The Life

Halloween Themed Bathtime for the WIN!

Why hey there!  It’s been a hot minute.  I wanted to share some really fun Halloween ideas that the kids and I have been doing to get us all in the spooky spirit!  First up is the Halloween Themed Bath.  Why a bath?  Why not?  

Baths are literally toddler cure-alls.  Cranky?  Take a bath.  Bored?  Take a bath.  Rainy day? Need to be contained while mama blow dries her hair?  Yep, hop in the tub!

Then if you’re super extra like myself, you can add things to the tub to turn it up a level.  Now 20 minutes of play turned into 40.  You’re child may look like a prune but it is so, so worth it.  

And so, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, the Halloween themed bath was born.  Over the past few years I’ve collected lots of Halloween knick knacks that I use in sensory bins, play dough kits and science experiments.  So I shopped my craft closet and grabbed mini cauldrons, mini pumpkin buckets (both from Party City), lots and lots of eyeballs (dollar tree), plastic spiders (dollar tree), and mini bones (Michaels).  Then I grabbed a stack of themed books that we got from the library the day before.

I added tons of bubbles, used some food coloring to tint the water and then dropped all of the goodies in for Gio to find!  He was so excited!  And don’t worry, the food coloring use is so minimal that it doesn’t stain kids or the tub, so you’re good to go.

Gio played and I read him lots and lots of stories about monsters.  Of course Joey found us and jumped in and after an hour they were both prunes!  

I will definitely be making this fun, themed bath a tradition!  

I have linked some similar items that we used below!  Tag me @growingupgambino if you do this with your kiddos!  I’d love to see your set up!  

Link to:



halloween mix

The halloween mix has such a great variety of little knick knacks for sensory/tub play as well as fun stickers and craft stuff!

Have a great Wednesday!  




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The Life

how i save $1200 a year packing lunches!

Packing lunches for tomorrow and as I was repackaging big containers into little lunch sized portions I started to wonder how much money am I actually saving by doing this?

It’s no secret that buying in bulk is cheaper then buying conveniently packaged items but I never really sat down to figure it out.

So I did a total breakdown of Gio’s lunches.

Mine verses Theirs

Lunchable $1.99
Goldfish individual bag $.42
Snack size M&M bag $.15
Motts Applesauce pouch $.50
Grand Total = $3.06

Homemade Lunchable $.74 total
– pepperoni $.41
– cheese $.25
– crackers $.08
Goldfish $.25
M&Ms $.04
Applesauce $.22
Reusable pouch $.04
Grand Total = $1.29

Yep! It’s worth it!

Holy cow. The difference is $1.77 per day in just one child’s lunch! And I have 3 kids!

By shopping sales, breaking down packages and utilizing (mostly) reusable containers I am saving approximately $5.31 a day OR 26.55 a week OR $106.20 a month! (Based on a 20 school day month)

That is a TON OF MONEY. People are always looking on how to reduce their grocery budget and so my advice is to shop the sale items and buy in bulk (then break the packages down yourself)

In just lunches I am saving about $1200 a year. To me that’s worth the extra few minutes it takes in the kitchen 

Things to note:

* The pricing of “my” lunch items is based on the sale price I got and divided into the portions you see here. I only buy certain items if they are BOGO (crackers, cookies, cereal, pasta etc) There is always a BOGO cracker in the store and that is the one I’ll grab. I have no cracker loyalty, ha!

* The pricing of “their” lunch items is based on the price that I got from the Walmart grocery pick up app divided by the number of servings

* The applesauce pouches are KIDDZO brand. I’ll link them. I get the box of 50 on amazon for $19.99 and can reuse each pouch about 10x each. That’s how I got to that cost per use.

* Is this the healthiest lunch? Nope. But my picky 2 year old will eat it all up. I’ll fight the food battles at home instead of sending them to school 👍🏼

* There is more pepperoni/cheese and crackers than it looks like in this photo. I usually do an ounce of cheese, 10 or so slices of pepperoni and 5 crackers.

* Do your kids eat way more? Probably. This is my 2 year olds lunch. My big kids eat different foods and larger quantities but the concept is still the same.

* Do I ever buy convenience items? Yep!! Just grabbed a bunch of boxes of Motts applesauce pouches for when I’m lazy or for baseball game snacks. But they were BOGO and I had a coupon making them only $.26 a pouch. Thats comparable to the price of my homemade ones so I snagged as many as I could.

