parenting

Just One Hot Crafty Mama!

Pinterest has become a way of life. Anytime I need to figure out outift ideas, decor, how to fix something, ect. I go straight to Pinterest and I begin to search. It’s the Google for craftiness. As the holidays approach I was looking for a inexpensive way to celebrate my kids teachers. There are so many and let’s face it my budget won’t allow me to purchase individual gifts. Enters my good friend Pinterest. I was excited to see what would come up in my search and I am extremely excited to get to crafting.

My daughter’s homeroom teacher and I have become close. She reminds me of myself if I had the patience to become a teacher. I want to give her something just for her. Not to negate her supporting cast, members of the office team, I have to come up with something. Last year I gave her teacher a mug, so why not fill that mug up with somthing! I’ve opted to make her a relaxation tea tree. If she drinks tea or not I think, she can use it for herself or to entertain guest. For the rest of the staff I’ve selected a sweet treat and one I don’t have to bake. Reindeer brownies for the win. I like the thought of this gift because it will allow Anissa and I to work together. I love including her in on projects.

Now as for the teen man of the house, he could careless about giving anything to any teacher. Finals weeks has been brutal and he is over school for this semester. Even with that said I still believe the teachers and staff of the school community deserve a little treat. Jamiel’s school is significantly bigger than Anissa’s school so the reindeer brownies will not work, I’ve opted for Candy Cane Reindeer. I can buy a bunch of candy canes and drop a basket off to the main office as a gift from the family. It’s the gesture that counts right?! Either way I’m excited about crafting and spending time with the kids doing so,

What are some holiday crafts you do as a family? Please share them in the comments.

parenting, self care

My Top 5 Tips To Stay Sane This Holiday Season!

Let’s face it the holidays can be overwhelming! There’s a bunch of stuff to be done and everybody is depending on you to do it right?! I use to despise entering into the holiday season. During a time where you should be enjoying family you are bogged down by the business of the season, not able to fully enjoy and embrace this time. Well no more! I’m going to give you the top 5 things I’ve done to make the holiday season cheery and bright again. So let’s do this…

1.       Make the decision today to not lose your cool. Now you may be thinking that’s easier said than done and you’d be right. I consciously make the effort to make sure if I feel myself getting overwhelmed I take a moment. I find a place that allows me to just breathe and be. When I go to this place I don’t take any to-do list with me or my phone, I inform my family that I am going to need a few moments (giving no reason) and I just step away. As moms we get so wrapped up in the details making sure things are good for everyone around us, all while not taking a moment to just take in the fact that this is a season to be with the ones we love. #MommyNeedsAMoment is real and we must take advantage of this practice so that we can be more present in our lives.

2.       Plan & Prepare! Often times our failure to plan and prepare prevent us from enjoying our holiday time. Mama you can’t do everything and that’s okay! Break out your calendar, update events that you must make an appearance at in red, events that you would like to go to but may not have the time in yellow, and events you want to say no to in green. Now let’s organize that calendar. Place the red ones on your calendar in pen, if dates cross see if you can call on your village to help you meet the obligation. If not you will have to choose and deal with the outcome of that decision. Trust that people know your heart and if you could be there you would. Now place the yellow ones on your calendar in pencil. If you come across some free time and can attend then do so if not then that’s okay too. The green invites don’t make it to the calendar, they are a flat out NO! RSVP in a timely matter for the events you choose to attend and don’t allow anyone to guilt you into doing something you don’t want to do. This is your opportunity to set boundaries and give yourself permission to be free!  Make a list, check it twice! I have become the queen of lists. This may be new to you but list can save your life. In the evening before I decompress and prepare for bed I list what I would like to accomplish the next day. I get detailed with the list so I can be prepared. Even in the event that something disrupts my plan I can always get back on track or adjust my list. For example: 

To-DoHow or What
CleaningAll the rooms upstairs
LaundryWash/Dry/Fold 2 loads
Purchase giftsMom/Dad/Anissa (Budget $150)
Prep for Ugly Sweater Christmas PartyPurchase sweater/RSVP to party
Schedule beauty appointmentsHair/brows/mani/pedi


Whatever you place on your list, don’t be discouraged if you don’t accomplish them all that day, just try again the next day. For time sensitive items prioritize them first.

3.       Budget! We make a big fuss out of this time of year. There’s decorating, gifts, places to go, and things to do. Yet we are still working with the same funds we do throughout the year. Reality check…DON’T GO BROKE during this season! It’s one season! If you plan on attending activities then budget for those activities and stick to that budget, if you are buying gifts make a list of the individuals you need to buy gifts for and budget for each person. You control how you will spend your money. This is supposed to be the season of love and goodwill toward everybody, remember a gift is just that a gift, it truly should be the thought that counts!

