Parent Tips: Homework Time for Kids with ADHD

As teachers and parents, we know that homework time can be a daily struggle for all kids, but for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) that challenge is especially painful. From knowing what and when to do an assignment, to focusing, completing the task at hand and organizing, children with ADHD require extra support at home. Throughout my teaching career, I have learned that I cannot possibly do it alone and parent involvement is critical in helping kids succeed. So, how can you as a parent/guardian help your kids at home so they can thrive in and outside the classroom? 

Here are some tips that can help you set-up your child for success during homework time. 

1. Create a Homework Space – Kids benefit from having their own special space to complete homework assignments. For the child with ADHD focusing is a challenging task in itself. So pick the perfect space that is both simple and practical – some things to consider for a good space is lighting, distraction level, and effective organization.

2. Limit Distractions – Children with ADHD get distracted by their surroundings easily. Finding the ideal spaces that are free from stimuli such as background noise, clutter and visual distractions. Limiting distractions is key to help kids focus and remain focused. 

3. Simplify and Organize – One of the biggest challenges that children with ADHD face is organization. To help kids stay organized set systems in place to help them such as an agenda, color coded folders for different subjects, make checklists and create schedules, use an organizer at home for school supplies and have an organization system for their bookbags. Allocating a day or two a week to organize and clean up their book bags, folders and notebooks really goes a long way too. This will allow kids to stop and regroup in order to keep track of things. 

4. Have Routines in place – There is something to be said about consistency. Consistency helps kids stay on track and to do so it is important to live by routines. This will help you provide your kids with structure and build good habits. You may want to create a daily plan, set timers and create a predictable environment. 

5. Break Up Tasks into Manageable Tasks – Children with ADHD struggle to focus and self-regulate. One way to help them is to chunk up their tasks. It really helps to know your child and the length of time they can work for before they need a break. Use a timer to give them the opportunity to stretch and decompress. This also serves as a reminder of the time it takes them to get work done and serves as motivation to keep going. 

6. Provide a Healthy diet, Encourage daily exercise, & Consistent bedtime routine – 

  •    Healthy diet: Recent studies suggest a healthy diet may help kids with ADHD. To find        out more here are some related articles. 

https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/adhd-guide-for-parents/diet-and-exercise-natural-adhd-therapies/

https://www.autismag.org/adhd-diet-plan/

  •     Exercise: Staying active helps kids burn excess energy. In addition, exercise is said to improve mental focus and support physical development. 
  •     Consistent bedtime routine: Consistent bedtime routines provide structure to children. It is important for kids to get ample rest and allow themselves to decompress and be ready for a brand new day. 

Help Support Your Child's Reading Comprehension

How to Help Your Child Read Like a Pro – Tips to Improve Reading Comprehension

I always tell my students that words are power. They can help you access information that you want and help you get what you need. Giving your child the gift of words – I believe – is truly empowering them. 

So what to do if your child struggles with reading comprehension? Well, first let’s talk about what reading comprehension is. Simply put, it is the ability to read and understand what is going on in the text. We are no longer worried about our kids sounding words out – they have mastered that already – but now we want to make sure that they are getting it.

This is important. If we hope to get our children to love reading, they first need to understand what they are reading and feel successful when doing it. The best way to do this is to talk to our kids about what they are reading. This will help them think about the words on the page and make it their own by putting in their own words. 

Here are some questions to get you started: 

Before Reading: 

  1. What do you think this story will be about? 
  2. What can you tell from the title and/or pictures that you see?

During Reading: 

  1. What is the story about so far? 
  2. Who is/are the main character(s)?
  3. What are they trying to do? Where are they going? 
  4. Where and when does the story take place? 
  5. Why is the character…? 

After Reading

  1. Did you like the story? Why or why not? 
  2. If you could change any part of the book, what would you change? Why? 
  3. Why do you think the character….? Would you have done the same? 
  4. What was your favorite or least favorite part of the book? 

I put some of these questions along with some others on a bookmark and let my son, Noah, decorate it and use it during his own reading. Guys, this is tried and trusted. For him, it is a fun bookmark that he got to decorate. For me, it is a reminder to stop and have a conversation. Whenever I see it, I remember to take a second and just talk to him about his book! 

