Things on Hold

I was extremely excited to get this blog started and put a lot of thought into content and topics and everything else. But, often life throws you a curveball. And with that, I realized I need to take time from this blog and other social media time consumers and focus on getting my life organized the way I want it. I expect to return around the new year. 


Thank you.

Top Ten Tips for Surviving (er, Succeeding) at the Grocery Store with Tater Tots

Grocery shopping. It has to be done. But it’s so annoying. It never happens quickly. I often leave tired and stressed. The kids fall asleep on the way home, satisfied with exhausting all of their energy at the expense of one FM (Frazzled Momma), while I am left thinking how dangerous is it really for me to take a nap in my driveway with the sleeping kiddos?

The one grocery story blessing I have is that my lovely little sister happens to work at my favorite Publix. When I am going shopping, I give her a heads up, make sure she isn’t working the express lane. At least I can be assured I will have a fast, competent cashier, and that my kids will be distracted by Aunt Sissy; who they adore  - at least partially because she looks to be about 14 (she’s 26). 

I have some tips for how to survive, er, succeed at the grocery store with Tater Tots.

1. Leave them at home with Hubby or some other responsible party (I had to put it in there).

2. Shop on the slow days, at the slow times, if possible. You will never catch me at the grocery store on the weekend, or after-work hours. No. Way! I go on a Thursday mid-morning. There is a minimal amount of people to attempt to talk to be about how cute my kids are, give me advice about parenting, or wonder why I am having a third baby when I already have a boy and a girl who keep my hands full. Additionally, I coupon; not extreme style, but I do. And because the sale week just started when I arrive on Thursday morning; I don’t have to worry about them being out of anything.

If you work away from the home, super early on Sunday mornings I hear is slow. 

3. Assign seats on the way. Peanut and Muffin though being 20 months apart are almost the same size. Sitting in the seat of the cart is a coveted position. We take turns, for the most part. I usually pray I will be able to find an operable racecar cart with two seats and two steering wheels. But, if we have to use the standard cart; let the tears of who has to sit in the basket happen in the car with only you and your tension headache to listen.

4. Run down the rules, consequence, and reward as you walk into the store. “There will be no whining, screaming, musical seats, throwing, snatching, hitting, hair pulling, biting, punching or licking. (Peanut, kitties are not allowed in the grocery store)* If there is, we will leave and will have to come back to the store during Papi playtime. If you are good, movie tonight.” (when Hubby gets home from work). The kids always say ok. pfft.

*My daughter likes to act like a cat.*

5. Make a list and bring it with you. Put a sticky note on your steering wheel right before you start getting the kids ready that says, “Do you have your list?” When you organize your list, put the critical items at the top, rather than by organization of the store. Why, because if you don’t get through the whole list at least the baby won’t be diapered in a dish towel tonight and you won’t be eating leftover Ramen noodles for dinner.

6. Dress tater tots appropriately. I live in Florida. It’s hot and muggy. But the grocery store is cold. I put my kids in light cotton pants with no buttons to say are pushing on their tummy. They have to wear sneakers; no slip on that will fall off and I constantly have to pick up. They wear t-shirts, and I bring them each a sweater so I don’t have to deal with Peanut complaining that I am hurting her by forcing her to be in the cold meat aisle too long. I put Peanut’s butt-length hair in a bun so it is less likely to be pulled by Muffin. Likewise, I dress myself comfortable and appropriate.  

7. Upon entering, make a beeline for the bakery. Publix, and most other grocers give the kids a free cookie; get over there, make the kids say please and thank you, and then try to tackle as much of the critical components of your list as possible while their mouths are full of cookie goodness. Do not get a cookie for yourself. You have a job to do, Momma.

8. Put the cold items under the cart. Cold makes kids cranky! You have more time before major complaining starts, if the kid in the basket (or Momma’s grocery helper ;-)) is not surrounded by things that make them shiver. If you can swing it, by one or two of the bags that keep your groceries cold and do the critical cold items first. They will last fine. Trust me. 

