Fun on a Budget for Kids 3ish-8ish

dawnblogtopus cartoon kids

February vacation starts next week. Here are some ideas to keep the kids busy and have fun on a budget.

If your kids are having February vacation next week you’re either excited to have extra time together, or possibly dreading it! Or maybe you’re feeling a little bit of both. Even if you are looking forward to the kids being home, you’re probably not looking forward to the “I’m booorrreddd…” and “There’s nothing to dooooooo….” that often comes with more than a day or two off of school. Here are some suggestions for some things to keep Preschool-2nd grade-ish busy.

YouTube Karaoke

No matter what kind of songs your kids like if you google the name of the song and “lyrics” it will pop up a YouTube video with the song and the lyrics on the screen, that way they can sing along. Of course, this is only for kids who can read, so probably 1st and 2nd graders or older.

My daughter loves doing this even though she can’t read – because she knows all of the words to just about any song that’s on the radio, and this let’s me sing along with her. For even more karaoke fun, you can get karaoke microphones made for kids on Amazon at various price points. I’ll put a couple down below so you can check them out. I actually have the first one, it has bluetooth so you can hook it up to your phone or iPod

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Snow Painting

Snow painting is super easy and super fun! Just get a clean squirt bottle of any type – a cleaned out condiment bottle would work, or you can go to the Dollar Tree and have a selection of a few different types. Then just add a few drops of food coloring and water, and go out and paint the snow! Fun, cheap, and will keep them busy until they get too cold.

Make COokies

What’s better than a project that you can eat? Get out the ingredients to make the dough and bake those cookies together. If you’re not the baking type, then you can get some slice and bake cookies and let the kids use cookie cutters and have fun!

I hope that you found this article on having fun with kids on a budget helpful. There’s nothing worse than whiny kids home for a while week! Keep ’em busy! If you need some ideas for pampering yourself after this week is over, check out my article Taking Care of You.

Love, DawnBlogtopus

Healthy Eating for Moms on a Budget

dawnblogtopus eating healthy budget

Eating healthy doesn’t mean that you have to break the bank. Here are some ideas from DawnBlogtopus for healthy eating for moms on a budget.

Buying organic fruits and veggies, and other foods such as grass-fed beef and free-range eggs can be very expensive. However, most people, especially moms with small children want to feed their family the most healthy foods available. What is a mom on a budget to do? Read on for some tips about eating healthy on a tight budget.

Frozen Foods For Moms on a Budget

Buying fresh fruits and veggies out of season can be extremely expensive, but not having these in your diet just isn’t an option. If you can’t afford to buy many of these items fresh, then go for frozen instead of canned.

The same goes for seafood – Instead of spending a lot of money at the seafood counter go ahead and buy frozen seafood. Frozen seafood is immediately put on ice and frozen after being caught, so it tastes almost as fresh as “fresh” seafood from the fish counter.

SPeaking of Meat on a Budget

Moms on a budget will appreciate this tip – another way to save money is to use less meat in your recipes. Meat is usually more expensive than the other ingredients in recipes, so if you can substitute something else in place of a portion of meat in your recipe then you will save money.

For example, if you are making a stir fry with chicken, instead of putting in 16 ounces of chicken put in 8 ounces of chicken. To make up for the lack of chicken you can add more veggies, or even add tofu. You can get tofu very inexpensively, and it’s a better choice health-wise than fatty meats. Tofu has very little in the way of taste, it takes on the flavors of what it’s cooked with. So using the stir fry example, use tasty seasonings. Try using seasonings such as garlic, sesame oil, and soy sauce, and that’s exactly what your tofu will taste like. Which, of course, is delicious!

I hope that you found this article about eating healthy on a budget helpful. If you’d like to check out a delicious recipe, try my pork at this link right here.

Love, DawnBlogtopus

 

Strategies and Tips for Time Management

dawnblogtopus clock

If you’re a busy mom it’s understandable that you can’t fit everything into one day. Here are some strategies and tips to help manage your time.

Between the kids, housework, shopping, cooking, and not to mention if you have a job outside the home it’s hard to fit everything into 24 hours. Personally, I have a long list of hobbies including sewing, reading, crafting, writing, learning GIMP, and more – but forget it! I just don’t have time for hobbies with 3 little kids. I have enough trouble trying to stay on top of the basics. With that said, though, I am handling the basics much better that before, and I’ll tell you how.

Identify the Time Sucks

Once you figure out what is taking up your time then you can take steps to correct it. Strategies for time management definitely requires you to make lists to figure things out. This might not be true for everyone, but in my case there’s not one big thing that takes up my time, but  many, many little things that take a few minutes. Once you add up all of those 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there, though, it turns into hours. I’ll put my list below, what’s on your list?

