Bubble boys

Anyone else totally drawing a blank for new activities for your kids lately? After months and months of self isolating because of Covid, I feel like I have used every idea, game, activity, and craft with my kids. More than once.

We’ve resorted to way more TV time than normal, and it is taking a toll on us all. PLUS with the temperature being in the 90’s every single day (and please don’t even talk to me about the humidity) if we play outside during the day, we try to involve water play so the kids don’t get too hot.

So one evening, my awesome husband came up with this great outdoor activity. It keeps our kids entertained for at least an entire HOUR. You only need a few things to throw it together.

bubbles!!

Supplies:
kiddie pool
bubble bath
water
air compressor
some bowls or cups for play

All you do is fill up the kiddie pool with water, a generous pour of bubble bath, and then use the air compressor to create a massive amount of bubbles!

Our kids seriously go nuts for this activity!

Please use caution with your children and an air compressor.

Please let me know if you try this out!

Freerange_5thwheel

Well, the cat’s finally out of the bag…we are going to be a full time RV family!! This dream has been brewing for almost two years now. We have gone back and fourth, been scared, and doubtful, but we know now that it’s the right decision for our family. We’ve gone through all of the thoughts and emotions you could probably think of while trying to figure out how to make this work for us.

When Covid-19 really started to explode in the United States, it was actually the final push we needed to follow our dream. We decided that life is too short, and there is too much of this big beautiful country that we want to see and experience while we can. Our travel bucket list is just too long to sit around and wait for a once a year vacation.

So right now we’re selling/purging as much of our belongings as we can, so we can live tiny. It’s going to be a serious transition for us to live tiny, but we feel soooooo ready for it. We want to live debt free, and live with less stuff cluttered around us. We want to go on adventures, and not be tied down to a life of consumerism. (I am also BEYOND READY to have less home to clean!!)

Another goal of our travels is to find a place that we fall in love with as a family to settle down and put our roots. We grew up in Pennsylvania, and have lived in Pensacola Florida on and off for about 7 years. While we enjoy many parts of both of these places, neither one feels like home anymore. So as we are traveling, we are going to keep our eyes and hearts open to places that call us to plant roots.

We are currently waiting for our fifth wheel to be delivered. Once it is, we will be able to really kick it in to high gear and get on the road!! With the current state of our country, we will have to be flexible with our plans but we are tentatively setting sail in the middle of September.

I will continue to post “crunchy” things as well as traveling and full timing things! I am so excited to share our journey with you!!

We will also be sharing more details of our travels and experiences on instagram @freerange_5thwheel

Camper renovation

My husband and I totally renovated a camper, and it was such an amazing experience. We seriously put our blood, sweat, and tears into it. We spent months and months on this thing (more months than we meant to) and I am so proud of the end result. We originally purchased this camper (a 2006 Keystone Zeppelin), with the intentions of renovating the whole thing and creating a more functional space for our family to do some longer term camping in it. As the renovation went on, we realized that this camper would not be big enough to fit our needs as a family, and we decided that we would have to sell it. I was sad that we wouldn’t get to test out our newly renovated camper, but it was such a fun experience. We learned SO MUCH, and we actually can’t wait to do this again.

We thought we knew what we were doing when we bought this thing, but wowzers, we did not. The guy who sold it to us, seemed super nice and forthcoming. He even gave us a cover, and a bunch of other random camper things for free. We excitedly walked around the exterior, and interior. We thought we checked out everything we needed to, and felt confident that we were getting a great deal! Woo-hoo!

J/K

After a more thorough examination when we got home…we found out that there had been a LEAK!! The leak was in the slide out (we now know that this is very common, and that we should have checked before purchasing) and we felt like we had been lied to. There was rotten wood that had to be taken care of before we could do anything else. So my super handy, and awesome husband figured it all out (after hours of obsessive research) and was able to fix it.

PHEW!!

Of course we ran into more hiccups- this camper is 14 years old! But we watched videos, read blogs, and worked hard. After about 6 months of work, we sold the Keystone Zeppelin in just a matter of days.

We transformed the front of the camper into a much more spacious room. We dreamed it would be a great place for our kids to play and spread out.

My favorite part of our renovation was the bathroom. I sadly dont have a before photo, but it was bad. It was yellow and made you feel like that little green/vomiting emoji face. The after is definetly the heart eyes emoji.

