A Call To Action for PA Voters on Childcare

This post is sponsored in partnership with The Motherhood to share information on this important issue.

I went to college for Occupational Therapy. I’ve been working in the field for about 20 years. Because I’m a working mother, my 2 oldest children were in child care full-time until they started school. We were blessed to find great childcare centers with caring people that we grew up with. Because of having great childcare locally, my kids flourished socially. It made the transition to four year old kindergarten pretty seamless. Both of my parents worked, so did the majority of our family and friends so a childcare was our option.

By the time I had my 3rd son, I was in a position to be able to cut down to part-time. My husband and I were able to work our schedules around each other so as not to rely on childcare centers or other people. With the cost of an infant in childcare full-time and having 2 kids in after school care I did the math. I actually would make more money to cut down to part-time and work opposite shift of my husband so someone was always home.

I realized, when my youngest son was around 4 years old that he was having difficulty socializing with other kids and painfully shy. I worried about him starting school. So I delayed his K4 start and found a 4 year old pre-school that was only half a day 3 days a week. I felt like it would be a great way to get his feet wet and start socially with his peers. He graduated that 4 year old preschool and has been thriving in school ever since. In fact he’s now in 6th grade, he qualified for the regional history bee and geography bee happening in 2 weeks. I’m so proud of him.

I’m so thankful that those fantastic places and resources were available to me. But I’ve recently learned that there is a childcare crisis in Pennsylvania. Working families are having trouble finding childcare.

Some of the most concerning statistics I read from a March 2022 survey conducted by partners of the Start Strong PA campaign include:

● Nearly 32,500 children currently sit on waiting lists.
● Over 30,000 more children could be served if programs were fully staffed.
● 91% of respondents reported staffing shortages in childcare programs.
● 92% of respondents reported recruiting challenges for childcare.
● Programs need to fill nearly 7,000 open child care positions.

I wanted to start my daughter in a 3 year old preschool program that was half a day 2 days a week. It was one of the few 3 year old preschool programs in our area but there were a waitlist. If I didn’t get on the list months in advance the chances of my child getting in were slim to none. We didn’t get in but I made sure I got things taken care of for 4 yr old kindergarten. That was 6 years ago and the situations are not getting better for today’s parents looking for early childhood education.

So what is causing the childcare issues in PA?

Low wages are driving the child care staffing crisis.
● The average child care teacher makes less than $11 an hour.
● Child care pay is so low that 50% of child care professionals qualify to receive
government benefits.
● The average child care teacher lives in poverty at nearly twice the rate of Pennsylvania
workers in general.
● Programs are unable to compete with rising wages and benefits offered by companies
requiring less specialized skills.
● Child care teachers with degrees can find higher pay and benefits working in the K-12
school system.
● The average child care teacher is paid 22% less than teachers with similar degrees
working in school district Kindergarten classrooms.

The cost of some daycare, pre-schools, and montessori programs can make it out of reach for some working families too. While you can find programs that offer families with more than one child, discounts. It’s not always enough. There are great early childhood programs out there like Headstart and Pre-K counts that can help. But many Pennsylvanians agree, we need more funding. 60% of Pennsylvanians to be more exact.

Most families aren’t aware how much government funding and policymaking affects their early learning options.

When the Children Matter Action Fund ran focus groups with families prior to the onset of this project, many participants knew that subsidies come from the government, but beyond that, most were unaware of other policy decisions that affect their early learning experience. The takeaway: decisions made by politicians in Harrisburg will determine the accessibility and affordability of early learning options in PA.

Both providers and families want to be more politically engaged around these issues, but might not know where to start.


Childcare Voters do not endorse candidates, but they let people know what candidates say about early learning issues and provide a ton of content in the Facebook group and email list. The Child Care Voter project, from their research, is really the first-of-its-kind civic movement based around child care and early learning. This movement is gaining momentum already and, for people already involved, feels very exciting and empowering!

Childcare funding and access is important to so many people. I saw the value and need myself. Now that my kids are years into school I want to make sure others have access to childcare and early childhood education. I want to make sure my future grandkids have access to it.

Primary elections are May 17. Read up on this important issue before you vote!

Join me on the Childcare Voters facebook page

Will you become a childcare voter?

30% Off and 2 FREE Shakers with this Evive Nutrition Deal!

Evive Nutrition offers blender-free smoothies and easy vegan frozen meal options. When you subscribe to Evive Nutrition you get to choose from an array of flavors for quick and nutrition meals or snacks on the go.

Evive Nutrition1

Simply choose your flavors and how many. Evive is shipped to you frozen. Stick the wheels in your fridge and pull them out for a quick, delicious, and healthy blender-free smoothie.

Use half a wheel for snack use a whole wheel for a meal. Drop it in your liquid of choice: coconut milk, almond milk, or oj are some good options depending on the flavor. They also give suggestions for liquids.

Evive is sweetening the deal all through February. Use code: DUO30 to save 30% and receive 2 free shaker bottles.