I have thought about what affects me, and the list that I have come up with is:

  • Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram
  • The baby acting like a baby (spoiled!)
  • Not being organized enough
  • Not making to-do lists daily
  • Checking my email…Which somehow ends up with me watching YouTube videos…
  • General distractions

Your list of time management time sucks might be similar to mine or completely different. The way to go about solving these problems is on a case-by-case basis, but once you have figured out what the problems are you can at least be more aware of them as they are happening.

My Strategies and Tips for Time Management Solutions

  • Make a “To Do” list every day with the most important things at the top.
  • Plug my phone into the charger and try not to pick it up unless it’s ringing.
  • Try to get as much housework and blogging done as I can when the baby is napping.
  • When checking my email I give myself a little break after – 15 minutes only. I set a timer.
  • After completing either 1 big thing or 3 small things on my To Do list I give myself a 15-minute break (with timer set.)

I hope that you found this article on strategies and tips for time management. These strategies can also be helpful if you have been diagnosed with ADHD. If you’re interested in learning more about being an adult with ADHD check out my blog post, just click the link!

Love, DawnBlogtopus

Read About Living as an With Adult ADHD

dawnblogtopus.com adhd adult

WHen you think about ADHD most people think of children. However, Approximately 5% of Adults in the USA have ADHD.

An easy to understand explanation of ADHD is “ADHD is a neurological disorder associated with a pattern of excessive inactivity in the frontal lobes of the brain. It is characterized by distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.” The symptoms include an inability to focus, being easily distracted, hyperactivity, poor organization skills, and impulsiveness. Not everyone who has ADHD has all these symptoms.

As an adult living with ADHD I can attest to most of those symptoms describing me to a “T.” There are three basic types of ADHD: Hyperactive-Impulsive type, Inattentive, and Combination. The only symptom on that list that doesn’t personally describe me would be the hyperactivity. I have the Inattentive variety.

What’s Wrong With Me?

My whole life I thought that there was something seriously wrong with my brain. Things that came easy to other people such as remembering a list of 2 or 3 items, grabbing the leftovers that were just packed up for me at a restaurant, putting shoes on my child before we left the house…The list goes on. Yes, those are actual examples, and things like that would happen pretty much daily. There were also many other smaller things such as having something in my hand at home, then somehow losing it, and never finding it again.

I had no idea that I had ADHD until my oldest son was diagnosed when he was 7 years old. It became clear as I was present in the room when the doctor was administering the evaluation. As it went on I recognized so many of the markers of the condition in myself that it astounded me. Later that day I called my doctor that day to request an evaluation. The doctor referred me to a psychiatrist, and I made an appointment.

Diagnosed

The appointment went as I figured it would go after watching my son’s evaluation. I left the appointment with a prescription for Ritalin in hand, and hope for the future.

The next day I filled the prescription, and my life changed. After I took the medication it was like a whole new part of my brain was opened up. The same day  I realized how awful my life was before, like I had a layer of plastic over me, and everything was hazy and slippery. With the medication it was like the plastic was peeled off, and I could breathe. I always felt like I was a little different than other people, half a step behind everyone. After just one day I felt like I always imagined everyone else felt. It was amazing.

I hope that this article gave you a little window into the mind of an adult living with inattentive ADHD. Thanks for reading. If you’re looking for something else to read, check out my article about Inspiration.

Love, DawnBlogtopus

 

Finding Happiness in Life

DAWNBLOGTOPUS get happy

Everyone feels a little down now and then. It’s time to find happiness. Here are some ideas on how to improve your mood and change your outlook on life.

The first step in working to improve your mood is to figure out what’s wrong. Is there something specific that’s bothering you? Are you having trouble at work, with a friend, or other relationship? Maybe you can’t identify the specific problem, you just know that you’re not feeling very happy. Here are some ideas to add a little cheer into your life.

relationship Happiness problems

If you’re having a problem with any relationship – romantic or platonic – then you’re probably not going to be able to solve the problem by yourself. You’re going to have to talk to the other half of the relationship and try to figure out what’s wrong. Many relationship problems stem from not nurturing the relationship, not spending enough quality time together. Maybe you could help the relationship by spending some quality time together.

work Happiness problems

I don’t have any real answers if your unhappiness comes from work. However, I can tell you something important that I learned when I was a temp worker being shuttled from one office to the next – you’re there to work, not to make friends. It really doesn’t matter if the girl from three cubicles down doesn’t like you and gives you dirty looks when you walk by. Get your work done, be polite, go home.

