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Show Me The (Saved) Money!

Happy New Year!  Did you set “resolutions” or “intentions” for this year? Last year I committed to a money saving challenge.  I’m sure you’ve seen them – there are about a million different versions on Pinterest.  Some you are supposed to save a penny a day, some a dollar a day.  I was pretty successful last year, spending only saved money over the summer when I “stay-cationed” with my kiddos at our camper home.  I didn’t save as much as I had intended, though and I think it was because I didn’t follow any plan.  I mean, I “pinned” about a dozen different plans but I didn’t actually print one out and FOLLOW it.  As a result there were some weeks that I didn’t add money to my jar and I’ll be truthful, there were some weeks that I took money OUT of the jar to buy an unplanned pizza so that I didn’t have to cook! LOL

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I decided that 2017 would be different. Not only would I save money but my kids would save money too!  We already have several vacations planned for 2017 so I knew I wanted to do some sort of mega savings with the intent of “withdrawing” from that savings throughout the year when those vacations happen.  I also wanted to keep the weekly “deposit” amounts reasonable so that even on financially “tighter” months it would still be feasible for me to earn the extra money needed for my savings plan by adding a freelance assistant task or two or a holistic client. I ended up creating my own Savings-Challenge and a Mega-Savings-Challenge

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My kids are excited to follow the Kids-Savings-Challenge.  Honestly I think most of the fun is the competition between them to see who will actually save the most!   kids-savings-challenge

Whatever their motivation I am hoping that it will also serve to instill in them the practice of saving.  Myself – I’m going with the Mega Savings Challenge.  I’ve also started a second jar for myself to follow the Kids Savings Challenge as well.  (That way if I feel the need to raid a jar for that unplanned pizza dinner or emergency coffee run I won’t mess up my Mega Savings!)

Will you be doing any kind of savings challenge in 2017?  Comment below and let me know…and don’t forget to pop back in and share updates on your progress!

Worried about how you’re going to stick with a money saving challenge on those days/weeks when money seems so tight? Check back here on Thrifty Thursdays for ideas/tips for “finding” extra money!

As always…Be Well and Spread Kindness ❤

Kristina

The Brain Is A Funny Thing

Remember when your children were little and you would look at them – for hours…and they would look at you and you both would smile?  You could just about see the love radiating between those two smiles! Flash forward 12 years and imagine that same moment…it’s one that I have been experiencing for the past week and a half with my daughter.  Sadly, it’s not such a lovey moment…she feels it’s pretty much torture! I mean, the upside is that I now have discovered the absolute best punishment for future offenses!

She was a good sport though, because for 3 days the only thing she could do was sit with me quietly and talk.  To a 12 year old that’s definitely a form of torture!   I don’t think she’s ever been so happy as when she was able to spend time reading, watching tv…even if it was only for 15 minutes at a time!  See, my Lovebug (guess that since she’s 12 I should probably come up with another nickname for her shouldn’t I?  Let’s go with just L) got a concussion.

I’ve learned several things from this experience.  First and foremost I’ve learned that the brain is a funny thing.  The amount of force needed result in a concussion can vary almost as much as the time needed to recover from a concussion.  We are working on Day 12 and L is still is exhibiting symptoms!  Still, we are thankful because we know people who had concussions and it took months for recovery!  Symptoms can vary greatly from person to person.  This infographic from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia illustrates it pretty simply.  L is still experiencing headaches, sensitivity to light & sound and excessive tiredness.

Secondly, I’ve learned that my daughter’s teachers are some of the most kind and compassionate people. They have really supported and been accommodating of L’s limitations and restrictions so that her high honor roll grades aren’t affected by this.  It’s a shame, then, that this injury is a result of improper seating on a school bus.  I’ve spent HOURS talking with someone on the school board, reviewing applicable laws and I still am not sure what I want to do with it all or if I want to do anything.

The fact of the matter is that concussions stink.  That is all.

 

And Now We Will See…

How are you doing this morning? I know it’s been a while since my last post. Believe me – there are about a dozen drafts that I’ve written over the past couple months but none seemed right for sharing. I’m working on being more consistent here but I wonder sometimes!  But this morning…after month’s of deliberate public silence regarding the election I feel compelled to write.

