Monday, September 28, 2015

Coffee Day = Free Coffee! September 29th

September 29th is COFFEE DAY!  Ok, so this may not be a "real" holiday.  But you know I will be celebrating.  And thankfully so will these businesses!  Check out where you can get free coffee on September 29th! 

Krispy Kreme: Free small coffee and Original Glazed donut.

Dunkin' Donuts: Free medium cup of hot or iced Dark Roast coffee.

Coffee Culture Cafe: Free small coffee between 6 am and 11 am

La Mars Donuts: Free 12-oz. coffee

Monday, September 21, 2015

Paid Leave in the U.S. - An Ongoing Issue

I've debated doing a post on this subject for a while now.  I love to be a place for you all to come for lighthearted fun, great products, easy recipes, and helpful tips; so I wanted to figure out a way to write this post without it sounding...well, negative.  You see, I recognize all of the good that comes with growing up in the United States. Yes, our country may have its faults, but I am grateful for the luxuries we have, and often take for granted: Like not having to worry about access to clean water (it's FREE!)  But, like any citizen, I do recognize our faults.  And, honestly, prioritizing our health seems to be something our country has struggled with for a while.  Now I'm not talking about fitness or obesity specifically.

I'm talking about our entire country's focus on monetary "success" at the cost of our health.  How many times have you been afraid to take a sick day when you legitimately needed it, because either your boss would be upset, or you would fall behind on your work, or you wouldn't be paid for the day?  How many times do people imply someone is lazy (or "milking the system") for taking time off to care for themselves when they are legitimately ill.  Even if it is "just" a virus or a bad cold.  Somewhere along the way, the land of opportunity seemed to forget that your HEALTH is the most important priority.  Because, after all,  without your health, nothing else matters.  All of that success, all of that recognition, that job title- it all means nothing once your health has severely deteriorated.

And even if health was a given, the corporate rat race should not be the main priority.  Now, yes, it is important to work hard, do a great job, and earn a living. I'm not saying having ambition or working hard is wrong. Not at all.  But, it should not take priority over all else in life.  You should not be expected to live for your job and only your job.  And you should not be expected to put your job before your family's needs. But many are.

 Having time to spend with your family is important.  Many of us parents know that, but, in the U.S., more and more companies are failing to recognize that.  And it's only making things harder and more stressful for not only parents, but for the next generations we are raising.  The generations who may not be getting the much-needed guidance from their parents because the parents are simply expected to dedicate most of their lives to a job in order to be able to put food on the table.

Now there are many, many issues that stem from this over prioritization of monetary success and expectation of work as the number one priority.  All are important.  But in this post I will be focusing on one of the issues we are most behind in as a developed country; Paid Leave.  Specifically paid leave for both women and men who have recently had a child.

Image: Popsugar
Its hard to understand exactly how big of a deal it is until you are in the situation yourself.  I was lucky enough to have been working for a company that not only supplemented some of my income during my leave, but also offered Aflac insurance at a discounted rate.  (Neither of which they legally have to do. ) So, although I wasn't getting my full pay, I was getting something.  But then I hear about women going back to work before the 6 week mark - some even going back after just one week- (for those who don't know,  most women are not fully healed before 6 weeks.  And most likely are still experiencing a lot of bleeding), my heart aches for them.  I can't even begin to imagine how hard that must be.  Not only is your body still a wreck, your hormones are crazy, and you haven't had much time to bond with this human being you just spent 9 months making, but now you have to place the child in daycare, with people you do not know.  Having no choice but to do that as a parent - at 6 weeks - is excruciating.  Throw in post postpartum depression, and forget it.  Not to mention the health effects it may have on the child (being exposed to a daycare setting with many kids, instead of being at home, when the immune system is still pretty fragile.)

For many of us in the U.S., it's the norm.  So to think of someone getting paid for maternity or paternity leave seems like people asking for handouts. Or like a huge luxury that should not be expected.  But the truth is, it's an investment.  An investment in the well being of not only the parents, but the children that will soon be the ones running this country.  The generation that will be in charge of not only their own future, but eventually ours as well.  It's a cost, but a cost that is well worth it.  Just think about it.  We invest in public education.  But until 1918, not every state required children to attend elementary school.  And in 1920 only 30% of American teens attended high school.  What's my point? This country didn't always provide free public education.  It wasn't always prioritized. There was a time when many in the U.S. didn't even see a need for high school. And now how many of us depend on it? How many of us feel it is an absolute necessity?

 For those who are still skeptical, take a look below at some of the facts.  You may be surprised.   I love our, country, I do.  But investing in its people's health can prevent a heck of a lot of issues, violence, and future spending. I'm confident it is possible. The U.S. is known for being a "superpower" after all.

The facts below are from Women's Health magazine.  Be sure to pick up the October issue for more information, personal stories, and ways to take action.

"In a 2013 survey of 38 countries, America ranked dead last both in paid leave and protected leave—behind smaller (and poorer) nations such as Latvia, South Korea, and Mexico. Many of those regions give new moms a full salary, some for up to a year."

"...Out of 183 countries, the U.S. is one of only three that promises no paid leave whatsoever (even third-world Sudan and the Congo offer something)."

" 40 percent of workers aren’t even covered by FMLA." (The unpaid leave the US does offer.)

