Embracing Imperfect A Lifestyle Blog for Moms Raising Kids with Special Needs 2015-09-02T12:08:53Z http://embracingimperfect.com/feed/atom/ Gina <![CDATA[Disaster Planning for Kids with Special Needs]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=21017 2015-09-02T00:41:55Z 2015-09-02T12:08:53Z Here in the mainland of Pennsylvania, we don’t get tornados, hurricanes or earthquakes – or if we do, they are a mere inconvenience. While that is, of course, a blessing to my home, it also means that disaster planning is not something we often think about. The reality is that with changing weather patterns, the drain on the Earth’s resources especially in the summer, and

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Here in the mainland of Pennsylvania, we don’t get tornados, hurricanes or earthquakes – or if we do, they are a mere inconvenience. While that is, of course, a blessing to my home, it also means that disaster planning is not something we often think about.

The reality is that with changing weather patterns, the drain on the Earth’s resources especially in the summer, and the real threat of a fire, we have dropped the ball on an issue that should be really important for our family. When your children struggle to communicate and learn, disaster planning is a smart step that will ensure your family’s safety.

I know, I know, you’re thinking, “I really don’t have time.” But consider this: During the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, 1000s of kids were misplaced from their family. And the last child took MONTHS to get back to him mom.

I. Cannot. Even. Think about that! We lost Zoe for a few hours once, it was a pure, living nightmare not knowing how she was fairing, if she was alive or not, and knowing there was no way to ask for help or tell anyone who we were.

Ok, now that I’ve put that chill up my spine, it’s time to reconsider my own family’s needs in case of emergency. Your kids’ needs won’t match mine, but I know there are things I would need to have on my list for my kids. Some of those items would be:

  • An emergency contact they can trust.
  • Transitional toys.
  • A device for communication. This can be as simple as some PECS card or an iPad.
  • Water or a mini fan. My daughter has difficulty regulating her body temperature.
  • Snacks that fit their dietary needs.

Now that my back to school shopping is nearly done, this the perfect time to put together a disaster planning list. Like our kids, all families have different needs and your considerations may not match mine. By evaluating your kids’ needs and crafting an emergency plan to fit those needs, your family can be better prepared.

Click here to view the embedded video.

September is National Preparedness Month – the perfect time start making a disaster plan for your family. To start, you need to understand local potential emergencies, both at home and where you work, visit and go to school. We might never get a dangerous hurricane by my home, but we’ve sure been buried under nearly 30 inches of snow and the power has gone out!

If you make a plan now that includes how to get in touch with each other, where to meet, and who can help you at your children’s school, particularly if your children cannot easily communicate their name or haven’t yet learned their address and phone number. If being without access to medications, help, or any other services your child needs to maintain his or her health, safety and independence for even a couple of hours or days could be devastating, and you need to be prepared more than ever.

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The first step to making a plan for you and your family is to think about what every family member needs in a disaster or emergency situation. Here are some things to consider:

  • Collect information – Create a paper copy of the contact information including phone, email, and social media info for your family, friends, caregivers, neighbors and other important people/offices, such as medical facilities, doctors, schools, workplace contacts or service providers.
  • Share your emergency plans – with the trusted people in your support network – tell them what your plans are, especially about your children with communication or other challenges.
  • Practice your plan with your support network – Discuss your needs and your kids’ needs ; learn about their assistance or services. You need to consider adaptations your child with special needs requires: assistive technology, food allergies and sensitivities, behavioral assists, transitional toys.
  • Check your Emergency Supply Kit – Stock a basic disaster supply kit. Plan for sheltering at home, at work and on the road. For kids with allergies, this can include special food, but also remember medications, epi pens, bandages, water, medicine for cuts and burns, flashlights, extra batteries, candles and matches.
  • Make a Medical Plan: Even if you do not use a computer, put important medical information for every family member onto a flash drive or mobile device for easy transport in the event of an evacuation. Have your medical professionals update it every time they make changes in your treatment or care.
  • Plan for Possible Evacuation – During an emergency, be ready to explain to first responders and emergency officials that you need to evacuate and choose to go to a shelter with your family, service animal, caregiver, personal assistant, and your assistive technology devices and supplies.
  • Make a Power Outage Plan – Plan alternative ways to charge your mobile devices, and communication and assistive technology devices before disaster strikes. For example, keep your rechargers charged can have a car charger.
  • Behavior Support – Plan for children with disabilities and people, who may have difficulty in unfamiliar or chaotic environments. You can make a game out of your disaster plan, allowing the children to “play” through a mock event. Pick the one most likely to happen – for us, again, that would probably be a fire. And don’t be afraid to ask your child’s team or teachers at school what their plan is if you don’t know it. If your child has special needs but not their own aide, how will they help your child cope and get to safety in an emergency? How will they get in touch with you and who will they contact if they cannot get you?

For a full list of help with making your plan, what you might need, and ideas to get you started, visit the Ready.Gov Make A Plan page. They have a huge list of resources, many of them are things you would probably never think you might need in a disaster situation.

Parents can even get the kids in on the disaster planning fun! Disasters affect everyone. So it takes everyone – youth, parents and community members – to help prepare. Ready.Gov has some great resources to help get your kids involved!

Now you are ready! Grab up the family and get started on your emergency and disaster plan! To get more information on how to make a family emergency communication plan, build a disaster supply kit or to learn how to get involved in community preparedness, please visit Ready.gov/MyPlan.

 

 

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Gina <![CDATA[Healthy Back to School Eating – For Mom #HealthyBTS #Giveaway]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20910 2015-08-31T20:22:30Z 2015-08-31T12:00:44Z The kids are back to school  – are you ready? Lunches, snacks and good nutrition, as well as more free time for parents, homework struggles and organization. Gina of Embracing Imperfect decided to gather a group of bloggers to share their best Healthy Back to School tips with you!   Moms, It’s Time for You to Eat Healthy When we think about healthy back to school

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The kids are back to school  – are you ready? Lunches, snacks and good nutrition, as well as more free time for parents, homework struggles and organization. Gina of Embracing Imperfect decided to gather a group of bloggers to share their best Healthy Back to School tips with you!