My (green) smoothie recipe

Please don’t let the (green) part of this smoothie scare you away. I promise you won’t even taste the green. Promise for reals.

This smoothie has been my go to breakfast for about 3 weeks now. I have been switching my diet to a plant based, whole foods diet during these 3 weeks. I have been working with a health coach, and I have been feeling amazing. My energy is back, which is huge for me. Before this diet change, I was beginning to think that maybe it was just normal to always be tired. I’m a stay at home mom of two wild boys, I’m supposed to be exhausted all the time…right? NOPE. I used to need at least one afternoon coffee a day just to make it through. I haven’t had/needed ONE afternoon coffee since starting this new way of eating. For me, that’s huge!

So I begin every day with this smoothie. It’s full of plant based energy, simple to make, filling, and most of all healthy. I normally feel full for about 3 hours after drinking this.

This smoothie is filled with antioxidants, fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and SO many important vitamins your body needs.

It’s also kid approved! Both of my boys love this smoothie, and are always asking for sips.

Ingredients:
2 frozen bananas (important-freeze them for at least 12 hours, and spotty bananas are best)
2 medjool dates (cut out the pit, and soak the dates in warm water for at least 5 minutes)
1 big handful of fresh spinach
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 or 2 tablespoons peanut butter (depending on your preferences)
1 small splash of vanilla
a large splash of plant milk (I prefer almond or oat)

Directions:
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. I like to start on a lower setting, and work my way up to the highest. You might also need to scrape down any ingredients stuck on the sides, or to add more plant milk.

Now enjoy!!

Please let me know if you make this smoothie, because I would love to know what you think!

Guess who’s back?!

Hi, it’s me!

After taking way too much time (over a year!) from my blog, I am back and back with vengeance. I created this blog as a way to do something for *myself* and maybe share some helpful knowledge to others along the way. I began to feel like I didn’t have enough time to dedicate to it, and slowly let it fall to the bottom of my priorities.

You know how it goes…laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, keeping two tiny humans alive…it starts to feel overwhelming, right? Well add a sprinkle of covid-19, and being locked in your house for MONTHS ON END, and it’s enough to make a SAHM go crazy. So I’ve decided to bring back my blog, so I can feel like I have a little something of my own right now (insert gasp here). Being creative for my blog brings me joy, and we all need a little bit more of that right now!

Life has been heavy lately. Like seriously heavy. My family and I are doing our best to learn, listen, grow, and evolve. We are having difficult conversations, and coming to some uncomfortable realizations. My husband and I are committed to raising our children to be allies to marginalized communities. I may not always say or do the right thing, and that’s okay. I am learning and willing to admit that I have a long way to go.

Graphic designers share illustrations in support of Black Lives Matter

So get ready for lots of new posts from me! Some crunchy, some not so much! I have recently gotten into some photography, which I can’t wait to share with you. I also have been cooking up a plant based/vegan storm. We also have some exciting things planned as a family, that I am beyond excited to spill the beans about.

I would absolutely love to hear any blog or content ideas you may have!! Please let me know if you have any thoughts or ideas for me!

The BEST honey balsamic dressing recipe

I am a huge fan of making things yourself at home when you can. Its not realistic to expect to be able to make everything from scratch…you would never have time to do anything else! Making one or two things at home is a great place to start, and will give you some confidence that you can be a crunchy mama! Some super easy things to start with are granola, popsicles, and salad dressing.

When you make things from scratch, you know exactly what you’re eating. There are no hidden ingredients, preservatives, or toxins. Processed foods are filled with toxins that can are linked to adhd, ulcers, weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and several types of cancer. Those are things I want to avoid for myself and my family, so I make a conscious effort to feed my family healthy, whole, organic foods.

Salad dressings you buy at the store are normally filled with extra sugar, high fructose corn syrup, food dyes, and more unwanted ingredients.
Sodium benzoate is a commonly added to salad dressings and other condiments as a preservative. In several studies, sodium benzoate has been linked to increased rates of ADHD.

Removing all processed foods from your diet is unrealistic, but you can make small, healthy changes every day!

I know that sometimes processed salad dressings may seem convenient, but my honey balsamic dressing takes just minutes to throw together and tastes amaaaaazing.

You can also save money making things at home! For this salad dressing, I always have these ingredients on hand, so I don’t have to spend any extra money.

