Friday, September 30, 2016

{31 Days} of Overcoming Overwhelm Introduction

Welcome to my main post for my Write 31 Days challenge this year!  I have to admit that I had a heck of a time coming up with a topic this year.  I had so many different ideas running through my mind, but it seemed like every time I found a topic that I liked, I couldn’t find the time to flesh out what I wanted to say on that topic.  In one word, I was overwhelmed.  In fact, I am still overwhelmed.

If you don’t know what the Write 31 Days challenge is all about, I recommend heading over to the website for more information.  If you decide to join in, let me know!  I would love to follow along with you.

This will actually be my fifth year participating!  My previous 31 Days projects are:

After realizing how overwhelmed I felt, how out of sync I felt, and how I seemed to be letting life happen to me rather than taking control, I knew what my topic would be.

31 Days of Overcoming Overwhelm

This will not necessarily be prescriptive.  While I would love to say that I wrote out all of my posts ahead of time – I most definitely did not.  In fact, while I am writing this intro post, I am absolutely at the end of my rope as far as overwhelm seems to go.  No, instead, I will be writing about my changes and thoughts as they happen.  This is a real time experiment guys, and I hope you will follow along.

I know that I am not the only woman out there that feels overwhelmed.  In fact, I bet there are a large portion of my readers that feel overwhelmed in some way or another.  My goal is to try and encourage you (and myself!) to move forward, and to make some necessary changes in order to thrive.

That could mean adding in more margin, it could mean saying yes to the *right* things (for us), it could mean more self-care, or some time unplugged.  It could mean new rhythms, routines, and schedules.  For me, it probably looks like all of the above.

Over the next month, I plan to take you through the changes that I need to make now, and hopefully you will find some encouragement to fight your own overwhelm, whatever it may be from.  My goal is to be able to settle into a much neater, nicer way of living day-to-day, so that I can be a positive role model in my children’s lives, and to encourage them to be positive influences on those around them.

I will update this post as I go throughout the month, so that at the end all of my posts will be linked here for an easy way to find them.  Make sure you subscribe and pin this post so that you can follow along as well.

What are some ways you deal with overwhelm in your life?  Do you have any specific questions I may be able to address this month?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Hunger Is - Make Breakfast Happen

Living in America it is easy to overlook the challenges that many Americans face.  I know that I often will go through the day so consumed with my own children that I forget what is going on in my own little city.  Hunger is one of those issues that you don't necessarily think about.

Make Breakfast Happen

What is interesting is that we live in a lower income area, and a large majority of the children in our local elementary schools qualify for free or reduced price breakfast and lunch.  The thought that there are kids in my own community struggling to get a healthy start to their day is heart wrenching.

Did you know that one in five children in America live in a home without consistent access to adequate food?

Make Breakfast Happen

Isn’t that a staggering statistic?  I often think about food insecurity, or hunger, as a third world problem.  But, it is everywhere, including America.

10 million children; nearly half of eligible children do not receive free or reduced price breakfast.  3 out of 5 K-8 public school teachers report regularly seeing students coming to school hungry.

Make Breakfast Happen

That is unheard of to me.  Why aren’t we doing more to make sure that these children are well fed?  How can we expect them to learn in school if they are hungry?  I know that when I am hungry, I can’t concentrate on anything but my stomach, and I am sure that these children are the same way.

So what can we do?

Hunger Is – in partnership with Shaw’s Supermarkets – is focusing on expanding breakfast programs, providing children with a healthy start to their day.

I was excited to also partner with Shaw’s for this program.

Make Breakfast Happen

When you go to Shaw’s for your regular grocery shopping, you just need to look for the Hunger Is signs spread throughout the stores identifying items that give back to this program.

Most of these items I am sure you are already purchasing!  I was so excited to see some of our favorites make the list – Goldfish crackers anyone?  It seems to be the one food that my youngest consists on currently…but that is another story.

