I’m A Homeschool Teacher??

Reading Rug & Informational Posters

One thing I have learned in life is that no matter how much we plan – things can change in an instant. You cannot live a life well-lived if you’re constantly making contingency plans to accommodate your original contingency plan and on and on.  Where and when would find the time to enjoy life?  With that being said; this past year has been TUMULTUOUS!  When school started in the fall of 2019, we had great expectations. We would have an exciting and successful school year filled with football games, Kindergarten programs, Homecoming and Jr/Sr. Prom.  A month into the year we were hit by a tropical storm that flooded our home and our rental property for the second time in 3 years.  Living on the Gulf Coast of Texas makes us quite familiar with hurricanes and their offspring tropical storms and depressions which have proven to be even more devastating.  We would spend the next four months in a cramped apartment while our house was being repaired,  but we planned to make life as close to normal as possible for both of our children.  School was not closed as long as the last flood and things on the education front got back to normal fairly quickly.  Homecoming, football, and school programs continued and we attended – in between meeting contractors, picking paint, fixtures, tile and everything that comes with a renovation.  This was done while mom slowly descended into insanity and dad worked 12 hour shifts, overtime and descended into insanity somewhat quicker than I did.  The new year rolled around and moving home was becoming a reality. I was THRILLED! Hagrid had moved in upstairs from us and he would start his days at around 3am, most days I felt like Chicken Little and I thought the sky was falling.  When I finally ran into our upstairs neighbor, he was more the size of Harry Potter than Hagrid, but the sound of his feet said differently.  

The third Friday in January was officially “move home’ day. We had the apartment through the end of the month so we moved the major things and took our time with the rest. We were just happy to be home. We did everything as quickly as possible because dad was having surgery the first week of February and would be out of commission for a while. We begin to hear rumors of this novel virus and friends, family and classmates I know overseas started making their way back home to the states at an alarming rate. When the kids leave school for Spring Break in March, both of their schools alert us that they may not restart after the break for a while. Learning turned into Zoom meetings and Google hangouts until the year ended. My descent into insanity continued and it met anxiety and depression along the way.

Fast forward to July – Texas is a HOTSPOT, uncertainty is commonplace and all anyone is saying is, “Send the kids back to school, no matter what!” Yes, I agree that children need to be in school or in some sort of classroom setting, but at what cost?  I knew that my youngest would not be able to attend anyone’s school because he has severe allergies which compromises his immune response and I wasn’t prepared to take that risk by any means.  The studies surrounding how his group is affected were not concrete enough for me to be “good” with him in a class of 20 or more other children who generally are “germ carriers” once school begins anyone – any parent knows this.  I consulted people whom I deemed, “homeschool MVPs” to find the best way to approach my new found situation and job title.  They all said the same thing: make it fun.  Approach it according to his learning style. Don’t throw everything at him at once because you don’t have to.  Our Sensei, who homeschooled all 5 of her children and one is in law school and one I know attended an Ivy League University said to me, “Don’t move on from one thing until you know he’s got it!” Have class at the beach, the backyard, the park – you have full control and your classroom can be anywhere you want it to be.  I’ve read homeschool blogs, books and visited any teaching website that I could.  I wanted to be prepared because I know that his success depends on me and how well I can get him to comprehend each subject.  I then turned my spare bedroom into our formal classroom setting for the days we need to get serious and the days we take our learning on the road – we may take you with us.  Our entire house, well the living room and playroom may be our art room and gym, but we are going to succeed no matter where we are in the house or out in the wild. 

If you follow me on Instagram; you saw some of the process of me converting my spare bedroom into our official classroom. That meant giving up my spare bedroom that we planned to turn into a closet/office so I could move my desk out of the playroom which was being converted into the family room. So, now when we don’t have class I can shut the door and get some work done. The background work and putting work together was an arduous task. It’s not like I had a particular curriculum in mind, but wanted to pull from many. I had to find everything I was comfortable with teaching and what I knew he would consume without fail. Did I want to make it easy for him? Absolutely not. Did I want something challenging yet entertaining? That was my goal. Curriculum isn’t created to be entertaining but to be informative, but when homeschooling your child you want to create that ‘enchantment” as Julie Bogart explains in her book: “The Brave Learner.” Our curriculum will be one full of surprises, mystery, risk and adventure! He may find that his mom may come dressed as one of the characters in the books we read (one he really likes) and teach every subject using that book.

