Back To School Readiness Check List

Back To School Readiness Check List

This summer like the ones in years past, is going by quickly. It’s that time when I get my check list ready to hit the stores – whether that is ordering items online, ordering for in-store pick up or going to the store, the time is now. With ordering online and having chronic pain, this is a ‘pain saver’ or is it ‘life saver’ – whichever the saying, it’s good! And ordering in advance gives me time to make exchanges if needed.

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This year my older four will be going off to school. We have them going into prekindergarten 4 through sixth grade. This will be my preschoolers first time in a school setting and she’s elated! Here is a sneak peak at my “Back To School Check List” – because when you’re shopping for a mini tribe, it’s essential that you stay organized.

“Back To School Readiness Check List”

To Do At Home

• Gather new grade school supplies lists for all

• Take inventory of materials / miscellaneous things – check what for items you may have put away in your home, cross that item off the school supply list.

often times at the end of the school year, I’ll get back unused / new materials that went unused, I’ll save those items for the next school year.

 also with things like, rain jackets and sweaters, I’ll have them try it on, if they haven’t outgrown them, they’ll reuse these.

• List the children’s names with their shoe size, shirt size and shorts/bottoms size (double checking will ensure buying the correct sizes)

• The hanging closet organizer, this is our ‘school cubby’ that hangs in the children’s closets, each child will have a cubby assigned to them, each night they’ll set up their uniform / school attire for the next day – makes getting ready in the morning easy!

School Uniforms / Clothes

• 4 uniform polo shirts per child (verify school colors) – I will purchase these from Target

• 1 school patch / emblem for each polo shirt (can be purchased at the school  from PTSA)

• 1 ‘Friday’ school shirt per child (can be purchased at the school  from PTSA)

• 4 uniform shorts per child (verify school colors)

• 1 pair of pants per child (verify school colors)

• 1 sweater per child – to be ordered from Gap (Go to the sweaters that are on ‘sale,’ you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the quality and the price you’ll pay)

• 1 rain jacket per child (to keep inside backpack)

• 1 mini-umbrella for oldest to keep inside backpack (she likes to have an umbrella)

• 1 pair of sneakers/running shoes per child

• Undergarments for all / each child

• Pack of socks for each child

• Belt for each child – to be ordered from My Self Belts (I have been ordering them for about 5 years, the belts are EXCELLENT – especially great for my son with autism)

Backpacks + Lunchboxes, Miscellaneous

• Backpack and Lunchboxes – to be ordered from Pottery Barn Kids (Go to the backpacks that are on ‘sale,’ you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the quality and the price you’ll pay) If ‘last’ years backpack is still in good condition, it will be washed and reused.

• PE water bottles – to be ordered Contigo water bottle

• Labels for PE water bottles – to be ordered from Inch Bug

• School agenda / homework agenda (can be purchased at the school  from PTSA)

Kids Hair

• Girls hair bows (I’ll purchase bows according to the school colors)

• Black elastics – for pony tails

Clear small elastics  – for tying ends of braids

• Detangling spray

• Tresemme hairspray – to use on both the boys and girls

• Mennen Cologne – for kids

School Supplies

• Gather new grade school supplies lists for all and log in the school website to be sure it’s the latest supply list – as the teachers will often update them even during the summer.

• I try to buy things like crayons and pencils in bulk from Amazon Prime – things like this are always needed throughout the year, things like folders, paper, etc. from Target

If you’d like to know all that’s inside my ‘kids hair bin’ organizer you can find that here and for a detailed post on what I use in my home for school purposes you can find that here.

Hope you have a great back to school shopping experience!

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Photo: Sharon McCutcheon

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Inspiration Is Everywhere – Even Star Wars

Inspiration Is Everywhere – Even Star Wars

With Summer vacation still in full swing – and chronic pain still sneaking it’s ugly head, we’ve had a couple of things going on. So, one of those things being catching up on all things Star Wars. I’ll admit, I’ve never fully seen all of the Star Wars movies. And the one that has been on repeat with my little ones has been The Phantom Menace, can I just say, wow – amazing! I can really see what the ‘buzz’ is all about with Star Wars, from the special effects, to the wardrobe, to the lines, to the makeup – it’s all mesmerizing.

