Inspired by @CraigslistJoe and In Need of My Own Experience!

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I just finished watching Craigslist Joe, a Documentary Film about Joe. At 29 years old, Joe cut himself off from friends and family and with his Phone and computer in a backpack, set out to live on nothing but the kindness of others for all of his basic needs including food and shelter as well as entertainment and rides.

Joe traveled from Southern California north then East to New York, south to Florida, west to New Orleans on to San Francisco and finally back to his home in Los Angeles.

I kept waiting for the “something bad” to happen. At the very least I thought he’d have his computer stolen or something else horrible. I was quite surprised! The worst that happened to Joe, and his Cameraman (also met on Craigslist before he set out) was that they spent a night in New York City and another in San Francisco on the street.

Joe helped so many people and touched the lives of many and was overwhelmed by the incredible openness, kindness and generosity of so many people. Really makes you think about how much good and love still exists in a world that sometimes feels so hardened by the reality that is life.

The timing of my viewing this movie now is one that not only inspires me but also really makes me wonder if the timing of things in our lives really does happen when we need them! Much like the thought that is discussed in this movie “if you open yourself up to it” there’s no telling what you’ll find when you need it.

You see, I’ve been stuck. Stuck in a rut, in a “same-ole, same-ole” wondering what’s out there. Wondering who I am? Wondering who I will be once my kids are grown up (a lot of thought provoked by my oldest’s notification that he’s been offered his first job and planning out his High School courses a few weeks back…How did this happen so fast?!)

This Reba song keeps playing in my head:

Is there life out there
So much she hasn’t done
Is there life beyond
Her family and her home
She’s done what she should
Should she do what she dares
She doesn’t want to leave
She’s just wonderin
Is there life out there

So, no, I wouldn’t do anything differently! I love my kids and I love being a Mom!!! But, some days I hate that there’s nothing to see and feel and smell and live but the walls of my office and everyone else’s wonderful experiences through my computer screen. I literally look at beautiful places and gather mentions of amazing journeys for a living part of the day and talk to people all over the United States the rest of my day.

I’m in desperate need of an adventure, a trip, an EXPERIENCE of my own! I have thought many times of just putting it out there… I Need to go somewhere, do something! Send me wherever you want and I will share the experience with everyone I know and all over all of my social networks!!! I’ll tweet, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram whatever you want!!! Just a week, or two!!

Is there life out there??

Oh, and in case you want to watch Craigslist Joe (you really should!), you can find it on Netflix or buy the DVD through my Affiliate link to Amazon. I’ll put the $0.80 in my travel fund!!

(This was NOT a sponsored post)

Peanut Butter Cup(cake)s #Momsathomemeals #Recipes #Food

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As I was browsing hundreds of amazing images of unhealthy, delish desserts on Pinterest or Facebook, I stumbled across this recipe that was (I think!) originally shared by Jamie on My Baking Addiction! I also found a slightly modified version of the recipe at Crazy Little Projects.

I just knew I had to make these and it was SO worth it! They are easy but look like you’ve slaved away! And the taste? Amazing!

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

1 Devil’s Food Cake Mix
1 box (5.9 oz) chocolate pudding
1 C sour cream
1 C oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon instant espresso granules dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water (granules optional, water not)
24 Reese’s Miniatures; frozen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients. The batter will be very thick. Pour into 24 muffin tins.

Insert a mini Reese’s into each one.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. Let cool and prepare the following:

Peanut Butter Frosting Recipe

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups powdered sugar
5 teaspoons milk

Use a disposable cake decorating bag to pipe the frosting on to each cupcake Top with one or one-half mini Reese’s or garnish with a few chopped Reese’s sprinkled over the frosting.

I also melted chocolate candy coating, put into a cake decorating bag with the smallest tip and drizzled all over the cupcakes!

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“Who Lives in the Sea? Ocean Animals of Hawaii” by Monika Mira #BookReview #KidsBooks

Who Lives in the Sea

If you are looking for an excellent, educational and captivating book to add to your child’s book collection, this is a MUST BUY at only $10.99!! If you are an Amazon Prime member, shipping is also free!