Again I say, the choice to homeschool was mine to make and I am grateful that I was in a position that I was able to make it.  We have two mottos that I chose and we will say them daily.  He will know these statements as well as he knows math, reading, spelling and other subjects because  I chose them for their importance.  The first is a statement from Albert Einstein, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”  The other one is from an unknown source and it is simple and meaningful: You’re AMAZING just the way YOU ARE!”  So be brave, be counted and be AMAZING just the way you are.  If you find yourself like me, having to decide  whether you have the capacity to homeschool your child…you do.  Do your homework, research, talk to as many people as you can and believe in yourself above all else.  I also urge you to remember that even well made plans fall apart, but be patient because in homeschool, winging it is what makes it fun from what I hear.

If you have any homeschool experience you would like to share, please do so. It is more than welcome. Follow me on Instagram @wife_woman_mother_ for more behind the scenes prep.

How To Keep Moving While Quarantined

For some of us it is week 2 or maybe 3 of quarantine …who knows at this point right?  What we do know is that we are all getting a little stir crazy and anxiety is setting in because infections are going up, deaths are going up and restrictions are becoming tighter.  If your child’s school hasn’t closed for the remainder of the year, you may have received notice today or some point this week extending the homeschooling protocol. My child’s teacher didn’t say anything about an extension, but she did set up a virtual classroom for my son’s kindergarten class after a week; last week they were officially on Spring Break.

So, how can you ease the quarantine blues?  So many businesses where you would normally go to relieve the stress and tension are closed such as gyms and spas – so my suggestion would be to bring it to where you are.  Of course it’s hard to do when everyone is in the house and you are never alone, but find the time…even if it requires an early night and an early rise to treat yourself to meditation and spa time or a good old sweat session before everyone wakes up. 

Although gyms are closed, there are several outlets offering free trial periods during this time of quarantine.  Not only is it good for the mind and spirit, but it is also good for the body and the immune system as well. Exercise improves your overall health and helps the body boost the immune system.  Physical activity can help to flush bacteria out of the lung and airways which may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu or other illness.

What can you do to move your body? First off, go outside and soak up some good God – given vitamin D! Walking, bike riding or just getting some fresh air can change the way you feel.  Even introverts like myself feel the walls closing in from time to time and need to feel the sun on my skin and see the natural landscapes. I’m upset right now because my yard guy hasn’t come and my grass needs to be cut something awful.  The way my allergies are set up at the moment…I just can’t do it and I really want to sit in my backyard and read.

Next, if someone calls you, don’t sit for the call unless you have to work at the computer.  Get up and move for the duration of the phone call. I know a lot of people don’t actually talk on the phone anymore, but with the working from home and families having to be in contact from afar I think there is less texting and more talking.  So while you’re talking get up and move.

The kids are home, take time throughout the day and drop the electronics and JUST DANCE!  Don’t yell at the kids, yell at ALEXA and tell her to GET THE PARTY STARTED! Dance until everyone is sweating and out of breath.  Switch it up. If you don’t have and Echo, turn on YouTube and find one of the million dance exercise videos you can jam to. You can move, sweat and have lots of fun while doing so.

If that doesn’t get you moving, the following Apps are offering free workouts from the comfort of your home:

  • Daily Burn – 60 day free trial. Normal cost $20/month
  • Tone it Up – 7 day free trial.
  • Beachbody – 14 free trial.
  • 7 minute workout – in app purchases
  • FitOn
  • Peloton App – 90 day free trial.  Aside from running and cycling you can find strength and yoga workouts which would normally cost $13/month.
  • Adidas Training by Runtastic (non premium membership)
  • Yoga for beginners. (Completely free)
  • Yoga Down Dog. (Free while COVID-19 is keeping people home per website.)
  • Obe Fitness (they normally have at least a 7 day trial available and fun workouts.  They even shout you out when you join a class!)
  • YouTube – there is an exercise video for everyone on there…happy hunting!

These are just some of the offerings to get your blood pumping and get your body releasing endorphins to make you feel good, happy and forget the world outside your window at least for 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes or however long you decide to move your body.  Double check all offerings for the fine print to make sure you’re not charged if you wish not to keep them. We are all in this together all over the world. I hope this can help ease some of the tension and anxiety we may be feeling at this time.  

If you know of any other sites, apps or ideas, please leave a comment!💋💋

Don’t Stress The Situation

Another week, another round of closures, another round of quarantines.  In my lifetime, I never thought I would see the day that entire cities were coming to a complete shutdown because of a virus – it’s something out of a movie.  At this point, you can’t even see a movie unless you are watching from home. In my city, all children under the age of 18 are under a 24 hour curfew unless they are with a parent to keep them from grouping with their friends and possibly contracting or spreading the novel COVID-19.

