Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rodan+Fields GIVEAWAY! (And My Two Month Results)

Who's ready for a super awesome giveaway?!?!?!  Let me first give you a quick update on my seriously awesome results after using Rodan+Fields skincare products for approximately 2 months.  As a reminder, I had been super interested in these products, but really wondered about the cost and whether it was worth it.

After two months of using Rodan+Fields, I. Am. Hooked.  My face FEELS better and cleaner, which is a huge plus, but my skin also looks clearer.  MUCH clearer.  My redness has been drastically diminished, and my chin (my notorious spot for break outs and redness) has finally been reeled in to something much more manageable.

Check out my two month results:

My "before" picture.  Notice how red my skin was, and how my chin would regularly break out! And see those eye wrinkles...that's the reason I'm excited for this eye cream.

And these are my after 2 months pictures!  What a difference!  Redness is much more controlled, and with just a little make up, I am now able to cover it completely!  AND, I don't fee like I HAVE to wear make up on my skin to go out's SO much better! 

What have I been using?  I use the full Soothe regimen morning and night.  While in the shower in the morning, I first use the Umblemish Wash.  When I get out, I do the full Soothe regimen.  It has made such a huge difference!

Just a couple weeks ago as I was taking some progress pictures, I told my husband through squinted eyes that I really needed the eye cream to take away some of my almost-30 year old eye wrinkles.  I actually don't mind most of my facial wrinkles, because they're clearly from laughter (or squinting my eyes when my kids break my sunglasses).  But lately, man!  I've suddenly got a lot more!

I am SO excited to add the Rodan+Fields Redefine Multi-Function Eye Cream to my daily routine.  This cream includes "powerful peptides to minimize the appearance of crow's-feet, helps reduce the appearance of both puffiness and dark under eye circles while special optical diffusers noticeably brighten the eye area."  Sounds pretty great, huh?  (Read more about this product or other R+F products HERE).

Well, what if I told you we could BOTH start this eye regimen at the same time?!?!  Would you try if it were totally free to you?  You should definitely be saying, "yes!"  Well, my sweet high school friend, Cassie, sells R+F and she is offering one of my readers the chance to win a FREE (yes, FREE) Eye Cream!

Over the next week, I'll be hosting this fabulous giveaway on my blog.  This killer results eye cream, at regular cost, is $60 ($54 for preferred customers)!  And you can totally win it for free!  So who's it going to be?  I've included a variety of ways to enter into this contest.

Are you ready?!?!  Here it is! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 15, 2016

How We Started Our Kids' Savings Accounts AND Scored Some FREE Money

We're a little behind the curve on opening savings accounts for our kids.  But hey, better late than never.  One problem I had as I searched around was that so many banks required a certain amount to open an account.  Since these accounts are for my kids to invest their OWN money into, a "big" starting amount for them was challenging (because they're currently really great at the "spending" aspect of money, but not so much the "savings" one).  I really needed a bank with either a low starting amount, or required starting amount at all.  And no fees.  Fees are bad.

I had been hunting for quite a while, and had actually even set this aside for quite some time.  But recently I came across some info on Capital One 360 savings accounts online, and after some research, ended up choosing them for my kids' accounts AND one for me, too!

Here's what I love:

*If you go through someone's referral link, you get a $25 credit upon making a $250 deposit and leaving it there for a month (and they get a little credit too!).  That's FREE money people!  So I set up a "Disneyland" savings account, with auto debits from my main bank account so that this fund can start to build, and started it with a $250 deposit. I instantly got my $25 bonus-score!

*These account have a higher interest rate of .75% APY.  I don't know about you, but this is WAY better than my regular bank savings account!

*No fees and no minimums.  I love that there are no fees at all, and that none of the six accounts I opened had to have any minimum opening balance (minus the $250 in my savings since I wanted the bonus).

*You can deposit checks directly into your account using your phone!  I haven't done this yet, but this will make depositing checks that the kids receive SO much easier!

*Kids can open up to 25 different accounts to save for multiple items!  I love this option.  It makes it easy for kids to make "small" item goals AND "big" item goals and save for both at the same time.

*It was super easy to link my main bank account and to set up auto debits for my Disneyland account.