Download your own bookmark here –> https://mommiesofjen.com/downloadable/

Take a picture of your child using the bookmar and tag us on our social media! @mommiesofjen

7 Tips to Get Your Kids to Love Reading

Growing up I have fond memories of getting lost in wonderful books. I remember having to hide  in the bathroom late at night in order to read page after page because my sister would be bothered by the light and the fact I read aloud. The truth is I fell in love with reading at a very early age and my passion for reading and wealth of knowledge only got bigger. 

Today, as a parent and a teacher I want my children to fall in love with reading. I mean think of the numerous benefits –  stress reduction, vocabulary expansion, encourages better writing skills, activates the imagination, better focus and concentration and many more. 

So the question is, how do we as parents help foster the love of reading in our children? 

  1. Give your child choice – Never underestimate the power of CHOICE. Children love to choose what they read, they feel empowered and it is a way to validate their interests. It has been proven time and time again that when people are given choice in things to do, they are a lot more successful in getting things done. Same goes for children of all ages when they are given a choice in what they read. Children are more likely to start and finish a book when they choose it themselves, which in turn will help you set-up your children to fall in love with reading. a5396c81-d707-4535-925b-6c7f21380552
  2. Lead by example – You often hear people say “you are a reflection of your parents” and this is absolutely true. As parents our behaviors and habits highly influence the way our children turn out to be. This is why if we want our kids to fall in love with reading it is beneficial to model the behavior ourselves. So grab a good book, magazine or any form of print and start reading – not only will you serve as a good example for the children but you get to catch a break too.3e229c61-b673-466c-8102-5177ac94de45
  3. Value reading at home – Families that value reading at home have children that develop a love for reading and learning. How do we show a value for reading at home? Have plenty of reading options at home, set a specific time for reading, read as a family, discuss what you’re reading, surprise your children with books once in a while. All these small habits send your child a message that reading is valued. We want to create an expectation that reading isn’t just for school and it can be done for pleasure at home too.12ea6fde-a48e-4649-ba01-01dbf712118e
  4. Create a specific reading time at home – One the most important habits to have at home is to create a reading routine. Pick a time of day where the expectation is that everybody is reading at the same time. It can be you are all reading the same book together or everyone is reading their own book. The idea is to set time apart for reading to enjoy as a family and decompress for the day. 
  5. Create a cozy and comfy space to read – There is nothing better than curling up in your favorite reading spot with a good book and letting your imagination take flight. Creating a reading nook for your children will encourage them to read for pleasure on a daily basis. This can be anything from getting a comfy reading chair, laying on the couch, reading in bed under the covers, a nice quiet and well lit spot that is fun and inviting. The idea is to form a positive association for reading.  2146c535-3387-499e-88aa-91515e8bc042
  6. Visit the library – Visiting the library can surely be magical. The library is fun for the whole family. They have a wonderful array of programs, print on all genres and topics, they even have computers available for children to use. One of the extra perks of visiting the library is that it teaches your child responsibility. It is always a good idea to sign them up for their very own library card and teach them about signing out books and returning them on time and in good condition.2146c535-3387-499e-88aa-91515e8bc042 
  7. Talk about reading with your children – One of the most important habits to engage in with your children is to talk about their reading – this sends your children a message that reading and understanding their reading is important. Talking about their reading helps you to create a special bond with your child and in the process it helps them to understand, summarize and make connections with the text. 

5 Things To Do Instead of Screen Time

We have all been there (or for the lucky ones, have witnessed it). You are sitting in a restaurant or in a quiet waiting room and your child starts wiggling in their seats, running around, or having a full blown meltdown! The only thing to quiet them down it seems is to put your phone or an iPad in front of them. 

And then it’s all great right? They are quiet and occupied and all is well in the world. Except now you have the screen zombie. They are so consumed in the technology that they hardly notice anything around them. 

So if you want to avoid the tech zombie or just want to see your child engaged in something else every now and then, here are our five favorite activities that your child can do instead of screen time. 

  1. Puzzles

Puzzles are a great way to keep your child busy either at home or in public. They are 2a8c5d1c-21d6-4e02-a509-da6e3475fb0cgreat for building memory, spatial awareness, problem solving skills, and our favorite, patience! An extra plus is that puzzles are appropriate at any age and it is something that your child can do independently or something that you can enjoy completing as a family. 

