Thursday, August 28, 2014

5 tips to make the morning school routine easier

With back to school being either here or next week, most of us parents might be dreading the awful mornings. having to rush kids who are half asleep. Kids not being able to find their clothes and shoes and homework. It can be horrible sometimes.

Therefore, below I have listed 5 tips to try to help make your before school mornings run a little smoother. As you will see, most of it has to do with getting stuff done the night before.

1 - Make lunches the night before. Its pretty plain & simple. However, by doing this, you can also take snacks that might not be so great to eat once they get warm, and stick them in the freezer. Like Go-Gurt tubes. We keep them in the freezer. Then when they are put in the lunch, which is then put in the fridge, they stay mostly frozen, and are not warm and gross by lunch time.
Also, I have picky eaters, so doing lunches at night, allows me the extra time to let the kids pick out their own snacks. Then all I need to do is make sandwiches and throw it all together.

2 - Try to get the kids to pick out their clothes the night before. Or at least as them what they want to wear, so it makes them think about WHERE the outfit is. I have a house full of girls, and too many times have we had meltdowns in the morning because they can't find their favorite shirt, and there is "nothing else to wear".

3 - Have an On The Go breakfast selection.  (This one I know might bother some of you mom who are really into cooking a healthy breakfast for your kids each morning, but if that's the case, this post is not for you. )  In our house, we are late nighters who sleep in, so we are not into breakfast either too much. None of us can really eat as soon as we get up. But there are times, where the kids pass out early the night before, so they wake up a little hungry. For those times, or times when someone actually gets dressed fast and has extra time, we have quick healthy yogurt tubes, or granola and cereal bars, or even the quick heat & go mini pancakes. Finger foods. (Disclaimer: my kids schools provide snacks mid-morning and afternoons, so they are not starving)

4 - Don't wake everyone up at the same time.  I have 3 girls and one bathroom. Although they are all still fairly young, My almost 11yr old is starting to want "privacy". So, typically, I will take care of my bathroom duties before I wake them up. Then I wake up the almost 11yr old so she can get in real quick. Once she is in the bathroom, I then wake up the 7 yr old twins. I try to make sure that they all get in the bathroom as I am waking them up, to prevent a bathroom traffic jam and morning yelling.

5 - Have last minute get ready items, in the room where everyone is right before you leave. That might sound confusing. Let me explain. We have a 2 story house. When we first moved in, I thought it was great that we could get the shoes out of the LR and keep every kids items in their own rooms. Well, that just made for a large search party every morning. So, we keep all of our shoes in the LR,  by the front door, in a generalized area. That way there are no questions as to where the shoes are. Also, the twins still need my help a little with hair in the morning. So instead of going back upstairs and clogging up the bathroom, all while I can't see IF the 11yr is getting moving, we have a hair bin on our LR shelf. This hold brushes, leave in sprays, headbands, and hair ties. So as we go out and they all realize they might want to pull their hair up later, its not a big long trek to the bathroom upstairs. ( these shoe and hair bins are hidden in decorative baskets)

Just a few little tips from our morning routine, to help maybe make yours a little easier. Happy Back to School!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

You CAN lower you bills instead of constantly changing carriers

We all have that battle once in a while, where we need to drop our bills. Or the carrier has added another fee to add to the long list, and it increases our bills.  And some of us might even be those people who are always swapping carriers, to get the lowest price out there.

However, I am  one of those customers, whee once I sign up with you, you have me for life. (unless you totally screw me over).

I have a few tips for people, to maybe help lower your bills a bit, every year or 2.

The idea for this post arises because I just got off a chat with my cable company, and was pleased. I thought for sure I was in for a fight. However, it went very well.

I received my monthly bill and noticed the amount went up about $10 more. I noticed I am now being charged and $8 DVR service fee. HOLD ON - we don't have DVR capabilities. WTH???  This brought me back to last year when I saw the $10 fee of HD Technology fee -- which again, we can't access ANY HD channels...ever. Our TV is not equipped for it.

So now, I am paying almost $20 a month for services I can't even use??? NO, I DON"T THINK SO!!
I got on a chat with a rep, explained the situation, and she explained to me, that I can trade in the main cable box we have, for a basic model. That will get rid of the HDDVR fees, and I will still be able to use the basics on the remote/tv, as we currently are with this one.