I am thinking that I may eventually set up a few more small savings accounts with Capital One 360 and set up auto debits for some of my sinking accounts (i.e. things that happen periodically such as car registrations, car maintenance, homeschool supplies/books, etc.).  This would ensure that all of my funds are always fully funded when I need them, and so it doesn't kill my budget by forgetting to save throughout the year for car registrations or whatever.

If you are looking for a new system of savings accounts for you or your kids, I really do like our new Capital One accounts!  You can get your free $25 bonus by following my personal link HERE.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Prepping Food for the Week #2

Prepping food ahead of your week is one of the easiest ways to save time and money throughout the week.  I love freezer crock pot cooking, and find that it makes my life SO much easier, especially with our current summer schedule (which involves 3 evenings of swim lessons for my big 3 kids, 2 nights of gymnastics team for daughter #1, one night of gymnastics for daughter #2, one night of karate, a church night, and one music class that I teach).

Last night while I cooked dinner (this one pot pasta dish...a delicious past meal that costs less than $5 to make), I prepped food for the week.  In total, I probably spent around 2 hours prepping yesterday.  Here's what I prepped for the week:

Passion Tea Lemonade

*Half gallon of Passion Tea Lemonade (one of my favorite summer drinks)

Homemade Peanut Butter

Sides & Snacks
*4 cups brown rice for meal sides
*6 cups of crock pot refried beans for enchiladas and/or tacos in the coming week
*2 cups peanut butter

*8 cups of granola for cereal of yogurt add-ins

Freezer meals, granola, and granola bars

*Black Bean & Salsa Chicken ($8...I crock pot this and shred it for tacos)
*Teriyaki Chicken ($10...Crock pot meal, served over rice)
*Stuffed Bell Peppers ($9...Enough for two separate meals)

Also on this week's menu is Lentil tacos, a favorite meatless meal, and enchiladas since I never cooked them up the last time I put them on my menu :) 

Do you cook ahead for the week? What are your favorites to prepare ahead of time? 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

When Parenting Days End in Tears

Parenting is probably the toughest job on the planet.  There's no training manual, no "right" way of doing things, a million people to judge your "style", decisions, and more, and no paycheck at the end of the week.  It's an often thankless job, one in which lasts a lifetime, and has very few breaks.  One that is challenging, and frustrating, and expensive.

Some parenting days are easier than others.  Some end with wonderful smiles and thankful faces and a full heart knowing you helped your children grow just a little bit more that day.  And others....end in tears.

Some days, the answer to your husband's, "how was your day?" question leads to a silent tear-filled face.  Some days you feel like you just helped your children take two steps back in terms of growing into healthy adult people someday.  Some days you feel like a failure, and like you can't possibly find the right answer to guide your child through their problems.  Because there is no correct answer, no perfect solution, or no fitting consequences.

And it's hard.  Really hard.  Hard to remind yourself that you're not a failure.  That other parents don't have it all together, that there really isn't a perfect answer, and you really can't be a perfect parent anyway.  Even if you tried. That we are going to mess up.  Sometimes big time.  That "I'm sorry's" are okay and quickly forgiven by gracious children.  That sometimes the right answer is to just love them through it all and not worry about the "mess" of life and how things will work out.

In the tear-filled parenting days, it's good to let it all out.  To remind ourselves that we CAN'T do it all, be it all, and fix it all.  To remind ourselves that it is, indeed, an incredibly difficult journey, fraught with challenges on the daily.  To remind ourselves that we are human, with mistakes-a-plenty today...and the next.

And then, through the tears, to remind ourselves that we are enough.  That giving our kids our best is enough.  That making mistakes, and apologizing, and making adjustments are not only okay but are a part of life.  And that our kids will turn out just fine.  They'll be fine.  They are loved, and we are loved, and we'll make it.

Parenting is hard.  Grace is needed.  And hugs.  Always more hugs.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dear Barnes & Noble...

Dear Barnes & Noble,

Let me start by saying that I really do love you.  I love your smell, and the friendly faces throughout the store.  Employees always seem happy, and more than willing to help.  I love the kids programs you offer in store, and have even hosted one myself there once!  My kids love the train table and could stay there for hours if I let them (because I got rid of the one at home that they NEVER played with).  I love all the beautiful books, and I love and appreciate that the educators discount applies to homeschoolers as well, because homeschoolers tend to spend WAY too much on great books.

