November 7, 2016

Extreme Weight Loss: Losing 50% of My Body Weight

I've finally reached the goal of losing 50% of my body weight. That is major for me. There are 6lbs hanging on that have got to go for me to reach my goal weight. At 164lbs. down, I've lost more than many people even weigh. Soon, I'll have lost more than I weigh!

At the doctor's last week, for the first time in many years, I didn't have high blood pressure. I'm officially off meds for that, and the weight loss has helped my reflux immensely as well. My knees are better, too. My print out from the doctor didn't list obese as a diagnosis, either. That hasn't happened in many, many years. I've been overweight most of my life, except for when I was really young and a year or two in high school before I became the "fat kid" again from meds and a battle with depression. The doctor had to double check that I hadn't had weight loss surgery she didn't know about. Nope, no surgery.

October 12, 2016

Extreme Weight Loss: 10 Things That Happen When You Drop the Weight

Having lost 150lbs., there have been many non-scale victories that could easily be taken for granted. Including these 10 things that happen when you drop the weight. If you follow me on social media, you've seen my posts about reaching the 150lbs-lost goal. That's a whole person! It's also 46% of my starting weight and 20lbs. from my final goal weight.

Everyone has their own goals when they lose weight, these were some of mine. Some may even seem silly. I was thrilled each time I checked one off my list. Each has made all the weight-loss tips I've used even more worth doing. My mind and what I see in the mirror doesn't always match all the goals I've reached, though. Believing and accepting I've actually lost all the weight is another battle.

October 5, 2016

Staying Organized with Peek Bags

If you're house is like ours, there is stuff everywhere that needs to be organized. Yet, we still need to see what's in the container. M2 has pencils, pens and notebooks, I've got my own notebooks and pens to keep sorted.

With Peek Bags, I can pick the size bag I need since there is one that fits small items, medium and large (my pick for my notebooks). The bottom portion of every cloth bag is clear so that I can still see what it is in the bag, rather than rummaging through. For my notebooks, it comes in handy because I can turn to the page I need to reference the most, put it in with that page up, then still see the page inside the bag without having to take it out. That keeps it safer from the kids, too, who love to tear up any notebooks they get their hands on.

September 28, 2016

Super-Soft Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

These super-soft oatmeal cookies are a cross between a muffin and a cookie. At 85 calories each and packed with oatmeal and apple, they're a treat at breakfast, snack or dessert. With fall and the apple picking season around the corner, these are fun to make with the kids, or to whip up while they're at school for an after-school snack.

September 23, 2016

How to Get Kids Motivated and Goal Setting

Let's face it, in today's world, most kids are online and on phones. It can be hard to get them motivated to do chores, homework, family time, anything really. We know motivation is the key to success in life, though. So as parents who are struggling to connect with our kids and get them on the right track, what can we do?

September 19, 2016

Introducing Kids to Transcendental Meditation

Meditation is a common way to bring calm and a peaceful, centered feeling into your day. No matter their age, kids can join in with you through meditative music. Ann Purcell’s new children's music album, You're a Hero, is calming, soothing, nurturing music that introduces children to the enlightening principles Ann herself has discovered over the years. Kids are encouraged to find the positives within themselves, enjoy every day, be honest while remembering other’s feelings, remember all they have to offer and to treat others kindly.

September 13, 2016

Choosing a Preschool for Your Autistic Toddler

Preschool for an autistic toddler opens up many questions and worries, even more than usual. There's the usual homeschool or public school question, of course. Watching M2 and considering our family situation, I decided it's best to do a combination of both. She needs to be around other kids, have in-school therapy and other resources that homeschool can't give her. At the same time, I think she'll need supplemental at-home education.

September 9, 2016

How to Help Kids with Sensory Issues Eat Healthy

With children who have autism spectrum disorder and/or sensory processing disorder, getting them to eat healthy can be a struggle. Honestly, getting them to eat at all is often a giant battle royale. Textures, temps and seasonings are big issue. M2 gets upset and won't eat a food if you so much as call it something different (such as saying "salmon" instead of "fish"). I am in love with the easy options Bambinos Baby Food, a natural, organic, healthy baby food delivery service, gives to up the health factor in M2's and B's meals.

