Wednesday, 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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Egg Carton Snakes

  • Egg carton (1)
  • Paint
  • Markers
  • White scrap paper
  • Glue
Cut your egg carton into two sections and trim away extra so that the sides are even.
Paint as desired.
Draw on eyes, or use googly eyes if you have them. I used dots from the hole puncher!
Draw little forked tongues on a small piece of scrap paper and color them red.
Wrap the tongue around a pencil to curl.
Glue the tongue to the inside of the carton.
Let dry overnight.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Important Lessons in Blogging

For a change of pace, I thought I would give you a look at the blogging side of my stay-at-home mom life.. The first year has brought many ups and downs with much trial and error. Having a pregnancy and new baby threw me for a loop. Really, I'm still learning about this big, complicated bloggy world. Isn't that how life normally goes? Just when you think you have a handle on things, you find  something knew to learn. It keeps things exciting. Even though I've been a writer, editor, publications manager, and professional communicator for years, blogging opened a whole new world I hadn't expected. Truly, I didn't know what all I was in for and didn't have all the preparation I thought I did.

Here are the top things I've learned about blogging.

Blogging takes lots of time
Sure, you can quickly write a post and put it up on your blog. But it's not likely to get many views and your readership won't grow. Decide if that matters to you or not.

If it does, you need to put time into writing, editing, and photos-- all with the same style and branding. Spend more time promoting your posts. Pin them, tweet them, Facebook them. Not just on your personal Facebook page, but on one dedicated to your blog. That Facebook page, Pinterest, and Twitter account also needs honing and love. None are a love 'em and leave 'em type of medium. More time needs to be put into networking and promoting your posts that way. Each post, between planning, writing, editing, photos, and promoting takes more time than you'd expect.

You won't get far in the blogging world without networking. Plus, it's just plain lonely without friends. Join groups and boards to meet other bloggers. Help and support them and in return they'll help and support you. It's about building a community. All those people are in the same boat as you. No one else understands why you must put in so much time for so little money to start. Or why you have to stay up until 1 a.m. to knock out the next blog post or plan future ones. They'll also be the ones to help you figure out why Google Analytics ate your stats and refuses to spit them back out. Blogging takes a village. Find your village.

Stick to It
Sticking with blogging when you are spending lots of time on it but not getting tangible results yet is difficult. It's down right discouraging. You have to do it anyway. When life happens, writing articles according to your schedule can easily get pushed to the side. It happens once, then twice, then before you know it you haven't blogged in months. At that point, you're back almost at square one and may not want to keep going. Pick it back up anyway. Better yet, push yourself so you never get to that point. Blogging is not easy. Networking, planning, and scheduling help you to keep going. Setting attainable goals is helpful so you can see your success as you go while staying motivated.

Plan Posts
Make your editorial calendar your new best friend. It is truly a life saver. You can plan out your articles in advance that way while balancing topics. Committing to posting a topic on a certain day helps hold you accountable. It's also great to battle writer's block as you can add ideas as you have them and when you're dry, you've already got yourself covered. You can also plan the photos you need for each post.

Schedule Time
With all the work a blog involves, scheduling time to do it all is beyond helpful. Find a schedule that works for you and get into a groove. Setting aside time, even if it's just 15 minutes at various points of the day, really helps you to get through all that needs to be done.

Focus on Content
Content is the backbone of a blog. If you don't have that, you don't have anything. Find your voice and your style. Focus on good writing and grammar. If you don't have that, your content won't matter. The old adage of writing what you know holds true. Just as important to writing is editing. Edit everything, then edit it again. When you think you're done editing, edit one more time. Look at other blogs in your niche so you know what topics are over done. If they've been done a million times, and you don't have anything new to add, a new angle, or a fresh voice, avoid it. 

Photos are equally important. Balance the number of photos to amount of copy. Watermark them. Work on having quality photos. All pictures should support, not detract from, your words.

Very importantly, don't steal content and give credit where credit is due. Be careful not to use copy-righted photos. They're not yours, leave them alone. If you do a round up, link back to the original sources. If you're going to share an article on your blog, make sure it's clear that it's not yours and link back. It's extra nice to let the author know you're sharing their work.

To bring it full circle, let's go back to learning. You can never know too much about blogging. Each of those social networking promotion platforms I mentioned take learning, as does writing original content, editing, managing a site, monetizing, taking good pictures, editing pictures, water marking, SEO, and so, so much more. Take advantage of that network you establish to ask them questions and to keep your eye out for new things to learn. Check out the Associated Press Stylebook (the editor's Bible) and a few good grammar books, such as Stunk and White's The Elements of Style and The Gregg Reference Manual. All of it makes for a better blog. And a better blogger.