Just feeling “blah”

If you’re feeling a little down and have no idea why maybe you just need a little pampering and “me time.” If you’re a busy mom and are in need of some serious me time then the best plan is to get your partner to take the kids out (or you go out!) on a regularly scheduled time.

Scheduling me time is a must for a couple of reasons. First, if your me time isn’t scheduled then it’s likely to get pushed to the side and won’t end up happening. Second, having a set time to look forward to can help get you through the week. If you don’t have a partner, or if they are not able to take the kids for you then you could hire a babysitter, or even swap babysitting with another mom so you can both get some “Me time” in, and not have to pay for a babysitter.

I hope that you found this blog helpful. If you need more suggestions on taking some me time for yourself be sure to check out my blog article Time To Relax. If you’re feeling sad and blah more than a couple times per week then you might want to talk to your doctor about it. I hope you feel better soon!

love, Dawnblogtopus

 

DawnBlogtopus Cooks – Marinated Soy Pork

dawnblogtopus soy sauce marinated pork

PORK PORK PORK! dELICIOUS SOY SAUCE PORK! tHIS RECIPE IS A FAVORITE AT MY HOUSE.

My Mother-in-Law is a wonderful lady who is an excellent cook. She has shown me many recipes, and this one is everyone in my houses’ favorite. Marinated soy sauce pork. It’s easy to make, it only takes a few ingredients, and can be made extremely inexpensively if you can catch a sale on pork. You can use bone-in or country-style pork.

Ingredients:

  • Pork – Approximately 1 pork chop per family member or equivalent in “country-style” pork. This recipe is for 4 pork chops cut off of their bones.
  • Light soy sauce (1/2 cup)
  • Dark Soy sauce (1/2 cup)
  • Ginger root, sliced in chunks (to taste)
  • Sugar (1/2 Tablespoon)
  • Garlic powder (1 Tablespoon)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Corn starch (enough to coat pork)
  • Canola oil  (enough to coat pan)

Instructions:

  • Cut the pork off of the bone, cut off the large pieces of fat
  • Cut pork into smaller chunks, approximately 1″x2″s
  • Tenderize the pork with a mallet or the dull side of a knife
  • Put the pork into a bowl and mix in both soy sauces, ginger, sugar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Mix well until all of the pork is coated
  • Put in the cornstarch, and mix well until all of the pork is coated
  • Heat up the oil in your pan and cook the pork on medium heat until both sides are a darker brown, approximately 4 minutes per side. Discard ginger, and enjoy!

At my house we usually have this with plain white rice made with the rice cooker and either garlic green beans or salad. This is a yummy and filling dinner! I suggest making extra so you can have it again another day. It microwaves well.

I hope that you enjoyed this recipe! Please subscribe to my blog for more recipes and articles on family life.

love, Dawnblogtopus

Thumb Sucking, Nail Biting, Lip Chewing, OH MY!

dawnblogtopus lip biting

Thumb sucking, nail biting, and lip chewing are very common bad habits, especially among children. Here are some strategies to help stop the problem.

Unfortunately my poor little daughter has a lip biting problem. It’s been going on for about 6 months now, and as much as she would like to stop she’s having a hard time with it. I’ve asked her dentist and her doctor, and both of them seemed to think that she would stop when winter came and made it uncomfortable due to dry and cracked lips. Nope. It just made it hurt but didn’t deter her. In fact, it seemed to make her bite them even more because they were so dry.

I’ve been doing a little research on the problem, and have come up with some common solutions to try and correct thumb sucking, nail biting, lip chewing. While they are all a little different, they are all bad habits that aren’t good for the lips or teeth. Here are some ideas:

  • Talking it out. Sometimes these problems are due to stress, and if you can relieve some of the stress and worry then the problem goes away naturally.
  • Put on lip balm, lip gloss, or lipstick. You’re more likely to stop and think before you bite or chew if you have one of these on your lips. And as an added bonus the lip balm can help heal your lips if they are dry from the biting.
  • Nagging can help. Normally I don’t advocate nagging, but sometimes (at least in my daughter’s case) she wasn’t realizing that she was biting her lips. Whenever I see her biting her lip I just say “LIP!” and she stops. It’s cut down on the lip biting by a small amount.
  • Medication. Well, not quite medication. I finally ordered a product called Mavala, and it’s mainly used for thumb sucking and nail biting, but I figured that it would work for the lip chewing as well. It looks and smells just like nail polish, and you paint it on. It’s supposed to last 2-3 per application and tastes really really bad. This has cut down on the lip chewing by about 80%. It’s a work in progress…

      I hope that you found this article helpful to stop the thumb sucking, nail biting, and lip chewing. It’s a really hard habit to break. I sucked my thumb much longer than it was acceptable. In the end, my dad bribed me with a really expensive electronic to stop sucking my thumb. That gives you an idea of how old I was…Good luck.