This is a stressful time.  People are either away from their jobs because their jobs are shut down and they don’t know how they are going to pay their bills.  They are working from home, with their children who are home from school and still may be responsible for a school schedule. So, both parents and kids are working remotely which can create friction because the workload is that much heavier.  So what do we do in these unprecedented times and how do we stay the course?

First of all, none of this is your fault.  It is not your child’s fault, the school district’s fault or your job’s fault.  They are only doing what is best for you – their employee and your child – the student.  All this is being done in an effort to keep everyone safe, healthy, alive and to keep the virus from going further than it needs to go.  While it may be a slight upper respiratory infection or feel like an extreme case of the flu to some, to others it could mean life or death.

The important thing to remember during this time is to keep your stress and anxiety in check.  Stress can lower your immune system and make you more susceptible to viruses and other illnesses.  Stress hormones affect your respiratory and cardiovascular system, which are both taxed if you contract COVID-19 or the Coronavirus.  During a stressful response, you will begin to breathe faster in an attempt to distribute more oxygen rich blood to your body. Doing this will raise your blood pressure and if you are under stress for too long, your heart is working harder than it should be as well.  There are also the mental components of stress: depression, anxiety, intermittent explosive disorders and the inability to deal with people socially. I’m here to tell you, you can get through this without alienating your family, friends, and others during this difficult time.  

I know that some of us can’t leave our homes, but if you have to take a trip to your garage or your backyard to get some peace – do it.  We’re shut up with our thoughts and families and maybe the kids have had enough and they are fighting endlessly. Put in your earbuds and block it all out.  Make you a playlist of some of your favorite tunes that inspire, encourage or just make you feel good and tune out. Pick up a good book and allow the words to transport you to a different world.  When do you have time to read? When do you have time for much of anything? The world is on pause at the moment, so now is the time for you to take advantage and do some things you may have wanted to do.

  • Write that book you’ve been wanting to write.
  • Find workouts on YouTube…you don’t need a gym.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Clean out that closet.
  • Try that new recipe. (I’m baking bread for the first time).
  • Declutter all the unnecessary things in your home.
  • Read that stack of books that has been collecting dust.
  • Start that business plan so when the world comes off pause, you can start your business.
  • Start a podcast, people need to be entertained during these times.
  • Listen to the rain on a rainy day.
  • Do something that makes you happy!

You can make it through this quarantine with minimal stress and even doing things you like if you just try to avoid the negatives in the situation. Do your part, stay away from crowds, if you’re sick stay home, be patient with your children and spouses and take the time to meditate and/or pray. We all need a reset, this is our reset and I am confident we will be better for it. NO STRESS!💋💋

How do you plan to stay stress free during this time? Please share.

Things You Should Be Disinfecting Regularly

If you are anything like me, you spend most of your day busy and on the go, What you may not realize is that the things we touch the most and come in contact with the most contain more bacteria and germs you could ever imagine. The number one and number two things you have in your hands most are your cell phone and keys. We take them into the bathroom, drop them on the floor, drop them on the ground, and set them on countertops in stores and random places. So I’ll ask, when was the last time you sanitized either of these items…honestly?? I can honestly say that I normally do not sanitize my phone unless I’ve been sick or if I drop it, so not on a regular basis. Guess what, your phone can be 10x dirtier than a toilet seat! E. Coli can live on your phone because of the heat it emits. Therefore, it is important to wash your hands and sanitize your phone.

Next up, the family remote. Everyone touches it – even the little people and who knows what they do with their hands when we aren’t looking. If the remote is not in germ infested hands, it can be on the floor or stuck between the sofa cushions where it is dark; breeding mold and bacteria. Don’t be afraid to take an antibacterial wipe and even some spray Lysol to it a couple of times a week. The same goes for the home computer keyboard. Canned air to clear out any debris and alcohol or antibacterial wipes to sanitize the surface.

Money – nasty, Nasty, NASTY! You don’t know where the money has been and what the money has been used for. Researchers have found that most bills are covered in upwards of 3000 types of bacteria! I worked in grocery store as my first job 20+ years ago and that is when I realized just how filthy and abhorrent money can be. I’ve seen people take money from places I don’t even want to mention. I started wearing gloves to work. I have an issue touching money to this very day unless it is new bills.