(what happened is, when HD became a necessity, no one told us that the equipment we already had, would have fees tapped to it. We should have been advised that we should swap it out, but we weren't)

Finally, here are my tips (this is mostly for cell phone and cable companies):

1 - Do not call the Customer Service people on the phone, if you can help it. Most companies have an online chat options for customer service. This is much better because you can't hear the voice tone of the rep, which in turn will not make you automatically snap to the annoying customer with an attitude.  Also, the hold times are not as long, at all. My log in today, I was 22 in line for chat, and I think I waited 3 minutes for a rep to connect.

2 - If you have been with the same company for a long time, and rarely complain, check their website about every 1-2 years. If there are plans out there, with lower cost, for NEW customers, most times, you can plead your case and get that lower plan as well, which can drop your bill as well.
("Its not fair that I have been with you for 10 yrs but pay  so much more then NEW customers. What can you do to keep me with your company.")

3 - PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BILLS.  I have seen people who have their bills on auto pay and don't notice the little increased here and there each month. Then when they DO notice it, its a big change, and there is not much they can do about it.  I manually pay my bills every  month, so I notice if there is  a little change, and I jump on right away.  Most Customer service reps think that if you are just NOW complaining about it after a year of not noticing, that its your fault, not theirs. 

Lastly, this is not a tip but something I ask you to keep in mind, as I have been in the Customer Service field.  The people you talk to in Customer Support, did NOT make the rules. They are NOT the ones putting fees on your bill. Please keep in mind they DO NOT make the decisions of the company, they are just there to help you find your way through the maze. being understand that its not that persons fault your are paying so much, can change the whole attitude of the call.
Thank you!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Why I use 5 different calendars

Ever notice how there are some people who are just right on time, and on top of things schedule wise, and then there are other who seem to double book themselves a lot, which results in cancelling plans?  I notice it allllll the time. But that is because I am one of those, who used to always be right on time or early. Then I had kids....and my timing would get a little off.

As the kids grew, our daily schedules started getting filled up even more with school meetings, dance classes, doctors & dentist appointments, birthday parties, etc.  I started to lose track of it all. It got to the point where I need to mark everything on the calendar. But then, I was still messing things up.

Well now,  I realized I have a 5 calendar process. Sounds a little crazy huh? But not really. This is my way of making sure everyone in the house has a place to look up their own things, and a way for me to look at a calendar, when making schedules, without really having to go run into another room.

1 - I have the main calendar in the kitchen, which is for my husband schedule, and all things for the entire family. This is hung in a central location where everyone knows it is and can refer to it.

 2 - I have a one week white board calendar that I change every week, and write the daily items on there, so we can all see it easily. Its hung over the computer, so everyone sees it.

3 - I have a small monthly one that hang right over my computer. This is for work purposes, or when making appointments, so i can glance really fast to just see what day of the week a certain date falls on. Month at a glance.

4 - I have one on my Outlook calendar for work. This has all my work schedules along with reminders like when pay days are, and what appointments I have right after work.

5 - Last, I have a calendar app on my phone. This I try to keep updated, so that when I am out, and someone says "what are you doing on this day", or "are you available on that day"?  This one I rarely refer to, as my life is not all that busy.

I know I just said my life is not that busy, so you are probably wondering why I need 5 calendars then. Problem is, the business of my life is not consistent. So I tend to have a few months where my schedule is wide open, then things get crazy busy again for a few months.

Nobody's perfect, but with all my calendars, I try to pretend that I am sometimes! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

After school routine

For some of us, the new school year has already started and for others, its right around the corner.
For us, this means getting back to being on schedules. I love when my kids follow a schedule, because ti keeps them occupied, which keeps me calm, which in turn makes everyone's lives easier.

Now this year, I don't think I will have to "post" an after school schedule, because the girls are now all getting older. And, my oldest is in an after school program now, which keeps them apart, and again, keeps the calm in the air.