* Just a tip! I always make more than one lunch at a time. I generally make Mon + Tues lunches on Sunday (when I’m already making Sunday lunch so the stuff is all out). Wednesday is a wildcard. They will buy lunch or I will throw random stuff in their lunchboxes (hello leftover slices of pizza, I’m looking at you). Then Wednesday night I make lunch for Thurs + Fri.

So there’s my grocery budget tips that no one asked for but I felt compelled to share.
Go save yourself some money this week 🙌🏼

Here’s that KIDDZO applesauce link:

Hope you’re having a great week!

I love to connect with my readers on social media, so feel free to share this with a friend, pin it, and find me on Instagram and Facebook.




The Life

I didn’t think motherhood would be this hard.

I didn’t think motherhood would be this hard.
There I said it.
I mean, I always wanted to be a mom. I cheered when I saw those 2 pink lines, already planning my picture perfect journey. I dreamt of freshly scrubbed children in shoes without scuffs. Perfectly combed hair and matching outfits. Not totally matching because that’d be trying to hard, but all in the same color scheme. More effortlessly cool if you know what I mean. I was planning on little ballerinas and soccer stars. I would be the queen of play dates and everyone would want an invite to our over the top birthday parties.

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The Life

back to school backyard BOOK party!

Happy Friday!  This has seriously been a crazy week.  It is Joey’s last official week of summer before school starts back up on Tuesday.  And you know that means back to work for me so we have been doing all the things these past few days.  Yesterday my friend Stephanie and I hosted a back to school backyard BOOK party to kick off the upcoming school year!  It was a blast!! 

So you all know I love my little book business and being a book consultant for Usborne Books and More right?  I actually got involved by winning a mystery host party thrown by another consultant and got to choose over $300 in free books for my family.  We fell in love with all the books and I signed up to be a consultant to help all my friends build their home libraries as well.  And let’s be honest, I wanted more books too!  

So I had this great idea to throw a party with Stephanie being my party host.  The theme was obviously back to school and she invited all the neighborhood preschool kids.  I was able to help her spread the word by creating a super adorable invitation on paperless post in literally 10 minutes!  If you haven’t checked out their invites yet you are missing out!  It was so simple and we were able to send it via email to all of her party guests.  You are able to add all sorts of details and track RSVPS.   I brought my popcorn machine and sno cone maker and we made a ton of hot dogs!  Stephanie set out all other preschool favorites like applesauce pouches and goldfish.  It was seriously a 3 year old’s dream.  

Between story time, the bounce house, eating and book browsing I think it’s safe to say that everyone went home exhausted.  Especially the moms.  Best part is that Stephanie earned almost $200 in free books just for hosting!!  She is due with her second baby any week now and it’s safe to say that his bookshelves are going to be well stocked!

I hope that your summer went out with a bang!  We definitely have made the most of ours!

Feel free to shop online for some books here or ask me how you can host an easy online facebook party and earn free books to build your home library!  I’d love to chat books with you!

And don’t forget to check out  I am already browsing for “moms night out” invitations to have some friends over next month!

Happy Labor Day Weekend! 



Motherhood The Life

Trust The System


A new school year is upon us.  Summer has a funny way of dragging its feet and flying by all at the same time.  Every year you will see the moms who were losing their minds at the end of July boo-hooing in the Target school supply aisle come early August.  Myself included. 

Summer feels never ending. 

Until it ends. 

But it’s hard to focus on saying goodbye to summer when there is so much excitement leading up to a new school year.  New grade, new school, new teachers.  Dare I say new Kindergartener?  Cue all the tears.  Seriously someone hand that mom a tissue.  She’s going to need it.  The new school year is a complete mixed bag of emotions for both the kids and the parents.  Stressful but exciting all at the same time. 

And can we say overwhelming? 

Just when you finished searching every store for that damn unicorn of a 120 count spiral notebook, that no one makes by the way, you start getting flooded with the emails and signups and papers filling the red folder that last week sat empty on the counter. 

Suddenly there you are with the smell of sunscreen still permanently embedded on your shoulders, setting your alarm again.  You’re busy organizing the pantry snacks and trying to remember your kids lunch code.  All the anticipation for the first day.  The outfit is hanging.  Shoes are laid by the door.  To-do list on the counter.  Because you know after a whole 10 weeks off who is going to remember that your kid needs a water bottle!?  But really, to-do lists just make everything seem more organized and official.  Honestly they make me feel like I’ve got my shit together.  Which I do not. 