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Moms, It’s Time for You to Eat Healthy

When we think about healthy back to school eating, we mostly think of our kids: what to make them for lunch, how to get in all of their nutritional requirements in a day, creating a filling breakfast they will actually eat, and quick dinners for school activity nights. As I’ve written before, it’s not easy to go GMO free and it’s really easy to whip up something clean for the kids and then do a “fallback” for me and my husband on conventional, fattening takeout foods. If you’re like me, you tend to leave yourself on the back burner way too often but that’s not fair to you – or your kids.

To be at your best, you simply must eat right as much as you can. I know, you’re thinking I’ll say, “your kids will thank me for that.” The heck with that! You’ll thank you for it! And on the flip side, you’ll absolutely know when you messed and ate something that tanked your whole day. I have totally been there – when a stupid breakfast choice made me mean, lazy and crabby. But being busy means choices need to be easy and doable. Here are my top tips for eating healthy when the kids go back to school

Tip #1: Always eat breakfast.

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Bulletproof coffee

Always, always, always!! I know some people don’t, but I’m telling you it is bad for your blood sugar and you don’t want to mess around with that. Eat something every day within an 1-2 hours of getting up. Your best bet is something with protein in it, and make sure it’s something you like to eat. Start your day off with a breakfast that makes you happy.

How I Do It:

I love my morning coffee and it gets me excited for my morning me time. I sometimes make bulletproof with coconut oil and cinnamon in the blender (a “latte”!). I rotate foods I like, making sure I have 3-4 breakfast options on hand for the next day: organic gluten free cereal with almond milk and organic Stevia, sprouted English muffins with real butter or soy free spread, pastured organic eggs (with spinach if I have it), and oatmeal. There’s always protein in there somewhere. Plus if I run out of milk and butter, then I have eggs. If the eggs are out too, it’s oatmeal with fruit because I’d rather have no protein than no breakfast. And if I make the kids muffins for school or an event, you can be sure I squirrel away one for my coffee!

Tip #2: Double up dinner.

I always pack the kids leftover dinner for school but I’ve noticed over the summer that I’m more likely to eat if there’s a portion for me too. If you can make a super sized dinner, everyone can have a filling lunch and then you can east a smaller, easier meal the next night. This is ideal for nights full of extracurricular or school activities!

How I Do It:

We never ever ever throw anything out, so I believe this saves money. And even if there’s nothing but a handful of cauliflower popcorn leftover, while I do need a different option for the kids’ lunch, I can still eat that side. It’s critical that you put lots of veggies you like on the table. The kids will eventually get used to them and try them (if you’re lucky), and you can make a nice lunch for yourself out of it. Make sure you have lots of salad items on hand. Buy salad, sauerkraut, pickles and organic applesauce for easy sides.

Tip #3: Smoothies!

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My usual smoothie

Ok so it’s midday and your stomach is growling but you can’t stop working. Smoothies don’t often fill me enough but they fulfill an important hurdle when I can’t stop for long. In fact, I’d rather have a smoothie than a sweet protein bar of any kind or granola. Here are 22 smoothie recipes – and 4 latte recipes to go with Tip #1!

How I Do It:

The beauty of a smoothie is that you can throw anything in there, like flax or chia seeds if you have a high powered blender. Be sure to make one with greens in it too, especially if you ‘re not all that keen on salads. Toss in vitamins or supplements or tea powder (be sure they don’t conflict) to give it more impact. Add protein powder if you’re going without lunch or need more bang for your slump.

Tip #4: Snack Like a Champ

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Healthy, full of protein & fiber and delicious!

School lunch requires a snack, in addition to complete lunch, for a kid to get through 6 hours of schoolwork Why do we think we need less for our own 7 or 8 hour work day? And why should our snacks be any less healthy? Teachers would have a collective freak out if I send the girls in with a candy bar – you shouldn’t eat that “fake” energy food for a snack either.

How I Do It:

I love some snacks by the handful – pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, nut. I love a pear or apple sunflower or almond butter, or slices of organic cheddar and crackers that have a healthy grain or are sprouted with grapes or berries. And yes, you can put the seeds or nuts on the side too! If you snack very wisely around a smoothie, you can go until dinner and it will be as filling as lunch.

Tip #5: Eat How You Like

Ever cook that fabulous meal and just NOT feel like eating? I hate that we have all these stupid food rules about when and how to eat, and I just don’t believe those over my body. You should be listening to your body anyway, but beware, you may go to bed hungry – never a good idea if you can avoid it.

How I Do It:

Maybe it has to do with how I worked out, or how I snacked or something else, but if I’m not inclined to eat, I’ll clean up instead. Often I’m hungry after that, but don’t feel compelled to eat when you don’t want to.

Tip #6: You Can Have Dessert

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I love my mom but the worst thing she ever taught me was the daily dessert habit. And sadly, my own addiction to this means I’ve unwittingly taught the kids the same. My day does not feel “done” unless I’ve had a sweet at the end of it. If this describes you and you can have sweets, choose organic, lower sugar, cleaner sugar substitutes, eat only a little and if you like, make it yourself to create a healthier dessert.

How I Do It:

If it’s candy, then it’ll be one of the organic brands I love, like Justin’s peanut butter cups (which has soy, by the way so eat in moderation.) Or I choose organic chocolate hazelnut spread brand on organic berries. If it’s a cupcake, I’m in it for the good stuff – fresh made from my preferred baker, split in half to cover 2 days and chucking out off half of the frosting. Or, I make goodies from scratch, cutting back the sugar content (I often find gluten free recipes are too sweet) or replacing it, and add fruit or use coconut oil over butter.

That’s as strict as I can manage! Now that I’ve shared that, I’m putting the kids on a much stricter diet very soon and part of that requires meal planning. That means I’m taking my healthy eating tips and sharing them for the family. I think my next game plan is eating for 4, rather than chunking meals the way I do now: the kids eat, then me or me and my husband.