2. Books 

IMG_6539.jpg

What is better than getting lost in a great book? We strongly believe that fostering the love of reading at a young age is the best way to encourage your child to be a self-learner. At home, we let our children choose their own books so they feel intrinsically motivated to read. 

3. Activity Books

This can be something like tracing and cutting activities for your toddlers all the way to 937323e0-60d7-4bef-ad9f-57be7dfb45b5.JPGcrossword puzzles and Soduko for your older kids and teens. I have vivid memories of my father carrying word search books and crossword puzzles with him everywhere he went and have always been grateful to mindlessly engage in one of these activities when I am bored myself! For young children, coloring books are a great way to improve color recognition, promote hand eye coordination, and creativity. In older children and teens, it helps reduce anxiety and is a form of self-expression. 

4. Arts and Crafts 

Arts and Crafts is another great activity that you can either set your child up to do independently or make it a family project for everyone to enjoy! All you need is a craft kit: 

  • Scizzors 
  • Glue 
  • crayons/markers/colored pencils 
  • Paint 
  • Paper 
  • Saved household items (bottle caps, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, etc.)

This can also be easily made for on the go! Put some of these things in a Ziploc bag and you have a craft kit to go! 

5. Building dba00671-09b0-4d05-96c9-8968f4e35ae0

This has got to be one of our favorites. Building is key for developing those fine motor skills for our little ones building with blocks and also for creativity and engineering for our older ones working with legos. At our house, we make sure to set aside time for building so that our blocks and legos don’t get forgotten about in the back of the toy bin. 

How I Got My Newborn to Nap

Dear Baby Boy,

Around Week 6 of you in this world, you woke up. I mean you REALLY woke up. Your big brown eyes popped wide open and you smiled up at me. You also realized that there was a IMG_5189 2mirror looking down at you on your swing. So you started spending your time talking (and often yelling) at your own reflection as you laid in your swing.

Nothing more melts my heart than your bright eyes looking back at me. But this gift did not come without consequence. You learned how to open your eyes and forgot how to close them. Gone were your restful naps and in their place were your puffy red eyes and your overtired cries.

What to do? I put you in your swing. That always worked! Not anymore. Now your reflection kept you up. Who is that guy looking at anyway? I know! I will tire you out, I thought. But no, the longer we waited, the longer you stayed up, getting increasingly more upset. There were a few days where you spent all day awake. The car, the stroller, and the wrap all do the trick! But how long can we maintain going out for every nap?

Nothing breaks my heart more than hearing your frustrated cry. So, I did what every millennial mom would do. I took to the internet. I Googled and Youtubed and Facebooked. I texted and called and emailed. And Baby Boy, I think we’ve finally got it.

Love,

Mom

 

How I Got My Newborn to Nap

 

Routine

Every single source (including experienced mommas in my life) recommends a solid routine. At first, I confused routine with schedule. I tediously set alarms on my phone that went off every hour – nap – play – sleep – just to be thrown off by my baby’s needs. What I learned is that a set schedule is almost impossible with an exclusively breastfed newborn. Now if you have done this, kudos to you and leave a comment below telling me how you did it; but for me, I feed on demand for the time being and will worry about a timetable when Baby Boy is a little older.

A routine though is NOT a schedule. It is a set of actions to be regularly followed. Now we’ve had bedtime routine down for a while (should I do a post on this?), and just needed to remember to have one for naps. Now, when I notice that you are sleepy we immediately start your routine – room, white noise, swaddle, rock and sleep.

Sleepy cues

Many sources that I have read (here is one) advise to watch out for common signs of sleepiness: yawning, rubbing eyes, becoming still, becoming fussy, tugging on ears, and whining or singing. For Baby Boy, by the time he becomes fussy, we are already too far gone. The earliest signs for us are slightly reddened and glossy eyes with little bags under them. Every baby is different so pay attention and eventually a pattern will start to form.

Sleep Window

Like I said, by the time he fusses, we are too far gone. The magic time for us is when I see he is tired in his eyes and he starts to look concerned and frowny. Then I know that it is time for some quiet time (sometimes he will complain a little when I pick him up but settles down quickly in my arms). We snuggle a bit and I begin to rock him while I make my way to our room (his crib is in our bedroom) to start our naptime routine.

