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’–

Uncategorized

Ten Things I’ve learned from my divorce.

So I am coming up on the one year mark of my divorce. It’s crazy how much can change in a year. Divorce is a lot of change by itself but I was naive to the trickle effect it would have in all areas. I knew things would change and may never be the same, but I was expecting some things to remain the same. I’ve always had this hope within me that some things will last forever but I’m learning that it’s just unrealistic. So here are 10 things I’ve learned during my 1st year of divorce.

1) Kids are resilient.

My number 1 concern was my girls. How will they ever get over this? Will they ever be the same? Did I ruin their lives? Obviously it hit them hard emotionally but they have grown and overcome way more than I could have at their age.

2) Being alone is better than being lonely in a marriage.

I would take the loneliness of being alone any day over the loneliness I’ve felt being in a bad marriage.

3) I’m a better mom.

When you’re in a toxic relationship everyone suffers. You can’t be a good parent when you’re unhappy and angry all the time.

4) Date someone for at least a year before you marry them.

I only dated my ex-husband 8 months when I walked down the aisle. I think if we were both honest we knew we had made a mistake within the first year of marriage. We didn’t know each other!!

5) You are stronger than you think.

I honestly stayed married longer than I should have because I didn’t think I could make it by myself. But here I am still making it, barely but I’m making it. 🀣

6) Healing takes longer than you think!

Don’t think it happens over night. I thought by being out of that house, out of that marriage I would be instantly happy. And don’t get me wrong I experienced a relief and freedom like never before. But you also have to deal with the baggage that came with it. So it’s a process, a very long process! 😱

7) A Parents love and support for their children never ends.

My parents have been my biggest support mentally and financially. I have put them through a lot over the years but they’ve got my back like no one ever has.

8) You’re not a failure

I thought I was a failure that my marriage ended. I tried so hard for so long for the girls and I felt like I failed them. But I wasn’t doing them any favors by staying.

9) Your Life isn’t over.

I thought my life was over and in some ways a part of my life was over. But I’ve realized it is just the beginning and it’s exciting.

10) You can only control how you are.

Just because your ex talks poorly about you to your children and other people doesn’t mean that you have to. They are the father/mother of your kids and in time they will see for their self who they are as a person.

I want to end by saying it’s important to have at least one good friend to get you through. Thank you Elena for listening to me vent and sharing in my pain. You and your family mean the world to me.

-Erin πŸ’•

Uncategorized

2019 Reading Challenge -Update πŸ“š

I finished a book the other day, Nine Perfect Strangers…which was a pretty long read. I’ve been keeping track so I went to write it down on my list and realized it took me about a week and a half. I was immediately annoyed with myself because looking at my list it seems as though I’ve been doing one book in a week max. I’ve been using almost every spare minute to read. I read on the treadmill, when I’m waiting in the car to pickup kids, at doctors/dentists appts, waiting while my girls do gymnastics, and I even keep a book with me while we run errands as a family so I can read while I’m trapped in the car with 3 bickering kids. And I try to read for at least 15 mins every night before I go to sleep.

After my initial reaction I realized ‘Holy Cow I’ve been reading about a book a week!!’ It’s the last week of March and I am just starting my 13th book!! That’s pretty awesome for me. I see so many blogs and Instagram accounts that share a new book they’re reading every other day and I’m a little jealous. Jealous in a way that I’m super impressed and it pushes me to try harder. Life is busy and I have to squeeze in 15 minutes here and there but I’ve definitely switched my free-time from screen time to book time.

This is what I’ve read so far this year: πŸ“–

* The Other Woman

* The House on Foster Hill

* The Rumor

* Our Souls at Night

* Every Breath

* Give Me Your Hand

* The Night Olivia Fell

* An Anonymous Girl

* The Exes Revenge

* Luckiest Girl Alive

* Elizabeth is Missing

* Nine Perfect Strangers

For the next few months our days are still hectic with after school activities, sports and religion, but come summer I’ll definitely kick it up a notch. This week I started *No Exit* and I still have these 2 ⬇️ on my nightstand waiting (don’t mind the ever growing pile behind them 🀫)….aside from the 8-10 holds I’m waiting on from the library 😳😬.

