Helpful links for a stress free life with Amazon

What did I ever do without Amazon Prime?? While other moms Pinterest…. I’m a Prime’est’ There is nothing better than having something ready to go with easy shipping!

If you are a student you can use this link for extra savings!

I’m working on decluttering as well as earning some extra cash. This link assists with electronic trade in and such. I’m telling you Amazon has it all!

Shop Amazon Devices- Get up to $35 off Trade in your Kindle off a new one

Holy Heavens I wish this was available for my four kids!!!! You can get $100 in free diapers and wipes!

Baby Registry – $100 credit towards diapers and wipes

You might think this is weird but using this link will assist in finding top of the line home items for some serious discounts! I’m stalking for a mixer right now 🙂

Shop Amazon Warehouse Deals – Deep Discounts on Open-box and Used Kitchen Gadgets

College and finding professional jobs in an over-educated world

My favorite job board to date is Flexjobs. Feel free to use my link for 30% off membership!

Today is a great day! I finally passed my online finance class last evening! Yay!! This class in particular has been a very big obstacle. I was not an A student in high school and seriously did not have any study habits that helped during that time. I went straight to a big college directly out of high school only to find that being away from my home was so wonderful that I did not go to classes consistently. I hated cold and had to walk almost everywhere so stayed in to be warm. I wasn’t sure how to study and thought since there was no homework I could just listen in class and take the exams and pass. (not the case!) Retaining information does not come easy to me. I dropped out after one semester and went back home and started working full-time. From there it wasn’t easy either. Hard to get ahead when you are paying for college that you did not do. Kind of like spending $11,000 on fresh meat only to have it spoil in the fridge….

Fast fwd five years, married, and one child later and there was some clarity on what I wanted to do with my life. I was able to go back to college for nursing. We, my husband and I, were wanting something that would work with our family schedule and not just a standard class schedule. I found a wonderful small college that was perfect for this. I started Nursing school and since I had been out of school for a long time did the adult thing and sat through all of the orientation and listened when I was told that for every 1 hr of credit or class you should be studying for 3 hrs. At first I thought this was nuts but then, with my husband’s encouragement, started reading and studying for the amount of time suggested. At first I didn’t know what to study so I would outline chapters in books and re-read them during spare time. I failed my first Anatomy exam because I wasn’t studying the way I should have. I was reading and re-reading but not trying to spontaneously come up with information. That was a learning point for me. I decided to create questions similar to the way the test had asked them, made flash cards for terms, and described to my infant where her muscles, etc were. From there on out I was able to pull an A in the class. I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing with High Distinction. At that time we were up to two children and life was falling in to place.

I was able to get a job as a Med-Surg nurse in a hospital a few months after graduating but was only making a wage similar to what I was making in the factory. That was not paying any of the extra bills from college. I was/am a fast learner so was moved through to the telemetry and was encouraged by several physicians to look into a bigger hospital with a critical care unit to learn more. I did just that and flourished in that environment. It was fast paced, adrenaline charged, and I loved it. I had two more children (up to 4 now) and was still working full time with 12 hr shifts and still making a minimum nurse pay. I was asked to orient new nurses on the floor who were making more per hour than myself. When I asked about pay was told by mgmt that it wasn’t in the budget and at one point was told I shouldn’t have hired in at the wage I did because I will always be behind. That was a lovely blow to the gut. So in other words it doesn’t matter how good of job you do or the extra responsibility and roles you do. If you hired in at a low wage you were not going to ever get paid what you are worth. There was a company buyout and the mgmt was becoming unbearable. Most nurses were trying to ride it out until the new mgmt. would come through but for me that was too long. I moved on to a more flexible schedule within a home care setting. I quickly moved along in that environment. I caught on quickly and was pulled to various positions to train others and to fill gaps where there was a need. At that time things seemed ok. I was making home at a fairly decent time and pay had increased so we were able to pay down some medical bills that had accumulated. Then I was encouraged/told that if I wanted to be in a mgmt. role I needed to have my Master’s. I was encouraged to enroll in an online MBA program because MSN was “just for people who want to go teach at a school.” I was told how easy it was to learn on your own and pass each class because most of it I already knew from living life. Well, that was far from the truth. (side note: if online classes interest you use my embedded link for a free application waiver code)