How will you get back to eating healthy this year?

More Back to School Ideas for 2015:

Need more ideas for this back to school season? Here are more post from my amazing fellow bloggers participating in this Healthy Back to School Event:

5 Healthy Lunch Box Ideas – O’Boy! Organic

20 Tips to Keep Your Child Organized – Momma Lew

5 Tips for a Successful School Year – Mommy University

Back to School: Extracurricular Activities – A Life in Balance

Healthy Back to School Eating for Mom – Embracing Imperfect

One Month of {Allergy-Friendly, Healthy & Balanced} Nut & Egg-Free Kids Lunch Ideas {No Repeats} – Busy Bee Kate

5 Mindful Must-Haves for a Healthy Back To School – Friendspired

Things Moms Should Do to Celebrate Back to School – Wine In Mom

Giveaway

Talking about healthy back to school eating, we have an amazing giveaway JAM PACKED with goodies and treats from our participating vendors! Take a peak at all the prizees one winner will have delivered:

Alfie the Allergic Alligator Goes to School:

Alfie the Allergic Alligator Goes to School helps children begin to learn about food allergies and how to cope with the diagnosis. Alfie experiences several emotions as he deals with starting school among his non allergic peers. This book will encourage discussion and help children, parents, and teachers promote food allergy awareness and acceptance.

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AllerMates: Lunchbox, choice of color

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Beanfield Snacks: 1 case of chips (12 bags) in various flavors

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Biena Foods: Biena Snacks variety pack, which includes a 5 oz bag of all of their 5 flavors

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Blue Avocado: $50 (re)zip ultimate kit 10-piece reusable nontoxic storage bag kit

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Boiron USA: $50 Cold & Flu Back-to-School Survival Kit

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Don’t Go Nuts: one flavor, winner’s choice, of each of these: 16oz. jar of soy spread, 1 box of snack bars (12), 1
box of dips (8)

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Enjoy Life: 2 boxes of chewy bars, 2 boxes of decadent bars & box of pancake mix

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Good Health Snacks: Mickey Shaped Veggie Chips – 24 pack pantry box

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Peter Rabbit Organics: 1 case of pouches (10)

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Red Plate Foods: Sampler pack of their new granolas (Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Berry & Swirl)

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Skinny Pop: 5 SkinnyPacks

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Sneaky Chef:  Chocolate No-Nut Butter and Creamy No-Nut Butter

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SunButter: Gift Box

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Stationery Studio: $50 gift card

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StickerKid: 50 + FREE SHIPPING coupons for labels and wall decals

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Stonyfield Organic: $50 worth of coupons and a bag full of Stonyfield goodies.

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Sun Cups: Variety Pack

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Surf Sweets: 30 bags of assorted single serve treats for a class party

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WOWBUTTER: 1 Case (6 Jars)

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: The participating blogs were not compensated for this post. 

A special thanks to all the participating sponsors and their generosity!

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Gina <![CDATA[Get Lean in 10 Days – Gluten Free Cookbook]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20929 2015-08-27T18:44:22Z 2015-08-27T18:44:22Z I received a copy of this book to facilitate this review; all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Now that the kids are getting back in school, my theme for September is getting back in shape. One great way to shed the pounds is, of course to go gluten free. I do eat gluten but not a lot – and I’ve certainly

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I received a copy of this book to facilitate this review; all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

get lean in 10 days

Now that the kids are getting back in school, my theme for September is getting back in shape. One great way to shed the pounds is, of course to go gluten free. I do eat gluten but not a lot – and I’ve certainly met my share of people whose digestive  health has improved after removing it, even if they didn’t a diagnosis that matched up with gluten intolerance or sensitivity, like autism or Celiac disease. In fact, according to the New Yorker, “Nearly twenty million people contend that they regularly experience distress after eating products that contain gluten.” That’s a large number! And Authority Nutrition contends that not only may wheat gluten be addictive, it is also linked to brain disorders and autoimmune diseases.

How can you quickly and easily get gluten out of your life? The “Get Lean Gluten Free Cookbook: 40+ Fresh & Simple Recipes to KEEP You Lean, Fit & Healthy” is everything you need to know to go gluten free and get lean in 10 days. Of course, the idea is that you’ll keep up that lifestyle. It starts off with 9 tips to go – and stay – gluten free – solid advice here. Then the book provides the Rules for the next 10 days, from what you can not be eat to what to include and supplements. It even provides a a discount code for the recommended brand.

Following that is a meal plan template and recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for 10 days. It’s all coded so you know when you can eat what and the “shoulds” and “should nots” are taken care of in the plan.

I love the recipes in this cookbook. They are easy and match up very well to how we eat: dairy-free and soy-free if you want. There’s also plenty of options so if you want to avoid something, it’s easy. For example, I don’t eat seafood so a few recipes were right out of there but there were plenty of options. And I found two recipes I already create, so I felt very on track and I can adapt many of these recipes when we go on the GAPS diet again.

I also liked that they used almond flour for most flour recipes and buckwheat for one so no worries about questionable flour. These recipes are low carb, high protein and muscle building and are easy especially for moms on a workout program.

The book itself is an easy, color-coded read, but I didn’t not like that it’s an oversized paperback. It’s clear and visible, but the printing is not high quality so you might want to consider the downloadable version instead, if you are ready to go gluten free and get lean in 10 days!

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Gina <![CDATA[5 Steps to Helping Your Child With Special Needs Go Back to School]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20893 2015-08-28T18:51:44Z 2015-08-26T21:34:39Z Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Follett and Sverve. All opinions are my own. Right now, you may be beginning to panic about the school year. Whether your child is only days away from starting school or is barely roughing it through the first few weeks, she may be struggling to get back into the swing of things. If your child starts school and a problem that prevents learning crops

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Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Follett and Sverve. All opinions are my own.

