Family, Uncategorized

Managing the TikTok craze πŸ˜–

We are both raising girls, quite a few between us actually! I have two girls with a good amount of years and one brother in between them. Erin has 3 girls…… 3 girls 😳….ALL girls and fairly close in age. I pray for her often 🀣. And whether you want to admit to it or not, it’s definitely different raising boys and girls. And I’ll be honest, I am for sure stricter and more protective in many ways of my girls. Don’t misunderstand, I am still very strict with my son and no doubt he would back me up on that. I expect good behavior, manners and have rules for all of them. But danger seems to be lurking around every corner for girls these days, which is why I feel setting boundaries and ground rules from the get-go is so important. But this social media stuff is crazy hard to manage and stay on top of. It takes a lot of time and management which is why I think most parents don’t pay much attention to it. Unfortunately for my kids I’m not most parents lol!

The newest App on the scene around here these days is TikTok. It started out as kinda cute. All of our girls (kids really because my son even made an appearance in a few) were doing dances whenever they were together and my daughter would have to show me all of the videos before she could share them on her private account. After a while it just sort of took off and somewhere along the way I feel like I lost the reigns. (I think Erin can probably say the same with her girls.) Life just got so busy that we didn’t monitor it the way we had originally planned to. Since our kids are so close in age and spend a good amount of time together going back and forth to each others houses, we thought it would be best for us to be on the same page. And me in all my over-organized obsessiveness decided we needed rules…..in hard copy of course! I did a quick search and couldn’t find much online from a parents perspective. There are tons of rules and contracts out there that parents have made and shared for cell phone usage, video games, texting, etc. but I didn’t find anything specific to this App. So I decided to make my own. Rules are my favorite πŸ€— so it was a piece of cake!!

Here are the rules:

Rule #1. Accounts must be private. ~No exceptions.

Rule #2. Users can only follow you if they allow you to follow them. ~Meaning no nosy bodies and it will be checked regularly so that if somebody continues to follow but changes it so you can’t follow them then buh bye! πŸ‘‹πŸ»

Rule #3. Anyone commenting inappropriately must be removed and unfollowed.

Rule #4. Parents can access your account at any time and must have login info & password.

Rule #5. ALL videos must be parent approved before posting.

Rule #6. Songs with foul language, explicit or inappropriate contact can not be used. ~Even if you’re not saying the words the songs are still not to be used.

Rule #7. Dancing and gestures must be appropriate.

Rule #8. Clothing worn must be appropriate for all videos.

Rule #9. If any of the above rules are broken you will lose use of the App for 1 week. ~That means no posting and no viewing!

Rule #10. Three strikes you’re out and the App must be removed.

Wellllll, the kids didn’t love my rules. Some felt a little stronger about them than others 😬 We gave them time to go through their accounts and tidy it up so we can move forward and really stick to it. The funny thing is when my daughter can’t post immediately… she rethinks a lot of her video or song choices. When that initial moment passes there isn’t an urgency to share the videos anymore, which is really the point any way right?! It’s often the case that when we take a moment and don’t say or do what we feel so strongly about in that particular moment, it doesn’t seem to be so important later. It’s also making her filter what she puts out there, because once it’s out there there’s no taking it back!

I guess we’ll see how this works from here on out. I’m always welcome to advice on how to handle all the social media stuff. Message us if you would like a printable copy or if you have any rules we should add….I love a good rule! 😜

~Elena πŸ’–

Books

Young Adult Books πŸ“–

Ever since my first born started reading chapter books I read whatever she read. It started out so that I could help her prepare for her quizzes. At her old school they did AR and had to take a short computerized quiz after finishing every book. So I would read her books to help her with comprehension. I would get emails throughout the day with her scores on those quizzes and she was doing great! Then it turned into more of a parental control…. as her reading flourished the levels she advanced to included a lot of books I wasn’t ok with my elementary student reading. Therefore I would read many of the books before her or try to stay a chapter ahead of her. This way I could steer her clear of inappropriate books or be prepared to have to explain some iffy content. By the end of elementary school her reading level included books that I definitely didn’t approve of, often times sending books back to school with a note to the teacher saying I wasn’t ok with this particular book choice. Last year when she started middle school we went to the school library during summer hours to stock up for summer. I came to realize there were no more levels and many of the books there were books I had read myself and wasn’t quite ready for her to read. At this point she’s pretty good about weeding out the junk and we both can do a quick google search to find age appropriate levels. But she’s 13 now and many young adult books nowadays are read by adults as well…. i.e. The Hunger Games Series, Divergent Trilogy and The Fault In Our Stars just to name a few.

Recently I heard about Book of The Month Young Adult and I was super interested. I love that you get to choose which book you receive from new reads every month. I decided to be an affiliate and logged in to get my September choice. I was able to read a little synopsis of each book that way I can choose something I know my daughter (and myself 😜) would like and what would be appropriate. The choices were great across the board and included books for younger teens to college/adult age. Honestly I would’ve enjoyed all of them myself!