Healthy food made easy >> Evive Blender-free Smoothies

For me, working out was rarely the hard part. Once I got started, I almost couldn’t wait to workout again. The hardest part of trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle is lack of time and meal prep. This solves all those issues. I don’t even have to wash my blender!

EVIVE BENEFITS:
– Plant-based, gluten-free
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– Integrates more superfoods and adaptogens into your diet
– Minimal cooking efforts with maximum plant-based nutrition
– Stop skipping breakfast, and enjoy a smoothie packed full of superfoods and protein to get you through your morning

Ready to give it a try? Choose your Evive blender free smoothies HERE and don’t forget to use code: DUO30 for the 30% off and 2 free shakers! Kids love Evive too!

This post does contain affiliate links. I will earn a commission from sales made through my links

A Few Fun Gift Ideas for Teens and Pre-teens That are Budget Friendly

Teens can be hard to buy for, especially if they’re not your child. Teenagers are exploring their own styles, like/dislikes, they still want to have fun but don’t want childish things.

As a mom of 3 teenage boys and aunt to a 14 year old niece, here are some fun ideas for teens. Some may appeal to boys more, some may appeal to girls more, and some have more universal appeal.

Shashibo Shape Shifting Box – Price Point = $20-$25

These cubes fascinated me the first first times I saw ads and video on them. I looked up youtube videos on them and I was convinced that I had to get one for each of my kids and my one son’s girlfriend.

The idea of the Shasibo is it’s a puzzle cube. Each with a different theme: Confetti, Moon, Elements, etc. etc. you open up the cube and it immediately starts changing shapes. It comes with a guide to help you create different shapes. The puzzle part is trying to create the shapes and eventually trying to get it back into a cube which doesn’t seem to be an easy feat.

One of the popular things right now is fidget toys. The Shasibo, while a puzzle cube also is being used as a fidget toy. These cubes are just about the same size as a rubics cube. They have been and and out of stock and many retailers with some designs being harder to find than others. The Confetti seems to be a popular one.

Where to find Shashibo Shape Shifting Box

Color Fusion Nail Polish Maker – Price Point $25 – $50

This one would be more geared toward the pre-teens. The Make It Real Color Fusion Nail Polish Maker allows you to create over 200 custom shades of nail polish! Download the app for color matching technology and create a color to match that favorite dress!

It comes with everything needed and has enough supplies for up to 120 manicures or pedicures.

Where to Find Color Fusion Nail Polish Maker

Mini Over the Door Basketball Hoop – Price Point $10 – $40

I don’t know any kids that doesn’t love shooting baskets in a mini basketball hoop. I have one and all 4 of my kids ages 8 – 19 play together. They play games like HORSE, 21, and challenging each other to make shots. These hoops fit easily over any door with a provided hook and most, if not all of them, come with a mini basketball. Some even come with a hand pump for the mini basketballs.

I know the price point is pretty wide but that’s because there are so many to choose from depending on your budget and how sturdy of a basketball hoop you’re hoping for. Some even have extra things like LED scoring or glow in the dark features.

Waterproof mini bluetooth speaker – Price Point = $15 – $50

But my kids/niece/nephew/grandchild already has a bluetooth speaker. Yea so do my kids but, the mini waterproof speakers are great for a few reasons but I highly recommend getting one with a clip rather than a string.

My one son got one when he was around 13 or 14 years old. He would clip it to his backpack to take with him while riding his bike so he could listen to music. He’d take it to the basketball court or volleyball courts when hanging with his friends. He used it in the shower. He took it to the pool. And it’s all good because it’s waterproof, travel-friendly, and reasonably priced.

In fact, my husband liked the one my son had so I got him one for Christmas a few years ago. He likes to use it in the shower or when we go to the beach.

Downfall is the teen your gifting it to would need to have a smartphone to get the most use out of it. It can be used with a laptop, tablet or other bluetooth device but for grab and go purposes, a smartphone is best.

Amazon has a big selection. You can find them priced anywhere from $12 – $75. Some examples I’d consider buying my own kids would be:

Pixicade Mobile Game Maker

I saw this as part of a virtual holiday toy expo a couple months ago. I knew I had to get one for my 12 year old. This is great for any kids who is either: Into video games, loves creating, wants to be a game designer someday, or loves their tech.

Pixicade allows your pre-teen/teen to create their own video game of sorts. You purchase a Pixicade kit. It comes with game templates, quick start guide, 2 QR codes to download the app (added value so you can buy 1 kit for two kids if you want), high quality markers, stickers.

There are two different kits Pixicade which is $19.99. Your pre-teen or teen can create up to 1200 games. Pixicade Plus $29.99 allows them to create up to 2000 games and comes with extra stickers, more game templates, and an extra set of markers.

Interesting story, it was created by a husband and wife team. The wife is an educator, illustrator and art teacher. The husband is a software engineer. They wanted to make it fun and educational. Encourage kids creative thinking and problem solving skills.

