Posted in Family, Lifestyle, Morning Musings

Step-Mom

In my previous post, I talked about a shirt that my oldest daughter wore and my issues with said shirt. I also mentioned that I didn’t buy her that shirt. Why?  Because her mother brought it for her.

See my eldest daughter, Kayla, is not my biological daughter.  She is my husbands’ daughter.  I have known this little girl since she was one and I consider our bond to be a special one.  And I have only on rare occasion ever referred to her as my step-daughter to other people.

So the other day when she snuggled up to me and called me her, “step-mom” I was a bit offended. I guess by now you all are saying what’s the big deal? You guys are a blended family that’s normal.

However, I did not willingly walk into step-motherhood. My husband and I just recently celebrated our 11th anniversary. Our eldest child is 7, followed by Kayla who is 4, my youngest son who is also 4, and my youngest daughter who just turned 1. I could spell it out for you, but I’ll let you put two and two together.

When I decided that I wanted Kayla to be a part of my life. I made a decision that she and her siblings would never refer to each other as step/half siblings. They are brothers and sisters. Period. This was something that I also made her mother aware of at the time.

I knew that she would never be allowed to call me Mom. So I came up with a nickname for myself hence I became MoMo to her. Even though sometimes she does slip up an call me mom, I just gently redirect her.

And that’s what I did the day she referred to me as her step-mom. I just gently reminded her that I was her MoMo and nothing else. I know for her mom it makes it easier to describe who I am without having to explain anything to people.

I am sure it’s all well-intentioned, but I don’t want to be Kayla’s stepmom. I just want to be her MoMo. Stepmom just seems like a bad word to me on top of being something that I never wanted to be. It kind of makes me feel slighted, even though I know that’s not the intent.

I feel the same way when people infer that we’re a blended family. But that is a story for another day.

It’s just a way to designate me as the woman that is not her mom, but the woman that takes care of her when she is with us. I don’t know? Maybe some of you are step-parents and get where I’m coming from or maybe you’re just like girl get over it. (lol)

It is just a name after all. But if you can or can’t relate please leave a comment or share your own story. I’d love to hear from other step parents.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Family, Morning Musings

What’s Wrong With Being a Princess?

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Photo by Civalias Kune on Unsplash

Is it just me or does the world have something against princesses? My eldest daughter wore a shirt the other day that said” Future Princess Hero”.  At first, the shirt didn’t bother me, but as I kept looking at it I started to get irritated.

Why in the world was the princess marked out? I know not all girls dream of being fairytale princesses in fancy dresses and being swept away by their Prince Charming.

I was one of those girls. Pink?..No thank you…Frilly dresses?…No thank you…Makeup? No way! (Sorry, girls grandma or youtube is going to have to teach you how to put on makeup.)

Being swept away by Prince Charming…Possibly.

I get the whole feminist thing about Princesses being pictured as damsels in distress, unable to do anything to escape their captors. Yes, women are not helpless….blah..blah…I get it.

There is actually a feminist ranking of Disney princesses. Seriously?! I could go on about this, but I won’t. At least not today.

But is there something so wrong with being a princess?

Princesses can be smart, brave, loyal, fierce, hardworking, educated and talented. They can also be feminine, sweet, charming, and shy.

One of the articles bashes Snow White because all she did was sing and clean. She sounds like a stay at home mom to me. Taking care of 7 dwarves and their mess.  And how was she supposed to save her self when she was in a coma?

Wonder Woman is a princess and a warrior. She can hold her own with Superman and all of the other macho male superheroes. But she also knows how to be soft and vulnerable with those close to her.

So why did they choose to scratch out the word Princess to replace it with the word hero?  Society puts some much pressure on young girls as it is. Why can’t they be a Princess and a hero?

Maybe, I was just in my feelings that day. Still I think that shirt might disappear. I didn’t buy it anyway.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Family, Lifestyle

6 Pieces of Advice for Stay At Home Moms

If you had asked me what I wanted to be when I was 7 it definitely wouldn’t have been a stay at home mom. (I would have said a veterinarian, which I didn’t become either.)

However, I also wouldn’t have said that I wanted to be a high school teacher( which I did for 10 years).