I was so excited when I received a package in the mail from the author, Monika Mira with her book, Who Lives in the Sea? Ocean Animals of Hawaii  since falling in love with her children’s books a few months ago when I first reviewed Hawaii’s Green Sea Turtles. I have to say I really enjoy the way Mira makes science fun! This book is unlike the previous ones in that Mira uses illustrations to enhance her story rather than photographs. I think that it works for this book where there is a nice mix of true-to-life softened by the illustrations that children in the recommended 2-5 age group will enjoy. You know, the “cute factor” never fails!

“On a trip to the islands of Hawaii, baby asked his Mommy, “Who lives in the sea?” In the pages that follow, Mira explains who does live in the sea in a “repetitive, rhyming story about ocean animals.” Your children will be fascinated by the stories and illustrations of the Humpback whale, dolphin, sea turtle, jellyfish, reef fish, coral shrimp, crab and the Hawaiian Monk Seal (an endangered species). The flow of this book is nicely done, the story short enough to be repeated with ease whenever your child says, “Again! Again!” 

Monika Mira is a marine biologist and an award-winning author. She understands what works well for early readers and that is clearly demonstrated in this book. I truly enjoy her style and clear appreciation and passion for marine life brought to children around the world in an engaging and beautiful way!

Book Description (From Amazon)

Publication Date: November 27, 2012
Award-winning author, Monika Mira brings you a repetitive rhyming story about ocean animals that encourages early reading skills and answers the burning questions that the inquisitive minds of young children tend to ask about the world around us. Who Lives in the Sea? Ocean Animals of Hawaii includes children’s favorite animals like whales, dolphins, sharks and starfish and introduces some more unusual animals like the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal and the Banded Coral Shrimp. Recommended for Ages 2-5.

Also Check Out These Other Great Books from Mira

CORAL REEFS- SCIENCE AND NATURE FOR YOUNG READERS (Read my Review of this book here) ($2.99 Kindle Edition)

Did you know that coral reefs make up less than one percent of our oceans, yet they are home to nearly a quarter of all marine species? Explore the many wonders of coral reefs in this beautifully illustrated Kindle ebook. On your journey through the underwater world of CORAL REEFS, you will learn about the different types of reefs, what coral is and how it feeds, where you can find coral reefs, and the amazing sea life that lives there. You will also discover the importance of coral reefs, what threatens coral reefs, how humans are intimately connected to coral reefs, and what you can do to help protect them. This is an important read before heading out into the ocean in Hawaii. The author also includes many tips for reef etiquette and perpetuating an attitude of stewardship.
Monika Mira is a former teacher and an award-winning textbook author who has a background in the biological sciences. That background is clearly demonstrated in this book. We are looking forward to reading her other books including listed below.

HAWAII’S GREEN SEA TURTLES (Read my Review of this book here)

Did you know that relatives of sea turtles have been around since the age of the dinosaurs? Or that sea turtles were hunted to the brink of extinction before gaining protection under the Endangered Species Act? Explore the fascinating underwater world of Hawaii’s Green Sea Turtles in the Science and Nature Series for Young Readers. Kids of all ages will enjoy the beautiful photographs while learning how they can help protect these graceful and beloved animals.

The Science and Nature Series is written by a former teacher and an award-winning textbook author who has a background in the biological sciences. Each book provides a supplementary resource for units on Spiders, Fish, Coral Reefs, and Sea Turtles. Recommended for middle school children ages 9-12. Add them to your school or home school curriculum today.

WHO LIVES IN THE SEA? OCEAN ANIMALS OF HAWAII ($10.99 for Paperback) 

Award-winning author, Monika Mira brings you a repetitive rhyming story about ocean animals that encourages early reading skills and answers the burning questions that the inquisitive minds of young children tend to ask about the world around us. The rhythmic verse is accompanied by captivating collage illustrations that introduce children to sea creatures like whales, dolphins, sharks and starfish and introduces some more unusual animals like the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal and the Banded Coral Shrimp. Recommended for Ages 2-5.

 SPIDERS, SCIENCE AND NATURE FOR YOUNG READERS ($2.99 Kindle Edition)

Did you know that spider silk is stronger than steel of the same thickness? Or that the venom from a Black Widow is more powerful a Rattle Snake’s? Did you know that the Kauai Cave Spider is blind and that it can only be found in a few caves on the Island of Kauai? Learn all about the mysterious world of SPIDERS in the Science and Nature Series for Young Readers.