For the past year my son has had anxiety and nightmares about the possibility of Donald Trump becoming President because of the hateful words and intentions that were being broadcast. I repeatedly assured him over these months that we had to have faith that people would recognize that someone who was willing to shout such hate towards other human beings, such disrespect towards women, such flippantly ignorant comments about bombs and war would not be chosen as the figure head of our country. This morning I had to tell both him and my daughter that I was wrong – that Donald Trump would indeed be our next President. I had to see the look of shock and anger on my daughter’s face because she is old enough to know and has heard the things that were said about girls/women/minorities/special needs/disabled people by Mr. Trump. I had to see the look of fear and sadness on my son’s face. It breaks my heart. What do you say to help them feel secure when someone that will be in such a powerful position not only was applauded but rewarded for such behavior?!? Well..in our house we teach respect, kindness and love. We talked about the importance of respecting others, spreading love and kindness, speaking up when someone is being treated unfairly. We talked about treating others with respect, particularly we talked about the importance of boys/men treating girls/women with respect and not accepting anything less. My daughter and I talked about the capabilities of girls/women and how it is important to lift each other, support each other because there are still so many who believe that women shouldn’t have basic equalities/choices/opportunities and many people still who do not see anything wrong and/or excuse sexist offensive actions towards women.We talked about making small differences every day by the choices that they make. We talked about the hope that our government checks and balances will make sure that this one mean, ignorant, hateful man can not do widespread harm. We talked about continuing each day to be compassionate and kind to others, be respectful even when you don’t agree, always speak out about bullies and injustices. Now we will see…it’s a little terrifying to be honest. We will keep spreading love and kindness here and hope that others will do the same.

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Great Day for Ice Cream

Every year I ask my bugs to make a summer bucket list.  They’ve done this the past 3 or 4 years.  Past lists have included things like:  pick strawberries, go bowling, make ice cream sundaes, go to skyzone, eat at five guys, have family game night, go to the movies, etc.  There have been very few items (if any) that we haven’t been able to cross off the list by end of the summer.  This year, however, I was facing some  resistance to making the list 😦  So this year I decided that we would do something a little different.  This year we would visit (and taste test) The Top 10 Ice Cream Parlors in PA, eat at The Top 10 Burger Joints in PA and hike The Top 10 Trails under 5 miles in PA.  I shared my idea with the kids and they weren’t quite sure about it… we have 13 weeks of summer so if we are going to do it all we will need to check off 1 from each list each week or so.  We are at the end of week #1 already!

Today we are able to check off the first on our list of 10 Best Ice Cream Parlors in PA:  The Udder Choice in Ephrata, PA.  We put our list together using several lists we found online.  We originally found the list on http://www.onlyinyourstate.com but some of the ice cream parlors listed were either closed or too far so we compiled our own list from there and a more local “best of” list.

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The Udder Choice, Ephrata PA

The Udder Choice is located on Rt 322 in Ephrata, PA.  They have a restaurant with a variety of sandwiches and salads too although Bug #2 was extremely disappointed that there were no burgers on the menu!  There were about 10 soups of the day with Parmesan Kale being one of them which sounded delicious to me!  Since we hadn’t really eaten much for breakfast we did order some lunch. Bug #1 approved of the grilled cheese sandwich and Bug #2 thought the chef salad he ordered was “the best salad ever!”

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But the real reason we were there was the ice cream!  We even told our server how we were going around PA to the best ice cream parlors and The Udder Choice was our first! He thought it was a pretty cool idea and when we paid for our food afterwards, another staff person said that he told her about our plan and that the two of them were going to do the same! (If either of you are reading this – leave us a note!) Anyway back to the ice cream!

