5 Tips for having the BEST Family Movie Night

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. We hope you enjoy this content about how to have a great family movie night. #YourTaxCash #CollectiveBias

Family movie nights are a great way to bring the whole family together, but you can make them way more fun than just popping in a DVD, without a ton of extra money or time spent on your movie night. This is how we make family movie night AWESOME! (Our favorite tip? Letting everyone pick their own personal snack mix before the movie starts!) Plus, we share how YOU can get a free VUDU credit every month with your Walmart Family Mobile account. #YourTaxCash [ad]

Y’all know that I absolutely love Walmart Family Mobile. Just a couple of weeks ago, I shared all about how I invested in a smartphone for my business with Walmart Family Mobile, so I could keep rocking my business on the go, but that phone plan came with some extra perks that we are loving, like a VUDU credit every month! We decided that the movie credit makes for the perfect work break, which is why we’ve been staying intentional about family movie nights! I’ve figured out 5 foolproof tips for having the best movie night ever.

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Why Kids with Autism Need Companion Dogs (Plus a Super Easy Dog Toy Tutorial for YOUR Favorite Furry Friend!)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FeedDogsPurina #CollectiveBias

Dogs may be man's best friend, but for many kids with autism, dogs can provide so much more than friendship. Should your child with autism have an autism companion dog? Here are a few things that they can help with. #FeedDogsPurina [ad]

It takes a village to raise a child, clearly. In many ways, it seems it takes even more of a village to raise a child with autism. For children with autism, you aren’t just talking about family and friends in your village. Your village includes therapists, speech therapists, and other doctors, too. But sometimes the best possible village has 4 legs instead of 2, and that’s where autism companion dogs come in.

Not to be confused with trained service dogs, companion dogs are those special pets that fill a need in the life of a child with autism without training. It’s why I am a big advocate for children with autism having a companion dog in their lives. Autism companion dogs are amazing creatures; they’re loving, calming, and passionate about helping their human companion in their struggles. Here are my 5 reasons that kids with autism need an autism companion dog. (Keep reading, too, because I have a fun DIY dog toy for the beloved pet in your life!)

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7 Things My Son Has Learned from Playing Minecraft Every Day

If Steve and Alex are household names, if your child hears a hiss and thinks "creeper," or if you see everything in block form... you might have a Minecraft player in your house! Don't Panic-- Minecraft teaches some really amazing skills to kids (and adults) of all ages! Here are some things my child has learned from playing Minecraft-- it's incredibly educational, but it also promotes good social skills, too! Here's how.

Minecraft. It’s one of those ubiquitous games that it seems most kids are playing at one point or another. I’m not too worried about the Minecraft fascination, though. The thing is, there’s a lot of educational value in Minecraft. Many schools are even adding it to their curriculum! At first, I really didn’t get the appeal… so it’s a game. With blocks. And… everything is super boxy. And there’s no real end goal* (I’m from the Mario generation… you play the game, you save the princess, game over) which just blew my mind. When we got it, I didn’t think much of the game, obviously. But there are 7 important things my son has learned from playing Minecraft every day.

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Why I Write Sponsored Content on my Site

You'll sometimes see bloggers write something like "This is sponsored content." But what does that mean, and why do bloggers write sponsored content? Here's what it means for me, and why I choose to write sponsored content on my site.

Every few weeks, I get a message from one of my readers. “Why do you share sponsored content on your blog?” “What does it mean when you say something has been sponsored by a company?” “I’m a new blogger– how do I get a sponsor to sponsor content on my blog?” “Why do you keep showing us these ads?! Can’t I just get the recipe without you trying to sell me something?” Here’s the deal… I have some really specific reasons that I write sponsored content, and I’m going to share those reasons with you right now.

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No, I won’t make my son wear pants.

My son shouldn't have to wear pants to make anyone else feel comfortable. Here's why I leave that decision up to him... | oped | controversial mom opinions | parenting SPD | parenting ASD | autism | clothing sensitivity |

“Well, I thought  he was fully dressed until I saw his legs.”

“Isn’t he cold like that?”