Helping your child with special needs back to school

Right now, you may be beginning to panic about the school year. Whether your child is only days away from starting school or is barely roughing it through the first few weeks, she may be struggling to get back into the swing of things. If your child starts school and a problem that prevents learning crops up immediately, you need to take action to solve it. Here Embracing Imperfect’s a step-by-step guide for helping your child with special needs go back to school.

5 Steps for Helping Your Child With Special Needs Go Back to School

Step 1. Figure Out Where Your Child Struggles Most

You can’t solve every problem at once so find the one that is holding up her school day the most. For example, some years back we struggled to get Zoe on her school van for pick up. Obviously, if she didn’t get on the van, she wouldn’t get to school so before we tackled any other issues (and there were a few that year), we had to find a solution to get her on the van every morning.

Step 2. Don’t Force It

The biggest mistake we made during this time was trying to gently encourage, then push more firmly, then finally demand she get on the van. That made her really dig in her heels against us. She positioned herself in a way to prevent us from guiding her to the street. Parents, kids are way stronger than you think and will NOT budge if they don’t want to. And of course, you don’t want to be yanking or pulling on them so it’s better to let the bus – or whatever your issue – go for the day or the morning. That first day she struggled, we kept her home.

Step 3. Create a “Quick Fix”

Keeping her home set a bad precedent that first time made getting on the van the next day much more difficult. The “quick fix” here was obvious: we drove her to school. We continued that for a few days but that solution was not available every day. Don’t get me wrong – the car ride was a challenge too but she was more willing to be driven in a familiar car – with me pulling over to rebuckle her seatbelt from time to time – than to get into the  school van. That drive helped me figure out the next step. Since that second day was a Thursday, I decided to drive her on Friday as well and solve the van issue on Monday. This gave her time to regroup and me time to figure things out.

girl with project

Within a year or two, she was loving school & happily creating complex projects, like this one on Mercury, her favorite planet. Clothing adapted even more over time and eventually, she crafted her own funky but princessy and comfy style.

Step 4. Find Out What Is Triggering Her

If your child refuses to comply with something, you need to find out why she is so resistant. Raising a child with autism, sensory issues and speech delays meant we had to unravel why Zoe wouldn’t get on the bus. She battled the seatbelt – which was unusual – but that tipped me off that her sensory issues had escalated and were contributing to the issue: everything from a jacket to a shirt to a the seatbelt was bothering her and when it came time for school on a that first very hot day, she did not want to go. I was lucky that I could observe this at home. Sometimes, issues happen at school and kids show very different behavior when parents are around to observe. You may need to bring in an objective 3rd party, such as an inclusion expert, to observe the behavior.

Step 5. Address That Problem on All Fronts

What do I mean by “all fronts”? I mean food, natural remedies, alternative therapies, traditional therapies, transitional devices or toys, supplements, social stories, etc. – throw whatever you’ve got in your toolbox at the problem as long as your therapies don’t conflict. Once I had figured out that a sensory issue was preventing her from getting on the van, I did everything in my power to adjust those issues. I contacted our homeopath to let her know we needed to work on this issue as soon as possible. For my daughter, skin sensitivity can be triggered by certain foods, so I removed those and carefully monitored her diet, which required me to work with the school and eventually alter her IEP.

To make her hypersensitive arms more comfortable, I bought her new clothing. She could not wear tight long sleeves during those hot days, but I could buy her a tight sleeveless shirt. Sensory-friendly summer clothing is hard to find. Luckily I found athletic tank tops that were a tad too small on her – which is a good thing. They covered her just fine and provided the compression she craved on her torso. Finally, I gave her transitional toys that she could play with and chew on. These helped distract her as she rode the van and we managed to get her buckle her seatbelt. We then purchased a seatbelt lock to keep dissuade her from undoing the seatbelt.

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We even graduated to coats!! And long sleeves!!! Oh what a happy winter that was…

If All Else Fails…

Every single one of these steps was critical in getting my daughter to school and some unraveled over time. It took a much longer time to get rid of the seatbelt lock – months later – and only now, years later, can she leave on the van without any transitional toys – usually. But what happens if you’ve tried steps 1-5 and your child is still not getting on well at school? Then it is time to call a meeting. You may want a full blown IEP and you may need to call in your special needs advocate to help you navigate the problem. Or, you can meet with your child’s special education staff to brainstorm more ideas or find someone objective who is a specialist in the field of your child’s disability. It’s really important, too, to have a good support group of like-minded parents who are raising kids with similar difficulties to get ideas and advice on how they’ve dealt with a crisis in school.

Keep Perspective

A lot of parents at this point are frustrated, scared and angry, and turn to blame the school or Board of Ed staff. I’ve been there when these people were in the wrong and I’ve been there when I wanted to blame others because I was at my wit’s end despite everyone’s best intentions. It’s critical to keep calm, keep perspective and keep in mind what schools are dealing with today: increased class sizes, lower budgets, fewer supports, not enough special ed staff, and lots of turn over. Your child’s team has to do what’s best for her within their means and without disturbing or alienating all the other kids in her class as well.

That’s why it’s important that teachers and schools can get all the resources they need. Follett is a company that can help. They are a leading provider of education technology, services and print and digital content for schools, districts and colleges. We’d be lost without the technology our amazing school provides for our children! Their services help classrooms thrive and provide all kids with what they need to get a good education. This year, I’m joining Follett’s #FallBacktoSchool campaign helping your child with special needs go back to school.

Now it’s your turn! I’d love for you to share with us how you overcame
an obstacle to getting your child back to school.

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Gina <![CDATA[4 Week Workout Program for Moms: Back in School, Back in Shape!]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20880 2015-08-28T15:40:29Z 2015-08-24T16:34:26Z I received an extended trial of Crunch Live for this series. All opinions are my own. Ok, moms, the kids are back in school – or will be in the next week or two – and that means more free time for you. So how are you going to spend this luxury of time? You know what you should do:  get back in shape. I know this

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I received an extended trial of Crunch Live for this series. All opinions are my own.

workout plan for mom

Ok, moms, the kids are back in school – or will be in the next week or two – and that means more free time for you. So how are you going to spend this luxury of time?