What works great for sensory kids, babies who are exploring new foods and their mamas is that you control the texture. Defrost the stars slightly for something crunchy. Defrost a bit more for a more balanced crunch/mushy. All the way down to totally defrosting it for your traditional baby food -- that you can thin with water if needed. Even the temperature can be adjusted since it's all fully cooked already. Babies can use them for teething, too, and as healthy popsicle snacks.

September 6, 2016

Saying Goodbye to Summer

To send off summer right, I've been taking the last week off from blogging to spend more time with A, M2 and B. We've been packing in all the fun summer activities we can before school starts up, including one that made my extreme weight loss more apparent.

I planned out a few easy day trips for us to do as a family, along with a few fun "firsts" for M2. Everything is cheap or free, keeping in line with our budget and my goals of being frugal. M2 has been enjoying her first root beer float and chewing gum. B joined her in the first time going to the pool, which was one of our family trips. For the first time in about 5 years, I wore a swimsuit. It's been even longer since I wore one in public. With swimsuits, you can't hide all the lumps and bumps, or in my case, the loose skin from weight loss, as easily. While I don't think I look awesome, I don't think I look horrible either. My old one-piece suit falls off me now. When I first got it, it was the only one that even fit somewhat. Now I've got a floral two-piece in bright colors I never would have considered wearing before because they stand out so much.

September 1, 2016

Create the Perfect Candy Buffet

A seasonal candy buffet is perfect for any event any time during the year -- from baby showers and weddings to graduations and holiday celebrations, there are candies to add some more fun to your party. Plus, just seeing the delicious goodies brings back memories of being a child in a candy store. Who didn't love that feeling?  With an eye for design and some simple tips, you can easily turn an ordinary space into a candy oasis.

August 24, 2016

The Lie the Mirror Tells You

Looking in the mirror after losing 145lbs, I see the same person. I don't think my brain got the message that I'm almost half the person I was. To be totally honest, I still see someone who is overweight. Big. Large. Fat. I've compared pictures. They look the same to me, minus a little weight in the face. Stepping on the scale to see a number under 200, I think the scale is out to screw with me.

I'm at a weight I haven't been since high school. When I go through my closest, I still expect all the big clothes to fit. It's strange to try them on to find they're too big on me now. I've finally accepted that the 2x and 3x clothes don't fit. They hang on me, resembling something a clown might wear to get a laugh. The extra room reminds me of a small child playing dress up in mommy's clothes. Over a few days, I ripped through the closet and tore out anything that I can fit another person in along with me. Bags and bags of clothes are sitting in my basement ready to be consigned. Some of those bags have clothes that, even at 3x or a 28, didn't fit me at my largest because they were too tight. Now, they fall off.

August 22, 2016

What to Know About Used Car Safety and Open Recalls

As a mom, I worry extra about having my kids in a safe car. I also try to save money where ever we can since having kids is expensive. Needing to save means considering used cars when the time comes to get a new one. I've always thought that going with a well-known dealer rather than a private seller to buy a used car was a better route. To me, it means that the car gets looked at first by their mechanics -- which also means the car wouldn't be one that has outstanding, unfixed recalls. It's a major safety risk to buy a car with an open recall -- who knows what all will be involved to fix it, or if it is even fixable at all!

August 19, 2016

8 Essential Items for a Fall Emergency Kit

Now that the kids are going back to school, it's a good time to restock the emergency kit and get it ready for outdoor fall activities. This kit is for those times you need a quick, simple fix. It all fits nicely in a tote bag for travel or a basket under the sink to be ready for outdoor fun.

These items are a must to have on hand for playing at the park, going camping, apple and pumpkin picking (some of our favorite fall adventures!) or even playing in the backyard.

Be sure to read all the way to the end -- there's a special giveaway you won't want to miss to help you get your kit started!

August 15, 2016

Could Your ASD Child's Sibling Be Autistic Too?

Over the past couple months, baby B has been diagnosed with a speech delay and has shown symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. M2 was the same age when she was diagnosed with a severe speech delay. While baby B's delay is different, he's definitely delayed. He's also showing more red flags for autism each month.

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August 4, 2016

Healthy Zucchini Oatmeal Muffins Recipe

Healthy, super moist zucchini oatmeal muffins are a perfect low calorie, nutrition packed treat for breakfast and snacks. They're easy and quick to make, plus can be frozen for quick freezer meals. You can't tell they're healthy at all from the yummy taste (a great way to sneak in veggies for the kids and have them eating well). I've whipped up a batch of regular and mini muffins the past two days, the mini ones got frozen and we're chowing down on the others.