Here’s our first box:

I chose the book Frankly in Love by David Yoon. No spoilers, but it’s about a Korean American boy who’s parents are insistent he find a nice Korean girl. Needless to say he has other plans but comes up with a plan to appease his parents. I’ll definitely post a little review after finishing!

And let’s not forget the goodies that came in the box 😍 My girls devoured the cookie immediately! I haven’t decided if I plan to share those bookmoji pins yet πŸ€” we’ll see.

I’m really excited for future boxes. I know my daughter is looking forward to it and already has plans to pass the books along to friends. Here’s my link below ↙️ if you’re interested in giving it a try, I think you’ll love it!!

Book of the Month YA

~Elena πŸ“š

Books

2019 Reading Challenge Update πŸ“š

Summer has been way busier than I imagined it would be. I pictured lots of quiet time relaxing & reading poolside, finishing books left and right …. but it hasn’t worked out that way yet. I’ve had some time here and there, but otherwise we’ve been doing a lot of running around with camps, swim lessons, summer baseball, errands, workers at the house and a recent 13th birthday that took up quite a bit of time as well!

Needless to say I’m averaging about a book a week -give or take a few days.

So here’s my most recent dozen:

I can honestly say I really liked them all!! I’m not going to spoil anything but here are some thoughts of mine on just a few of the books:

The Looker was a quick and easy read if you’re looking for something speedy. But left me with a lot of questions.

The Silent Patient definitely surprised me. It was one of those books that has an amazing twist in the end that you never saw coming, sooo good!

My Lovely Wife was not at all what I expected!! I try not to read too much about books beforehand because I don’t want to read spoilers by accident, so this was disturbing and intriguing all at the same time. The story was so different than anything I’ve read before.

No Exit was intense because there is not much back and forth time wise. Most everything pretty much takes place in a day or two period of time. So this one was really hard for me to put down once I got in to it.

The First Mistake I was sent as a prerelease and this one is definitely a good summer read. I thought I knew where the book was going but I had it all wrong. Can’t wait for her next book!

Honestly, We Meant Well- I was sent through an Instagram giveaway and had to put on hold for a bit because I had a few library books that were only 2 week holds. But once I got started I loved it! I love seeing the points of view of all the family members and the fact that everyone has secrets, thoughts, memories and hidden agendas that the others aren’t privy to. This is my first Grant Grinder book so now I really want to go read the others!

I have a long queue at the library, about two dozen screenshots in my phone and a Barnes & Noble order coming this week, but if there is something you’ve read lately that I must read please let me know!!

I’m at about 50 books so far for my 2019 Reading Challenge, not too bad. 😊 πŸ“–

Happy Reading! πŸ€“

~Elena πŸ’–

Uncategorized

My top 10 favorite Netflix series.

I know everyone is super excited about summer and it finally being warm enough to be outside again. Trust me when I say I am too!! It was a long, miserable winter here in New England and we didn’t have much of a spring. But I also know even in the summer we’ll have some rainy days. So here are my top 10 most favorite Netflix series you should check out when you are stuck inside.

1. What If

2. You

3. Ozark

4. Dead to Me

5. Designated Survivor

6. Stranger Things

7. 13 Reasons

8. Pretty Little Liars

9. The Society

10. Ted Bundy mini series

As you all know I’m spending a lot more time alone with the whole divorce and all. So on my down time I often read or binge watch shows on Netflix. Lol! I am always looking for new shows to watch, so if you know of any good ones let us know. I love having a nice distraction while I’m working out or folding the dreaded laundry!

It is what it is πŸ’β€β™€οΈ

-Erin πŸ“Ί

Books, Family

πŸ–Summer break is in sight! πŸ–Ό

It’s that time of year again…Summer Break!! β˜€οΈ Well …we still have about ten hectic school days to finish here in CT but we can see the finish line! As much as I love a break from the routine, I don’t love the kids complaining they’re bored, bickering and expecting me to be cruise director EVERY SINGLE DARN DAY!! So that being said I still try to provide some casual structure to our summers. My kids know they have to be responsible for their rooms, cleaning up after themselves around the house , some chores and get some reading time in on the daily. But I also like to keep their brains from shriveling up which means some learning needs to happen, but just a tiny bit.

When my oldest finished her first year of preschool her teacher gave each student a Bridge book for the summer. What an amazing and generous gift that was and it’s now been our tradition for ten years! Every year as the school year comes to an end I order my kids each a Bridge book based on the grade they finished and the grade they will be entering. Every (well that’s an exaggeration, so let’s say most) weekday mornings in the summer I will ask the kids to do 20-30 minutes in their Bridge books. When they were little they loved it and they would want to keep going and often even pull out the book during the day. As they get older and pages get harder it’s certainly more of a chore. But I’m here to help and I enjoy having my morning coffee in the kitchen while they sit and do some work.

I used to order on EBay but this year I ordered from Amazon, and they’re super cheap! Most books are less then $10.