FUN FISH FACTS for KIDS ($2.99 Kindle Edition)

Did you know that male seahorses give birth? Or that Parrotfish can make sand? Did you know that some fish are in danger of disappearing from our oceans forever? Discover the fascinating world of marine fishes and learn how you can help protect sea life in Fun Fish Facts for Kids, part of the Science and Nature Series for Young Readers.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this review post. However, the opinions are my own. 

Mealtime Mondays: Lobster, Baked Brie and Strawberries w/Chocolate #Food #Recipes #MomsatHomeMeals

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Each Monday I publish a recipe from one of my books. This recipe, however, is one from my little date night in with my husband on Friday. We just felt like celebrating! I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve put myself last and it felt nice to just let loose and enjoy life for a minute! If you use any of these recipes, please take a photo and share with me on my Moms at Home Facebook page or on my professional Facebook page. Or, tweet them to me and use hashtag #MomsatHomeMeals Enjoy!

Get ready for Date Night!

Baked Brie

Ingredients:

1 Wheel Brie

5 Mins Prep

30 Mins Bake

1/4 Cup Raspberry Preserves
1 Tube Pillsbury Crescent Roll Seamless Dough
2-3 TBS Honey
 1 Bottle  Wine

Directions:

You have a choice, to cut the rind off or not. The rind IS edible but I don’t personally like it so I cut mine off.

Unroll crescent dough (the seamless is brilliant!). Place on the center of a non-stick cookie sheet. Smother with Raspberry Preserves -taking care to leave the edges somewhat bare. (I used Polaner All Fruit Seedless Raspberry Preserves. You can really use any flavor preserves or jam for this. I’m just a huge raspberry fan!).

Place the cheese wheel in the center of the dough. Fold the dough around the cheese. Make sure all seams are sealed well to avoid loosing any melted cheese. Place seam side down.

Bake at 350 Degrees for about 30 minutes or until crescent dough is golden brown. Drizzle with honey.

Photos from our “Date Night” Below. I paired this with Toasted Wheat Thins Multigrain Chips (So! Good) and Middle Sister Wine’s Sweet and Sassy Moscato. We also had a couple of lobsters with drawn butter and some deliciously sweet strawberries dipped in chocolate (Really, really good with the wine!)

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Strong Moms Empowerment- Take the Pledge! #StrongMomsEmpower

I am a Strong Mom and SO. Are. You! I encourage you to go strongmomsempower.com and take the pledge. It’s time for moms to feel good about the decisions they make for their children and their families. The StrongMoms Empower campaign, brought to you by Similac, is a call-to-action to create a more supportive and less judgmental environment, online and off.

Women can be the best of friends, but sometimes, as Moms, we can be highly critical of one another. “I wouldn’t have let my child get away with that,” “She’s way too strict,” “Can you believe she isn’t breastfeeding?” And, then there is the recent iPhone Mom Controversy online in which one blogger criticizes a mother she saw at the park using her iPhone and missing out on the fun her children were having. I admit, I’ve been that Mom. Which Mom? Both!

I’ve been the Mom on the iPhone at the park simply because my clients in Public Relations crises demanded my attention, whenever they needed it! That meant that if my client in Hawaii had a crisis in the afternoon, I needed to answer the phone in the middle of the New Hampshire night. And, if I wanted to take my kids to the park in the afternoon or early evening, I needed to be able to answer an email from my clients in California, Georgia, Illinois. Maybe I was at the park, checking my iPhone between swing pushes and snapping photos of the kids on the slide. But, it was my iPhone that allowed me to be there, at the park with my kids rather than at home or in my office tethered to a computer.

I’ve been the Mom at the park disappointed in my fellow Mothers laughing and talking away on their phones, hunched over in a corner texting all the while with their backs turned to their young children. Sure, I was sad that they were being ignored, and a bit worried that anyone could take them and their Mothers wouldn’t notice. I actually asked a Mother once if my older child could push her daughter on the swings because she was being ignored by her mother and I felt like I was “too scary” as a stranger but that my daughter would make a great swing friend! But, I don’t think its fair to judge every mother based on a 15 minute snapshot into their lives as women and mothers. Each situation is unique, each we likely know nothing about.

