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Gluten Free Pumpkin Hand Pies are a great treat to make ahead of time for fall festivities. Whether you’re bringing them to the company pot luck, or to Thanksgiving dinner, hand pies are the perfect portable dish!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Hand Pies

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Tracking PixelRachel and I plan on buying a house in 2015! In the meantime, we are studying our credit like it’s a final exam. In this sponsored post on behalf of Credit Karma™, I will tell you all about my experiences.

We are looking at homes that have an acre (or so) of land, so we can have chickens and a big garden… basically a mini (mini!) farm. We’d love to have our own farm-fresh eggs to eat each morning! While we were pre-approved for a $150,000 loan, we know we want to cut our expenses, so we are looking at houses that are listed at $100,000 or less. A bigger house would be wonderful, but realistically speaking, we’d like to retire at an early age – so now’s the time to get our ducks in a row!

Getting our ducks in a row means improving our credit score so we can purchase a house with a great interest rate on our loan. We don’t have bad credit, but we do have NO credit – which is just as bad when it comes to getting a loan! Thankfully, we’re able to use free tools to improve our credit score before we buy a house.

If you haven’t yet, start tracking your credit on the Credit Karma™ website.

Even if you aren’t looking to buy a house, Credit Karma™ is a great solution for everyone, because everyone should be educated on their credit situation. Monitoring your credit with a free service like Credit Karma™ is the best way to prevent identity theft from getting out of control if it should ever happen.

Credit Karma™ offers a large variety of tools and resources to help you fully understand your credit data, what impacts it, and how to get back on track if you don’t like your credit score number. But how can the tools and resources Credit Karma™ offers help you achieve and maintain good credit?

Good question! Credit Karma™ wants you to take care of your credit and finances, and they will help you do so. They never ask for your credit card information, and you can check your credit score any time you’d like.

You can get a full credit report as often as once a week, and their free credit monitoring gives you peace of mind when it comes to things like identity theft. Credit Karma™ will send you alerts when your credit limits change, and for many other reasons – just opt in to the ones you’d like to receive. You can also view it all on your phone, which is super convenient.

The Credit Score Simulator has helped us a lot. For example, if we get a credit card with a $1000 limit, Credit Karma™ shows us that our score could potentially go up 50+ points if payments are made on time and it’s utilized properly.

Sign up for Mobile Alerts on your phone, and Credit Karma™ will send you an alert when there are any changes made. For example, if you’re using too much of your credit card limit, it will tell you that your utilization rate is high. If you close an account, that will be listed as well.

When talking to the lender about our credit and house buying possibilities, they said you really don’t want any recently closed accounts on your credit report. If you want to buy a house within the next year, work on opening new credit lines and then use 10-15% and leave the rest alone. Make your payments on time, and your score should go up.

There are over 50 different types of FICO scores, but Credit Karma™ does a real score, which gives you a better overall look at your financial credit health. If you’re worried about accuracy, my credit score as listed on Credit Karma™ was just a bit lower than the one that my lender gave me. I asked many of you about your experiences with Credit Karma™, and almost all were positive – and very accurate.

It only takes about 5 minutes to sign up and get started! View your credit reports and utilize their free tools to educate yourself on how to improve your credit. We all know how to set up a budget, we all know we need to improve our credit… now it’s time to actually do it.

Did you know?

— 33% of Americans have never checked their credit report
— 25% of Americans have errors that might affect their credit scores
— 80% credit scores are lower than 720
— 720 is the number that gives the best interest rates, financing, etc.

Instead of just throwing numbers at us, Credit Karma™ makes everything easy to understand. Each section has a purpose, and there aren’t tons of ads flashing on the screen. While there are premium products (like credit card offers), it isn’t spammy or salesy at all. The offers are tailored to fit your situation. The pie chart, color graph, and number line are all very beneficial for visual learners like me!

credit karma

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Credit Karma™.

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  • Shirley - I LOVE Credit Karma! We found out I had NO credit, and my hubby’s was poor, so we’ve been being very careful, and working on raising it up, since we too are looking to purchase a house sometime in 2015. Good luck to you!
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  • Angie B. - I actually just checked my credit score before I read this post and I check it often too. I don’t use Credit Karma however. I get a free credit tracker with my Capital One account. When my boyfriend and I were trying to buy a house many years ago it was very hard because at the time I had no credit so since then I’ve worked very hard to keep my number high.
    Angie B. recently posted..Review of Deep Relief Gel From Boots.comMy ProfileReplyCancel

I’m not going to be sappy about having a teenager, or my baby turning 13, or about how she used to be an adorable little weirdo but is now a beautiful young lady.

I’m not going to cry.

I’m just going to say how thankful I am that I have Nell as my daughter. She really is amazing.

A few years ago, Nell decided she wanted short hair. Other kids her age weren’t quite ready for a girl with a “boys” haircut. She stuck with it anyway.

She was bullied, relentlessly. But she turned it into a positive experience by raising money to donate to anti-bullying organizations.