Dish sponges are breeding grounds for bacteria. I use sponges in my kitchen, but I change it out every week and a half or so; depending on the usage. Once I’m done with the dishes, I spray it with a diluted concentrated germicidal bleach and hang it a basket within the sink to dry. Do not overuse a sponge, you can and may be putting your family at risk for preventable illnesses.

These are things that I disinfect on a regular basis because like the aforementioned items they are breeding grounds for germs.

– Toothbrush holder.

– Purse – Ladies, wipe your purses down regularly. Sitting your purses on counters and restaurant tables picks up countless amounts of germs that we bring into our homes.

– Door handles. (Home and Car)

– Office equipment. (Especially if you work in a multi-person office.)

– Sinks. I clean out my sinks daily with antibacterial cleaners, both kitchen and bath.

– Handles on microwave, stove and refrigerator.

Germs and bacteria do not discriminate. They will hitch a ride on any surface and invade your home. It is important to know what surfaces are more susceptible to bacteria and how to properly disinfect and how often to do so,

**Leave your feedback on how you disinfect your surfaces, how often and what products you may use to do so.**

Self Care Sunday…It’s Okay To Cry!

Self care is a necessity after an entire week of life. It is the little things that you do for yourself that help you make it through the week with your sanity intact. Whether you took the time to listen to your favorite music while cooking, read a book, took a day trip or decided to just stay in bed…that is okay. Whatever your method for caring for yourself; it is perfectly fine as long as it works for you and doesn’t physically harm someone else. Bottled up frustration and emotions can lead to you lashing out at the people you love the most who may have nothing to do with the way you are feeling. There are times we bottle things up until we reach the “breaking point.” That’s not a good thing – in case you didn’t know. While browsing social media yesterday I came across a post that said “Places I’ve Cried.” Sometimes a good cleansing cry can get you past that anguish of whatever is weighing heavily on you. It can be like a good cleansing rain that washes away the pollen in the spring.

The post got me to thinking. Where have I cried? Does crying really make you feel better? Is it actually a form of self – care? To answer: Plenty of places, yes it does and yes it is. I am so guilty of holding things in when I should let them out and let them go, so yes I have cried I’ve cried on multiple occasions. I looked at the list the individual posted showing the places they had cried I decided to write my own list.

Where Have I Cried…

– In the shower.

– In the car.

– Doing the dishes.

– Watching a movie.

– Watching a commercial about childhood cancer.

– Sitting on my patio drinking wine.

– In the delivery room.

– Breastfeeding.

Bottom line, it is okay to cry. In fact, it has been proven to be healthy. It is detoxifying, it relieves pain, helps with your mood, helps you sleep better, fights bacteria, it is a stress reliever and improves vision. While crying may not be your form of self-care, and while therapeutic it is not my go to either. Find something that makes you happy, eases your anxiety and settles your fears; but know that there is nothing wrong with shedding a few tears.

“We need never be ashamed of our tears.” – Charles Dickens

How do you practice self – care?

How To Stay Healthy While Traveling

I know when you go on vacation the last thing on your mind is taking extra precautions to not get sick or to not get some sort of “exotic” disease. Like now, everyone has a fear of the Coronavirus, COVID-19. Everyone is headed towards Spring Break and have plans and may be making plans to go away. So, now more than ever it is important to know how to keep yourself healthy while you’re traveling domestically and abroad. Recently, I have had friends cancel trips, refuse to cancel trips and some that are just unsure of what to do. As I type this, there is a cruise ship with about 3500 people aboard circling off the coast of California because 21 people aboard have tested positive for the Coronavirus. I remember my first cruise, it was 7 day of sun and fun. About 3 days in, I started to experience a sore throat and fatigue. I went to the store onboard, purchased some Airborne and started downing bottled water like I was in the Sahara. Things turned around and I made sure I kept my hand sanitizer on me as well.

So, how do you stay healthy in situations concerning travel? In cases such as viruses, it is a difficult course to traverse. A cruise ship is basically a small floating city with people in close quarters. The longer the duration of the cruise, the greater the chance of becoming ill from a contagious respiratory illness. However, if you are traveling by car, plane or train you are better equipped to care for yourself, your surroundings and a greater chance of staying healthy.

