Cheapskating, microhustle, Tips & Hacks

OhmConnect Revisted (AKA How I Got Free Electricity All Summer)

This post contains referral links, which means that we may receive a small commission from people who sign up using the link. As always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are our own, though your results may vary. Read more in our disclosure policy, and thank you for supporting The Salty Mamas!

Okay, so I have told you all about OhmConnect, and how residents of California and some parts of Texas can pay earn credits by saving electricity when they receive alerts that “dirty power plants” are about to turn on. You can read all about how it works here,  but Y’ALL. I just HAD to update you.

I didn’t pay for power this summer. Not a penny in June, July, August, OR September. And I keep my house at a brisk 72 degrees.

And I have OhmConnect to thank for that.

I know a few of you Salty Mamas have joined, and you may be thinking I’m a big fat liar since you are pulling in a massive 70 cent payout. I know. I hear you. It so doesn’t feel worth the sweat for 70 cents.

But as in all things MicroHustle, you gotta focus on your long game. The more Ohm Hours in a row you hit  (they call it a streak), the higher your payout is going to be. And as you level up, your amounts go up again. So if you hit Platinum level on a 60 Ohm Hour streak, you could be talking about making nine times as much each Ohm Hour as you are right now. And if you haven’t sign up already?  Head to OhmConnect now to see if you qualify.

Now is the PERFECT time to start your streak, while the weather is cooperating and the sacrifice doesn’t seem as big. And by this time next year, you may be flipping the breaker and heading out to sip some margaritas, and proposing a toast to the good people of OhmConnect.

And to the Salty Mamas of course.  Because obviously.

Looking for a way to earn extra money? Or save on your electric bill? Head to thesaltymamas.com to find out how to get your bills paid for FREE! (Sponsored)

 

momlife, Salty Mama Lists, Why We're Salty

Five Things We Hate About Fall (And A Few Things We Love)

If you’ve been on the internet for six minutes or more in the last week, you’ll have heard the good news: Fall is HERE! And everyone LOVES IT.

Which is cool, fall’s our favorite season, too. Both of The Salty Mamas have birthdays in October. We have a Salty Baby in October, an anniversary in October, and despite our conflicting feelings on all things pumpkin, neither of us will turn down a yummy baked good. In fact, we like fall so much, we liked it in 2004 when everyone was freaking out over summer.

But now fall is on trend. Which, fine. I guess. The truth is, it makes us a little Salty.

SO, despite how much we LOVE the season, we’ve decided to keep it real and tell you the things we actually don’t love about it. Continue reading “Five Things We Hate About Fall (And A Few Things We Love)”

Bouncing Babies, momlife, Recipes, The Wonderful Ones

Toddler Muffins Recipe

Are you looking for an easy breakfast and snack idea for your toddlers? Well your Pinterest search is over! This easy recipe has all of the good stuff- whole grains, fruits, veggies, and even protein- with (less) of the “bad stuff.”  As a bonus, they freeze wonderfully and can be made in a mini-muffin pan, so that you can give your toddler what they need, even with their ever-changing appetites.

Note: We have tried a few different substitutions to eliminate brown sugar from this recipe, but none of them had the result we were looking for. So we decided to stick with a bit of sugar for the sake of keeping the recipe appealing to little ones. If you have toddlers over the age of one, two tablespoons of honey may be the closest substitute we can recommend. 

Also Note: We only tried to lower the sugar content so we wouldn’t feel as guilty about the three cupcakes the kid would be eating laterEnjoy! Continue reading “Toddler Muffins Recipe”

Effing Four Year Olds, momlife, parenting, The Salties

Torrez of the Day

A few weeks ago, in a fit of desperation, I had a rare stroke of genius.

“The kid who cleans up the most blocks gets to be the Torrez of the Day!”

My son, aged one and a half, pretty much did nothing. Because…aged one and a half.

But my Four Year Old? Whoa. Continue reading “Torrez of the Day”

momlife, The Salties, Threenagers, Tips & Hacks, Why We're Salty

Picture Day Preparations. And Why to Let Them Go.