“Does he ever wear pants?”

I’ve seen all of the comments. I’ve listened to everything that’s been said. And you know what? No, I’m not making my son, who has clothing sensitivity as a result of autism and sensory processing disorder, wear pants when he’s at home. I’ve got a few reasons.

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Things to Consider When Shopping for your Teen’s First Car

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®  & Armor All but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #ArmorAllGiftPack          http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

When it comes to your teen's first car, there are a lot of things to consider, from mileage to the reliability of the person you're buying from... do you know how to guide your teen into picking the right first car, and then how to encourage them to take care of it for a long life? Here's some advice. @walmart #ArmorAllGiftPack #Pmedia #ad

Tis the season for a new car… whether you’re one of the families who presents your teen with a new car on Christmas with a big shiny bow, or your teen is painstakingly saving up Christmas money to buy it themselves, there are a few things to consider to make sure you’re choosing just the right car for your teen, and some ways to help them keep that car tidy and running for as long as possible.

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5 Life Hacks to Keep Losing Weight (Even During the Holidays)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and the makers of alli® weight loss aid. All opinions are mine alone. #alliInMyLife #Final #CollectiveBias

Having trouble losing weight (or keeping the weight off) during the holidays? I can relate! Here are some life hacks that will help you keep the weight off during the holiday season. #AlliInMyLife [ad]

The past couple of months, I’ve been sharing my weight loss journey with you here. I have to admit, as excited as I’ve been about the results I’ve been seeing, I had my fears with the holidays approaching that I’d struggle to maintain my weight loss. But I remembered some foolproof ways that I’ve tried in the past– and succeeded– to keep the weight off, or even lose more weight, during the holiday season. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s coming up, there are plenty of ways you’ll be tested, but there’s also plenty of ways that you can fight back towards continuing your journey!

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Bullet Journal Layouts for Your Weight Loss Journey

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and the makers of alli® weight loss aid. All opinions are mine alone. #alliInMyLife #After #CollectiveBias

If you love bullet journaling and want to lose weight, here are some layout ideas to get you started on the right path! With a plan, a good bullet journal layout, proper diet and exercise, and a little boost from alli, you'll start seeing results! Planning and tracking is a great way to get yourself in gear. #alliInMyLife #after [ad]

A few months ago, I hadn’t even heard of the term “Bullet journal.” To be fair, I also hadn’t tried alli® weight loss aid and I also didn’t own a blender cup or resistance bands… but a lot can change in just a few months, and for me, I can’t imagine my weight loss journey without those things, especially my alli® weight loss aid and my bullet journal.

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When Raising Your ASD Child is like Raising The Incredible Hulk

He was screaming. Covering his ears, full on shriek, in the middle of the living room floor. It was at that moment that I knew to prepare for the Hulk Smash. Any heavy toys had to be moved out of reach, FAST.


Sometimes, I feel like I’m raising two separate children. My son in meltdown mode, like he was, hands over his ears, poised to start throwing things, and my son out of meltdown mode.

My son out of meltdown mode is… easily the most delightful human being in the world. He’s funny. He strolls in casually from the backyard, coated head-to-toe in mud, and says “Hey, babe. I need a shower.” He gives extra cuddles as we read books at night. He sorts colorful plastic bears into patterns and asks me to think about how to continue the pattern. He’s bright, and he cracks me up.

My son in meltdown mode, well… it’s something not everyone can handle being around. He’s even torn a shirt or two in his transformation into meltdown mode… Hulk mode, really. He has no concept of the fact that he’s hitting so hard, biting or scratching, throwing things… for him, he’s defending himself. Sometimes, it’s from an invisible threat.

So why the meltdown today? I said I was going to take him to McDonald’s. See, last time we were at McDonald’s, a kid smacked him… hard. Multiple times. It was bad enough that I had to call on the manager to get involved because I couldn’t physically hold my son away from this child who was attacking him. I had forgotten the incident, which happened months ago… but he had not.