There are many other things she’s accomplished, and she’s made me proud in many ways… but without stalling any longer, I’ll show you what she wanted for her birthday: dyed hair.

This is what Nell looked like when she woke up on her 13th birthday! We had a great day – Rachel woke her up by singing Happy Birthday to her, and even let her have dessert for breakfast. I flew in from an event I was doing, and got here before she got home from school. We went out to dinner and had a great time. It was a very simple birthday, but exactly what she asked for.

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Tracking PixelMexican Hot Chocolate is one of my favorite drinks ever, so writing a sponsored post for Fresh & Easy that features my recipe is perfect. I hope you enjoy this delicious drink as much as I do!

As you know, Arizona doesn’t really get too cold. The “cold” months are December and January, but even then it’s hoodie weather at best. Making hot chocolate in October seems pretty silly considering it’s still in the 90s, but I miss Fall and knew this would help me pretend that it was cold and dreary outside like Midwest falls always were.

 

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As most of you know, Rachel lusted after a GoPro for months before I finally bought her one. Then, she insisted on going hiking and swimming and all kinds of crazy stuff to put it to good use! Too bad I wasn’t wearing it when I encountered that HUGE rattlesnake on my hike! The GoPro HERO is 12x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates, which is perfect for catching all of the action – right as it’s happening.

Rachel captured many of our experiences in San Diego. In fact, the first time she had ever seen the ocean was on our trip this summer – and GoPro caught it all!

GoPro HERO features high-quality 1080p30 and 720p60 video, plus 5MP photos up to 5 frames per second.

GoPro HERO4 Black: the most advanced GoPro ever, featuring improved image quality and a 2x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates1, HERO4 Black takes award‐winning GoPro performance to a whole new level.

Best Buy is the home of the latest cameras and camcorders, including the full line of new GoPro cameras, plus a broad assortment of accessories. GoPro cameras make perfect holiday gifts for everyone, from kids and teens, to gadget gurus. GoPro’s new line of cameras allow you to beautifully and authentically capture and share the experiences that bring purpose, adventure, and joy to your life. Learn more at www.bestbuy.com/GoPro or visit your local Best Buy to check out the latest cameras in person.

 

GoPro HERO4 Silver: the first-ever GoPro to feature a built-in touch display. Controlling The camera, playing back footage and adjusting settings is ultra-convenient—just view, tap and swipe the screen. With 1080p60 and 720p120 video, and 12MP photos at a staggering 30 frames per second, HERO4 Silver combines powerful, pro-quality capture with the convenience of a touch display.

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

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If you’ve ever wondered how to stop bullying, or how to prevent bullying, this is a great post to read with your kids. My daughter, Jenelle, has experienced bullying first hand and wants to share some tips with other kids on how to stop bullying.

I’ve been bullied before, and it got out of hand. The teachers and principal did nothing, and it just kept getting worse until I had to move schools.

I think stopping bullying is easiest when bullying is prevented. It is so much easier to fix a problem before it starts then after it’s out of control. However, if you’ve already been dealing with bullying, I have some tips to help it stop.

How to Stop Bullying

Avoid the bullies. You’ve seen them around school, you know who the bullies are. Avoid them, even if they seem nice! If you’ve seen them bullying others, you don’t want to be friends with them anyway – eventually, you’ll become their target.

Find some friends. Bullies like to target loners, so if you have one or two friends that you hang out with, you’ll be less likely to be a target for bullies.

Hold your head up. Bullies lack confidence, and they prey on others that seem to lack it as well. If you can’t avoid the bully, look her in the eye and tell her to stop. Just straight up tell them “stop it”, and walk away. After watching the video I made two years ago, I realize I’m not as big of a target now because I’m more confident. I still have my fair share of bullies to deal with (it is middle school after all), but I feel better prepared because of my experiences in the past.

Don’t make it worse. While being firm and telling the bully to stop is a good idea as long as you’re not in physical danger, sometimes you really do have to walk away so you don’t make things worse. If you fight back, the bully will just get angry and you could also get in trouble for fighting back.

Stop worrying so much. If you worry about the bullies all day every day, you’re going to be sick to your stomach (trust me, I know from experience), and they’re going to be able to tell that you’re scared. Focus on more positive things, like hanging out with friends after school or going home and watching your favorite show on TV. Don’t give the bullies the satisfaction of taking up your time by worrying about them.

Tell someone. You don’t want to be called a snitch, but sometimes you do have to tell someone. Whether it’s your teacher or your mom, talk to them about it. They won’t confront the bully right away – they will tell you how to handle the situation. Or, if it’s too bad, they will take care of it. If you notice the bullying happening often or getting worse, you really do need to get an adult involved. My mom went all the way to the news stations when others did nothing – so don’t give up hope! Someone will advocate for you.

Help other bullying victims. When I was bullied a few years ago, I started making jewelry and selling it so I could donate money to anti-bullying foundations. This helped spread the word that anyone could be the target of bullies, and that we are all going to stand up against bullying – together.

