As much as I love cooking, I don’t love spending hours in the kitchen. I will often prep my meals ahead of time if I can, and pull them out as I need them through the week. But when I am pressed for time, I absolutely love tossing everything on one baking sheet to cook together in the oven. One sheet pan meals make dinner time easier because there is only one pan to clean!
Here are my favorite sheet pan meals to try this week!
And when I am feeling lazy, I mean “pressed for time” I simply put some frozen veggie burgers and sweet potato fries on one sheet pan and toss in the oven. In less than 30 minutes I have a full dinner made complete with veggies my family will eat.
Do you have a favorite sheet pan meal recipe you love? Please share in the comments below! I’d love to give it a try!
Roxanne is a twin mom and freelance writer. She owns this little piece of the blogosphere where parents are encouraged to let go and embrace the messier parts of parenting, without judgement.
Buying in bulk isn’t always an option since most stores are still limiting the number of items one can purchase at a time. Since we are still avoiding crowded stores and long lines, buying bulk items on Amazon and having them delivered is a time saver. I can stock my cupboards and keep my little eating machines in snacks.
We typically buy the kids snacks in bulk and hide them away then ration them out. Otherwise they will eat everything at once and still claim to be hungry.
Here are some of favorite snacks we buy in bulky proportions:
As a busy mom, I rely on my crock-pot to get me through at least one or two dinners each week. When my kids were toddlers and I was cooking two different meals, it was easier to let the crock-pot do the heavy lifting of cooking the main meals. This gave me a little extra time to make the toddler favorites or dress up a side dish we could all eat. Freezer to crock-pot meals became my jam. I love prepping 5 meals at once and tossing into the freezer. I pull one out each night to dump in the crock pot the next day.
I love that there is less clean up and less thinking about what to make each night.
Finding gluten free meals to enjoy can be a little stressful and time consuming.
Here are five gluten free meals I foundto try this week:
I know it might sound early for spring cleaning since we are still in winter. But this is the perfect time to start cleaning. I take advantage of being inside more due to the cold weather and start cleaning out closets, dusting ceiling fans and giving the house a deeper clean. Then when the sun pops out and it’s warmer outside, we won’t waste any time inside cleaning.
Most people start with a room-by-room strategy, but I tackle the same hot spots throughout the house. For example, I focus on cleaning all the closets at once instead of the closet in the room I am currently cleaning. Instead of cleaning one ceiling fan, I clean them all the same day. This way I have all donation items take out at the same time, and I have all the dusting finished at once instead of starting that process over again in each room. Does that make sense? It can feel different if you are not used to do it that way.
Here’s how I get it all done:
Closets and dressers are the first place I start so I can eliminate anything we no longer use. Old clothes, tablecloths, sheets, towels, etc. I bag everything up and toss it near the door for one trip to the donation bin. I find the Hefty extra strong black out bags are best for donations.
Bathrooms: I make sure to toss any expired makeup or cleaning supplies and make a checklist of items that need to be replaced. We love Method Bathroom cleaner because it cleans, disinfects and gets rid of bathroom smells.
Kitchen: I pull all the pantry items out at the same time and toss anything that has expired. Then I wipe out each cabinet before I return items. Then I move on to the fridge to toss anything that may be expired and give the fridge a good wipe down with my Norwex Envirocloth. I check each cabinet for any dishes that may need to be tossed or re-organized.
I use a Swiffer extended handle duster to clean each ceiling fan in the house and then I dust the walls from ceiling to floor, including the base boards. Now each room should be cleaned out, organized and free from dust. The only thing left to do is clean the floors.
We have a Dyson Animal vacuum for deep cleaning (that thing is still kicking 14 years later) and a Yeedi robot vacuum for a daily sweep of the main living areas (that little guy is brand new!). This helps keep the pet hair and kid dirt managed.
I leave window washing until the very last because it is my least favorite. However, using my Norwex window cloth has been the easiest and fastest streak free window cleaning system I have found! Since I am the only one in my house to clean the windows, I am a big fan of anything that will get it done quick.
That’s how I spend my February. In upstate NY we can still get a few snowstorms in March, but we can also get a rare week of 80-degrees and sunshine. And those are the days I’ll be ready for because my chores will be done!
Roxanne is a twin mom and freelance writer. She owns this little piece of the blogosphere where parents are encouraged to let go and embrace the messier parts of parenting, without judgement.
This week we are organizing like crazy. Every year I do the 40 bags in 40-days challenge. That’s where you fill one bag a day for 40 days with things to donate or toss. You would think I’d run out of things to toss, but somehow, we end up with so much stuff!
My kids grow out of things so quickly and honestly, as each year passes, I get comfortable with letting go of more things. We are donating toys my kids have outgrown. We have clothes and housewares that we are no longer into. So, it all gets tossed in a bag and sent on it’s way to a new home. But I want to organize what is left in a way that makes sense.
Art supplies my kids are super creative so they get a lot of art supplies as gifts. I need to toss anything that is old and unusable and organize what is left.
Shoes I am constantly fighting against a mountain of shoes. It drives me crazy that my children will kick their shoes off their feet and into a pile at the back of the closet. Maybe these will help them take better care of their shoes.
Books we have a ton of books to sort through. It is hard to part with ones we love so much, but I am going to upcycle them to friends and family.
Blankets what is the deal with kids dragging blankets everywhere? It’s like 3 feet to the basket, or even easier just fold it neatly and leave on the back of the couch. Why kids?
Make-up I have tweens who are getting into a skin care routine, so that means we each need our own storage for our respective products.
Spice rack my kitchen cupboard is overrun with random spices I bought for that one time meal or I bought at a home party. I need to toss what is expired and organize what is left.
Drawer organizers I could use these in every single drawer in the house. From our nightstand drawers to the kitchen and even the garage. I love opening a drawer and finding what I need instead of rummaging.
I think that’s enough for this week right? I won’t get to all 40 bags this week, but I am on a mission to get the bulk of this organizing project complete this week. Wish me luck!
What are your organizing tips?
Roxanne is a twin mom and freelance writer. She owns this little piece of the blogosphere where parents are encouraged to let go and embrace the messier parts of parenting, without judgement.
This month I took on the Veganuary challenge and committed to eating vegan for 30 days. Many of you are probably asking WHY!?! Well, I am always on the hunt for healthy options and after cooking nearly every meal for a year straight, I am kind of in a food rut. I enjoy trying new things, I thought this might be an interesting way to explore. I was also curious to see if it impacts any changes in my health.
Thankfully, I truly love my veggies. After two weeks into eating all vegan, I felt great! My energy levels increased and my chronic pain issues decreased. I found some new foods to enjoy and new nutrition combinations. So, this week I am sharing some of the vegan recipes I’ve tried so far and enjoyed.
Vegan donuts are a new family favorite. This recipe calls for bananas and nut butter and maple syrup instead of processed sugar. A new family favorite!
Quinoa bowls not everyone in my family is a fan of quinoa. But, I love that I can make so many different types of dishes with it. I make up a big batch and leave in the fridge and mix into my veggie bowls or salads.
Smoothie my hands down favorite is a chocolate avocado smoothie. It is filling and chocolatey! I love this recipe but I omit the bananas because my smoothie mixer can’t handle how thick the avocado makes this drink!
Un-chicken salad on a wrap warning, this does not taste anything like chicken. But it is delicious as it’s own recipe. I highly recommend if you are not used to vegan mayo, start off by using your favorite brand. Easy to make ahead for a few lunches through the week.
Hummus wrap hummus is my new favorite go-to condiment for almost everything. I slather it on my wraps, add a dollop on my salad or quinoa bowl and I even top my baked potato with it. Adding it to a veggie wrap adds flavor and protein to your midday meal.
Portobello or veggie burger with sweet potato fries: I’m not going lie, I buy all of these premade from the freezer section to make it an easy night off from cooking. My family will eat this with me, so it’s nice when we are all eating the same meal at once.
Lentil Bolognese over pasta this one was a hit at home. No one noticed the extra veggies. I will say that I’ve also cheated by just warming up meatless crumbles into our favorite sauce and tossing it over pasta to save time.
Chickpea curry over rice this one is loaded with veggies and glorious nutrition. It is also a little more time consuming, so I make it on the weekends when I have more time to devote to cooking.
Popcorn with crunchy chickpeas and pumpkin seeds, cranberries. I just mix all of these together in a bowl and munch on them while I am working.
Apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with nut butter. This is also a new kid favorite. They don’t even complain that it’s healthy.
Orange slices with chocolate hummus is a new go-to sweet snack.
Oreos with almond milk. Yes, it’s true, Oreos are VEGAN!
If you are interested in going vegan be sure to research it well to be sure it is a diet you can follow and check with your doctor first.
Plan your meals and snacks ahead because you will be definitely be hungry more often as veggies tend to be less calorie dense.
Try to include healthy fats so your body can feel fuller longer.
Drink a lot of water and herbal teas between meals to keep all that extra fiber moving.
Don’t make it all or nothing to start. You can try one meal or new product a week, then add another and another until you are fully vegan or at a place where you feel comfortable including more plant based meals into your diet.
Also, don’t hate me. But there is no good vegan cheese substitute. There. I said it! I do add nutritional yeast in place of grated cheese for a mild cheese flavor. But, I have yet to find anything that has the same taste or texture equivalent. If you’ve found one you love, tell me in the comments below!
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer. The Whatever Mom blog is here to help other moms accept the messier parts of parenting and find solutions.
Planning a birthday party for your winter baby is hard enough when there isn’t a worldwide pandemic. But now with social distancing a must and sometimes mask wearing is mandated, it’s even harder to plan a party in the same way we did only a year ago.
My twins celebrated a double-digit birthday back in November and we made the choice to host a very small, all-masked, back yard party. The girls could invite just one friend each to make s’mores in our back yard. All kids and parents wore a mask, and all our snacks and beverages were prepackaged or prepared with gloves. It was different, but everyone was so happy to spend time together that the extra safety protocols didn’t even feel inconvenient.
