Monday, February 5, 2018

Grocery Haul: Mini-Costco trip

Grocery Haul: Mini-Costco trip
I don't know about you, but I kind of love grocery haul blog posts and videos! It's a small thing, but I enjoy seeing what and how others eat and the different prices of groceries across the United States (or even other countries!).

We've never shared a grocery haul on Mom2MomEd before, so we hope you'll indulge us for a moment!

For this trip, I went to Costco for a few staples, as well as a few treats for the family of a police officer that frequently stops in at the hospital where I work. I also picked up a little Galentine's (Valentine's Day for your female friends) treat for a friend.

My son and I are working on tightening up our family budget in order to prepare for some big savings goals, to crush debt, and to work towards financial freedom. As a result, we are spending February meal planning and eating out of our cupboards, fridge, and freezer rather than making our usual grocery store trips. Our goals include using up as much as possible with as little waste as possible, to create a more comprehensive list of recipes and menus that we enjoy on a regular basis, and to maximize our money. Thus, my most recent Costco trip was quite small compared to my normal Costco grocery hauls!

So, without further ado, here is my mini-Costco grocery haul:

  • Ziploc 4-pack of gallon sized freezer bags (152 bags total) -- $14.49 
  • Turkey breast lunch meat (1.58lbs) -- $10.41
  • Godiva chocolate hearts (14.6oz) -- $8.59
  • Kirkland Asian snack mix (2.5lbs) -- $9.99
  • Kirkland chocolate covered mango slices (19.4oz) -- $9.69
  • Kirkland organic ground beef (4lbs) -- $19.99

The Ziploc baggies will be used primarily for storing chopped up banana chunks in the freezer for smoothies, but I also use them to carry dog food when traveling, to carry my toiletries through airport security, and so on. In truth, it will take us an exceptionally long time to go through all of these baggies--probably a few years!).

The turkey breast is a lunch staple for us. No explanation there...

The Godiva chocolates will go in a Galentine's Day package for one of my closest friends--she LOVES Godiva!

The Kirkland Asian snack mix and the chocolate covered mango, however, were totally unplanned splurge purchases which defeats the purpose of my grocery shopping goals. However, they also are both snacks that we like and will consume completely, so the only waste will be the packaging. My mom also really likes both of these snacks and thus I'll pack up a bit of each for a trip we'll be taking to Southern California in a few weeks. 

And, the organic ground beef--well, it's expensive stuff compared to regular ol' ground beef! I swear, it's worth the price! We don't eat a lot of beef at our house, I grew up with a mom who bought ground turkey instead of beef. I ate turkey sloppy Joe's, turkey burgers, turkey meat balls, and so on. For years, I followed in my mom's turkey buying footsteps. Then, however, a few friends started telling me how much better organic, grass fed ground beef tastes. Then, a vlogger I follow on YouTube (The Former Mrs. Jones) did a Costco haul video proclaiming how much she loves the flavor of this beef. We decided to give it a try and now it's our go-to whenever we make tacos or other dishes that require ground meat.

  • Grape tomatoes (2lbs) -- $5.99
  • Kirkland quinoa salad (1.55lbs) -- $7.73
  • Bananas (Weight? Maybe 3.5lbs) -- $1.39
  • Organic baby carrots (5lbs) -- $5.49

These items were all on my Costco grocery list. We use the tomatoes in a whole bunch of ways, including just eating them as is, and we dice a bunch of them up to cook into taco meat. 

The bananas will primarily be used in smoothies and banana bread (see above regarding the Ziploc baggies...). The carrots will be eaten as is, used in soups, and so on; however, our dogs happen to LOVE baby carrots as snacks! In fact, one of them begs for them and she FrEaKs OuT if you say the word "carrot"!

The quinoa salad, well, it's simply delicious! I'm not a big quinoa fan, but this salad is refreshing and tasty. It is chock full of tomato, cucumber, cilantro, and other yummy goodness! I especially love a bowlful with a dollop of hummus on the top. 

