Announcing: {re}Treat Yourself 2012: a lifestyle redesign getaway for #workingmoms

It’s been years in the making (in my mind anyway)! After years of juggling a law career, a marriage, 3 kids, a household and a social media brand, it is painfully apparent to me just how lacking we are when it comes to life management resources and support for working moms.  And since I abide by the “Don’t just talk about it. BE about it!” mantra, I’ve made it my personal charge to provide just that.  I’m so, so thrilled to present:

It’s 1 part sanity-saving workshops; 1 part luxurious pampering; 1 part precious ‘me-time’ and all designed just for you.  Learn all about it and register HERE!  I hope to see you there. It’s gonna be gooooood.

 

Filed under super mama, working mom | 311 Comments »

New Blog Series- Join Me!

Have you ever thought about running a 5k or a  half-marathon?

The first time I decided to run one I had to Google exactly how many miles a half-marathon involved.  My initial reaction was to chuckle when I realized that it was two miles further than my eleven mile drive to work — just 13.1 miles.  Then I became doubtful.   Yikes- 13.1 miles?!! Seemed impossible.  I was excited and nervous.

Could I do it? Why do it? How would I do it?  I’d never run more than three or four miles at one time, ever, and that was back in 1999 when I was in college.  Yet last April, at 34  years old, I managed to run 13.1 miles.  I ran the More Half-Marathon and blogged about my journey as a More.com contributer and for the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign.  I used social media to make me accountable, meet other running moms/women, and learn from them.

So how did I answer those three questions and get it done?

Join me on Sundays at my personal blog, JusticeJonesie.com,  as I answer these questions and more.  We’ll talk about getting started running or running your next race.   And, if you are running a 5k or a half we can motivate each other and get it done!  (I know I still need that accountability and motivation!) Along the way, I’ll introduce you to some of my favorite social media runners, blogs, and sites that I use as a resource.

To read more about the series, click here.

See you there!

http://www.justicejonesie.com/

 

Filed under Fitness | 180 Comments »

Free or Cheap Summer Fun For Kids

If your kids are home with you during the summer you probably are always searching for something fun to do with the kids.  Finding inexpensive or free activities is not always easy.  If you aren’t careful, you can spend a lot of money each week just trying to keep them entertained.  I’ve compiled a list of my favorite free/cheap things I like to do with the kids to keep us busy during the hot summer days.

1) Play dates. I usually schedule at least one play date a week.  More can be stressful so I stick to one.  The playdate usually involves inviting one school friend over to play for the afternoon or to swim.  I find that adding even one friend to the mix creates a totally different dynamic between my three kids.  They seem to get along beautifully and the kids stay busy. Free!

2) Trip to the library. Browsing through books, playing on the library computers, and the kids corners can give your kids a couple hours of fun time (and some good reading time for you too!).  Your local library probably has story time play or arts and crafts so check their summer schedules.  You can also check with your local Books-a-Million to see if and when they host their weekly story time.  When we go to BAM, I always tell my kids that we are not buying a thing just so I don’t walk out of there $45.o0 worth of books later. Free!

3) Vacation Bible School. This is my favorite of the bunch.  VBSs are not just great experiences for the kids but also cheap! The cost will run you about $5.00-$20.00 per child for the entire week for your typical 9am-12pm program.  I usually only do one a summer but I think this summer we’ll do two.

4) Lemonade stand. You probably won’t do this every week but the kids will really enjoy it.  We make signs on poster board, make a trip to the grocery store to buy the lemons, then we set up shop at the corner of the street.  This usually takes a couple of hours and the kids have a blast.  We did one last week and my daughter made a $7.50! She was beyond ecstatic!! Costs about $5.00-$7.00 per stand for lemons, lemonade mix, and sign.

5) Visit Krispy Kreme. What’s better than a Glazed Hot-n-Ready Donut?  Getting a dozen for free and watching them being made!  We had a quiet day earlier this week and I remembered I had a coupon for free dozen donuts.  We loaded up the care and drove to our nearest Krispy Kreme.  I was not in a rush to get back home so we went in (instead of the drive through) and I was surprised to find that it was like a donut factory/museum! We saw donut making in the works, the kids each received bakers hats, and before I knew it, my kids each ate 3 donuts each (I was obviously in a good mood and not paying attention.