Before you go, there are some prophylactic measures you can take to remain as healthy as possible. I recommend doing as much as possible to boost your immune system before you go. If you know weeks in advance of travel, start then. Increase your sleep, lessen your stress and drink lots of water. If you have a weakened immune system or immunocompromised, stay away from individuals who are sick or exhibiting signs of illness. If you drink, even socially – limit or stop drinking before you go. My #1 rule is to wash your hands constantly. We touch so many things that are breeding grounds for bacteria and germs and we can never wash our hands enough. I repeat, WASH YOUR HANDS!

I know I said to get sufficient rest already, but resting is doubly important if you’re traversing time zones. Travel puts a strain on your body and sleep/rest is the great equalizer. We often don’t realize how tired we are from traveling until we get back home and think, “I need a vacation, from vacation.” Don’t forget to take your vitamins and boost up with Emergen-C…if that’s your thing. I keep Emergen-C in my first aid travel kit. (Which everyone should have one). You may want to know my personal touches I add, so here we go:

– I keep wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and antibacterial wipes at the ready. I always pack extra, extra-because everything is so full of germs and the most commonly touched surfaces are the least cleaned ones. When you do not have access to regular soap and water, these will save you from the lurking germs.

– If you are staying at a hotel, vacation rental, or Air BnB…bring a cleaning kit. Yes, I travel with a cleaning kit or I stop and purchase one when I get to my destination. It will more than likely contain: Clorox wipes, liquid Lysol and Lysol wipes, as well as Lysol spray and antibacterial hand soap. Some of these items can even be used to clean your area if you are using public modes of transportation. I am a firm believer that it isn’t clean until I clean it and the older I get the more I believe it.

To conclude…I’ll say what I’ve said when something new and nasty has come out of the “permafrost” so to speak, use common sense and discretion. You know what is best for you and your family, but if you decide to take the trip take the necessary precautions for you and your family to have a fun trip devoid of paranoia!

If you have any additional tips or travel stories, please share and leave a comment.

Coronavirus – COVID – 19

Let me begin by saying this…I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL! I am a mother who wants to do the best thing for her family and I also do not want to panic. While there are some out there “doomsday prepping,” I am simply doing what I normally do with my family and children, just on a slightly amplified level. We are washing our hands on a more frequent basis, handles and switches are being sanitized with Lysol more than normal and I am making sure that the little one is keeping his hands out of his face and mouth! I constantly sanitize frequently touched items and surfaces, i.e: remotes, refrigerator handles, drawer handles…things we don’t think about sanitizing. I would even suggest sanitizing your car surfaces as well because a lot of people don’t think about infrequent we do so. We allow mechanics and repair people into our automobiles with their dirty, grimy hands and honestly tell me, do you sanitize your car when you get it back? l’d simply say, use discretion, avoid big crowds if for some reason you are immunocompromised and if you are sick – stay home. The CDC released a leaflet that is filled with pertinent information about how to keep you and your family safe. Stay safe, keep your family healthy and don’t panic but be prepared.

Additional Information can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/COVID19

Women’s History Month Playlist Part 1

March is Women’s History Month and I had to take the time to make a playlist specifically for this month. Music is and has always been my sane place, my refuge, my place of solace. I can always find some genre to fit my mood…if I choose to wallow in it or if I want to uplift it. I may want a do right man, I may want to bust the windows out of his car or I may just want to express myself! Women have made their mark in music for decades and history has and will continue to be made by women in the music industry. Whether it was Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Dolly Pardon, Adele, Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, Lizzo or Billie Eilish…women will continue to be a force in the music industry! I made an initial playlist of 40 of my favorite songs which span 2 hours and 46 minutes. The list is as follows:

