Category: Uncategorized

How to Host a Socially Distant Party with Friends

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.

[Enter a world wide Pandemic]

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.

Meet a Mom and Motivational Speaker

Photo credit: Tri-County Woman Magazine

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.

Where can other moms find you on social media? Be Big Be Brave, LLC Etsy Shop Facebook Instagram YouTube

Gluten Free Pizza Pasta Dish – Great for lunch boxes!

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!

Directions:

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.

Meet a Mom and Travel Blogger

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.

Meet Jackie!

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.

Where can others find Hudson Valley Exposed? Find my website or follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

Meet a Bad Mom and Squad Leader

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.

Meet Amber!

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.

Where can other moms find you? My website, Facebook and IG

This post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission for each purchase made through these links.

My Daily Smoothie Hack

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

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

So….

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That’s what I do!

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

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

Line up seven freezer friendly cups.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Contains affiliate links. I make a small commission from the sales made through this site.

Meet a Mom and Cake Designer

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

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

Meet Stephanie!

Where are you located? Latham, NY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, I won’t.

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

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

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

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

But…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet a Motivated Mom and Blogger

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

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

Meet Diedre!

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

Where are you located? Statesboro, GA

Who do you write this blog for? Multiracial families

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

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

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

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

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

Meet a Mom and Science Lover

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

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

Meet Margaret!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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