9. If a miracle happens, and you have accomplished most or all of your critical items without rule breaking, hit up the deli and get some meat and cheese samples for them to eat. Same result as the cookie. I don’t get food samples from the ladies cooking around the store. Why? I don’t know if my kids will like it, they might want more, and I already gave them a cookie; that food is often high in sodium or unhealthy. I also don’t bring snacks. Kids feel like the food at the store is more special than after you bring it home.

10. If they break your rules, leave the store. It sucks, but in the long run, it results in better behaved kids. My kids covet time with Papi (my Hubby) when he gets home from work. He takes them to Target for a treat, or to the big park, or outside to clean up palm fronds. You tell your kids they have to come back to the store with you during a time they enjoy, and they will start to shape up.

What are your tips for the grocery store?

Happy Monday.

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life & Giveaway

So, I recently purchased 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine over at Money Saving Mom. She has a blogtastic website and shares tons of money saving ideas and bits of inspiration from across the mommy community.

I’m so excited about this ebook from The Money Saving Mom

My Hubby and I are expecting baby #3 in April. We are new homeschoolers to an advanced 4.5 year old and super hyper 3 year old. We are selling our house and moving 75 miles away. We have a house to clean and mouths to feed and the daily trials and tribulations of life. We let projects slip away at times, and coming from two people well versed in project management and organization, we should have everything under control.

Budget wise – Admittedly, and I am going to say it, we do not live paycheck to paycheck and live a more comfortable life than some. We don’t worry about how bills will get paid and emergencies are manageable. But, our savings is not sufficient should a major loss occur, and our retirement isn’t really even on the priority list. We could do better; much better – with more discipline.

Day-to-Day wise – I get things accomplished but everything seems to be done mediocre. I clean the house, but it just isn’t the way I want it. We try to get all the errands done, but me and the tater tots end up getting irritated when the schedule goes awry. We have boxes that we should sort through before we move them into another house to never see the light of day. We could accomplish more, with less effort – with more discipline.

My husband and I decided to chronicle the journey together. Our first task was to accomplish a small project we have been wanting to get done. As we speak, Muffin, Peanut and Hubby are taking care of some neglected yard work before today’s Open House. Me, I have some bags in my closet filled with randomness to sort through.

For our Mega Project, which is to be accomplished at the end of the 21 days of following the steps in the book, we are going to plan an implement a cash envelope budgeting system and provide structure for our financial goals. We are using the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover Workbook for this.

Sound like fun? I am giving away (this is not sponsored by Money Saving Mom, I am providing the books) two copies of 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life, on November 11th. I am also giving away one copy of Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover Workbook. Here is how you can win:

Post a comment for each item you do (sorry, no Rafflecopter yet):

1. Follow/Subscribe to my blog!

2. Follow me on Twitter! @Florida_Momma

3. Post about it on your blog!

4. Post a comment about what you Mega Project would be!

5. Post a comment about your biggest financial woe!

6. Tweet about it! You can earn one entry per day for tweeting about it!

If you have the book and want to share your experience, please do. I will post status updates as I go along. 

**Disclaimer: The Florida Momma is hosting this Giveaway independently and is not receiving compensation or free product from Money Saving Mom or Dave Ramsey. All opinions are my own. If you choose to purchase the book(s) through my links in this post; these are Amazon affiliate links and I will receive a small commission.**

More Than Mommies Mixer & Random Friday Thoughts

Hey.. It’s Friday. It crept up on me. My daughter was in the hospital until Tuesday with pneumonia. Then, it was Halloween. Then, it was accomplish-almost-nothing-i-intended-to-thursday. And today, it is Friday!

Some people are coming to look at my house today, hopefully they will want to buy it. But this means I need to clean it. We still have candy bags in the kitchen. I haven’t put away all the things Peanut acquired in her five days at the hospital. Muffin got chocolate muffin crumbs on a sofa.

BUT, it’s FRIDAY! And I am partying with the More than Mommies Mixer! Yay! Click below to join up and find out about some totally awesome blogs!

