Mommy Review Monday: Full Focus Planner

I have mentioned in a few of my previous posts that I use the Full Focus Planner.  I happened upon this wonderful thing on one of the many podcasts that I listen to.  It’s been wonderful for me.

Here’s what I like about it:

  • It’s black and non-discrete.  There’s a lot of flashy journals out there and, for some folks that’s awesome, but I prefer something low-key.  It’s not too big, allowing me to fit into most of my medium size and larger purses.
  • It’s got two built-in ribbons that help in keeping your place like a bookmark.  I typically keep one on my current day and one by my quarterly goals list.
  • It has an elastic band to keep it shut, which is nice.  I sometimes will also use this as a third bookmark.
  • It’s got enough for 90 days to complete a whole quarter.
  • It has daily quotes that are inspirational, etc.  I have shared quite a few of these because they’re usually pretty wonderful.
  • It has your daily “Big 3”:  The 3 biggest things that are most important for your day’s to-do list.  There’s also a weekly “Big 3.”  Example:  My “Big 3” this week are- Stay on Noom, Work-out 3 times this week, and Stay Focused at Work and Don’t delay (yes, I know that last one sounds funny but sometimes I lose focus).  So far, I’m doing well on #1 and #2….it’s only Monday though, so I’ve got time to get back on track for #3.
  • There’s a checklist and system for deferring, delegating, checking off, or cancelling.  For a check-list lover like me, this is perfect.
  • Everyday is two pages- 1) The date, your “Big 3,” your checklist and 2) Notes- where you can either put more to-do items, as I usually end up doing, and/or write notes.
  • There’s an index and all of the pages are numbered to make it easy to find things.  I honestly would not have ever considered this but if you’ve got something really important that you know you want to know what page you can find things in that topic about.  For example:  I’ve got a project called “Grapevine Stadium” and I had a few meetings about it with notes on pages 4,6,20, and phone calls on 8, 10, and 24.  I can quickly go to these without flipping through every page.  You have full control over how you structure your index.  I only index things that I feel are really important.
  • There’s a goal setting portion in the front where you list your SMARTER goals.  Then you break your goals down by finding out why and what you need to do to make it happen, along with setting frequency and due date, etc.  It breaks it down into achievement goals and habit goals.  These are all important for making sure that you achieve the goals you have.
  • Each week you look over your goals, your “Big 3”, etc. and it asks you how you did and what you could do better.  It’s a really good reflection.  It also asks you to set your “Big 3” for the following week.  I take this time to look at what I have on my calendar for the week to help me with them.  Then I try to pencil in my “Big 3” for each day of the week, knowing that these will likely change throughout the week but at least I have a general idea of the most important things I need to get done.
  • There’s a full year calendar in there, which is nice to put the most important things you have on your calendar in one place.
  • There’s the option to buy a “subscription” and they will automatically send you a new journal every quarter.

What I would change (there’s not much):

  • I’d add a pen holder, although I’m sure I could buy one for it.
  • I’d change the layout of the calendar.  It doesn’t give enough space to write hardly anything in there.  There are often times more than one thing I need to add in a day.  Now that I think about it, I might start noting the page number that items are on to make that easier.  But I still wish it was more in traditional calendar form so I could see what day of the week it was.  I’m sure it was done this way to save space and have fewer pages.  After all, you don’t want a planner that is too large.
  • I would’ve bought 4 journals at once rather than doing the subscription so that as I get closer to that next quarter I can start putting my to-do lists into their assigned days.

Overall, this is the best planner I’ve ever had and it really has helped me.  I’m slightly ADHD, so I need all of the (Full) focus I can get.  Pun intended.  I’ll continue to use this and I’m hopeful that I’ll see the change in the calendar maybe someday but, even without that change, it’s awesome.  I definitely recommend it if you’ve got a lot going on in your life and you’re into setting and achieving goals, whether personal or professional.

Happy Mommy Review Monday!

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Mommy Review Monday: Batiste Dry Shampoo, Dark & Deep Brown

It took me a long time to break down and try dry shampoo, mostly because I always assumed it only worked for blondes. As I was getting my hospital bag ready for delivering the twins, one of the things I kept seeing on many new moms lists was dry shampoo. So I figured it was worth checking out. And I found that they make it for us dark haired beauties too. Duh. Of course they do. So, I went to Amazon and read a few hundred reviews before I decided to try out Batiste Dry Shampoo in Dark & Deep Brown.  It actually says Divine Dark on the spray can.

