Monday, May 23, 2016

School Lock Downs

This is the last week of school for the boys. What should have been a couple days of fun started out with a school lock down. I was in the cafeteria with the boys as they were getting their breakfast.

It causes me a lot of anxiety that the boys have had to learn what to do if there is a "bad guy" around their school. I mean, I am glad that they know how to follow procedures and stay safe in case there ever is a threat. I just don't like that it seems so normal.

Today's threat was legitimate. There was a man walking through the university campus, through traffic and a neighborhood firing a gun. He tried to carjack a driver on one of our main streets. A cop was shot during the incident that ended in the shooter's death.

Sadly this was not the first lock down at their school this year. Threats made by an automated computer voice were sent multiple times in the fall. There were schools targeted across the country and in the UK. This is both sad and scary to me. My children should not have to deal with this in Kindergarten!

When I was little I remember hiding under my desk for a tornado drill. I remember filing out the doors for fire drills. We didn't have to even considered threats that seem so common in 2016.

I am proud of our local police department for handling the incident quickly. I can not imagine what it must have been like to be in that intersection as cops were drawing weapons and chasing down a suspect. I really don't want to imagine it at all.

I left the boys at school after the all clear. I wasn't nervous or anxious about them being at school. I trust my boys' school and their teachers. I know they love my boys and would do anything to protect them like they would their own families.

I headed home with plans to do laundry and pick up the house. Instead I sat on the couch watching tv. I didn't realize how anxious I was until my heart was racing and I couldn't breathe. A panic attack crept up and knocked me on my ass. I can't remember the last time I had a full blown panic attack. Anxiety isn't a big deal, I can handle that, it's easy to talk myself out of that. However this afternoon was tough!

I picked up the boys at the regular time and we came home to play video games and chill out. Tomorrow is another day and they are excited for their Kindergarten Water Day. Silly games and lots of fun to celebrate the end of the school year.

They weren't bothered by the lock down. I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Perfect Nutrition for Picky Eaters

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. 
All opinions are mine alone. #2PerDay #CollectiveBias

That is the day the adventures began. This was the day that my life changed. The boys were born via c-section at Good Sam hospital in Phoenix, AZ. We made it to week 37 in my pregnancy and the boys were a healthy weight, especially for twins. Yes, you read that right. Almost 15 pounds combined weight. Sadly the boys still spent three weeks in the NICU at Phoenix Children's Hospital. They were some of the largest multiples the nurses had taken car of but they still had issues feeding and breathing. 

My Jay is finally starting to get past his feeding issues. However his weight never seemed to get the memo. From about 6 months old he hovered around the 10th percentile for his height and weight. He is very tall for his age but so skinny. At 6 years old, he can still wear size 3T shorts. I don't have the best eating habits and I want to teach the boys to have better nutrition. I heard about PediaSure® Grow & Gain with Fiber from a friend. She told me she had found it at Fry's. There is actually a coupon available right now to save $3 on any two PediaSure products at that you can digitally clip.

Today Jay had a field trip. They are hiking in Sedona, AZ and then going to play in the water. His backpack with his clothes, towel, water and lunch looks so heavy on his little body. (His swim trunk are a size 4T and are too big for his little booty.) He asked me to include a vanilla shake in his lunch box. I was more than happy to include it since 2 PediaSure shakes per day is clinically proven to help kids gain weight in 8 weeks.

I know that today after school he will tell me he his starving. I plan to whip up a smoothie to help tide him over to dinner. They have been asking for smoothies for weeks. As the weather is finally warming up, we will add these to the menu as snacks. I love that I can add nutrients and veggies without sacrificing the taste for my picky eaters.

This is a super easy recipe that I found for a Berrynana Smoothie. The boys loved it. I blended one 8oz shake, a small banana, and a cup of raspberries in just a couple minutes. When I was searching online they told me to save more than a few ideas. You can sign up on to get additional savings and tips and tricks to help your own picky eaters.

What tips and tricks do you have for picky eaters? What is your favorite smoothie recipe?

Monday, May 9, 2016

End of Year Teacher Appreciation Gifts

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. 
All opinions are mine alone. #BestSummerMemories #CollectiveBias

So I woke up on Friday to find that I did not have any Coca-Cola Zero™ in my fridge. This was a major problem. I knew that I needed to stop at the store after I dropped off the boys. I also needed to get the last couple items for the teacher gifts. I had made baskets for all 5 of the boys' teachers. Yes, 5 teachers from 2 different classrooms. 2 teachers, 2 assistant teachers, and 1 student teacher.

I had purchased some inexpensive fun items over the past few weeks to show our appreciation for all the hard work they do. I gave these baskets for Teacher Appreciation Day but they could easily be a End of School Teacher Gift as well. You can even personalize each basket with the teacher's favorite items. I included their favorite candy bars too. I want to make sure the teachers have the best summer ever since they gave us our best year of teaching. (Yes, I realize that is cheesy. Which is why I also included cheese balls in the baskets.)