Both of my parent’s worked when I was growing up. So when I decided to become a SAHM my parents weren’t exactly on board with the idea.

I think my mother was a little more accepting of the idea than my father was. Even now he frequently asks me what I’m going to do and if I’ve considered doing Uber or Amazon Flex.

I’m not really sure why he’s not totally on board. My grandmother was a SAHM so maybe it’s more of a personal reason for him.

My husband was completely on board with the idea and that was really all that mattered to me.

At the time I didn’t really know any other SAHMs. The few I did know I wasn’t really close with so contacting them for advice was pretty much out of the question. After about four months of trial and error, I have learned many things.

However, I have 6 important pieces of advice that I think all SAHM’s whether they are newbies or pros should know.

1. Schedules Are Your Friend

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One of the biggest things that helped me be more productive while I’m at home is developing a schedule or routine that I follow every day.

At first, I didn’t have a schedule because I thought I could manage my time well without it. (FYI: I put the PRO in Procrastinator.)

Instead, my husband would come home daily to a very frustrated wife. It seemed like I never had enough time to do anything or get anything done in the house during the day. Why? Because I wasn’t using my time wisely.

Thus a schedule was born! It took me a few tries to get it right, but once I did I became less frustrated and managed to get more thing accomplished during the day.

I still haven’t figured out how to work blogging into that schedule yet, but it’s a work in progress.

2. It’s Ok If Everything Doesn’t Get Done

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Even though I do my best to stick to the schedule I have created sometimes things just don’t work out the way I planned. Life happens.

The baby is fussy, my sister in law needs a ride to the doctor, or I lose the keys and waste 20 minutes looking for them (this happens a lot, I should probably find a solution to that).

And that pile of laundry I wanted to get folded goes undone, the elaborate dinner that I wanted to make doesn’t get cooked, that blog post I wanted to work on doesn’t get started.

It’s so frustrating when your well laid out plans don’t work out. I would look at my to-do list and just shake my head in frustration and defeat.

My husband had to remind me that it was ok if I didn’t get everything done and to remember to just take a deep breath.

Eventually, the laundry will get folded and that elaborate dinner I planned will get made, just not today.

And I had to accept the fact that it was okay to not get everything done. Just breathe and try again tomorrow.

3. Keep In Contact With Your Old Coworkers/Friends

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I am an introvert by nature so staying in contact with coworkers and friends can be a bit of challenge. I have managed to stay in contact with one of my former coworkers, which has been a blessing.

It gives me another adult to talk to besides my husband and it keeps me in the loop about what’s happening and changing in the educational field.

That way whenever I decided to go back, if I ever go back, I’ll at least have some idea of what I’ll be getting myself into.

They are also a good source of adult conversation. No need to talk about Doc McStuffins and Elmo with them.

4. Make SAH Friends

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Don’t become a shut-in with just you and your child(ren) existing in your own tiny bubble. Your old friends aren’t gonna want to hear about how cute Charlie was when he sat on the potty this morning.

It’s important to get out and make some mom friends. Many cities have free playgroups that parents can take their kids too. This is an excellent place to meet other SAHMs or SAHDs.

Then you can have that one friend that totally gets it when you talk about how your toddler shoved a bead up his nose and you were at the emergency room all night.

They are also a great source of parenting advice and provide support for those tough days when you just don’t or can’t muster up the strength to be Super Mom.

5. Make Time For Yourself

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As women, we tend to sacrifice our own health and well being for the sake of others. Being SAHM is no different.

You get so caught up in taking care of the kids, keeping the house clean, arranging playdates, etc. That you forget to take time for yourself.

It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate like going on a girls night out. Maybe splurging on a mani/pedi is your thing.  Personally, a few hours of quiet time works for me.

I like to crochet or just go to the local Barnes and Noble and read through a few books. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s something you enjoy.

6. Make Time For Your Spouse

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For most of us, the reason we stayed home was to take care of the kids. So our focus tends to be on making sure the kids have what they need and that they are taken care of. We tend not to focus on our spouses and they get pushed to the back burner.