6) Visit a Farmers Market. The farmers market is a great place to buy fresh fruits and veggies, desserts, or enjoy the art of local artists.  You never know what you will find each week.  You can also eat a pretty inexpensive lunch at the market.

7) The gym! Most gyms offer a kids corner that offers a great indoor playground, especially on a rainy day.  If you don’t belong to a local gym, you can usually find great summer deals.  If you already belong to a gym, you can usually add your kids to your membership for about $5.00 a visit. Not a bad deal especially when you consider the time you’ll get to yourself! If you are like me, nothing better than breaking up the day with a stop to the gym!

8) Gardening. Planting seeds, watering your plants, taking care of them- what a great way to teach your kids how to care for something and stay involved outside.  You can also end the gardening with sprinkle time with the hose.

9) Cooking. My kids enjoy helping me cook. Whether its pancake, making pizza, or a grilled cheese sandwich, it’s a great way to get your kids off the couch and in the kitchen. And not surprisingly so, the kids usually find that the food tastes “soooo delicious” when they make it themselves.

10) Fishing. My favorite thing to do  with the kids when the weather is nice.  Once you make the initial investment of buying some poles and tackle, you won’t have to spend much more.  You can use corn, bread, or uncooked chicken for bait.  But if you really want to catch fish, you can purchase enough shrimp bait for a good couple of hours of fishing for about $3.00.

11) Movies. A trip to the movies for a family of our four or five can cost an arm and a leg these days.  Thankfully there are usually some great deals in the summer.  One of our local theaters offers $5.00 movies each Sunday and a free matinée  on an oldie but goodie movie each month.  Check your listings for details.

12) Museums. My kids never get tired of the museums but I’ll admit, I do get tired of going only because we don’t live too  close.  The trip is usually well worth it since museums offer great programs for the kids.  We went to a train exhibit not too long ago and both my boys absolutely loved it.

13) Bowling.  I just found out that one of the bowling alleys here offers a family summer pass for $25.00 for the entire summer.  What??!! Sign.Us.UP!  Even if you don’t find this great deal, you can usually get a deal on family bowling night where kids bowl free.

 

Filed under stay at home mom, summer | 54 Comments »

Reaching Goals – One Child at a Time

With three children that each have different personalities and interests, I knew the day would one day come when the husband and I would be juggling a soccer game here, gymnastics there, and karate over there – all at the same time and day. To avoid twisting myself into a pretzel, I signed up all three kids for karate.  They were all into it at first.  And I was definitely into the fact that they were able to go to the same class, at the same time, and be engaged in a sports activity. Perfect!  After a few months, though, my six-year-old daughter lost interest; she wanted to do dance or gymnastics, like the rest of her friends.  Then my five-year-old, who started bringing his own football to school at the age of three so that he could play football during outside recess, really wanted to play football, soccer, basketball, AND karate.

The time finally arrived when I had to honor their individual interests and personalities, and prepare myself to spend evenings and weekends shuffling my children to their respective activities so that they can become the athletic prodigies I knew they would all one day become (of course).  My goal for this spring was to find a program for each child that worked well for our family schedule.  So after careful planning, I found a soccer program for my youngest son that actually didn’t conflict with my oldest son’s flag football schedule.  In fact, football started a few weeks earlier than soccer which gave us an opportunity to adjust to the new schedule and routine.

Now, five weeks later, we are well into a solid routine.  Both boys are doing well in their respective sports.  My youngest son was soooooo incredibly happy to play soccer “on a real team” that he was beaming all weekend after his first game.  He also made two goals in his first game and five during his second game.  In fact, the coaches moved him to the other team so that they could even out the score! (Now if that’s not athletically gifted, I don’t know what is!)

As for my daughter’s gymnastics program? Well, that doesn’t start until next month.  Until then, we’ve started piano lessons, taught by none other than yours truly (*me*).  I was somehow able to shuffle around my schedule to keep all the kids busy throughout every season.

There is no denying that getting all three kids where they need to be is often a challenge; however my husband and I made it a priority to encourage our kids to live healthy, active lifestyles, so at the end of the day, we do what we have to in order to make it work perfectly for everyone – score!!

Justice Jonesie is an official ambassador of Let’s Play, a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to get kids and families active nationwide.  Although this is a sponsored post, all posts, thoughts, and opinions are  Justice Jonesie’s.  You can read the original post at www.letsplay.com.