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August 1, 2016

When Life Happens

John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens when you're busy making plans." He was quite right. Life around here has been crazy the past month. Out of control, really. One thing after another has caused so much stress, worry and eaten up time unexpectedly. We didn't see any of it coming, as tends to happen.

July 25, 2016

7 More Easy Tips to Lose Weight

A couple weeks back, I shared seven easy tips that's I've been using to help me in my now 135-pound weight loss. Today, I'm sharing seven more. Each one has been SO important in my journey. I didn't implement them all at once, I've slowly worked up to where I am now. There are still many more tips and tricks I use, the first list and this one are just the biggest ones that have made the most difference for me.

July 22, 2016

Vegetarian Goulash

Summer offers so many yummy, fresh veggies that are begging to be put into delicious recipes. In my efforts to eat healthy, while being frugal, I threw together a vegetarian goulash.  It could also be called a summer vegetarian stew, if you prefer. The recipe is crazy simple to make and tastes like summer in a bowl. Pure yummy for the tummy -- and nice for your waistline since it's low cal and low sodium! Green and yellow summer squash, peppers and onion make for a colorful, vitamin-rich dish. What makes this dish different from traditional goulashes is the use of  pinto beans as the protein of the meal, instead of meat. Whole-wheat macaroni noodles add the whole grains and round out the meal.

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I cook with different beans often since they're so much cheaper than meats and pack a nutritional punch in each tiny bean. I stock up on the big bags of beans when they're a good price, since the canned ones tend to have more sodium and don't taste quite as good to me. Cooking the bagged beans may seem intimidating, but when you get down to it, all that's involved is some soaking and boiling. Pinto beans don't even need to be soaked, throw them in a pot and boil away until they're soft. Mixed with the other ingredients, the vegetarian goulash yields 8 generous, low-cal servings for under $1 a serving.

July 15, 2016

How to Keep Hard Floors Sparkling Clean

With two small kids in the house, my floors are always getting covered in dirt, food and grime. Baby B has a bad habit of throwing all his food, while M2 drops whatever she doesn't like on the floor. I swear, I'm having to sweep and mop it at least five times a day, after every meal and snack. If I don't, the gunk gets tracked all over the house, our feet get dirty and the ants move in. Eww, eww and EWW.

I don't have the time to spend doing a long, involved cleaning every time. Mama has other stuff to do! I need a quick, easy way that gets the floor clean without taking me forever (since while I'm doing that, the kids are off on a mission to create the next mess). To help me with all this miss, the kind O-Cedar folks sent me their easy wring spin mop and bucket system and sponsored this post so I could give you my opinion of it.

July 14, 2016

7 Easy Tips to Lose Weight

I'm now 133 lbs. down on my weight loss journey. It hasn't been easy, believe me! Every single pound has been a struggle to lose. I'm so excited that I'm FINALLY under 200 lbs. for the first time since I was a sophomore in high school. For me, weight loss has been about having a total mindset and lifestyle change. I've used a number of little tricks to help me stay on track and to build up to that total lifestyle change. None of them are hard. Actually, they're all easy.

I didn't make a lifestyle and mindset change all at once. That's pretty much impossible. Over the past 19 months as I've lost, I've made small changes. Once those stuck, I made more small changes, building on it until the change I needed to happen, did. I've had to be dedicated to weight loss and really WANTED to. I've tried before, lost a bit, then gained it all back. I've never gotten to where I am now because I wasn't dedicated to that lifestyle change and actually losing and keeping all the weight off. Now, I am. I work hard at it every day, fighting to make that number on the scale go down. Fighting to finally reach my goal weight -- 37 lbs. to go now!

June 28, 2016

Perfect Gooey Rice Krispie Treats

Best-Ever Rice Krispie Treats are an easy, quick treat that's perfect for picnics, to make a typical day special and as a dessert for any of the summer holidays. These aren't your usual treats -- they are extra gooey with the perfect amount of marshmallow. Plus, I add two secret ingredients that are so simple, yet make them the best you've ever tasted. One of the secret ingredients adds the fun color, which you can change up depending on the holiday or what color the kids pick that day.