Anti-Bullying Resources: Books to Read

The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up For Others

Stand Up for Yourself and Your Friends: Dealing with Bullies and Bossiness and Finding a Better Way

Tease Monster: A Book About Teasing Vs. Bullying

The Bullying Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Social Aggression and Cyberbullying

The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to HighSchool–How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle

Spaghetti In A Hot Dog Bun: : Having the Courage to Be Who You Are

Confessions of a Former Bully

Bullying Under Attack: True Stories Written by Teen Victims, Bullies & Bystanders

Bullying At School – A Kids Book about Bullying To Help Them Against Bullies

If you haven’t yet, watch my video. It’s kind of shaky – sorry – but my mom recorded it while I was dealing with a lot of bullying issues at my old school. It is hard for me to watch now.

Do you have any tips for avoiding bullies or helping it stop?

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  • Amanda Watkins - Your story always broke my heart, Nell. I’m glad that things have gotten better. The bullying really eases up by high school. Gossip and rumors (all behind your back) are the worst part of high school. But when rumors were started about me I would gossip about them myself. One rumor during my freshman year was that I was snorting crack AND pregnant. If I saw people pointing at me and whispering I’d walk right up to them and say something like “man oh man! My crack baby is really kicking today!” or “have you heard the news?? [random celebrity in 2001] is going to adopt my crack baby!”. I thought the looks on their faces were hilarious and the gossip and rumors never bothered me.ReplyCancel

  • Heather Stone/Surviving Momhood - This touches home to myself and family very closely. My oldest son was bullied for years and one day beaten so bad at the age of 12 he had a stroke shortly getting off the school bus. After he recovered in the PICU he came home shattered. (Trying not to burst into tears) and well he became so depressed he tried to take his own life. It was an emotional and stressful uphill and down hill battle/fight. That was almost 4 years ago and now he is doing better. I took all that anger and began speaking at school and holding Open and Closed meeting for kids and their families who have been effected by bullying. Spreading awareness is something I love seeing. Thank you your post. Eric will come with and share his story to schools but he said likes to leave the schools to me and he can do the groups. I am so proud of how far he has come. We can continue to lessen the amount of bullying there is each year by spreading awareness and never being afraid to seek or ask for help.
    Heather Stone/Surviving Momhood recently posted..The industrial strength packaged toy vs. the light bulbMy ProfileReplyCancel

  • Jen - Nell, thank you for sharing your experience and advice. Kids like you are an important part of the solution! I’m going to share this post with my daughter who is in fifth grade.
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  • Aisha Kristine Chong - I feel that my friend feels bullied indirectly – though I don’t see it that way but maybe her experience from the past haunts her and makes her feel like a victim all the time – it’s sad. :(
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  • Joyce Cortes Mackenroth - Your story was incredibly inspired! I feel the same when I was in high school. Some friends I used to hang out with changed a big time and picked on me in the result of that they tried to change the way who I was because I had my cochlear implant with me. I told my teachers and principal that they continued to make fun of me wearing my cochlear implant, they called me “You’re robot!” The bullied people in high school wrote my name with offensive words in the girls’ restroom. The teachers and principal stopped them and sent them home for their two week suspension. I am glad that I had my courage to tell my teachers and principal. By the way, thank you for sharing your post here :-)
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  • Tracers - Bullying is so sad. I think it is great that you posted and shared awareness.
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  • Emma T - Great post, and great for other children to hear from a peer how to fight back against bullies. Good luck with the rest of your education, and having it in peace!
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  • Heather - You did a great job on this post and this video! You are a warrior and this will help so many kids out there!! Thank you for sharing your experiences and tips with us. I’m going to share these with my kindergartner who tends to get bullied! Thank you!
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  • Lavende & Lemonade - Thank you for these important tips. We’re not quite in the bullying stage but it is one that I’m already nervous about as a parent!
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  • Karen Solomon - My niece has been bullied for years. You have provided some resources – Thank You!
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  • jo - Good to know that there’s more and more book being written about bullying. I just wish every single person being bullied have some real friends whom he can speak with, if not the parents. I feel bad for those who were mistreated and feel worse to those who to those to them. I hope schools teach their students on how to deal with bullying too and how to handle it.j
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  • Erica Brooks - Smart tips. I’m glad that awareness is being made to educate people and put a stop to bullying. When I was younger people justified this cruel behavior as kids just being kids and to suck it up.
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  • Michelle - Bullies need consequences and perhaps mandated peer groups. The bullied kids need support and to know their own self worth as not to let anyone’s negative words penetrate the strength of self worth.

    My daughter is bullied often but she notices that they’re usually just showing off. Keep doing what you’re doing it’s inspiring and I’m going to show this to my daughter in the morning.
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  • Paula Parker - Great subject to tackle. Very smart tips. Thanks for the info!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca Swenor - This is an awesome post that should be read by and will our kids. It is said how much our kids get bullied more than when we were kids. Social media makes it worse now days than we had. Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Of Coffee and Crackers - When my eldest was still in nursery, I always tell her to retaliate when there’s someone bullying her. But then, she’s not that mean, good thing she managed avoiding bullies in her class for the year..