 

Filed under balancing acts, Fitness, Let's Play | 21 Comments »

An Oldie But Goodie- Camp Torture

So school ends in less than two weeks.  Time to find summer camps.  Yay- NOT! I”m not so motivated considering the debacle that happened last summer when I signed up Oldest for one camp close to our house.  I decided to pull up that post just for good times sakes.  Reminds me how fun motherhood can be.  Oh the joys. *forces smile and rolls eyes.*

Thought I would re-post this Oldie but Goodie.  I can actually laugh about it now.  Nothing like re-living those moments we are all living for- torturing our precious children.

Enjoy!

————————

Remember my post yesterday about how I found this great exploration camp for Oldest? Well he hated camp. In fact, he hated it so much he had a huge outburst when I picked him yesterday afternoon.  As he walked to the car, I could tell by the look on his face that he had no plans on going back today. So I asked him what happened and he began telling me the series of events that he described was “a day of torture” that he couldn’t believe “[I] paid to put him through.” {His words, exactly.}

First, they made him play football “outside in the hot sun.” And, “[I] know just how much [he] hates sweating.”  He asked the counselor if he could sit out or sit inside and he said no. So he “was forced to play football.”  They also wouldn’t let him get water when he wanted it and was forced to wait for water breaks.

After football, more games,  arts & crafts, and lunch inside, they made all the kids, “even the 3rd graders” take a 30 minute rest. He said he spent the whole 3o minutes not believing he was forced to take a nap.

The last straw was when they made him *gasp* dance.  He told the camp counselor he wasn’t going to “participate in dancing” and she told him he had no choice.  He was forced to dance against his will to “Kids Bop, or something.”   Didn’t I know he hated to dance?

As I tried my best not to go into a long speech about how he was acting like a spoiled brat, I explained to Oldest that he needed to give the camp another chance and that so far, I hadn’t heard a single thing about the camp that made it sound like torture. Then I reminded him about the field trip to the movies planned for the next day and before I could even finish my sentence, next thing you know this boy has a huge outburst.  He couldn’t believe he was forced to go to Camp Torture, it was hot, it was boring, he hates dancing, etc. Right there in the back seat while sitting right between his 4 and 5 year old younger siblings.  We all stared at him in shock.  The outburst ended with Oldest declaring he was going to lock himself in his room all day if I forced him to go again.  I think he even kicked my car seat! 

Oh really????!!!!

I had to take a long, deep breath, because I was really about to go off the deep end. Here I was, listening to some story about having to play football, do arts, watch movies, ect. as if he was forced to do hard labor which I would like to point out, many kids in other countries are!   The only reason I even put him in camp was because he had been complaining about how bored he was at home for the last two months.  And let’s not forget all the fun stuff we did while he was at home because during this time, I was planning multiple activities including play dates, fishing outings, beach days, library days, s to do just to make sure they had a memorable summer.  Now this is how he reacts?   

Seriously, these kids want to see me institutionalized!

Filed under motherhood, reflection, summer | 13 Comments »

File Me Under Worst Mom Ever

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’m reminded how hard this job is.  The kids are out of school in about two weeks and as is the case every year, this is a busy time for us due to all the end of year activities. This year I have three different mother’s day events, three different end-of-year parties, two graduations (prek-4 and Kindergarten), a couple of field trips, etc. I’m over here twisting myself into a pretzel just to make it from one place to the next.  I have more than 10 school related events in the next 10 school days.  Two for some days.  And did I mention that I have work related stuff going on to?  As my semester closes, I have numerous things to do.  There’s final papers to be graded (I have 28 left and they are 20 pages each), many letters of recommendation letters to write for students, faculty meetings, etc. I’m going nuts over here!

Amidst all of this chaosthe fun activities, I totally missed my five year old’s Muffins with Mom event on Wednesday.  I didn’t just miss it and then stop dead in my tracks hours later, I totally missed it as in, didn’t-even-realize-it-until-my-sweet-little-boy-got-in-the-car-after-school-and-broke-down-in-tears-because-he-was-born-to-the-worst-mom-ever.   I think I stopped breathing when I realized my goof up.  And when he told me that he kept looking for me while the class was doing their performance for the moms (a cute song and dance that he had been practicing for all week), I felt worse.  I felt horrible, like the worst mom ever to be exact.  How could I miss it??

Where was I, you ask?  At home, just up the street from school, grading papers.  It was on my radar and I was looking forward to it.  I didn’t even realize it was Wednesday, and not just Wednesday, but Wednesday, May 4th.  Muffins with Moms day.  Still, no excuse  for not attending.  None.

As I apologized profusely I promised to go to school the next day to bring him a special lunch (happy meal, with a milkshake).  Then I realized I couldn’t because I had to travel to Orlando for the day, so then I promised to go on Friday, then was reminded by Oldest that Friday was his mother’s day event. I felt even worse when I looked at my calendar only to realize that my next available lunch opportunity wasn’t until the following Wednesday.  Monday I have a work related lunch. Tuesday, he has a field trip.  So that brings us to Wednesday. 

Sigh. I need a body double.  And an assistant.  And a sister wife.  Hubby saw how crushed I was an gave me a heart felt lecture at how I was trying my best, not to beat myself up about it, blah, blah. I could only think about was his sweet little face.  I was upset with myself. 

Baby Boy two weeks ago for his 5th birthday.

As we all talked about how exciting Wednesday would be, Baby boy was back to his usual, happy self.  Soon he was fighting with his siblings in the back seat. 

Lesson learned, remember to look at your calendar every night and  don’t be too hard on myself, especially when I’m trying my best.  We have to learn to forgive ourselves for our parenting mistakes, especially when we know we’re trying our best.  After all, motherhood is not an easy task!

Filed under mommy guilt, Mother's Day, motherhood | 10 Comments »

Extreme Couponing Challenge

A few weeks ago I got sucked into watching TLC’s new show, Extreme Couponing.  The show depicts extreme bargain shoppers who have “mastered the art of saving.” Each episode features two or three people that can save anywhere from 95-110% per shopping trip.  Some of these folks can pay $6.00 for $600.00 worth of groceries.  Others will purchase several hundred dollars worth of products only to leave the store with money.  

During your average extreme couponing trip, the buyer may purchase 72 boxes of cereal, 52 tubes of toothpaste, or 46 bottles of pain reliever, and 84 packages of toilet paper, and more.   The couponers then add their purchases to their already expansive stock pile of stuff that resembled nothing short of the grocery store itself.  One woman had her two car garage full of products from floor to ceiling, and had overflow items stored in every nook and cranny of her house including her master closet, her daughter’s drawers, under her son’s bed, etc.  Seemed only slightly different the Hoarders show I watch except for the couponer was not only obsessed with buying but also getting the “best deal” on everything. And they organized their stash perfectly, like so: 

 

After deciding that the extreme couponers all needed to find a coupon to have a serious mental health check performed on them, I decided to give it a shot. Why not?    After all, anything that sounds and looks crazy and allows for you to get addicted fits right up my ally.  One, my life gets more and more crazy each day.  Second, I have an addictive personality.  Don’t let me find an app that I really like because I’m the person that will not stop talking about it, will tell everyone about it (including the lady in front of me at the post office) and will use it day and night, including 2 am in the morning under the covers hoping no one is watching. This goes on until I realize my addiction has taken over my life and then I decide it’s either the addiction or my family and I finally decide my family is worth keeping, (I mean my kids are incredibly cute), and then I finally quit.  

But I digress.  So here’s what I did.  Your average extreme couponer spends  about 20 or more hours a week cutting and pasting coupons, matching coupons with deals, compiling spread sheets on shopping trips and transactions, and color coding their deodorants.  I took the less obsessive route and spent about an hour on Sunday cutting coupons, then organized them into two envelopes – household products and food.  I then wrote a list of stuff I needed wrote a (C) next to each item that I had a coupon for, and went on my way. At the store, I tried to double my savings by matching store deals with my coupons.  When I was done checking out, I  had saved a whopping $28.60!   Wowzers!!   

Next thing you know, I get this rush go through my body;  my mind starts racing at all the ways I could save on everything – at the dry cleaners, the groomers, retail stores, the possibilities seemed endless!   I went home, reorganized my coupons based on my shopping experience, added two more envelopes, then checked on-line for better deals.  Saw a blog post in my future and it was on.and.popping. 

I decided to do this for seven days.  I downloaded a few coupon apps, and tried to find coupons for every transaction.  Restaurants, Michaels, the grocery store, Smoothie King.  You name it, I was clipping away. 