Mommy Review Monday- Batiste Dry ShampooAfter I got used to it, I was hooked. Here’s why I agree that it is divine dark:

  • It freshens my unwashed hair up. Obviously. That’s the whole purpose, right???  Second (or third day) greasy hair, be gone!  Don’t judge me….
  • It’s easy.  I saw online that there are some powders out there that you sprinkle on, which seems like (a) a mess for someone clumsy like me (b) time consuming (c) did I say a mess???
  • It smells good but isn’t too strong.
  • It doesn’t show up once you brush it out.  See comment below.
  • It provides camo for my stray grays that I’ve got peaking through.  I’ve got at least one for each kids growing right now…. plus one for the cat, Garen, the kitchen remodel, the yard sale….need I go on???
  • It’s reasonably priced.  $23.05 for a three-pack.
  • It’s available on Amazon.  Available in 2 days, which is usually plenty fast.
  • It’s not a huge can.  When you travel as much as I do, you consider things like the size of your cosmetics and products.
  • It gives me a bit of extra body.  Disclaimer- some people may not like this because it does make your hair a bit stiffer and full.  I, on the other hand, can use all the help I can get with my super-thin hair.

Here’s what I’d love more:

  • I’d love it more if it didn’t show up at all when you sprayed it on your hair.  Yes, I’m lazy enough to say that I’d rather not to have to brush it out.  However, you do need to brush it or you’ll look like you walked into a cloud of baby powder.  Once you brush it out, it’s as good as new though.  It’s still faster than washing and drying my hair….
  • I wish it was readily available at more stores.  Even though it’s on Amazon, there are times that I get somewhere and I’ve forgotten to pack it.  Dun, dun, dun…. Most stores don’t carry it and I’m just stubborn enough not to try another brand so I just have to wash my hair.  First world problem, right?!?
  • It gets your hands (see photo below) and can get your clothes dirty if you’re not careful.  It will also wash out brown in the shower.  The first time that happened I had forgotten about it and thought to myself, “Man, how did I get that dirty???”  Then I remembered.  Duh….Mommy Review Monday- Batiste Dry Shampoo

There you have it.  Now any of you beautiful dark headed ladies can enjoy dry shampoo too if you haven’t already.  And if any of you have a brand you like more, please let me know!  I’d love to try it out compared to Batiste but I’m hesitant without a recommendation from a fellow dry shampooer….

Happy Mommy Review Monday!

Mommy Review Monday: Member’s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan

I love my Member’s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan. I bought my first one about 10 years ago from Sam’s Club. In the last year or two it hasn’t been sitting evenly on my stove-top. I believe, between Garen and I, one of us probably washed it before it was completely cool, causing it to warp. Easy mistake and it wasn’t a huge deal but I planned to replace it and just kept forgetting every time I went to Sam’s.

Member’s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan

My birthday came along and Garen gave me a new one. Yea! I kept the old one in case I need a second one to cook two things at once. We even named the new one.

Peter. Peter Pan.

Garen gets the credit for that little piece of humor.

Likes:

  • Price. At $26.98, if it only lasts a couple of years that’s still awesome.
  • Non-stick. It is super easy to clean. That’s a must in our house.
  • Dishwasher safe. It barely fits into the bottom rack but it does. Most times we just wash it by hand though because it’s so easy to clean. It’s always nice to have the option to be a little on the lazy side though.
  • Size. At 14″, it’s big enough to cook a nice one-pot dish or about 3-4 pancakes at a time. That’s important when you’ve got lots of mouths to feed.
  • Cooks well. I should start by saying that I’m not a chef. However, for the dishes I make it seems to cook pretty well. Especially for the price.  If you’re a chef, this may not be the quality you want but it works great for me, as an amateur on a budget.
  • Long life. Despite us warping it, it has held up well. I am pretty good about not using metal utensils with it so that does help. I would imagine it’ll last another 10+ years if we take care of it.

What I would change:

  • An Additional Handle.  I’d add another handle. It’s pretty heavy to handle if you need to move it when it’s fully loaded.  Imagine draining meat.  I can do it with one hand but it’s a job.  Thankfully I’m always lugging around one (or more) toddlers and have forearms of steel!
  • Ovenproof. I wish it could be put in the oven. It is what it is. You can’t have you’re non-stick skillet and bake it too….or at least not in this price point.
  • Add a Lid. I wish it had a lid. Again, I could probably pay more and purchase one that came with a lid or potentially find one that would fit right. When I need one now, using foil works pretty well for a poor man’s lid.