That being said, we need to have a talk.  About two months ago, I visited your store twice within a couple weeks.  I brought my four young children, ages 2, 4, 6, and 8 with me, as always.  We shopped and browsed and they each picked out a book.  And then we headed for the check out counter with books in arms and smiles on faces.

We waited in the long line (happily). We turned the corner and were SO close to our turn when my then 4 year olds asks, "Mommy? Why is this girl using her hands to cover her boobies?"  I look down, and smack in front of his little 4 year old face I see a lovely magazine with a woman dressed in just her swim bottoms and her hands for use as a bra.  Legs spread, and sexually tantalizing.  Perfect. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition (or whatever this nonsense is called) is displayed at exactly eye level for children along the check out counter.  At Barnes & Noble.

Two weeks later, we head to the counter with books again, and what do I see?  A new magazine has taken its place, but is still just as sexually charged as the first.  And still, at children's eye level.  My children look towards the back of the store instead of up towards the counter.  Conversations with curious children about why people are selling (or buying, for that matter), magazines with "inappropriate"content on them.  I mentioned it to a store employee, who said several employees had raised the same concerns to corporate (sounds like many places where corporate dictates placement of product), but that nothing had been done.

Now look, we are anything but prudish in our home.  I freely breastfed (without covering at home) all my babies past their first birthday, have little boys who think being butt naked is the coolest thing since sliced bread, and littles who will still jump into the shower with me to get clean.  However, we do teach our children to value privacy and modesty and we talk about the importance of keeping our privates private and that we clothe ourselves appropriately, and "no you can't just wear a sports bra and shorts to the store" and our bodies are not for sharing with everyone and no one can touch you in any of your private areas and all that jive and on and on. And so my children, who really don't freak out over the naked human body in a safe context of in their home while changing or whatever, are already able to distinguish that what they were seeing was totally not appropriate.  And boy, were they curious and question-filled for the next 15-20 minutes.  Sigh.

Our children are being bombarded with our world's over sexualization from a young age.  And now, Barnes & Noble, you have joined the rest of the pack with placing inappropriate content right where children will be standing and staring for several minutes while they wait.  While we're fighting so hard to teach our children to reject the pressure to be like the photoshopped celebrities on magazines, or teaching them how to LOVE their body and not be ASHAMED of their body but still have RESPECT for their body, we all need to do our part to help them also stay child-like and innocent. My four year shouldn't have to learn to pull his eyes away from a beautiful, half naked woman on a magazine.  He's FOUR.  He should only be worried about his super cool book he's about to purchase. Our children should not be subjected to the hyper sexualized magazines that are being placed in front of them.  Playboy magazine's and the like do belong in their eye-sight range.

Barnes & Noble, you have the most fabulous place where children can fill their minds with the most wonderful stories and insights and info and all the things we would want them to read about.  I want my kids to LOVE being in your bookstore (and all bookstores, for that matter).  I want them to crave the written word.  But I am so disappointed at the lack of thought that has gone into this placement.

I recently heard a friend complain about the same problem, but yet a different magazine at the counter.  This is not just me.  This is other moms and dads, too, and I'm sure the placement is similar at other stores around the country.  We want our children to be children as long as possible.  Please, make a change in your magazine placement.  Help us as parents to protect our children's eyes and hearts and to make the bookstore a safe place for our children to explore.  Keep your magazines, I really don't care.  But please, please, please, put them back behind the counter again where their little eyes cannot see them.

Thanks Barnes & Noble,


Jessica Locke
A mom who loves her kids and books

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Prepping Food for the Week

I've been better about prepping ahead for the week lately.  I used to freezer crock pot cook a month at a time, but have since found it hard to find time or energy to totally prep so many meals in advance.  I've since taken to weekly prepping, which I find much easier to do right now, and also much easier to pick recipes that are currently sounding yummy to me.

On Sunday afternoon/evening, I take a couple hours to prep for the week.  I seriously dislike cooking, and with our evening schedule being the way it is right now with sports and swim lessons, having everything prepared before hand is so much easier.  I wrote last week's menu within THIS POST for the Reno Moms Blog.