As you can see the book is to ‘bridge’ your child from the class they just finished to the grade they will be entering. So the early activities are things they are familiar with and the book then gets harder as they go farther. The back is usually full of flash cards for spelling, math facts, vocabulary…anything that they are working on for those assigned grades. The book is divided into sections and then days. So your child can easily do a day at a time, or more if it’s easier and they finish quickly. There are even stickers in the back if you decide to review their work when they’re complete.

My kids have always gotten excited when their books arrive and enjoy doing them, at least for the first few weeks! πŸ˜‚

I let everyone pick out a small basket or bin at the dollar store to keep in the kitchen for the summer. They each put their Bridge book, whatever book they’re reading, a devotional and anything else in there that they plan to work on daily throughout the summer.

This year my husband ordered for our Kindergartener through her subscription to High Five magazine. So hers was a bit pricier but she got a bunch of other fun books thrown in!

And being that my oldest will be 13 in a few short weeks 😱 and did amazing in her first year of middle school, I let her off the hook this year. But instead we’ve propositioned her with a Reading Challenge! She loves to read but sometimes there’s too many distractions, so we’re offering a little reward for every book she completes this summer.

I wish someone would reward me for every book I finish! πŸ“š

~Elena πŸ’–

Books

‘The First Mistake’, book review.

I was sent β€˜The First Mistake’ a few weeks ago as a pre-release to read. This was my first Advance Readers Edition and I was super excited! A few months ago I had read ’The Other Woman’ also by Sandie Jones and I couldn’t put it down, so I had no doubt that this book would be just as good. I had to table it for a week or so because I had 2 other books I was in the middle of and really wanted to finish them first…. but I was anxious to begin it.

I started β€˜The First Mistake’ and had completed the book in less than a week. I know everyone says “I couldn’t put it down” but seriously that was the it. Something about her writing leaves me wanting answers. I certainly don’t want to give too much away and ruin the book for anyone who plans to read it…because I really think you’ll want to read it. If you like novels that keep you asking questions and curious to the end full of twists and surprises, then this one should be on your ‘to read’ list!

As the book started we are introduced to Alice and get a tiny glimpse into her present life. But throughout the early chapters there are sudden hints about her past and why she is the way she is today, without ever giving too much away. I can’t tell you how many books I have to put down and walk away from because they just don’t capture me. I try to force myself to push pass page 50 before I give up. If I feel like it might go somewhere but I still don’t love it yet, I may even force myself to make 100 pages. But who wants to force themselves to read a book? Not me! I hate to give up on a book, but sometimes the author talks to much, describes too much or doesn’t explain enough and I just can’t take anymore. Sandie Jones gives just enough of a teaser that keeps you curious to find answers. And at some point I thought I had figured things out, only to find out I was totally off course.

Between Alice’s husbands (yes plural, just not at the same time😜 lol) and her best friend, I was back and forth trying to figure out who the ‘bad guy’ was , and I even wondered if I was blind to who Alice really is. This book had me questioning everyone and wondering if anyone could actually be trusted. The ending was shocking and definitely not at all what I expected.

Jones’ writing makes for an enjoyable and thrilling read. I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next!! This ones on sale 6/11 but I checked and you can preorder now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Let me know what you think! πŸ“–

~Elena πŸ€“ πŸ“š

Food, Uncategorized

Easy donuts for an afternoon treat!! πŸ©

Yesterday was Good Friday, which meant no school for the kiddos and my husband was home from work. It was also our last no meat Friday πŸ‘πŸ»πŸŽ‰

Good Friday Mass was a long one for my littlest to sit through and the big two were Altar Serving. So I figured everyone could use a little treat! When I was young I remember my mom making these donuts in the morning and I always got so excited. My kids are exactly the same. They hover and wait for the warm donuts to come out of the pan and everyone wants to help sprinkle the powdered sugar on. And don’t get me started on the fighting over the donut holes πŸ™„ But these are so easy and fun to make for a little unplanned treat.

I used the Great Value biscuits because that’s all they had left when I was at Walmart last week but any brand works. And it’s just the super cheap carton of biscuits, not the fancy big ones. For my family of 5, I use two cartons and I usually don’t have leftovers. On a flat surface I flatten by hand each biscuit as much as I can and then make a hole in the middle. For the hole I just use the top from a water bottle, it’s the perfect size and easy to use. Get your powdered sugar ready now because you want to be able to sprinkle the donuts as soon as they come out of the pan. Heat up a little bit of oil in a pan, just enough to cover the bottom. I use canola oil bit you can use vegetable oil. When it feels warm above the pan I usually drop one of the donut holes in first. If it starts bubbling around the donut you’re good to go and if not you can wait another minute and try again. They cook really quick so after about a minute you need to flip each donut. You want each side to start to get a little golden. After each side cooks for a minute or so, pull out each donut and lay it on your plate. While they’re still hot use your sifter to cover them with powdered sugar. And that’s it! So easy even Erin can do it πŸ˜‚πŸ˜œ

Seriously though your kids will love these and they take very little effort and cost maybe $2. Perfect for a dessert or breakfast and they don’t take more than 30 minutes of your time start to finish.

Who else had these growing up?? 🍩

Happy Easter 🐣

~Elena πŸ’–