To make each gift special, I took the time to personalize a tumbler for each teacher. They always have a soda pop during the day so I decided it was a perfect addition to the gift. It was pretty easy to make but it did take a couple hours to finish all 5. I used a sticker cutting machine. There is an app to type in the names and a message for each sticker. The hardest part was getting the excess vinyl taken off the backing without ruining the stickers.

I learned an easy trick to line up the letters. Once I had all the excess removed, I cut a piece of clear contact paper and laid it over my sticker. This allowed all of the letters to transfer in one step. I have such a hard time getting things in a straight line. This made the project much easier.

"This is how we do it."

When I walked into CVS that morning I found this display near the registers. I grabbed myself a Coke Zero and started shopping. I wanted the gift to be silly so I included squirt guns, paper umbrellas, octopus flip flops, and pineapple sunglasses. The finishing touch was a 20oz bottle of Diet Coke® for 2 of the teachers and 20oz bottles of Coca-Cola™ for the other three teachers. I loved how each bottle had song lyrics. I looked through the different bottles to find lyrics I liked. (You can find a full list of available lyrics online.) I found "Lean on me," "It's a beautiful life," "You've got a friend in me," and "We are family." The boys' teachers have been amazing this year. They do truly feel like family and they have been there to support us during the school year. 

I love to sing along with my favorite songs. Picking out the different bottles made me think of my best summer memories. I remember road trips with my family. We would have the windows down and the music turned up. It was so much fun. Some of my best summer memories involve road trips and singing in the car with my mom.

Do you ever start singing along and not know the artist or the name of the song? I do this all the time. Thankfully I can grab my phone and pull up the Shazam App to figure it out. It listens to the music playing and gives you the song information. It is available for most platforms. I love when the full lyrics are included too. It keeps me from making up my own words to the song. 

Hopefully these gifts will remind the teachers of some of their best summer memories. Make sure to check out the Best Summer Ever Deals at your local CVS. You can buy 2 20oz bottles of Coca-Cola products for $3.

What are your #BestSummerMemories from childhood? 
What plans do you have for this summer? 
Make sure to Share a Coke, Share a Smile and Share a Song this summer! 
Use this link to find more lyrics and ideas that you can use to have the BEST SUMMER EVER!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Night Photography

This semester I have learned a lot about digital photography. My skills have improved so much. Snapshots are no longer an option. I make photos instead of taking them. I still have more to learn but these are a few of my images that I took at night.

These two images are called painting with light. I had the tripod set up in my driveway. For the first image, the boys stood still holding hands. I had the shutter set for 15 seconds. I put the timer on to give me 10 seconds to get behind them with the flashlight. Once the shutter opened, I traced the outline of their bodies with the flashlight.

I did each of our names on their own and then I layered them together for the first image. I plan to print this image and hang a copy in each of their rooms.

These are all 10 second exposures with the tripod. Route 66 and the Flagstaff train station.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Manic Monday Mumbling About Money

Last week I got some bad news.  Financially the boys and I will be taking a big hit. It brought me down hated and it took a couple days of doing nothing and hiding to get over it. My depression is well managed but I can be easily overwhelmed when the stress gets too high.

After the boys' dad died we had the blessing of Social Security Survivors benefits being approved. The payments the boys would be given each month took a lot of weight from my shoulders. However life never seems to work out the way you want it to IN REAL LIFE.

Welfare is a necessary part of our lives. I am not able to work a regular job with my crazy. Plus being a single mom to twin boys doesn't leave me with much energy for anything else.  Working parents understand that child care can be almost as much as your take home pay.  Food stamps made sure we always had food in the kitchen.

Now our little family of 3 earns $25 more than the monthly maximum to qualify for SNAP  (supplemental nutrition assistance program. ) Sadly we are barely above the federal poverty level. We will have more cash coming into the household but we will be losing 90% of our grocery money.

That want the only bad news I got that day. The local housing office will also be reducing our subsidy. We will be losing 60% of the assistance we were previously receiving.  Flagstaff rents are very high. We are very lucky that our home is on the low end of the price range. I have friends paying $1000 a month for a 2 bedroom apartment. $1350 for a small house.

Thankfully we will have enough to cover our expenses each month. Unfortunately we won't be able to get out of the hole we are in.

Welfare is often misunderstood when being discussed online.  Assumptions are easily made about families that rely on food stamps and housing assistance. It always upsets me and I have a hard time holding my 2 cents.

Well this wasn't an uplifting blog post,  was it?  Sorry I couldn't help your Monday end on a better note. I could sing! Except I still don't love the idea of being on a live feed.

I promise to have something fun posted soon.