You know what you should do:  get back in shape. I know this summer for me has meant extra weight and extra time in front of the computer, oddly enough! For many of us, vacation brings

While I completely agree that when the kids are back in school, you should take some time to start your day right (relaxing, enjoying your tea, praying, meditating), this is the ideal time to get back on an exercise schedule.

This immediately brings a bunch of excuses to mind.

I can’t afford a gym!

I don’t have the time.

I can’t walk around my area it’s not safe and I don’t live near any parks. 

Listen, the next few weeks can provide a lot of trials for moms of kids with special needs so we need to be ready to go when we need to stand up for our kids, stand in at a school event or stand around during a field trip. Meetings, homework and paperwork don’t need to get the best of us when we making our way through the school year, as long as we are fit, healthy and energized. So I welcome you to join me in a 4 week challenge with fully authentic workout classes – right in your living room.

Introducing The 4 Week Workout Program for Moms

I have partnered with Crunch Live to provide you with a special 2 week trial code (“EMBRACE14” )so you share my experiences in this 4 week workout program. Crunch Live has crafted a 4 week workout program for moms (PDF) who need energy, thinner middles and a little fun to get motivated. Need to work on your core? Need to get back in the swing of working out when you’ve spent your summer relaxing? Need to feel motivated for the new school year? This is your plan! Plus, it has days off – and of course you get to rest on Sunday!

crunch workout

A peak inside the Aerobics with Attitude Class

It is challenging. I’ve done the first exercise  – Aerobics with Attitude – which is HARD but fun and hysterical. (And also, let’s just say, white girls have NO rhythm). It’s a 30 minute class but the instructor gives you plenty of cool down breaks and a bigger break at the halfway point to towel down. I had to take about 5 minutes for that because I’ve been too sedentary for too long!

What else do you get with Crunch Live?

  • New workouts added every month!
  • 15 min “Quickie” workouts if you’re in a time crunch or want to target specific areas. Ok, there’s even a 10 minute workout – but don’t cheat and use that if you have more time!
  • They provides suggested and customizable workout plans outside of my plan.
  • Ability to access to videos from your phone, iPad, laptop, desktop, or Smart TV via the mobile site. I boot this up on my computer OR my WiiU. I suggest you put the recommended 4 week workout program for moms  – or the ones you like if you’re doing your own plan – into your “favorites” so your workout is just a click away, no matter what device you use.

So are you up to the challenge? To sign up, go to Crunch Live and follow these directions:

  1. Create an account and get access to preview all our workout videos, not just the ones in my routine.
  2. Click ‘Join Now’ on the next page, select the FREE Trial option and follow the prompts to redeem your trial and enter the discount code, “EMBRACE14” to get your 14-day trial Hurry! You have until Wednesday, 9/30/15 to get your 14 days free!
  3. Download the 4 week workout program for moms (PDF) to get a routine you CAN follow.

No fuss, no mess. Simply sign up for 2 weeks and tracks the pre-made program. Then if you want to go on, you can sign up for a monthly program at Crunch Live. For $10 a month, you get all the workouts you need to get fit in no time. No travel, no worries. And you can invite a friend over (you know, for accountability!) or jump on the workout with your family1

Ready to sign on? Comment below to keep accountable! I’ll be tracking my progress over the next 4 weeks as well, to tell you how I do and what I’ve lost.

The post 4 Week Workout Program for Moms: Back in School, Back in Shape! appeared first on Embracing Imperfect.

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Gina <![CDATA[Kids with Special Needs and School: a Look Back]]> http://mom-blog.com/?p=1034 2015-08-21T00:57:13Z 2015-08-21T12:00:02Z A blast from the past: Amelia’s preschool graduation. This year, Seven Generations saw a mass exodus of staff on every level, and we will be returning to a very new and different school. We’ve also had some requested changes that I don’t think I’m too fond of. We shall see how things turn out… This post was first published on 6/18/2009. This Wednesday was the last

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A blast from the past: Amelia’s preschool graduation. This year, Seven Generations saw a mass exodus of staff on every level, and we will be returning to a very new and different school. We’ve also had some requested changes that I don’t think I’m too fond of. We shall see how things turn out… This post was first published on 6/18/2009.

This Wednesday was the last day of school “first years” for both my daughters. Zoe completed her first year of preschool and Amelia finished her first year of  “real” school (kindergarten).  As I drove Amelia home from her last day yesterday, tears in my eyes, I realized how entirely naive I had been about kids with special needs and school and my daughter’s disability, and how I have reached another level of acceptance right then in that car ride.

In September, I barely noticed the gap between her and her peers.  Why were they only scheduling her to count to 30? (She made it to 15, and one to one is still stuck around 5.)  Why were they not doing kid writing with her? (She can write most of the letters, some in both cases, but not words yet.) Why weren’t they pushing her spelling skills? (She’s actually pretty good with letters and the alphabet; they solidly taught this to her.)

I’ve been assured that she’s ready for the first grade, but there is a doubt in my heart that they are saying that because we pushed so hard in her August IEP.  She is pre-registered for a charter school – full inclusion, first year it’s open – but I’m not sure if it’s not better to put her in an instructional learning situation with her peers.

I’m way too new at this, but there is a part of me that knows she will be ok.  I just look at her sometimes, ya know, and marvel at God’s handiwork.  Oh Lord, I’m crying as I write this.

Don’t think I don’t feel this same way about Zoe, who made great strides this year. From 2 words, she has what now? 30? Today sitting on my belly she said a new word, “padcake”, which means “pat-a-cake”, which she LOVES.  The new TSS is working out lovely, and Amelia today had her evaluation. I brought her and guess what? I LOVED the psychologist. He was AWESOME.  He treated her like a kid, even as we discussed the difficulties particular to Down syndrome. Didn’t condescend. Didn’t label (she does NOT have ODD). Didn’t go remotely near anything topic like “medication.” He even said some of her speech patterns were seen in typically developing 6 year olds. He thought she was a regular kid, with some learning difficulties, no biggie.