4.  Rest! Most of the time when I’m frustrated and easily angered during this season is because I have not gotten enough rest to deal with myself let alone anyone else. There’s always something to do or some place to be. Thus the reason for #2! Daily fit in some time to take a nap, sit, or meditate. We all need time to clear our minds of the wrestling of things going on around us. When we don’t get rest we can’t focus which makes it harder for us to engage with ourselves and others.

5. Do unto others! One of my favorite things to do to keep me grounded in this season is doing something unexpected for someone else. Tis the season right?! There are plenty of things you can do that lift your spirits and help someone else. Suggestions:

  1. Adopt a family in need for the holidays and fulfill a wish for them (remember to budget for this)
  2. Volunteer at a retirement facility. There are a lot of elders in our communities who are alone and would enjoy your company.
  3. Visit with a friend! We often talk about getting together but life happens and we can’t. Make it a priority to just go, sit, and be with a friend.
  4. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.
  5. Send out encouraging notes to help people jump start going into their new year. (budget for this)
  6. Volunteer on the teen floor of a hospital! I always want to hang out with the babies they are adorable, let’s not forget the other children in the hospital who could use that same love. 
  7. Take a little kid to the dollar store for Christmas shopping. Help them create their gift list and give them their budget. This has been one of my greatest joys to see what they think people need or would like.
  8. Make homemade gifts for teachers. This is also one of my favorite things to do with my family. This requires some budgeting as well, but let’s face it our teachers deserve it. I’ve pinned a few of my favorites here.
  9. Invite another family over for cookie baking, hot chocolate, holiday music, and time together. You can split the cost for this and enjoy time with each other.
  10. Call up people you may have lost touch with. Note: Not all will be receptive, but hey you’re making an effort! We are entering into a season of loneliness for some it’s nice to know that we are thought of.

If you know of someone and this is their first holiday alone or their 10000th holiday without a loved one, be mindful to love on them extra hard this season. Living without someone doesn’t necessarily get easier and a little love can go a long way!

How do you keep from being overwhelmed during the holiday season? Drop your tips in the comments.

parenting

Our Adventure In CANDY LAND!!!

Hey Hotties! Last Saturday Anissa and I took a little Christmas journey to Candy Land at the Penitentiary Glen Reservation. Growing up Candy Land was one of my favorite games. The colors and different characters allow you to transform into a world of gumdrops, lollipops, and dreams. I don’t know who was more excited to go on this adventure myself or Anissa. After about a 30 minute drive where my partner in crime fell asleep we arrive to the magic…

blog 12.3We were greeted by forest rangers who gave us our magical game box. Inside the box were cards just like the game with each flip of a card we were told which space to go to next. We enter the gates of Candy Land and there we find Christmas replication of one of my favorite childhood board games. Anissa is ready to play, I on the other hand want to take in the life-size model of the game. Instead I play, we flip a card and find our square, we continue to flip and find our next move until we reach the end of the game. But guess what, that wasn’t the end for us because we played 6 more times. It was great seeing my little lady enjoy the game as much as I did as a kid. Once we tired of hopping squares we turned in our magic box for our next adventure.

blog 12.3-1At the ranger station we were given a clipboard and clues. Who doesn’t love a good scavenger hunt. We were gifted with two scavenger hunts one for outside and one for inside. As we explore the inside fo the building we begin to notice things we hadn’t before. Each clue gave us access to another room/exhibit that we were seeing with new eyes for the first time. With our explorer hats on we touched and read about the animals there and the history of the center. We had an amazing time and learned so much. We started to head outside and then found a craft center. We Hotties love crafts so we enter. We were given the choice to either make a S’mores Bunny or Turtle. What?! We get our craft bag and inside we have materials we need to use to create this ornament. What a great time we had.

To go outside or not to, that is the question. As we put our coats on for the outdoor scavenger hunt it begins to rain. A little rain won’t hurt us, but as Anissa pointed out no one was looking forward to wash day (our hair) so we opted to stay in and grab a snack. We ventured into the gift shop where we found great treats, educational materials and a few furry friends. We decided ice cream treats for the day and a new snake to take home and prank Jamiel.