Now that we are in the dead of winter in the North East with plummeting temperatures and most indoor places closed off for gatherings, birthday party ideas are running short. That’s why I created a virtual party planner to help you get creative and keep the details organized.
As a mom, I am always looking for easy solutions to the most common problems we all face and right now, we are all facing some tough choices for the safety of our kids. Indoor gatherings are not advised, and not everyone is feeling comfortable having people in their home. Last year drive-by birthday parades were a hit, this year virtual parties are taking over. But, creating a party through a screen is all new. If 2020 taught me anything, it is to embrace what we’ve got to work with. I hope this helps other moms embrace fun in a new way and makes kids feel celebrated!
I asked other moms to test this planner before I share it and one mom said, “I used this for their “virtual party” on Friday. And honestly it gave me ideas I didn’t even think of. I was able to organize who I wanted to join, sent out links and plan games (I didn’t even know this was a thing)! Your planner helped me get everything together and I really appreciate it. The kids had a great time!”
This planner is free when you sign up for my e-newsletter (which only arrives once a month). I send out mom hacks and simple solutions to the most common struggles like picky eating, self-care, meal planning and more. As a thank you for signing up to follow along, I will email you this easy-to-use party planner right away!
It’s the last day of 2020 and everyone is ready for this year to be over. While I am one to lean into optimism for a happier new year, I am also realistic enough to understand the flip of a calendar isn’t going to change the circumstances we carry into 2021.
This year has been a solid suck fest, one thing after another to worry about, leave behind or pivot away from. It has been mentally exhausting and at times draining just working with our new restrictions for shopping, vacationing, and finding activities that do not involve being near other people. My kids have attended remote school for almost a year and their mental health has incrementally declined since the beginning of our “quarantine life.” But overall, we have persevered. I feel like I had just enough positivity in me to get through the spring and summer months. It was easier when we could still get outside and do things we enjoyed, but with winter here, I can feel it faltering.
I know it’s hard to think of anything positive from this last year, but everything exists in opposites. So, we can’t have good without evil, or evil without the good. Looking back over 2020, I can see the darkness and the sadness, but I can also see the love and kindness that came out of this “unprecedented” year.
The nurses, doctors, EMS, EMTs, and ER staff working the front lines caring for us jumped in with sleeves rolled up and ready to love complete strangers through their most difficult days. Nurses held up iPads for families to say goodbye and wept right alongside of them while they died. Nursing home staff gave married couples dying from COVID the dignity and compassion to spend their final days side by side. Love was found in the strangers who sent pizzas, meals, coffee, cards, and gifts to those on the front lines.
Kindess was found in the landlords that gave rent relief to those who lost their jobs.
Love was found in the teachers who scurried to create virtual classrooms so they can stay connected to their students, not just dole out a lesson plan. Love was found in the cafeteria workers who put together meals for kids who eat most of their meals at school. Love was found in the school nurse who prepared to return in a gown and plastic face shield to keep their students safe.
Love was found in firefighters and police officers offering birthday parades to kids during quarantine because traditional birthday parties were not allowed.
Kindness was found in neighbors feeding neighbors. Neighbors watching over each other and delivering goods to those who weren’t feeling safe going into a store.
Kindness was found in those who donated blood for those in need.
Love was found in those who continued to volunteer to feed, clothe and help their communities most vulnerable populations.
I’ll bet if you look around your own community and neighborhood, you will find places love and kindness suddenly showed up. Maybe in places it didn’t exist before. Maybe you were on the receiving end of someone who helped you that you didn’t expect or count on before. I am still blown away by kind friends who drop deliveries at my doorstep, left crafts for my kids, sent packages to brighten our days and listened to me when I was most frustrated by so many changes happening at once.
In my broader community, people are filling refrigerators outside their doorstep for anyone in need to shop from. Families are sending cards and happy mail to our local nursing homes, so no one feels alone. Our local restaurants are partnering to create feeding programs to serve those in need and finding creative ways to keep their own doors open. Churches are keeping their feeding programs open. Warming centers are quickly evolving to meet safety protocols, families are adopting other families Christmas wish lists. Some of my friends are donating their time to serve community meals. This is love in action. If I stop and think back on this year, I can find several ways love and kindness still pulled through.
I am in no way thankful for COVID and things like “quarantine” and “cohorts,” but if I dig deep enough through the craziest parts of this year, I can still find a lot of love and gratitude to take with me into the new year. This won’t solve our current crisis and is in no way meant to gloss over the deep wounds many of us still feel from the year, but reminding ourselves of the good gives us hope that there is still goodness left to come, even if we must actively look for it.
One of the things that has helped me through the sadness of missing out on our usual things and the feeling of time standing still, is taking pictures of us trying new things together. Every time we hiked a new trail or found a new place to play, I took a bunch of photos. On the days I am feeling sad about missing out on our vacation or our life pre COVID, I scroll through those bright photos and remember we can still find happiness.
What is one bright spot you had during 2020?
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of this blog. Thank you for reading along and for being a part of this supportive motherhood community. Follow along on Facebook or Instagram.
To the moms living with depression at Christmas, I see you. Maybe you’re grieving right now. Maybe you just aren’t feeling like yourself this year, or maybe you’ve had depression for as long as you can remember. Either way, I see you. I know what it feels like to grieve and feel depressed through the Christmas season.
I’ve had many, many horrible loses right around Christmas. We discovered my niece had cancer right around Christmas. I had one last Christmas with my dad two months before he died. I lost our first child just before Christmas. There was the year my brother-in-law was stationed in Iraq, and years later, I spent two consecutive Christmases decorating a hospital room and holding hands with my nephew praying through his mysterious illness that he was going to be OK. (Thankfully, he was).
Too often we believe we can’t feel anything other than joy and happiness through the Christmas season. As if our only job is to exude happiness through our fingertips and make magic for those around us. If you are a mom, you are the keeper of the magic and everyone looks to you for the fun, the joy, the perfect hot coca after the snow, the fresh new jammies on Christmas morning. Without those things it wouldn’t feel like Christmas to them. But to you, it all feels like work and exhaustion.
Full disclosure: I am not clinically depressed, but I have lived with depression during the holidays and I feel like I can closely relate. The year I lost our baby, was the absolute worst. I stuffed that depression down so deep that when it finally hit, I couldn’t get out of bed. I went to work in a fog and came home to get into my bed and stayed there all night. Life was a hazy blur as I raced through the motions so the day would just be over. One night my husband returned home from work to find me in my pajamas cooking dinner and asked, “are you finally getting out of bed now?” and I was so angry, I threw a raw chicken at him. That’s when I knew it was time to face the grief I felt and maybe learn to express it in more productive ways. (For the record, we laugh at that night now, 13 years later).
The brain fog and mental fatigue alone make it hard to really connect to anything else around you, including the sparkly lights and the kid’s enjoyment while baking cookies together. It all feels like too much and not enough all at the same time. And then we pile on the guilt for not enjoying it and not giving enough to our kids. (Believe me, you are enough).
There is so much pressure to make things perfect the entire month of December. But I want to normalize that it’s OK to have other feelings that aren’t festive or Merry. It is possible to feel pain in your heart and carry sadness around with you. It’s also OK to talk about those feelings. People will seem dismissive with their trite, “look on the bright side” “well at least you have other kids” or “it’s Christmas, everything is happy at Christmas.” Those are the words of someone who doesn’t know how to help. They may be afraid of your pain. They may be afraid of saying the wrong thing. Or they may be clueless what it feels like to be missing pieces of themselves. Running into those phrases can make someone with depression want to retreat and never mention it again, or feel ashamed of not being as happy as everyone else. But talking about it with someone who can relate, or has felt grief, is the best way to get through this. We can feel like talking about our sadness will make other people sad, but it won’t. Holding it in and denying that it exists makes it harder for other feelings to get in, including joy and happiness.
I see how hard you are working to keep it all bottled up inside like nothing is wrong, but believe me, you need to find your safe space before you find yourself hurling poultry during an out of body experience. Talking about your pain, your sadness, and the loved ones you miss should be completely acceptable even at Christmas.
This year the pandemic restrictions that keep us from being with people and parties that make us feel less alone, also makes it harder to reach out or use our regular coping mechanisms. It is elevating the level of pain we can normally feel in control of. I too am feeling the grief more deeply than in the past.
The other day, I was simply preparing our tree for decorating and listening to Christmas carols. I love caroling. In fact, for several years my friend coordinated a caroling event at a local nursing home and I looked forward to that tradition every year. As I was belting out “The First Noelle,” I suddenly burst in to tears when I realized that tradition is gone and so is my friend. She died almost two years ago. All I could remember was the last Christmas we caroled together. And as I began grieving for her, it opened the flood gates for all the grief I normally feel at Christmas, but keep myself too busy to feel. Crying did feel better. But talking to a friend who understands grief and heartache made it easier for me to process and make room for feelings of gratitude. Just knowing I wasn’t alone in feeling this way and hearing kind words, “I know how you feel” “I know this is so hard” “I am sending you hugs” felt like band aids to my broken heart. My friend’s compassion and understanding were the healing salve I needed to carry on. My grief will continue no matter what, but knowing I could express it without judgement makes it easier to cope with it.
I don’t need to be you or have suffered the same exact losses to know that grief any time of year is hard, but during the holidays when everyone else is stacking their happiness in colorful packages, depression can feel out of place. And I also know that grief and sadness, depression and loss can co-exist alongside feelings of joy. I hope you will reach out to those around you who can share in this with you. If you don’t have that kind of support in your home, I hope you can find it in a support group or a therapist’s office. More than anything, I hope you know you’re allowed to have more than one feeling during the holidays.
It’s Christmas, during a pandemic, and getting a baby sitter is not as easy as it was during Christmases of yore. So, on the first day of Christmas, I’m giving my true love a list of movie date nights to choose from. We can’t get reservations at a local restaurant either, so I created a list of cocktails we can make at home to sip along with some take out appetizers. Everything we need can be picked up curbside at a safe distance.