Make Breakfast Happen

There are two ways that you can participate:

Purchase participating items.  You can find these items by looking for the Hunger Is tag throughout the store.  A purchase of these items will trigger at least a $.10 donation up to $1 million!  I think that if you are purchasing the items anyways, the fact that they are giving back is awesome.

The other way that you can help out is to donate right at the register.  Shoppers can add $1, $3, $5, or another amount right to their grocery bill to give back.

When you go out grocery shopping this weekend, make sure to go to Shaw’s to support this amazing cause.

Do you see food insecurity in your neighborhood?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Albertsons Companies & Hunger Is. The opinions and text are all mine.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

POPSUGAR Must Have September Unboxing!

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for supporting Townsend House!

I received my POPSUGAR Must Have box early this month!  That means that I was able to get my act together and get an unboxing video done.  But, I also wanted to share about it on my blog.

Over the past year I have been trying to be better about self-care, and part of that is to really get into a better skin care routine.  I thought I could combine the two by getting a couple subscription boxes.  POPSUGAR is definitely one of my favorites.

If you haven’t heard of this subscription box, it is a monthly subscription box that is truly a lifestyle box, containing items for beauty, home, treats, and fashion. 

unboxing video

Last month I absolutely loved the box, but it came so late in the month I didn’t get an unboxing done.  So when my September box came last week, I was super excited to dig right into it!

These vegan, gluten-free bites are made without GMOs or dairy, so you can indulge your chocolate craving without feeling guilty.  Stick them in your purse for sweet, high-protein treats on the go!

unboxing video

Nothing says super chic quite like a wide-brimmed hat and oversize sunglasses.  Pair this headwear with your favorite Fall outfit for an effortlessly chic look that screams “model off duty.”

This sleek platinum lint roller will never let you down, conveniently sized for fitting in your purse and refillable so that you never have to risk unsightly mess.  Flint can keep up with your day and look as good as you do!

unboxing video

Your hair puts up with a lot – treat it to a spa day with this restorative mask, which will reduce breakage and restore natural vibrancy on even the most over-processed locks!  It works in minutes, and your newly hydrated and lustrous hair will appreciate the refresh.

With this handy tool kit, you’re equipped with everything you need for a chic manicure all in a portable, purse-ready pack – so when you’re transitioning into the hustle and bustle of Fall, one thing you’ll never need to worry about is your nails!

Pair your new hat with a bold red lip – the gold microshimmer in this lippie adds a cheeky touch to an otherwise elegant beauty bag staple.  The ingredients in this paraben- and gluten-free formula help extend the wear, whether it’s worn over a lipstick or by itself.

unboxing video

I was a little underwhelmed this month – especially after LOVING last month’s box but, it was still a nice surprise.  I’m not sure if I am going to be able to handle the hat, or if I will be brave enough to try that red lippie.  We did all share those gluten free bites as an afternoon snack, and my kids loved them (I did as well!).

Do you subscribe to POPSUGAR Must Have?  Do you have another subscription box that you really love?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Everything you Need to know about Pregnancy

I remember when I found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter.  I was definitely excited, and probably a lot more nervous than I would admit at the time.  I knew that an exciting journey was ahead of me.  And knowing how much control like to have over my life, I went out to find books about being pregnant and what I could expect during that journey and beyond.  The first book that I bought was What to Expect When You’re ExpectingIt was, and still is, America’s Pregnancy Bible.

While pregnant with my first child, I wanted to go the natural route.  I wanted hypnobirthing classes, no intervention, definitely no c-section.

I remember going to my hypnobirthing classes and being surprised that they didn’t want you to talk about anything besides hypnobirthing techniques.  It seemed that some of my classmates thought that if you talked about the possibility of having a c-section, it was inevitable.

I like information though, and I wanted to know as much as possible about any and all that could happen during pregnancy and childbirth. 

Come to find out, it was a good thing that I had done my research.  After 46 hours of labor, I did have to have a caesarean section.  Due to a car accident when I was in high school, all of the bones that are supposed to open in order to birth a child had been fused together when they were broken so many years before.  Not something I knew going into the labor – I would have suggested the c-section had I known!