If you are interested in going on the Candy Land goes Wild adventure click here and take your own journey. What are you all doing to celebrate the holiday season and create new traditions?    blog 12.3-2

parenting

I Don’t Wanna Go Broke!

blog photo 11.20.18Hey Hotties! How many of us remember that Toys R Us kid’s song. I knew when I heard it around the holidays Christmas was fast approaching. Well now Toys R Us is no longer around ( insert sad face), is that due to poor financial planning, biting off more than they could chew, like the Tootsie Roll commercial “the world may never know?!” What I do know is I don’t want to see any parent going broke trying to provide a “Christmas” experience for their family. So below you will find a few ways I am curbing my spending during this upcoming holiday season.

Forbes predicts that parents will spend $495 per child. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, parents are pouring out big bucks for electronic items, collector items, and lifetime experiences for their children. Our children are living their best lives and we are going broke for them to do it! So how do we stop the cycle of unnecessary debt and enjoy this season. I’m going to tell you what I’ve done and hopefully it helps you.

  1. I made a list of the individuals I was going to purchase gifts for. I would love to splurge on all my nieces, nephews, aunties, uncles, and cousins but that’s not feasible. I’ve kept the list very specific and assigned a dollar amount to each person.
    (example)
  2. Name Amount Spent Remaining
    Symone 150 75 75
    Jamiel 150 63 87
    Anissa 150 92 58

    Once the amount allocated is gone that’s it, there is no more to spend.

  3. I started shopping 2 months ago. I allotted an amount from each paycheck to go towards the holidays. This way I wasn’t rushing to buy things just because I had to get a gift and I was able to budget between bills and extracurriculars. Also while I love a good Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale, there have been some amazing sales going on if you sign up to receive promotions from those stores or vendors. While the emails may get to be a bit much at times, I love being the “first” to know about the sale and getting that extra 15-35% off because I signed up with them.
  4. All gifts matter! Here’s is where your parental guilt may cause you to break the bank spending this season. DON’T DO IT! If you can’t afford it, then that’s it, making a choice between paying a bill and your child having the new Jordan’s is a no brainer. Now don’t get me wrong I love seeing the excited look on my children’s faces when they get the gift they really want, but I’ve also instilled in them that appreciation for the gifts they receive is the greatest gift they can give back to me as a parent. (cause let’s face it they not breaking their little banks to buy us gifts). You are doing the best you can, don’t allow social media, TV, YouTube, or other parents make you feel guilty about what you can and cannot afford. You run your household and you know what you need to keep the needs of the family first not just the wants.
  5. Now if you are one of those people who just have to get EVERYBODY a gift, but you know you can’t afford it, here’s my back-up plan. Get photos of you and your family and have them printed, then create a holiday memory book for family members to display in their homes. Get artsy with it, no grandparent can resist a photo album with the little painted baby hands on it. Or you can bake cookies and give them out, this allows for you all to do a family activity and share with others.

Debt is something we should start teaching our children early to steer clear of. As much as we want to fulfill a want, discipline in spending habits will go a long way to secure their futures. What is your budget looking like this holiday season? How can you save?

parenting

Bah humbug!

I love the holiday season the smells around the house, the beautiful scenery. There’s magic in the air during this season. What I don’t like is how everyone gets so political. We each have our own views about how we want to raise our families, if you celebrate holidays great, if not that’s cool too. The point is don’t rain on someone else’s parade because you want them to feel how you feel.

Say for instance the whole Santa thing, some kids believe and some parents are like OH HELL NO, some old man won’t get credit for my hard work. Guess what either way neither are right or wrong it’s a preference. My kids figured it out themselves and I just asked them not to ruin it for other children. They didn’t believe in Santa but could not wait to lose a tooth so that they could get a visit from the Tooth Fairy (major side-eye). WE each are building our own traditions and it’s okay if our traditions don’t match. Each of our families are different and we have to determine what is right for each of us.

This has been a year of reflection for me. In case you haven’t seen it in any of my post, writings or videos, it’s been a time of embracing my individuality and that’s all I hope for you. I can’t tell you how to live your life, but I can encourage you to live the best life for you and your family. Whatever traditions you have embrace those, make those your legacy, but don’t force them on others or try to shame them for having different beliefs. I’ve also learned that my children are going to develop their own traditions, that heaven forbid (kidding) will be different from what they were taught growing up in my household. You have to trust that the memories you are creating will help them embrace who they are as people and you have to watch them flourish and be who they really are.

So what am I saying…CELEBRATE YOU! Celebrate your family in whatever form or fashion works out for all of you. Determine that as we electric slide (I’m telling my age) into this next year that you will focus on what makes you and your family happy. I promise your best moments are yet to come.