovingly packed for your child. But most cafeterias do not have circulating air, so when the kid next to your kid sneezes at the table it’s most likely to land in their lunch. If the food isn’t sealed, it gets tossed.

5. Disinfect the lunch box! Get a small spray bottle of peroxide at the dollar store. Use it to spray the inside of your kids lunch bag and then wipe it clean before putting it away. You can also run your child’s soft lunch box through the washer set on the gentle cycle once or twice per month.

I work from home so I am not exposed to all the germs my kids are. They are like little germ mules carrying bugs through the borders of our home. I can’t escape colds entirely and I get that we need to get sick now and then. But, most of the time moms do not have time to spare to heal from sickness. So by making sure my family and I are following healthy habits it helps block the amount of germs we bring into our house.

Parenting in Survival Mode

My husband traveled every week for the entire month of September and it sucked. It felt like he was home for a day or two with just enough time to unpack before repacking and leaving again. That left me to manage my kids, the house, the chores, the lunch packing, my blog and gave me zero time to take care of myself. Let me tell you, working from home isn’t easy when you’ve got last nights dinner dishes calling you from across the house. And of course it doesn’t feel like I’m winning mom of the year when I forget to pack an extra snack for my daughter’s long bus ride home. Ooops!

Chaos coordinator reporting for duty! When I am left alone to hold down the fort, I go completely into survival mode. Every parent knows survival mode. It’s what gets us through those lengthy stretches of teething and middle of the night vomit. There is nothing glamorous about survival mode.

For the first three years (or four – it’s kind of a blur) after my twins were born, I lived in survival mode. I mostly remember my husband working 17-19 hours per day while I was home alone with two infants and not a single extra helping hand. I cried a lot because I was so exhausted and in constant management mode. I actually made an appointment with a neurologist because I was convinced the exhaustion and dizziness were signs something bigger was wrong. She simply looked at me and said, you’re perfectly fine. You just need more help. And that’s when I realized perfection cannot exist in survival mode. I was trying too hard to make every piece of the puzzle fit perfectly and it was only hurting me in the end. Those early years really taught me how to live life with the bare minimum and that even the hardest days will pass. 

Thankfully, my husband doesn’t travel often and today he only works around 9 hours a day, but there are times those survival skills come in handy! It’s what gets us through a rough week, kid sickness or when things go a little off kilter. It’s good to have those skills, but survival isn’t a place you want to live in for too long. Believe me, there isn’t much joy in it.

I know there are plenty of you out there doing this gig solo every day. Whether you are divorced, widowed or maybe your spouse travels routinely for work. No matter what the reason, carrying the parenting load all alone is incredibly exhausting. My hat goes off to you! I’m sure you are familiar with survival mode, but I hope you are finding the support you need!

It has been a chaotic month for sure. It is also amazing how quickly I can slide right into trading perfection for whatever works. If I slow down and focus on each moment as it comes and not think too far ahead (and extend myself a little grace), I find it easier to survive when the wheels fall off the track.

How are you surviving this week?

Tips if your spouse travels for work:

If you know your spouse is traveling, prepare as much as you can ahead of time. Start by writing a simple menu for the week so you aren’t caught off guard at dinner time.

Use paper plates to eliminate the big clean up.

Line up the help you need – a cleaning lady at the end of the week, or a baby sitter during the week so you can run errands or grocery shop kid free. Order your groceries online and pick up at the store to save time.

Being out numbered by picky eaters and time, I try to keep dinner super simple. I will sometimes call a DIY sandwich night and round everyone up for a picnic on the living room floor, or I might put out a picky platter like this and let everyone chose what they want.

Use your calendar and sticky notes to keep you on task. I try to look at my calendar each night and make a list for the next day of the most important things I need to accomplish (lunches, phone calls, emails, etc). I write my list on a sticky note and I leave the note on my kitchen counter to review again in the morning.

Lower your expectations. Do not expect to fit everything into one day, or make all the ends meet. Your perfect plan will be destroyed by kids with a stomach bug, or a sudden school event you forgot about. Just keep things basic and aim for survival until help returns.

If you want to see what’s happening on the blog before I hit publish, or get a sneak peak at discounts, reviews and giveaways before they hit my social media – sign up for my bi-weekly newsletter (it only publishes two Mondays a month!).

Pirate Ringo’s Salsa Review – Arrrr me tasty!

Photo Credit: Pirate Ringo’s Salsa

Pirates are kind of a thing at our house. We speak in pirate often, well because it’s just fun. We have pirate jokes, enjoy pirate trivia and now we have a pirate salsa!

My friends at Pirate Ringo’s Salsa sent me a jar of their Original salsa to sample. Being the salsa junkie that I am I obliged me mateys (see…no end of pirate puns here!). This blend of medium heat spices and chilis has a good smoky slow burn to it. I tested it on a tortilla chip. It goes down easy before it releases the heat. I reluctantly shared my jar with my husband who lives for spicy food. In fact, there was a time he and a group of co-workers instituted the Iron-Stomach award for their weekly dinner outings. Whoever could finish the spiciest meal on the menu and walk away won bragging rights. This salsa isn’t that level of spicy, so even a light weight like me can handle it. The flavors shine through before the chili’s demand your attention.