I have been guilty of this issue and I have to keep reminding myself that my husband works 10 hr days and overtime on the weekends to keep a roof over our heads.

The least I can do is put the kids to bed early and just make some time for us to be together without the kids.

Try to call a sitter and schedule a date night once a month. Even simple things like making his lunch for work are simple ways to show your spouse that you care.

Being a stay at home parent is a hard job and as your children get older the challenges of parenting change with it.

Hopefully, these 6 tips will help make your life a little easier

Did any tip stick out to you as the most important? Or maybe you have another one to add to the list?

Share it with me in the comments section. I’d love to hear what you think.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Family, Lifestyle

10 Essential Foods I Keep Stocked in My Pantry

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As hurricane Florance makes it’s way to the East Coast I started taking notice of the various food items that I keep stocked in my pantry. While many of these foods are not essential to us surviving the coming storm. They are foods that are a regular part of my families diet. Thus making them essential for us.

Without further ado here are the 10 essential foods that I keep stocked in my pantry:

1.Cereal

I have 4 small children living in my house, so cereal is a no-brainer for us. It’s something simple that the kids can make on their own for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  It can be eaten with or without milk.

The best time to stock up on cereal is when they are having a good sale on your favorite brands or buying the store brand. Recently, at my local Krogers, they had a deal for 4 boxes of general mills cereal for $8 plus a free gallon of milk.

If you use grocery rebate apps like ibotta or checkout 51 you can even get money back on your purchases. You can also join rewards clubs, like kelloges.com, to get coupons for your favorite items.

2.Oatmeal

Oatmeal is another family favorite that’s cheap and inexpensive. Unlike cereal, oatmeal tends to leave me feeling fuller longer throughout the day. It’s also a great source of fiber. Oatmeal can also be used to make cookies, dog treats, and facial masks.

3.Pancake Mix

Pancake mix is another one of those versatile breakfast items that we tend to overlook. However, pancake mix can be used to make pancakes (duh…) and waffles. But did you also know that you can use pancake mix to make cookies, cakes, and scones. Check out this post on the 9 Things To Make With Pancake Mix.

4. Bread

I think bread is the most eaten food item in our house. My husband uses 3 slices of bread to make his PB & Jelly sandwiches! 3 slices!!!! I guess it would be more precisely called a PB, jelly & cheese sandwich (bread, PB, a slice of cheese, bread, jelly, bread). It sounds gross to me, but he loves it.

We buy our bread from Aldi’s for .75 cents. You can also purchase bread at the dollar store. Just make sure you check the expiration dates before you purchase them. I usually buy about 6 loaves at a time. I just freeze the rest until we need them.

Like everything else on my list bread can be used for other things besides making sandwiches check out these 10 uses for bread.

5.PB & Jelly

Peanut butter can actually be really expensive, we usually buy ours in bulk from Sams or BJs. Jelly, however, is a lot cheaper. If we didn’t have these items my husband would go out and buy food for lunch. Which if you haven’t read my series on The Smart Way to Transition to One Income, eating out can really add up.  So for us, the PB is a frugal expense.

6.Ramen

Ramen…if you’ve ever lived in a dorm you should be very familiar with Ramen. Ramen is the college students best friend. What else can you go to Walmart and buy for .20? Yea, your blood pressure might be a little high after eating it, but when you’re paycheck is still a few days away ramen will get you through.

Ramen noodle can also be used to make other kinds of soup. Throw in some carrots, broccoli, and chicken into a pot of chicken flavored ramen and you’ve got chicken soup! Or you could try these other 17 ways to use Ramen noodles.

7. Noodles (Lasagna,spaghetti, penne,etc)

I always try to keep spaghetti and lasagna noodles stocked in my pantry. You can make a variety of pasta dishes besides spaghetti and lasagna. I make a baked penne and cheese dish that my husband loves. It’s a lot like lasagna, but with a twist.

8. Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti sauce is another favorite item I like to keep in my pantry. I can usually get jars or cans of spaghetti sauce for as little as .88 when they are on sale. Besides using spaghetti sauce to make pasta you can also try to use them in these 10 dishes.