If you do not drink alcohol, mocktails are equally fun and festive. If you prefer to you can choose a main dish from a movie to recreate and eat while watching along. The key is to just make the most of the evening while the kids are either in bed, or in their own rooms.
12 Movies + 12 Cocktails = 12 Date Nights of Christmas
It’s a Wonderful Life – our favorite classic movie to kick off the season with. You have to sip your way through this holiday tear jerker with a simple Bailey’s on the rocks, or shake it with cream and serve in a chilled martini glass.
Home Alone – one of my personal favorites! I have to go with a chocolate martini here in honor of the giant sundae Kevin eats while no one is watching. Toss in some mini marshmallows and a sprinkle of crushed candy canes.
Home Alone 2 – normally I am not a fan of sequels, but this one was as good as the first movie. It is a must see in our house! Since Kevin is lost in Manhattan, you’re going to need a Manhattan cocktail to go along with this movie.
A Christmas Story – another classic we watch year after year. A simple red wine goes along with this movie. It’s the drink the mom and dad share while taking in the splendor of their Christmas night in front of the tree.
Scrooged – This is my husbands favorite and one I was reluctant to watch. I just didn’t think it looked very Christmasy. Now it’s on our annual watch list! In this movie Bill Murray’s character repeatedly requests a Tab and Vodka. I’ve never had that one, but willing to give it a try. (p.s. Tab was discontinued in October this year, but you can use a cola drink instead).
Elf – This is a quirky little mish mosh of a Christmas movie, but in honor of Buddy’s search for the Worlds Best Coffee, I’d fix up an Espresso Martini.
Christmas Vacation – we usually watch this while finishing up our gift wrapping. It’s just tradition! You can’t go wrong with a simple Rum and Nog (eggnog). Any store bout eggnog will do!
Die Hard – I confess, I’ve never watched this movie. My husband (and several friends) swear it is a traditional Christmas movie. I agreed this year to watch it. We have not tried this movie + cocktail combination yet, but I found the Nakatomi Plaza Bomb.
The Santa Clause – another one of my favorites from childhood! I paired this with a Sugar Cookie Martini. (You could reuse some of the Bailey’s from a previous movie night if you haven’t drank it all yet).
Deck the Halls – this back and forth competition of bright lights is too hilarious to forget about. Nothing says Christmas like dueling neighborhood light shows! A boozy Hot Chocolate will keep you lit through the chilly adventure.
If you choose to make the cocktails portion of these themed date nights, please drink responsibly, and pace yourself! If you can’t handle one cocktail a night then don’t! Just pick one or two nights of fun as you count down to Christmas!
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer/blogger just trying her best to survive parenthood. You can follow along with her less than perfect adventures at The Whatever Mom.
It is no secret that I need the sun to feel my healthy best. Living in the North East where we have dark, cloudy winters, getting enough sunshine is a challenge for me.
I have never been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but I can tell you my mood changes through the winter. I am less patient, I feel more stressed and less motivated. Over the years I have developed a winter wellness routine that helps me get through the dark days of winter.
I use the Happy Light from Verilux – this little light creates the same feeling of being in the sun. I use it in the mornings during my treadmill walks. During the winter, the morning is too dark and cold for me to walk outside, so I bring the outside in. I set my light up near my treadmill and walk for 30 minutes.
I take my supplements. I normally run deficient in vitamin D3 (known as the sunshine vitamin) and have for many, many years. I supplement all year, but in the winter I change the dose according to my doctors recommendation. Omega 3 fish oil also help increase a positive mood. Always check with your own doctor if these supplements are safe for you to take.
I get outside when I can. If the sun is out, I am out too. I grab my Sketchers and head out the door for a quick walk around the block. I turn on the tunes and soak in the light and get those endorphins pumping.
I ditch my late night to-do list. I am a natural born night owl and often stay up way to late to get things done. But that always leaves me with a grumpy attitude and a hangover effect. You know when your head is too foggy and you just want to crawl back to bed? I make myself go to bed at the same time as my kids (around 9:30 or 10). I read a little, or write out my to-do list in my planner for the next day instead of trying to get it all done right now.
I drink tea – a lot of tea. I’m not giving up coffee any time soon, but I love a good cup of hot tea in the middle of a cold day. I try to be mindful of stopping what I am doing and grabbing some tea while I phone a friend, or call home to chat with my mom. It’s like a little happy hour routine in my day that keeps me connected.
I take time to center my thoughts. I am a mom, writer, homeowner, wife and dog mom. I have a lot of things to do in a day and my brain often feels like someone dumped a big old box of ping pong balls and they are all bouncing out of control. I take 5-10 minutes each morning to meditate, or simply stand at my open back door and listen to the birds and take three deep breaths.
I may not get to do these things all in one day, but I strive to work them into my daily routine. Each little action creates a bigger impact on my mood and how I am feeling as a mom.
Do you have a winter wellness routine? I’d love to hear more about how you make time to take care of yourself.
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of The Whatever Mom blog. She spends most of her time learning to let go of perfection and sharing her messier parent moments with other moms. You can follow her Facebook page to see the messiness unfold.
Dr Orlena has invited 17 amazing speakers, all of whom are parents, so they know your struggles! Each of the speakers will talk about a different aspect of health and wellness. For example, I’m talking about how to create easy selfcare routines for overall wellness.
Dr Orlena’s Fit and Fabulous philosophy focuses on 4 pillars of healthy living.
1. What we eat.
4. Emotional wellness (how we reduce stress and create a loving atmosphere in our homes.)
Because we are all busy parents, just like you, each video is 15 minutes or less to maximize your time, and covers different aspects of all 4 pillars.
Do you worry about your family’s health and wellness?
Do you want a long healthy life for you and your kids, but life seems to get in the way of your goals?
The goal of this summit is to show you how to create healthy living habits, so you and your family can feel fit and fabulous! We’ll show you how to make it easy and fun!
The event is entirely FREE for 3 whole days from Friday December 4th to Sunday Dec 6th.
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of this blogspace. She spends a lot of time trying to find balance and teaching other moms that it is OK to embrace the messier parts of parenting! Follow her on Facebook for her less than perfect posts.
I took a walk all by myself today, literally over the river
and through woods. It was glorious!
I rarely get time to myself, but this week my husband is on vacation. It means I am on vacation too. I know, I know “but he works!” Well, so do I. I work from home as a freelance writer while making sandwiches and packing two kids for a day at the beach. He works only one job at a time, albeit stressful he isn’t managing meltdowns while trying to look professional to a client. We both deserve a break. But while he is working 70 hours a week, I am covering all the childcare needs while simultaneously running a business. I’m not kidding when I say, if I go down no one knows how to the food gets in the house or when the toilets get cleaned. It’s all courtesy of moi!
Today, I chose to visit one of my favorite walking trails
because it is quiet and has such beautiful views of the Hudson River. I’ve only
ever walked this trail with my kids, so it felt strange not pushing a stroller
or pulling a heavy wagon full of screaming kids. I made pretty good time
walking nearly three miles. I had my favorite music pushing me on and no one to
talk too. The silence was golden.
No answering questions about sea creatures.
No organizing lunches.
No packing up a swim bag.
No blowing up pool toys.
No slathering sunscreen and carrying an armful of towels to
It was a glorious start to my vacation!
This is the first break for myself I’ve had all summer. My
kids and I have been tethered since their last day of school. It’s OK, I love
them. But as a work from home/stay at home mom the daily tasks of motherhood
can become the weekly grind. It’s almost cliché to call my job as a mom exhausting.
Everyone knows how tired we are because we can’t stop telling everyone we are
Taking a walk while you’re that kind of exhausted sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s exactly what I needed! To roam freely, unattached to a to-do list, or locked into mealtime demands. Listening to my own thoughts without interruptions helps me declutter things that are bugging me. Do I really need to hold on to that friend if she clearly let me go? How about cleaning out some of this guilt about letting my kids eat so many hot dogs? Being alone allows me to regroup a little and feel lighter. It’s like therapy.
Are you someone that likes to be alone in your head? Or do you enjoy escaping from the mom demands with friends? Leave me a comment below, or feel free to join the conversation on Facebook! ????
Roxanne Ferber is a freelance writer and owner of The Whatever Mom blog. Nearly nine years on the coffee wagon and she still doesn’t have enough energy to keep up with her twins. But she is a survivor and she’s gonna make it; even if she has to white knuckle it through each day until her kids graduate. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Insta.
Christmas 2020 is going to look very different. It is easier to shop the big box stores for the things my kids love, but when it comes to gifts for the grown ups in my life I strive to shop as many local businesses as possible. This year has hit small businesses pretty hard, so giving them our support now will help keep them going all winter long.
What I love most about small businesses, or mom run businesses is that I get to know the people behind the products and I know that my dollars are going to help support a family vs. a big CEO buy another yacht.
Today, I’d like to introduce one of my favorite Etsy creators and personal friend, Shelly Kelly. She handmakes beautiful jewelry and crocheted items under the name MamaMoonLocks. You can get an exclusive 20% reader discount using the code WHATEVERMOM20.
Here are some samples of her beautiful handmade goods. Click on the image to see the listing and enter your discount code at check out.
These are all items on my personal wish list! Everything is made with an eye on sustainability, durability and functionality. You will love everything you find in her Etsy shop!
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom looking to ditch perfection and just do whatever saves her the most sanity each day. You can follow along with her on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
This recipe round up is just in time for our meal planning Monday!
We all know leftovers are the best part of our Thanksgiving dinner! Nothing compares to the ultimate turkey sandwich the very next day, or even as a midnight snack (no judgement). But, with a little creativity you can fix up something delicious and new!
I polled the moms in my Circle of Moms for their favorite leftover recipes and then I scoured Pinterest for easy recipes that do not require more than what you might already have on hand. Enjoy!
Click the pin below to go directly to my Thanksgiving Leftovers board on Pinterest.
Which one are you making first? Classic sandwich, or the egg rolls?
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, freelance writer and owner of The Whatever Mom blog. She shares her solutions to letting go of perfection and embracing the messier parts of parenting so other moms don’t feel alone.
Got a Star Wars fan or a game enthusiast living in your house? I have both! We love family game nights and curling up to watch a Star Wars movie. Here are some great gift ideas for every age and stage of fandom. Some of these gift ideas may have come straight from my family’s wish list.
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of The Whatever Mom. Her family is totally into Star Wars for the special effects and laser beams.
The other morning was really rough. My kids didn’t want to get out of bed and I was getting really impatient. I may have blown my top once or twice and barked some commands. Of course I always feel like a jerk after. In my defense motivating my one daughter out of bed in the morning can take up most of our morning routine. When she wakes up in a grumpy mood it makes the morning even harder.
What made this particular morning so rough was during our heated exchange she shouted back at me, “you just want everything to be perfect!” It literally caught me off guard. My kids can tell me they hate me and it rolls right off my back, but this hurt. I think it hurt because I work really hard to let go of expecting things to be perfect or pushing things to be perfect. I mean I only write a blog about letting go of perfection, so I MUST be an expert already right?
But she is right. Old habits die hard. I can’t escape how I am hard wired to be any more than she can escape her hatred of mornings. We have several home projects that need to be finished before winter; I have a house to manage and a few blogs to write each week, plus all that pesky meal planning and laundry to do. I try to stick to segmenting my time for each thing I need to manage. As a result I can seem a bit like a drill sergeant because I EXPECT this will get done in the exact amount of time I have allotted for it. That would be a symptom of perfection by the way.
If only life were that neat and tidy.
Last night I decided to loosen the reins a bit with our evening routine. I am also exhausted from the constant running around and finishing things, so I called it a make your own sandwich night for dinner, which seemed to make everyone happy. I know I was happy to not spend my time cooking something no one would eat! Then we put on some tunes and chatted through dinner.
After dinner my husband agreed to make the lunches while I sat down to play a board game with the kids. I am always rushing to make lunches and getting two kids showered – usually at the same time. So getting to take a break from that was simply amazing. My girls and I spent 30 minutes rolling in laughter because we just caught a case of the sillies. And it was exactly what we needed. You can’t script those moments and when my kids look back on their childhood they will remember it wasn’t perfect, but it did have perfect moments like this.
The night time routine was a little easier, no one kept fighting for more attention and both kids drifted off to sleep easier. Best of all there was zero yelling in the morning before school. It seems unplugging from the race to keep everything in order and on time was exactly what I needed to do. I can’t say I won’t get caught up in it again, because I am hard wired with a drive for perfection. But maybe now I can recognize it sooner and let go of it much quicker. That’s always my goal anyway.
It’s funny how when I think I’ve got this perfection thing licked, or under control, my kid will make sure to remind me that I’ve gone off the rails. Thanks for keeping me on track kid, and thanks for helping mommy grow!
The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents.
This post contains affiliate links where I make a small commission on qualified purchases at no cost to you. For full disclosure, read here.
A few years ago, a friend invited me to participate in a secret sister gift exchange. That’s where you sign up to send one gift to one other woman and you are supposed to receive 36 in return. Almost everyone worried it was a scam and backed out, but before that I received a couple of great gifts, not the intended 36 that the gift exchange boasts. Which if you do the math, it does not equal 36 gifts. But it is fun to send off (and receive) some good cheer!
This year I have been invited to at least a dozen of these secret sister gift exchanges. No one is worried it’s a scam anymore and it is pretty safe to do among friends and friends of friends on Facebook.
So, if you are wondering what to include in your gifting, I created list of affordable gift ideas for $10 or less. You can ship directly to your secret sister today!
These are all easy, allergy friendly ideas. You won’t have to worry about personal diets, food sensitivities, alcohol/coffee preferences. They are super cute and easy to pair with other embellishments. The best part of this gift exchange is how much fun it is! So, keep spreading the joy!
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of the The Whatever Mom. Her mission is to help other parents let go of perfection and embrace the messier parts of parenting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Let me tell you about that time I tried to replace my morning coffee with a hot lemon water cleanse. Not only did it make me dizzy and exhausted, but I literally forgot I have children. (Disclaimer: No children were harmed during this cleansing process).
Several weeks ago, I was feeling tired and run down and I thought my coffee addiction might be the culprit of my insomnia. I read article after article with cures and tinctures when I landed on an article written by an “expert,” that suggested coffee was messing with my blood sugar and cortisol levels (that’s a stress hormone). This expert also suggested removing coffee and replacing it with hot lemon water every morning for “increased energy and vitality.”
It was all lies.
The first day I was tired, but I made it through my day convinced this little coffee detox might just work.
The second day, I was so tired I fell asleep around 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon. I woke up two hours later completely unaware that I had dozed off.
The third day, I was yawning so much, tears were streaming down my face. It looked like I was crying for help and I could barely keep my head up. I finally took a nap.
The fourth day, I was driving along minding my own business and enjoying some tunes when I heard my kid from the backseat yell out how much she LOVES this song! I freaked out! I completely forgot I had a child in the car with me. I forgot I was the parent on duty! That’s how foggy my brain had become after just 4 days without coffee!
The fifth day, I gave up. I brewed a pot of coffee first thing in the morning and drank it fat. My energy returned and the brain fog lifted. I could remember words and I knew where my kids were the whole day.
I had no idea how much my brain function depends on caffeine. My morning coffee is literally the fluid holding my mind and body connection together. A mom who runs on coffee. Shocking right? I was supposed to replace my morning coffee with hot lemon water for 14 days. I bailed on day 5 and I jumped back on the coffee wagon.
Right when I jumped back on that wagon, I discovered a small coffee roasting company and sampled some of their flavored coffees. I tried three flavors, Dark Chocolate Cherry, French Toast and Maple Bacon. MAPLE. BACON. (Do I even need to tell you how good this is?). You could say, this is the coffee that saved me.
I have tried A LOT of fancy syrups and creamers in my coffee, but I am always disappointed because I end up with a chemical after taste, or a bad reaction to the amount of sugar or additives. All three of these delicious flavors are gluten and dairy free, vegan and no sugar added, yet very flavorful. Even my 9-year-old was sipping off my morning brew and telling me how good it is.
After poking around the website, I find that Reverie Coffee is a woman owned business, the coffee is roasted in small batches and they partner with local charities each moth to give back. It is 100% arabica beans that are sustainably grown. It checks off the boxes that make me feel better about a product. And did I mention it tastes really good?
In fact, I love it so much I asked for a reader discount for all of you to give it a try! Go to Take Me to Reverie fill your cart and use code WHATEVERMOM for 20% off your order! If you love the coffee you ordered, there is a subscription service available. That means the magic beans just show up at your door without you having to remember to order them!
If you love (and depend on) coffee as much as I do, you are going to LOVE Reverie coffee!
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, freelance writer and certified coffee addict. She will stop at nothing to find the perfect soothing cup of coffee to start her morning.
Halloween can be overwhelming to anyone with sensory processing disorder (SPD). If you haven’t heard of this particular disorder before, you are not alone. Most people do not know what it is until their own child is diagnosed. The difficulty is that even with a diagnosis, you as a parent may struggle to understand your child’s sensory triggers.
According to the website Understood.org, children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) “may be oversensitive or undersensitive to the world around them. When the brain receives information, it gives meaning to even the smallest bits of information. Keeping all that information organized and responding appropriately is challenging for them.”
Some kids never notice the feeling of a tag inside their shirt, or the seam inside their socks. But there are kids who are so distracted by this sensation that they can cry or scream, or even become aggressive. One in twenty children live with some varying degree of sensory processing disorder. Navigating daily life can be a struggle, let alone while wearing an itchy costume in a crowded, loud setting.
After speaking with other moms whose kiddos have SPD, I can share some really great tips. The most important thing is, do not force your child beyond their limits. Halloween activities are for their enjoyment and it is OK to let them enjoy activities in their own way. If your child can only handle wearing a small piece of their costume, or no costume at all, let that be enough.
PRO MOM TIPS
Select a costume that is mask free, or does not require face paint.
Let your kids use their own familiar clothing as part of their costume to help them enjoy dressing up.
For kids with auditory sensory issues, using noise cancelling headphones works great.
For kids who are sensitive to bright lights, start your trick or treat night as early as possible and take advantage of the day light.
If your child tires easily map out a short route, or bring along a wagon to let them take a break. And again, it’s OK if you cut your time short and head back home early.
Skip the costumes and make your kiddo feel included with fun family coordinated themed set of t-shirts. Use a small, personalization business like Mom Squad Creations to print up your matching shirts and you’ll be ready to head out together.
Avoid a meltdown by keeping your child informed of timing of events.
Host a small gathering in your home for your child’s comfort.
Trick or treat on streets with sidewalks to lesson anxiety.
Get creative in how your child participates. Nothing is set in stone. Instead of bobbing for apples, maybe your child can stack apples in a bucket.
Put yourself in their shoes. Being a parent of a child with sensory issues can feel overwhelming, but imagine being the child who is struggling to process so much sensory information at once. It can provoke a lot of anxiety not knowing what is happening next.
Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Gina Bergdall suggests allowing your child to carry a fidget toy. This will allow them a constructive “place to focus their anxiety on.” Bergdall also shares these tips provided by the American Occupational Therapy Association.
Pick only a few places to trick or treat and review that plan with your child before hand so they know what to expect.
If your child is overly sensitive to crowds or noises, there are no rules mandating they go trick or treating. You can make some really amazing traditions right at home. Bake and decorate treats, have a fun meal together, or make some popcorn and settle in for a movie. There is no wrong way to participate in Halloween!
If this Halloween looks different than the way other families are celebrating, that’s OK. Embrace your unique traditions! If your child is comfortable at home watching Halloween specials and eating popcorn, join them! Deciding to follow their lead helps them feel capable and less stressed.
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. Her spookiest Halloween decoration is an empty coffee pot. *shudder*
Would you believe me if I told you that I used to work as a craft blogger? True story! Someone paid me to share the really lazy crafts I made each week with my kids. Turns out moms want easy crafts, preferably without glitter. And there are some moms who can’t resist a cute DIY.