This all started a couple years ago, when the girls seemed to be out of control at home, but the teachers raved how they were helpful angels at school. Why couldn't I have those children? Fine, I will treat them as though they are at school. And boy, it worked!  As long as there was a list they could refer to, they liked doing it. And when Daddy was home and threw things off, they would refer him to the list as well. It went something like this:

After School Schedule
1 - Snack time
2 - Homework
3 - Chores

After this, it was free time. We do have to pick up the oldest at about 5:45, and we do have dance classes two times a week. So there is not much more of a schedule after this. But the little bit, DOES help.  Especially since I work from home, and find myself on conference calls in the late afternoon and need complete silence.

We also have a chore chart that reflects chores for the entire family as well, that the girls refer to. Below is the link for the blog post that talks about that. Another thing, they actually like.

Hope this helps you to find some peace in your home with the after-school rush.

Chore chart blog post:  Blog post about Chore Charts

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Halloween Series #2

My extent of dressing up is usually doing some make up that is a little out of the usual for me. but this year, I decided that if I'm having a party, I need to dress up. I decided a witch costumer would be pretty easy and suits my personality. Then I went on Pinterest.

I have been wanting to try those tulle skirts that are no-sew. And I thought it would be cheap. As for cost, it wasn't really really cheap for the adult size skirt, but I guess some people might think that is cheap.

10 rolls of tulle - on sale for 2/$5 = $25 (I made it to hit my knees and I am only 5'2)
1 strip of elastic = $1.50 (this 1 yard length was perfect for my fuller waste size)

 I also wanted to do this as a test run because I believe I can do costumer for the girls, on the cheap this year. A couple of them weren't liking that idea...UNTIL I started working on mine. Now they are all on board.

Here is the completed look.

Now I initially only bought enough tulle for half the skirt, so I wasn't able to complete this from beginning to end, but all together, with cutting and looping, it only took maybe 1 to 1 1/2 hrs to complete.

I encourage you all to try this, its fun and cheap. Along with this skirt, I will be wearing a plain black shirt I already own, A witch headband I got at Dollar tree last year (sure they will have them this year too), and black boots. Oh, and once they are out, I will be getting some striped tights. That's it!

Disclaimer:  Glittered tulle will get glitter all over. I was not told this until after I started to project. But in my opinion, it was well worth it.

Friday, August 15, 2014


We finally got a new car!!!!! Yay!!!!  Its been 11 yrs of holding onto the 2 cars that we had. We paid them off and saved so we could buy a house. We lived financially stable (for the most part) for a while, but that's all over with now. Ha Ha

Certain financial situations we deal with are about to end, which will give us some extra money each month. And, my husbands car was starting to show its age. Mine was/is too, but it only has 65,000 miles on it. Soooooo, we decided that we would get rid of hubby's car and get a new one, and he would start taking my Hyundai to & from work. (he only works about 4 miles away from home)

Now for the last year or so, it had gotten to the point where he was only driving his car to and from work anyway, and my car all other times. Either he would be out with us, or running an errand for me. And my Hyundai was starting to show its age, and it was making my anxiety about cars get really bad. Like I didn't even like going more then 10 minutes away in fear the car would break down or I would get a flat, while Brian was at work. Therefore, we have slowly been fixing the little things on my car because we ARE keeping it. But now, while Brian is at work, I will be driving the new one, for all of the kid running around. And he will be driving the new one, anywhere else he, or us, go.

I'm not going to lie, this is going to be an adjustment for me. Up until now, its always been his car/ my car. Now we are basically sharing 2 cars (I guess that's what most married couples do). I am going to have always re-adjust the seats now, and the trunk of my "old" car is now filled with his auto crap, that he apparently NEEDS for work. So I have to keep that in mind when taking the the old car now.

All in all, its really exciting. And I can't wait to not be secluding myself anymore and in constant worry if I do have to drive more then 10-15 minutes away. YAY!!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Halloween Series #1

Hey all! Now I know a lot of you might be thinking "Halloween? Its only August?!?!" I know, but we decided to have a Halloween party this year and I am so excited about it. I am taking the time to slowly plan it out and gather all of the items that we need for it.

So I thought I would bring you all along on my adventure. I know that Halloween and Christmas are the 2 main holidays that people go crazy over. And hopefully my ideas will help you all with your holidays as well.

We live in a row home style house. So you walk in the front porch porch and you can walk a straight line all the way to the back.  So my thought is to try to make each room you enter, as you walk through the house, a different spooky theme.