Member_s Mark 14 Inch Non-Stick Fry Pan

This may be one of my next kitchen purchases: Tramontina 3-Piece Deep Sauté Pan Set (Assorted Colors).  It seems to do everything that I listed as “likes” above and then all of the things I wish it also had.  Plus, it comes in red, which is awesome!!!

In the meantime, I still love my big commercial kitchen frying pan and my sweet hubby for giving me Peter Pan!  What’s your favorite stove-top pan?  I’d love for you to share!

Mommy Review Monday: Ceramic “Non-stick” Instant Pot Bowl

After the first two times cooking in the Instant Pot, Garen, who usually cleans the kitchen after I cook, suggested that we look for a “non-stick” version.  Sooooo….I went to Amazon.  Where else?

Ceramic "Non-stick" Instant Pot BowlHere’s what we found and purchased:  Genuine Instate Pot Ceramic Non-Stick Interior Coated Inner Cooking Pot- 8 Quart.

Positives:

  • It is lightweight.  I read some reviews that people thought the lightweight properties made it not as great to use but I’ve had no issue with that affecting our dishes so far.  This could be a issue later potentially if it bends but I think being careful with it will prevent that.  Only time will tell.
  • It wasn’t as expensive as I expected, ringing up at $24.99 at the time I purchased it.  I really think it’s worth that much just to have a second bowl should I need one with a meal that requires multiple dishes cooked in your Instant Pot.
  • It seems to cook just as well as the original for the dishes I’ve used it for.
  • It fits fine into my Instant Pot even though I did read some reviews that some people got pots that would not fit correctly.
  • It cleans better than the regular pot it came with.  Yes, I am the mom that hates having to soak and/or scrub dishes.  And I married to a man that hates it too and since he does most of the kitchen clean-up when I cook, I’m going to make his job as easy as possible when I can.

Negatives:

  • I wouldn’t say it’s still completely non-stick but it’s still way easier to clean that the original pot.  See above comment. 
  • This isn’t really a negative so much as an added requirement- you must use non-metal utensils.  This isn’t an issue for me since I rarely use metal anyway due to almost always cooking in non-stick pots and pans.
  • You can’t use the metal steamer insert your Instant Pot comes with.  Actually, you can but I don’t recommend it because it will scratch the coating, just like metal utensils would.  Because of this I’m still using my original pot for boiling eggs, steaming, etc. but you can be assured that this silicone steamer set is my next purchase.  I’ll let you know how it works!

Ceramic "Non-stick" Instant Pot BowlWhat are your favorite Instant Pot accessories?  I’d love for you to share!

Happy Instant Potting!

For the record, I’m not getting any compensation or free stuff for writing this review.  These are strictly my opinions.  I’m just a crazy, working mom, trying to share ways to make your life easier!

Mommy Review Monday: Care.com for Finding Childcare

I have excellent babysitters/nannies that help us out.  And, with four kids and both of us traveling for work, boy, do we need it?!?  When I tell people that we have great sitters they typically ask me how I found them.  It’s hard to find good help from word-of-mouth.  If you hear about someone who’s great, guess what?  They’re already busy helping someone else.   Or they’re busy with school or extracurricular activities.

Moms and Dads, the struggle is real….

So here’s how we found our awesome helpers:  We have used Care.com twice now to find regular babysitters/nannies for our litter.  And we’ve been pleased with the result both times- in fact, I’m pretty sure we’ve had our first babysitter that we found there for over two years now.  Time flies when you have good help I guess!

We recently found another babysitter- only because our regulars are getting busier as they “grow up” (they’re nursing students and school and “real jobs” keep them from helping out as much).  The process was good again.

I’ll admit that I was very leery of using Care.com.  It seemed so unthinkable to find a babysitter online.  I mean, they’re your kids!!!  But, like I said above, the struggle was real.  Really real.  We need the help with our work schedules to maintain sanity in our household.

Here’s what I liked about it:

  • You can post a position with exactly what you’re looking for in a sitter from hours to age to experience, etc.  Do you want them to have reliable transportation?  Great.  Add that to your requirements.
  • You can view their profile- not just their photo but also their experience and information.  I sorted through these carefully.  I don’t care what people look like but it is important to have that so that when you meet them, if you want to meet them in a public place, you’ll know who to be looking for.  You can avoid awkwardly walking up to someone in Starbucks and asking if they are so and so there to interview for a babysitting job.
  • You can ask for certain certifications such as CPR and first aid.  This is important to me if I’m going to leave my kids alone with them.  Our sitters are all nursing students, so we feel very comfortable.
  • There is the ability to read and post reviews about the providers.  This is very helpful in seeing what other families’ experiences were.
  • There’s the ability to message on the system with them without giving them your phone number or address, etc.  (See below for the flip side of this too)
  • If you’re interested in Au Pairs as an option, you can look at different companies and some of the Au Pairs that they offer.  We seriously explored this as an option but since we currently don’t want to pay for that level of care when the girls are still in pre-school, which would be an additional cost.  Oh, and our extra bedroom is currently serving as my office too, so that would be something we’d have to work out.  Maybe someday.
  • There’s a good search feature.  That is an obvious must.  As you are reviewing them you can add them to your favorites so you can easily find them later. See below image for these search filters available.