Last year was my son’s first school picture day. And I. Was. Ready. I may have a lot of Mom fails – I don’t have the perfect set of first day of school traditions. I have forgotten for a solid year to prep my son’s emergency kit. Today I didn’t realize until it was too late that I had basically nothing for my kids’ lunches. But picture day? That’s one of those days that I ROCK. Shopping, practicing, pep talking to the kids – we slay picture day. But now, a year later, I realize that I had put a tad bit too much pressure onto picture day.

My guess is, you have to. We all do. But we NEED TO STOP. So here are three things to just LET GO of on picture day.

1. The perfect outfit.
If my Mom had it her way, I would have worn a corduroy jumper every year on picture day until I graduated college. I hated it. Because I was not a corduroy jumper girl. I’m sure that on more than one occasion I screamed at her, “I’ll NEVER make my kids wear a stupid corduroy jumper if they don’t want to!” Fast forward to Cole’s first picture day. And no, I did not make my son wear a jumper.

But damned if I did not force him into FREAKING. CORDUROY. PANTS. Like, is there some weird genetic inclination in my family?? I don’t know. All I know is that my son – who had NEVER worn corduroy before – was wearing it on picture day. And he hated it.

Looking back? I should probably have let him pick what he wanted to wear. Because it’s HIS picture day too. A snap in time of who HE is. Not who Mommy was making him be. Even if just for a day.
2. Hair.
Okay, I’m not saying have your kid roll out of bed and head off to picture day. Run a brush through that bad boy. Maybe even bust out some product. Have a girl? Have an entire treasure chest full of clips and headbands that she refuses to wear? Bad news – she ain’t gonna suddenly love headbands and hair clips just because it really means a lot to you today. Maybe you can bribe her. Maybe he’ll agree. But keep your expectations LOW.

I killed myself and got into the biggest fight my son and I have ever had over his hair that morning. In the end, it was perfect. He was so. Freaking. Handsome.

And then I got the proofs of the picture. And wondered what the hell happened. Because his head looked like it had been through a blender. So unless your kid is going to sit in a chair with their hands strapped down until the picture is taken? It’s probably not worth the grief.

3. Smile.
Fun fact: There is NOTHING your kid will love more than you yelling at them to “smile!,” and then telling them they’re doing it wrong.

Follow up: Your kid’s smile will actually NOT get more natural if you tell them repeatedly, “That isn’t your real smile! It doesn’t look natural!”

Photographers generally know what they’re doing. They can make your kid laugh. And if they can’t, none of your coaching is going to change that. Trust me. I coached Cole all day and he had his smile down. It was amazing. And let me tell you – I ended up with not a single one of those well-rehearsed smiles.

Truth be told? Some of my favorite pictures – of my kids and my friends – are the one’s where they’re not smiling! Especially if they’re not smiley kids! Evie was a GRUMPY CAT when she was a baby. She was born with a pouty bottom lip. So when we went and got professional pictures taken and I chose to keep one with her resting B face, the photographer couldn’t understand it. But that’s what she looks like! That’s the face I’m going to want to remember forever, way more than a fake plastered smile.

I know what you’re thinking, uh, Christine – outfit, hair and smile are basically ALL the elements of picture day. What am I supposed to stress out about then?

Nothing.

Just let it be.

Easy for me to say? Maybe. Or maybe I say it because I tried. I tried so hard. I had the perfect outfit. We got his hair to be on point. And he left the house with a picture perfect smile that would make you swoon. And then, even then, we got…..the picture.

And now, I present to you, the best, most epic, you WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED EVEN WITH ALL THE HYPE school picture, you may have ever seen. Just let it all soak in. You’re welcome. And happy picture day.

 

The Most EPIC School Pic EVER!
Trying to get the “perfect” school picture? We were too – and got this!
Mama Mojo, MicroLuxuries, vacation

MicroLuxury Monday: Find YOU

It’s a little sad that this has to even be said. Because truly, the MICROEST (and yes, that’s a word now) luxury there can be is taking five minutes and finding yourself again. Not you the Mom, or you the Wife, or you the President of the PTA, the Brownie Mom, or the Soccer Mom.

Just. YOU.