I shared in my moms only group this week that I use these simple little DIY baggies to automate our tooth fairy giving. I made six at once and I keep 4 of the baggies pre-filled at all times so the tooth fairy never misses a stop! The other 2 bags I leave empty, one for each kiddo to collect their fallen teeth and leave under the pillow. Once they are asleep, I just swap out for the pre-filled baggie.
This system has worked for me for several years. It especially came in handy during the COVID quarantine when businesses closed. I couldn’t get the usual chocolate coins, or the gold dollar coin our tooth fairy traditionally leaves behind. Thankfully, I was already ahead of myself with this easy system. You can read my original post here, or scroll below for the step by step directions.
Here’s what you’ll need: (Makes 4 bags)
6 Medium organza gift bags (you can find at the dollar store)
1 Piece of white felt
Download a tooth shape to trace
12 Googly eyes
8 inches of string or yarn
*Optional pink paint for rosy cheeks
I found the tooth shape online and printed it out to trace and cut the felt shapes for all six bags.
To make the face, I cut the string into two inch pieces and glued to the felt, next I glued on the eyes. If you’d like cute little pink cheeks, dip a pencil eraser, small dowel, or the end of a round paint brush (whatever you have on hand) into the pink paint and apply at the ends of the smile. Allow time for the glue to dry before attaching the tooth shape to the bag.
Since you are working with an organza bag the glue will seep through and make a mess. If you cut a small square of wax paper to fit inside the bag it will keep the glue from sealing the bag closed.
Begin by inserting the wax paper into the bag before applying the felt shaped tooth. Once the tooth is on the baggie, wait a few minutes before removing the wax paper. Then, hang the open bag to dry. You can leave it at the end of a chopstick, a pencil or paint brush to keep the bag open while it dries. Allow the glue to dry overnight and before filling with treats.
We fill our bags with one gold dollar coin and five chocolate coins. Nothing fancy. I have heard of parents giving their kids $5 per tooth, or $20 for the first tooth and some parents put together an entire basket of gifts. Whatever works. I just know that having twins means double the magic and double the tooth fairy money. So keeping some pre-filled bags between payouts means I won’t be caught off guard the night a tooth falls out.
Do you go all out for the tooth fairy, or do you keep it simple?
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. She likes to keep expectations low by avoiding craft projects that involve any real crafting. Follow along with her daily posts on Facebook.
This year, trick or treat may look and feel a bit different. Many parents are rethinking ways to enjoy the candy filled spooky season without creating a super spreader event. Even my own family is working on a COVID friendly treat distribution. But, what if you aren’t totally feeling the traditional walking door to door for candy?
Here are 6 easy alternatives to trick our treating:
Make the kids work a little harder this year for their stash of candy. Hide some clues around the back yard that will lead them to a mega trove of treats.
GLOW IN THE DARK CANDY HUNT
Put a few treats in a clear bag and add in one glow stick. Hide the treat bags in the back yard after dark (or around the house and turn off the lights). Turn on the spooky sounds and let the kids follow the light for their Halloween sweets.
DRIVE BY TRICK OR TREAT
This is especially great if you live in a more remote area and normally do not get a lot of trick or treaters. Set up a table of pre-packaged, store bought treats and invite your friends to drive by to pick up a treat from you personally. It’s like the birthday parades that were fashionable in the spring, only everyone else gets a take home treat.
HOLIDAY DRIVE BY
If trick or treat is completely banned in your area, you can provide a little eye candy for passersby. Decorate the yard with lights and spooky décor. Encourage folks to drive by to take in the sights.
HOST A VIRTUAL PARTY
If social distance is keeping you apart from friends and loved ones, dial up a Zoom conference to create a virtual Halloween party! Put together a fun “scare package” of crafts and treats to drop off at someone’s door before meeting on Zoom. Then, kids can show off their costumes, craft together and turn up some Halloween tunes for a dance off.
HOST A SOCIALLY DISTANT PARTY
If you have a yard or park area large enough for kids to stay spread out and stay at a healthy distance away from each other, there’s no harm in hosting. Keep it small, encourage masks and hand out prepackaged treats. It’s really smart to stay cautious, so no one will hold it against you if you take temps or offer hand sanitizer at the event. A lot of kids are struggling right now without in-person social connections. This will definitely keep the traditional Halloween fun alive and give kids a little boost of joy.
Are you changing the way you trick or treat on Halloween? I’d love to know how!
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. She writes about the challenges in her motherhood, like how to keep her kids at a socially acceptable distance while trying to work from home.
Halloween is a fun tradition for many families, including my own. My kids are always excited to show off their costumes to our closest neighbors and spend time walking door to door with their friends. But before we head out, I want to make sure their tummies are full and they have enough energy to make it through the neighborhood.
I’ve rounded up some of our quickest and most favorite Halloween dinner ideas. When my kids were just toddlers, these fun recipes were also a fun holiday themed activity and eating our creepy morsels was part of the fun.
MUMMY PIZZA from “Cents”able Mama uses store bought ingredients to make this fun dinner fast!
BAKED QUESADILLAS from That Fit Fam are perfect for your little cheese lover! Serve with some carrot sticks or an apple sauce pouch for a quick meal before heading out the door.
SWEET AND SOUR BAT WINGS from Sprinkles and Sprouts. How spooky are these?? Marinate overnight in the fridge and put in the oven in time for your pre-treat dinner.
If you have time to make all of these at once you’ll have a variety of fun things to offer the kids before heading out for candy. We usually don’t serve a dessert since we know we are going to eat a bunch of candy as soon as we get home. Happy treating!
What’s your favorite Halloween recipe to make?
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. She spends most of her time making food her kids won’t eat and fantasizing about how a beach vacation where naps are required. You can find her at The Whatever Mom on Facebook and on Instagram. For more recipe ideas, follow her on Pinterest.
Before kids I had a major candle addiction that typically peaked as the Fall season began. I love all the scents of autumn and anything with a warm cinnamon or a hearty clove smell had to be in my collection. Those famous little spices warm my home and soul as the temperature begins to drop. Once I had babies, I learned how unhealthy burning candles can be for indoor air quality, not to mention how anxious I felt leaving an open flame for tiny exploring hands to find. Since then, I’ve discovered healthier ways to bring those seasonal scents into my home without all the toxins and worry.
Here are my favorite ways to bring the smell off fall safely into my home:
ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSER
You can use an electric oil diffuser without any worry of heat, flame or burning. Simply fill the with water and add in a few drops of your favorite essential oil. One of my favorites to diffuse during the fall and winter months is Germ Away Organic Essential Oil Blend by Three Sister’s Herbals. The antiviral properties of thieves oil help purify the air and won’t leave behind toxic chemicals. Plus, it is made with clove and cinnamon, two traditional fall scents. I also love to use it in my ceramic wax warmer. I add one TBSP of coconut oil ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 5-10 drops of Germ Away Oil. The light of the tealight candle adds ambiance and warmth as it diffuses the protective elements of thieves oil into the air. You can use this same recipe in an electric wax warmer to avoid the open flame around little ones. Be sure to keep it far enough out of reach the kiddos can’t pull it down.
I also use the Germ Away Hand and Surface Essential Oil spray to wipe down high touch surfaces like light switches, doorknobs, faucet handles and countertops. It safely adds a scent of fall to my home while keeping germs at bay. And because it safe to use around babies and animals, I can hand this job off to one of the kiddos without any worries.
LIGHT A FIRE
Nothing feels warmer or more soothing in the fall than a crackling fire. Unfortunately, I do not have a fireplace in my home, but I have found a way to recreate the scent and feel of a warm fire, without an actual fire. A friend of mine gifted me Palo Santo sticks to burn like incense in my home. The scent made by this tiny stick of wood is as comforting as any fire. Simply light it, let it burn for 30 seconds before blowing it out and leaving to sit in a fire safe dish (I use a ceramic saucer). This burns cleaner than store bought incense which can be full of chemicals and respiratory irritants, plus there is no open flame to worry about. You can use other wood sticks like cedar, hickory, and pine to fill your home with that feeling and scent of a warm fire.
I find that a simple cup of chai tea (which uses cinnamon and cardamom) elicits a feeling of warmth and coziness. Other flavors I love are cinnamon apple, pumpkin spice, citrus and cinnamon spice, and cranberry. The health benefits of drinking tea are well documented but stopping long enough to enjoy a cup of tea is a great way to relax. Simply allowing your tea to steep a few minutes before drinking will surround you with a familiar fall fragrance.
How do you fill your home with the smells of the season?
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, coffee addict and freelance writer. She will write about almost anything you want her to for a small fee. Just check out her about me section to find out how to hire her.
My kids have fought me on eating any kind of veggies since their toddlerhood. Now, they are almost ten. These picky eaters dominate our meal time choices, but they aren’t always winning the war. I sneak veggies inside of their favorite foods undetected all the time. For breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have no clue.
I typically meal prep our breakfast for the week ahead on Sunday. I like stuff I can freeze for a quick reheat in the morning. Now that my kids are older, this method makes it easier for them to make their own breakfast. This is a huge time saver for us all!
So… this weekend I made sausage stuffed French toast with some hidden sweet potato in there. I tried to make it two ways, the traditional frying method vs. baking in the oven. Even though making one big batch in the oven at once is convenient, frying the rolls individually made for a better texture. And it hid the miniscule pieces of orange potato better.
Here is what you need:
12 of your favorite sausage links
12 slices of your favorite bread
2 TBSP of sweet potato puree
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp maple syrup
Dash of cinnamon
2-4TBSP coconut oil
* If you do not have sweet potato puree on hand, you’ll need to start by peeling and dicing a sweet potato and boiling until soft enough to mash before adding to the egg mixture. I made the sweet potato puree while I pre-cooked the sausage links in the oven. You can also use summer squash puree which you can find in the freezer section of your grocery store.*
Once you have your puree and cooked sausage you are ready to begin!
Crack open 3 eggs and dump into a shallow dish. Add sweet potato, vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon. Whisk together until well mixed and no large clumps.