I did well for the first class, maybe two. Then the finance and numbers became difficult. Since the classes didn’t relate to my everyday it was difficult to focus. Also I found it a hindrance doing it online as there was not social interaction and there wasn’t a place to go and learn. My four children were toddlers and in elementary and middle school so they needed me after work for their school work. My husband works full-time as well and couldn’t do everything. I truly believe that being in a classroom setting where you had to come and sit to learn would have been better for me. I looked in to this and since this was an online school not affiliated with any of the other schools none of my credits would transfer. So here I am. It would be easy to say “buck up and get it done.” But that is not working. There have been modifications to my daily routine and it still is difficult. Add to that the fact that I will be out of a job next week and my stress factor is through the roof.
You see I was asked to be an interim manager of our combined department but soon after (like a week) I was looking at financials and reports and saw there was no money being made. I didn’t say a thing because it had been looked at during that same time and was announced the department was closing. What a blow. I was offered a position to manage a different department but would have to drive 1h45m one way 5 days a week. That is approx. 20 hrs of driving time where I would not be paid and could not be productive, let alone increasing my risk of car accidents by being on the road that much more. So I have a couple of weeks to find another job. I have been looking and there are not many jobs for which have a decent schedule. In hospital they are 12 hour shifts which do not work well with my family life. There are few 8-5pm jobs. Almost all in hospital, nursing home, and home care require nights, wknds, holidays, and call time. There are positions that are work from home which I have applied but have been told, on more than one occasion, that it is entry level and no matter my experience they are not willing to pay more per hour. On the flip side I am being told I don’t have enough experience for management positions. Nurses don’t just “lose” the information they have acquired. It is more like a library and it travels with them everywhere. If healthcare would focus more on the direct patient quality care that is being provided and not all the mandatory vaccinations, penalties for not giving someone pain medicine, and how to make each person happy and work on what is best for the patient there wouldn’t be a huge flux in the nursing staff. Overloading them with too many patients or patients with a high acuity and telling them to take more because they don’t have enough is a recipe for disaster. Doctors rely on nurses to give them an educated opinion and facts regarding each of their patients. If nurses are running around trying to please everyone in the patients family getting them ice cream, water, soda, etc…. They are not able to focus on their patients and watching to see if something is worsening or improving. Treating nurses as a respected team of staff is the only way to get the best possible outcomes. When budget cuts go directly to staff cuts that is not showing respect. I am wanting to affect change. Change the environment, change the mindset, change the focus and bring back the care that is so needed to our patients.

Diabetes is not a death sentence

Diabetes is not a death sentence. There I said it. Your world is not ending. You will live through this difficult time. Most of you reading this might be thinking “What a witch!” Maybe I am but maybe I am addressing fears that are unspoken by most of the newly diagnosed Diabetes patients. The majority of Diabetes patients are diagnosed later in life though some are young and children. Let me give you a quick and easy explanation: There are two different types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. (I know geniuses right! We can actually pronounce what they are!)

Type 1 is usually found in childhood and is non-reversible. It is also insulin dependent and cannot be “cured” with diet alone. Though proper diet will assist in keeping blood glucose levels consistent. (I say this but have actually cared for a patient that did have a transplant and was no longer needing insulin. So maybe modern medicine will come around and find a cure instead of a Band-Aid.)

Type 2 is usually found later in young adults on up to elderly. There are many factors that go in to why you can become a Type 2 diabetic but I will not go in to all of those now. Type 2 Diabetic patients may become insulin dependent but do not start out that way the majority of the time. Now this will not cover all of your “why me” questions but lets get to the “how can I control it” question.

First thing to remember is food is fuel. Unfortunately, it does not all process the same; similar to Diesel, unleaded, premium, and racing fuel. The engine is designed specific for each one. Our bodies are designed to digest and turn the food to fuel but with the new system fuel can either come out fast like racing fuel or heavy like diesel. (or anywhere in between) Let jump to what fuels you before you knew you had Diabetes. If you are reading this to make a change then I suggest you get out a pen and paper. Write down your favorite foods and drinks. Even meals that you and your family love. (Yay! Kindergarten papers… I promise it is beneficial.) Set this paper aside because you will end up circling the foods that are good and crossing off the No’s. No two people are the same. Everyone has a different background. It would be foolish of me to say eliminate X from you diet if it is a staple in your everyday life. Secondly, write down you estimated budget for food/meals. This is a very important step. Another foolish thing would be to have families go spend a ton of money they do not have when they go to the local food pantry for assistance.

Ok we have the basis of what we need: favorite foods and budget. Next we need to discuss how to eat (not what, how). Let’s go back to gasoline and engines. Do you want to be at the end of the short run race track with no fuel or do you want to go on a long drive with only stopping to fill up a few times? This is how we need to look at food. With Diabetes it is important to eat meals and snacks at regular times each day. Also figure in your activity level. You need enough food/fuel to get you through to the next stop. Then eat healthy (we will discuss some options throughout.) Target 6 small meals a day.