    I hate bullies!
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  • Lisa Jones - Love All The Awareness You AreBringing To This Subject Hopefully The Word Will Keep Getting Around!ReplyCancel

  • John Lopez - I can’t stand bullies, they are a menace to society.ReplyCancel

  • Bonnie @ wemake7 - This is a great read. Thank you. I have been there and thankfully so far my children haven’t dealt with it too much yet. These are great tips.ReplyCancel

  • Letty C. - Thank you for this post. My son and I read it and are very grateful for your advised.
    Letty C. recently posted..Organic Matcha Not only a TeaMy ProfileReplyCancel

  • Michele D - This post is great. We need to focus more about bullying. It’s smart for parents to look for signs and keep interested with who our children hang around with .ReplyCancel

  • HilLesha - I could have used this advice in my school years. I always got teased and bullied because for my race and simply being shy. Even some teachers didn’t cut cut me any slack. That’s why I was so glad when my mom and I moved back to Indiana in 1998 (I was born here, but mostly raised in Illinois) and I started going to Christian school. The first scool wasn’t that great, especially since it had a creepy pastor/principal that always made me feel uncomfortable. The second one was pretty decent until the second year when these two sisters started going there and made my life a living you know what. Sadly, it seems like bullying is getting worse and worse since many of it is done online. :(
    HilLesha recently posted..Let’s Put an End to Financial Abuse with Allstate Foundation Purple PurseMy ProfileReplyCancel

  • Tamika - I will be passing this information to my Girl Scouts, so they know the importance of bullying. The video was a great reminder, that children need to understand what bullying is all about. Thanks for sharing.
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  • Patranila - I always wonder where the parents are? Who are the parents that support their kids in terrorizing other kids? I just don’t get it.
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  • Giveaways 4 Mom - I had no idea it was national bullying prevention month. However, this is a topic that needs to be discussed. Bullying has gotten out of hand and sometimes the consequences can be fatal.
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  • Krystal's Kitsch - I do worry about my son and hope he isn’t bullied or a bully. I know middle school was tough for me with bullying!
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  • Melissa Smith - My kids haven’t encountered any bullying yet, but these are great tips to share with them. Such a shame though that kids can be so cruel.ReplyCancel

  • XmasDolly - Sometimes bullies have their own heavy problems at home & that’s why they turn into bullies at school because that’s all they’re ever taught at home, but that doesn’t cure the problem. Traveling in a group helps because if you come across one bully they’re likely to stand down if they’re out numbered. Don’t show you are scared, and just walk away, but never be caught alone that’s the only advice I have. Oh and always tell someone whether it be an older sibling or your parents.
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  • Mrs. Mashed Up - What a great post. It’s so sad, this bullying problem. It just seems to be getting worse and worse. Love the pointers, and resources. Great article.
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  • Lucky Seven Ten - I absolutely agree with you. Avoiding/Ignoring is a great place to start. If they see that they can’t get to you they will often stop.
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  • Kristen - My kids are still too small for bullying. ( 2 and 9 months) I am not looking forward to mean kids at school when they get older.ReplyCancel

  • Chrissy Mazzocchi - Great tips! It’s such a shame that a lot of adults are bullying as well too.ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Hey, Sadie. You probably know who this once you start reading..I may seem like a bully to you but im not..My Mom cheated on my when I was 5 then became lesbian. After I grew up and realize what a lesbian was I hated them..About last year I finally forgave my mom..I want you to know im not a bad guy..One time in the locker room I was changing and Jenelle was right behind me then this girl whisper “Did you know Jenelle’s mom is a lesbian?”..After I finish putting on my shirt I turned around and scream “SO WHAT!” then i gave a whole speech to about 3 girls right then a there..Then another Gracelyn was on the bus so happy and proud about song she wrote..She was singing and singing til’ his boy ripped it up”..Grace sat there crying..Once I heard Tears I turned around Grace was crying as these two little boys crumbed it up and threw it on the ground..I turned and slowly pick it up..I pulled out my binder and pen then looked back a Grace balling..I slide the ripped pieces it clear front of the binder.. Then pulled out a new sheet of paper..By this time Grace notices and whips her face as she said thank you..Sadie I just want you to know im not a bad guy..Every day on the bus Me, Jenelle, and Grace sing our hearts out to All about that Bass and all other songs the radio plays..Well have thats it..You probably know who I am….ReplyCancel

In 2006, I was a single mom of two little girls and pregnant with a third. I was living in a trailer in a shitty trailer park, driving a shitty car and working 2 shitty part-time jobs. The only thing I was good at at the time, was being a mom… and I felt like I was failing miserably at that.

Every time my kids had dirty faces because we were saving water until the one time a day we could all take a bath real quick. Every time my kids wore torn pajamas to bed because I couldn’t afford a new pair for them. Every time I had to share a blanket with them because I couldn’t afford my own. Every time they longed for a baby doll they knew we couldn’t buy. Those were all times that I felt like I was failing as a parent.

In the grand scheme of things, I did a good job with it all. I mean, the girls didn’t know how broke we were. They were still little, and after all, they enjoyed sharing a blanket with mom and having a camp out in the living room. They didn’t know we were sleeping in the living room because that was the only room with a space heater. They didn’t know that the reason we shared blankets is because the others were hanging in the hall to keep the cold air out. They didn’t know any of it, and I’m thankful for that. They still remember our “sleepovers” and “camp outs” as if they were fond memories – and for the girls, they were.

For me, they were not fond memories. I remember crying myself to sleep, snuggling them as tightly as I could to share my body heat so they wouldn’t be cold. I remember wondering if my shitty boss was going to pay me this week or if I was going to have to figure out which other utility could be shut off before it was the end of the line for us. For me, it was absolutefuckinghell and I’d never wish it on my worst enemy. Well, maybe on a few of them… but not their kids. Definitely not their kids.

Summer came, and things were looking up. The girls were staying at an in-home daycare during the day, so I could work my job. It wasn’t quite as shitty now that I had a new boss, and at the end of the day it was an actual paycheck so I tried not to complain too much. I kept to myself mostly those days, but my friends didn’t know how bad my situation had been – or how bad it would get.

There are many details of this story I’m leaving out, because even my family members don’t know why I ended up homeless to begin with, but we’ll just say this — it happened, and it sucked… but it wasn’t as bad as you might think. I wasn’t on the side of the road, holding a sign and begging for money. I wasn’t going hungry – even on the shitty days, we had food stamps. Food stamps were literally our saving grace. That is probably one of the reasons I put on so much extra weight – food was the one thing I could control in my life.

The girls and I ended up in a homeless shelter in July of 2006. I was 7 months pregnant. It was a new shelter and we were among the first to stay there. It was a maternity shelter, and each family had their own room. The building itself was a nursing home that they converted into a maternity home, so it was nice. Like, really nice. There was a parlor with several comfy chairs, and a huge living room (with a huge TV!), and even a play room for the kids.

There was also a computer room, which is where I officially started finding jobs to do from home. While the other moms were surfing Myspace and hitting up dating rooms, I was learning how to write resumes and then I sold them to job seekers. While at the homeless shelter, I “sold” templates – usually exchanged them for child care or chocolate milk or movie time – and then I would “teach” them how to fill them in if they weren’t sure. I read up on which words were best to use, how to word things when you literally had no experience, and taught them how to dress for their interviews.

So, here I was, pregnant and “homeless”. It’s a technical term – I didn’t actually have a home of my own, but I also wasn’t living on the streets so I hate to use the word “homeless”. But, it is what it is.

I got fired from my one job when they realized I was pregnant. The other job was too far away to drive to while living in the shelter, so I had to quit. I was making a few bucks by selling resumes, but nothing spectacular. I started posting on mom forums and ended up getting promoted to a paid moderator position. Again, just a few bucks, but it started to add up.

I had Sapphire at the end of August, and literally the week I came home from the hospital, I was in the computer room, working. The staff noticed my drive, and put me in for consideration for a new program the county had. It was like Section 8, but a little different. It had stricter requirements, and it was basically like a scholarship program but for housing. Things moved quickly, and it only took a few months before we were moving out! I got my own condo – it was amazing, and still the nicest place I’ve ever lived, to this day – and things started to look up once again.

A church helped me furnish my condo, and the Head Start right up the street not only took my kids while I searched for a job, they offered me a job and I accepted! I was making $10 an hour, which was more than I had made in the past. It was great! My job was within walking distance, so even when I had car problems, I could make it to work.

The one bad thing about the housing program was that it was limited. So, after we had spent four months in the shelter, we had a limit of 2 years in the condo with adjusted rent. The real rent would be like $1000. I was working from home, and bills were getting paid, but not $1000 a month rent getting paid. You’d think that would be plenty of time to get on your own two feet, but as a single mom with three kids (and never a dime in child support), it was difficult. I did it, but things were tight. We moved to a smaller place once our time was up on the program, and since then I’ve worked hard to teach the kids how important it is to give to people less fortunate – even when it might seem like we don’t have a lot ourselves.

My story isn’t one that is god awful. I wasn’t shivering out in the streets, my kids and I weren’t sleeping in a car (though that is a story for another day, because I have had to do that), and we never went hungry. Not everyone is so fortunate. Even in our worst of days, we were more fortunate than most of the homeless population in our own country – not to mention other countries that have it much worse.

I wanted to write this to show you guys that, you know me. You know I’ve never done drugs, or even smoked a cigarette(!), you know that I’m a good mom and you know I’m a hard worker – and I still ended up homeless. If it can happen to me, it can happen to many good people – and it does, every day.

If you skipped that huge long 500000 word story above, please just read this below. Our homeless population grows every day, and while it might seem ideal to drop a dollar in the plastic cup they are holding, or dig out some spare change, you can make much bigger changes with that money. Visit JustGives for more ideas.

What to Give Homeless People, Besides Money:

– socks
– scarves
– shoes – we made friends with a homeless guy by our house, found out his clothing/shoe size, and hooked him up with a wardrobe one time
– gatorade and other sports drinks
– canned coffee – our homeless friends always loved this
– meal replacement bars
– a list of shelters in the area
– dog food, if they have a dog with them.
– a list of government agencies that help with things like food stamps and insurance
– a list of local truck stops, plus a voucher for the showers
– toothpaste, tooth brushes
– comb, deodorant, any “hygiene” items so if they’re looking for a job they can be more presentable
– blankets
– a kind eye, a listening ear – some will never experience this

Also, don’t forget to donate to shelters! The highlight of my week was when these ladies would bring in all their old magazines and newspapers. We would read them, do crafts with them, and even do practice job interviews with the listings in the “Help Wanted” section.

P.S. The best thing you can donate to a shelter is your time. Consider it.

I’m sharing my story so others feel empowered to do the same. It’s kind of scatter brained and really long, and might not make any sense… but I want you to know that it’s not something to be embarrassed of if you’ve been on hard times. Sharing your story will help others.

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  • Melissa E - Sadie, thank you for sharing this story. I was not homeless but I can remember my mom not eating so the four of us could. I can only imagine what you went through as a mother.
    I am thankful that I have taken my girls with me to volunteer activities and that the high school has volunteer requirements as well.
    Great story girl!ReplyCancel

  • Taylor Snider - You are completely amazing! I wish there were more people with your positive attitude…reading your blog always cheers me up. You are an inspiration as corny as that sounds :)ReplyCancel

  • Katie R - I was once homeless and this really touched me, I appreciate you being open and honest about such a personal situation. One thing I suggest to donate to the homeless is a train and/or bus ride. I’m from Boston and we have CharlieCards and CharlieTickets. You can load a certain amount onto a card and get a weekly pass or just a train ticket and bus ticket. A lot of other homeless people I met had trouble getting to housing and doctors appointments.ReplyCancel

  • Doy - Wow. You are a tenacious, resourceful and determined woman! I was really inspired by your story!

    I’ve really struggled with generosity when things in my own home are tight, but you really challenge me to get over that and give anyway…something I’ll be thinking about all week.

    Thanks for the reminder, and for sharing your story so transparently!ReplyCancel

  • Julie - Sadie,

    I know I am repeating what another commenter said, but you really are an inspiration. You put your life, heart and soul out there for everyone to see, just so someone else might can benefit from your experience during hardships. This takes a special kind of bravery!ReplyCancel

Everyone has an opinion on what it takes to write the perfect blog post. ProBlogger is full of an unlimited amount of knowledge that will have you well on your way to crafting an amazing one, and if you haven’t started following Pat Flynn yet, you need to. However, sites like theirs are so amazing that they can sometimes be overwhelming. So, I’m here to break it down for you… how do you write the perfect blog post?

Truths About the Perfect Blog Post

Size matters. Oh yes, it definitely does. Too small and it’s over in 30 seconds… too big and everyone is scared of it. You have to find a happy medium. Most writers will suggest that your post stay around 500 words. I struggle to stay under 1000 some days, but you definitely want to be over 400.

Strong titles are a must. Depending on where we discover an article (Facebook, StumbleUpon, etc), titles and images are the things that make readers decide whether they’re going to click or not. Having a strong title is non-negotiable.

It needs to be relevant. I blogged about Kirk Cameron a while back – because he pissed me off – but it was relevant at the time because he was in the news. If I blogged about him today, I’d get maybe 1/10th the amount of clicks on my post because, well, nobody cares about him right now.

It’s gotta be engaging! If you’re not entertaining your readers, they’re going to find another blogger that does.

Include some useful information. While everyone loves a mindless read once in a while, most people will visit your blog in hopes of reading something useful – educational even. Give it to them!

It’s all about traffic. Okay so it’s not all about traffic, but obviously we want the result of the perfect blog post to be the perfect amount of blog traffic, right? Read up on 99 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic, as that’s a great jumping off point.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

Is it scannable? Some people (like me!) just speed read through everything, scanning articles for a few seconds and moving on. If something is really interesting, we’ll stick around for a few extra seconds – but that’s it. Use bolds, italics, bullet points, and headings to keep the article easy to read.

Does it solve a problem? Because it needs to. In this day and age of instant gratification, your blog posts really should solve a problem – even if that means the problem is the reader is cranky and just needs a laugh.

Is it well-researched? If your post goes viral, people are going to call your bluff real fast. So, make sure your blog post is legit and well-researched before hitting “publish”.

Does your blog post have grammatical errors? Proofread that shit, yo. There’s nothing that annoys me more than constant grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Of course having a few here or there usually isn’t a big deal (I’m the queen of starting sentences with “and” or “but”) – having them all over is.