This is by far my favorite salad dressing. I actually crave salads with this dressing. (Like your mouth watering kind of craving)

This dressing has local raw honey, and raw garlic. Both are AMAZING for your health!

All you do, is add the following ingredients together in a jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake! This recipe makes about 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons local honey
  • 2 teaspoons mustard (dijon or grey pupon)
  • 1 clove of garlic- crushed
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to a jar with a lid and shake until combined, and enjoy!!

Please let me know if you make this dressing and what you think of it!

Are you washing yourself in chemicals?

Soap is supposed to help keep us clean and healthy, right?

Trick question, because it depends on what kind of soap you’re using.

Antibacterial soap may not be healthy for us. “In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of 19 chemicals used in antiseptic products. These include triclosan used in antibacterial liquid soaps (as well as toothpastes, body washes and some cosmetics) and triclocarban used in hand soaps. Some evidence suggests that these two chemicals can disrupt hormone cycles and cause muscle weakness.”

These chemicals have also been linked to infertility.

Some studies also suggest that the use of antibacterial soap reduces the amount of good bacteria we have in and on our bodies. We need our good bacteria!

Please do yourself a favor and check what’s in your soap!! You will be shocked to see what you may be using to “clean” your body.

Our family loves and trusts Dr. Bronner’s soaps. We have been using this soap for years, and seriously love it.

Their castile soap is concentrated, and can be diluted and used for cleaning pretty much everything in your home. I love finding products that are healthy for my family that I can use in multiple ways around the home. We have used Dr. Bronner’s castile soap for mopping, our hands, our bodies in the shower, and dishes.

My love for their Organic Sugar Soap is seriously strong. It’s what we are currently using for handsoap at all of our sinks, and we are also using it for washing our kids in the bath. This soap uses fair trade and organic sugar plus organic white grape juice keeps hands-face-body-hair clean and nourished.

Their soap is very “green” and the ingredients are safe, clean, and organic.

They also have tons of other clean and nontoxic products that I can’t wait to try!

#metoo

This blog post has been weighing heavily on me. It isn’t crunchy or mom realted and I was unsure if I even wanted to share it, but ultimately (obviously) I decided to. In the spring of 2012, I was sexually assaulted. This blog post discusses that event and what followed. If for any reason, you do not want to read this post, please don’t read any further.

When I was 22 years old, I was sexually assaulted. By someone that I thought was my friend, we’ll call him Ron. I had known Ron for almost 10 years. We went to middle and high school together. We hung out as teenagers. A group of us used to hang out in his basement as kids. He had kissed my best friend.

I trusted Ron, and he took advantage of me while I was sleeping. We went out to a couple of bars together, and I went back to his house to sleep it off before driving home. I woke up to my pants unbuttoned and his unwanted touch.

I’m not going to go into excruciating detail about how exactly Ron assaulted me, because to me, that’s not the point of this post.

My reason for disclosing this story is to share who deeply it hurt when people didn’t believe me about the assault. And how deeply it hurt when people judged me for what happened.

It hurt so much more deeply than you might think it would. Growing up in a very conservative and religious home, I was taught that sexuality was bad. That women are supposed to cover their bodies and be virgins until they get married. Although I wasn’t a virgin anymore, I still felt a lot of shame and embarrassment in sharing what happened to me. Like I had done something wrong.

I had my own stepmom tell me that it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been drinking. Like my drinking was an open invitation to my vagina.

I had a friend completely delete me out of her life because she didn’t believe me. She had also been friends with Ron, and somehow, chose his “side”.

These people added so much salt to my open wound.

I didn’t want what happened to me to happen to any other women. So the next day, I reported it to the police. Ultimately they decided there wasn’t much they could do legally with my case. However, Ron did escalate in his behavior and a short while later, he raped. The woman reported it, and charges were pressed against him. After years of legal hoops, drama, and battles, Ron is now in jail for the rape.

Because I reported what happened, and the rape he commited, it all ended up in the newspaper. People I went to high school with didn’t know part of the article was about me, but still said I was a liar. They commented on the online article that I was a liar and a slut. They said there was no way that’s what happened. They said I must have misunderstood what happened. Like it’s easy to misunderstand someone’s hand in your pants.

Admitting you were assaulted is scary, difficult, and embarrassing. Then add to that people may not believe you, or may shame you. This is only part of the reason that only 20-30% of sexual assaults get reported.