ASSEMBLING ROLL UPS
Use the rolling pin to roll flat each slice of bread (I did four at a time because it’s an easier amount to work with and it is faster than just one at a time). Place a fully cooked sausage on one edge of the flattened bread and roll together. Next, dip the stuffed bread roll into the egg mixture and lay seam side down on a plate.
I fried in batches of four to make assembling easier and to leave enough room in the pan. Heat 2 TBSP coconut oil in frying pan. Place each roll up seam side down into the pan. Let cook 2-3 minutes before turning. Be sure to cook all sides.
I stored the rolls in a flat layer in a freezer bag for the family to grab what they need and make for their breakfast. This made one dozen rolls which my family gladly enjoyed with a favorite fruit and glass of milk.
What do you think? Would you hide veggies in your kids favorite foods?
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer, also known as The Whatever Mom. She is on a mission to connect struggling moms with little ones with her community to laugh, grow and embrace the messy parts of parenting so that they feel empowered and confident in their mom choices.
Date nights with your spouse are an essential investment in your relationship. After all, you were each other’s everything before you became parents. It is important to spend time nurturing your romantic relationship too. Once the kids grow up and leave, it will be just you and the hubby together again. Plus, it makes it easier to cope with those annoying habits like absurdly loud chewing and never changing out the empty tooth paste tube. *eye twitch*
COVID has created some complications for date night opportunities, but even before this pandemic it was hard for my husband and I to spend a Friday night out on the town together. We do not have access to regular babysitters and the extra cost to pay for childcare limited what we could spend on dinner, or a movie. My kids did not love being left with a babysitter and would cry, which always led to me feeling guilty and wanting to rush back home. When my husband started working from home it was easier to treat ourselves to a grown-up lunch while the kids were in school. Except, now school is happening at home.
So where do parents with two rambunctious children and zero babysitting options go for a date night?
Here are 10 date night ideas for couples without a babysitter:
If you have a back yard, us it! Light a fire, grab a blanket and a couple of favorite beverages and head to the back yard to gaze up at the stars. Super easy and spontaneous.
2. Have a subscription box delivered to open together after the kids go to bed. Take turns presenting each other with a new snack box, or silly gifts to exchange.
3. Host a Zoom night double date with good friends and include a wine tasting. Each couple can recommend a bottle for the other couple to taste and sample along with some snacks. Treat the kid to their own special movie night in the living room with snacks and separate places to get cozy to buy yourself some quiet time with friends.
4. Host a game night with another couple on Zoom. You can split your screen for online games or go old school with fun Pictionary or charades.
5. Set up a candlelight picnic outside under the stars after the kids go to bed. Order out some grown-up appetizers from that new place you have wanted to try, but you know the kids will not like.
6. Stream a movie on the lawn. Set up a comfy spot with an air mattress and cozy blankets, or a double seated swing chair to snuggle in while watching. Bring out the snacks and beverages to enjoy.
7. Order a DIY craft kit from a local maker and make something at home. A lot of local crafters are offering a make and take kit to do at home. Pick one that you both like and give it a try! It does not have to be perfect, just fun.
8. Pick up a favorite dessert that you don’t want to share with the kids. Once they go to bed, bring it out and do not feel guilty!
9. Go through old photos and movies together and laugh at some of the crazy shenanigans you have taken part in over the years. Pop open some champagne and re-watch your wedding video or honeymoon videos.
10. Make it an early morning date. Wake up an hour or two before the kids and enjoy some quiet coffee and a savory brunch without picky eaters. You don’t even need to get fancy, just toss some fresh bagels out and call it breakfast. The point is you’re alone and it’s quiet.
Even when bedtime is a struggle (as it is in my house) these ideas are all easy enough to put together without a lot of planning. And they can break you out of the channel surfing rut most of us find ourselves in after the kids go to bed.
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer in search of picky eater free meals and exciting adult conversation. Visit The Whatever Mom on FacebookInstagramPinterest and Twitter.
Now that back to school is here and life is a little chaotic with a new schedule to work with, I find meal prepping a giant life saver. I actually get a little excited to see my hard work stacked up neatly in the freezer. Knowing that most of my meal prep work is done takes a lot of stress off of my plate, especially on those crazy days where everything else seems to be going wrong, or I am running behind.
As I was prepping I stopped quickly to take a few pics of what I was making to show you how easy it is to make two different chicken dinners ahead of time to stash in the freezer for later in the week. I made Honey Mustard Chicken to serve with rice pilaf and I made Thai Chicken Soup. One package of chicken split between two different recipes and I was done in minutes.
HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN
1 lb. chicken breast (I use thighs because it’s usually cheaper and tastier)
1 bottle of your favorite honey mustard dressing or marinade
1 package of French cut green beans
Salt and pepper
1 gallon zip seal freezer bag
Place chicken pieces into bottom of the bag, pour one half of the bottle of honey mustard dressing over the chicken and then dump the frozen veggies on top. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Press all of the air out of the bag before you seal it and stack in the freezer. That’s it for prep!
When you are ready to cook, remove the prepped meal from the freezer and place in the fridge overnight to thaw out. Empty contents into the crock-pot and be sure to arrange with green beans on the bottom and chicken on top. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. *Every crock-pot heats differently. Mine cooks really fast, so I only need 3 hours for this meal.* Serve with rice, pasta or roasted potatoes (you can get prechopped potatoes in the produce section or in the freezer section to save more time).
THAI CHICKEN SOUP
1 lb. chicken breast (thigh definitely is best for this recipe, but either works)
1 jar of salsa
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 TBSP soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
1 can coconut milk
1 gallon zip seal freezer bag
*optional serve over cooked rice, or rice noodles.
Place chicken pieces in the bottom of the bag. In a separate bowl add peanut butter, juice of one lime, soy sauce and the jar of salsa. Mix until it is all combined and pour over chicken in the bag. Seal and freeze.
When you are ready to cook, remove from the freezer and leave in the fridge overnight. Put the mixture into the crockpot and allow it to cook on high 3-4 hours. *Crock-pots may vary in cooking times. Mine will cook this meal in 2.5 hours.* The last half an hour of cook time, shred the chicken and add in can of coconut milk. Allow to simmer for remaining 30 minutes. If you chose to serve over rice, you can get those really quick 90 second microwave rice packs that will bring this meal together quick. You can even delegate that small part of dinner to a helper.
That’s it! Two recipes to prep this week that will take you as much time as it takes to read this post. Enjoy! Oh and don’t forget to prep those breakfast smoothies too! If you try any of these feel free to comment below, or stop by The Whatever Mom Facebook page to share, or find me on Insta.
Roxanne Ferber is twin mom and freelance writer doing whatever it takes to find extra sanity in the day.
A good friend once said to me, “you need to get away from the husband and kids. You need time to miss them.” She is totally right.
My husband and I both work from home, and now both of our kids are attending school from home. We spend every waking hour together. I love them and I am so grateful we have the option to bet together through these crazy COVID times, but, I need mental space. And sometimes I really need physical space. I need to not be on demand for a meal, a snack, a quick question or to settle an argument.
Before the pandemic hit and the kids were in school for most of the day, I met with friends for coffee and we talked about our lives as moms. We vented about our stress and laughed at the ridiculous things our husbands can’t seem to find right in front of their faces. It was good for our mental health to drop those feelings in a safe space and let them go.
Now that I am “teaching” all day while trying to write and balance the chores, I am stuck inside my house more and it really makes me crazy. I am not a “homebody” or one to sit still for long. Movement and getting out of my house (and away from my family) is essential selfcare for my mental wellness. Some days I fantasize about running away or leaving a note on the counter, “Dear family, I love you. Now get away from me.” That’s not considered polite, so here are four ways to nicely inform your family you need time alone with your thoughts.
FIND SOME HEADSPACE
Taking a daily walk through my neighborhood each morning before logging everyone into a laptop helps me feel free. There’s no schedule, there’s no tether to my home, there is only me, the fresh air and my air pods. It isn’t the spa or working out at the gym, but it truly helps me clear my head and get ready for the chaos of the day. If I can’t get outside to walk because of weather, I walk on my treadmill. And sometimes, I just stand at an open door and quietly sip my coffee and listen to the birds chirp.
SOCIALLY DISTANT VENT SESSIONS
Once a week, usually a weekend morning, I invite other moms to join me on socially distant hikes. We walk on opposite sides of the trail while we chat about our stress and laugh about how crazy our families make us. It’s a great way to stay connected to my village and take in nature, which always makes me feel more grounded. Once a month, I meet with a couple of other moms outside in one of our driveways, or an empty lot just to talk about our stress. We sit 10 feet apart and bring our own chairs.
JUST LEAVE THE STRESS BEHIND
There are some days after the laptops are off and the kids are plugged into a video game, I leave the house. I no longer walk the aisles of Target slowly to peruse. Instead, I head to the drive through for a coffee and take the back country roads and soak in the passing scenery. Sometimes, I get out at a park to sit on a bench and watch people go by, read a book, write in a journal or phone a friend, which ever I am in the mood for.
SCHEDULE TIME TO UNPLUG
About once or twice a week, I skip watching TV after the kids go to bed and opt for reading a book. I leave the phone in another room so that I am not tempted to scroll, or look through the horrifying headlines of the daily news. This gives me time to unwind and plug into things that bring me joy like reading a good book and being in my cozy bed.
Selfcare means something different to everyone. I personally, need deep connections to others and nature and time to connect with myself. I miss dining out at leisure and going to the gym. But, scaling back to basics have really helped me cope with how different things are right now.
Do you spend time away from your family to recharge?
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer just looking for a quiet space to enjoy her own thoughts.
Going back to school this year looks vastly different than any other year. Many of us are working from home, while also teaching our kids at home. We are not sending our kids off on the bus and our back to school traditions may have changed.
At least this time around we are not feeling the last-minute scramble of a complete shutdown, we are starting day one at home. Thankfully, we learned what worked and did not work and we can use that to plan this year.
The one big thing I learned during our shutdown in the spring, is that I am over standing in my kitchen all day making meals on demand. Scrambling to prepare food in between Zoom classes did not work well for me. I spent a lot of time making fresh meals three times a day for picky eaters and it was exhausting. So, to free up that time this year I am ramping up my meal prepping.