  • Tree Top fruit snacks (80 pouches) -- $11.79
  • Clif Kid Organic Z Bars (36 bars) -- $17.49
  • Pocky sticks (1lb 9oz) -- $8.99

These three items were all purchased as a contribution to the gift for a local police officer's family as I mentioned above. I did pull out about 20 of the fruit snacks for my family, and the rest went into the gift package. 

What do your grocery hauls look like? Do you enjoy this type of post? If you have a Costco membership, what's the best thing you've ever bought there?

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Stop saying "I don't care" to your children...

Mom2MomEd Blog: Stop saying "I don't care" to your children
"I don't care..."

Three little words that can have huge impact if not used with intention.

A few years ago, I found myself saying "I don't care" in response to my son asking if he could play video games. I'm not sure why, but I stopped short and thought about that phrase and made a conscious decision to try not to use it again unless I truly don't care about something.

The fact is, I DO care about my son and I DO care about what he does and how he spends his time. What I meant when I told my son "I don't care" in answer to his request to play video games was, "I'm not concerned with whether or not you play video games right now; however, I am concerned with whether or not it brings you happiness, whether or not you are being responsible, whether or not you are safe and well."

Just as many of us--women in particular--have a tendency to say "I'm sorry" as a reflex to any number of things when we have no reason to apologize, many of us also say "I don't care" in a similar manner. 

By saying "I don't care" to your child, you are sending a bigger message than simply "I don't care if you spend time playing a video game right now" or "I don't care if you eat carrots instead of apple slices." 

You are sending a message that your child might internalize as meaning "I don't care about YOU." It may not be your intent, but often what we intend and what the person on the other end of the message hear are not the same. Like with many negative messages, saying "I don't care" too often and in a careless manner may unintentionally ingrain in your child the message that you truly don't care about them--that they have no value to you.

Our language has power and we have a responsibility to use that power carefully, particularly when it comes to our children. 

Instead of "I don't care" I've made an effort over the last few years to say things like:
  • "Sure, you can play video games as long as you finished your chores for the day."
  • "Yep, you can have the last cookie! I bet it will taste terrific!"
  • "You want to stay up an extra 30 minutes? I suppose you can if you set your alarm clock properly for the morning."
  • "You don't want bananas? What fruit would you like?"
  • "You know what? I don't have an answer for that, but I love you a bunch!"
What phrases do you say regularly to your kids, spouse, partner, or friends without much thought that might actually be doing more harm than good? What might you say instead?
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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Three tips to ease potty training

Mom2MomEd Blog: 3 tips to ease potty training
My son and I went through potty training about 15 years ago--he's 18 now and, thankfully, we practically sailed through potty training during the toddler years. I know not everyone is so lucky. Several of my friends have young kids and are going through the potty training journey now with varying levels of success and frustrations.

While there are no guaranteed methods to potty train your child with ease, here are three steps I took with my son and why I think they worked so well:

1. Keep the door open
This seems to be a little bit of a controversial suggestion, especially if your child is the opposite gender of yourself, but if it's not a hassle, why not keep the bathroom door open?

I think one of the big reasons that kids are afraid to use the toilet or have difficulty with potty training is simply that the bathroom is mysterious. They know there's a toilet, and maybe they have some idea of what the toilet is for, but without seeing anyone use it, the toilet is this mysterious thing--it's this bowl, filled with water, with a huge hole. It makes complete sense to me why a child might be afraid of the toilet! If you had to sit on a bowl with an opening significantly larger than your backside, wouldn't you be afraid of falling in???

I struggled with toilet training my son until I didn't get the door shut all the way one morning when I had to use the bathroom. My son followed me to the bathroom and pushed the door open and suddenly the mystery around using the toilet was gone. After a few more times of seeing me use the toilet, it became much easier to convince him to sit on the seat--of course, we did get a little seat that fit on top of the regular toilet so that he wouldn't fall in! (THIS seat is very similar to what we used.)

You can buy little potty chairs, but I honestly think you can skip that unless you are traveling a lot and think your little one can't make it between pit stops.

2. Make it fun
There are a variety of ways to make potty training fun. My son didn't really need stickers or treats or other little trinkets when it came to potty training, but due to some ongoing gastrointestinal issues, he did need a way to pass time on the toilet without focusing on the actual task of going potty.

I kept a basket in the bathroom filled with some of my son's favorite books and periodically slipped in a couple of new books as well. We read books related to using the toilet, as well as many other little books that were simply enjoyable to read together.

We also spent a lot of time singing silly children's songs while he sat on the toilet waiting for the potty action to happen.

Then, once he'd peed or pooped we both clapped and I would give him a hearty "Good job, buddy!" and we'd do a high five. If you can get your child onto the toilet, it doesn't take much to make it a happy, fun experience (as fun as going to the bathroom can be, anyway!).

3. Stick to a schedule
You don't need to be super strict in keeping your child to a potty schedule, like drilling down to the minute or even to the five or ten minute marks; however, your child will benefit from a loose potty schedule. You'll need to gauge where your child is in their potty training and how long they reasonably can go between potty breaks to determine the schedule.

With my son, we started out by going to the potty first thing in the morning, trying for the same time every morning. Then, we would make a trip to the toilet every two hours throughout the day. Over time, we were able to stretch to three, then four hours between bathroom trips. Of course, we weren't always successful and sometimes we were out doing errands and a bathroom wasn't readily available or the only available bathroom was too gross for us to even consider.

As I mentioned, there are no guarantees that any particular method will work for your child. You may have to do some trial and error to find what works best for your family, but above all, pay attention to the clues your child is giving you. You may find that other tips and tricks work best for your family. Ultimately, do what works for your child's temperament and your situation.

Of course, I am not a medical doctor or other medical professional, so if you have any concerns about toilet training or other issues with your child, be sure to consult a pediatrician or other appropriate professional. The tips I provided here are only my opinion and are not to be taken as medical advice.

Are you a seasoned parent that has already gone through potty training with your children? What great tips or ideas do you have to share?

Please note, this post does contain affiliate links and we may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through our links--of course, we are always appreciative! Thank you!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

You, your child, and poetry read alouds

Mom2MomEd Blog: You, your kids, and poetry read alouds
If you've been following along with Mom2MomEd for any length of time, you'll surely be aware that we love reading. We also love reading aloud with our children--my son is 18 and I still enjoy reading aloud with him!

After I began homeschooling my son, halfway through his fourth grade year, we took our reading aloud to a new level and started a loose tradition of reading poetry and classic novels together during and after dinner. We didn't necessarily do this every night, but it did happen at least two or three times per week for a few years.

Reading aloud was special in our home for many reasons, but I especially cherish our loose tradition because it allowed my son and my mom to form a bond they might not have had otherwise. You see, I was a single mother and, for a time, we couldn't afford to live in our own place. As such, we moved in with my mom--my son's grandmother. My mom is pretty old school (no pun intended) when it comes to certain things related to children. This includes the idea that children should be seen and not heard. It also involves children always following directions from adults. My mom was a kindergarten teacher, and although she was beloved by her students and their families, my son and my mom had a rocky relationship.

Since we lived with my mom, my son and I often ate dinner with her, and thus we included her in many of our evening read aloud sessions. The three of us especially enjoyed reading poetry together. A couple of times per month, my son and I would go to the library, and among all of the books in our library haul, we'd each have a few books of poetry to share at the dinner table.

Since my son and my mom often had difficulty getting along--my mom wanting my son to be quieter and more compliant and my son wanting to ask questions and to explore and discuss the world around him--reading aloud together helped to bridge the gap.

We especially loved to take turns as we read. Often we would each read a poem aloud, passing the book at hand around the table several times so that we'd each read several pieces. Some nights we'd only spend 10 or 15 minutes reading to one another. On other nights, nights when we were all in particularly good moods or just really enjoying the material before us, we might sit at the table reading aloud for more than an hour.

There are many ways that you can encourage your kids to read more, but reading aloud with them is a surefire way to lead by example and spark a passion for books.

Over time, my son and I (and my mom) found that we drifted back to a few poets and collections of poetry over and over, eventually adding them to our own home libraries. We would love for you to visit your town or city's library and check out books and explore the world of literature, but we've also provided links below to several of our favorite poetry collections:

First we have two collections of classics:
 Mom2MomED: Poetry for children

And, then there are those classics that many parents of my generation grew up with--the mostly silly but sometimes serious works of Shel Silverstein:
Mom2MomEd: Children and Poetry
But then there are a huge number of terrific poetry collections and books that my son and I discovered through our evening read alouds and the local library. I encourage you to look for and enjoy these as well:
  • Collected Poems for Children by Ted Hughes--Hughes is best known as the ex-husband of poet Sylvia Plath and most of his work is most appropriate for adults. This collection, however, is terrific for kids.
Mom2MomEd: Poetry is good for a child's soul
One of our favorite poetry books turned out to be a double duty find. We were able to combine punctuation practice with reading and poetry in Punctuation Celebration by Elsa Knight Bruno. I was expecting this cute little collection to be dry and boring, but we loved it!
And, finally, we loved all of these fun little books--even though my son is 18 now, we still have a few of these in our home library, and every now and then, I catch my son still pulling them out! How's that for an endorsement?
While my little family of myself, my son, and my mom enjoyed reading aloud to one another at the dinner table, there are many ways you can encourage your kids to read more--we hope a read aloud session is just one of many methods you will use to increase the reading that happens in your home. 
No one--child or adult alike--is ever too old to read aloud or to be read to. Grab your family and a giant stack of pillows and make yourselves cozy on the living room floor if reading over dinner isn't your style.
Pitch a tent in the backyard, fill it with sleeping bags, stuffed animals, and a lantern and add several stacks of books for a Friday night read along.
Snuggle up with the family pets and take turns reading to Fido and Fluffy.
However you do it, keep reading to each other and simply enjoy the process of bonding over books. 
What's your favorite book to read aloud? Tell us about it in a comment!
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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

5 Ways you (and your child) can enjoy summer

Mom2MomEd Blog: 5 ways you (and your child) can enjoy summer!
Summer is here!

School is out, children are acting like feral animals, and parents (and teachers) are barely holding it together right about now. As if it wasn't tricky enough to coordinate activities, homework, family time, dinners, lunches (the dreaded lunches), and still try to be half of a human you also get to entertain your kids throughout the summer time or sign them up for every camp/daycare/activity that you can think of just so you can continue to work and get things done over the next few months. 

As I wrote this, my kids still had a few days of school left and I was so ready for school to be out so I could spend time with them! But, of course, I'm also dreading the inevitable side effects that come with spending every waking moment together.

To prepare myself, I brainstormed five ways to survive the summer. I hope some of these will help you as well!

1. Don't have a schedule....seriously.
It's tried and true that once you have a schedule, your whole world goes to crap. You can't have too many's just not going to happen. If we spend all day in our pj's and scramble the next day to get chores done, no one will die. I promise it will be OK! You have plenty of time to deal with schedules once school starts back up!

2. Simplify your life.
I tend to make things way too hard on myself and often over complicate things which then just adds a whole unnecessary level of stress to my already chaotic life. As a result, this bit of advice is hardest for me to follow! Don't make a million plans that you won't be able to keep.  It's really that simple. Say NO and set boundaries. De-clutter and just allow yourself to meet the routine demands of a busy life without all of the extra crap. Sometimes that means checking out for a few minutes, putting your feet up, and saying, "This is mommy's time." Your kids won't die, your husband or partner won't die (I promise), and life as you know it will go on. It's OK to miss out on mama's night out because you'd rather binge watch your show on Netflix. It's all about balance...and preserving your sanity.

3. Stock up on easy, healthy snacks.
My kids need to eat approximately 1,000 times a day when we're home. It's actually quite annoying. Literally, the minute I sit down, I then hear, "Mom, can you get me a snack?" Ugh! I've made a point to have a bowl on the table filled with fresh fruit and I keep other easy, healthy snacks on low shelves in the fridge. That way my kids are able to grab a snack for themselves when they are withering away from hunger and I don't have to run to the fridge every five seconds. Game changer, I tell you! 
Mom2MomEd Blog: Healthy, kid friendly snacks
4. Take time for yourself.
I can't stress this enough. I stayed home for the first six years of parenting...I am horrible at taking time for myself. I feel guilty. I worry that my husband (who was the only paycheck) would be irritated that I left him with the kids after a full day of work or I made up some excuse as to why I couldn't make time for myself. I'm a huge homebody and I don't get out often enough. This summer it's time for me too. This is my break too, and I also want to enjoy some of the summer before I have to go back to the daily grind. It's all about balance...I have set some goals for myself and hopefully that will motivate me to work hard to follow my own rule!

5. Play with your kids.
I know this sounds silly, but I mean really play with them. Let them lead. Watch them interact with each other and the world around them. Play animals/babies/Legos for the millionth time, but really watch them this time. Show them that you're there and be engaged. I have the best conversations with my kids (especially my son) while we're playing side-by-side. He tends to "forget" how his day was or not remember what he did until we're in a moment of just peace, playing together. It's amazing how much he will open up or tell me random things about his day.

Parenting is this hard yet incredible dance of remaining an individual while also taking care and guiding the most precious thing in the world to us. It's not perfect. We're not perfect. It's meant to be messy, uncomfortable, and the most rewarding job we'll ever have. Sometimes, we feel like were barely surviving and other times we're totally rocking it! Don't feel bad if you're faking it until you make it some days. We all are....

Here's to hoping this is a great summer!
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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Moms Who Read: July 2017 Book Picks

Mom2MomEd Blog: July 2017 Book Picks
McKenzie and I both LOVE to read, but usually neither of us has the time or energy we'd like to devote to the habit. The last time we were able to hang out, we actually talked about making an effort to read more. My current goal is three books per month. Each month, we'll be posting our top three recommendations from our recent reading adventures or favorites from the past. We hope you'll love these books as much as we do!

We encourage you to make use of your local library, but if you can't make it there or prefer to own the books you read, you can buy them via Amazon through the following links:

Each of these pics is a work of contemporary fiction and I loved them all for their quirkiness and the excellent balance of drama, family and interpersonal tension, and comedy.

In the future, we hope to also include mini reviews of each book we suggest.

Be sure to come back and let us know what you thought if you read any of our suggestions! Or, drop us a note and let us know what you're reading and enjoying!
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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Parenting through grief

Mom2MomEd Blog: Parenting through grief
I recently wrote about life being overwhelming and how I'm coping. Today, things seem more dire than ever. As I write this, I'm sitting next to an extremely ill family member and preparing myself for the worst.

I've already ugly cried twice in the last few hours and probably will have several more ugly cries before the day (weekend, week) is out. 

I'm trying to take things one day at a hour at a time...

I'm trying.

But, I also have a son to think about. Even though my son is 18, he's still my baby. His brain is still developing, and all of his hormones are still all over the place. Overall, he's a normal 18 year old in most regards.

I feel so lucky to have the son I have. 

Like any other 18 year old, he's forgetful. He's more into his MMOG--massively multiplayer online game--than chores. He'd rather talk about The Walking Dead or Breaking Bad than school or a job. He's concerned that his hair parts in the right spot and how he looks in his jeans.

He loves Campbell's Chunky Soup, Doritos, and Hot Pockets, but he'll eat fruit and veggies if I put them in front of him.

He loves our dogs and where we live. He loves his family and his friends. He's smart.

He doesn't party or sneak around. Other than forgetting his chores, he's super responsible and dependable.

I have a good kid. He's a good egg.

But, we are struggling with grief.  I started going to a therapist a few months ago to deal with my multiple responsibilities and a health issue of my own, but now it's time for my son to talk to a therapist too. We're both close to facing some major changes in our lives due to our family member's health crisis, even if that family member pulls through and comes home.

Which brings me to the point of this do you parent through grief?

My natural inclination is to hole up, alone, at home, and to block out everyone and everything, but I'm a mom. I can't ignore life.