The kid you’re gifting it to does need access to a smart phone or tablet though to be able to play.

Where to buy Pixicade

I would also check stores locally. I actually saw some at my local Giant Eagle about a week or so ago.

Honorable Mention – Dribble Up

So I like this idea but there’s two thing holding me back from giving it an all-in recommendation.

DribbleUp has smart soccer balls, smart basketballs, and other smart active devices. I think the basketball and soccer ball are great for kids that are all in on those sports. You use an app, scan your smart ball, and run though dribbling, kicking, traps, and other drills using the app. It helps kids hone in their skills, increase stamina, improve skills, and increase confidence. They can take live or on-demand classes with trainers.

So what is holding me back? Well right now they’re on sale which puts them at $50 for the soccer ball and $60 for the basketball on sale. Not too bad on sale but if they’re not on sale they’re around $99. The second thing holding me back is that the app has a $9.99 monthly fee. I also feel it would be a more personalized gift for the teen that’s all about soccer or basketball depending on which one you choose.

Here’s a DribbleUp Youtube video on the smart basketball to get an idea what it does

Where to buy DribbleUp

DribbleUp website

This post does contain affiliate links. I will earn a small commission from some links in this post from sales made through them. Prices in this post are up to date as of the time of this post. Other stores may have certain items but I only included links in which they were in stock at the time of this post.

Black Friday Sale: Blender Free Smoothies 40% OFF!

This time of year, it is so easy to not stay on track with our healthy eating. There are cookies, candies, and indulgent drinks around every corner including some that are only out for the holidays. (Oh man do I love me a chesnut praline latte from Starbucks).

When you’re cooking holiday meals, decorating, shopping, wrapping, writing out holiday cards, etc sometimes meal prepping goes to the wayside and quick meals on-the-go take their place. I mean, I get it, we can’t do everything!

If you’re determined to stay on track and need an easy way to do it, check out Evive blender-free smoothies!

Evive Nutrition1

I know, it took me a minutes to wrap my head around blender free smoothies. But Evive makes it easy.

Healthy food made easy >> Evive Blender-free Smoothies

You can get a box shipped directly to you. You can choose a box of 15 or 25. You get to choose your flavors and how many of each too. When you’re ready to enjoy just pop the cubes into a cup, add your liquid of choice and allow the cubes to melt, and voila! it’s ready to enjoy. A much quieter alternative than running a blender in the morning and less time consuming then chopping and prepping fruits and veggies right?

You stopped by my little blog and took the time to read this. Thank you. So you won’t pay full price either! I won’t allow it. You can save 40% off your first box during the Evive Black Friday sale with code: BF40

The Black Friday coupon code expires 11/30/21 so grab those savings (and healthy smoothies) while you can!

This post does contain affiliate links. I will earn a small commission from sales made through my links

Super Stocking Stuffer Hop: $25 Your Way

I wanted to highlight a small business subscription box for my post. Our new favorite subscription box has been Gramma in a Box . I encourage you to check their site out to read about how it got started. Cute little story.

Each month a box is sent to your house with a theme for the month. When we received the August box it was beach themed. In October it was Halloween themed.

Each box comes with everything you need to create two different treats each month. Each box has enough supplies to create up to 20 cookie and candy treats.

November’s box is, of course, Thanksgiving themed.

This box has been something my kids look forward to doing now. It’s so nice for me because I don’t have to buy supplies, I don’t even have to bake. Once in a while I have to melt chocolate for something but that’s about it. I just set the kids up and they get to it. I have a 12 year old and 8 year old that loves to do this. The cookie projects could easily be done by younger kids too.

Check out my instagram or TikTok for some videos I created for Gramma in a Box too!

This was my 2 youngest kids making the clam treats from the August box. They were so engaged with it. I love seeing them use their creativity. It doesn’t hurt that we also get to taste their artwork when we’re done too.

I received notification that our November Gramma in a Box shipped already. I told my daughter and she said “We get to do another one?! I love those boxes!”

I can’t wait to see what edible works of art my kids will create with the November box. Secretly I’m also looking forward to the December box. The projects have all been so fun, easy, and adorable.

Things to be aware of

Boxes start shipping by the 8th of each month so get your orders in early. They are a small business so they only make so many boxes, get them shipped, then start getting ready for the next box. It’s best to get your orders in early. They are usually gone by or before the 8th of each month.

You can purchase just one box one time to try it or you can order subscriptions of 3, 6, or 12 months. Order your Gramma in a box here

This post does contain affiliate links. I will earn a small commission from sales made through my links

GIVEAWAY

I want to give your $25 Paypal or Venmo so you can try Gramma in a Box yourself. OR If you just can’t have it you can choose $25 Amazon e-gift card

Please be aware, in order to accept the paypal or Venmo you must have an active account on the platform you choose.

Super Stocking Stuffer Hop: $25 Your Way

Check out these participating blogs for even more giveaway fun!