Since becoming a mom meal prepping is my go-to sanity saver and number one-time management technique. It does require a one to two-hour time commitment in the kitchen, but the amount of time it saves me from clean up and standing in front of the stove the rest of the week is worth it.
Here are my quick tips for planning and prepping for each meal of the week. Maybe it will help you save some time/sanity around remote learning this Fall.
I use the weekends to prep ahead a few different breakfast options that my family can grab and go or warm up for themselves. I wake up an hour before the family on Sunday morning to have the kitchen to myself. You can check out my Pinterest board for ideas, but some of our favorites are breakfast burritos, protein pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, hidden veggie muffins and smoothie blender cups. I make two options for my family to choose from and then I make the blender cups for myself. I have them preloaded and stacked in the freezer to make my mornings easier. My family can reheat their breakfast sandwiches and pancakes on their own or grab a muffin from the fridge.
Each night after dinner, I have the kids pack a lunch just like they did when going to school. And my husband and I pack up our own lunches. This saves me the headache of making two different sandwiches or rummaging around for leftovers to reheat every day. Preparing all of our lunches each night saves enough time for all of us to take our lunch break together, and it encourages my kids to be self sufficient.
Before I even go grocery shopping, I make a dinner menu for the week. My meal plan for the week includes a DIY pizza night (or take out) and a leftovers night to give me a night off from cooking. On my grocery shopping day, I like to wash all the produce before putting it away and I prepare as many meals ahead of time that I can. I am especially fond of freezer meals that I can toss together in a freezer bag and dump into the crock pot later. This is a huge time saver and way less mess to clean up during the busy week. I am also a fan of one sheet pan meals to make in the oven. And on really busy nights, I’ll make a charcuterie board that fits everyone’s picky favorites. You can find some of my favorite go to meal pins here.
I discovered my kids will eat through a bag of chips like its an Olympic sport. So, I stopped buying bags of chips that literally disappears within minutes and leaves my kids crabby. I set up bins in the fridge with grab and go options like cheese sticks, baby bell cheeses, yogurt tubes, mini oranges, hummus cups and bags of veggies. Don’t get me wrong, chips are delicious, and I do not judge anyone buying them for their kids. I just know my kids stay fuller longer (and stay less moody) when they eat protein and fruits.
It took me a little while to make these prepping hacks a routine. So, don’t think you have to do all of the above to be efficient. Pick the toughest meal of the day and prep it in advance to help make that time of day run a bit smoother for you.
What’s the toughest meal for you to prepare each day? Mine is breakfast, so I will always prepare breakfast in advance. I like sleep more than I like to cook.
If you have any great meal prep hacks or recipes, feel free to share in comments below or send them to [email protected]
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, fur mom, wife and freelance writer just trying to eek out as much sanity as she can from each day.
After nearly six months at home with my family here around the clock, I might be ready to lose my mind. I cannot tell you how many messes I have cleaned up, nor how often I’ve heard myself yelling, “pick that up” or “put that back where you got it!” or “don’t even think about stepping over that one more time!”
I am officially burned out from all of the cleaning and sanitizing. I don’t know about you, but I like a good deep clean right after summer to clean up all the mess we dragged in through the season. Since I am so tired of it all, I am seriously considering hiring a cleaning service to do the heavy lifting for me.
We aren’t ready to have a weekly cleaning person come into our home, but we could definitely use some help with a deeper cleaning. The folks at E&J Cleaning and Floors have provided deep cleaning and sanitizing services for businesses and residents throughout the Capital District. They have perfected their sanitation levels and protocols throughout this Pandemic, and they are ready to help you too! Their team will arrive to your home with masks and gloves and stay at a safe distance while they work.
Not only can they sanitize high touch surfaces by hand, but they also offer an Electrostatic Disinfection Technique to apply an EPA approved sanitizing solution to surfaces that lasts for months. A great way to protect your home as we head into flu-season.
Visit their Facebook and Instagram pages to see before and after photos of their residential, furniture and floor cleanings and what a great job they can do! Having someone else shampoo the couches and carpets will save me a ton of time and energy that I just don’t have right now, while planning our return to remote learning for two kids, working from home, meal planning and wiping down all the door knobs.
If you are worn out by all the extra cleaning, or trying to balance all the extra messes with working and cooking and everything else that comes along with this Pandemic life, do yourself a favor and hire someone who can help. Treat yourself to a little extra time in your week, or month and let someone else do the heavy lifting. You can use that time to relax in the back yard reading a book, or taking the kids for a drive for ice cream. If you hire someone for a weekly cleaning, count that time as self care and head to your local drive through to pick up lunch or dinner. Hiring extra help definitely leaves room for sanity in our day.
A clean and sanitized home is one less thing to stress about as we head into back to school season, holiday planning and worries about keeping our family safe. Call / Text For Your Free Estimate Today (518) 419-4683
(This is a paid post, but all opinions expressed are my own).
I hope you enjoyed my meet a mom series this summer and found a sense of solidarity among these interviews. Even though the moms featured are business owners, writers, bakers, scientists and more, as moms they still have to endure kid tantrums and picky eating. As schools across the country begin to reopen, I want to focus more on content moms can use right now, so I am going to retire the series (for now). Before I do, I thought maybe now would be a good time to share a little about myself. Things have certainly changed since I began writing
I started writing about my messy life as a mom nearly 8 years ago while my twins were toddlers. Back then, life was messy in the very literal sense. My kids were into finger paints and playdough, dumping cereal and pulling pans out of the cupboards. I was living through the early messy phases of potty training and picky eating. I learned that the messiest part of all, was me. I felt like a failure every day. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with the other moms. Most days were a scramble, so I started sharing those moments and solutions that work for my family. Turns out, other moms feel the same way. I often hear from moms, that reading this blog gives them permission to let go of making things perfect and that it’s ok to embrace the chaos.
My twins are now pre-teens. Life looks messy in a new way. There are many emotional messes and sibling arguments to overcome. The bills are tighter, my kids need deeper conversations about life and there still aren’t enough hours in the day to finish every task demanded of me as mom, a wife, a writer, a blogger and from my own expectations. And, don’t even get me started on the demands of parenting through a pandemic!
However, the payoff to all this stressful living is watching my kids become independent and self-driven little people. Being a mom is a pretty amazing journey. It really does go by as fast as people tell you. Along the way there are many unexpected speed bumps and worries you wouldn’t have if you weren’t in charge of someone else’s survival. In the end, all of those messes clean up, and everything works out.
Meet The Whatever Mom – a.k.a Roxanne!
What is the name of your blog? The Whatever Mom (obvi)
Who is your target audience? Moms just like me who are trying to make it through the day with as much sanity as we can.
Why did you begin blogging? When I became a mom there was this very thin line of acceptance for sloppy buns and rolling into play groups a total hot mess. It was also taboo to talk about things like miscarriage, divorce, marriage issues and worries about your kid’s development during park meet ups. I can’t tell you how many times I’d meet new parents at the park and hear how perfect their lives were, while they fed their kids all organic fruits and seeds from their stainless-steel bento boxes. I felt like I couldn’t measure up to those standards. I want my blog to be a safe place for myself and other moms to connect regardless of our parenting styles.
How many children do you have? I have twins, two girls, about to turn ten. In the twin world, I’d call them *G/G ID twins* That stands for girl/girl, identical twins.
Describe your business mission: Well, my mission is to develop this little blog of mine into a thriving business. Not only do I want to provide a non-judgey place to commiserate, but I’d like to one day employ other stay at home moms, or mompreneurs and help them find success following their dreams. Or at least pay them enough money to get their very own latte without having to worry about taking money out of the family budget.
How do you most relate to The Whatever Mom philosophy? For the record, I didn’t create an entirely new philosophy. When I was a brand-new mom, I spent hours crying because I felt like I was always behind the eight ball. No matter what I did, my twins just cried. My husband worked 17 hours (yes, truly 17) a day while I learned how to manage two infants at once. I honestly thought I was going to lose my mind. Until a friend said to me, you just “do whatever it takes to make it through to the end of the day with the most amount of sanity left.” If plan A doesn’t work, toss it out and go with plan B. There will be some days you make it all the way to plan Z, but if it means less stress and less crying, then that’s the plan you go with. So, being a whatever mom means learning to roll with the punches and making it work for your family. I added the whole non-judgey part because it was really getting on my nerves to hear moms tear each other down for making different choices. I hate to break it to ya, but we’re all wiping butts for at least the first three years of motherhood, no one is better than anyone else.
What do you want other moms to know about you? I want other moms to know that motherhood is a struggle for me. I did not take to motherhood as easily as I thought I would. I love my kids dearly and as strong willed as my kids are, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. But, letting go of who I was before kids was hard. I had two successful careers before I became a mom. I succeeded at just about anything I tried, so when I couldn’t make things perfect as a mom, I felt hopeless and defeated. What helped me through it was connecting with other moms, learning how to take self-care seriously and a learning to let go of perfection.
What makes you stand out as a mom? Funny, when I put this in the questionnaire, I thought it was an easy question. Now, I know why everyone said it was hard to answer. We are all moms dedicated to our kids, right? I think what makes me standout as a mom is my ability to learn and grow alongside my kids. Not just in learning new life lessons but learning to tune into myself and each of my kids as individuals. Not only am I teaching them how to not need me one day, but they are changing my perception of the world. And they are teaching me how to play video games because I am really, really, like REALLY BAD at them! 😉
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer. She enjoys drinking coffee in total silence while she scrolls mindlessly through social media. Shhh… no talkie before the coffee.
Last year, I made a big plan in my head to celebrate my summer birthday with a backyard bash. I wanted lights, catered food, friends and music. Just a relaxing summer night with people I enjoy most, eating cake and toasting with prosecco. As always, when I make a plan the world steps in with different ideas.