The you that you were before all the other stuff. You can still LOVE the other stuff – and for your own sake, I hope you do! But that doesn’t mean that deep down inside there isn’t a part of you that you’ve lost a little.

There are parts of me that I try so hard to make sure stay present in my life. Me the reader. Me the crafter. Me the Aunt. Me the sister and friend and bowler (yes, bowler!) and roller coaster lover and dancer.  21463211_10214630619225503_4027589449378062963_n

And me the PSYCHO FOOTBALL FAN.

Oh, was that not where you thought this was going? Sorry. Because the truth is, pre-kids, from September to December Football. Was. Life.

When my husband and I got engaged in November 2010, he asked if I had any dates in mind. I immediately said, “next October 8.”  He was a little taken aback that I’d already had a date totally selected and wondered how I ever picked that so fast? My response? “Well, let’s be honest, I sort of knew this was coming and I want a fall wedding and so I checked the football schedule and we have a bye that weekend so everyone can come and no one will be checking the score all night. Plus, it would totally ruin my wedding day if we lost. So this just makes sense.”

1917057_1288549740177_4483465_nSo it was that Saturdays were spent off to the game or parked in a bar, friends house or our living room stuffing ourselves with snacks and beer and cheering until our throats were sore. Sunday was church, rinse and repeat. It was an exciting way to spend the weekend, and let’s be real, we didn’t have a whole lot of other commitments or responsibilities. The house stayed cleaner and there was way less laundry to do back then too.

Then, kids. And for a while we tried. We took each of the kids to a game or two as babies. We watched games on the weekend but had to stifle our cheers so as to not wake said babies. We got distracted and missed the big play because we were rocking a baby, feeding a baby, changing a baby. Slowly but surely, our priorities shifted.

My sister called me the other day because she needed help with a fantasy draft and I had no clue what to tell her. It didn’t happen overnight, but the realization still stung: I wasn’t a football person anymore. It was like a crushing blow to who I always thought I was. I still have all the sweatshirts, put up the decorations, and love the game. But I just. Can’t. follow it like I used to.

At this point I could either accept the new normal and keep falling farther and farther out of touch with this thing that I loved, or make a change.

I opted to change. Not completely. I still have important obligations on Saturday that mean I can’t spend every weekend glued to the screen or sitting in the stands. But I made a pact with my best friend. Once a year, we were going to pack our bags and travel to an away game for our favorite team. No husbands, no kids, just two best friends going to a football game together. Like old times.

Which brings us to today. Fresh off a plane from Oakland where the USC Trojans took on the Cal Golden Bears. I would like to tell you that it didn’t matter if we won or not. That sharing a great weekend with my girlfriend is the real win. That making myself a priority is a win in itself. Because what the weekend was really about was finding me. But guess what? If it didn’t matter, then I wouldn’t have found me! Because football is NOT about the journey. It’s about the destination – and we. are. WINNERS!!! That might not matter to Mom/Wife me, but pre-kids football psycho me? Went. Crazy. Just as it should be.

Today I’m back to being the Wife, the Mother, the person that does everything for everyone else. But this weekend? I was the psycho football fan. And I loved it.

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football
Effing Four Year Olds, koefoe party of 5, momlife, parenting, Salty Mama Lists, Why We're Salty

Seven Skills They Didn’t Teach You in Parenting Class

For a first time Mom, I felt incredibly prepared when my son was born. I had 17 nieces and nephews and had been around kids a LOT. I was ready to change diapers. I wasn’t afraid of the dreaded first cold. I knew all the first aid and CPR you could want. I was prepared. And then the kids showed up and I learned all the things I hadn’t learned.

You probably haven’t learned all the things either. Add these to your to-do list.

  1. How to throw a ball.

Okay, I’m not a complete athletic disaster. I can throw a ball. But it’s actually WAY harder to throw a ball to a three year old than to another able bodied adult. You have to somehow throw it really slow. And make sure to avoid hitting them in the face. Because they won’t just catch the ball if it’s about to hit them. They’ll wait, let it hit them, and then freak out about it. And then make you throw it again and again until your arm falls off.