Swaddle

My husband hates the swaddle. It looks like a straitjacket and how is it supposed to imitate the womb if our baby had his hands by his face in every single sonogram image? So, for the first two months of his life, we did not swaddle our baby. When I finally reached out to my social media asking for napping tips, our close friend Porsche (twin mom and vegan chef – check out her instagram) insisted that we give it another try. She recommends the Ollie swaddle which she used for both of her boys.

Since I was desperate that very day and did not want to wait for yet another swaddle to 57281452780__3CF70F41-94D5-4926-8DAA-A8922B17C190come in the mail (we have so many different ones already), I tried one that I thought would give the same snug effect. Baby Boy slept great in the Woombie. It was his longestnap yet! We now use the Love to Dream swaddle which allows Baby Boy to have his hands by his face, like he did in the womb, and are loving it. (I have lots of thoughts on these swaddles and some more. Let me know in the comments if you would like a review.)

 

 

White Noise

Have you ever listened to white noise? It is the most relaxing sound ever. I dare you not to fall asleep. Good for babies. Good for mommies. Ask your google or alexa to put it on for you. I also have the White Noise app on my iPhone.

Rocking

Dr. Harvey Karp aka the Baby Whisperer recommends the 5 Ss to soothe crying babies. This idea is built around the idea that babies are born one trimester (about 3 months) early and therefore need the comfort and familiarity of the womb. To provide this, he says to soothe the baby through: swaddle, side, shush, swing, and suck. We don’t do side (he prefers to be held to my chest) or suck (he usually won’t take a pacifier.) But a few of these Ss really do help. Like I said, the swaddle has proved itself worthy (although I recommend finding the right fit for your baby) and the shush through white noise. But these two things alone would not be able to do it without the closer. Nothing seals the deal for Baby Boy like a little movement. Rocking and swinging does wonders for him. The bumpier the ride (think car seat or cracked sidewalk in a stroller) the sooner he falls asleep. Yes, I know, sleep association. I rock him until he is sleepy and then set him down. Sometimes he wakes right back up. I wait to see if he is able to put himself back to sleep first before trying again. This means he fusses and whines a bit. I don’t like to wait until it is full-blown-I-am-turning-red-tears, but I do want to give him a chance to try on his own.

Being Flexible

Still, my Baby Boy is young and we are both learning together. Everyday looks different and everyday he teaches me something else. These days, he usually takes one of his naps in his crib following this routine, one of his naps in our Moby Wrap while I do housework, one of his naps on the go in his Evenflo Pivot Stroller, and a cat nap with me on the couch.DCEA354A-AFBB-4A3A-B0A7-AC1FCF797C2C 2

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7 Tips from Mommies to Mommies

Dear Baby Boy,

You were born at 11:42am on a bright and cold Saturday morning in December. You entered the world with a full head of hair and a healthy 7lbs and 2oz. On that morning, you IMG_0220made me a mother.

And with a blink of an eye, you are already 11wks old and I am getting ready (but realize I will never be ready) to return to work in a little less than two weeks. This morning you were able to lift your head for a couple of seconds during tummy time, this afternoon you refused your nap so we read a book instead, and this evening your grandma and I gave you a bath. I cherish these moments and feel a knot in my throat thinking about missing a second of it.

Before you were born, I asked as many mothers (and fathers) around me for their top tip for a new mom. The one I am calling on now was given to me by a co-worker, friend, and mother of two boys. She said, remember to enjoy it.


 

Top Tips from Mommies (and Daddies) to Mommies

Listed in no particular order. Take what you need.

  1. Get on a schedule
  2. Mommy sleeps when baby sleeps
  3. You don’t need any tips. You are the mom. You will know best
  4. Do NOT read any books
  5. A frozen bagel to soothe a teething mouth
  6. Let others help
  7. You always need more wipes

IMG_0068I have not followed all of these. A schedule right now? Pfft. I have tried and failed. You have reminded me that you are the boss, at least for right now. You want me to babble with you a little more, wave a rattle for a little longer, and hold you a little tighter.

And me? Before I return to work and before we both learn yet another new normal…

I will remind myself to enjoy every second of it.