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  • The app is pretty good as well.  If you’re like me, the time in between errands, work, etc. is not at your computer so being able to quickly look at this on your mobile device is very helpful.  You also have the option to get notifications.  I personally hate phone notifications.  My semi-ADHD personallity gets overwhelmed by them so I’ve got them turned off.  It’s nice to have the options should I ever get in a position where I really, really needed help quickly though.

Additional options that I haven’t used but could also be helpful:

  • If you’re looking for child care centers, you can look at them online- although, there aren’t that many reviews online for that so you’d be better off reviewing them on another search engine than this site.  I also would say that there’s a good chance they don’t have all centers on here since it’s likely the center has to pay them to be hosted.
  • Family childcare (what I always called in-home daycare) is an option you may want to explore.  You can view their information, reviews, and whether they’re certified, etc.
  • If you’re in need of someone with experience with special needs, that is something that you can easily search for.
  • They have a search function for senior/elderly care, which is great if you have a family member you may need assistance with.
  • You can pay your babysitters through them.  We don’t do this but if we were having someone full time this might be something we’d look into, so it could be a good feature if that’s what you’re considering.
  • You can schedule them online.  Again, we don’t do that.  I find that texting our sitters works just fine and I feel like it’s more personal.  It’s always nice to have the option I guess though.
  • Do you need housekeeping or other help around the house?  You can post a job or search for candidates on here.
  • Do you need help with your fur babies?  You can get a dog sitter or walker or even someone to feed your pet lizard on here.  Our cat fends for herself while we’re gone most of the time but we’ll be looking into this if we ever go on an extended vacation.
  • Not sure if you feel confident in their record?  You can do background checks on here as a extra precaution.
  • You could put yourself out there as a caregiver/provider as well.  I’ve not tried it but sometimes I feel like, hey, what’s a few more when you have four???  Just kidding but some extra money might be good.

What I would change:

  • I’d love for it to cost less.  This year the subscription was $168.00 without tax.  I’ll admit that I feel as if I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it just finding our gem of a babysitter and knowing that I can find additional help pretty easily, but still…. that’s a lot.  The only good thing about it is that it automatically renews for me yearly so I don’t really have to think about it too much until I’m up for renewal and it shows up on my statement.  I think there are shorter subscriptions but it’s nice to be able to find help all year long and the yearly subscription is the best rate available.
  • I had a hard time getting our sitter’s contact information outside of the site, which doesn’t allow you to share phone numbers.  You can call them through the site but not text.  Please, please correct me if this is “user error” on my part.  I think this is a safety thing but it did make it harder than I’d like.  I had to get her email to have her send me her phone number so I could text her.  (You know us (barely) millennials and younger- we like to text each other rather than actually talk to someone on the phone)

There you go- Care.com- from a busy working mom.  It’s been good to us.  I’d love to hear your tips on finding good sitters/nannies.  What has worked best for you???

ALSO:  For the record- I am NOT getting paid or any discount from Care.com, although if anyone from there is reading this and wants to give me a discount, I’d take it!!!  

Mommy Review Monday: Discount Tire

I drive a lot.  A WHOLE lot.  It’s part of being in sales, covering the state of Texas.  With that, my tires see a lot of wear.  I buy my tires from Discount Tire.  And I’m soooo glad.  Here’s why:

  • You can buy certifications for them and they cover repairs and replacements for the life of the tire.  What does this mean for me?  Well, over the last two weeks I’ve managed to destroy two tires:  one from a screw while driving on a jobsite and one today from what I think was a curb that totally popped up out of nowhere.  Both were replaced and I just had to pay for the $30 to re-insure each of them.Yes, this is the family truckster earlier today.
  • They will do a free air check.  You know how during the winter months your tire pressure warning will come on in your car and you don’t know whether a tire is really low or not?  It happens to me and because there are so many Discount Tires it’s really easy to swing into one.  And if it’s low, they’ll inspect it to make sure there’s nothing wrong.
  • They will rotate your tires for free too.
  • They have amazing customer service.  I have NEVER had a bad experience with anyone that works there.  They are all very kind, fast, and honest.  Today, as I sit here, it’s packed so there’s a wait.  They offered me fresh coffee and water. They told me where the restrooms are without me asking and even told me there’s a QT (gas station that has pretty decent food too) next door. They keep people appraised of their progress. Service with a smile.
  • They’ve got free WiFi, so I’ve got my laptop open and I’ve already gotten quite a bit of work done that I needed to.
  • I’ve yet to be in one where they didn’t keep it clean and neat.  It’s a nice, open layout with comfy chairs.  None of those loveseats that you sometimes get stuck snuggled up next to a perfect stranger.  That’s something you can’t say about all vehicle service places.
  • They have great prices and give you plenty of options for tires- from super fancy to economy.  They will tell you which ones they typically keep in stock, which helps me for cases like this where I am having to replace one.
  • There are a TON of these places.  I realize if you live in a rural area it might not be as easy to take as much advantage of all of the benefits such as the air check and tire rotations.

I honestly don’t have anything bad to say about them.  I am super-thankful for them today as the family wagon and I limped into their parking lot, knowing that they’d get us taken care of.  I’m pretty sure Garen is glad too- especially that I made it here without having to call in backup since even though I know how to change a tire, it’s been a LONG time!

Happy Mommy Review Monday!

And, FYI, I don’t get any kickbacks from these guys…although that would pretty awesome. Ha!

Mommy Review Monday: Stride Rite made2play® Phibian Sneaker Sandal

Are your kids hard on play shoes? Mine are. That was really a stupid question. What kid isn’t hard on shoes???

We go through a lot in our house. Fast.

I had been watching Facebook ads for Stride Rite made2play® Phibian Sneaker Sandal for a while but, being the semi-tightwad that I am, I wasn’t wanting to spend that much on a pair of shoes that looked like a glorified mixture of Keens and Crocs.

Finally, I was in Kid to Kid, my favorite local resale shop, when I spotted a pair of pink ones in Anna’s size that looked barely worn. They were still asking $15 for them, which is more than I really wanted to spend for a pair of gently used shoes…. even if they were Stride Rite. I went ahead and did it so I could try them out though.

stride rite made2play® phibian sneaker sandalAnd I’m so glad I did. Here’s why I love the Stride Rite made2play® Phibian Sneaker Sandals:

  • They held up beautifully! That used pair…I actually packed it away to save for the littles- even after Anna wore them for a year and who knows who wore them before that! I have since bought Will a pair. We bought them in the spring last year and they still look pretty good, which is amazing because he’s the hardest on shoes of all of my kiddos.
  • They clean easily. They’re kind of plasticish (I know that’s not a word but you get what I mean) so they wash off easily with just plane water and soap. I’ve never tried washing them in the washer because I haven’t ever needed to, although they say their machine washable so it must be ok!
  • Parents who hate tying shoes over and over again for kids that should be able to tie their own darned shoes- rejoice.  No laces!  Easy-on-and-off is a wonderful feature.
  • They come in pretty cool colors that aren’t all that crazy… or with cheesy characters on them- which is a little rare for easy-on/off shoes.
  • They can wear them with or without socks comfortably.
  • They seem super comfy because my kids wear them all the time….or they can’t find their other shoes.  One of the two is correct.
  • They dry out quickly.  If your kids like to stomp in water or you’re going somewhere wet (think the beach or an amusement park), these are perfect.  Or…if your kids have sweaty, stinky feet like mine do, they’re pretty good for that too.  They smell less than any other pair of tennis shoes we’ve ever bought the kids even though they are being worn more.
  • The price is right.  $35 may seem high but it really isn’t for a pair that lasts an entire year to constant activity and wear, stays comfy, looks good, and can be worn in wet conditions.  Oh, yeah- and can still be handed down to the next lucky kiddo in line.  If they wear them for only 130 days, that’s just over $.26 a day.

Stride Rite made2play® Phibian Sneaker SandalsYou got it “rite” this time, Stride Rite.  Yes, I know…. cheesy.  Will would be embarrassed of that cheesy mom joke!

But seriously, I the Stride Rite made2play® Phibian Sneaker Sandals will be the next pair of shoes I buy for Clara and Kate- in the new metallic purple and pink since those are “their colors.”

For the record- I bought these shoes and am receiving no payment, etc. for this review.  The rambling review is mine, all mine.