My hope, my prayer, my fondest wish for my children is that they can grow up in a world where everyone treats them like that.  I know, that’s a wish I don’t even get.  Everyone on this planet is judged in age, race, sex, gender, and a million other things they were born with every day.  But I hope that there are times, days, places and people that will give them a breather from that sometimes.

Can I just say how gosh-darn proud I am of my two little angels? Kids with special needs and school do go together, but it’s up to us parents to make that work!

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Gina <![CDATA[Guest Post: Back to School Organization]]> http://mom-blog.com/?p=1170 2015-08-21T00:10:38Z 2015-08-21T01:35:31Z This post contains affiliate links. Originally published 8/18/2009. Back to school means back-to-organizing. You might not have ever thought of it in those terms but it’s the truth. When the kids go back to school, you organize school clothes and school supplies. You try to get a bedtime routine established. Drop-off, pick-up, car pools or bus schedules are analyzed. There are two back to school organization projects that

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back to school organization

This post contains affiliate links. Originally published 8/18/2009.

Back to school means back-to-organizing. You might not have ever thought of it in those terms but it’s the truth.

When the kids go back to school, you organize school clothes and school supplies. You try to get a bedtime routine established. Drop-off, pick-up, car pools or bus schedules are analyzed.

There are two back to school organization projects that tend to fall by the wayside. They’ll drive you crazy …and then drive you crazy some more. Those two things? Breakfast and lunches.

We all know, it’s not a good plan to skip breakfast or lunch, nor is it a good plan to go crazy every school day, it’s time to try some organizing for those two areas.

Back to School Organization: Breakfast

  • Take advantage of your kids’ love of eating out. Attach a wipe-off board to your fridge and make a menu. Following your weekly grocery shopping, create a list of choices. For example, it might read “waffles with syrup, scrambled eggs and toast, breakfast smoothie and banana.”
  • Having a menu board eliminates repeating the contents of your fridge daily. and over and over to each child.
  • For non-readers, you can draw a picture.
  • Or, you can also start to cut out pictures from the packages and use refrigerator magnets to create a picture menu.
  • Probably the biggest thing you can do to organize back to school breakfasts is to organize bedtime. Tired and cranky kids don’t want to eat. If mornings and breakfast are a struggle, gradually make that bedtime earlier until you find the right mix.
  • Eating under stress isn’t going to work. Have you noticed that they only eat slower when you start saying “Hurry or you’ll miss the bus!” Try to eliminate stress as by setting up and planning for the morning night before and leaving yourself enough time in the morning. Backpacks are filled and by the door and clothing is laid out.
  • Plan a breakfast menu that matches your child’s eating style. If they don’t like to eat much but love smoothies, then offer healthy smoothies. If they don’t enjoy breakfast foods that much, offer what they do like. Perhaps you could try rolled up ham and cheese, a mug of soup or heat up something from last night’s dinner that they do like.
  • Turn off the morning TV. Remove the toys from the table. When children start watching cartoons, pushing cars and trucks across the table or coloring, they stop eating. This doesn’t mean breakfast can’t be fun – cheerful music, for example, is a great way to start the day. You can even have a different family member pick the music each day of the week!

Back to School Organization: Lunch

Have you ever thought about how the typical parent packs a school lunch?

First you open the fridge and grab some lunch meat. Then off to the pantry for the bread. Back to the fridge for the mustard or mayo. Over to the drawer for the sandwich bags. Then you head to the cabinet that has mini-bags of chips. Then you open the fridge again for a piece of fruit and a drink. Finally off to the cookie jar for a dessert. Wait, not done yet….off to the table for a napkin. (Did I mention that you need to multiply this times some 180 or so school days?)

No wonder it takes so long! You’ve been all over the kitchen more than once. Here’s how to organize your kitchen for school lunches. choose a cabinet to be your lunch center. Empty it out.

  • Gather your lunch packing essentials: plastic bags, napkins, plastic flatware, any containers and lids you might use.
  • Next shop in your pantry. Move everything that you buy for lunches into the lunch cabinet. Don’t forget the bread and even the peanut butter!
  • Now tackle the fridge. To organize it for lunches, get a large plastic box (this is a good use for that one with the missing lid!). Place all your lunch packing ingredients into the plastic box. This includes snack items. Make sure that your lunch meat is in its own sealed box or bag so it doesn’t leak on anything. You can even add condiments on the side. Slide your lunch-packing box back into the fridge.
  • When it is time to pack lunches, simply pull out the whole box and put it on the counter under your lunch packing cabinet. Everything is at hand without so many trips around the kitchen.
  • During dinnertime clean-up or after the kids get home, set up a lunch packing routine. Wash out lunch boxes. Have each child choose their side items and put them in the box. The next morning, drop in the sandwich and the drink. Even the sandwiches can be made ahead and refrigerated.
  • To pack leftover dinner, use a glass bake safe container to store and reheat to save time.
  • Buy extra freezer packs to keep food cold so that you have a spare if the cold pack doesn’t make it back into the freezer.
  • If your child uses a lunch box, keep a few paper lunch bags on hand for the day they might forget to bring it home.
  • If you can prepare something that they like in larger size, you can divide it into several lunch size containers to be ready for the next day or two of lunch. For example, my girls loved pasta salad. Noodles, chopped veggies and some protein make for a good lunch.

leaschneiderEmbracing Imperfect welcomes Lea Schneider, author of  “Growing Up Organized: A Mom-To-Mom Guide.” Her organizing advice has appeared in Woman’s Day, Natural Health, Better Homes and Gardens Kids’ Rooms and College News magazines, numerous websites and newspapers. 

 

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Gina <![CDATA[The Truth About Living GMO Free]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20857 2015-08-13T20:05:09Z 2015-08-13T18:39:53Z For me, this summer, indeed, this year, has been all about soul searching, self improvement, admitting the ugly things about myself and following God’s lead to become a better person all around. And my pursuit of authenticity means that I want to be painfully honest with you, even at the risk of losing face or followers. I want to talk to about living a 100% GMO

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For me, this summer, indeed, this year, has been all about soul searching, self improvement, admitting the ugly things about myself and following God’s lead to become a better person all around.