As a self-proclaimed salsa junkie, I will eat salsa on a box, in my socks, over here, over there or anywhere. I top my nachos with it, my salads with it, add it to my scrambled eggs, top my baked potatoes with it and toss it into various recipes when I need some good flavor. After tasting this take on Tex-Mex, I knew what I had to do… I had to make a big crock pot full of my award-winning Lazy Tex Chili. If you are a chili lover pressed for time, this recipe is for you! It’s called Lazy for a reason. I literally dump everything into the crock pot and let it simmer for hours. I never touch it again.

But before I share my recipe with you, I have bigger news to share! Pirate Ringo’s is giving my readers an exclusive 20% discount to try their salsa! A jar or two of these salsas will make a great gift for the foodie in your life, that hard to buy for friend, or share for a unique hostess gift this holiday season. Chili is the perfect fall food, so you want to stock up on a few of these fiery tasty treasures to add to your favorite chili. Go to the website and pick a salsa to try and when you add it to the cart enter code WHATEVER20 (This code is only good through 10/2/19 so hurry!).

 * * Now for the recipe * *

This is the first time I am sharing my award-winning recipe for Lazy Tex Chili. I’m not kidding that it is award winning! A group of my friends held a chili contest and we sampled around a dozen different chili recipes among ourselves. Mine won first place! And, much to my husband’s chagrin, my lazy recipe won out over the chili he spent two days sweating over. Nothing says legit chili maker like a tiny plastic gold star trophy proudly displayed in the kitchen. At the time I created this recipe my twins were still toddlers, so I didn’t have a lot of time to stand around in a kitchen cooking with two kids hanging off my back pockets. This recipe was born out of my love for chili and having zero time to invest in making it. Grab a screen shot below!

If you want more simple recipes sign up to receive my newsletter! I send it out only two times a month and I make it short and sweet because we are all busy people! You’ll also get exclusive first looks on giveaways, discount codes, freebies and other fun stuff before it goes live on my blog and social media!

I Just Won’t Make This Decision Until I Have To.

The one question invading every mom’s group on social media, every conversation I overhear at the park and in line at the store is, “How are you feeling about sending the kids back in the fall?” Even my own child asked me tonight, “what will school look like in the fall and how can I be ready for it?”

Parents, we are facing some tough choices about sending our kids back to school safely, while living through a raging world-wide pandemic (because parenting just is not challenging enough is it?).  We are now living with a virus so brand spanking new that we are not entirely sure how it affects us long term, or the most effective way to treat it. At least with the flu, we know what we are in for and it comes with a healthy side of chicken soup and all the tea one can drink.  

The truth is, I have no idea what back to school will look like for us. And to be honest, I have too many feelings about it and not enough time to sort them all out. My mind is already fatigued from managing the last four months of virtual school and remembering where we last saw our masks before leaving the house. Not to mention the mental gymnastics just assessing our risk exposure before running errands. I am also the new cruise director making the schedule to keep everyone from getting bored. I feel like a regular mom, but amped up on steroids raging through overtime shifts I never signed up for. I am so consumed with managing our daily life as it is right now, with our new guidelines and safety measures, AND making up for lost summer camps and cancelled vacations, that I just can’t muster the mental energy to make one more decision.

So, I won’t.

I just won’t make this decision until I have to.

I do not know what our school’s reopening plan is yet. 

I do not know if our state will reopen schools in the fall yet. 

I do not know what to do right now, and I am not planning to ‘make a plan’ for at least another month when the new school year begins.

But…

I do know my kids are craving connection with their friends and family.

I do know it is hard as hell to write while kids are screaming for sandwiches.

I do know my kids are tired of being home for days on end.

I do know my kids are tired of talking to people through a screen.

I do know that whatever the upcoming school year holds, my kids will need to be ready to handle it. In person school will not be the same as it was when they left in March. Remote learning is not what they are looking forward to. And homeschool, will be entirely different than what they love about classroom learning. Every back to school option on the table right now requires some amount of adjustment and anxiety for all of us, not just our kids.  

So, instead of imagining every potential scenario and stressing about which one I am going to choose, I am going to spend this time focusing on my kid’s mental health and investing in their resilience. The only way I can do that is by focusing on the present. The summer sun is calling, the pool is primed, and we live in an amazingly beautiful area of our state. We can spend time outdoors exploring and seeing friends from a distance. I cannot control this virus and I cannot control how schools will open up again, but I can control our day and how we learn to deal with this new challenge.

Giving myself permission to not make a choice RIGHT NOW, truly relieves a lot of the pressure to decide what happens in the fall. I am going to stay informed. I am going to watch the numbers. I am going to prepare my kids with school supplies and new outfits, just like I would any other year. But I am not going to make the final decision about how I am sending my kids to school until I must.

Until then, we are taking a break from the stress and anxiety by pressing pause on overthinking. I am confident this decision will help build our resilience to deal with whatever school looks like for us a month from now.

To stay up to date on how we are spending our summer, and getting ready for back to school in the fall, follow The Whatever Mom on Facebook.

Roxanne Ferber is raising twins with double the fun of writing from home during a pandemic. Her parenting style is messy with a side of chaos and archiving it all on her blog for others to read.