Woot! Woot!

In other news, I have a baby bump. I am 16 weeks along with my third tater tot so I thought it would have got here sooner. Unfortunately, I have been stuck in that limbo time where you don’t really look pregnant; you just look like you have been eating too much of the mac and cheese your kids leave behind at lunch time. Anyway, it is finally here, and I am going to need to buy new pants because I can’t wear Hello Kitty Pajamas everywhere. Here is the bump.. and my pajamas.

Baby # 3

The boy is making his presence known

Here is a picture of us from Halloween. Peanut was Batgirl and Muffin was Batman. He hasn’t taken off that costume for days! DAYS I tell you!


Funny how the parents (that’s us) look terrible after a 5 day hospital stay with Peanut.. but she looks totally awesome.

OOh. ooh. PS – I am going to start some posts about planning to homeschool and curriculum choices. And, I’m pretty awesome because I already have some reviews, giveaways and discounts lined up! Yay!

Happy Friday!


Operation Christmas Child: Pack Some Love in a Shoebox

This year, I am participating for the first time in Operation Christmas Child through the Samaritan’s Purse. The campaign provides much needed items and gifts to children in some of the most impoverished areas of the world. Since 1993, OCC has shipped almost 100 million boxes! This year, they can exceed that number and I am going to help.

All you need to do is pack a shoebox size container with items applicable to a particular age and gender group.  I picked up two purple sparkle, super sturdy plastic containers from the clearance rack at Office Depot today for less than $1.75 each. You can also get OCC specific boxes for free from your local Family Christian Bookstore.

The official website provides information about what can and cannot be included, but here is a summary from their site as well:


I really hope that everyone includes a family picture and letter with their box(es). I am also going to include a pre-addressed envelope to make it easier for the recipient to write back if they choose.

After you have your box(es) all packed up, you will want to get a shipping label. I strongly suggest you make the $7 donation to pay for shipping through their website, because then you are able to track your package. I know my tater tots will be very excited to see where our package lands!


Are you excited? I am too! Here are some websites you should be sure to visit!

If you have items you would like to donate, but do not have the resources to fill the box or to ship it, contact your church, community center, and friends. Even a few people working together to fill and ship one box can make a difference.

Responsibility: Good Kids Chart (Chore Behavior Chart)

Recently, I decided that my tater tots needed a little more structure in their day to encourage responsibility. And, I admit, they wore me down on the day that we spent 4.5 hours trying to get them to clean their room. I’m too traumatized to get into the details.

I scoured the internet and decided upon the chore chart for little kids from Confessions of a Homeschooler. I did make some adjustments to make it fit our family.  At the end of this post is some additional resources for Chore Chart options:

I started with a Letter Chart from my local educational supply store for about 15 dollars. You can find a similar one here on Amazon for cheaper:

After I purchased the chart, I also bought a little pack of star stickers. I printed on regular paper, but card stock would increase durability. For me, because my kids always seem to have some kind of food, chalk, or booger on their hands, I am at some point going to reprint these and laminate them.

Teaching responsibility to preschoolers

Here is where my chart differs from Confessions of a Homeschooler:

  • I call my chart the Good Kids Chart rather than a Chore and Behavior Chart. I figure if I say it enough, it will be true!
  • I give my kids three chores a day, but we call them “activities” – it seems to avoid the eye rolling that my 4.5 year old has somehow mastered already.
  • We put the activities side by side rather than stacking them, so the kids can see everything at once and as an activity is completed, a ticket takes its place and the chore is replaced behind their name at the bottom of the stack.
  • My kids do have rules and we are working on how to better define them… but as it related to this chart
    • If they go the WHOLE DAY without a time-out, they get a Best Bee-havior card.
    • If they hit a sibling, they lose all their Best Bee-havior cards for the week.