Love, DawnBlogtopus

The Octo Diaries 1

Baby Picture

Many people over the years have suggested that I write my memoirs. I don’t have the patience for that; but here it is, one blog at a time.

Life started in winter of 1980. I was 19 days late and ended up as an emergency C-section. I wasn’t breathing when I was born, the cord was wrapped around my neck multiple times. Obviously they revived me though, and here I am! I often wonder, though, if I hadn’t had the nuchal cord, or if they had revived me faster if I would have fewer problems with my brain now.

My parents hated each other from the start but finally decided to get married when I was a toddler. We lived in the house that my dad had been born in. It had no running water except what you could pump with a hand pump. There were no toilets, just an outhouse. Being a small child, I didn’t really notice. We only had one neighbor within a mile or so, and they didn’t have running water, either.

In retrospect, that house was probably the worst place for us to live. It was a house full of awful memories for my father, the kitchen where we would eat our Cheerios in the morning was the very same kitchen where he watched his father slit his mother’s throat in a drunken rage.

Aside from the bad memories, my mother hated it there. She had been born into a much wealthier family and had gone to college in New York. Rural Virginia was probably the least likely place she ever thought she would end up, and she couldn’t wait to escape.

When I was very young my father stayed at home with me. He was a disabled Army veteran with a high school education and found it very difficult to find a job that he could physically do and was also qualified for. My mother was the breadwinner, she would get up in practically the middle of the night to drive into town and take a bus to Washington, D.C. for work.

Looking back it was a very strange childhood. I rarely ever saw anyone other than my parents or the neighbors across the street. It was like we lived in our own little world. Just us, the old folks that had been there since before my father was born, and the 20+ cats that lived in the barn behind our house. I guess that’s why when I watch a movie or read a book about post-apocalyptic life with few humans it doesn’t sound horrifying to me. It sounds like comfort.

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Who Inspires You in Life?

DAWNBLOGTOPUS breathe inspirational

who do you find inspiring? maybe it’s a typical hero-type such as a firefighter, astronaut, or marine – or maybe it’s someone else…

Who do you really find inspiring? The people above are easy answers, they come straight to mind and are fairly universally accepted. While I find the people mentioned admirable, when I look for inspiration I look elsewhere. The single mom who works two jobs to feed her children and keep the lights on, the immigrant factory worker who sends his paycheck back home to take care of his elderly parents, or the child with cancer that just keeps fighting for life, because they have no other choice.

hope

What to all of these people have in common? Hope. Hope for the future, hope for life to be fair, hope for life to become less of a burden and more of a gift. To give another person hope you need to show them that even if things are tough right now if they persevere there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, or a reward for the struggles that they are currently facing.

How are you living your life?

 

love, Dawnblogtopus

How to Be a Good Listener

dawnblogtopus good listener

I’ve always been a fairly good listener. I tend to talk a lot, but when someone needs me to listen I can be that person as well. Here are some of my tips for becoming a better listener.

If you have an abundance of acquaintances but no best best friends you might not be called on to be a good listener very often. However, it’s really a good skill to develop, especially if you have kids that are starting to make their own friends and have their own problems. Being a good listener doesn’t necessarily come second nature to most people, it’s truly a skill that needs to be practiced. Here are some tips to becoming a good listener.

Actively Listen

Try to be an active listener. Don’t just ask them to tell you about their problems and then zone out while thinking about what you need to put on your grocery shopping list. Keep eye contact with them, nod or “mum huum” in appropriate places, and ask questions when they are done speaking to clarify their main points.

If you think that you have some advice that would help them with their problem, then give it to them. If you have no advice, let them know that you understand that they are having problems and you are there to help support them.

Offer Your Assistance

Even if you can’t think of anything you can do to help them doesn’t mean that you have to sit idly by while your loved one suffers. You should ask if there’s anything that you can do to help them, especially if they have a concrete problem rather than an emotional one.

Most people just want to feel like their problem was heard and understood, but in some cases there might be something you could do to help. Your friend might be too shy to ask for your help, but if you offer your assistance they might gladly accept.

Be There in the Future

To become a really good listener you need to practice often. This means asking more questions and being more available to people when they need you. If your friend or family member has come to you with a problem be sure to tell them that you are always there to listen to them and be sure to check back in with them from time to time to see if they need your awesome listening skills again.

Being a good listener is being a good friend.