Love,

Mom

P.S. Please share your top mommy and daddy tips below in the comments. Ethan and I would appreciate it.

 


 

Ethan Alexander 

IMG_4976

 Steps

Dear Baby Boy,

You are 29 weeks old now! Wow! The time has flown. According to theBUMP.com, you are as big as an acorn squash and I believe it! Right on time for the third trimester, I feel you pressing on my rib (you favor the right side) and causing my lower-back pain.

Baby boy! You have a name now, but let’s keep that a secret between you, me, and Daddy for now. I have never known a love like this and I can’t wait to meet you.

Love,

Mom

Fun fact about me: I have no chill. I am always too busy. I am excited about life and I never stop thinking about or planning for tomorrow. Motherhood has been no different. My mind works like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel (remember those?) full of choices and alternate endings and since I found out about Baby Boy, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about all the possible twists and turns my life would take now. How long will I take off from work? Who will watch Baby Boy when we go back to work? Do I have to go back to work? Where will we live? Will my professor let me wear Baby Boy in a baby sling during class?

Yes, as a busy full-time teacher, doctorate student, and part-time adjunct professor, there are a lot of things to think about. One thing that I plan NOT to overthink (well, by my standards anyway) are meals. That is why I have started shopping in bulk, batch cooking everything, and freezing left overs for easy, healthy, and yummy food for later. Here are the 5 steps I am taking to prepare easy meals before Baby Boy arrives:

 

Step 1: Double the recipe, double the meals.  

About two months ago, I started making double of every meal I prepared for me and hubby. At this point, I didn’t go out of my way to search for any new recipes or do too much prep. I just started consciously putting away. I stored regular dinner meals in large freezer safe Ziploc bags. I label them with a sharpie before putting the food in them, filled them up, and froze them flat in the freezer. I did the same with pancakes for breakfast. I stored about two pancakes in one sandwich bag (I like the fold over ones because they are the most economical), and store them in a larger freezer Ziploc bag. What’s great about these is that after I double batch cooked on one weekend, I could keep adding to them afterwards. Every time I make pancakes, I just pop what’s left over in a sandwich bag and into the freezer. Whenever I am on the go, I just nuke them in the microwave and they are done in a minute!

 

Step 2: Look for new recipes.

Next step is to look for a few new recipes that were specifically made for freezing and saving for later. I found great ones here. What I love is that all the recipes are all reviewed and most of them have instructions for reheating. I write the reheating directions straight onto the Ziploc so that hubby will know exactly what to do when I am too big to move or too busy feeding our brand new baby boy! I have tried a couple and these have been my favorite so far have been the  Asian Chicken Thighs and Korean Beef.

 

Step 3: Make a shopping list.

Okay. Now time to take inventory and start stocking up. Start your meal planning for the week in your pantry and your fridge. Write down what you have and think about what you would need to make the odds and ends in your kitchen into a meal. Put them on your shopping list. Next, look at your supermarket circular. The first and last page always has the greatest deals so check out the weekly deals and stock up, especially on the non-perishables like pastas, beans, and frozen foods. Choose one or two proteins that are on sale and buy the family size. You can make at least one eat-now/eat-later meal with it and still may have some leftover to save for cooking another time. Now that you have these meal essentials on your list, add any other food staples that you may need on your list and you are done! For us, it is always peanut butter and bananas.

 

Step 4: Shop with a purpose.

Take your list to the grocery and don’t stray from! This will save you money AND calories. This is also a good time to stock up on your freezer meal necessities. For me, Ziplocs and sandwich bags do the trick. But you may also like these aluminum baking trays with lids that you can pop right into the oven when you are ready. For me and my apartment sized fridge, these take just a bit too much space but they can really be a time saver! Amazon is a great place to find all of these but if you are out and about already, you can find all your gear at your local 99 cents store or Dollar Tree.

Step 5: Get to cooking!

I cook once a week. We have pancakes on Sunday so why not make some extra! My goal is to just make two eat-now/eat-later meals and this will be enough for the next few days and for at least two meals to put in the freezer.

 

Highlights from Wk. 28:

Mommy turned 29!