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June 24, 2016

Lady Lullaby and The Road to Dreamland

Music is important at our house, especially at bedtime. We have a routine that involves singing different songs to the kids, their own special song and then different songs each night. Whenever I have the chance to share new music with them, especially of different styles, I like to. The latest music I'm sharing with M2 and B is The Road to Dreamland.

June 21, 2016

DIY Landscaping: Front Yard Redesign Begins

When we started our DIY landscaping project, top on the list of landscaping redesign is the two front, large gardens. Nasty Bermuda grass has been growing in one. Nothing A has tried got rid of it. Plus, we hate having to pull weeds all the time. That led us to the brilliant idea of rocking in both of the beds and it spawned the whole DIY landscaping redo. Once we had the rock idea, we scouted out different types together to decide which type. Neither of us are fans of the river rock and the small pebble styles wouldn't work out well. I love the look of marble rock in gardens, so that's what we settled on. We tackled one side at a time, cleaning out first then continuing on to plants. Black weed-preventing paper went down under the rocks to try to discourage the weeds.

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June 17, 2016

Mexican Chicken Soup

Light, summery soups are a staple of my summer menu. Combining broth, herbs, chicken and fresh veggies creates a delightful dish that is isn't too heavy for the hot days. My current favorite is Mexican chicken soup. I throw everything together in the slow cooker in about 20 minutes (depending how fast I chop and peel the veggies), then let is simmer in there all day. It keeps the house cooler since I don't have to get the oven or stove heated up. I stay cooler, too, since I'm not standing over that stove roasting myself. Any leftovers I send with A for his lunches or freeze for even quicker meals.

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June 15, 2016

DIY Landscaping: Getting Started

If you follow me on any of my social media accounts, you've heard that we are redoing all the landscaping in our yard. It's a DIY project. A and I are doing it all ourselves, from cleaning out every bed, ripping down big trees and bushes, planning each garden, selecting plants, to buying plants, planting them in the beds and rocking in two big gardens. A veggie garden also got built and planted this year. Finally, after years of wanting one. In all, there are 16 gardens in our yard of various sizes. It's a complete yard overhaul.

It's all still a work in progress. Some won't even be finished until next spring since it's starting to get too hot to plant, plus we have a budget to stick with. We're about two months into working on this, with much more left to go. Having super rainy days when we can't get out to work, plus other life things to take care of, kids to spend time with and life in general makes this a longer process.

One of the big reasons we are doing the project ourselves is cost. When you hire someone, landscaping is so, so expensive. We are saving thousands of dollars doing it ourselves. Plus, it's great exercise, a learning experience, stress relief and something I am really enjoying. (I can't say that A is enjoying it as much, but he's working hard!)

June 9, 2016

Double Chocolate Banana Mini Muffins

When the craving for chocolate hits, it's hard to stay healthy and still satisfy the craving. These double chocolate banana mini muffins give you the chocolate you want without all the calories (each muffin clocks in at about 60 calories). The bananas and lower amount of sugar keep them healthy, too, and give you a bit of energy to keep chasing the kids.

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They go fast once baked, so you may want to freeze some to eat when the kids aren't looking to they don't eat them all before you get any. Since they're bite-sized, it's easy to pop one in your mouth before the kids start clamoring for one of their own. Or so you can actually eat something before they start screaming and getting into everything. Since all the ingredients can be dumped together then mixed, it's a quick recipe to whip up when you have brown bananas that need to be used.

June 8, 2016

Chocolate Banana Mini Muffins

Chocolate and bananas. A delicious combination. This chocolate banana muffins recipe makes a delicious half-and-half blend of chocolate and banana flavor. If you prefer a stronger banana flavor with a hint of chocolate goodness, you'll prefer the banana chocolate chip muffins I shared before. For an extra decedent recipe with double chocolate, check back tomorrow for my double chocolate banana mini muffin recipe.

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The muffins are soft and fluffy, a yummy blend that totals around 55 calories each. I end up eating about four for a filling breakfast, which would be the size of one of those large breakfast muffins. These are about half the calories, though, and not nearly as full of salt, sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. Since all the ingredients can be dumped together then mixed, it's a quick recipe to whip up when you have brown bananas about to go to waste.

