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A Little Help Please

Now that I am working I find I need help just a little bit more than I did before. Whether that is someone to pick up the kids, let out the dog or babysit so I can get a much-needed break from my second job of keeping the house going and coordinating 5 people’s schedules. It is exhausting!! Last week I learned about a new app designed to make mom’s lives easier and helping us keep all the plates spinning without dropping any.

Little Helper recognizes that moms are the Chief Household Officers in most homes and that we could use some resources to help manage it. Whether that be finding a pet sitter, someone to take jr. to soccer practice or that precious baby sitter who you trust with your newborn. It is quite possible you already have these people in your network, but you don’t know how to find them. This is where the Little Helper app comes in.

Little Helper allows families to build what they call their “essential network.” These are the people you trust and depend on when you need help. It could be grandparents, trusted friends or regularly used sitters. But when you have a need, it takes crazy amounts of time to track them all down and see whose schedule works with yours. What if you could just post your need and your trusted people could see it and respond. You simply create the event, your network is notified and they respond if it works in their schedule.

Here’s a better explanation of how it works:

Facebook is awesome, but I don’t always want to broadcast my needs out to 1000 “friends”. Little Helper allows me to control who I ask. Have people in your trusted network who aren’t app savvy? They can use the online version and get emails notifying them that there is an event where you could use some help.

Little Helper is in beta, but they have a lot of great ideas they are working on to make it work even better. Best of all, they really want feedback to make it the best app it can be. The developers recognize that moms are often under resourced when it comes to managing all the details of their family’s lives and they want to be part of the solution. Download the app, build your network (and invite them to join as well) and save yourself a little sanity today.

This post was sponsored by Little Helper and The Motherhood. As always, all opinions are mine. 

 

Meijer Curbside Works for Me!

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In all the years that I was a stay at home mom, one of my consistent life savers was meal planning. When I fall off the wagon, we all suffer. Eating out too much, eating crap too much, spending way too much on last minute trips to the grocery store. It’s a mess.

So when I went back to work, I knew that meal planning was going to become even more essential. Coming home at the end of a work day, the last thing I want to do is think about what to feed everyone for dinner. Bonus points if I plan a crock pot meal and come home to a house filled with the smell of something delicious!!

But even if I am on the ball and plan out the week’s meals, someone still has to get to the grocery store. Going on the weekends ranks right above sticking a fork in my eye. The stores are crazy crowded and weekends are time to chill and have fun with the family. But I am finding that my week gets filled rather quickly between work, appointments, volunteering and keeping some semblance of order around the house. Why was I constantly running out of time to get my shopping done?

Well the stars aligned and I was invited to try out Meijer’s curbside program. This isn’t a new program per se, but it is a revamped, expanding program and it just happened to be starting at the store that is perfect poised between work and school. It might not be Rosie the Robot, but it is certainly the next best thing.

Meijer curbside allows you to place an order for your groceries on-line and then pull up in a special lane where your groceries await you at a time of your choosing. Oh what I would have given for this service when my kids were little, all buckled in car seats, in the dead of Michigan winters!! But even now, while the ordering process takes some time, not having to battle crowds and lines and parking spaces is a life saver!!

Here are some other things you should know:

  • You can pick the time you want to pick up your groceries but it will typically be at least an hour from when you order. The hours after school and work do tend to fill up faster. If you are really specific about the time I would order a day in advance. You can pick up between 7 am and 9 pm.
  • You can tie your order to your mPerks account and the discounts automatically apply.
  • You can specify brands and also specify substitutions in case your shopper is unable to provide exactly what you order.
  • I found produce to be a tricky thing to order. The bananas they picked for me were bright green as were the avocados. Next time I will leave notes in the note section of the order specifying how I like my produce
  • There is a small fee for using curbside so I probably wouldn’t use it to grab a gallon of milk. But that really is up to you how much not getting out of your car is worth. I can promise you, there were days when my kids were really little where I would have paid $20 to not have to get out of the car.
  • Your groceries are bagged by frozen and refrigerated items. So if you only have a second to drop things at home before you run to the next thing, you can easily find which bags need to be put away first.
  • There is a way on the website to save things to favorites so if you have items you order week after week you can populate your order much faster. You can also search by what is on sale to save even more money.