 

 

9 Things to Remember as a Fit Mom-To-Be

Dear Baby Boy,

 

People are finally noticing my baby bump as you turn 26 weeks this week! The doctor said that you are a strong 1.4lb IMG_2899, my growing big boy. This week, I have been upped my exercise game. I have promised you that I would keep myself strong and healthy in order to keep you strong and healthy. Thank you for being my most precious reason.

 

Love,

Mom

 

9 Things to Remember as a Fit Mom

  1. Healthy Mom = Healthy Baby

One of the very first questions I asked my doctor when I found out I was expecting was whether or not I can keep exercising. I have always maintained (or tried to) an exercise routine. My doctor encouraged me to keep at it, advising that I don’t introduce anything new (no Olympian weight lifting for me) during this time. And it makes sense, doesn’t it?

A healthy and fit expecting mom means a healthy healthy baby. Our bodies go through so much change during this time in our lives. We are stretching and bending in all these different ways. Our body is getting ready to perform a damn miracle. And even after we cary the extra weight on our bodies for 9 months, and pop a watermelon out of a grape, we will be carrying, bouncing, rocking, and feeding a little growing thing. Our bodies need to be strong and healthy to make this happen. I try to get in 30-45 minutes of exercise everyday.

  1. Listen to your body

Working double-time, I find my heart and lungs working extra hard these days so I make sure to listen to my body when I am exercising. Yeah, we are used to having fitness goals like flat abs and those last 10lbs, but for the next few months, all we want to do is keep healthy and keep our babies healthy. If you need a break, take a break. Can’t run? Don’t run. Take that sip of water and save your other fitness goals for after the baby comes.

  1. Maintain a Routine

This one should apply to those expecting and to anyone else who actually wants to meet a fitness goal. Keep a routine! For me, if I don’t exercise in the morning, it just WONT happen. And yes, there are mornings (like this morning actually) where my sleepy self will talk myself out of my morning workout, telling myself that I will definitely workout in the everning. Guess what? My evening self is tired from carrying my extra weight around all day as I try to maintain a normal life and the last thing I want to do is exercise. So ladies, keep a routine that works for you. For me it looks something like this:

  • Wake up
  • Bathroom
  • Workout clothes on
  • Cup of Water
  • Get it, girl!
  1. At Home Videos

During the first trimester, I was still attending my favorite classes (https://classpass.com/ is great for group classes if you are interested) and jogging a couple of days a week. As I entered my second tri-mester, I noticed that my morning jogs were more like out of breath walks and remember. Many women are able to maintain their regular routines way into their pregnancies and that is awesome! For me, I find myself preferring long walks (30-min to an hour while listening to my favorite podcast), stair walks up and down my 6-floor apartment building steps (benefits of living in an apartment complex), and workout videos at home. For me, these have been great for getting me sweaty, keeping me strong, and keeping me safe. Here are a coupld of my favorite channels right now:

  1. Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Normally, I like to push myself physically. I want to try new things, get really sweaty, and see results fast. And when I see those results or feel the burn, I know I am doing something right. During pregnancy though, we really want the opposite. We want to make sure that we are safe throughout our pregnancy more than anything else. So, I remind myself that as long as I keep moving, I am keeping healthy.

  1. Weights

Weights can do wonders for your body! A set of dumbells at home can build strength while you work on your cardiovascular health as well. Also, we are going to be carrying our babies in our arms very soon so lets make sure we are strong enough for that!

For me, I have a set of light, medium, and heavy dumbells that I keep in my living room. I do a morning workout while I catch up on a television show or watch the morning news. Fit with Whit is one of my favorite Instagram and Youtube channels that I follow specifically for weight training inspiration. Please note that we have to be extra careful when using weights. Bend to lift and drop the weights, always listen to your body, and avoid doing exercises on your back. With the Fit with Whit workouts, I skip the moves she does on her back (sometimes I do them standing or sitting instead) and only jump if I feel like I can that day.

  1. Kegels

Nuff said ladies. Put em in all your workouts. When you squat, when you walk, and even while you make dinner. Here is a how to if you need.

