April 29, 2015

Vanilla Butter Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

A few special events took place in our family lately. For us, special events mean special cakes. Rather than spending lots of money buying on at the grocery store on a cake that's not from scratch and probably doesn't have as wholesome of ingredients, I made them myself.

I've made four vanilla butter cakes with vanilla buttercream frosting in the past month. Each was so good and got rave reviews from the eaters. I didn't have to argue with guests too much to get them to take home the leftovers so I wouldn't eat it (though I really wanted it). A's co-workers got their own cake and devoured it. This cake is great for birthdays, holidays, or other special occasions.
Vanilla butter cake with vanilla buttercream frosting
Vanilla Butter Cake

This recipe make three 8-inch rounds. You can stack them all, or make a 9x13 and one round, or a stacked two-layer and a single 8 inch. I've never stacked them all, I like having the extra cake in case more is needed at the party or to send to work with A.

    vanilla butter cake with vanilla buttercream frosting
  • Four large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour (must be cake flour)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (do not use margarine)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

vanilla butter cake with vanilla buttercream frostingPreheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray cake pans with non-stick spray, line with parchment, then spray parchment
Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt
Beat butter until soft (about 2-3 minutes)
Add 1 1/2 cups of sugar and beat until mixture is light and fluffy (about 5 minutes)
Add room-temperature egg yolks, one at a time, beating as you go.
Add vanilla, beat until combined
Set mixer to low and add flour mixture and room-temperature milk in five parts-- flour, then milk, then flour, then milk, then flour
In a clean bowl, use electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to beat egg whites until foamy
Add cream of tartar, continue to beat until soft peaks form
Add remaining 1/2 cup of sugar gradually
Beat until stiff peaks form
Using silicone or rubber spatula, fold a small amount of the whites into the batter
Fold in remaining whites until combined, being careful not to over-mix or it will deflate
Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smoothing tops when done
Bake 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean
Cool cakes in pans on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then remove cakes from the pans and cool on the racks
Frost and decorate the cakes once they are completely cooled  

vanilla butter cake with vanilla buttercream frostingTo layer the cakes, put the first one top down, put frosting in the middle (I added sprinkles to one of mine as well), then put the next cake on, bottom down. This helps eliminate gaps and sliding. Keep frosted cakes covered in the fridge. 

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (do not use margarine)
  • 1/8 tsp salt 
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Food coloring, if desired


Combine butter, sugar, and salt. Beat until creamy.
Add milk and vanilla
Beat until smooth and creamy, at least 5 minutes
Add food coloring, if desired, beating until well-mixed

To make cakes easier to frost, I love using frosting knives. This set that I got doesn't cost very much and works great.

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April 27, 2015

What to Say to a SAHM, WAHM, or WM

There have been many articles lately telling us what not to say to certain moms. There's the SAHM, WAHM, and work outside the home camps, each with things they never want to hear. But what the heck ARE you supposed to say then? Are we left to just say nothing or offend every other mom we meet?
The truth is as moms, we all work hard, struggle at times, love our kids, and want what's best for them. We all need support and there are some things we love to hear -- No matter what our job title and life choices. Try one of these out next time you see another member of the mama tribe.

1. You're a good mom! It is always awesome to hear that you are great at the most important thing you do--be a mom. Especially on the bad days, when we second guessing all our choices, worry if we're doing things "right" and feeling like a failure at everything. It's good to hear someone else thinks we've got our crap together...even when we're feeling overwhelmed and ripping our hair out (and possibly swearing our heads off behind closed doors while we hope the kids don't hear and repeat a "fun" new word at school).

2. Is there anything I can do to give you a hand? Every mom needs some help sometimes, whether it be having the door held open at a store while she tries to wrangle kids, stroller/cart, bags and purse; a hand loading groceries in the car or taking back the cart because the kids are in meltdown mode; a night out with a free babysitter to have a break for once; or bringing over something for a potluck dinner. Offer a hand when you can. Oh, and be kind to the mom with the tantruming kids in the grocery store line -- let her cut in front of you or at least go into the next lane that opens rather than rushing over to nab the spot before she can.