1. Run the World – Beyoncé

2. I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Whitney Houston

3. Justify My Love – Madonna

4. Respect – Aretha Franklin

5. Truth Hurts – Lizzo

6. Bad Blood – Taylor Swift

7. Send My Love (To Your New Lover) – Adele

8. No More Drama – Mary J. Blige

9. Let Me Blow Your Mind – Eve feat. Gwen Stefani

10. The Glamorous Life – Shelia E.

11. I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross

12. Rhythm Nation – Janet Jackson

13. bad guy – Billie Eilish

14. Do Right Woman, Do Right Man – Aretha Franklin

15. Express Yourself – Madonna

16. Queen of the Night – Whitney Houston

17. Dangerous Woman – Ariana Grande

18. She Works Hard For the Money – Donna Summer

19. Lady Marmalade – Labelle

20. Sorry Not Sorry – Demi Lovato

21. Good Girl – Carrie Underwood

22. Sound Proof Room – Elle Varner

23. Cleva – Erykah Badu

24. You’re So Vain – Carly Simon

25. Blank Space – Taylor Swift

26. Jerome – Lizzo

27. Drew Barrymore – SZA

28. Superwoman – Vivian Green

29. Mascara – Jazmine Sullivan

30. Belong to You – Sabrina Claudio

31. I Like That – Janelle Monae

32. No Ordinary Love – Sade

33. Till It Happens To You – Corinne Bailey Rae

34. Don’t Touch My Hair – Solange

35. Two Black Cadillacs – Carrie Underwood

36. All I Ask – Adele

37. You Need To Calm Down – Taylor Swift

38. you should see me in a crown – Billie Eilish

39. Dear Future Husband – Meghan Trainor

40. It All Belongs To Me – Brandy and Monica

Disclaimer: This playlist has not been edited for content and does contain explicit and suggestive lyrics. These are just some of my favorite songs and I plan to make an additional list to celebrate more women in music during Women’s History Month. You can click the link below to reach my playlist or feel free to make your own empowering playlist to celebrate women in music history and those who are making history! 💋💋

https://music.amazon.com/user-playlists/47cc3d49d6ed4ecbb3c4909c74f5f838sune?ref=dm_sh_FPsS5G2BOORcTBqNO3DYHKEmw

Financial Fast – Week 2 Wrap-Up

Week 2 of the Financial Fast has come to an end. We have hopefully successfully completed the week without blowing any unnecessary funds and saving a few dollars to boot. The husband actually had an entire week off this month without having to work any overtime so we anticipated getting some things done around the house…that did not require us spending any money. I am happy to report we only purchased a $5 pizza on Thursday night because I began to get sick. Let me rewind just a bit, my husband came down with a cold and sinus issues around Tuesday – so we began medicating him. It progressively got worse, but there was no fever involved so no need to see a doctor. I’m a mom – I’m basically a doctor right? We played trial and error with what was in the medicine cabinet until we found the best thing for his symptoms. By Thursday it was time to take our son for his annual doctor’s appointment. We had people working at our home all day cleaning the brick, patio and roof using a solution that included bleach. I felt icky and deemed it as a result of inhaling too much of the bleach solution because I felt like I’d been in a highly chlorinated pool a little too long. An hour in the doctors office around little people and their germs I felt even worse. I imagine whatever my husband had, the bleach solution and the germ infested halls of the pediatricians office had overcome me. No shade to my pediatrician’s office, but regardless of having a well side and a sick side – when you meet in the middle and go into some of the same exam rooms; you are bound to get a germ or two or twenty! Today is Monday and I am just getting my wits about me.

Back to financial matters. The work I mentioned earlier being done at the house had already been previously budgeted and did not come from the currents month budget, we were just finally able to have it done. Trees are beautiful and they are necessary for clean air, but they weep and leave sap and residue on your home when the branches cover. Months ago we had our trees cut back and needed to have our roof and house cleaned…it looks AMAZING! It rained today and reactivated the solution so it started cleaning again. While the financial fast has been kind of hard, it becomes easier as the weeks go by – I know it’s just week 2, but I hope it continues to get easier. I actually went to Starbucks this morning for a coffee…I needed a double shot of espresso, but as luck would have it both espresso machines went down. So, I left without a coffee, not a penny spent and a $5 gift card for my inconvenience. I CALL THAT A WIN! My hope is that if you are following the financial fast you are taking in the money saving tips I provide daily and have considered applying them. For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram the tips for this week were as follows, starting with day 8:

8. Utilize your library. If you are a big reader like myself, you may find that you spend a lot of money on books. Get a library card if you do not have one and check out books. If you are really trying to streamline you can use their internet services as well.

9. Have a friends night in. Invite friends over instead of going out. Have a theme night – game night – potluck. Pick your theme, break out the games and everyone brings a dish based on the theme or some sort of contribution. You’re saving money, having a good time and more than likely it ends up being a more enjoyable night.

10. DeClutter! Do a deep clean of your home. You’ll find you may have multiple items that are the same. I have done this myself and become so frustrated that I purchased something I already had. Knowing what’s in your home and having an organized system can prevent this and save money. What you find you don’t use or have multiples of, sell it and make back some of your money.

11. DIY. Stop spending money on small jobs you can do yourself. There are several DIY sites and YouTube that can help you do just about anything, believe me – I’ve done it.

12. Buy in Bulk. Buying in bulk when possible and worth it is advised. Things like non-perishables, laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, soap and toothpaste are things you know will be used on a daily basis. Bulk buys of these items is worth it because it removes it from your monthly and sometimes bi-monthly lists.