Parenting is a hard job. For “perfect” mothers and the not so perfect alike. I truly believe that we all need to work harder at supporting each other and when we don’t agree with something, find ways to offer help and understanding when we can and ignore what we cant. You know, “God Grant me the Serenity…”

My biggest parenting challenge right now is that my children are starting to become angry with me because I work so many hours. I’m currently holding down the fort in four different, busy and time-varying capacities. I know that I am doing what I need to to provide for them, to give them “these cool shoes!” and the “In” clothes, Karate lessons, Summer camps, run the pool in the backyard; Oh, and to, you know, put a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and food in their bellies. But, they take these things for granted, and with good reason. They are children! I’ve sworn off working on Saturdays and have made a point to ensure that they know that Saturdays are family days and they get my full attention. And, yes, while I don’t turn OFF the iPhone on Saturday, I do make sure that the primary reason I pick it up is to snap a photo of my kids in the middle of a rock wall climb, on rollerskates, in the pool, with family and whatever else I can conjure up for a fun and memorable day.

Thankfully I am blessed by two wonderful women, Mothers, that support me and help when they can. My own Mom who makes a point of spending an evening with the kids each week (and sometimes me when I can pull away from work). We call it “Mimi Night” and there’s always dinner and a movie and great family time. And, last week when I was having an extraordinarily bad day, one of those “The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back” kind of days, heavily influenced by fatigue and being overwhelmed, a fish tank was broken with a little help from my son. The fish tank sat on top of my antique dresser filled with my clothing. And, 15 gallons of water poured through it all on its way to my office floor, book bags filled with the books I used to teach, my stores of Christmas gift boxes and gift wrap. One phone call and Mom was on her way, helping me clean the mess but, more importantly helping to clean my soul! Thanks, Mom! I love you!

Then, there is Connie. She’s been one of my best friends since we met more than 10 years ago. Our kids have grown up together. We’ve both gone through some ups and downs and had each others support. Just last week while up in my “cave” (Home Office), I heard the vacuum start up downstairs. No, there isn’t a cleaning ghost, it was Connie and my cousin (brother in spirit), Jared. They were sweeping, vacuuming and cleaning away. Without me asking. Just because. And, I didn’t even have to turn in one of my Connie-made coupons! Thanks Connie! And, Jared! I love you guys!

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Coupon booklet good for Kid-free weekends, Date-Nights, Laundry, Dishes, a Bathroom Cleaning and thanks to Jared, a Dishwasher Installation, Kitchen Floor install. There’s also one for a “Whole House Spring Cleaning” Its love!

What’s your Mom challenge?

I am participating in a blog campaign with One2One Network. I am not being compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Help Shine a Light on Autism and Why I Care About @autismspeaks #LIUB #AutismAwareness

My daughter, now almost 12, never spoke a word until after the age of 3. She was different than my older son, different from other children her age. Everyone said not to compare, she’s just on a different level. Her cousin, 10 days younger excelled where she lagged behind in first steps, first words, communicating with me. She did things differently and I accepted and loved her with all of my heart and soul and refused to let anyone treat her differently, unless with a bit more compassion and understanding. I knew what she was asking for because she taught me, without words. When she began talking, people might not have understood her words but they certainly heard her. She. Was. LOUD. Very loud. And, still is. I’m so used to it that I forget, until others cast their disapproving looks or make their snide comments. Screw them! I’m blessed that she speaks at all!

We learned that my Daughter’s loud voice was partly because of scarring caused by repetitive ear infections which reduced her hearing some. And, largely because Kendra was exhibiting one of many symptoms of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). PDD covers a wide range of behaviors and abilities. People who have PDD, like all people, differ greatly in the way they act and what they can do. No two people with PDD will have the same symptoms. A PDD symptom might be mild in one person and severe in another person (MedTV). Like there are varying degrees, there are varying types, or “labels” such as AutismAsperger SyndromeRett Syndrome and Kendra’s label, which is sometimes quite unhelpful, Pervasive developmental disorder — not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS, including atypical autism).