One of the bummers about this COVID Pandemic is that birthday celebrations just aren’t the same. We can’t have our usual big gatherings to celebrate. There can be no sharing of bowls filled with snacks and dips for potentially contaminated fingers to swim around in. Pouring drinks from large containers means a variety of hands touching the same surface and sanitizing after every use. It feels daunting to try to entertain safely right now.
But, I wasn’t giving up on what I want, which was food and friends. Instead, I found another way to celebrate on a much smaller scale while enjoying some of my favorite things. Instead of fifty people, I had five. I didn’t serve a catered menu, but we did enjoy some safe snacks at a distance. And yes, there was prosecco and music. For a background playlist I chose the Hamilton musical soundtrack. If you haven’t listened yet, you are missing out.
Our small group enjoyed gathering around the firepit in the open air where we could maintain enough distance without worrying about spreading germs. Since no celebration is complete without food and wine, I got a little creative with how to serve sanitary snacks at a distance without constant sanitation.
I picked up some reusable storage bins at the dollar store to fill with ice and some snacks. I added a bottle of water, two mini bottles of my favorite prosecco and prepackaged snack plates that include cheese, prosciutto and toasty bread. It was a big hit! Plus, moms could take the entire bin home with them, so no worries about sanitizing after.
I placed the individual snack boxes on the ground six-feet apart around the firepit in my yard, and asked each mom to bring their own chair for seating. When they arrived I pointed them to a sanitized snack box to set up next to in our circle. We spent the next three hours socializing and snacking safely. I also asked moms to bring their masks just incase, but we didn’t need them because we sat far enough apart. Chatting without a face covering felt a little more like the normalcy of pre-pandemic times.
It also felt great to celebrate my birthday with friends, but it was even better to commiserate with other moms in person. We laughed about our kids, shared our anxieties about school, told hilarious stories about ourselves and it felt like we left our worries behind for a bit. It was a great moms night out!
My only regret is that it was too dark for photos outside. But, I’ll have the memories of our time together to look back on as we get through the uncertainty of the winter ahead of us.
Did you celebrate a birthday during the pandemic? How was it different this year? I’d love to hear about your creative celebrations in comments below!
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.
I first met Laura Bagnarol at a moms retreat two years ago. I recognized her as the creator of the Pigskin Princess Project. Before meeting her in person, I only knew her through social media. Now, I am in love with her Be Big Be Brave mission.
Laura started the Pigskin Princess Project when her daughter was just 4 years old. She was not satisfied by the local sports programs, so she created one of her own, a flag-football team that focuses on combating harmful gender stereotypes. Through her Be Big Be Brave company she has helped raise funds to build an inclusive play ground and support local and national non-profits.
Today, Laura is a mother to three children, a public speaker, community organizer, creator of The Brave Project, freelance writer and strives to empower children age 3 to college (and if I am honest, she is an inspiration to those around her). She is proof that moms can do anything and will do anything for their kids while making waves of change right in their own community.
How are your programs helping others? I offer empowerment workshops, programs, and products for kids. I am the founder of the Pigskin Princess Project and its companion program the Pigskin Prince Project. These are flag-football programs for girls, ages 3-11 and pre-k age boys. We teach the fundamentals of the sport but also use the sport of football as a tool to combat harmful gender stereotypes and to introduce kids to the many inspiring individuals in our community and beyond, that are doing incredible things off the field. I also co-created, The Brave Project, an educational awareness program for girls in 5th grade through college age. I am also a motivational speaker and present to a variety of groups from Girl Scouts to women in business. I am a contributing writer to Her View From Home blog site.
Where are you located? Hopewell Junction but will travel all over the Hudson Valley and beyond!
Who is your target audience? Kids, ages 3 through college age!
Can you describe your business mission for us? To inspire kids to be their big, brave selves! I create programs and products that are designed to help kids build resiliency, recognize their strengths, combat bullying, become more self-aware, and build confidence.
How many children do you have? Three: Girl (11); Boy (9); Girl (7)
How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? Love the nonjudgmental tone, combined with the realness and humor. The Whatever Mom philosophy shatters the myth of perfect parenting and takes the pressure – of knowing it all and being it all – OFF us moms.
What do you want other moms to know about you? I care deeply about creating a culture where kids can lead safe, happy, healthy lives in large part because of my professional background. I have my master’s in social work and spent my 20s and 30s working with victims of crime of all ages and backgrounds. It is this work that has made me so passionate about educating children to look out for themselves and each other.
What makes you stand out as a mom? I have big ideas that I have to make come to fruition. I started my flag football empowerment program for girls because I just wasn’t loving the sports programs that were available to my then 4-year-old daughter. I also love those teachable moments that are happening all the time in life and will use them whenever I can to try to teach my kids something. (This, as you can imagine, is quite annoying to them.) I also like to make my kids laugh. (Me learning TikTok dances is always good for a laugh.) My 7-year-old will tell you that my butter cookies make me stand out.
Yes, it’s another deconstructed pizza recipe from me! I can’t help it, my family loves pizza! You may have enjoyed our Easy Pizza Rolls for family pizza night or even our Pizza Cookie for dessert. But, this gluten free pizza pasta casserole is just for me because I can’t have gluten or (most) dairy. So, finding anything resembling a real pizza is near impossible. I am from New York, home of the best pizza and there is no substitute. However, this easy recipe brings the same flavors and makes me feel like I am not missing out entirely.
This whips together in under 30 minutes and FYI, it is a great recipe for school lunch boxes! Make it on a Sunday, reheat to put into a thermos and pack in a lunch box.
Pizza is simply crust (base carb), cheese, sauce and favorite toppings.
Our deconstructed pizza uses gluten free pasta as the base carb, mixed with sauce and favorite toppings like pepperoni, sausage or favorite veggies and of course cheese. We use a gluten free pasta from the grocery store that everyone in my family likes and suddenly we are all eating one meal! Since I can’t have most dairy, I use grated parmesan cheese, affectionately known in my house as “shaker cheese.” It isn’t the hot gooey mess of melted Mozzarella, but it still tastes so darn good!
Cook 1 pound of pasta according to directions on package.
Add in one jar of your favorite sauce.
Stir in favorite pizza toppings (I sliced up pepperoni, black olives, green pepper and red onion).
Sprinkle with grated parmesan, or add in shredded mozzarella. (The mozzarella will melt into the hot pasta and sauce, so no need to bake to melt).
Give it a good mix before serving! This goes great with a salad or a side of wings. Anything you’d normally eat with your pizza!
It’s a super easy meal to make on a week night when the kids are hungry and you need something fast, or as a quick side dish for your picky eater who only eats pasta, pizza and cheese.
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, freelance writer and wannabe foodie. Food tastes better when other people cook it, or when kids aren’t complaining about it, but she doesn’t have a lot of time to cook it fancy. If you have a recipe to share email it to [email protected] or share it over on The Whatever Mom Facebook page.
Jacqueline Ramirez (Jackie for short) is mom to two teenagers, ages 14 and 17, an incredible iPhone photographer and the owner of Hudson Valley Exposed blog, chronicling her travel adventures over six different counties in the Hudson Valley. On top of her busy life raising kids, she produces digital guides and lists for budget friendly places to take the kids to play, for ice cream, the movies, local events, farmers markets and even date night ideas. She makes light work for busy parents planning their family fun.
Originally from the Bronx, Jackie settled in the Hudson Valley just after college and has taken many adventures with her family. Alongside her recommendations for family friendly trips, she gives tips for travel and snapping just the right pic with your iPhone. Even if you are not currently living in the Hudson Valley, take a look at all the exciting things Jackie shares and you may be inspired to take the trip.
How do you help families find their weekend adventures? I offer digital Hudson Valley Guides and lists they can use to plan their next day together.
Where in the Hudson Valley are you located? I am completely digital – on the web and social media.
Who do you write your blog for? Anyone looking to see & do new things in the Hudson Valley.
Why did you begin blogging these adventures? I want to help others explore the Hudson Valley the easiest and stress free way. I encourage everyone to explore without breaking the bank.
How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? I think women can do it all. Motherhood, business owner and more.
What do you want other moms to know about you? I love what I do and look forward to providing important information to others. I sometimes struggle with organization and feel completely overwhelmed the majority of the time.
What makes you stand out as a mom? I take my kids on all my Hudson Valley outings and make them a part of my online business journey. I have no family up here and we are doing all of this completely on our own.
Amber Murphy is mom to two girls, a teenager and a little one, and the owner/lead designer of Mom Squad Creations. She likes to keep it real by finding the funny in motherhood which shines through in the personalized products she creates. Whether it’s her personal philosophy scrolled across a shopping bag, or a customer’s inside joke on the outside of a cup, Amber will bring it to life.
Amber identifies as a “Bad Mom” who enjoys coffee and swearing. She enjoys all things sparkly, snarky and loud. And she runs her businesses the same way while raising two humans to be creative, inclusive and true to themselves.
What is your full name? *Princess Consuela Banana Hammock….. I mean, Amber Murphy.
What kind of products do you offer? Drinkware and Apparel with a snarky twist.
Where are you located? Halfmoon, NY
Who do you create these snarky things for? Moms, particularly the moms who fall under the “bad moms” category.
How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? I’m realllllll down with the Whatever part. ? We are all just doing our best to survive the experience of motherhood. Anyone who says they have motherhood figured out is lying to you, we are all a hot mess just doing our best.
What do you want other moms to know about you? I’m not sure. I don’t know what there is to know because I’m generally transparent and we show a lot of my personality through my business. I guess I’d like people to know I really do read every comment. I’m on top of every comment, message, etc. For some reason people sometimes don’t understand there’s a real person/mom reading and responding to everything! Especially when you start to really brand your business people assume everything is robotic…. but it’s me, a real person! I’m on the other side of the screen carefully selecting the funny gifs to respond to you! ?
What makes you stand out as a mom? My lack of a filter.
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.
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?
Contains affiliate links. I make a small commission from the sales made through this site.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
**Post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission for orders placed using nthose links.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Grated Parmesan cheese
2 TBSP melted butter
Dried parsley (optional)
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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]
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!
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.
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.”
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
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!
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
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.
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.
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!