13. Buy a deep freezer. A deep freezer will allow you to stock on meats and freezable foods. It will also allow you to prepare meals ahead of time, freeze them and take them out to defrost and warm for a quick and delicious meal. Google best easy and delicious freezer meals. This method got me through the first couple of weeks post c-section with my second child.

14. Buy a crockpot! Just about anything can be cooked in a crockpot. There were many days when I worked outside of the home I would put all my ingredients in the crockpot and go to work. We would come home to a fully cooked meal that maybe required vegetables or a salad. Again, Google crockpot meals and thank me later.

All of these tips provided can and will save you money. Some require an initial investment, but if you use the tools correctly your money will be made back in spades. They can eliminate unnecessary spending, eating out frequently and saving on your grocery bill. Here’s to another successful week of smart spending and even smarting saving. My objective is to show my children that there is more to life than spending money, but being a good steward of what you have, spending wisely and leaving a legacy. If you don’t teach them now how to spend money wisely and not fail into debt, how can you trust them with an inheritance?

Youth Suicide – Know the Signs

Youth Suicide Prevention Week September 8-14

The month of September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, sitting at the #10 spot.  It is the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15-24. We have all been touched by suicide in some way or another. I personally know people who have attempted suicide and those who have been successful in doing so.  It is absolutely heartbreaking to know that more 15-24 year olds would rather take their own lives than to continue on living. Knowing the signs of an individual in crisis can make all the difference in the world. This week is Youth Suicide Prevention Week – September 8-14; and as a parent of two young children I have to be concerned.  I know that the week has passed, but as the parent of a high school student I wanted to see if her school would acknowledge the past week as being Youth Suicide Prevention Week as it would impact the demographics in their school…radio silence. I received no emails or communications from the school acknowledging that they were even aware of the fact.  My daughter tells me pretty much everything that goes on and she didn’t tell me anything as well. Any parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend of the family or loved one must be concerned because the statistics for youth suicide are ALARMING! Youth suicide is when a young person, generally categorized as someone below the age of 21, deliberately ends their own life.  The rate of youth suicide in the United States has risen to a 20 year high and it is the second leading cause of death among youth which I previously mentioned. The approximate number of high school students that report attempting suicide is 1 out of 15…let that sink in. So for every 15 students you ask, at least 1 will say that they have attempted suicide, and that is just based on those that reported.  My daughter attends a small private high school with around 390 students, statistically 26 students have attempted suicide. That may not seem like a lot, but if you’re a human being with feelings and emotions – 1 is a lot. What is happening in our communities, our homes, our schools and in our day to day interactions that is causing such troubling numbers? First of all, children and young adults are experiencing hormonal changes earlier and earlier which affects body image, brain chemistry and their overall way of how they see themselves.  When you add in all the additional stressors such as friendships, problems in school, familial changes like a divorce or a move; the scales can dramatically tip. We also find children and young adults have easier access to guns, prescription medications and other tools that would aid in ending their lives. I stopped watching the news for over a month because I heard a report that an 9 year old committed suicide. A 9 YEAR OLD! What could possibly be going on? She was being relentlessly bullied at school and nothing was being done about it. She felt her only resolve was to take her life!  Someone has to be the voice of these children and advocate for them and it is up to all of us to do our part.

Suicide is something that very rarely happens without warning.  The signs are there, you just have to know what to look for. In today’s reality it is rare that young children and young adults do not have a presence on social media.  When I first allowed my daughter to get a social media account, I had to follow her and I still follow her. I checked her electronics without warning so as to not allow any time for anything to be deleted.  Some may think that there is an “invasion of privacy” or a violation of privacy here; but my child, my house, my rules. If someone is harassing my child on social media I want to know. She knows that she can tell me anything, but even when you know that you can tell your parents anything you don’t always do it.  That is the case with the majority of all children and young adults. They find themselves in situations where they feel or may be told that situation is their fault. This may leave them feeling a myriad of emotions: hopeless, helpless, depressed and desperate. When these feelings arise you will begin to notice a change in a person’s behavior – especially if they are pretty predictable or follow a certain routine.  For instance, if an individual is usually active in social media and all of sudden there is radio silence; this can be a red flag. Yes, people take breaks from social media, but what child, teen or young adult do you know that doesn’t document most of their lives across Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat? My daughter tells me that Facebook is for old people so I guess I won’t include that platform…I don’t even have a Facebook account and I’m almost 40.  Suicide is most often linked to some form of mental illness like depression, but sudden and ongoing traumatic events can also trigger an individuals desire to end their life. It is important that we listen, be present and ask our friends and children how they are doing, let them know we are there for them and we are a listening ear when they need one. If everyone of us said one kind thing to someone everyday it could mean the difference in someone’s life who’s having a tough time and we may not know about it. So I encourage you to sincerely inquire:

  • How was your day?
  • Is there something special going on in your life?
  • Is everything going well at school? At home? At work?
  • Is there something you feel you need to talk about?