And my pursuit of authenticity means that I want to be painfully honest with you, even at the risk of losing face or followers.

I want to talk to about living a 100% GMO free life.

The truth is, it isn’t easy.

The real truth is, that it’s impossible for me.

Being 100% GMO free would mean never ever eating out again. And while I do believe that as a family, we need more restraint and should eat out less, dining out is a great way to get my kids interacting with the world, including learning appropriate “in public” behavior. I believe our frequent outings have benefitted my kids, especially my daughter with autism, and I encourage all families raising kids with special needs to do as much as they can to get their kids out in public.

That, however, means sacrificing the purity of food because, as much as we’d like to ALWAYS bring the kids’ food with us, sometimes we need a restaurant that will cater to our kids’ special food needs. And finding restaurants that serve organic or grass fed foods is really, really hard and very, very rare.

In addition, it’s exhausting to cook 2-3 times a day, every single day. I know I should get better on this and I keep saying I will (and then don’t), but the fact is I’m doing the best I can right now and all that cooking is not in my current “best.” I’m hoping that during school I’ll have more time to cook – for the kids and my husband and myself, but right now after ensuring the kids eat gluten, dairy, soy, preservative, MSG, dye free, non-GMO foods, I’m just ok with ordering a GMO laden pizza for me and Chris.

And the real, REAL truth is that try as I might to buy strictly organic and non-GMO foods, it’s just not realistic on my budget and with my life and personality.

That’s part of why I rebranded this blog. I’m going to work to mostly bring you GMO free and organic food reviews and giveaways, but every now and then something might slip through that isn’t strictly “clean” in this way. That’s because as moms, we have to do “good, better, best” in our lives sometimes.

And more confessions? I do use completely nontoxic organic skincare but not makeup or nail polish. I want to, I just can’t afford it for something I so rarely use (I wear makeup maybe 2-3 times a month IF I’m not out at events). I believe in moderation, too. I’m good with Physician’s Formula which gets an “ok” or “so so” listing on Environmental Working Group because I rarely use it. If I were to use makeup every single day, like if I had an office job, I wouldn’t use that brand. And hair color is a must-have that is toxic and there are just no good clean solutions. I’ve asked the people who’ve done their research and the only solution is to go grey. I’m not that self-confident yet!

This is my real truth. My life is not perfect. I won’t be perfected until I’m dead and gone and won’t have any influence in this world. If it were totally up to me, I’d eat organic every single meal, every single food item. I really want to VOTE with my dollars and NOT buy crap, so I try not to purchase non-organic in the grocery store – just some produce with thick skins and most packaged foods, like 95%. And that 5% is never for the kids to eat.

That’s why I write this blog. I want you to feed your kids better – whatever that looks like for you! Maybe today the dairy comes out. Maybe today you go with the Clean 15 in produce. Maybe today you get rid of food with dyes. And then, in a few weeks, you take the next steps that you can muster.

You can’t do it all at once. Almost no one can. That’s just not realistic.

As for me, and my blog, I will still champion organic and non-GMO foods because the families that buy from that category as much as they afford to can have made a difference. Keeping the Kellogg’s and the McDonald’s out of our kids’ hands HAS impacted the market as those companies watch their stocks slide down the drain. Small companies like Annie’s and Applegate Farms are growing too fast not to go public and merge with bigger brands, whatever you think of those decisions. Bigger brands are stepping up to remove artificial dyes and GMOs as they worry about their market share.

Some of that is the work of Leah Segedie, who I am VERY proud to write for at Mamavation.com. My exposes on dumping the junk foods and what is a better or BEST choice help moms like you make good, safe choices for their kids, whether or not they are on special diets.

And I have just volunteered to help out at Leah’s conference, ShiftCon, where I will meet some amazing brands because everyone there is GMO free or organic. Does that mean I’ll be entirely GMO free by next year? Well, probably not but HOPEFULLY more so than I am now.

Modern moms have spoken: we don’t want to take it anymore. We want CLEAN FOOD for our families and our children. It’s the only way forward but toxic food and products are everywhere. Getting them out of our lives takes a long time – and that’s ok!

That is the essence of embracing imperfect: accepting where you are right now and making tiny adjustments to get to where you want to be in the long run. That is how you achieve real, lasting growth.

How do you move forward to find healthy ways to nourish your children?

The post The Truth About Living GMO Free appeared first on Embracing Imperfect.

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Gina <![CDATA[Richard Leeds SpongeBob Pajamas Giveaway]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20851 2015-08-11T22:20:36Z 2015-08-12T06:00:52Z This post contains affiliate links. Are your kids crazy for Sponge Bob? Well, who’s aren’t? Even though I sometimes think the humor reminds more of stuff I watched in college, my kids go gaga for Sponge Bob. This giveaway has 14 winners for these really adorable PJs! Welcome to the Richard Leeds SpongeBob Pajamas Giveaway Event!   Hosted by: Southern Mom Loves Sponsored by: Richard Leeds International  

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This post contains affiliate links.

Are your kids crazy for Sponge Bob? Well, who’s aren’t? Even though I sometimes think the humor reminds more of stuff I watched in college, my kids go gaga for Sponge Bob. This giveaway has 14 winners for these really adorable PJs!

Welcome to the Richard Leeds SpongeBob Pajamas Giveaway Event!

 

Hosted by: Southern Mom Loves

Sponsored by: Richard Leeds International

 

It’s Back To School time, and while you’re shopping for clothes, backpacks, and supplies, don’t forget some fun new PJs to help the kids transition back into those earlier bedtimes. I know nothing will get my kids more excited about bedtime than a new pair of pajamas!
Richard Leeds International makes some of the best pajamas out there, with characters from your favorite movies, comics, and TV shows. These pajamas are made in super-soft cottons with bright, imaginative designs. This uber-affordable Juniors line is available exclusively at Walmart in-store and online.