So, today’s inspiration came from Yoda, there’s 9 year old Anakin standing in front of the Jedi council when Yoda senses Anakin is afraid. In return Anakin replies to Yoda in a sort of defensive manner. But, Yoda in turn offered these words to Anakin ….

Fear is the Path to the Dark Side.

Fear Leads to Anger. 

Anger Leads to Hate.

Hate Leads to Suffering. – Yoda

I’m guilty of this, of allowing people to lead me to this path of – what seems, no return. I allow things and life circumstances to overwhelm me, for me it’s Chiari + Syringomyelia, for you it maybe a separation, a breakup, a job loss, a bad grade, it maybe anything and just like that, it takes over any positive thoughts you may have had. It’s so incredibly true, fear, anger, hate can only lead us to being stuck in the darkest moments and in return only hurt us – no one else, but us. And lead us into even more suffering.

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Accepting + Dressing Body After Baby

Accepting + Dressing Body After Baby

The most beautiful experience in a woman’s life can quickly get overshadowed after the birth of her baby. As a first time mom and full of energy at that time, I quickly lost all the ‘baby’ weight and was back to my ‘ol self in no time. I walked to a local park with baby strapped securely in her stroller and walked about a mile a day. There was no science, no diet, no torture, no miracles here to be made. I simply walked every day – Monday through Friday. At this point in my life with Chiari + Syringomyelia and Hypothyroidism – which can give you unexplained weight gain, exercising is basically non-existent, much less walking for long periods of time because my legs can give out at any given time.

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At this point my body after having six c-sections  – understandably, has not been the same. Yes I know there are six which is a lot according to today’s society – but I won’t be going into all that. The message here is to accept our bodies as they are after baby. Your body has done the most precious thing, which is to create and care for a human in your womb and then give birth to it. I’ve birthed my babies being born weighing from 5 pounds to 9 pounds 10 ounces. I’ve also been the size 2 and am now way past that! But before I allow myself to tear my body down, I try to remember that my body has done what no other body has. It’s been through surgery after surgery and has carried babies – healthy babies! Remember that! Also, give your body time to get back to pre-baby shape, don’t rush the process, it took you 9 months to get there, it’ll take you 9 months to get back there.

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Now, how to come to a place where you are accepting of it?! How?! When I look in the mirror, I want to love what is looking back at me. It may not be perfect, I have loose skin, I have cellulite and dimples in places where I didn’t know there could be and stretch marks on my stomach, and legs and well everywhere! The darn things are everywhere, they’ve invaded my body, have taken out their sh$t and are enjoying their stay. There is no leaving for them any time soon. The creams, the oils, they don’t work – at least not for me they didn’t. Either that or I’m months too late in getting my money back on those belly creams. I think they’re actually hereditary, if your mom had them when she was pregnant, the chances of you having them are pretty precise. Sorry to be the bearer of the bad news, but yes!

The most effective way I’ve found aside from making the necessary steps in accepting my body the way it is now, is to dress for my body. You need to know your body, know your new body shape and dress for it. And know that a woman with confidence makes her the most beautiful. Lastly, wear a shape wear after baby, it helps smooth and tuck the abdomen area. These looks are what I look for when shopping and dressing my new body after baby.

It’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it.

I’ve found that non-tight fitting t-shirts or flowy shirts look best. They don’t accentuate my stomach or abdomen area – my ‘problem areas’ and are the most flattering. And if I do wear a form fitting shirt, I like to wear a jean jacket over, jackets are such staple pieces.
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Also, high waisted jeans, they avoid the ‘muffin top’ – which by the way, there isn’t such thing, that only means you’re wearing jeans that are two sizes too small for you. What a difference good fitting jeans make! Also, if I can give you a tip on something to look for when buying jeans, the zipper, the longer the zipper the less camel toe you’ll get. Yes!
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I love the A-line t-shirt dress for a casual look. It’s so flattering and hides what you don’t appreciate at the moment. I personally don’t like anything that is tightly cinched at the waist line or underneath the boobs – you know what I mean, yes, I feel like it makes me look a little pregnant-ish again.