June 7, 2016

Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

Around here, I always stock up on bananas. Baby B eats them daily. Sadly, sometimes they go brown way too quickly, leaving me with a pile of bananas I either have to toss or use for baking. M2 and I are usually not fans of banana muffins or bread, so the recipe has to be exceptional for use to eat them. My banana chocolate chip mini muffin recipe hits the spot. Even making 72 at a time, these little suckers don't last long.

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This recipe creates light, fluffy moist muffins with the right amount of banana flavor and a dash of chocolate to top them off. No dense, dry, overly sweet or overly banana tasting muffins here!

June 2, 2016

Kitchen and Bathroom Redesign Dreams

I have a habit of dreaming about how I would turn my kitchen and bathroom into dream spaces. Checking out houses, seeing what other people do to decorate their rooms, fascinates me. Home improvement shows? I love 'em. Wandering stores and websites to look at flooring, tiles, fixtures, sinks and accessories delights me.

June 1, 2016

DIY Natural Mosquito-Repelling Planters

As the weather warms up, the biting, annoying mosquitoes start swarming around. Nipping any skin they find, flying in faces, being a general pain in the butt. I'm being proactive this year to keep the little buggers (no pun intended) from eating us all up alive. I put together natural mosquito-repelling planters. As a bonus, they repel other bugs as well. One for the deck, one for by our front door, another for the porch table and the last one for the deck table. Along with being extremely simple to make, they look nice and smell good. Decorating the porch and deck with these are part of our landscaping redesign project.

May 18, 2016

The Truth About Weight Loss

When you read people's extreme weight loss stories, what they don't usually share is the dark side of it all. When I started losing weight 16 months ago, I had 170 pounds to lose. Now, I've lost 120 pounds of that large number. Only 50 to go.

Except it's not "only" 50. Fifty pounds is a lot of extra weight to be carrying around. It places me squarely in the obese category. Every pound of the 120 I have lost has been a struggle, a constant battle between my body and myself. It's a battle that's being going on for decades -- I've dealt with being over weight as a child, through high school, in college and beyond.

There’s a little voice that is often the reason so many people quit or gain weight back. That little voice is a bitch that makes weight loss incredibly hard, harder than most people -- and me-- are usually willing to admit. Who wants to talk about how horrible they feel at times, how often they questioned themselves when they read all these stories about people who flew through weight loss like it’s nothing? I don't. Like everyone, I want people to think things are easy for me. So, along with everyone else, I never admit that little voice is there. I never admit how hard, even soul-crushing, weight loss is at times.

May 16, 2016

Create Gorgeous, Personalized Invites, Cards and Announcements

When it comes to memorable, special events like weddings, baby showers, graduations, first birthdays and birth announcements, a beautiful, personalized invite, announcement and thank you card adds a touch of class. Being able to personalize the cards and envelopes to make them extra polished is the icing on the cake. With Basic Invite, creating the perfect card is easy and fun.

May 11, 2016

Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese

It's no secret around here that I am a sucker for a good, homemade comfort food recipe. When you've also got one kid who is picky and one who has food issues due to autism, finding foods everyone loves can be a challenge. With my ultimate macaroni and cheese recipe, everyone ends up happy. I'll warn you up front, this isn't one of my healthy recipes. It fits squarely in the typical comfort food category, boasting cheese, butter and pasta noodles along with plenty of calories.

If you're like me and watch what you eat, a small portion is in order. It is super filling though, so you won't be left hungry even if you don't serve up a giant bowl (though you'll be tempted to, it's so good). Even with the extra calories, this mac and cheese is still healthier than the processed, box kinds you'll find in the store.

As tasty as this dish is, it's also incredibly easy to make. Really, it doesn't take too much more effort than making the box kind. All you need is a few bricks of cheese, shredded (or you can buy pre-shredded cheese if you're ok with spending a bit more), a dab of butter, milk and noodles.

May 6, 2016

A Specially Tailored Math Tutor for Kids -- Right from Your Sofa

I admit it. I hate math. I've never been good at it, ever since I was a child. (Yes, I still count on my fingers at times. If it's beyond basic math and I can't use my fingers or a simple calculator, chances are I won't figure out the math problem.) Flashbacks of sweaty palms, a quick heart beat and a feeling of dread that came before every math test still race through my head. If I'd had a math tutor and a fun way to learn right in my home as a kid, maybe I'd have done better. Having a tutor available right from the couch along with being tailored for me would have helped even more. Lucky for kids now, sofatutor is available to do just that.