  1. How to draw every animal in existence.

Before I was a Mom I’m not sure I’d ever drawn a rhinoceros. Or a “water dinosaur.” I know I didn’t draw the animals/monsters/creatures that my children imagine – and then request for me to draw. To their exact, but undescribed, specifications. But I do know that a lot of the time my drawings are not up to my children’s standards. I should have spent more of my first pregnancy in an avant garde art class taught by opinionated toddlers. If they have one of these in your area, it will be worth every penny.

  1. How to move silently through a house.

When we were house shopping, I did not walk through the house listening for squeaky floorboards. FATAL mistake. Because there’s a board in my son’s room that has almost destroyed me. After spending countless hours lying on his floor praying he’ll fall asleep, the last thing I want to do is wake him up stepping on that board. Squeaky doors? I’m just going to take them all of their hinges. Or go to some sort of cat burglar crash course in how to be more sneaky.

4. How to Remove Objects from a Nose

Maybe you think this is covered under basic first aid, but not so, my friends.  There are actual techniques for this sort of thing.  For example, do not put any kind of finger or tool up there. Is it close enough to the nostril that you can pinch above it and push it out? Or should you try to blow it out like in that viral video that’s been going around (doctors say no, by the way, so THANKS FOR NOTHING VIRAL VIDEO)? Or do you have to go to freaking urgent care over this?? No one prepared us for A.) That level of decision making. B.) That kind of medical know-how.

5. Tetris Level Packing Skills

No one told me that I should have been spending WAY more time playing Tetris in preparation for parenthood. From packing a diaper bag, to packing my car for a day trip, to packing my daughter’s backpack on show and tell today (which is much more complicated than one would originally believe, I assure you), I use way more spatial awareness on the daily than I ever imagined I would.

6. Emotional Awareness of Others, Bordering on Psychic Ability

In the thirteen seconds it takes from when my daughter first appears in the dismissal line to when her teacher hands her over at the gate, I have to decide what kind of mood she is in and how to react appropriately. Will a big hug make her push me or melt her like a popsicle? Should I dare ask how school went? Does she want to walk or should I prepare for a battle about whether or not I am going to carry her to the car? It seems like an impossible task, one I am certainly untrained for. But I gotta say…for an impossible task, I’m getting pretty darn good at it.

7. How to Put Gloves on a Child

Ooooohhhhh, you think this is easy? That’s cute. Because guess what? Kids can’t move one finger at a time. And eight of their little fingers fit into one glove finger. So you sit there like a rational adult saying “Move this finger, no pull this one one, okay put the big one back in, no not that one, the other one, wait, now we’re back how we started!,” before you realize that you are fighting a losing battle. Better to take your chances with frostbite and save your sanity.

What other skills do you wish they’d told you that you’d need as a parent?

7 things they should have taught you in parenting school. Except for they don't HAVE parenting school. They totally should, btw. Read more at thesaltymamas.com.

 

Kids' Activities, momlife, parenting

Get Outside

This post contains affiliate links. The Salty Mamas may receive a small commission from items purchased after clicking the links.  Additionally, we’d like to thank SourceBooks for providing a book, “15 Minutes Outside,” for a giveaway. Thank you for supporting us!

Are your kids getting enough time outside each day? Find out here, along with a list of great ways to play outside with your kids!

According to experts, kids are supposed to spend at least two hours a day playing outside.

Stop and take that in for a second. TWO. HOURS.

Now this may seem crazy when you think about the amount of time your kids are at school, or the amount of time you are at work. But when you think back to when you were a little kid, it might not seem that ridiculous.  I remember getting home from school and taking off on my bike with my friends. Or exploring the creek next to our house for hours.  Or playing endless pretend in our backyard, or gardening with my mom, or swimming in our (above-ground) pool. There was SO much time outdoors, that it wasn’t even a thing. It was just something that we did. Do I think my mom worried about meeting the required two hours each day? Uh, no. Because that was not a thing back then. You just sent the dang kids out.