9. Rice

Rice is another one of the staple foods that can be used in times of plenty and times of want. It’s very filling and a little goes a long way. We pretty much eat plain rice with almost every meal. Every now and then we’ll jazz it up and make chicken fried rice, jambalaya, or beans and rice. Need a few more ideas on ways to cook rice check out this link.

10. Beans

Right now we have several different cans of beans in our pantry. The cheapest way to buy beans is to buy them dried and then cook them yourself. However, I have never had much success making beans that way. They always end up hard.

Beans are another versatile food can be used in any number of recipes. Beans are also an excellent substitute for meat. I’ve used beans in spaghetti as a substitute for ground beef. I’ve also used beans and rice to make burritos.

They’re also great for soups and my all time favorite cold weather food chili!

Well, that’s it. Those are the top 9 items that you can find in my pantry on any given day. What foods did you keep stocked in your pantry?

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Family, Finances

The Smart Way To Transition To One Income -Part 3

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Final Thoughts and Tips

Congratulations! We have finally made it to the last post in this series. I hope that you have found this series enlightening and useful. Previously, we discussed money management and specific types of budgeting techniques.

Knowing where your money is going and figuring out the best way to spend it are all important steps to smoothly transition to one income.

Hopefully, at this point you and your spouse have looked at your expenses and created a working budget around your existing income. Here are my final 5 tips on transitioning to one income.

1.Revamp Your Budget

In my previous post I suggested that you make a dual income budget to help manage your current finances. Now, it’s time to create a budget based on which ever spouse is going to be working. This is where the goals based budgeting method can come in handy. Using this method your expenses are tracked based on your financial goals.

In this case that goal is living on one income. If you have not set a date for when you will officially start living on one income now is the time to do that. Set a target date and keep that in mind when you are creating your budget. For instance, I knew I wasn’t returning to work once the school year ended in June. So our target date was July 1st.

2.Start Early

No matter what your target date is I strongly suggest that you begin living on one income ASAP! Once you have created your new budget begin putting it into action. It is much easier to make the switch if you have already been doing it.

My husband and I began living off of his income in April. Originally, I was responsible for paying the cost for childcare, mortgage, and car insurance. Gradually, we began paying all of those bills from his paycheck except for our childcare costs.

Even on a dual income our childcare bills were enormous. Both boys were in private school at the time and the baby was going to a sitter. So I had to continue to pay those bills from my check. However, when July came we were in a much better position financially and mentally.

(I will admit that this part takes a lot of discipline to stick to your budget. It’s tempting to overspend because technically your spouse is still making money. Just pretend like it’s not there.)

3. Pay Off Debt & Save Money

If you think your going to have trouble keeping your hands off of your spouse’s income, then put it to work. Use part of their income as savings and use the rest to pay off or pay down any lingering debts you have. The less you owe to the creditors the better off you will be.

4. Negotiate Your Bills

Ok, so you’ve created your budget and you’ve slashed the non-essentials, but it still looks like it’s going to be a struggle to make this one income life a reality it’s time to make some calls. If you have been a loyal customer to your internet, cable or cell phone provider you may be able to get a discount.

These companies don’t want to lose your business and are often willing to offer you promotional deals in order to keep you with them. Unfortunately, you’ll have to get on the phone and call them which can be a real pain. Or you can sign up for a service called Trim, that will do the negotiating for you.

5. Try Paying Your Bills Weekly

Most of us pay our bills in full on the due date. Which, works really well if you and your spouse get paid on alternating weeks,don’t have a lot of expenses or if you’re not living paycheck to paycheck.

Even with both of us working we were pretty much living that paycheck to paycheck life. Then I found a blog post by Jamie on The Simple Living Mommy about paying your bills weekly. It really changed how my husband and I pay our bills and has made living on one income a lot easier.

I can honestly say that following this plan and using these tips has made life living on one income a lot easier for us. When I was working I didn’t get paid in the summer and we often found ourselves trying to dig out of a financial hole by the time I got paid again in September. However, this year we haven’t missed any payments and we haven’t struggled one bit.

We have been truly fortunate and blessed to be able to make this dream a reality. I hope these tips will help further you on your way to being able to live on one income.

If you have any other tips or advice please feel free to leave a comment.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro