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This post is the first of 5 in a 5-day series. Check out the Homeschool Hopscotch (hosted by the iHomeschool Network) for more posts from homeschool parents around the world. 

One of the most important aspects of homeschooling (in my opinion) is having a support system. Especially when you are new. And ESPECIALLY if you are a single parent.

Why?

For me, the most obvious reason is that having a support system makes everything a bit easier. You have people to turn to for advice on the many aspects of homeschooling that often confuse newbies. Things like what you have to do to be compliant in your state (some states are really lax about homeschooling, while others are super strict), the various homeschool methods, how to put together a curriculum, how to find done-for-you curricula, what to do when you come across homeschooling challenges, what kind of activities your child can do, and so much more.

Having a support system is also essential for your emotional health. Because trust me when I say that it’s not all rainbows, butterflies, and glitter. It can be challenging. Some days, you may feel like giving up and dropping your child off at the closest school and peeling rubber to get away. Getting through those days is more bearable when you have other homeschool parents to turn to. You can vent to them and get their advice (chances are whatever you are going through, one of them has gone through as well).

Having a solid support is also important because you will need them to bolster your confidence when you are confronted with naysayers. The people who say that they “don’t agree with homeschooling”, “homeschooled kids are weird”, “homeschooled kids will never get into a good college” and ask you whether “you think you’re doing the right thing?” and “why don’t you just put your kids in public school?”.

Yeah, that kind of stuff happens. For some reason, hearing that you have opted for an “alternative” form of education causes people to chime in with al sorts of unsolicited opinions, judgments, and misinformation, lol. It can be annoying at best. At worst, it can make you doubt your decision to homeschool. So, it can be helpful to have your support system there to remind you that other people’s opinions don’t matter, that weirdness is not restricted to homeschooled kids (I mean, I’m weird and didn’t even know public school was still a thing until I was well into my twenties), that homeschooled kids all have different personalities, and that home education is a viable option. It may not be for everyone, but you have the right to try it out and see if it’s the best option for YOUR family.

So, how do single parent homeschoolers find support? I can’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you where I find support.

Local Homeschool Community

When I first seriously considered homeschooling as an option, what I did was look for local homeschoolers. I asked around with my mommy friends to find out if they knew anyone who homeschools. I was still pretty new to the area (I moved to this part of Arkansas from Baltimore a few months before I had my son), but I’m one of those people who strikes up conversations everywhere. In the elevator. On the playground. In line at the grocery store. I’m an introvert’s worst nightmare, lol. If I see you with a child and you are within shouting distance – we are going to be friends. It’s pretty simple to bring the conversation around to what school your child will be attending. From there, you can just mention your interest in homeschooling and ask if they know anyone does that.

However, the person who was really helpful was someone I met on Freecycle (and who has remained a friend for over 5 years). She had posted that she was giving away homeschool books for elementary. My son was not even in pre-k yet, but I’m a hoarder, so I reached out to her, lol. We met up in town so I could get the books and she told me about a huge local homeschool community and told me how to be added to their Yahoo group. I started chatting in there, learning about the different events, groups, co-ops and more that are in town. That was the beginning! I was amazed by the fact that there was such a thriving homeschool community right under my nose. Every time we go to the store, the playground, the library, or any community event, I run into several homeschoolers I know.

Once I knew about our local homeschool community, I got involved. I joined various clubs and organizations, like 4-H, co-ops and playdate groups. I engage with people when we attend events, making friends and getting contact info. The more involved I get, the bigger my circle becomes. After about 4 years of doing this, I have a pretty big network of local homeschoolers to turn to when I need them.

Online Homeschool Community

In addition to getting involved with local homeschoolers, I am also active in several online homeschool communities – mostly on Facebook. I’m in groups for homeschoolers, homeschool moms, secular homeschoolers, homeschoolers with boys, homeschoolers who have kids who love gaming, techy homeschoolers, homeschoolers with children who have special needs, and single mom homeschoolers. I’m also in groups geared towards specific homeschool methods. I’ve even created a few groups myself. No matter what your interests are, you can either join a group or create a group that caters to that. Here are some of my favorite Facebooks for homeschoolers.

Hip & Single Homeschoolers

Hip Homeschool Moms Community

The Relaxed Homeschool Community (run by my friend, Jenny

Techin’ Your Homeschool 

Homeschool Mompreneurs

Rock Your Homeschool

Family and Friends

Another source of support for single parent homeschoolers is their family and circle of friends. Identify the ones who are supportive of your choice and lean on them. If you have family and friends who are willing to help you on your homeschool journey in any way (whether that means helping you buy school supplies, sending you info on things they think you might be interested, wanting to learn more about homeschooling, attending events with you, offering to help you with subjects they are an expert in, or whatever form their support comes in, appreciate it.

These are just some of the ways you can build your support system as single parent homeschoolers. Keep your eyes and your mind open! You might be surprised by the many places you can find people who are supportive of and enthusiastic about your decision to homeschool your children.

Interested in reading more blog posts by homeschoolers? Click the image below to check out the 5 Day Homeschool Hopscotch.

The post How Do Single Parent Homeschoolers Find Support? appeared first on Single Mommy Warrior.

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Last week, I was hit by the realization that Christmas is mere weeks away. Which means that the new year is not too far behind.

How did that happen?!

As November has been passing by, I’ve been more and more concerned about making sure I don’t make the same productivity and time management mistakes as I did this year. I need a planner and I need it to be one that I will stick with.

Confession: I’m a Faux Planner Addict.

What does that mean? It means that I ove buying planners and I adore looking at other people’s “spreads”, but I tend to not use my planners beyond a few weeks. There has only been one time in the history of me trying to get my life together that I’ve used a planner for the better part of a year.

That planner was the “Do It All Mom Planner” by Orange Circle Studio. I just bought the 2017-2018 edition and I am still in love.

What I Love About It

Adorable Cover

The first time that I bought this planner, it featured a mom and her son on the cover. Considering I’m a single mom with one son, that was kind of perfect. This year’s cover is a bit different, but still really cute.

Hardcover

The cover is also hard rather than soft, which is a bonus as far as durability. It’s also the kind of material that if you spill something on it, you may be able to wipe it off without much trouble.

Handy Folder Compartment

Another thing about the cover that I love is that it has a little folder on it. It’s the perfect place to hold things like coupons, receipts, and lists.

Perfect Size

This planner is small enough for me to slip it into my purse, but not so small that I can’t do anything with it.

Great Layout

The layout is wonderful! It has a year at-a-glance (well, 17 months at-a-glance) and monthly pages. Each weekly spread is two pages long with plenty of space for writing. One thing I think puts this planner in a different class is that on the weekly pages, they have 6 different blank sections that you can use however you wish. I think the intended purpose is to use one space for each family member, but since it’s blank, you can get creative. Personally, I break them down into Mom, The Kid, Homeschool, Biz, Blog, and Other Stuff. That way, on any given day, I can jot down anything important in each of those sections. I know that some people prefer to have separate planners for various aspects of their lives. As for me, I prefer being able to do as much as I can with one planner.

Cool Quotes

Aligned with its theme, each weekly spread has a quote about parenting or motherhood at the top. For example, the quote for last week was “But kids don’t stay with you if you do it right. It’s the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won’t be needed in the long run”. I like reading them and seeing how they make me feel.

Perforated Lists & Graphing Paper

If you’re a list person (I am), they have 20 pages of perforated to-do lists and shopping lists. They also have a few pages of graphing paper, which I plan to use to doodle.

Rate Your Year

Something new about this year’s planner is a Rate Your Year page. The idea I to use a key you create to keep track of each day of the year on a scale from “A Horrible Day” to “A Great Day”. I think this could be a good way to reflect on the year.

Track Your Goals

Another cool feature is a page where you list your goals. I plan to use this page to brainstorm some of the big things I want to achieve in 2018 and to write down when each goal was met.

300 Stickers

There are stickers for all kinds of things, such as birthdays, holidays, appointments, school events, and vacations.

Ribbon Enclosure

You don’t have to worry much about things falling out of your planner because it includes an attached ribbon enclosure. It’s stretchy, too, so it can grow with your planner.

Great Price

Last, but not least, the planner didn’t cost me my soul or my firstborn child, lol. I got mine for a bit over $10 (not including tax and shipping is free if you either have Amazon Prime or spend over $25). Definitely more affordable than some other planners on the market that have comparable features.

All in all, I’m excited to use my planner. It think it ranks highly when it comes to planners for busy moms. It’s also a great planner for frugal moms. Even if I decide to buy some accessories like stickers and washi tape (spoiler: I will), it is still a great product at a value that can’t really be beat. I highly recommend grabbing one of your own.

The post The Perfect Planner for Busy Moms appeared first on Single Mommy Warrior.

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FTC Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored by Central Arkansas McDonald’s

Confession: I only like football games when I am there to watch them in person.

I do watch the Super Bowl, but I really only pay attention to the commercials and the half-time show. I don’t have a team that I am a diehard fan of (I do root for the Baltimore Ravens, though). But there is something about being in the crowd during a football game that is so fun and exciting. I get into the game then. I also love the energy of the crowd. I love the cheering, and the mass utterances of either joy or frustration when the players are doing their thing on the field.

In college, I attended every single homecoming game (which is like the college equivalent of the Super Bowl for me, lol) and several of the other home games. It was always a good time. My friends and I would paint our faces orange and blue (the colors of Morgan State University), load up on food from the concession stands, and try to find great seats in the stadium.

We’d cheer when our team scored or made great progress towards scoring. We’d scream when they’d fumble or when the other team scored. And, of course, we always joined in on the many chants and songs that the crowd would take up throughout the game.

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For someone who isn’t really into sports, I remember these football games as being a really fun tradition in college.

A year or two ago, I decided that I wanted Christian to have that same type of experience (though obviously he’s nowhere near college age yet). We live in a small town that has several high schools and a big college called Harding University. They have several home games, so when it fits our schedule, we go check out a game.

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I was recently invited to read a free advanced reader copy of Katherine Reay’s latest novel, The Austen Escape. A few years ago, I read (and fell in love with) her debut novel, Dear Mr. Knightley (check out my review here). So, needless to say, I was excited about the opportunity.

About the Book

“Falling into the past will change their futures forever.

Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues—particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.

But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath. While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.

Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings arise, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.”

About the Author

Katherine Reay has lived all across the country and Europe and has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries. Katherine’s first novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, was a 2014 Christy Award Finalist and winner of the 2014 INSPY Award for Best Debut as well as Carol Awards for both Best Debut and Best Contemporary. She is also the writer behind Lizzy & JaneThe Bronte Plot, and A Portrait of Emily Price– all contemporary stories with a bit of “classics” flair. Katherine holds a B.A. and M.S. from Northwestern University and lives with her family in Chicago.

My Thoughts

There is a section in the book when Mary is mentally comparing her first introduction to Jane Austen as a child to her reintroduction as an adult:

“Mom’s devotion to these novels made sense to me now. Jane understood people, and she was funny. Being an engineer, analytical and literal, I knew I was probably still missing nuances and subtleties and most of her brilliance, but what I caught was captivating.

She wrote with such precision that a single phrase evoked an emotional response. She elicited laughter, warmth, and even a sense of awe. Across two hundred years, I recognized her characters in the here and now. She wrote about people I knew.”

In a brilliant stroke of irony, this meta-review (it’s a review of Austen in a book about Austen) is pretty on par with how I feel about “The Austen Escape”.

The story is about two childhood-turned-adulthood friends, Mary and Isabel. As children, they were as much like family as their actual family. For Isabel (who has an emotionally distant father and a mother she doesn’t even remember), Mary’s family is her escape.

However, as adults, the pair have grown apart. Not in that definite ‘we’re not friends” way. More in that subtle, drifting-apart-yet-still-barely-connected way. So, when Isabel invites Mary to join her on an Austen-esque vacation in Bath, England, it takes her father’s cajoling to convince her to go.

The vacation is part-retreat, part-research as Isabel is using it to drum up content for her thesis. However, it soon transforms into something entirely different when Isabel loses her memory and believes they are all actually the Regency characters they are playing during the vacation. Add to that some romance, betrayal, secrets, and opportunities for growth and you have a story worth reading.

Right from the beginning, I found myself seeing people I knew in the characters – especially Mary. I found myself rooting for some and feeling angry at others. I choked back sobs, smiled through tears, laughed out loud, and whooped for joy. Much like Bastion in The Neverending Story, I felt as though I was right there, watching things unfold. And that, to me, is the best kind of feeling.

“The Austen Escape” was truly a literary escape. It made me rush to Google to see if Braithwaite Manor was really a place I could visit. (Just so you know, it is not, lol). It also made me rush to one of my bookshelves to retrieve my copy of “The Complete Works of Jane Austen” so that I could lose myself in that world as fully as Isabel had.

Once again, Katherine Reay has created a world that I am glad to have visited, populated with characters I have come to adore. It’s one of those stories that you will always wish you could read for the first time again, simply to relive the delicious feeling that comes with that experience. On a scale from “Please don’t waste your time” to “Buy it and cherish it forever”, this is solidly a “cherish it forever” book.

How to Order The Austen Escape

While supplies last, if you PREORDER the paperback or eBook by November 6th AND submit your receipt, you will receive a special edition bonus gift.

You can order your copy of The Austen Escape from any of the five booksellers below.

The post “The Austen Escape” by Katherine Reay Book Review appeared first on Single Mommy Warrior.

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FTC Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Cars.com. All thoughts are 100%  my own.

I’ve owned two cars in my lifetime.

The first one was a 1995 Dodge Caravan. My parents helped me buy it after I FINALLY got my driver’s license in college. I remember my friend Zyra and I being so excited when we finally had transportation that wasn’t a city bus. That winter, we drove to the mall to do some shopping only to find out that it had snowed while we were in the mall. Driving home in the snow was terrible, lol! I ended up calling my mom to come rescue us, lol.

Ironically, I was also driving with Zyra in the car when the engine kinda blew up. Well, it was really just smoking, but in our minds, the car was blowing up. We jumped out – in the middle of the road, I ran away from it, lol. Some men stopped and helped us push the van over into a parking lot. I called my parents to pick us up. My stepfather tried to get the car working again, but it was a lost cause.

I didn’t get a new car again until I graduated a year or two later. It was a 2001 Crysler Voyager and it was perfect. I was working as a live-in nanny at the time, so it was cool to have enough space for two kids and all of their outing stuff. It also came in handy when I got pregnant an decided I wanted to move back to Arkansas (from Virginia) to be closer to my family. I was able to fit most of my belongings in the van and make the 975-mile journey.

I’ve had that van for over 8 years now. It has served me well. It has been with me through countless trips to see my friends, a trip halfway across the country, and through three moves. It gets us to playdates, therapy sessions, doctor’s visits, many trips to McDonald’s, fun blogger events, and a lot of extracurricular activities.

However, I’d be lying if I said I’m not ready for something new. Something that doesn’t guzzle gas quite as much. Something with a CD player instead of a tape deck (I love The Lion King soundtrack, but I’m kind of tired of that being our only option other than the radio, lol). Maybe something with a DVD payer for road trips.

It’s time to start shopping for a new car.

I’ve gone to a few car lots around town, but always feel like they are trying to get over on me. Maybe that’s because I really just don’t know much about cars.

Fortunately, there is Cars.com. They have an entire section of their website dedicated to doing research. You can look up cars you are interested, read up on their specifications, read honest consumer reviews, find side-by-side comparisons for when you are torn between multiple options, and even get estimates on payments and financing. They even have our backs as parents with car seat safety checks where they test out the car seat latch systems for various makes and models.

This helps someone like me to make a smart choice when buying a new car. If you’re trying to sell or trade your car (which is what I hope to do), they even have info on that.

So go check it out if you are looking to buy, sell, or trade a car.

Also, here are a few basic tips about buying a car:

Do Your Research

Don’t go into buying a new car blindly. Do your research on the make and model of any car you are interested in. Look at reviews from people who have actually owned those cars. Pay careful attention to not just the good things, but the things that can go wrong. If possible, speak to people who have owned those cars and ask for their honest opinion on whether they would recommend them to someone else.

Take a Friend

When you go to look at a car you are interested in, try to take someone you trust with you. Preferably someone who knows about cars and can advise you on making a purchasing decision.

Shop Around

Don’t make the mistake of buying the very first car that you see. Shop around. See what other car dealerships have to offer before you tie yourself down to a major decision. Don’t let a sense of urgency lead to you rushing into an important (and costly) decision.

Negotiate

Don’t be afraid to negotiate – especially if you have a specific budget in mind. Often, car dealerships are willing to work with you – whether that involves having lower payments, a lower final cost, or adding in special benefits like free annual oil changes.

Get Pre-Approved for a Loan

Just as you should shop around for a car, don’t be afraid to check out multiple sources for quotes on loans so that you can get the best loan possible. Many car dealerships offer in-house financing, but you may be better off getting financing elsewhere.

The post Shopping for a New Family Car appeared first on Single Mommy Warrior.

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FTC Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Tyson Foods, Inc. But the enjoyment of getting creative in the kitchen is entirely our own.

This year, Christian and I participated in a fun campaign hosted by Tyson Foods. We were tasked with a challenge: come up with Halloween twists on some of our favorite Tyson products.

The result? A menagerie of spooky-yet-tasty appetizers for a neighborhood party.

On the menu:

Bat Wings: Tyson Any’tizers BBQ Wings

Mummy Dogs- Ball Park Hot Dogs wrapped in a crescent roll (we also had a corn dog version)

Spider Web Chicken- Tyson Any’tizers Chicken Fries and a tasty sauce

Graveyard Nuggets- Tyson Chicken Nuggets Dipped in our fave bbq sauce

Monster Toes- Hillshire Farms Lit’l Smokies with a dot of bbq sauce for the creep factor

I’d say they were a hit! My brother singlehandedly tried to eat all of the bat wings and mummy dogs.

Although I had fun putting this together, what amazed me was seeing how creative other people got with their creepy cuisine creations. Let’s check out some of my favorites.

The Tip Toe Fairy made chicken fingers…literally. 

Lisa Collins from Mom on the Side transformed State Fair Mini Corn Dogs into an evil centipede. So creative!

Blender Mom took Hillshire Farms Lit’l Smokies to next-level creepiness.

The Shirley Journey created these adorable pumpkins out of Tyson Any’tizers® Boneless Chicken Wyngz (Buffalo Style).

Toot’s Mom is Tired transformed Sweet & Spicy Bourbon Tyson Any’tizers Boneless Wyngz into creepy crawly spiders and used mozzarella cheese to mummify a Ballpark Hot Dog.

Check out all of the spooky recipes on the #WMDeliciousDisguises tagboard to get ideas for your Halloween get-together.

The post Fun Halloween Recipes Roundup appeared first on Single Mommy Warrior.

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FTC Disclosure: This fun event and this blog post have been sponsored by Central Arkansas McDonald’s and Oriental Trading Company. All thoughts are my own.

It’s Fall, yall! *happy dance*

I know it’s technically been Fall for a while, but here in Arkansas, you never know if it’s going to be 90 degrees all the way through October. I, for one, can’t tolerate summer. The smothering heat. The mosquitoes. Ugh! It’s the worst!

I live for Fall!

I love the crisp, cool air. I love the way the leaves change colors and make the whole world look like a painting. I also love the foods and beverages that come back in full force during the Fall. Soup, apple cider, and peppermint mocha everything! Plus, I can finally drink a steaming cup of coffee at any time of day without people looking at me like I’m crazy (two thumbs up for Caramel Macchiato Lattes).

What I also love is the abundance of creative inspiration. Between the season changes and the many holidays between October and the New Year, there are so many fun arts and crafts activities you can dive into.

My son and I recently got into the crafting mood – and brought along a bunch of his friends for the ride. We hosted a Halloween Arts and Crafts Party at the park and the kids loved it! The parents also enjoyed getting together to catch up after not seeing each other as much over the summer.

When planning the shindig, I knew there were three things we needed.

Friends. Fun. Food.

We had the first two all set and ready to go. The only thing I needed to take care of was the food.

Usually, I would grab some cookies and chips and call it a day. But I wanted to surprise the kids with something I knew they would love.

McDonald’s!

I mean, I knew for a fact that they all love cheeseburgers and fries because we have had many playdates at the McDonald’s PlayPlace.

So, a little bit before the party, I stopped by our local McDonald’s and ordered enough Happy Meals for all of the kids to chow down. I also bought 3 orders of cookies (you get 3 gooey cookies for just $1!)

As expected, they were thrilled!

Not only is McDonald’s a safe bet for any kiddie get-together, it’s also easy to save money. Between their in-store promotions and the many awesome deals on the McDonald’s app, you’re sure to find a special that makes your wallet happy (as well as your tummy). For example, as I write this post, the McDonald’s app is offering $1 McDouble or McChicken, BOGO Happy Meal, BOGO Large Fries, and $1 Small Caramel Macchiato. I also highly recommend joining their mailing list to receive all sorts of updates and promotions straight in your inbox.

After filling our bellies, we got down to crafting. I brought along a variety of  Halloween crafting kits from Oriental Trading Company. The ones we got were the Halloween Mask Craft Kit,  the Flowerpot Ghost Craft Kit, the Funny Halloween Face Magnets Kit, the Halloween Character Bookmark Craft Kit, the Monster Vision Glasses Craft Kit, the Green Monster Bride Earring Craft Kit, the Skull and Bones Earring Craft Kit, and the HaloweenChar Bracelet Craft Kit.

The kids enjoyed the activities. Some were sticklers for directions. Others took more creative liberties with their projects. But they all went home with Color Your Own Halloween Bags stuffed with their masterpieces as well as any crafts they didn’t finish during the party.

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Halloween is one of our favorite holidays of the year. Free candy and getting dressed up in fun costumes. What’s not to love?! Every year, we pick out new costumes for the big night. Christian has dressed as a monkey, the Incredible Hulk, a race car driver, a pirate, Batman, Captain America, and Harry Potter.

I’ve dressed as Marge Simpson (this was a hit in my town – everyone wanted to take pictures with me, lol), a witch, Superwoman, and a few others that (for the life of me), I can’t remember. My friends and I also dressed up for Halloween in college.

Not only do we randomly dress up around the house, we also dress up just to go around town.

We. Love. Costumes.

This year, instead of being limited to the costumes that are available at Walmart, we did our shopping online at Oriental Trading Company.

With over 5,000 costumes available, we had plenty of options to choose from. We started with Christian, by heading to the section of boy costumes. I absolutely loved that they separated the costumes by category. That made it easier to browse. We avoided the scary costumes (he’s not really into that) and focused on tv & movie, superhero, and funny costumes.

It took a while to whittle down the options because Christian wanted “all the things”.  We finally narrowed it down to a final battle: The Flash vs Black Panther.

The geek in me recognized that this was a DC vs Marvel showdown.

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This past week, my son and I took part in one of our little traditions- we watched the opening parade for the county fair. My son’s favorite part of the fair is when the people from the various floats and organizations throw candy into the crowds.

Considering the fact that almost all of them throw candy, you can guess that my son is always THRILLED with a parade.

I wish I could show you pictures from that day, but I don’t have any.

Why?

  1. I was too busy making sure Christian didn’t run out into the road and get trampled in his quest to gather candy.
  2. I was also holding not one, but TWO dogs on leashes, so my hands were pretty full.
  3. I was busy rushing out to collect any stray pieces of chocolate that Christian overlooked. Because…chocolate. #NoChocolateLeftBehind

Y’all…I love chocolate.

Just the promise of chocolate elicits a happy dance.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of the books that I wish I could live in. I mean, a chocolate river. COME ON!

Chocolate in all of its forms is like culinary magic. It can make you happy even when you’re feeling down. It can bring back memories that fill you with joy – like being able to lick the spoon when your grandmother was whipping up a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies or frosting one of her famous cakes.

One of my favorite places to go when I want a chocolate treat is McDonald’s. I like going there because it’s right down the street from our house, I already know they have what I like, and there is a nice little PlayPlace there so Christian can (as he says) “burn out my sugar” by playing after we eat.

Christian’s favorite chocolatey treat is chocolate chip cookies. They are nice and gooey and taste great when warm. Plus, he prefers soft-baked cookies to the crunchy kind. I’m with him there! It doesn’t hurt that you get 3 of them for just $1. Triple chocolate = triple enjoyment.

My favorite chocolatey treat at McDonald’s also involves cookies- the Oreo McFlurry. There’s just something about Oreo cookies crushed up and mixed with ice cream that is awesome. However, I have absolutely no problems cheating on the Oreo McFlurry for any of the other chilly, chocolatey beverages, such as the McCafe Iced Mocha, the McCafe Mocha Frappe, the McCafe Frappe Chocolate Chip, or the McCafe Chocolate Shake. When it’s cold outside, I opt for the hot beverages, like the McCafe Mocha or the McCafe Hot Chocolate. Either way, it’s all tasty.

If you love getting chocolatey treats for less, you’d probably love to know that right now you can get a small McCafe Smoothie, Frappé, or Shake for just $2.

Don’t forget to download the McDonald’s App and when you buy 5 McCafe drinks, you’ll get your 6th FREE!

In case something sweet like McDonald’s desserts and drinks isn’t your thing, try something savory like their NEW Buttermilk Crispy Tenders!

Head to your local McDonald’s to try these out! There is even a new Signature Sauce you can dip the tenders in! Let me know what you think of this new product!


[Insert Promo Graphic]

Just talking about chocolate makes me want to do some baking. One of my favorite little treats to whip up at home is what I call Chocolate Toffee Crackers. (Other people call it crack because it’s so addictive, but I didn’t feel like explaining that one to my son, so I named it Chocolate Toffee Crackers, lol).

It’s so easy to make!

Step 1: Melt butter in a pan over low heat.

Step 2: Add brown sugar and stir until it starts to caramelize.

Step 3: Layer a bunch of saltine crackers on a baking sheet, then pour the buttery sugar mixture over the crackers.

Step 4: Pop in a heated oven and heat until the butter starts to bubble.

Step 5: Sprinkle a whole bunch of chocolate chips over the crackers and then heat in the oven until the chocolate starts to melt.

Step 6: Spread the chocolate over the crackers and then pop the whole thing in the freezer long enough for the chocolate to harden. Try to resist eating it all before the chocolate hardens, but don’t beat yourself up if you cave in.

Step 7: Break up the crackers into pieces and enjoy. Do a little happy dance with the first bite. It’s required. If there is anything left over, store in a container and stick it in the refrigerator.

Ok, so I realize that I SUCK at relaying recipes. I tend to eyeball my ingredients and never remember how much of what I used. So, if you need to follow the recipe of someone who is more reliable in this area, I recommend you check out this Sweet and Saltine recipe by Trisha Yearwood.

What is your favorite chocolate treat? Let me know in the comments below.

The post An Ode to Chocolate appeared first on Single Mommy Warrior.

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Do you feel as though your life is just full of clutter? I’m not just talking about the piles of laundry that seem to multiply when you’re not looking. Or the sink that seems to NEVER be fully empty. I’m also talking about feeling like you must be losing hours in the day because you never seem to have enough time to get everything done. Then there’s also that feeling of mental clutter when you just have so much going on in your mind, that you can’t seem to focus on any one thing.

I can relate!

As a single mom, a homeschooler, and an online entrepreneur, I feel like I have cornered the market on feeling like my life is full of clutter.

Here’s a not-so-secret secret – I struggle with getting and staying organized. It’s just never been a natural talent. Nor have I mastered that skill set.

That’s why I am always on the lookout for tips, tools, and techniques that can help me get on track. Since I know I am not the only one who struggles with this, I thought that I would share some things that I’ve found helpful.

Do a Brain Dump

This is the main one for me. I have to write EVERYTHING down in one place. I’ve always been the type of person that would have 5 or 6 notebooks and just randomly jot down to-do items in all of them. I bet you can guess what happens when you do that, lol. You forget things and strokes of inspiration get lost in the mix. Having a master list in ONE place has really helped to cut down on that. It doesn’t even have to be something fancy. I use the notes section of my planner (it has several pages) or a 3-ring binder.

Prioritize

Once you have your master list cut down on the overwhelm by focusing on things you need to do ASAP and the big projects that you need to focus on. I know from experience that looking at a long list of things I want to do can be stressful. But when I sit down and really ask myself what I NEED to do, the list usually ends up significantly shorter.

StayFocusd

No, this isn’t a typo, lol. It’s actually a Google Chrome extension you can use that allows you to block any websites that you know are time sucks. You can block them temporarily, during certain times of the day, or set a timer so that you can only browse them for a specific amount of time. I use it sometimes when I absolutely need to focus on something and know that I will be tempted to wander. Check it out here.

Work in Small Chunks

Another thing that I TRY to do is to work in chunks or batches instead of trying to do all the things at one time. One of my friends is a genius at this. She will dedicate one day to writing blog posts another to scheduling social media posts, another to creating graphics, another to doing photo shoots, another to packing up customer orders (she sells planners and planner accessories, and another to doing videos. It works for her and she is super productive. I haven’t yet pegged down a system, but am working on it.

Treat Yo’Self

Seriously, when you finally get to cross off that big project from your to-do list, don’t just move on to the next thing. Take some time to give yourself a celebratory pat on the back. Even if it is something like taking the evening off to binge watch Netflix, do something that makes you feel happy.

Announce Your Intentions

Another thing that works for some people is to tell other people what you are working on. Sometimes, the knowledge that other people may be watching and waiting for updates can be enough to keep you moving forward on your goals.

Budget Your Time

You know the saying “time is money”, right? It may be cliche, but it is true. Time is  precious commodity. We, as humans, are always talking about time. We comment about how quickly our kids are growing and how the time we have with them is precious. We act surprised about how we are about to be 18, 25, 30, 40, 50, 65, etc. We talk about how the day flew by. Or complain about how we need more time in the day. If time is such a valuable (and finite) resource, shouldn’t we treat it the way we treat another similar resources? Yeah, I’m talking about money. Many of us are careful about how we spend our money. We track how we spend it and budget according to how much money we have. We should do the same thing with our time. I am definitely guilty of budgeting my time poorly but it is something I am working on.

However, I’m gonna be honest and tell you that even knowing these strategies hasn’t been enough for me to actually become organized. There’s still something missing.

Which is why I’m excited about this mega resource I came across.

It’s called the Conquer Your Clutter Super Bundle Sale.