To make healthy food choices here are a few things:

  • Eat lots of vegetables and fruits. Eat as many different colors as possible. Choose nonstarchy veggies (spinach, carrots, broccoli, green beans)
  • Whole grain foods (brown rice, whole wheat spaghetti, nothing that says “enriched’)
  • Fish 2-3 times a week
  • Lean cuts of beef & pork (cuts that end in loin are a good choice)
  • Buy skinless or remove skin from chicken & turkey
  • Choose non-fat or low-fat diary products (skim milk, nonfat yogurt, nonfat cheese)
  • Water, Unsweetened Tea, coffee, and calorie-free drinks instead of drinks with sugar
  • Small amts of liquid oils for cooking instead of solid fats

I love using the American Diabetes Association (ADA) website to help with educating. I used it to reference a lot of what I have taught and is written here.

For teaching purposes, I usually purchase the plastic inexpensive plates that are divided into 3 sections. Most of those are the perfect size for the “Create Your Plate” meal plan. Now there is a ton more to teach but I believe this is enough for one post ? I will leave you with a place to start…. You should have a budget & favorite foods. Now imagine a plate in 3 sections. The Nonstarchy veggies is half of the plate. This equals a nice salad or 1 cup of raw veggies or ½ cooked veggies. The other half is split in two. Now a fist or deck of card size is all you need for protein. This is your meat section. The last section is your Starch or I call them grains. This is about the size of a computer mouse. Here you can have those items like potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, corn, etc. In addition to the plate you have Milk/drink and fruits. For a dairy you should really only have approx. 1 cup. The fruits are different and approx. size of tennis ball. Now you have a idea of the diversity of your meal.

Now take your list of favorites, split them up into the sections of your plate. Now take your budget and see what you can afford and where you want to make the most investment. Pick what is in season. If your favorite is strawberries and it is dead of winter then you will pay a hefty price. Keep that in mind as you plan out your meal. I like paper as it is easier for me to absorb (in my brain) so I use our local Kroger add, food ideas, and make a plan based on what is running special and what we have. This is what works best for my family. I’d love to hear what works for you and your family! I will post recipes and more diabetes information as I have time. This is the base for you overcoming the stigma of Diabetes. Start here and you will be amazed what you will learn about yourself!

Comfort food quickly

As a working mother of 4 I have a hard time coming up with something for dinner. If you are not pre-planning your meals it makes it even more difficult! There are times I am great with the pre-planning and feel so very accomplished. Then there are other times I think “Why the heck am I doing this? Let’s just wing it!” I’m quickly reminded of why planning is key! This post is the “Haven’t planned but I have things in my freezer” post.

A favorite in our home is Roast and potatoes. It is so good when it is in crock pot all day long and you come home to the amazing smell! Well…. We have rarely been able to have that planned since I have usually worked away from home. All of the kids are age 4-13 yrs so they are not currently able to help with dinner unless I am home or have all ingredients and the time to walk them through each step. So….. Here is what we do at least monthly:

  • Grocery shop for roasts every time I’m at grocery. If there is an amazing bargain, buy two. Put one in freezer and cook one that week. We also always have potatoes and min carrots on hand because they can be an easy veggie at any meal.
  • Use your Electric Pressure cooker. (I will post link when I am able.)
  • The best way to do this is if roast is thawed. At our house that is rarely the case….. using frozen roast is a little different to do but not much.
    1. Turn the electric pressure cooker to brown. Put roast in and let it sear on both sides like 5 mins or so.
    2. Add 1 cup of beef stock
    3. Then set to either 70 or 80 KPA. Mine defaults to a time of approx. 30 min.
    4. During this time clean the carrots and potatoes and dice it size. (I have also been known to use whatever veggies we have.. whether frozen or fresh)
    5. When 30 min up, use the quick release valve, open and insert the veggies. (sometimes I add more of the stock but it is really based on what is left in the pot.)
    6. Set pot for 70 KPA and time for 12 min. It will be complete after this time.
    7. At this time, if you are not quite ready to eat I would leave the cooker alone and wait until ready. If everything is ready and people are famished (mine are always “starving.”) then use the quick release option again and serve.

This is one of the many things I do with my electric pressure cooker. I have made some amazing meals pretty quickly with items on hand on many occasions. It takes trial and error and pb&j as a backup but it is worth a shot to have home cooked meals with the family!