Every pregnancy and birth is different, even from child to child, and having the ability to make your own decisions, without judgement from others, is important.  I think that hearing the stories of others, as well as getting as much information from your Dr. and resources like What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a great way to make a decision on what is right for you and your baby.

I was excited to see that they have come out with a 5th Edition of this wonderful reference book.  It is chalk full of great information.  Every bit of anything you could want to know from pre-pregnancy all the way through the delivery and beyond.

In this brand new edition, there is up to the minute information and advice.  All the medical coverage has been completely updated, and it even addresses your concerns about the Zika Virus.

I love that it brings Dad right into the conversation as well.

There is a lot of great information on gentle c-sections, which is what I tried to work out my second and third pregnancies.  Times have definitely changed between my first delivery, and my last.  I was able to have Lucy and Matt stay right with me during the entire surgery, and Lucy laid on my chest after she was born for most of the remainder of the time I was in the OR.  It was definitely a calming influence on my nerves.

There are updated sections on postpartum depression and anxiety.  I think this is a topic that does not get addressed nearly enough, but it seems to be coming to the forefront now, which is incredibly important.  Knowing that there is help available, and knowing when it is OK to ask for help is significant and necessary.

Entirely new chapters and sections on cord blood banking, coping with miscarriage, birth control choices and decisions postpartum as well as medications during pregnancy are all included.

It is such a wonderful resource to have, and gives you a feeling of peace when you wake up in the middle of the night with one more question (am I the only one?!). 

Did you utilize this amazing resource during your pregnancy?  Are you currently pregnant and looking for information?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Busyness that is Fall

The busyness of fall has set in.  Every year I say that this will be the year that we slow down in the fall, and then inevitably we fill up our schedule, and fall busyness happens again.

As an introvert I definitely struggle with busyness – the constant out and about and being surrounded by people exhausts me.  I crave that alone time, which is hard to come by as a mom of three little ones I am with all day every day.  However, I have come to recognize that Emma is most definitely an extrovert and gets her energy from being around other people.  The jury is still out on Jack and Lucy (although I am leaning towards introvert for Jack).

After I got over the shock of having an extroverted daughter, I realized that I was going to have to adjust my expectations of what would work for us for homeschool.

Part of the reason that I am homeschooling is so that I can tailor the education of each of my children to what works best for them. 

While I know that what we are working on together for the actual “school” portion of our day works, I knew that she needed more activities.  This was kind of difficult to swallow because I would rather spend time at home curled up with a book.

This year we thought that Emma would do piano lessons and then one activity (sport/dance/theater etc.) and then we would also have the homeschool co-op once a week.  However, the co-op decided to not continue this year, and that meant that we had a little less social time for my very outgoing daughter.

We ended up with piano, theater, and now also field hockey.  She thoroughly enjoys each of these activities, and while busy, it still allows us time to get all the other work we need to, done. 

It has been a bit challenging to fit everything in, especially with Lucy teething recently, so we are still working on a rhythm that will work well for the kids, and for me.  It is a learning process every year, trying to make sure that our schedule works, and that the kids have a good expectation of what is coming next.

So here is to the next few months of complete chaos, which should bring us right up to December, where we enjoy taking a much needed break from the day to day and move onto more fun holiday activities.

How busy does your day get when the kids go back to school?  Do you have strategies you use to keep your sanity?  Any other introverts out there?!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Tips for Using Tech to Manage Your Home

There are affiliate links in this post.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for supporting Townsend House!

This is a sponsored post on behalf of U.S. Cellular.  All opinions, as always, are my own!

Start the technology conversation with your kids by downloading this FREE Parent-Child Agreement.

It is amazing how awesome technology is right now!  It seems like you are able to utilize the best of technology in order to easily manage and maintain your homes on a daily basis.  Anything that simplifies my life is a lifesaver in my book.  Having reliable service from U.S. Cellular is a must in order for everything to continue to run smoothly.