Next up is the yearly back to school photo.  You bribe up and down for a smile.  “Just stand there with your sign.  Ugh come on!  How do you still have waffle crumbs on your face??  Is that really your smile?  You look like an extra in a horror film.  Smile normal.  That’s not normal.  Your sign isn’t straight.  Come onnnn I spent 3 hours writing on that sign.  Hold it up.  Say cheese for grandma.  Ok, that will do.  Hurry your about to miss the bus.”

And just like that they’re off. 

You’ll walk around your house aimlessly.  Not sure what to do with yourself because hello!  What the heck is this free time you are experiencing.  Look at your watch.  10 minutes down.  Ok…find something to do.  So, you sit.  And you think.  And that’s where I always get myself into trouble my friends.  The thinking.

Will she know which hall to go down?

Will she be hungry because she didn’t eat enough?

Did her shoes really fit or was she just saying that so she could wear them and she’s going to end up with a blister by 10 am?

Will she be too shy to introduce herself?

Will she remember to take the bus home?

Breathe mama.  I’m going to tell you a little story.

It’s the first week of school.  Mini is to ride the bus home every day.  She knows that.  I know that.  The bus driver knows that.  All on the same page.  The bus comes at the same time every day.  The driver told me she might be a minute or 2 behind this year because they added one new stop right before ours.  No problem.  I planned to get out there a few minutes early regardless and wait.  That first afternoon I run down to the stop a couple of minutes early as planned.  The regular drop off time comes and goes.  An extra minute or 2 goes by.  I look at my watch and I can feel that kind of antsy building up where you start to feel hot and your insides go to mush.  It’s the first day I reminded myself.  The buses most likely pulled out a few minutes late because everyone is figuring out where to go.  No big deal.  3 more minutes pass.  The sun is beating down on me and I am in a full panic at this point. 


She knows to get on the bus.  The school is literally 5 minutes away.  She will be here in just a minute.  But then 2 more minutes pass.  It’s been too long.  Where is she?  What happened to my baby?  I just want my kid! 

Bring me my kid! 

I’m refreshing my emails every 10 seconds looking for an email stating the bus will be late.  Nothing.  All the “what ifs” are swimming in my brain.  I feel it coming over me and I know that I am about to morph into a full fledge panic attack where I either A) shit in my pants at the corner of my street or B) call the school shouting jibbrish because I know I won’t be able to find my words. 

And then I hear the rumble of the bus.   And her sweet, sweet bus driver waving with a huge smile.  And she comes bouncing down those steps. 

“Hi Mama!  I had a great day.” 

And suddenly I am calm.  I can see color again and the sweat stops dripping.  I grab her hand in mine and lead her towards the house.   Just as I suspected in my one clear thought standing out there on the corner, the bus was just delayed while everyone figured out where they were going.  Typical first day of school stuff.  Literally not a big deal. 

But in that moment it was a big deal. 

It was a really big deal.

I find that lately I am stressing out over many things that are not in my control.  I am letting the thoughts in my head get the best of me and allowing them to take over.  And then I had a thought.  My kid takes the bus.  The bus is supposed to get to my house at a certain time.  Sure add a few minutes because things happen.  But that is the plan. 

I need to trust the plan. 

I need to trust that the plan I have in place will be successful. 

I need to trust the system. 

I worry all the time that no one is going to help show her where to go.  Or help her in the lunch line.  I worry that she won’t know how to play the game in PE.  But there are plans in place for that.  There are teachers, and helpers, and people put in place specifically to be there to answer her questions.  To help her move along. 

There is a system.  And I have to trust that the system will work.  When I lose trust of the system I start to battle the “what ifs”.  And they can take over my thoughts.  So for every “what if” I have had this week I remind myself of the system in place.  The system the school or I have provided and instilled.  And I remind myself to trust it. 

And I remind myself to not let my brain spend time clouded with darkness and negativity.

‘The world is not out to get me.  I can be calm.” 

Literally say that to yourself 10x every morning after you brush your teeth.  Change your mindset.  It will help..

So, now go.  Fill the backpack and shine the shoes.  Take that adorable back to school picture.  The crooked sign only makes it cuter.  Trust the system and relax mama.  It’s going to be a great year.



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