Our enclosed front porch, where people walk in will be black shadows and orange lights. We also have a bride and groom skeleton statue that our kids are no longer afraid, that will greet guests.

The door that enters the actual house, will be fully covered so no one has any idea what to expect. They will enter the living room, full of spiders in all shapes and sizes, illuminated with black lights.  All furniture will be covered in white sheets to enhance the spooky-ness.

I plan on having a large curtain of some type in the archway that gives more separation to the LR and DR. In the DR there will be a spooky snack table, some type of pin the tail on the donkey game for kids, and a selfie station for...well...Selfies!  Ha Ha

Another drape of some sort will cover the kitchen doorway. The kitchen will have a vampire theme of black and red. More adult type food will be in the kitchen along with all type of non-alcoholic and alcoholic spooky punches for all to enjoy.

Enter through the kitchen to the back porch, where you will enter the black light room. Full with black lights, spooky glow in the dark masks covering the walls, and mystery bowls for the kids to see what intestines and things like that feel like.

Exit to the back yard for some apple bobbing.

If you happen to need to use the restroom, be careful not to touch any evidence throughout that murder scene set up.

I think my mind may have bitten off more then it can chew, but I am determined to make this awesome. I hope you enjoy following me along on my adventure.

I have a Pintrest board just for ideas for this party if you choose to follow me at:

Friday, August 8, 2014

The mind trip that last minute plans do to me

I really hope I am not the only mom who does this but....when someone pops up last minute plans on me, my mind goes into a whirlwind I can't even explain. And due to this, I seem to always end up saying No, just to make thing easier.
I just got a text at 10:41am, and although the end result was me politely saying "No, but thanks for asking. Why don't we hang out tonight?", the mind trip I went through to get to that place went as such....

Incoming Text :
"I am heading to the beach with the kids. I know you didn't want me to take all of them alone, but can I take at least Madison?"

My mind goes:
OH, that would be OK. Madison would have fun and she is the older of the 3, I can trust her to listen and stay with the group.
But Madison is still sleeping.
Why is she sleeping? Did I give her meds last night? Was she really coughing too bad? Should she really go? I can't remember how much she was coughing.
Wait, when are they even going to GET there? Beach is over an hour away and its almost 11am.
 Ava is awake, should I offer her to go? No, that's not fair to Isabel and I will have to deal with the reprecutions all day.
Wait, Madison has plans with Daddy later. She has been asking him all week if they are still going. That might be a reason Madison would not want to go, she very attached to him now on his days off. But what is she DOES want to go to the beach? If she does, will he get upset?
Will he even have time to take her out this afternoon -- he is working on my car right now? That could take all day.
Stop, back to the question at hand. Do I really want to wake her right now? UGH what to do!!!
Forget it.

My Reply:
Sorry, Brian has plans with the girls for this afternoon already and she is still sleeping anyhow. But thanks for asking. If you are not out all day, we will be home tonight if you wanna stop by."

UGH -  if I could just get my new car, and not be paranoid about breaking down, I would just take a couple days off and take the kids on days trips. There is still time.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Fried Zucchini chips

Another Pintrest "tried it" recipe. But they were soooo good. Only thing I would change is to cut them a little thicker.
See I grew up with my mom making fried green tomatoes. And I hate tomatoes. But as long as they were green and cut really thin, I ate them. So I was thinking along the same lines this time. However, the actual veggie taste wasn't too bad, so they could have stood to be thicker. But that is another "to each his own" situation.

Let's start with the wash - 1 egg and probably about half that bottle of Italian dressing. Place sliced zucchini in the wash.
Placed the egg & dressing soaked zucchini slices in a bread crumb mixture of salt, Mrs Dash, and onion powder. (If you use onion salt, you might want to leave the actual salt out of the recipe). Of course you can change these ingredients to your liking as well.
Last, just fry 'em on up and eat!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Seasonal transitioning with home decor

Hey all!  If you follow me, you will know that recently I have been into decorating my house, just a little, with some accents of the season/holiday.

In the Spring I hit Dollar Tree and got some bright floral and fake fruit to do a  little deocrating around the house for the season. Then summertime and the 4th of July hit, and we chnaged it up again. (both these blog posts linked below)  And now its August and the month is flying by fast. Before you know it, it will be September. To me, September means the beginning of FAVE time of year.