3. Your kids are so smart/funny/cute! A compliment for the kid is a compliment for the mom, too. Who doesn't want to hear something positive about her kid? Even if it's a comment about how cute our kid's outfit is so we know even if we look like crap from spit up, poop, and no sleep, our kids look nice.

4. I know it's hard, but I also know you're doing your best and that's what matters. Face it, being a mom is hard, no matter your job title. All of us have our own struggles, difficulties, and things that are easier for us. Let's recognize what other moms are going through. Let her know her hard work is noticeable. 

5. Good for you for making the best choice for you and your family. I support you. No matter if you're a WM, WAHM, or SAHM, you made the choice based on what's best for you and your family. Often, it is not an easy one to make. It's nice to be recognized for that, rather than looked down on for your personal choice. Let her know you realize she made a tough choice that is right for her.

6. How are you doing? So often, we just become so-and-so's mom. We don't even have a name. I swear, if he was offered 1 million bucks for just knowing my name, the kids' doctor still wouldn't know. Everyone asks about the kids, not us. Try asking another mom how SHE is doing or how SHE is feeling.

7. Do you need to talk? Sometimes, it's not about what someone says. It's about her just being there to listen about how crappy our day is (the toddler smeared poop on the walls and smashed crackers all over. Again.) or how wonderful it is (I got to sleep in today and went out for lunch, alone!). We all need to vent or brag sometimes. We need support in order to get through this crazy thing called motherhood.

8. Your kids love you. It's a great feeling to be reminded that those kids, the ones who we're doing this all for, love us, unconditionally. They're what makes it all worthwhile on good days and bad.  

April 26, 2015

What's for Dinner April 26-May 2? (and printable)

I realized we haven't had homemade pizza in awhile. I make the crust from scratch, which takes awhile but is so worth it!

Sweet and sour chicken with fried rice and green salad

Beef roast with baked potatoes and mixed veggies

Waffles with fruit salad and sausages

Homemade sausage pizza with garlic bread and green salad


Terriyaki chicken with jasmine rice and broccoli

Vegetable medley with couscous

Remember the handy printable weekly dinner menu. It's 8x10 in case you'd like to frame it and use it as a dry erase menu board.  Find out about the benefits of meal planning. 

April 23, 2015

Roasted Peppers and Quinoa

I've been making healthier dinners, along with trying new things, lately as part of my Three New Dinners Challenge. One of the new dinners we tried and loved this past month was roasted red peppers and quinoa. As a meatless meal, the focus is more on the veggies and other forms of protein (the quinoa). That also means it's good for your budget (here are some tips help you stretch your grocery budget). It is so simple to make, healthy, yet oh-so yummy.

Roasted Peppers and Quinoa
Makes enough for two adults and one child, with one or two lunches leftover

5 large peppers, green, yellow and/or red
Morton's Nature's Seasoning
Olive oil
1 cup dry quinoa

Core, deseed, and cut peppers into strips
Mix peppers and a small amount of olive oil, just enough to lightly coat them
Place peppers on cookie sheet in a single layer
Sprinkle on seasoning to taste
Set oven to roast at 350 (if you don't have a roast setting, set it to bake)
Put peppers in pre-heated oven for 30-45 minutes, until crisp
Prepare quinoa according to directions on package
Serve peppers and quinoa together

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April 20, 2015

Chew-Choos Sweet Pea Silicone Teething Necklace

M2 and B always seem to be chewing on everything. B chews because he's teething. M2 chews just because she likes to. I usually avoid wearing necklaces because both end up grabbing it and trying to chew it. I then end up getting choked or worrying the necklace will break. I don't want my jewelry broken or for them to choke on it, so I just don't wear necklaces. That's a major bummer as I love necklaces and some outfits need their finishing touch.

Then I heard about silicone teething necklaces. They promised to be the answer to all my non-necklace-wearing, kid-teething-and-chewing mama woes. I got to try the Chew-Choos sweet pea silicone one by Baby Pinch in exchange for this review. Baby Pinch is a stay-at-home mom business, which is an added plus in my book. I love supporting fellow moms in their endeavors.
to my chewing-and-teething-kids, no-necklace-wearing mommy woes. 

I was worried the necklace would look like cheap plastic, not breakaway as promised, be too heavy to be comfortable, or that the kids would hate it. I shouldn't have -- none of those are a problem at all. It's great!

The necklace looks really stylish and the color is beautiful. It's like a regular bead necklace, only chewable and with a break-away clasp in case one of the kids yanks too hard. (Mama doesn't want to choke!) It doesn't come off too easily either. Perfect! The beads have a diamond-like cut to them, making them look nifty and not at all like pieces of silicone. That also gives it an extra texture, making it even better for teething and chewing kids.

Each purple, black, turquoise, or blue necklace is 28 inches long on a silk cord. If you want it shorter, you can trim it easily to shorten it. To wash it, stick it in the dishwasher or just hand wash (both are safe, according to Baby Pinch).

Baby Pinch says the necklaces are organic food-grade silicone and free from BPA, PVC, phthalates, cadmium, lead, latex, or any harmful toxins. The FDA-approved silicone is also hygienic, hypoallergenic, and resistant to bacteria.

*Baby Pinch is responsible for providing the coupon code to the winner. I will notify them who the winner is, they take it from there. I have no control over fulfilment of the prize to the winner. If you do not have Amazon Prime, you may need to pay shipping charges. ARV of the necklace is $14.99.

Affiliate links are included in this post. You can find the disclosure and policy here. I received this product at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Your experiences may differ. 

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April 19, 2015

What's for Dinner April 19-25? (and printable)

What's on your meal plan for this week? Here's what I've got planned.

Chicken pot pie 

Homemade chicken nuggets with peirogies and mixed veggies

Club sandwiches and soup and tortilla chips

Steaks with baked potatoes and corn

Spaghetti with three cheese sauce and green salad


 Herb crusted pork chops with jasmine rice and a  cauliflower/ broccoli mix topped with cheddar cheese

Remember the handy printable weekly dinner menu. It's 8x10 in case you'd like to frame it and use it as a dry erase menu board.  Find out about the benefits of meal planning. 

April 17, 2015

Welcome to The Stay-at-Home Life

Welcome to The Stay-at-Home Life! I've moved over all my content from the old blog to this new one. Update your bookmarks to the URL for this blog -- www.thesahlife.com -- so you don't miss anything. I'm still working out a few bugs, so be sure to use the "www" in the URL.

I appreciate all your support and am so excited about what is to come. Two giveaways are planned for the near future, along with some guest posts and plenty of new content from me.

I LOVE getting your comments on posts. I read every single one, I promise!
You're always welcome to email me directly at WriterEditorMom at gmail.com or via the Let's Chat tab with questions, comments, feedback, and suggestions. 

You can connect with me, find additional content, and find out when there are new blog posts by following me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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April 13, 2015

Easy Ways to Stretch Your Grocery Budget

For me, going to the grocery store is one of the few things that I (usually) get to do alone. It's my break from the kids for some time alone. Lately, it's been getting more stressful. Every month, the grocery prices seem to just go up and it gets harder to stick to my budget (read how to set, determine, and follow a budget in seven easy steps).

How are we supposed to feed our families without going broke in the process? Here are some ideas to make your grocery budget go farther, without buying a ton of processed foods. These tips are helpful whether you're trying to build up your savings, stay on budget, or cut back so you can stay on budget.

1. Have a meatless meal once a week or more. We incorporate salads, roasted veggies and quinoa, beans, and various pastas to achieve this goal. Simple black beans and rice or an even healthier version is a great way to do this.
2. Stretch your meat. Make the meat you do eat stretch by loading up on veggies, fruits, and beans either by using them as fillers or as the meal's focal point. Check out my apple carrot turkey burgers and Southwestern taco salad to get an idea of how to do this.
3. Buy clearance meat. Stores usually mark down meat that's close to it's sell by date. Scout out the stores and stock up. Pay attention to price, though, as sometimes even clearance meat is still pricey (especially beef). Watch the quality as well, sometimes the meat is really fatty of off color so not worth the price even on clearance.
4. Buy in bulk. Often, the larger packages of foods, such as beans, rice, potatoes, cereal, etc., are cheaper when you buy a larger bag. If you're able to use it all before it expires, buy the larger bag. Buy whole chickens when they're on sale then use the leftovers in other recipes or freeze it. If it'll just go to waste, though, skip it.
5. Look for sales on items you usually buy and work your shopping around them. Avoid buying things that aren't on sale when possible. Though, never buy meat that isn't on clearance. Shop for fruits and veggies that are in season to save more. Often, bigger bags of fruit rather than picking out of bins saves you money. Around holidays, scout out the meat that's popular for that holiday and stock up the freezer.
6. Stock up when you do find items on sale. You can freeze many foods, such as meat, butter, and bread for later.
7. Plant a veggie garden. Growing your own is a great way to save money. Focus on the staples you eat regularly.
8. Buy frozen veggies. Canned is also cheaper, but not as good. Frozen veggies have all the same nutrients, taste as good, last longer, and are cheaper than fresh.
9. Look for the dented fruit and bread bins at the grocery store. Not all stores have them, and even then it's hit and miss (some can even be more expensive) but it's worth a look.
10. Price compare. Keep an eye on the items you buy most at various stores and see what store has it cheaper. Remember to factor in how far the store is and figure out if it's worth it to drive for just a few items that may be cheaper at the other store.
11. Make extra food to have for lunches through the week and to take to work. That way, you're not eating out and spending more or buying pre-made foods. Be sure to use up the leftovers, though, or you'll waste money instead.
12. Buy store brand. The off brands, except on rare occasions, are cheaper than name brands. Often this is the case even when using coupons.
13. Cut back on juice/soda/chips/cookies. Those items add up and cut into the money you have for other foods.
14. Buy fish in bags rather than fresh. If you're a seafood eater, this one cuts your costs. I buy 2 pound packs of individually frozen salmon and tilapia portions. The individual portions also help me track how much we're eating and not make too much.
15. Avoid pre-made or prepared foods, like roast chickens, baby carrots, and other convenience foods that just eat up your budget.
16. Bake your own bread. Unless you buy the regular white or wheat store brands, which aren't as healthy, you can most likely save baking your on bread. Plus, it'll be healthier and fresher.
17. Cook at home. This is a big one and really the most important of all. Eating out costs more than cooking your own at home and it eats up your budget faster than anything. If you eat out often, none of the other tips matter as you'll still be spending lots on food each month.

Check out more ways to slash your grocery spending in my follow-up article here.

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April 12, 2015

What's for Dinner April 12-18? (and printable)

Let's get right to it this week.
Slow cooker apple honey pork roast with stuffing, mashed potatoes, and broccoli

Baked dried tomato and olive oil chicken thighs with green salad

Oven roasted corn, peppers, and mushrooms with quinoa

Turkey burgers with French fries and corn

Baked herb crusted tilapia with couscous and carrots


 Ravioli with green salad

Remember the handy printable weekly dinner menu. It's 8x10 in case you'd like to frame it and use it as a dry erase menu board.  Find out about the benefits of meal planning. 

April 8, 2015

Spring Cleaning Checklist Free Printable

Spring is here! A deep housecleaning comes with it. I actually enjoy purging, clearing, sprucing up, and getting the house back in better order. Though, it's so easy to overlook certain cleaning that needs to be done as it's not done often. It's even easier to forget where in your cleaning you are since there's a bunch to do.

To solve that problem, check out my free printable spring cleaning checklist. It's divided out by rooms and even has a page for you to enter cleaning specific to your house. Happy cleaning!

Click the photo to download the checklist

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April 6, 2015

Finding Appropriate Developmental Toys

Finding toys that are right for your specific child's current development can be difficult. Just because a product says it's for a certain age doesn't mean your child has hit that milestone or he/she may have even passed it. Even worse, you don't even know if the toy is any good, you only have reviews to go on, no input from professionals. I can't tell you how many toys I've tried toys that turned out to be duds with M2 and B or that just didn't fit their current development, despite what the boxes claimed.

Then I found out about Little Giants Developmental and Play Center's at home subscription service. I've never come across a company that actually has OTs test and recommend toys specifically for your child. The concept is so cool. I got to test a month's shipment for each child in exchange for my unbiased review. It's just so neat that I had to share it with you all!

Little Giants at Home says it best themselves:
Little Giants at Home (LG) is a subscription-based developmental toy program for parents and children to implement in the home. What makes Little Giants different from any other program in the market, is that it is milestone-based and the toys are personally researched and selected based on the child’s developmental stage by occupational therapists (OTs) at Little Giants physical child developmental and play center. Unlike any other national companies, members can contact these OTs at Little Giants in Madison, Mississippi to address specific concerns they may be having about their child’s development.

The boxes come with the toys packed nicely with green and purple tissue paper. The shipments includes a packet of info put together that includes developmental milestones and AAP developmental guidelines cards along with an LG newsletter with parenting tips and fun facts. Of course, there's also the option to call up and OT and discuss the next delivery. Each month the box your child gets comes with one or two toys based on his/her developmental needs. Little Giants notes that, " "The toy may not be the most popular one on the market or one full of bells and whistles, but it is what is most beneficial for that child at this stage of their development. The Box Gurus work hard at identifying the right tools to help parents keep their child on track at home."
Baby B's box came with toy dumbbells, a rubber duck, and a dolphin bath mit. So cute! The weights are great for him, with a mirror, rattle, clinking rings, and crunchy noise parts. They fit exactly where he is developmentally. The bath toys make tub time even more fun for him. He loves them.

M2's box came with a Melissa and Doug hammer and ball toy. It is PERFECT for her. Rather than hitting and banging other things, she can use this while also working on her motor skills. She's learning cause and effect by watching the balls fall after hammering them. 

You can tell OTs picked the toys specifically rather than someone randomly grabbing the toys because they look neat or are popular. The dumbbells and M2's toy are defiantly quality, not cheaply made.

The prices are bit high were it just the toys alone, but the real draw is that the toys are tested and picked by OTs and that you can discuss with them your child's needs. That's something you can't get anywhere else and that can be invaluable, especially if you happen to have a special needs child. Plus, the toys are well made. It's a great subscription service.

You can learn more about Little Giants and start a subscription online.

You can find our disclosure and policy here. I received this product at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Your experiences may differ. 

Find Me on Scary Mommy

I am beyond excited! My first article is running on Scary Mommy today. It's been a dream of mine to be published there. I would love for you to pop over and leave me some love there. The article is about being the parent of a child with a speech delay. I'd like all moms with speech delayed kids to know it's ok to share how they really feel. No mom should have to hide her feelings. Nor should she have to feel afraid or embarrassed to reach out to other moms and professionals to get her child, and herself, needed help and support. Read it here.
Scary Mommy

April 5, 2015

What's for Dinner April 5-11? (and printable)

Happy Easter! Today, I am trying something different for my Three New Dinner Challenge. I wanted to do something a bit different than our traditional Easter dinner.

Honey glazed ham with rolls, potato salad, deviled eggs, cauliflower and broccoli covered in cheese, and yellow butter cake with buttercream frosting--all from scratch--for dessert.

Tip: Ham is usually expensive. Buy an extra large ham, divide it up, and freeze what you don't need for Easter. That way, you have ham for later that's at the Easter sale price.

Mixed greens salad with leftover rolls

Soup with grilled cheese sandwiches and green salad

Lemon crusted tilapia with rice and mixed veggies

Bacon chive chicken with baked potatoes and corn


 Spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread, and green beans

Remember the handy printable weekly dinner menu. It's 8x10 in case you'd like to frame it and use it as a dry erase menu board.  Find out about the benefits of meal planning. 

Product review: aVo Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender is one of my favorite scents -- calming, fresh, floral, and just so lovely without being cloying. As an essential oil, lavender has many uses. I got to try aVo lavender essential oil for free in exchange for this unbiased review.

April 1, 2015

Position Opening: Stay-at-Home Mom

All stay-at-home moms have been there. The dreaded, "What do you do all day?!" and, "My, being a SAHM has got to be easy, you can just nap, drink coffee, and watch TV all day!" comments. Anyone who has been a SAHM knows there's plenty to do all day and very little time to watch TV and drink coffee (especially if you want it hot) let alone nap.

I then got to thinking. What would a job description for a SAHM look like? I imagine it'd go something like this:

Position: Full Time Stay-at-Home Mom of Toddler and Newborn
Hours/Days: 24/7, 365
Pay: No monetary compensation; hugs, cuddles and kisses are given as payment
Vacation days: None
Sick days: None
Travel: None
Medical/dental/vision benefits: None
401k: No
Location: Live in

Note: This position is not for the faint of heart or someone who cannot be fully committed. It is not a position for everyone. Every mom must decide what is best for her and for her family. All positions, in or out of the home, are equal in difficulty and all moms' choices should be respected.

Job description
We're looking for an energetic, self-starter who can take a house and make it a home on a tight budget while caring for, educating, entertaining, and being the sole person responsible for two spirited children during work hours.

Responsibilities and Duties
  • Responsibility for all the children's needs, education, health, and entertainment around the clock. Children must be supervised at all times
  • Develop fun activities, outings, and crafts that are age appropriate
  • Read to children daily, sometimes the same book over and over
  • TV is to be limited and no other forms of advanced electronics (iPads, tablets, phones, etc.) are permitted
  • Drive children to/from activities, doctor's appointments, and where ever they need to go
  • Keep track of and schedule needed doctor's appointments
  • Maintain schedule for entire family, balancing and scheduling social calendar, appointments, errands, cleaning, etc.
  • Plan and prepare all meals. Must be nutritious, balanced, yet meet the requirements of the children whose tastes vary daily. Eating out is very limited
  • Clean and maintain home, including monitoring maintenance needs and arranging for and supervising repairs
  • Do laundry, estimated at 2-5 loads or more a week
  • Maintain children's wardrobes, including ability to save money on clothing, plan ahead, buy appropriate sizes, sort and organize clothes to grow into and already outgrown
  • Track all household supplies and food to be able to replenish as needed, while saving money
  • Run errands, at times with children who may or may not be tantruming
  • Perform all household tasks while caring for the children
  • Determine, set, and follow a budget, along with paying all bills on time and in full while maintaining and building savings
  • Breaks and times for meals may or may not be permitted--when permitted, food may be cold and must be eaten quickly
  • Showers may or may not be daily
  • Must stay up all night and not sleep when required by children
  • Obtain and determine correct courses of therapy for special needs child
  • Handle any and all emergencies 
  • Change lots. of. diapers.

 Experience and skills

  • Must have experience as a maid, butler, personal driver, secretary, personal assistant, activities planner, chef, accountant, nutritionist, personal shopper, life coach, teacher, and household manager
  • Ability to handle screaming, crying, and whining children without going cuckoo
  • Fluent in toddler and baby
  • Able to miss breakfast and often lunch, along with all snacks and drinks when required
  • Must use bathroom and shower in record time, often with supervision and/or children screaming
  • Ability to hold off going to the bathroom for long periods
  • Able to go a day or more sans shower
  • Must be able to work quickly and multi-task without issue 
  • Ability to handle stress 
  • Must be able to handle a tight budget with less disposable income
  • Many hugs, kisses, and cuddles from children
  • Watching children grow, change, and learn knowing you had a direct hand in it and didn't miss a thing
  • Fun times playing, doing crafts, baking, at the park, outside, and doing other activities
  • Seeing your child smile and learn something new
  • More time as a family
  • Able to blog on the side and freelance
  • The best commute. Ever.
  • And so, so much more that you really can't describe or explain
Ever wonder what the correct thing to say to a SAHM, WAHM or work-outside-the-home mom is? Find out here.

This article is featured in The Complete Guide for Stay-at-Home Mom Survival Guide: When You Need to Laugh.

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