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Just like the A-line t-shirt dress, I do the same for the evening dresses. How amazing are these?!

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And lastly the skirts, now because my ‘problem area’ is my abdomen, I pull the skirt up higher than my waist, bring the skirt up higher – you’ll notice the difference! You can see what I did for our last family photo session with the skirt and chambray shirt – such an easy and cute way of finding what you currently have while embracing your new figure. I’ve loved the combination of a casual top, like a tank top to a t-shirt with a flowy skirt/dressy bottom.

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And because my family will be going on vacation in the next couple of months, I wanted to see the swimsuits. These I found on RoseGalRose Wholesale and Plus Trendy – love the ruffle tops!

‘Wanting to be someone else, is a waste of the person you are today’

Here’s to us women loving our bodies at all stages of life! Have a beautiful day.

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Photo: Tanja Heffner

Release The Pressure

Release The Pressure

I don’t often watch television, but do have some programs set on the DVR. On some days when the time is just right, I’ll watch something live – today was one of those days. I’ve not only been a little on edge because of last weeks visit to the ENT  but also feel at times overwhelmed, I’m the one people come to for comfort or to be heard – not that it’s a bad thing. My therapist once told me, it’s a good thing to listen to someone speak about their own struggles because at times it can give you a sense of comfort knowing that you are not alone. Can I remind you of the quote, ‘misery loves company’? Yes, sometimes within my own ‘misery,’ I like to find someone else who’s living within the same miserable state. It makes me feel less alone, ultimately, less miserable. It’s helpful! But it can be hard to be present in someones else’s life when I have ongoing health issues – not to mention the biggest one of them all, Chiari. I do it of course! However, I lend an ear out of respect because I’ve been sought after, but would I rather be doing something else, absolutely!

“Do not become the 911 in everybody’s life, just stop and release yourself of the pressure.”

– Steve Harvey

As the little ones took their afternoon nap, today I was able to watch the Steve Harvey Show. He’s funny, he’s witty and one of the few adults with wisdom. Yes, I’m that person that believes age doesn’t always equal wisdom. So, today the topic of ‘releasing the pressure from yourself’ came up. That was music to my ears folks! Yes, yes! Do you have that friend or family member that only calls when they need you, when they need something from you, when they need you to do something for them? Do you feel responsible to help them, to be there for them, to do what they’ve just asked you to do? Yes, I’m there, I have those! So, he was saying to take the pressure off from the need to be there for them. It’s not in a condescending way – no! It’s for yourself, do this for you! ‘You are only responsible for your children. If the person is not your child, then you are not responsible for them and you are welcome to take the pressure off yourself!’ He brought a point we too often forget and a good point at that, ‘if they didn’t have you, what would they do?’ So, he also recommended you stop receiving their calls, because all their calls tend to be for ‘requests’ and if you can, to stop listening to your voicemails, because 95% of the time voicemails are ‘requests’. They will leave that voicemail saying, ‘call me, it’s important.’ I couldn’t help but laugh, because it true! It’s so true! If you’re not laughing, maybe it’s because you’re the other person. Eek! I often think, wait, I need to answer or I need to listen to the voicemail because, what if it’s an emergency?! Here’s what Mr. Harvey said, ‘all emergencies or problems pass within 24 hours’ and encourages that you ‘don’t become the 911 in everybody’s life, just stop and release yourself of the pressure.’ And I think, if it were an actual emergency, they’d be calling 911 – not you.

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One of my children’s movies comes to mind and it says it best, ‘sit down before you hurt yourself!’ We put so much pressure on ourselves to be in everyone else’s lives, we forget to be present in our own. And I am a firm believer on how stress and anxiety can may very well be the culprit of the way you feel, this pressure makes you sick – literally. I don’t know why I needed to hear that today, but I’m so glad I did, some reassurance is good and always welcomed!  It’s good to put me/you first and not feel remorseful for it.