Reward system:

  • My kids earn trading cards, like Pokemon, for good behavior. They each have a binder with protector sheets, and each week, they earn a pack. They are cheap for us (bought in bulk – hiding in closet) and it make the kids happy and they feel like big kids. As, they feel like their idea of an adult because my husband and I are giant nerds and have books of Star Trek cards, as well as comic books and games throughout the house.

My husband was recently surprised when my mom opened the “game closet” at her house to reveal games from my childhood. Playing Connect the Dots with the kids, I told them to take care of it, because the game was from about 1989.Hubby laughed and said no way; it looks new. I proved him wrong, but it let us know that it is never too early to teach children to care for their belongings. I digress.

  • If the kids complete all their chores for week without problems, they get a star on the reward card. When the reward card gets full, they get something special. Maybe a toy they want; maybe a special outing with one of us, maybe a movie. I keep a look out for good family Groupons which are perfect for this kind of reward.
  • We are not giving the kids actually money yet. Too much thinking for this Florida Momma. Plus – we are working on teaching them patience first. They don’t get rewarded daily.
  • I don’t use food to motivate my children. Both my husband and I were raised getting cookies or treats for good behavior; but my husband comes home from a stressful day and will stand in the kitchen and scarf half a jar of peanut butter. Baking cookies might be a reward, but the reward is the activity; not the cookie.

That is what I am doing – here is what some others are doing:

Other Chore Chart Ideas:

Simple Mom Chore Chart for Preschoolers – Simple sticker system with a nickel/per chore reward system. I like how her child is to put 10% aside for savings and giving, respectively.

Homeschool Creations Preschool Chore Chart – It is laminated and used Velcro dots so it is easy to use and durable. What preschool Momma doesn’t love that?

Carrots are Orange Preschooler Chore Chart – This is super cute and visual with a piggy bank stuck next to it on the fridge.

Do you have a chore chart you want to add to the list? Let me know!

What type of chore system do you use with your kids? At what age did you start?

Wednesday Freebies!


Each week on Wednesday I will compile a list of some super exciting FREEBIES you are silly not take advantage of. These are TRUE FREEBIES; so there is no purchase necessary and no credit card information required. If a link expires, please post it in the comments and I will remove it.  I’ll update throughout the week. And away we go:

For Momma:

  1. FREE TARGET BEAUTY BAG OFFER (COUPON PRO) – Coupon Pro reminded me it is time for Target’s Beauty Bag offer. Sometimes signing up for this is a little difficult. It seems to work best in Chrome. The bag comes with awesome samples AND crazy awesome coupons.
  2. FREE LIFE APPLICATION BIBLE STUDY BOOKS (TIME-WARP WIFE) – Like their Facebook Page and then click on the Freebies link. I just started following them this week and caught this freebie.

For Homeschool:

  1. FREE KINDNESS UNIT STUDY (HOMESCHOOL MOM) – Presented by the Homeschool Mom, it offers a unit study on Kindness. Whenever you have tater tots in tight quarters, somebody always ends up with ketchup on their face. Let’s teach our kids to be nice. J
  2. FREE EBOOK – 101 WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON HOMESCHOOLING (SUCCESSFUL HOMESCHOOLING) – When you sign up to receive newsletters from Successful Homeschooling, you will receive this ebook chock full of ideas, tips, and tricks and to save money homeschooling; especially useful to someone just starting out.
  3. For Election Time Resources, head over to Gricefully Homeschooling and check out her WEEKLY FREEBIES LIST. Of particular interest this week, is her list of tons of freebies related to voting, elections, etc. Love it!
  4. FREE MCGUFFY’S READERS – I check Amazon daily for Freebie deals – and the deals change often. While doing some research about spelling and reading education, I found out that McGuffey’s Spelling books and Readers are FREE. Head on over and grab copies while you can! Here they are all listed pretty and nice by How To Homeschool For Free.
  5. HODGE PODGE OF FREEBIESTeaching Blog Addict is promoting the new blog, The Homeschool Chicks, and is giving some Freebies. Enjoy!


Want me to link to your FREEBIE? Contact me at TABATHA [AT] FLORIDAMOMMA [DOT] COM J


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.