How to Write a Perfect Blog Post

I’ve never done the half-width images like this infographic suggests, but I might try them some time. It’s all about providing the best experience for your readers so they come back again and again!

What’s your best tip for writing the perfect blog post?

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  • Jen - Thank you! I love this post and I’ll be pinning and sharing with my blogging group on Facebook. My two favorite parts? Kirk Cameron pissed me off and proofread that shit,yo.
    Jen recently posted..Tuesday 10 – October GoalsMy ProfileReplyCancel

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes are one of my favorite side dishes. They’re easy to make, delicious to eat, and impressive when you bring them to potlucks. Check out the rest of my gluten-free recipes while you’re here, and please pin this recipe if you like it!

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes Recipe

Ingredients

1⁄2 Cup Grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
3 Tbsp. Butter, melted
2 lbs. Red Potatoes, scrubbed and halved lengthwise

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400*F.

In a small bowl combine the Parmesan, Garlic powder and Italian seasoning.

In a separate small bowl melt the butter. Dip the cut side of a potato in the butter.

Hold the potato over the cheese bowl and using a spoon (or your other hand), coat the potato with cheese.

Place cheese side down on a greased cooking sheet. You may want to place them on greased parchment paper for easier release after cooking because they do tend to stick a bit.

Bake at 400*F until the cheese is browned and crispy and the potatoes are tender, 25-30 minutes.

Depending on how large your potatoes are they may need to go a little longer. Serve hot, with an amazing dipping sauce.

Linked up: GF&DIY Tuesday, Pint Size Tuesday, Ladybug Blessings, You’re Gonna Love it Tuesday, Create Link Inspire,and Totally Talented Tuesdays

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  • suzy - I love how simple this recipe is. These look really tasty.ReplyCancel

  • Joyce Cortes Mackenroth - Oh! It looks incredibly delicious! I will try this one at home with my family. I already pinned yours in my board. Thanks for sharing :-)ReplyCancel

Fall is approaching quickly, whether we like it or not! Well, who doesn’t like fall?! The sights of beautiful colors, the sounds of crunching leaves, and best of all… the smells of yummy Fall Drinks! Don’t forget your Vitamix to make the awesome smoothies.

25 Fall Drinks and Smoothies

1. Fancy Hot Chocolate
2. Pumpkin Pie Almond Smoothie
3. The Real Deal: Pumpkin Spice Latte
4. Pumpkin Banana Apple Yogurt Smoothie
5. Sweet Potato Pear Smoothie
6. Hot Caramel Apple Cider
7. Warm Ginger Pear Smoothie
8. Caramel Apple Milkshake
9. Spiced Banana Almond Smoothie
10. Homemade Apple Soda
11. Butternut Squash Breakfast Smoothie
12. Salted Caramel Apple Cider
13. Pumpkin Mexican Hot Chocolate
14. Blueberry Smoothies
15. Autumn Spiced Cold Brewed Iced Coffee
16. Nutella Cappuccino
17. Vampire Punch
18. Cranberry Cider
19. Ginger Lemonade
20. Horchata
21. Fall Greens Smoothie
22. Salted Caramel Mocha
23. Chocolate Chai Milkshake
24. Apple Date Cinnamon Smoothie
25. Apple Cider

Can’t get enough? Check out my other post: 131 Smoothie Recipes!

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It’s no secret that I’m a huge Samsung fan. I had an iPhone back in the day, and it was fine – but since then I’ve had Samsungs and have no interest in going back to an iPhone. With that being said, this post is in jest – I know how upset you iStalkers can get. ;)

And then they’re all …

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  • Rea - I’m a Samsung girl ever since. LOL. I have a friend who has iPhone5 and when he tried to attach his phone case, his phone bent. JUST.LIKE.THAT.ReplyCancel

  • Aruna - I haven’t read the reviews if the new iphone, it bends?
    I like the iPhone but still have a 4 version. I only update when there is a reason to. Right now my phone still gets the job done. Next phone I’ll look at the Samsung and iPhone and compare reviews.
    Aruna recently posted..Creative Ways to Get Kids Yoga into SchoolsMy ProfileReplyCancel

So you’re online shopping for some gifts, but aren’t sure what to buy? These are items I’ve been sent to try out. I’ve shared (short) thoughts on each, as well as links so you can purchase said toys! I’ll add more thoughts as the kids play with them, and I’ll add more toys as they’re received. Bookmark this page and check back from time to time! If there’s anything you’d like me to review, leave a comment and I will get to it ASAP!

Lalaloopsy – Various Toys, Various Prices & Appropriate Ages

Lalaloopsy Girls 9″ BEA SPELLS -A- LOT Doll – Color Change Hair (Retail $26.99)
Lalaloopsy Tinies Houses, Crumbs’ House (Retail $10.99)
Lalaloopsy Tinies 3-Pack, Style 1 (Retail $3.99)
Lalaloopsy Babies Diaper Surprise, Blossom Flowerpot (Retail $29.99)
Lalaloopsy Color Me, Squiggles ‘N’ Shapes (Retail $29.99)

My thoughts: We love Lalaloopsies. The tinies are not something we’d play with – Adam is 2 and I wouldn’t want him choking – but the Color Me and Bea Spells-A-Lot are definitely keepers for us! I’m not too keen on the “diaper surprise” types of dolls, but I know some kids LOVE them.