  1. Modify When Needed

This is true all the time but especially when pregnant. Make sure to listen to your body and modify when needed. I haven’t changed much about my routine, still following many of my favorite fitness gurus on YouTube. But I know that I will need to modify if:

  • It is not a jumping day (go on your toes instead)
  • It is an exercise on your back (stand, sit, or use a pillow)
  • My heart rate increases too much (make sure you can maintain a conversation)
  1. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

These little tips are just as much for me as they are for all of you, dear readers. Especially this one. We all carry, gain, and feel differently from one another. At the end of the day, we are all miracle workers. Love yourself more than you ever have because you are carrying the love of your life.

 

Highlights from Wk 25:

Welcome Back to School!BUNDLE
Check out My TPT Page — HUGE SALE ON AUG. 21st

It’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Time – Peanut Butter Jelly Muffins (And some budgeting tips too!)

Dear Baby Boy,   

It's time!

 

You are 23 weeks old now and as big as a grapefruit. The other day you were the most active that you have ever been. Mommy was at a work professional development and you were having a dance party. I wish I could have told the world to stop so that they could watch you dance; but for now, I selfishly keep those moments for myself and at night for Daddy as he wishes you goodnight.

Love,

Mom

 

Like any expecting parent, I am trying to pinch pennies where I can. I have been setting new budgets and picking up extra hours where I can (would you guys like a blog post on how I have been saving and gaining?). I know, sounds terrible, but actually there have been quite a few perks.

 

  1. Time. Not Money.

It is the TIME that you spend with your loved ones rather than the price tag you pay for it. Pop some microwave popcorn, have a potluck, Netflix and chill. It is just as fun, if not better than going out. Especially during the summer season, there are tons of things you can do for free. Here are some things that I have been enjoying in NYC.

  1. Better for the environment.

More consumption means more waste. Do we really need those Clorox wipes that add an extra 5 bucks to my grocery bill? Or can I just use the cleaner I already have and the rag that I already have? By no means am I zero waste, but when I can save a few bucks and waste a little less, I do. Madeleine Olivia is one of my favorite youtubers with great tips on how to reduce waste if you are interested.

  1. Building your skills and getting noticed.

I am a teacher and I love my job. When I start counting down to the end of the school year, it does not mean that I do not love my job any less or that I want to do anything else. It just means that I love that I have a job that allows me to count down to a well deserved summer vacation! Usually, I spend my summers studying (I have studied and taught in Vietnam, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic) or working. This summer I was excited to just sit and grow my baby. But when opportunity comes knocking, it is hard to say no. Being asked to work this summer has allowed me to work closely with my principal, allowing me to learn something entirely new. It also (at least I hope) demonstrated how much I care about what I do and the children I work for. Check out my TPT page to check out how I have been flexing some of my teacher superpowers.

  1. Getting Creative.

My favorite tip is getting creative in the kitchen. Because I have set a new grocery budget for my little but growing family, I have gotten more creative in the kitchen. Ran out of bread? No problem. Why not make some peanut butter and jelly muffins instead of that peanut butter jelly sandwich. Delicious, easy, and freezable for breakfasts throughout the week.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxeed (great for expecting mommas!! Read here!)
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of coconut oil, liquid
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup of buttermilk (I NEVER have this on hand. I substitute this with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar and enough milk to equal 1 cup. If you have buttermilk, use that.)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Approximately ½ cup of Skippy’s Natural Peanut Butter
  • Approximately ½ cup of jam or jelly of choice (I used Shmuckers Strawberry Jam)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180 C.
  2. Mix together dry ingredientsIMG_2822
  3. Mix together wet ingredients in separate bowl
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients in stand mixer or combine using a hand whisk.
  5. Fill about 1/3 of muffin tin with mixture. Now drizzle peanut butter (a little dollap is fine) on top and use spoon or butter knife to swirl. Add another 1/3 of mixture on top. Then, dollap some jam on top of each muffin and swirl.IMG_2823 copy
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden. Use a toothpick to check readiness. Let cool and serve with some extra jam and a cup of hot coffee or a cold glass of milk. Delicious!

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Just look at those muffins just OOOOZZINGGG with peanut butter and jelly! Enjoy and share!!!

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Taste Tester: Francesca Tseng

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Taste Tester: Lauren McCoy

 

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Taste Tester: Daddy

 

Join the fun at this week’s Link Party –> https://blogghetti.com/2018/08/happiness-is-homemade-link-party-home-and-garden-diy-inspiration.html

Mom Wants Chocolate

Dear Baby Boy,

This is new for me. I guess that makes the two of us. 