 

14 winners will each receive both a pair of PJs AND a Dorm Shirt from Richard Leeds International! (ARV $419)!

 

Each winner will be sent a set of pajamas AND a dorm shirt in a randomly chosen SpongeBob SquarePants design (shown above), in their size as they state it in the Giveaway Tools widget below.

 

Enter below, the odds are fantastic!

 

Giveaway begins on 8/12/15 at 1:00 am CST and ends on 9/2/15 at 11:59 pm CST. Must be 18 years or older, open to residents of the US only.

Disclaimer: The participating blogs were not compensated for this post. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household, per address. All entries will be verified. Void where prohibited by law. Winner will be contacted by email; Please add southernmomloves@gmail.com to your whitelist. Richard Leeds International will be responsible for prize delivery to the winner. This giveaway is in no way administered, sponsored, endorsed by, or associated with Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest, or any other social media platform.

Contact Holly at southernmomloves@gmail.com if you have any additional questions or comments, or would like Southern Mom Loves to organize your next giveaway.

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Gina <![CDATA[Home Sweet Home: Saving for Your Sunny Day of Home Ownership #mysunnyday]]> http://embracingimperfect.com/?p=20819 2015-08-07T16:27:36Z 2015-08-07T11:43:09Z When Chris and I were newlyweds, I loved living in the city but my biggest dream was to own a home. I grew up in an apartment and was envious of my cousins who all lived in sprawling homes with their own bedrooms, backyards, and finished basements. I’d spend summers with my cousin in Staten Island, visiting neighbors (and their swimming pools!), walking in the

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When Chris and I were newlyweds, I loved living in the city but my biggest dream was to own a home. I grew up in an apartment and was envious of my cousins who all lived in sprawling homes with their own bedrooms, backyards, and finished basements. I’d spend summers with my cousin in Staten Island, visiting neighbors (and their swimming pools!), walking in the parks and playing with her dog. Coming home always made me sad and I vowed to one day raise my own children in a house.

So when I got pregnant in 2002, Chris and I decided that while our big one bedroom apartment in Queens would be a great investment, our little girl needed a home to call her own. We wanted neighbors that would look out for our kids, a yard to play in and years to debate putting in a pool or owning a dog. Home ownership was our big family dream!

The problem was we had no idea where to start, other than knowing we couldn’t afford to buy a home where we currently lived – or the taxes on the communities around us. And we didn’t want something too old that would entail a lot of work since neither of us was handy. We decided to move to Pennsylvania, near my sister, since it was in our budget and there were lots of new homes to choose from that were affordable and well maintained.

We created our own must have list:

  • Near transportation so my husband could commute to work.
  • Have a backyard and 3 bedrooms.
  • Lots of families on the block.
  • In a good school district.

We found a house that we fell in love with and we finalized the deal with a friend who advised on the financial issues. We had a ton of questions for her because we didn’t have a lot of money to put down. Our list of what if’s was long:

  • How can we qualify for a mortgage with a low down payment?
  • What sort of fees will be involved on top of our mortgage payments?
  • What happens if the mortgage rates go up – or what should I do if they go down?
  • And because I was moving to Pennsylvania: What the heck is radon and how much will it cost if the home has it? (Thankfully, this was not a problem!)

Being new at all this legal stuff and trusting a new friend, we made a lot of mistakes but I’m happy to say that our first house worked out just fine. Both our girls were born there and it holds a special sunny place in my heart even though it didn’t last long.

A few years later when we needed to relocate, our second home was found, researched and built using Google and the word of the builder. We would have saved ourselves a lot of stress if only we had a go-to resource we could trust for information. Building a home from the ground up involved so many questions we hardly knew where to begin. And with that, all kinds of mistakes came – like when we hired a painter for our master suite, who told us the sight lines of whole room were crooked!

Most of the answers we sought came from the builders themselves and while they were mostly trustworthy, we noticed that as the development progressed the visible quality of the homes suffered. So we learned one valuable lesson: build at the beginning of a new development rather than near the end when they are doing faster, lower quality work.

Having accurate information would have saved time, money and headaches in our home buying endeavors. When you need answers with this kind of intense financial commitment, SunTrust’s Personal Banking Resource Center is a great resource, where you can find answers to your questions about owning a home. You can learn:

  • Tips if you are a first time home buyer
  • Answers about insuring a new home during construction
  • What you need to know about home inspections
  • House hunting tips
  • Answers about refinancing your home

Nearly 10 years later, we now live in what I believe will remain our permanent home. Home ownership means a lot to us! Our school, church, neighbors, friends – even our local “cupcake lady” fits us to a “T”! I totally love my town, right down to its unique name, its mix of ex-New Yorkers and locals, and the way it borders “trendy” even when it’s still so family-oriented. And after all, this is the home where:

We summered to our heart’s content on sunny days …

We learned to put ourselves to bed or the nearest couch at at least …

We waited in eager anticipation for Halloween …

We learned to play well with each other …

We eagerly awaited Christmas to arrive….

And then longed for the sunny days of spring all over again!

Since our girls have special needs, we know they be with us a long time and soon we will be planning how we can make this home a place that can grow with them.

As we save up for that day when we might turn our unfinished basement into the girls’ apartment, everything we learned will help us make smart choices but we will have a lot more questions. The Your Sunny Day website can help us create that budget and work towards our goals, and it can help you too save up for that new home too.

Because there’s nothing as great as a sunny day in your own backyard!

Get more help managing your money by subscribing to Shine, for tips on saving and spending including videos, podcasts and more!

Sunny Days start here.  At SunTrust, they have the tools and resources to help you achieve your sunny day. Start here to find out how they can help you enjoy the things that matter to you.

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.  They know we all live for the sunny days and want to you help you live yours.

For even more sunny day inspiration visit yoursunnyday.com

Subscribe to the Shine newsletter and receive inspiration and advice twice a month to help you live for a sunny day.  

Visit the SunTrust resource center anytime for help achieving your financial goals. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust Bank. The opinions and text are all mine.

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