My daughter never “played” with toys. Never. She never cuddled a doll or brushed its hair, until she was at least 10 years old. I tried. She had them. She just didn’t care. She’d chew on them. Throw them around but never played with them in the traditional little girl style. She also has continued to have trouble connecting with others, on a peer-social level. She has difficulty making and retaining friends. She’s bossy and often overbearing during social interactions with others. She has trouble in school, a mix of PDD-NOS, ADHD, ODD, LD-NOS and Dislexia. Her fine and gross motor delays are addressed with the help of in-school Occupational Therapists and her inability to focus and be anything remotely related to organized are helped with the assistance of a Paraprofessional, since Kindergarten. She’s in the 6th grade, part of our local Junior High and that, plus the age of hormonal insanity has made this school year one of the most challenging yet.

She also is extremely sensitive to routine changes, had difficulty adjusting to different scenarios since birth and to this day has difficulty with a lot of outside stimulation. An exciting Daddy-Daughter Dance left her reeling for hours, completely unhinged and just acting quite outside her norm. She had fun, was happy to go but internalizing that experience, although positive, was too much for her. She gets stuck in ruts and routines. She says things that are often cruel without realizing why they hurt people.  Her understanding of cause and effect and repercussions for behavior is limited. She does impulsive, and often strange things and I’ve got to keep a fairly close eye on her most of the time. An example, she was sitting in the front seat of my Jeep last week, chatting away. Randomly, she opened the glove box, found some hand sanitizer, opened it, poured some on her jacket sleeve and started to lick it before i could stop her. Another day she walked into the bathroom just ahead of me as I was going to help her with her hair, picked up a tube of toothpaste and just started squirting it out. She’s quick and impulsive. She keeps me on my toes!!

And, she loves unconditionally, openly and can be the absolute sweetest girl on the planet. She is the light of my life, the apple in my eye and, though days can be hard and times can be tough, I wouldn’t trade her for anything or anyone else in the world! My hope in sharing her story here today, in honor of National Autism Awareness Day and Month is to empower other parents out there doing the best they can with children on the spectrum. And to teach those that don’t understand that the child “on their nerves” may not be at fault, and quite possibly, neither are their parents. Please don’t judge without knowing the facts!

There is hope, there is a light and it shines, brightly with compassion, love and support. People don’t always understand but please take comfort in knowing that so many people DO understand, they’ve been there, they are there, they are the grandparent, brother, sister, cousin of someone with Autism. Don’t ever give up hope. Dare to dream, to live, to love and keep on keeping on.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of pervasive developmental disorders may include:

 

  • Repetitive body movements or behavior patterns
  • Difficulty with changes in routine or familiar surroundings
  • Problems with using and understanding language
  • Difficulty relating to people, objects, and events
  • Unusual play with toys and other objects.

 

How Can You Learn More and Show Support?

Information from Autism Speaks about Light It Up Blue!;

Each April 2, Autism Speaks celebrates Light It Up Blue along with the international autism community, in commemoration of the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day. Light It Up Blue is a unique global initiative that kicks-off Autism Awareness Month and helps raise awareness about autism. In honor of this historic day, many iconic landmarks, hotels, sporting venues, concert halls, museums, bridges and retail stores are among the hundreds of thousands of homes and communities that take part to Light It Up Blue.

It’s easy and fun to Light It Up Blue! Register your Light It Up Blue events today. Whether you’re joining as an individual, or the manager of a building, store, school, cultural institution, restaurant, or media entity, you can pledge to Light It Up Blue and share your events.

Who can Light It Up Blue?

  • Individuals and Families
  • Buildings and Landmarks
  • Retail Locations
  • Schools and Universities
  • Cultural Institutions
  • State Capital & Town Halls
  • Restaurants
  • Media
  • Additionally, Airports, Bridges,
  • Sports Arenas, Concert Halls,
  • Houses of Worship,
  • Websites, and Corporate
  • Offices can Light It Up Blue too!

Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism. Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 88 children; one in 54 boys in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

The mission of Autism Speaks is to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders. We are dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals.

PDD-NOS Icon from Wikipedia

Disclaimer: Although some of my posts are sponsored by various companies and organizations, this particular post is NOT sponsored. The post is entireley driven by my own personal experience, life as a mother of a child on the Autism spectrum and true support of organizations such as Autism Speaks. Information for this post was compiled using the following resources:

Lightitupblue.org
MedTV-Autism
PDD-NOS on Wikipedia