And we (I’m talking societally here), just don’t do that anymore.  Even when you talk about going “screen free” or unplugged, it usually means board games and books and hours of playdough play.  It’s not considered safe for kids to roam around on their own, and our green spaces are kind of being eaten up.  So we have to make up for it somehow, as forced as it may seem at times.  Because yes, it is another “requirement” of childhood, but from a scientific perspective, it is crucial (check out this article from the New York Post if you want to read more about this). Kids who spend more time outside are less likely to be obese and are less likely to be diagnosed with attention-related disorders.  Time spent in green spaces is good for anxiety and depression, and reduces stress-and that goes for little kids and grown ups alike. We were biologically just meant to spend time outside, and we have to make sure that’s happening for our little ones, and our bigger kids, too.

 

IMG_20170730_131845132I recently read a book called “15 Minutes Outside” by author Rebecca Cohen, that gives hundreds of concrete, easy examples on how to get your kids outside. And most of the ideas aren’t even that big of a deal. Take a basket of books into the backyard on a blanket and read there. Or eat your dinner at the local park. Take a nature walk through your neighborhood, or go on your balcony and make wishes on the first early stars.  I tend to think of outdoor play as an adventure, requiring prep and large stretches of time, but this book really helped me to see that those little stretches can add up over time and make a big difference. Not only in the amount of time you spend outside, which, obviously. But also in the amount of quality time spent together as a family.

So let’s all make an effort this week to get up, and get our kids out. Start small, and make a concerted effort to get out for just a little bit longer today than you usually do. The change of scenery may just do everyone some good.

 

Looking for more ideas on how to get out with your family and play? Here are six easy ways to get started.

  1. Take an Art Project Outside, like our friends at Little Mama Jama with this fun Minion footprint art. Read the instructions for this project here, or take any paints/crayons/chalk outside and create under a shady tree.
  2. Get Some Open Ended Toys. Here’s a list of really cool, open ended outdoor toys from Real Mom Recs. Most of them are fairly low-maintenance, low-prep ways to get your kids out and having fun.
  3. Put a Twist on Water Play. This little “fishing” game is the perfect way for your kiddos to practice learning to spell their name while they are getting wet outside.  It does take a bit of initial prep, but once you have it made, you can bring it out any time you need to change up your water play.
  4. Go On a Nature Walk. My kids had always been reluctant to amble around the neighborhood, until we put this fun twist on the standard stroll. Go on a nature walk- give your kids bags to collect items in nature (think flowers, leaves, etc.) and look for wildlife. You can even find printable Nature Scavenger Hunt checklists here to add some more fun and structure to your walk.
  5. Play some old school games. These little games have been around forever- and for good reason! Here is a list of old school games you can play outside with your children (or that they can play with the neighbors while you sit on the porch with a glass of wine lemonade. I’m just saying).
  6. Looking for even more outside fun? Imperfectly Perfect Mama has come up with a list of 50 fun and simple ways to get your kids outdoors.

 

Want to win your own copy of “15 Minutes Outside?” Share this post on the social media platform of your choice (buttons below!) and comment “Shared” here.  Giveaway is sponsored by SourceBooks, the publisher of “15 Minutes Outside.” Open to US and Canada only (sorry, International Salties!). Giveaway will close on Friday, September 29 at midnight PST and the winner will be announced by Sunday, October 1st. Good luck, and happy playing!

Our giveaway has closed, and our lucky winner is Lauren from explorermomma.com. Congratulations, Lauren! We’ll be contacting you soon to find out where to send your copy of 15 Minutes Outside, courtesy of SourceBooks. Thanks again to all who participated, and happy playing!

koefoe party of 5, momlife, parenting, The Salties, Why We're Salty

My Clock is Ticking

NO! Not my biological clock!! I’ve had three kids since 2013 and would very much like a break! No, unfortunately I’m counting down to something absolutely terrifying. I have nine years – or 8 years, 8 months and 21 days to be exact – until I get my first….teenager.

See, my kids drive my crazy, but they’re still pretty freaking cute. And they’re FUNNY. And they are so incredibly charming. And they make me smile for days. They are beautiful when they sleep and no matter how much we push each other’s buttons, at the end of the day they LOVE their Mama, unconditionally and, maybe more importantly right now, unembarrassedly.

Look, they’re not perfect. It’s taken me nine minutes to write this tiny bit because I had to referee two fights, get on my son’s case about throwing toys at the baby’s head and play three games of tic tac toe so that they’d leave me alone for a second.  Also this and this and this.