The flavors change and if you want to sample any you can go up to the counter and ask to try out a flavor or two! I think the Bugs would have sampled EVERY flavor so since they were pretty “normal” flavors I told them no samples. So here’s what we selected:

Bug #1 Review:  “I think this might be the best coffee ice cream!”  Scale of 1-5*: 5

Bug #2 Review:  “This is the best mint flavor ever! You can taste that it is real mint and not the artificial flavor!”  Scale of 1-5*:  5

#3 Review: “The ice cream is super creamy!  It was a nice chocolate flavor but I would have liked more peanut butter.”  Scale of 1-5*: 4

Ways we think it could be better:  The ice cream was super soft, almost melting a little when we got it.  We thought if the ice cream was a little colder it would have been even better!

OVERALL RATING*:  4.7       (Our ice cream rating scale is at the end of this post!)

We really liked how creamy the ice cream was and how the flavors tasted REAL not artificial! There was a large selection of flavors like Oreo, s’mores, vanilla & chocolate (of course!), peanut butter and others!  We think you’d love the ice cream…if you go tell them you read about our ice cream review!

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*Our Ice Cream Rating Scale

  1. Awful…do not want
  2. Blah…only make the trip if you’re a super fan of the flavor or think the establishment theme is worth the trip
  3. Ehh…just ok could take it or leave it.
  4. Above Average…excellent flavor.  We think you should try it!
  5. Amazing!  You MUST try this ice cream…NOW!!!!

Summer Fun Has Begun!

First week of Summer Vacation 2016!  We have BIG plans this summer and we don’t plan on wasting any time! We are starting our summer vacation with a Kids Cooking Camp hosted at our house.  I’ve been hosting Kids Cooking Camps for the past several years and my kiddos look forward to it every year!

This year we started with a Cooking Competition theme.  Day #1 Kid Cook Campers had fun sabotaging the other teams!  Sabotages included:  no talking to partners during cooking time, wearing winter gloves, spinning and squatting before any cooking action!

Cutthroat Kid Cook Campers used a variety of ingredient to make trail mix.  Later in the week they created commercials for their trail mix too!

Their lunch cutthroat challenge was to make foil packet meals.  They worked together in teams to prepare:  Cheesy Potato Fries, Taco Nachos, Shrimp Fajitas and Lemon Chicken!

Day #2 was filled with commercial making (and filming!) and some Chopped Cooking! Kid Cooks were placed in teams (Blue and Orange) for the day.  For the Snack Round the Blue Team made smoothies and the Orange Team made parfaits.  Their secret ingredients were: yogurt, sunflower seeds and banana!

For the lunch round the Blue Team was given alfredo sauce and broccoli and the Orange Team was given pesto and olives.  Both teams created pizzas using their secret ingredients plus pantry ingredients.  They really did a great job and enjoyed eating their creations!

Days #3 and #4 continued the fun with more Chopped and FoodFu competitions. Spaghetti, homemade sauce, garlic bread and more! Delicious and fun!

 

 

 

 

Blog “Re*Launch” and #MommaTruth Days

Well for all my good intentions blog writing regularly is just tough! When I have thought about what brilliance to share with all of you…my mind goes blank amidst the daily mundane activities of mommahood. Not being able to recall anything accomplished during the day even though many things were…THAT is a MommaTruth. I considered not writing anymore but that didn’t feel right…so instead I’ve decided to write even on those days that are simply MommaTruth days. We’ll see how that goes…I hope you stick with me!

For Good Luck

“You have to…for good luck.”

“No it’s gross!  How can eating this give me good luck anyway?”

” It just does now eat it.  Just one bite…ok just one strand!”

This is similar to the conversation that took place EVERY.NEW.YEARS.DAY that I can remember between my step*Mom and me. It wasn’t really a fight but it was  no joke either!  She took her sauerkraut eating very seriously! And so every year I would reluctantly eat one single strand of the required sauerkraut vowing that once I was a “grown up” I would never eat it again.

***Flash Forward about 30 years***

I am definitely a grown up…except I married a man who also ascribes to the pork & sauerkraut good luck tradition. Lucky Me! So now the conversation continues between my LoveBug and me…secretly laughing because I’ve figured out how to slowcook the pork and sauerkraut so that it (gasp!) tastes good! But don’t tell my step*mom!!!!