May 5, 2016

Amazing Lemon Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Lemonade: the perfect blend of sweet, sour and lemon in a cold drink perfect for warmer weather. When that tall glass of lemonade gets turned into a cake, it's heaven on a plate. One of my signature cakes is amazing lemon cake that does just that. An amazing, light, fluffy lemon buttercream frosting tops it off, taking the cake to absolute bliss.

The recipe takes all the wonderful aspects of lemonade and cake, balancing them just so, leaving with you with a dessert that is simply amazing. Seriously, imagine the absolute BEST lemonade you're ever had as cake and this is it.

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Fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and a dash of vanilla are the secrets to this lemon cake. While you could use concentrated juice, or skip the zest, it wouldn't have the same "zing" or fresh, lemony taste that make it great. The vanilla -- an unexpected ingredient when it comes to lemon -- kicks the cake and frosting up a notch to amazing.

May 3, 2016

10 Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me

In honor of Mother's Day, I'd like to share with you some of the important life lessons my own mother has taught me over the years. Some are more on the serious side. Some are amusing. Some are from years ago, some she's taught me only recently, as learning never stops in life. All have been meaningful in my life for one reason or another.

The many lessons I've learned from people in my life are what I always end up remembering about them, even after they've passed on or simply aren't in my life anymore. People leave marks on our hearts, making us who we are. The ones who have taught me something are the ones who have had the most influence on me and who are the most precious. The lessons from my mom are extra special since she's my mother. What she has taught me has shaped who I am since day one. She's taught me much more than these 10 things, of course.

All of the 10 lessons I'm sharing with you are lessons I'll never forget. Each one has a memory that goes with it that I cherish.

Has your own mother taught you something that has stuck with you? I'd love to hear about it in the comments! Happy Mother's Day!

April 20, 2016

The Truth About Being the Mom of a Speech-Delayed Child

When you have a speech delayed child, many people blow it off as being no big deal. No, it’s not the end of the world and yes, kids develop at different rates — but to you and your child, it is a big deal.

You put on a happy face, try to ignore the dismissive comments, and hide how you really feel. There is so much you really want to say. Maybe it’s time you do.

April 18, 2016

Celebrating Two Years of Blogging

Life has been majorly crazy around here lately, with more to come. M2 has been having issues more often. We all keep getting sick and passing it around. Appointment after appointment for doctors, car repairs, HVAC issues, you name it. Lots of family from around the country is visiting this month.

I have also been battling a case of writer's block. There are so many ideas swirling around in my head, yet the words don't want to come. Any of the posts I've written lately have taken much longer than usual. Most of the time, I start one then come back to it weeks later to finish. I've been struggling with balance between work and family, too. There is only so much time and I've needed more of it for family and to work on my weight loss.

While all this was going on, I realized I've been blogging for two years now. Happy two years! Thank you all for joining my crazy, busy life as it's changed over and over again in that short time. I can't wait to share what's to come with you. You guys are awesome and your support means so much.

Two years is the perfect time to step back, reevaluate and decide where to go from here.

April 13, 2016

How to Live Simply

Yesterday, I talked about my new, simpler way of living that I'm calling the Little House Lifestyle from the mind-set perspective. Today, I'm sharing some of the things I've been incorporating to get into this new lifestyle. Each fits in great with these easy ways to de-stress and builds on my goals for the year.

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April 12, 2016

Living a Simple, Happy Life

The longer we live in the country, the more I realize the benefits of living life simply. The newest purses, clothes and jewelry no longer bring the same excitement. Having fancy decorations and technology doesn't leave me jealous of those who have them. Instead, I appreciate what I have more, delight in a good bargain, make things I have last longer and focus on the simple things that make me happy. 

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April 7, 2016

The First Visit from the Tooth Fairy

When thinking about what the tooth fairy will do, many parents think there is plenty of time to figure it out. We thought the girls were going to at least be in first grade before we had to worry about it. Little did we know, a new big-kid adventure awaited us sooner than we thought when J came to show me she had a loose tooth already!

April 4, 2016

When Autism Makes You Prisoners

Our lives are different.

Even though I'm a stay-at-home mom/freelancer, I can't simply pack up the kids and go out.

We are trapped in the house, prisoners of autism.