Electric Pressure Cookers are amazing!!! Here is a link for many from Amazon and if you purchase one while you are browsing you are helping my website out 🙂

My favorite Deals/Coupons

With a family of four kids and 2 adults it would seem that coupons or ‘extreme couponing’ would be the way to go. In our case that has not worked. Coupons, yes, extreme couponing, no. You see, with us it is a little different than what is portrayed in the tv shows. We are a real family. Standard middle class. Both my husband and I work full time a minimum of 45 minutes from our home. We have the evenings and most weekends to do all the things families do: laundry, house work, yard work, and family time. Oh and sleep! I go through spurts of being really faithful with our meal planning and food purchases. Then I go through times where there is no money left and there is no desire to create a list and plan meals. By no means am I an ‘etched in stone’ manner of thinking and doing. I am always open to suggestions! Let me preface all of my findings work great for me as we live in a rural area of the Midwest, not exceptionally close to the ‘city’ more of a small town. Here are a few of the deals that I use:

  1. Kroger – stack your deals. Through most of the summer there are 2x fuel points. This is helpful for our family in particular. As I mentioned above, my husband and I both work relatively far from home. We need groceries and gas daily.
    1. When you sign up for the Kroger perks card (not credit card, just their rewards card) you will get coupons in the mail based on your purchases. We use these along with the circular ad. I like to go through the 10 for 10 sale and the items sale that involves 5 items and you get a better price deal. Match those with coupons you have in hand. Now this is the tough part. When you are already tight on money but are still planning on lunches for all of us for either work, school, or daycare. We like to use the deals and coupons together so we can have our luxuries like Doritos, miracle whip, name brand cereal, etc.
    2. On to some of the other items I pre-plan for. Birthday parties. With four children, all of them have friends. All are invited to multiple parties a year. This is the time to use a little extra money and purchase some gift cards. The gift cards at our Kroger are very nice and a huge selection. They run 4x fuel points at times and that is when I purchase a few $10-$20 cards for iTunes, Target, Kohls, Justice, etc. This same idea is used for the parents at Christmas time ?
    3. Gasoline: I don’t follow that as well but I have noticed prices for gasoline are lower on Tuesday and sometimes Wednesday.
  2. Speedway – I know, I know… I just said use Kroger for gas. There is not always time or ease of using Kroger. I drive for work a lot and majority of time my work pays for the gas on the work vehicle. I use a speedway rewards card to log all the purchases. They have a great app that assists in price. It has an alert that matches the price when the normal price goes up. Using these perks is especially nice when you have a personal vehicle that needs a fill up! There are also times where when you purchase something in the store gets you extra points. I personally like to purchase a fresh Ice Mountain 1L bottle of water buy 2 for $2. It is a splurge I do at least 1x/month. I do not use any of my reward points until Spring Break or a different Road trip. I cash them in for gas cards. This way I don’t have to subject my debit/credit card on possible skimmers and it is an extra cushion in our vacation/road trip fund.
  3. Now this is not couponing but it is being resourceful. If you are in a bind and backed up on bills as well as trying to figure out what to pay next and how to get through this. The first budget cut made is usually food. I love Aldi’s, Save-a-Lot, and other discount groceries but it has been my experience that a lot of those places have some good prices while others are more expensive. I have worked with many people in a lot worse off places than myself. Here are a few things you can try in your area:
    1. Call local food pantries – this is where you need not be picky and please do not be ungrateful to people who try and help! They have lots of items that others have donated. Yes most will be high in sodium and carbs. Not the best diet but work with what you get.
    2. If you have a church you attend regularly ask to speak with the pastor and explain that you are in a rough spot and would like some assistance in any area they may be able to. A lot of churches have a fund where they can help with a one time payment on either a high utility bill (electric or gas), rent/house payment for month, other options for food and assistance that are not public knowledge. There are also a lot of resources within the church congregation as well. Most pastors and leadership teams know what most of their parishioners do for a living. Some may be able to help with a part-time job and if you can tap in to these resources you may be in a better off position in regards to employment than before.
    3. I have helped many past patients (I was a home care nurse for a while) with finding resources for medications and durable medical equipment (DME). A lot of times a families finances are put in jeopardy by unforeseen medical expenses. This is not a time to get in to a political battle or to say what I think is the best way to handle our healthcare crisis in the US. This is a time to assist people where they are at in this game of life we are all in. If you are in need of medical equipment such as wheelchair, shower chair, hospital bed, etc. There are lots available in garage sales and at estate auctions. Some of those items never sell and are donated to local agencies. Ask around and you may be able to find there are a few extras closer than you think.
    4. I will discuss medical issues and such in my next blog regarding medical needs.

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