I know that I rarely leave home without my iPhone – ok, honestly I don’t think I ever leave my phone at home, and if I do, I turn right around to go get it before I keep on my way.  I am definitely not in the minority; *91% of smart phone users rarely or never leave their phones at home – I’m glad it isn’t just me!

I have talked a lot about how I have a specific morning routine, however, on the days when we are leaving the house early in the morning, that morning routine gets completely revamped into complete chaos and rushing around – I’m still working on it.  It is on these harried mornings that I often forget things like shutting off my coffee pot, and remembering whether I even shut the front door, let alone locked it (hey, I am lucky I remember all three kids!).

Luckily, I am able to use my iPhone to manage my home from home – and that is an incredible thing.

Utilizing WeMo in my home makes those everyday tasks super simple.

Products like the Mr. Coffee Smart Optimal Brew Coffeemaker make life so much easier.  I can start my coffee right from my phone before I even get out of bed – that is nothing short of miraculous in my book!  And if you forget to shut off the coffee maker when you leave, you can easily shut it off from your phone.  Genius!

We all know how difficult getting dinner on the table can be, so having the ability to control my Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker away from home is a definite bonus.  I think that the crock pot is an amazing invention, and giving it smart capabilities gives it the facelift it needs to make dinner time a snap.

I was really excited to hear that Nest Cam is now available at U.S. Cellular.  Your entire house can be monitored right on your iphone, or any of the other latest devices.  With the night vision feature, you can even keep an eye on things at night.  There is the option of a Nest Secure as well, which will allow you to record up to 30 days of video and keep it safely in the cloud.

The Nest Thermostat gives you the opportunity to monitor your home temperature away from home.  This is perfect for when you are away on vacation.  Recently, my Nana went away for a vacation, and her heat stopped working, which resulted in her pipes freezing, and a subsequent flood.  Being able to monitor the temperature from a phone would have been helpful – and now it is!  I also like the idea of changing the temperature based on when I am away from the house, but being able to turn it up when I am close to getting home so the house can warm up a bit. 

Finally, with U.S. Cellular's Chamberlain MyQ Garage Door Opener, you can turn off the lights or close the garage door while on the go.  Once you shut the garage door, set the alarm using remote monitoring which pairs with your home security system, using a resource such as

Overall, there are so many ways to utilize technology in our homes, and it definitely makes my life a lot easier.

Do you use smart technology in your home?  What would you like to add?

*According to a recent U.S. Cellular survey.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Day at the Fair - 2016

One of my most favorite events every year is going to the fair.  There is something about all of the animals and the delicious food that makes it an amazing experience for me.  I have been going to this same fair since I was little, so I think the nostalgia of it all also plays a role.

When Emma was born we started going annually as a family, after several years off.  It was this year, when Emma was about 4 months old that we started the tradition of taking pictures of the kids next to the giant pumpkins.  I always take Easter and Christmas pictures, but having these pictures in front of the big pumpkins, as we have added children and they have grown, it is nice to see the change!

This year was no different.  We had a wonderful time.  We started a bit later than we typically do because we went to church before we went to the fair.

Our fair trip started with lunch.  Fair food, while not in the least bit healthy, is delicious, and something we all look forward to.  The kids had hot dogs and we shared French fries with malt vinegar – does anyone else eat their fries this way? 

We continued around looking at the different exhibition halls, taking a trip back in time with visiting the fair museum as well as seeing all that the Ancient Ones of Maine had to offer.  I also love to see how the one room schools were set up as well as the homes, especially how the kitchens had open fires with a little oven built into the wall. 

The animals are next.  Emma always wants to take a ride with the horses, and this year was the second year we saw miniature horses at the fair giving rides to people.  I never realized how much weight they could actually haul!

I love to see how the kids interact with the animals, showing so much love to them all.  I think that they definitely inherited that from me, considering Matt does 
not want to have the responsibility of farm life - at all.  I think I might be wearing him down a bit though!

It was a wonderful day filled with delicious food, lots of animals, and family, the perfect way to end the summer. 

Do you attend any agricultural fairs in your area?  What is your favorite part?