My son, with his Autism Spectrum Disorder, remembers everything… but he can’t always communicate those feelings or memories well. For him, he associated McDonalds with pain and with danger, and he didn’t want to go. Instead of telling me that verbally or with the signs we had been working so hard at, he stood there, and screamed.

He started… well, it can only be described as “picking.” He’d go poke someone until they were frustrated. He’d smack them and yell. And finally, it peaked at him screaming in the middle of the room. Every person in the house took their turn at trying to ease his frustration, calm him down, and get him to verbalize why he was feeling like he needed to melt down.

And every person walked away with scratches, or bite marks, or having been hit. You see, when Zack is melting down, he doesn’t know his own strength. For him, the situation is dire. It’s not just about McDonalds anymore. It’s about anything that’s been stressing him out the past few days.

A meltdown is the only release– the only escape from how he’s feeling. Everything has piled onto him to the point that he can’t handle it. Lashing out is sometimes the only way he can hold on, because he’s so overwhelmed.

This time, the person who cracked through the shell was his Uncle. You see, Zack had been melting down for almost an hour, he was wearing himself out, and his uncle managed to get him quiet and calm. It’s not always his uncle that ends the meltdown, but it’s always someone. Sometimes we have to tag team, or sometimes it’s a smaller burst that someone can handle solo. But it’s always exhausting– for him, for us, for everyone involved.

After the meltdown, he becomes a puddle of tears. He worries that he’s a bad guy after he sees the scratches or broken toys or trail that his meltdown resulted in… but as always, we reassure him through speech and through sign that he is GOOD, and that we LOVE him… and we go on.

Right now, we’re at McDonald’s. All it took was some reassurance that the child who was there before would likely not be there today, that we could go to a different McDonalds if he was truly afraid the child would be back, and that I would protect him and if anyone touched him, we would leave immediately to keep him safe. Once he had those assurances, he was ready to go.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know that until after the meltdown.

But how does it relate to the Hulk? Well, in a few ways.

For one, Bruce Banner and the Hulk are like two totally different people. Bruce Banner is beyond intelligent– hyper-intelligent, really. He’s fairly well-spoken, and if you didn’t know, you probably wouldn’t peg him as being the Hulk. The Hulk, on the other hand, doesn’t communicate much with speech– usually, you hear grunts and groans as he smacks down his opponents. Outside of his catchprahse– Hulk Smash– he doesn’t say much at all. He smashes, without a ton of regard for what he’s smashing… there’s just no shred of Bruce seeming to still be in him.

But inevitably, when he does return to being Bruce… he’s Bruce again. You don’t see a whole lot of the Hulk there.

You see, my son is an amazing, bright, funny child. But you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

…and that’s okay. We love him through it. We take him to therapy to give him ways to cope with his anger and hopefully better verbalize why he’s upset, before he starts to smash. We give him plenty of hugs and cuddles after. We remind him that he’s good and that he’s loved.

Raising a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder is a little bit like raising two different kids– a compassionate, loving one, and a very frustrated angry one… and at times, that’s as challenging for you as the parent as it is for them as the child. But you’re going to get through it. He will be back to his Bruce Banner self someday. The meltdown won’t last forever. Ride out the Hulk Smash moments and you’ll snuggle through after.

It’s going to be okay.

Impossibly Easy DIY Water Intake Glass

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and alli® weight loss aid. All opinions are mine alone. #alliInMyLife #Before #CollectiveBias

Looking to make sure you're drinking enough water? You can make those fancy DIY water intake glasses at home-- using any water bottle or jar you'd like! Here's how to do it in less than 5 minutes. #AlliInMyLife [ad]

After yet another trip to to the beach without a beach body this year, I’ve been feeling like I need to make a change. While yes, I know a beach body isn’t the key to everything, I also feel like I’ve been neglecting my needs a little bit lately– I haven’t been watching what I eat, I’ve been snacking a lot, and I haven’t been drinking much water. With the fact that I don’t remember the last time I took exercising seriously, I’m just feeling like some change is due. Do you ever feel that way, like it’s time to make some changes? Well, I’ve broken my plans down into some manageable steps, and it starts with showing you how to be sure you’re drinking enough water!

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