VRÜM – Ages 3+, $49.99

I got Adam the TMNT VRUM because, well, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are favorites in our house! At first, he wasn’t really sure what to do with it. We don’t have any ride-on toys in the house and though he has them at home, they’re more obviously ride-ons (with big wheels showing and such). This looks kind of like a little toy box or a bench, with small wheels attached.

It’s not just a ride-along toy, it also serves as storage! So, it kind of is a toy box. Though, when you open it, everything kind of falls out. So he usually just keeps a few books and cars inside.

See it in action in this review:

Wicked Cool Toys is rockin’ and a rollin’ with excitement to introduce VRÜM Ride-On Storage. Each ride-on storage character is 18″W X 8″D X 12″H, has a dual purpose pull/carrying strap, a handle-bar for comfort and support, is safe and fun to ride, and perfect for being on the go. Kids will love taking their favorite VRÜM Ride-On Storage friends with them everywhere they go, and parents will appreciate the entire package of convenience! Available NOW at Amazon.com.

My thoughts: This toy is cute and functional, but I don’t see myself spending $49.99 on it.

Cat Paw, Ages 0-100, $9.99 #CatPaw

Like Cat Paw on Facebook for hilarious video updates!

See it in action in this review:

CAT PAWS are wildly fun and purrrfect for everyone! Creep out co-workers, amuse cat lovers and STUPEFY cats themselves with the amazing, bizarre, wonderful and super fun CAT PAW! Cat Paw features 4 different cat styles to choose from. Each Cat Paw includes 2 realistic sounds and an awesome clawing action! Simply pull the trigger on the handle to activate sound and movement. Once you see one, you have to have them all! Cat Paw is sure to be the life of any party, fill an ordinary day with extraordinary moments, strike up conversations with just about anyone, and guaranteed to deliver endless joy to everyone, even your beloved four-legged family members! Available at Kmart. Toys “R” Us and Amazon.

My thoughts: I don’t really like cats, but I think this could be a funny toy for the practical joker.

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  • Hana - I purchased this vehicle / play set for my son a few weeks ago and found the toy to be easy to assemble, well made (durable) and easy for my son to operate / play with. We are not collectors, so I can’t speak to all of the little details others have spoken about. However, if you’re looking for a TMNT action figure / play set that is fun and well made, then I would highly recommend this item.
    Hana recently posted..Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether ReviewMy ProfileReplyCancel

Join The Boxtrolls Cardboard Challenge, where kids create and build Boxtrolls crafts! Using cardboard boxes as the main resource, kids will have a blast participating in this contest. Check out this list of cities, dates, and times for the hosted events in the Boxtrolls Cardboard Challenge.

The mission of the Imagination Foundation is to find, foster and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in children around the world.

Imagination Foundation Event Dates:

Boston, MA: Saturday 9/20 from 11am-3pm at the Framingham Food Truck Festival
Cleveland, OH: Saturday 9/20 from 11am-2pm at SouthPark Mall
Salt Lake City, UT: Saturday 9/20 from 12pm-3pm at Station Park Mall in Farmington
Kansas City, MO: Sunday 9/21 2pm – 4pm at the Science City at Union Station
Minneapolis, MN: Sunday 9/21 from 1pm-3pm at Mall of America in the Sears Court
Austin, TX: Sunday 9/21 from 1pm-3pm at Givens Recreation Center from 1pm-3pm
Baltimore, MD: Sunday 9/21 from 2pm-4pm at the Port Discovery Atrium
Philadelphia, PA: Sunday 9/21 from 12pm-3pm at Franklin Mills Mall
Raleigh, NC: Sunday 9/21 from 1pm-4pm at the CenterFest Arts Festival (in the Kids Zone) in Durham
Pittsburgh, PA(9/21) : Sunday 9/21 from 12pm-3pm at Carnegie Science Center
San Diego, CA: Sunday 9/21 from 10:30am-3pm at the San Diego Padres game against the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park

the boxtrolls Imagination Foundation

Even if you can’t attend a live event, you really must see The Boxtrolls in theaters!

Contest

Contest dates: 8/25-9/29

How to enter the contest:

Participants can share their creations via Twitter or Instagram by tagging their photos with the hashtag #TheBoxtrollsCC to enter

Grand Prize: one (1) Grand Prize winner will be picked on September 29th and receive an “Imagination Box” for creative play, including an Apple iMac, an iPad Air, Microsoft Office, The Print Shop and Kid Pix softwares, a $500 DiscoveryStore.com gift card, and a $1000 Michaels Arts & Crafts gift card.
Contest Rules and Regulations

Release Date: 9.26.14

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