So last night, I went to Dollar Tree to get some florals that I liked for August, but that could also transition over to the beginning of Fall. I didn't find a lot of extras that I liked right now, so I just got enough for the little arrangements I have shown below.

The vase I got at a demo yearssssss ago. I always loved it, but never really used it. And I thought it went well with the colors this time.

I decided to add a little pop of bright color, so it didn't look too fall-ish.

Here are the finished products. The smaller one is on top of the TV and the taller one ison the shelf over my desk.

*Spring Home decor:

*4th of July home decor:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Back to School cheat list

Its that time of year where we start scrambling to get everything together, that our children need, to go back to school aka get out of our hair. He He

Some schools are courteous enough to send a list home with the report card, of what will be needed the following school year.  But that is not the case at all schools. For instance, my 5th grader might not get her list until we get the letter telling us who her teacher is....1-2 weeks before school starts.

However, I have learned that there are some staples, that are needed just about every year. And on top of that are all the essentials they need every year regardless of what grade they are in.

Therefore, I thought it would be helpful to make a generalized list of items/things to help us all get as much as we can, before the last minute rush. I personally try to collect all of these items throughout the entire summer. I check sales and when I see a really good deal, I just grab it up.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mother's Guilt - summer edition

So, its already the beginning of August and my kids have not really done anything too "fun". Its pretty much been a summer of playing with neighborhood kids for a few hours at night or swimming at their cousins house a few nights a week. That's it!

I feel bad for this because my children see all these other kids taking fun vacations, and going down the shore, and we haven't been able to do that...for a few reasons.

1 - We live paycheck to paycheck. In order to have a vacation we would have to skip paying bills one month and...we lived like that for soooo long that I just can't bring myself to do it again. I now live by the motto, if i don't have the extra cash sitting in the bank now, we can't afford it.  So to make up for this, since we do have a little extra cash, I do try to treat the kids to ice cream a lot or go out to eat more then usual. But its still not a "vacation".

2 - We are very close to getting a new car, but the reason we don't have one yet, depends on a certain issue being resolved. Until that issue is resolved, we do NOT have the monthly funds for a car payment. So in the meantime, we have my current car. Which is not runs...its slowly getting the little things on it fixed. However.... with all of the flat tires I have gotten in the last 6 mos, and air constantly leaking out of the brand new tires, that we had to patch, I am overly paranoid when I drive my car. It's a problem I have had for a while. But usually once a car starts getting old enough and having issues, that its making me nervous, we end up getting a new one. Well, its been 11 yrs now and for the last 5 yrs, I have pretty much not wanted to go more then 10 miles away.  So, this prevents me from taking days off and taking my kids to the shore or to a lake or on adventures. I have about 4 more weeks to get the new car, and take the kids to the lake for some fun. Fingers crossed it happens!!

3 - My husband has recently been diagnosed with MS. And his capabilities of walking any distance,and staying out of the heat, are pretty much not there. He can't be in the heat anymore then like 5 mins. And he really can't walk anymore then maybe 2 blocks away without starting to have trouble.  And its all new to him, so we is not willing to find alternate ways to get around, like motor scooters. he's not mentally at that acceptance point yet. So, we can't really take vacations or go to amusement parks, unless its without him, and that would just kill me if we had to leave him behind.

On top of all this, I work from home. A real job. I get paid hourly, so I need to be online and available and working from 9am-6pm. So, while I am working, my kids are pretty much in the house. We have a small yard that they don't like playing in. We live in a town where I can't just let them go outside, without my supervision. There are not many kids who live on our block anymore either.

I think back to when I was their age... I didn't get family vacation each summer either, but it didn't bother me. Why didn't I feel like I was missing out?  Oh wait, at that age, i lived in Florida.....where we hit the beach every weekend and had a pool to access any time and day we wanted. And, we lived in apartment complexes,,,where there were always kids around. I remember being outside for hours playing, even if it was by myself. (i played well alone as an only child)

These just doesn't happen. We can't allow it to happen because of how cruel this world has gotten. And who takes the parents from all the over protecting we feel we need to do. We are the ones who end up feeling guilty when we can't afford to entertain our children, and we can't allow them to explore the outside like we did....alone.

I year kids. I promise!