What are you reading and what do I need to add to my list??

~Elena πŸ’–

Home, Uncategorized

It’s Tuesday!!

My kids watch these silly YouTube shows about life hacks all the time. Most of the things they share are just dumb and I often wonder why people even think of trying these things. But once in a while they’ll show me something and I’m like….hmmmm why didn’t I think of that!

So today’s Tuesday trick is my idea of a life hack! I watch the news every morning on my iPad while I make my kids lunches, in the evening while I’m making dinner I usually put whatever Netflix show I’m catching up on or even randomly throughout the day when I’m doing dishes or baking, something is on the iPad on the kitchen counter. I just finished Netflix ‘You’ and recently started ‘The Killing’ on Amazon Prime Video….sooooo good! But some days there is so much stuff on the counter that the IPad is either in the way or so out of the way I can’t see it.

At my last IKEA trip I bought this little tablet stand which is inexpensive and perfect. But still it takes up space and often gets pushed back so far that I can’t see it around whatever it is I’m doing. I started googling and checking Amazon for some device to mount the iPad. But I’ve seen them mounted in kitchens and I don’t want anything permanent that will get in my way. Plus I cook & bake ALOT so I need my counter as open as possible without obstructions. I also don’t really want to spend fifty bucks or more on something I may not like or even use very often, or what if it doesn’t work for the space I have. I don’t know what made me do it but I opened my corner cabinet and decided to perch the stand I got from ikea inside the door …and perfection! It worked!!! Now it hangs perfectly in the corner, plus it’s not permanent so I take it down whenever I need to move it or the kids want to borrow it. Problem solved! Keep in mind this will only work if your iPad or tablet is in a case so it doesn’t slip. Mine is in an inexpensive rubber case from Five Below so it stays right in place. And I take it down at night because I don’t trust the cat πŸˆπŸ˜‚

I’m not kidding it’s perfect. Go spend $3.50 and get this little stand from Ikea!!

~Elena πŸ’•

Food, Uncategorized

Tuesday Trick 🍰

It’s Tuesday and that means I’m sharing something simple that we do around my house! If you’ve been following along with the blog you clearly know that both Erin and I like food. I do more baking and cooking at my house, she does more of the eating at restaurants though. lol. My kids love and have come to expect after school snacks and special desserts on a regular basis. I’m lucky that I get to be a stay at home mom and therefore have more time for all the cooking and baking but some days are too hectic. My husband always says it’s my own fault that they assume homemade goods will be baked often, oh well πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

Some years ago I came across Cake in a Mug posts on Pinterest and life changed forever!!! I mean instead of me making crazy desserts all the time, I can now just make each kid their own mug from time to time. Which also means that I’m not home alone with a half eaten cake as often, because we all know what goes best with an afternoon coffee. I’ve made a few variations over the years and a few mistakes as well. It’s super simple and just requires 2 box cake mixes. One box of Angel Food cake, but it must be the kind that only requires water. If the ingredients needed require anything else it won’t work for this, I’ve made that mistake! I have found that Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines are the best, I’ve tried some store brands and they’ve never come out as good. The second box can be any cake mix you like. We’ve only used Butter, Yellow or Devil’s Food… whatever you choose make sure it’s one you know you will like because this will last a while. I take a gallon sized bag (or you can use a large container) and mix the two cake mixes together really well. That’s it!!! Depending on how often you make this it should last you a while as long as you keep it sealed.

When you are ready for your dessert, mix 3 tbsp. of the mix with 2 tbsp. of water and microwave for 1 minute. I usually write that on the bag or container with a sharpie so we don’t forget and my kids can make it themselves. I keep an extra measuring spoon in the bag. When we mix it I let the kids throw in chocolate chips, marshmallows or whatever they want in there and mix well. After it’s cooked we top it with powdered sugar or some cool whip, and you’ve got yourself a quick & easy dessert. If the kids aren’t home or asleep, you can double the recipe and cook for 2 minutes. Drizzle with some caramel or fudge….I imagine this would be amazing πŸ˜‰

Who doesn’t love a little cake without all the mess?!!!

~Elena πŸ’•