This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cooking with M: What's for Dinner March 29-April 4? (and printable)

Check out what's for dinner this week.

 Hamburgers with French fries and green beans

 Tuna salad wraps with green salad

Grilled chicken strips with couscous and carrots

Pork chops with rice and mixed veggies

Baked Tilapia with quinoa and peas

Beef roast with corn bread and broccoli

Don't forget the printable weekly dinner menu to help your planning. It's a handy 8x10 size in case you'd like to frame it and use it as a dry erase menu board. As an added plus, there's a spot to note leftovers you have from last week so you can incorporate them this week, and another spot to note leftovers from this week for next. Find out about the benefits of meal planning. 

Easter Egg Holders


  • Three cardboard toilet paper tubes
  • Scissors
  • Green paint

Cut each tube into half and then into half again, making a dozen rings.
Paint each ring with green paint. Let dry completely.
Snip halfway down the side of each ring, and bend back to resemble grass.
Display your Easter eggs!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Easter Bunny Handprint Craft

  • White paint
  • Easter/Spring colored construction paper
  • Markers (blue/black/red)

Paint the palms of your child's hands with the white paint.
Press palms firmly onto the construction paper; let dry completely.
Add face shape, eyes, nose, mouth, and whiskers. Finish with "Hoppy Easter!"

Friday, March 27, 2015

Easter Egg Craft and Easter Basket Alternatives

Easter Egg Decoration Craft
M2 loved doing this craft and is SO proud of her egg. Her favorite part was the stickers. I think all kids tend to be obsessed with stickers so they're always a hit.

1 Giant Easter egg (I found ours at Target)
2 packs Easter stickers of your choice
3 packs small flowers
Hot glue gun
Hot glue

Have your child put the stickers on however they want
Place a small dab of glue where ever your child wants to place a flower
Have your child stick on the flowers, alternating glue then flower so the glue doesn't dry too fast

Be careful not to let your child touch the hot glue gun!

Easter Basket Alternatives

Every Easter, there seems to be so much candy involved. Candy in baskets, candy in eggs, so. much. candy. Kids end up with way more sugar than is healthy. If you mete it out in little bits, it lasts forever and takes up pantry real estate until it's finally gone (or just turns nasty, like some of our candy from last Halloween).

Instead, try limiting the candy and use some of these nifty ideas. There are a variety of ideas to fit any budget and age. Some of the bit pricier ideas you could do rather than having a ton of small stuff in the baskets, or do instead of Easter baskets if your kids are older.

1. Light up chicks
2. Bubbles in a neat package, like these butterflies or turtles
3. Reusable sticker pads, like these house, vehicles, town, or dress up ones.
4. Egg shaped crayons
6. Nifty neon or regular sidewalk chalk
7. Paints, regular colors, neon, or finger paints
8. Coloring books and/or workbooks
9. Books
10. Cute cups, silverware, plates, or bowls
11. Socks
12. Toy cars
13. Jump rope
14. Hula hoop
15. Earrings, bracelet, or necklace
16. Action figures
17. Gift card for a store, Amazon, iTunes, Starbucks, movie theater, or something else your child enjoys
18. Event tickets
19. New outfit
20. Modeling clay in white so you can color it or multi-colors
21. Outdoor toy
22. Small Lego set
23. Doll
24. Little People single dolls, animals, or cars
25. Nail polish
26. Sand bucket, rake, and shovel
27. Sandals
28. Fun handsoap or bath soap
29. Tub toy
30. BluRay
31. Subscription service, like Citrus Lane

Affiliate links are included in this post.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring Flower Craft


  • Egg cartons (2)
  • Paint (purple and yellow, or two colors of your choice for petals and centre)
  • Straws (6 green or green stripe, or pipe cleaners if you don't have straws)
  • White glue
  • Construction paper (2 sheets)
  • Marker

Cut the egg-holding part of the carton into two sections of three cups each.
Trim the excess away so that the cups are smooth and circular.
Paint the insides and outsides of the cups with your desired flower petal color; let dry.
Add a dot of the opposite color in the middle of each cup using your fingertip or a brush; let dry.
Glue three sections in the shape of a bouquet onto the construction paper; let dry.
Glue a straw coming from the bottom of each "flower". Trim the straws to fit on the paper.
Add a lovely Easter or Spring themed poem, or a message of your choice.

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