Meijer Curbside is definitely making my life easier and I am very grateful it is here. They are expanding their services in Michigan and Ohio and hoping to add more in the future. Over the holidays they are even adding some surprises into your orders so it is the perfect time to give it a try!!

I was given a gift card to try out Meijer Curbside, but writing about it was up to me. I was so impressed with the service I wanted you to know about it! I am linking up to Works for me Wednesday at Giving Up On Perfect.

How Get The Most Out Of Cedar Point (no matter your age or thrill level)

It has been 3 years since we last went to Cedar Point. Which is approximately 3 years too long according to my family. But thankfully last week we rectified the situation by surprising the kiddos on their last day of school and heading to Sandusky. My super hero status has been reinstated.

Wicked Twister Midway

In my family we have 3 thrill seekers, one who lives for anything that spins and one who prefers to sit on the sideline taking pictures and people watching (guess who I am….). We also have three kids who meet different height requirements. All of this could make for an amusement park day filled with frustrations, but at Cedar Point there wasn’t a single whine or complaint. Nobody felt left out and everyone had a blast. #winning

Here’s why:

  • Camp Snoopy, Planet Snoopy and Kiddy Kingdom: While some of the rides in the kid’s areas have a maximum height requirement of 54′ leaving out Lily, most of the rides were ones all the kids could enjoy together. With three different sections for the little ones, your kids will not quickly get bored or feel left out of the action. There are even a few roller coasters and some bumper cars. Silas and I spent much of our days in these three sections of the park while the bigs did some crazy rides. We had crazy amounts of fun.

Rougarou First Hill

  • Parent Swap: Let’s say you come from a family where BOTH parents love to do insane roller coasters (a clearly crazy family). But you also have a little one who can’t go on the huge rides. One parent waits in line to a coaster or other height-restricted ride. After riding, they give their Parent Swap pass to the ride operator, and the other parent/guardian, who’s been taking care of the little ones, can walk up the exit to get right on the ride. You can get your authorization slip at several locations throughout the park. Easy-peasy.
  • Live Shows: There are tons of fun live shows spread throughout the park. Perfect for when the kiddos are getting a big exhausted and need a break (or for when you just want some air conditioning to escape the heat). There is no age or height restrictions for shows (obviously) so they are perfect for the whole family to enjoy. Of course you should always end the day with Luminosity: Ignite the Night- a music and light show that ends in fireworks. Every day should end with fireworks don’t ya think?
  • Food: You want your elephant ears, corn dogs, ice cream and other standard amusement park food? You can find it. But you can also find a Chick Fil A (SQUEE!!), Chickies and Petes, DQ Chill and Grill, and Johnny Rockets, plus tons of other dining options. If you venture out of the park a little bit (but still on Cedar Point property), you can find a Famous Daves, TGI Fridays and even some upscale dining (hibachi anyone?). You can purchase a dining plan to save a little bit of money as well.
  • HotelBreakersRoomInterior4Hotel Breakers: This was the first time we ever stayed on site while at Cedar Point. The Breakers has recently undergone a HUGE two-year renovation project and it is gorgeous!! It makes a day at the park a walk in the …… park. You literally walk into the park and HOUR earlier than everyone else. Walking up to some of the most popular rides with zero lines was pretty awesome (see super mom status). Getting to park our car for free also saved a lot of hassle and money. The hotel has 3 great pools, a beach on the shores of Lake Erie, tons of dining options and adorable rooms. With Cedar Point being a 4 hour drive from West Michigan it certainly helps to have a place to stay so we can enjoy the park to the fullest.

We had a blast at the perfect family vacation destination and can’t wait to go back. Hopefully it will become a yearly tradition.

What is your favorite amusement park?

Disclosure: We were provided with a free nights stay and free passes to Cedar Point in order to facilitate this review.  

 

Simple Tools For Simplifying Your Life #MinimalLent

What I am learning as I journey towards “less stuff” is that sometimes the journey to simplify starts with a lot of work. Unless we just burn everything to the ground and start from scratch, decluttering actually starts by making a lot of extra work for ourselves before we can get to a place of simple.