"It takes about four weeks for the uterus to shrink from the size of a watermelon to the size of an apple, and six for vaginal tears or C-section incisions to heal."

"...Up to 19 percent of all new mothers will suffer from postpartum depression (PPD), one study revealed that those who clock 40 or more hours when their infants are 12 weeks old are 22 percent more likely to be depressed than moms who work less."

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Toddler Years Survival Kit

The toddler years!  So many precious new adventures. They walk, they talk.... they throw tantrums.  Its all part of the growing up process, right? We all know these years can be... a little tough.  But with the right tools and a positive mindset, we can all get through them with more smiles than tears, more sweet moments, and more unforgettable silly experiences(that you can later use to embarrass them when the teenage years hit. ... Just kidding... well, we'll see.)  Check out the products listed below.  They have been seriously useful in my experience, they may just help you out as well!

The First Years Take and Toss Sippy Cups

Oh. My. Goodness.  Before finding these,  I was so sick of spending money on sippy cups that leaked, easily harvested mold, or were just a pain in the bootay to clean!  Then one day I noticed these on a shelf at my grocery store.  Four plastic cups with lids (and one awesome cap to prevent leaks) for under $4.  Best of all, if one gets so worn that I have to toss it or if we leave it at a friends house/doctors office/etc its no big deal!  I was afraid they would be flimsy but they hold up pretty well (and my future athlete has a habit of throwing his sippies.)  They have been my son's everyday cups for awhile now and I haven't had to throw one out yet. Definitely worth the $4 and leap (ok, maybe baby step) of faith.  They also come in an assortment of Disney Character Designs (which usually run $1 more than the plain design) which make them just that much more fun!

Stride Rite Made 2 Play

Best shoes ever!  Especially if you have an active child. ...And live in an area where mud seems to be prevalent. Ok, let me back up and explain why I love these shoes.  They are machine washable. Yep.  No more tediously wiping down incredibly filthy shoes (while thinking "What IS that?!")   Just throw them in the wash.  I also throw mine in the dryer on medium heat and they come out looking brand new.  These are now the ONLY shoes I buy for my son.  Not only is Stride Rite a trusted brand but they have an AWESOME rewards program.  I get discount coupons after every purchase, emails about sales and additional discounts, free shipping, and $10 credits for every $75 spent.  AND on top of that the Made 2 Play line saves me so much time and hassle.  And I never have to worry about my son getting "too dirty" while playing again.

Diaper Clutch

Simply put, this nifty little pouch has the ability to turn any purse into a diaper bag.  I love how the wipes are so neatly contained and easily accessible. Its also a good idea to just leave this cutie in the trunk of your car for those unforeseen diaper (or pull up) emergencies.

Stearns Puddle Jumper Life Jacket

Image: Stearns
There's a reason you see almost every child at the beach or swimming pool wearing a Stearn's Puddle Jumper; they work.  They help to keep your child afloat in an upright position, they're adorable, and easy to put on and take off. My son loves wearing his and I feel much better around bodies of water (there's a lot of that in Florida) when he has it on.


Safari Ltd Toob Toys

Image: Safari Ltd
One word.  Bribes. Or "rewards" if you prefer.  But that's what I use these detailed little figures for.  My son likes the animal sets so- an animal for going on the potty.  Or an animal for a great doctor's visit.  It works out pretty well for us!

Universal Stroller Organizer By Ethan & Emma

And last, but no where near least - the Universal Stroller Organizer Ethan & Emma.  This is one of the most clever, useful baby/toddler/parenting products I've seen in a long time.  This organizer easily attaches to any stroller and provides a ton more storage space than you would get with the standard stroller storage.  It's an awesome product to have for days spent at Walt Disney World (stopping in the middle of a theme park to dig around in your bag for a water or passes.  Not. Cute.) and for quick trips to the store or long walks around the neighborhood.  My husband loves it because his belonging are no longer wobbling in shallow cup holders; threatening to fall to the ground.  Instead, they are safely and securely tucked in one of the several pouches/pockets while still being within reach. More pictures below!

Large zippered pouch underneath attaches to legs

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Easy Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe #PSL

Yes, I am one of those women.  One that jumps in excitement once the Fall season even gets close to approaching.  And one that is all about the PSL.  Pumpkin. Spice. Latte.  (To be fair, I get equally - if not more- excited about the Peppermint Mocha.) But, now that I am no longer working a regular 9-5 just steps away from Starbucks (I KNOW! It was awesome. And expensive.),  I no longer get the chance to just pop in for my specialty latte.  And even if I have the time, is it really worth trying to keep my active toddler away from the (very breakable) displays?   So, when I came across this recipe, I was beyond ecstatic. So much so that I went out, bought the ingredients and tried the recipe the very next day.  And you know it was delish because I wouldn't even have started this post if it wasn't.  So without further ado, here is the Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe.  (Made with real pumpkin!)


6 cups of strongly brewed coffee
6 cups of milk (I used skim but whole may give it a richer consistency)
1/2 cup of sugar
8 teaspoons of Vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
3 cinnamon sticks


Combine coffee and milk in slow cooker

In a medium size bowl mix pumpkin, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla until completely combined

Pour pumpkin mixture into slow cooker

Add cinnamon sticks to slow cooker

Cook on high for 2 hours

And done! Easy, delicious, and it makes your house smell so inviting!