I’m pleased to announce that at the end of the week, I had saved over $100.00 on things I would normally have bought that week!!  Can you believe it?!   One of my favorite deals was at our favorite Mexican Restaurants.  Between a coupon and kids eat free, our bill went from $53.76 to $19.22!!!  Since then, I’m still using my coupons. It did take some extra planning for every day, something I don’t have the patience or ability to do.  But, with all things, balance is key so I still plan to coupon when I can.  

Do you coupon?  If so, please share any tips or sites that have helped you coupon easily and efficiently.  Thanks!

Filed under household, Uncategorized | 18 Comments »

Cute, Cuddly & they Smell Good Too: It’s a Scentsy Buddy Giveaway!

My husband is an air-freshener fanatic.  He constantly is replacing our wall plug-in fresheners, buying spray air freshener, and sprinkling carpet and pet freshener around the house.  And we don’t even have pets.  So when I was asked by the folks at Scentsy if I’d like to try one of their Scentsy Buddies, I knew it would be a big hit in my household.

Now originally my intention was to put the Scentsy Buddy in the girls’ room, but when Penny the Pig arrived, I decided she was too cute to get lost in the shuffle of Barbies, Zoobles and Biebers so I set her up in the window of my home office.  She is the perfect addition of color, cuteness and lovely scent!

Here’s the way that the Scentsy Buddies work:

Each Buddy features a zippered pocket to hold delightful Scentsy fragrance. Just insert your favorite Scent Pak and watch him (or her!) come alive with scent. If you’d like to swap your Buddy’s Scent Pak with a different fragrance, simply unzip the pocket, remove the Scent Pak, and insert another one of your favorites.

Scent Paks are available in 30 yummy fragrances. Different scents can make you feel happy, sad, excited, sleepy—they can change your whole environment! Each Buddy holds one Scent Pak, but they’re also perfect for freshening up drawers, closets, school lockers, or anywhere else you want a touch of Scentsy.

With fragrances like Coconut Lemongrass, Cherry Limeade and Newborn Nursery, there’s sure to be a scent for everyone in your family.  Bonus! Your child (or you, ahem) can register your Scentsy Buddy online, “adopt” them and play interactive games.

GIVEAWAY: Enter to win a Scentsy Buddy and Scent Pak of your choice! Just leave me a comment by midnight on Sunday, April 17 telling me which Scentsy Buddy and fragrance you or your child would enjoy and why.

Filed under giveaways, household, sponsored post, Uncategorized | 17 Comments »

Fishing for Something To Do?

With spring in the air it’s time for families to get outdoors, get active, and play together! Growing up, my brother and I would always see one or both of my parents working out.  Whether it was going for a run, a long walk, the gym, or in the winter, heading to the swimming pool at the local YMCA, my parents made fitness a priority in their lives.        

My mom has always been thin, but she never thought that she didn’t have to work out.  Actually, she always attributed her slender size to her long walks. Even when she was diagnosed with arthritis in her hands and feet about 20 years ago, she didn’t let her diagnosis cause her to stop working out. Instead, she adapted her workouts accordingly.  Instead of running, she walked, or swam, or did non-impact aerobics.  And my dad, he  also has been very active.  Between running, taekwondo, and soccer, he has always maintained an active and healthy lifestyle. 

Watching both of my parents model active living has molded me into an active adult.  I know that  getting off the couch or off the computer is an important part of living a well-balanced lifestyle.  And now I’m modeling the same for my children.  

Read more about one of the ways that I model active and healthy living for my children  here.

Justice Jonesie is an official ambassador of Let’s Play, a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to get kids and families active nationwide.  Although this is a sponsored post, all posts, thoughts, and opinions are  Justice Jonesie’s. 

 

Filed under Healthy Living, Let's Play | 6 Comments »

5k Countdown!

I signed up for my first race yesterday! A 5k for Earth Day.  Three miles is a hop, skip and a jump for people that “run” but it’s a major goal for me.  I’m both excited and freaked out.   The popular Couch 2 5k plan offers an 8-week training schedule, but my race is in just over 4 weeks so I had to find something that was a tad accelerated.  I did my first workout last night (my time was dismal, but that’s ok!) and am looking forward to today’s.

Filed under Fitness, weight loss challenge | 9 Comments »