Happy day!

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1 Day With 3 Girls + 3 Hairstyles

It’s no secret by now that I have 3 girls, ages 10, 3 and 15 months old – why do I still count in months?! Eek! So a typical day for me includes doing my girls hair – keep in mind that I first learned how to do a ‘basic’ braid when my oldest daughters hair got long enough to braid. So, I want to say it wasn’t too long ago that I was looking at tutorials trying to find ways to keep my daughters hair from looking too crazy. The three girls have three different lengths of hair and textures. Since the two younger ones can’t sit still for too long, I’ve had to find ways to keep them entertained while I do their hair, giving them a toy, their favorite blanket or even putting on their favorite cartoon show or movie. They sit and I attempt to do their hair as fast as I can – because you know, they have to get back to doing more important things! Be sure to check out my post here to know all the hair supplies I keep in the kids ‘hair bin.’

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My oldest: first I did a pony tail and tied with an elastic Tip: alternate with spray water bottle and hair spray to get a sleek look, then with the Rat Tail Comb section a piece on top and begin to do a ‘regular’ braid. After the braid is done, begin to place an elastic between short or longer sections of the hair – similar to the ‘Bubble Braid’ that you saw here the difference will be is that you’re going to pull from the sides. So, tie a section with an elastic and pull from the sides, tie with an elastic and pull, do as many as you’d like until you’ve reached the bottom.

My Toddler: with the Rat Tail Comb divide the hair in two sections and tie one section away with either a hair clip or an elastic Then bush, wet with the and spray – the none-tied section with hair spray and begin your French braid, tie at the end with an elastic. Undo the section you tied, again, brush the hair, wet hair and spray with the hair spray and begin your French braid. Tip: for my toddler I really need to use a detangling spray I started using this one from TruKid and it’s amazing! Check out my post here for other TruKid products I use on my kids.

My little-est girl: with the baby, her hair is just starting to grow out enough to do pigtails, today instead of parting down the center, I did it to the side. After her bath – or you can also wet the hair with the spray bottle, using the Rat Tail Comb part it to the side, grab with an elastic and do the other side the same way. It’ll be a sort of half pony tail just the pigtail version. If your daughter’s hair isn’t long enough for pigtails, simply grab a small section on the top of the head, tie with an elastic and place a bow. And you’re done!

Have a lovely night.

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Upside Down French Braid Updo for ‘Prom’otional Dance

It’s close to the end of the school year and ironically, it’s as busy as the beginning of the school year. We have end of the year field trips, dances, class parties, award ceremonies and graduations. It’s all so bitter sweet but so lovely to enjoy along side the children.

This past Friday was my daughter’s 5th grade dance, they called it ‘prom’otional,’ as they didn’t want it to be confused with a prom like dance. I personally thought it was a clever idea, so sweet and the children had a phenomenal time.

So, my daughter has long hair as you can remember from here and her request for the dance was to keep the hair in a ponytail. I decided on the upside down French braid and on top, to place it in a braided bun. As if my life wasn’t busy enough, right?! I looked quickly at online tutorials the night before and woke up a little earlier than usual to try to get the hair do right – as this was my first attempt at this style. So, with my caddy filled with my essentials for doing hair, here’s our end result …

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  1. Pick up the hair half way and tie. Tip: where you end the half way pony tail is where your top bun will be/end – so the higher the half pony tail is, the higher the bun will be and vise versa, the lower you do the half way pony tail, the lower the bun will be/sit. I personally love a good high bun! Then set that hair aside by clipping it or tying it out of the way. Tip: To keep the style smooth and sleek, alternate with spraying the hair with water and using hairspray just a couple times before tying it.
  2. Have her put her head on her knees or place a pillow so she’s more comfortable. Taking the section of her hair that’s not tied and starting with the low back neck area hair, wet and brush the hair smooth and begin your French braid or if you prefer, you can do a Dutch braid – keep it as loose or tight as you’d like, I kept it a little tight.
  3. Continue the French braid, brush through the strands before including them in the braid to keep the hair smooth. Once you’ve reached the other pony tail, grab both pony tails and tie them together with a hair tie.
  4. With the hair that was left on the pony tail, spray with water and then do a simple braid and tie at the end with an elastic.
  5. Now just wrap the braid in a bun, tie it with a hair tie and pin the end with bobby pins, lastly spray some hairspray to keep fly aways in place.
  6. If you’d like, finish the style with a hair bow and there you have an ‘upside down French braid with a braided bun.’

Have a great weekend!

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Hard Mom Days: A Kindhearted Woman Gains Respect

Hard Mom Days: A Kindhearted Woman Gains Respect

The topic of motherhood can be a bit of a free for all – some think that either you’re doing too little or not enough and their need to give unsolicited advice to tell you what you should be doing with your children. This is why, I always choose to hold opinions of others to myself. As I myself run on survival mode.

So, I’ll begin by telling you how exhausted I am, how physically draining I feel, how sleepy I feel – that sleep that has you not being able to choose whether to eat or sleep and you choose to sleep, how hungry I feel to have maybe 5 minutes to myself! Not to go out, but rather have 5 minutes without the door to my bedroom or bathroom – because you know you can’t lock the door there, continuously opening with little voices asking where my ‘X’ toy is, where my ‘X’ shoe is, where my green ‘X’ shirt is and the list goes on! Yes I am grateful for the little ones, yes I feel overwhelmingly blessed to have them, yes I know they’re growing up, yes they will grow and leave my home. Yes, yes, yes! But give me a minute to let this out! Give me a moment without judgment! It’s OK as a mom to say, I need a break – and not only on Mother’s Day, a breather, a shower, a time to do my hair, a time to eat without sharing – is that being selfish? And a time for rest!

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What a week it’s been!! I have a house full of sick kids – and I won’t remind you how many there are, because the school going children tend to bring home all the germs they can gather and then spread them to the little ones. You know, that snowball effect?! And the only not-so sick child I had, today woke up throwing up. Welcome to motherhood! The land of the unknown, where anything can happen and where all things change at any given moment. Also, where your title as mom can quickly shift from mom to nurse to lullaby singer to clean up crew person of projectile things that come out of little ones mouth to sleep rocker of sick children, just name a few. And then just like that, it’s 4 am. I am so thankful that on most days, I can gather enough strength and not take out my chronic physical pain onto the children. We mothers can do that so quickly – especially when we are exhausted and running on no sleep. If I feel overwhelmed with the children, I give myself a time out. I take this time – be it 5 minutes or 2, to practice my breathing, gather and center myself. Because as mother’s we choose which road to take with each particular child of ours. The impatient child – that can test our own patience, the not-so still child, the loud child to the one that never seems to stop the crying.

‘A kindhearted woman gains respect’ from Proverbs 11:16 is such an encouraging scripture, it serves as a reminder how yelling and anything other than showing respect to the little ones is not a solution to solving a chaotic situation. Because when I’m tired, when I haven’t had the time to eat and had very little sleep, I can get mean, fast. The voice gets higher and I get snappy. So, this is a beautiful reminder to be kind and from my kindness the children will respond kindly in return. It’s so refreshing to know that in any ‘hard’ mom day, through your actions as a mom, you will gain your children’s respect.

‘As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.’ – Isaiah 66:13 I often think that I am giving my all, to my children to my home to my spouse and at times ask, what about me, where do I stand, who comforts me?! Because as a mother, I comfort my little ones, at homework time – encouraging them, when they fall – healing them, when they can’t sleep – comforting them and when they feel scared – loving them. I say them because it makes me feel less of a priority and feel myself being pushed more and more to the far back of the line. However, this verse reminds me that I am a priority, that I am loved and that I am comforted by the most faithful of them all. With this He reminds me that as I comfort my child, He also comforts me – and you.

Hope you’ve had a wonderful Sunday.

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