So if someone in your life tells you that they have been sexually assaulted, please believe them. Odds are, you already know someone who has been sexually assaulted. Every 92 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.

Now, I feel much more comfortable talking about what happened to me years ago. I have learned so much more about myself, and I am in an extremely loving and happy marriage. My husband is supportive and a wonderful listener. Assault victims need to be given safe spaces to talk about their experiences.

It’s never too late to talk about your experiences. Friends and family are a great place to start. There are therapists, hotlines, and support groups. Most importantly, you need to know that you’re certainly not alone.

https://www.rainn.org/get-help

http://ncdsv.org/ncd_linkshotlines.html

Let’s be honest

Today, I’m going to share one of our longstanding favorite crunchy products! We have used this product since the birth of our first son, who almost 4 years old.

The Organic All-Purpose Balm (formly called Organic Healing Balm) from the Honest Company is a staple in our home, and we never go without it. It costs $12.17 on Amazon for 3.4 ounces.

We use this balm for diaper rash, chapped lips, dry skin, random bumps and rashes. It clears up these things and more really quickly. We prefer to use this balm instesd of petroleum jelly, or diaper rash creams. These products can be filled with seriously toxic and dangerous chemicals.

It has a rating of two from the Think Dirty App. This is on a scale from 0-10. If you don’t have the app yet, go download it right now! You won’t regret it!

The Honest Company has not always been squeeky clean and honest about their products, so some people may feel unsure about supporting them. We love this product so much that we still choose to purchase it.

As always, I recommend for you to do your research and make an informed choice for you and your family.

Snackies Lunch

As a parent of a toddler, I’ve quickly learned that my life is a lot easier if I let Dexter make small choices throughout the day. I give him options and he decides what he wants. It lets him feel like he has some control, while still allowing me to put some limitations on things. Almost every single day for lunch, I offer Dexter a couple of choices. Some of these choices include peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, random leftovers, and his current favorite…snackies lunch.

Carrots and hummus, blackberries, sliced cheddar cheese, and fruit pouch

Snackies lunch is just a term we started using for lunch that is made up of random little snacks. Just like every other toddler, Dexter goes through phases of loving certain foods and meals. Right now, he is very into snackies lunch.

Mozzarella cheese stick, dill pickle, trail mix, celery with peanut butter, fruit pouch

Mom likes snackies lunch because I don’t really have to do much. I throw some random things on a plate and call it a meal. Dexter seriously gets excited when I put something new on the plate. I tell him to close his eyes and that it’s a surprise. Adding this suspense makes a big difference in his interest in eating.

Roasted seaweed, berries, yogurt, veggies and hummus

I typically try to make sure lunch always has at least 1 vegetable. Of course there are days when I fail at this. One super easy way we incorporate veggies into Dexter’s meals, is with bags of frozen organic vegetables. I buy bags of organic frozen mixed veggies, peas, and green beans. I thaw them in a mug of hot water while I prepare everything else. I thaw them like this because Dexter hates when his food is too warm. I’ve learned that by thawing them in hot water, they will be the perfect toddler temperature.

Mixed veggies, kalamata olives, dill pickle, berries, cucumber and hummus, mozzarella cheese stick, cashews

Here are some of my favorite snackies lunch items:

  • Frozen veggies
  • Nuts
  • Dried/roasted seaweed
  • Cheese sticks
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Yogurt
  • Applesauce
  • Baked chickpeas
  • Beet chips
  • Kale chips
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Berries
  • Pears
  • Oranges
  • Pickles
  • Kalamata olives
  • Trail mix
  • Celery with peanut butter

This possibilities for snackies lunch are seriously endless.

This is also a great way to introduce new things to your children. Since you’re only giving them a small amount of something, they may not feel intimidated of scared. Everything else on the plate can be things they know and love, and then you add one new thing. Tell your child they only have to try one bite of the new thing. This motto has been tremendously helpful with Dexter. We’ve literally been doing it for years now, so he knows he must take at least 1 bite of everything on his plate. More often than not, he likes the new thing. And if he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t have to eat any more of it.

Trail mix, mixed veggies, yogurt, clementine

We also do snackies dinner whenever the adults are eating something that is definitely too spicy for the kids. We really make it a point in our family that we all eat the same meal for dinner, and that Dexter doesn’t get to throw a fit and get something special. But Dexter thinks pepper is too spicy, so sometimes he gets lucky with a special snackies dinner.