This 5-day sale gives us the opportunity to get our hands on a bundle of 34 organizational resources that can help us to wrangle messes, gain focus, and finally feel like life is running like a well-oiled machine. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like something I could use.

Listen, I am TIRED of suffering from CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome). Not just because of the neverending laundry, but because I just don’t have the time. And I KNOW I’m not alone. I know me and a few of my mommy friends are always talking about how we need to get our collective sh*t together, lol!

And it’s not like I don’t try. I do. But I haven’t yet found the perfect system. And can’t afford to pay a ton of money trying to figure it all out. So I figure this bundle is my best bet.

The package includes 38 digital products on topics like how to organize your photos, decluttering, family systems, meal planning, time management, and much more. All together, it’s worth over $650!

Plus, it comes with two brilliant bonus offers worth over $40:

    • SaneBox – for people with out-of-control email inboxes
    • YNAB – a popular program for people who need help budgeting

Of course, the thing I love about the bundle is the price. I am most definitely frugal, so knowing that the price is temporarily 95% off got me excited!

Here’s how it works:

    1. Visit their website, take a quick look at all the awesomeness that comes in this Super Bundle, then click “Get my copy now!” to go through their simple 3-step checkout process.
    2. You’ll receive an email with a login to their online access portal, where you’ll begin downloading your eBooks, signing up for your eCourses, printing out planners, and redeeming your free bonus products.
    3. Use their Getting Started Guide to pick the area you want to tackle first and start getting organized!

    The most important detail, though, is that this bundle is available for just 5 more days! After Monday night, January 30th, the sale ends and you’d have to buy all of these products individually.

    I’d hate for you to miss out on these HUGE savings, so click the Learn More button below to check out the bundle or buy it before the sale ends.

    P.S. It’s even backed by a full money-back happiness guarantee, so you can know for sure that it’s right for you.

    Just in case you need more info before clicking over, here is a full list of the life areas they focus on and the resources that help in each area. You can use all of them or just the ones that apply to you. But you get ALL of them for less than $30!

    • 2017 Motivated Moms Chore Planner by Susan Cramer ($9.00 value)
    • 30 Day Guide to a Clean and Organized Home  by Rachel Jones ($27.97 value)
    • Energy Budget: Time Management for the Chronically Ill (And Others With Long-Term Roadblocks) by Rachel Ramey ($78.00 value)
    • The Three Systems Every Family Needs by Saren Loosli ($24.00 value)

    • Chaos To Clutter-Free: 16 Realistic Steps To An Organized Home by Davonne Parks ($4.99 value)
    • Freed from Clutter: Declutter Course  by Becky Mansfield ($47.00 value)
    • Step-By-Step Decluttering: Your Guide To Less Stuff And An Uncluttered Home by Sarah Mueller ($15.00 value)

    • 30 Days To An Organized Life by Kimberlee Stokes ($9.00 value)
    • Home Management For The Homeschool Mom: Simplifying The Big Things So You Don’t Miss The Little Things by Amy Roberts ($9.99 value)
    • Home Organizing DIY Assessment Workbook by Andi Willis ($7.00 value)
    • Organizing For School Success Kit by Saren Loosli ($27.00 value)
    • Organizing Life As Mom by Jessica Fisher ($12.00 value)
    • Sanity Savers For Christian Moms: Simple Solutions For A More Joy-filled Life! by Kristi Clover ($5.99 value)

    • 5 Days To A Better Morning by Crystal Paine ($2.99 value)
    • Mindspace: 10 Practices To Help You Let Go Of Mental Clutter And Make Room For More Joyful, Creative Living by Melissa Camara Wilkins ($9.99 value)
    • Never-Ending To-Do List: A One-Hour Solution for Busy Parents Who Want  Less Stress And More Fun by Kelly Holmes ($4.99 value)
    • Routine Cards by Rachel Norman ($6.00 value)
    • Spend Your Days: How to Control Time with Rocks, Bullets, Chisels, & a Boat by Tsh Oxenreider ($8.00 value)

    • Meal Planning Made Easy by Kelly Smith ($7.95 value)
    • The Printable Recipe Binder Kit by Kalyn Brooke ($12.00 value)
    • The Ultimate Guide To Freezer Cooking by Crystal Barton ($10.00 value)

    • 10 Steps To Organizing Photos & Memorabilia by Lisa Woodruff ($3.95 value)
    • 2017 Budget Planner by Jessi Fearon ($19.97 value)
    • Evernote Essentials by Brett Kelly ($29.00 value)
    • Paperwork: Sorted! by Chrissy Halton..
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