There's no doing a quick errand, a long errand, even going to the park, playdate or story time when I'm alone with the kids. Walks around the block aren't possible. We have to stay in the house, doors locked, because that is where M2 is safest.

She's autistic and a runner. This means that if she gets it into her head, she takes off running. Disappears in the blink of an eye to anywhere and everywhere. Running in front of a speeding car won't faze her. Coming back when I call her won't illicit any response at all, she doesn't even turn around to look where I am. She can't tell someone who she is or where she lives. She won't even go near them, she'll keep running. With her, this isn't the usual toddler running away to be naughty, testing mommy to see if she's paying attention. It's something else entirely, something dangerous and frightening. 

March 23, 2016

Quick, Healthy & Cheap Snack Ideas

Snacking is an every-day thing in our house. If M2 had her way, she'd probably eat nothing else but the snacks all day. With my weight loss mission, snacking comes in handy for me to keep my metabolism up and stop myself from getting so hungry I binge. Baby B isn't one to turn down a snack, either, especially when he sees someone else nibbling on something yummy. To keep us all eating healthy, without spending so much the grocery budget is blown or having to spend hours making it, these are the snacks I make sure to stuff the fridge and pantry with.

As an added bonus, some of these you can make yourself beforehand when doing meal prep, or when you want an activity to do with the kids. That ups the health  factor and cuts down on cost even more. All the foods on the list are ones that are staples in our house. With plenty of delicious snacks to choose from on this list, there are sure to be a few that you'll want to incorporate into your own household.

March 22, 2016

Making Marriage Work When You Have a Special-Needs Child

Marriage isn't easy, especially when you have kids. When you also have a special-needs child, the challenges pile up. Does that mean we're doomed to end up divorced (as I've been told many times by various people) just because M2 is autistic?

I don't think so. I think it means that both of us need to work harder to make sure our marriage last. In the end, the marriage ends up stronger and we end up closer because of what we've overcome -- Together.

March 18, 2016

6 Quick Ways to De-Stress

Any way you cut it, being a stay-at-home mom is stressful. I have 6 quick ways I use regularly to kick stress in the butt. These can be done easily, without eating into an already crazy day too much, and leave you feeling calmer, more positive and happier. In the long run, beating stress can help you find balance, be happier and enjoy your life more.

Every day from the time you wake up until the time you (finally) go to sleep, there are little lives you're responsible for in every way, a house you have to keep up with and clean, finances to figure out and manage, laundry to do, a pantry and fridge to keep stocked, meals to make and clean up after, a husband to take care of and spend time with, plus somehow you have to fit in time for yourself in there, too.

Reducing stress can be hard, but doesn't have to be.

March 14, 2016

St. Patrick's Day Craft: Clover Wall Hanging

We're a wee bit Irish so I especially enjoy doing St. Patrick's Day crafts with M2. The craft I created for her this year is a wooden clover wall hanging.

Last year, we made lucky shamrock magnets. Since M2 is on a painting kick currently, I decided to let her do something with paints. Like any little girl, she's also big into glitter.

March 9, 2016

Delicious Potato Soup

Mashed, baked, fried, au gratin, twice baked, roasted -- there are so many ways to cook potatoes, including as the feature in soup. The flavor and texture of potatoes, mixed with spices and cream, make a delectable, yet easy to make, slow-cooker soup.

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March 7, 2016

14 Sensory Easter Basket Ideas

Easter is right around the corner. The dreaded basket full of chocolates, jelly beans and other sugar the kids really don't need looms before us. Rather than loading up with sugary treats, here are 14 sensory toys that can be snuck into Easter baskets by a smart mama bunny.

Each is especially perfect for kids with autism, addressing their needs to feel different textures, play with and chew things, or calm overwhelmed senses. Many of these we have for M2, or I want to get. Even B would love them (well, the ones that are age appropriate). There is something for kids of any age on the list.

Happy Easter!

March 2, 2016

The Truth About Breastfeeding, Part 3: Separation Anxiety and Adding Solids

In case you missed them, read part one and part two of the series by guest-poster Laurie to catch up.

They say you can never spoil a baby. But what if baby gets so hooked on one person they don't want anyone else? I've created a Baby Beast, as we affectionately call H now. Because I didn't have a job to return to she got Mama all day every day. It seemed just so much easier to only nurse and skip the bottle. It meant one less thing to clean - especially since our dishwasher is me.