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You are 21 weeks old this week and I can finally feel your little kicks that feel more like pops and flutters. You are strong and healthy and I intend to keep it that way.

Love,

Mom

My cousin Francesca is visiting from Taiwan and she LOVES chocolate. Since she has been here, chocolate has become a staple in my pantry. We have been loving using Nestle Toll House Unsweetened Cocoa and Ghirardelli Premium Baking Bar (the good stuff) to make some delicious chocolate recipes.

I want to make sure that my treats are just as nourishing as they are decadent so here are two of my favorites from last week.

Double-Chocolate Chip Cookies

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The first is a recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Sadia (seriously, check her out www.pickuplimes.com) . These Chewy Double-Chocolate Chip Cookies are so rich and soft it is ridiculous! Just look at them! Absolutely delicious.

But that is not even the best part! They are also completely vegan (full disclosure … I did not use dairy-free chocolate chips but you totally can! I am not always plant-based but I do happen to love some vegan recipes) and is sweetened with both natural and refined-sugars. Refined-sugars, being those deliciously sneaky culprits they are, find their way into so many of our foods today and since they are completely empty nutritiously can really cause some damage when consumed in excess. You can read some more about it here.

I try to cut down when I can and use natural sweeteners such as bananas and applesauce instead. These chocolate goddesses ask for maple syrup and brown sugar in the original recipe. The second batch I made (no judgement when it comes to chocolate) I ran out of syrup and used honey (make sure its pasteurized honey momma’s to be!) and they came out great.

This is a great one! Hope you all enjoy! Thank you Sadia! (original recipe and blog here!)

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup (100g) refined coconut oil, packed, not melted

2/3 cup (140 g) brown sugar, packed

3 Tbsp (45 mL) maple syrup (or honey)

1/2 cup (125mL) plant-based milk (I used almond)

1/3 cup (35g) cocoa powder

1 Tbsp (15 mL) pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee granules (I used regular coffee because that is what I had on hand)

1 tsp (4 g) baking powder

3/4 tsp (3 g) baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour

1 cup (150 g) dairy-free dark chocolate, chopped (mine were not dairy-free – oops!)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180 C.
  2. Using a fork, cream together the coconut oil and brown sugar in a large bowl. Then add the vanilla, maple syrup, plant milk, cocoa powder, and instant coffee granules, whisking until combined. Then add the baking powder, baking soda and salt and again whisk until well combined. If the mixture looks clumpy, it’s okay! Note: if the temperature is warm where you are, you may want to consider chilling this mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up; otherwise the cookies flatten and spread too much when baking in the oven.
  3. Add the flour to the bowl and stir until just-combined (do not over stir). Then gently fold in the chopped chocolate.
  4. Form little balls out of the dough and evenly distribute, about 5 cm (2 inches) apart, on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper. Pro tip: I like to reserve a bit of the chopped chocolate to sprinkle on the top for presentation. (Do this step!)
  5. Bake for 12- 15 minutes, or until edges are lightly golden and the tops look set. Cool 1 minute on cooking sheet before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Blueberry Smoothie

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Now, I mentioned before that my cousin loves chocolate. Her love for chocolate could really only be paralleled with my passion for peanut butter. Chocolate AND peanut butter? What can be better?

Not only is this smoothie delicious, it is also packed with antioxidants and folates. The blueberries in these are great for expecting mommas. Berries in general are actually recommended as one of the best ways for expecting mom’s to get their Vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. You can read more about it here.

Have this for breakfast or as a treat, this smoothie is fantastic! Next time I make it, I may freeze some in popsicle molds for a little cold dessert after dinner.

Because this is one of my at-home creations, all of the quantities are estimated. This made two 8oz glasses (one for me and one for my cousin!).

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Ingredients

2 ripe bananas (Pro tip: if your bananas are not ripe, pop them into the microwave for a minute)

1 tablespoon of cocoa powder

1 tablespoon of peanut butter

1 cup of frozen blueberries

1 cup of almond milk (substitute with other non-dairy milk if desired)

I popped everything in my Nutribullet and bam! Delicious summer snack.

This week I’m linking up to Tasty Tuesday’s Link Party!! Come join the fun.