For now, I'm parenting through grief in the following ways:

1. Counseling
There is absolutely no shame in seeing a therapist, a shrink, a counselor--sometimes the pressure of what life brings is just too much to bear alone. I needed a safe, judgment free place to talk about what I'm going through and to get unbiased input in how to deal with it all. Sometimes just talking it out is enough, but at other times my therapist has given me exercises to work on or specific tasks to take care of. Even if the sessions are sometimes really hard, they always help.

I've been to counseling before, and if you are considering going, please know that sometimes the first few sessions make you feel worse before you feel better--keep going! Also, if you don't like the first person you see, try someone else. You need to have a good fit with your therapist in order for counseling to be effective.

If you don't have insurance or think you can't afford counseling, ask about sliding scales, fee forgiveness, and payment plans. Years ago, when I was in an abusive relationship and had virtually no disposable income, I was able to pay a mere $5 per session thanks to a sliding scale. Some churches and organizations even provide counseling for free.

2. Medication
Just as there is no shame in seeing a therapist, there is also no shame in taking an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. I was on antidepressants for two years when my son was a toddler. I was overwhelmed with a bad relationship, trying to be a good mom, and trying to finish my undergraduate education. I stayed on those meds until right before I left our abuser. I would not have gotten through that period of life without the support of medication, a primary care doctor that was incredibly supportive, and a good therapist.

Today, I saw my current primary care provider, a nurse practitioner, and got a prescription for an antidepressant. My emotions and thought processes are all over the place due to stress related to ill family members and emergencies, work, parenting, my financial situation, and more. I needed help...I'm hoping the medication will help smooth out the edges and reduce the emotional roller coaster of emotions to gentle speed bumps. I don't want to be numb to life, but I want to be clear enough to handle everything.

3. Friends and family
I am thankful that I have a strong network of friends and family--many friends who are so close that they are like family--and so does my ill relative. I was able to ugly cry in the arms of one friend and she and her husband were extremely helpful in facilitating a meeting with a doctor and to articulate my relative's wishes clearly when I was at a loss for words. They also have been wonderful at intercepting contact between other friends and concerned acquaintances in order to give me some space to focus on the situation at hand. 

We are lucky in that our friends and extended family are willing to pitch in and help with my son too. A neighbor can take him to the grocery store and already often brings him soup and other homemade treats that he loves--even when we don't have a crisis happening! Friends, neighbors, and relatives fill in the gaps.

4. Ugly cry
I cried in the shower last night, and I pulled over my car and ugly cried in a parking lot. Getting out those overwhelming emotions while alone allowed me to pull myself together to focus and get through the hours ahead before the next wave of emotions. 

5. Exercise and nutrition
I have to admit that I've had two very large coffees today and I have a Coca Cola in my bag as I type this. It was tempting to stop at McDonalds or to guy buy junk food, but I made a better choice and bought a small package of almonds and filled my water bottle with actual water. In an hour or so, I plan to go to the hospital cafeteria and get some fruit, veggies, and protein. 

And, this evening, and again tomorrow morning, I will take my son and our dogs for a long walk. Exercise, even just walking, gets the positive endorphins going. I don't expect exercise or nutrition to make me perky and happy--all sunshine and rainbows--but it will help give my son and I a little boost. Walks together also give us time to get out of the house and outside of our own heads. And, occasionally, a walk opens up communication and we talk about deeper topics and what's going on in each of our hearts.

I anticipate a long road ahead for both my son and I. And, I anticipate that life will get worse before it gets better. Grief is a process though and even after all the unknowns around our family member's situation are resolved it could be a while before life goes back to normal.

If you are facing similar challenges, remember to be kind to yourself and focus on what you can control. Eat well, exercise even if only a short walk, and lean into your friends and support network. Go to counseling. Talk to your primary care doctor about what's going in your life. Consider medication--but only if you know you can take it safely and carefully.

And, if you are so overwhelmed that you are having dark or dangerous thoughts, get help immediately. Call your doctor's office. If you are thinking of hurting yourself or others, go to the Emergency Department for immediate help or call a suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255. 

Take care of yourself so that you are able to take care of your family. Sometimes, it's ok to put yourself first. 

And, if you have any good tips on coping with grief while parenting, please leave a comment.