Here's what tonight's time included:

*8 Cups brown rice (We use this for sides, but also my girls will eat it for snacks or for lunch)
*2 Caprese salads for my husband (with lettuce from the garden!)
*2 Cranberry, sunflower seed, and blue cheese salads
*7 cups of granola for cereal or snacking
*18 biscuits for breakfasts
*Crock Pot Sloppy Joes (made with hidden veggies!) - $13, but I had 2 pounds of ground beef on hand in my freezer so it was only about $5 out of pocket this week.
*Crock Pot Pulled Pork (with a pork shoulder from a local pig) - $3 out of pocket, plus the $20 pork shoulder I've had in my freezer from our last pig purchase.
*Crock Pot Minestrone Soup - $11.25

We have one other night where we eat dinner with church, and one weekday where I don't have any evening activities and can cook at the stove (enchiladas).

I did this prep over the course of two hours while also finishing up and serving and eating dinner with my family.  A little bit of time, for a much easier week!  We won't have to resort to fast food or other junk food options during the evenings that are busier, because a hot dinner will be waiting for us at home!

Do you prep ahead for your week?  What are your favorites to prep?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I'm Sorry...and Thanks, Dad

There are some things in life that you just can't truly and fully appreciate until you've lived it yourself.  Like parenting.  Let me tell you, I had the BEST advice for parents before I had my own kids.  Like, some really deep, reasonable ideas that would've made everyone a better parent or every kid listen better.  For whatever reason, people who were ACTUALLY parents didn't seem to care or even want to listen to my fabulous parenting advice.  I thought they were ridiculous.  

And then I had kids.  Four of them in six years, to be exact.  And very quickly I realized how idiotic my thoughts and ideas and "solutions" all were.  I mean, they SOUNDED nice, but in reality, many of them were super impractical.  

Moving on...This father's day, I called and wished my dad a Happy Father's Day, and was sure to say "thank you" for all the sacrifices he made for me, especially as a high school soccer player.  Especially because I was a total bratty high schooler towards him half the time, and now that I have kids playing sports, I'm starting to realize just how much he did for me.  

And so, here's my whole "I'm sorry" and "thank you" list, dad, which I can only now write because I'm actually a mom with littles in sports and I actually get it all now...

Thank you for all the Friday's off you took from work to take me to tournaments.  Were those vacation days you used?  You must've really loved me to have used them to drive me near and far while I listened to Smash Mouth's All Star on repeat.  For miles at a time. With the windows down.  #bestmemories 

I'm sorry for the time I blamed you for booking my return flight for the wrong day.  Pretty sure I'm the one who clicked that button.   I was a teenager who was far too eager to book my own flight on our super slow dial-up internet and could not be bothered to listen to your advice along the way (because you were "old" and simply could NOT understand what was going on).  Thanks for letting me go on that trip anyway. 

I'm sorry for the times I yelled at you for getting us "lost" on the way to the hotel in another city and state.  I really cannot grasp how difficult it used to be reading maps or using Mapquest in its early days.  Thanks for taking me.  #yayforsiri

Thanks for allowing me to steal your car nearly every day in high school so I could be "cool" and not ride the bus to and from school and to and from soccer practices.  Thanks for that.  It was totally unnecessary, obviously, but so awesome. 

Thank you for all the time you spent watching me compete and for always cheering me on.  Thanks for not being one of those annoyingly obnoxious parents, but a cheer-them-all-on parent.  

I'm sorry I never realized how important your calm attitude was at home.  In a house full of three crazy yelling women, your calmness was annoying then, but appreciated now.  #workingtobecalmmyself

Thanks for being my friend.  Even when I was a dork.  Or rolled my eyes.  Or said that I hated you.  Or told you I thought you were the worst because you actually had rules (say what?!?!).  But always and forever my friend.  Thanks for being there, and supporting me, and forgiving my childish behaviors.  

I get it now, dad.  I get how fun it is to watch your kids compete.  I get how the sacrifice of time and money to watch your kids grow is totally worth it, even when they're unappreciative.  But my kids don't get it.  And they probably won't until they have kids and experience this all themselves.  

For now, that's it (love you, dad!).  Excuse me now while I go talk to the child who is currently "oh my gosh, mom"-ing me while she rolls her eyes at me because I said it's not snack time yet.  Because as we all know...that's means it's the end of the world.  


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