There are a few things that are helping me get rid of some clutter in my life.

1. Unroll.meDigital clutter is totally a real thing. I spend so much time wading through email junk that I could be spending productively. Not to mention how many emails I have signed up for over time that try to get me to buy more stuff which is 100% the opposite of where I am trying to move my life. Unroll.me is super simple. You put in your email and it shows you everything you have subscribed to. You can either unsubscribe with a click or roll all your subscriptions into one daily email.

2. PaperKarmaGoing to the mailbox is one of my favorite parts of the day. But I have NO IDEA why because all it holds is junk. It is the promise of the possibility of something fun that gets me excited each day I guess. I typically just walk straight from the mailbox to the recycle bin but why even deal with that. PaperKarma is an app I installed on my phone. When I get junk mail I take a picture of it and PaperKarma gets me taken off the mailing list. I know there are ways to give off catalog lists, but this is kind of one stop shopping. I only started using this a few days ago so the jury is still a bit out on it, but I have read a lot about it and it sounds quite promising.

3. ThredUpI have been cleaning out my closet and streamlining everything. I do not need near as many clothes as I have and while I will never be fully minimalist with my wardrobe, I certainly can tone it down a bit. With ThredUp you request a giant bag, fill it up and send it in. Honestly you don’t get a ton for your stuff, but it is still more than I would get at Goodwill. And I use the credits I have earned to buy the kid’s clothes. I might mess with EBay for some of my nicer stuff but honestly that just seems like a lot of work.

4. ZinioI used to have a RIDICULOUS amount of magazine subscriptions. I have let all but two go. (InStyle– because fashion. The Week– because I need to know a bit about what is going on in the world #bestmagazineever #wortheverypenny). So my first tip would be to get rid of your magazine subscriptions. But Zinio is this great app that lets you read your magazines on your tablet. Even better Zinio has partnered with a ton of public libraries to let you read magazines for free, saving money and clutter. Let’s pretend I use mine to read The Economist and not US Weekly.

I hate lists that end in 4 and not 5 but that is what I got right now. I shared a few other apps a year ago that are big time savers for me as well.

Do you have any apps or websites that help you simplify?

Netflix on the Go

I am traveling this week, in Florida for a course in what might possibly be my next career. It is totally freaking me out that I might be leaving the role of full time stay at home mom. I have worn that badge with pride and it has become a huge part of my identity, but with Silas heading to full time school next year it is time for me to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. #holdme

I have never been away from my kiddos and hubby for this long. Thankfully my mom was able to join me, and let’s be honest, being in Florida when it is 7 degrees in Michigan isn’t the worst thing in the world. I am in a conference for most of the day but I soak up lunch every day sitting by the hotel pool. And driving “home” after the course I get to watch the sun setting over the ocean. But nothing is the same as being home.

Ryan and I are smack dab in the middle of binge watching White Collar on Netflix. It is such a fun show recommended to me by my friend Mary. It is a drama with the perfect mix of humor, a ridiculously handsome lead actor and story arcs that keep you hooked. It’s no Friday Night Lights, but I have given up on finding an adequate replacement. White Collar is more than entertaining in the meantime.

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What I love about Netflix is that I can watch it wherever I am on whatever I want. I have the Netflix app on my tablet or I can watch on my computer. Ryan and I can even watch together from 10 states away. I am very grateful since I have tried to watch cable TV and my WORD is it just one crappy show after another. Seriously, how do you people stomach The Bachelor???!!!!

Let’s be real, Netflix also allowed my hubby to work from home today while mommy is in Florida and the kids have a day off of school. Apparently we are never to speak of how much TV the kids watched today, but I know our Netflix got a workout today. And I am thankful that it has a TON of quality programming for kids.

If your kids need a great show to start watching, check out the new Netflix original, The Adventures of Puss in Boots. This is possibly the only cat I have ever loved. He’s quite the charmer.

Puss in Boots

 

For us, Netflix is perfect for the whole family wherever we are!!

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Disclosure:  I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam and received a one-year subscription to Netflix. Netflix updates and reviews, however, all opinions are my own. This post will be linked up to Works For Me Wednesday at Giving Up On Perfect.