It may sound cliche, but there is nothing cliche about a person’s well-being or the possibility they may commit suicide.  My daughter talks about a teacher that asks them what some would call “probing questions.” So I asked her what she meant when she said that her teacher asks them all sorts of questions?  She said that she will ask someone who looks tired – “Is everything ok?” “Are you getting enough rest?” As well as general questions about school and home. Once she told me in depth about the questions the teacher was asking, I explained to her that the teacher is checking on you guys.  It is her job as your teacher, as an educator to make sure her students are well mentally and physically. I told her not to label her as “nosy” but someone who is concerned and wants to make sure that one of your classmates has not intention to harm themselves or others. I wanted to carefully write this piece because it is important and I have a child that falls within these demographics.  She also has a heavy workload at school and responsibilities outside of school and home with extracurricular activities that can cause her to feel overwhelmed. We had a conversation recently where she told me about how one of her senior classmates had a total meltdown because she felt overwhelmed by her course load and the fact that she had to meet deadlines for college applications and even missed some.  This young lady was in tears in class saying how much work she had to do, how much extra stuff outside of school, college entrance exams, and that she was never going to get into a good college and she was going to end up homeless and on the street. I told my daughter that she was exaggerating what her classmate said and she told me that those were her exact words. My advice to her was to talk to her in their next class.  Let her know that everything would be fine and if she needed additional help, the counselors are there for that and to be a listening ear if she needed one. They have a very inclusive school and communication is excellent. They can email and make appointments to see their teachers and their counselors without the need of parents. Their school is teaching them how to be independent and prepping them for what they will face in college.  We are cc’d on most communications as parents, but they work cohesively with the teachers and staff.  

What are some of the possible warning signs that a teen may be contemplating suicide?  Some you may notice and some you may not because you will not be around 24 hours a day.  However, if you notice some of the following behaviors; step in and try to help.

  • Changes in sleeping and eating habits.
  • Loss of interest in normal activities (going out with friends, abandoning social media, any normal daily activities.
  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Acting out and running away.
  • Alcohol and drug use.
  • Neglecting their appearance.
  • Unnecessary risk taking.
  • Unhealthy obsession with death or dying.
  • Physical complaints such as headaches, stomachaches and extreme fatigue.
  • Loss of interest in school and work.
  • Feeling bored.
  • Hard time focusing.
  • Feeling like they want to die.

Now one of these behaviors by themselves may not necessarily mean that a person is suicidal, but a combination of many will definitely throw up red flags.  As a parent, it is important to pay attention to your children, their behaviors and how their moods swing. Of course a teen will have your normal mood swings, but anything extreme should be looked at thoroughly.  Knowing the warning signs, openly communicating with your teen and their friends gives you the chance to help before things become a life or death situation. How can I prevent my teen from attempting suicide?

  • Keep medicines and guns away from children and teens.
  • Get them help for mental and substance abuse problems. There is no harm in helping your child.  Some parents are afraid of the stigma that follows inpatient and outpatient care for mental and substance abuse.  My advice to you is, get over it. It’s not about you but about your child!
  • Be a supportive parent.  Listen and try not to be judgemental and critical…stay connected.
  • Do your homework and get informed about teen suicide.  There are mental health facilities in just about every city nationwide that have support groups.  If not, browse the internet and even visit your local library for literature.
  • Know the signs of depression: sadness, loneliness, declining school performance, changes in sleep pattern, weight and appetite  changes, nervousness, agitation or being grouchy.

If you notice a change in your child’s behavior, do not wait to see if things will improve because things can change in an instant. A parent is the most important person in their child’s life and should be constant as well. Your presence may make the difference in whether they get help for whatever issues they may be experiencing. If your child expresses their desire to end their lives, take it seriously and get them help.

If you are someone you know is suicidal, call 911 if there is an immediate threat, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or the CrisisText Line (text. “HOME” to 741741).