But teenagers…..that’s a whole different thing.

We spent a few days with four teenagers on our cabin trip this summer and their apathy made me want to scream. The way they sat with each other, but completely ignoring each other, with their ear buds in FOR FOUR DAYS STRAIGHT made me stare at them with utter confusion. I felt like I was eight hundred years old when I heard the words, “Did you BUY that shirt with that many holes in it on purpose?,” just FLY out of my mouth before I could stop it. I quickly tried to turn it into a joke, like “Ha, kidding! I’m a cool Aunt that would never actual say something like that! I’m not your Grandma! She’s the worst!” But jeez, seriously! There were holes! Everywhere!! And I could see her BRA through it!

But what pushed me straight over the edge and broke my heart was the way the brother and sister seemed completely and totally disgusted with each other. They’re 15 months part, a few months closer than my oldest two, and I have to assume that once upon the time they were enamored with each other like mine are. As much as mine fight over toys and torment each other by putting their feet on the other one, they are also self-proclaimed best friends. They love each other and aren’t afraid to show it. My son, who will one day be too cool to even hear this story, regularly walks up to his sister, offers her his hand and asks her to dance. Like WALTZ. While he sings “Beauty and the Beast.” It’s the sweetest thing I could ever even imagine my kids doing, and it happens almost every day. So to imagine a world where these two will seem to hate each other is more than I’m prepared to handle.

But it’s coming. Those teen years.

And I don’t know what I’m supposed to do to prepare. Is there anything I can do to stop this impending doom? Do I just accept that they’ll be apathetic and think I’m a loser and will have their eyes permanently set to “Roll”? I don’t know…I know I’m not on Team Friend, that I want to stay firmly in the Parent position, so I can accept a certain amount of “My Mom is SO out of touch” vibes heading my way, I’ve accepted that. But the rest of the stuff? I don’t know…the countdown is on though. And if the next 9-ish years go anywhere near as fast as the first four, I’m in trouble.

My Clock is Ticking.png

Bouncing Babies, Effing Four Year Olds, Mama Mojo, momlife, Terrible Twos, Threenagers, Why We're Salty

Truth Tuesday: I’ve Considered Running Away

Okay, maybe not literally. Maybe not totally seriously. But I’ve probably given it too much actual thought than I should have.

Lots of times, I love motherhood, I do. When all three of my kids are in a sweet spot, I think I could have three more. When two of them are delightful and one is going through a more challenging phase, I power through. When one is nice and two are little hot mess machines, I hunker down and know we’ll get through it. But when all three are hellions? I start making a list of possible talents I could contribute to the circus.

Right now? I’m in full on circus mode.

In the past few weeks all three of my children have thrown up on me. I’ve had many midnight discussions about diarrhea and why my son is “peeing out of his butt.” We had a solid week where at least one child was wide awake from 3am on, which leads for a very early wake up for Mommy and Daddy. We’ve had night terrors. A four year old that just. doesn’t. listen. A two year old that is in active transition from the terrible twos to being a threenager whose greatest joy in life is her abundant ability to tease her brother. A breast feeder that’s found out her big ol’ teeth make excellent weapons. And I ran out of coffee creamer.

It’s weeks like these that make me spend considerable amounts of time researching the standard working contract for cruise staff. Not that I’d actually drive down to the cruise terminal and go to the employment booth and fill out the application to work a 6 month tour on the Carnival Inspiration or anything. Of course I wouldn’t actually go and do that. I don’t think. But I’ve definitely gotten closer than my husband should find out about.

And yes, there have been good times, but right now? Right now I’m overwhelmed with yet another night of changing sheets filled with last night’s dinner, a 2 year old that comes tumbling out of her crib before the sun rises and a baby that has found she’s sure to get my attention by biting anything she can sink those chompers into.

I love them, I do, but just think how much more I could love and appreciate them if I took, say, a six month break. If I went off on an adventure and came back with arms full of treats and souvenirs and a heart full of missing them. I won’t do it, but I’m definitely still gonna dream about it.

Why I've Considered2