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Deborah Cruz

Keeping Your Home Healthy When You Have Pets

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Our pets fill our homes and hearts with love and laughter. But they can also fill your home with mud, hair and much worse. This is why its so important that, if you have fur babies in your home, you make an extra effort to keep the place tidy and healthy. Here’s how you can do that:

1. Fight the Fur

First things first, pet hair is more than just a fashion accessory you didn’t ask for on all your clothes. It can clog up your home’s air filters and contribute to allergens around the house. If I’m being honest, our French Mastiff, Stella, sheds so much that sometimes, it looks like there are a bunch of little Stellas running around the house. Regular grooming of your pets can reduce the amount of hair and dander floating around, and a good vacuum designed for pet hair is a must-have.

2. Master the Mud

If you have a dog, chances are you’re familiar with the “joy” of unexpected mud parties. Creating a pet cleaning station near your entryway—a simple setup with towels and paw cleaner—can help prevent your pooch from turning your living room into a mud wrestling ring.

3. Tick Talk

Let’s get serious for a second and talk about ticks. These little critters can be more than just a nuisance; they can be a health hazard to your pets and your family, so you need to know how to spot them and how to get rid of ticks fast. Regularly check your pets for ticks, especially after they’ve been outside. Invest in reliable tick prevention for your pets, and consider treating your yard with a pet-safe pesticide to reduce the tick population. Remember, it’s always a good season to say ‘no’ to ticks!

4. The Great Scent Cover-up

Pets can bring some unique smells into your home, and we don’t mean freshly baked cookies. While regular baths for your pets can help, sometimes you need a little extra firepower. Natural enzyme cleaners are great for breaking down pet smells instead of just masking them. For a quick fix, baking soda is great for sprinkling on carpets before vacuuming to absorb odors.

5. Emergency Clean Kit

Accidents happen—especially when you have pets. Keep an emergency cleaning kit handy that includes paper towels, disinfectant, and odor removal spray. For those times when Fido mistakes your carpet for the grass, you’ll be prepared to act fast and minimize the damage.

6. Purify Your Air

Pets can contribute to less-than-pristine indoor air quality. An air purifier can do wonders to capture pet dander, pollen, and other allergens, making breathing easier for everyone. Plus, it helps keep your home smelling fresh, so you’re not greeted by eau de dog when you walk in the door.

7. Secure Your Trash

Pets are notorious for their treasure-hunting skills, so it goes without saying they can sniff some pretty exciting (to them) stuff in the trash can. So if you don’t want to come home to stinky garbage all over the kitchen floor, secure your cans with tight-fitting lids to keep Fido out.

Maintaining a healthy home with pets is all about staying one step ahead of the fur, odors, and little surprises, but you can do it!

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guilt free grab 'n go snacks

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Summer is finally here, and that means one thing – road trip season! Whether you’re packing up the family SUV or hitting the highway solo, having the right snacks on hand is key for any great adventure.But let’s be real, when hanger strikes somewhere between Point A and Point B, it’s all too easy to reach for something ultra-processed and loaded with junk. But this mom is diabetic and trying to battle the perimenopause weight gain. This summer, ditch the drive-thru and get ready to snack smarter with these better-for-you munchies that’ll keep everybody happy and hunger at bay. Make sure to hit this road this summer with these guilt free grab ‘n go snacks!

Disclosure: I was provided samples of some of these products for review purposes but all opinions are my own. 

guilt free grab 'n go snacksPopadelics – The Crispy, Crunchy Mushroom Chip You Didn’t Know You Needed

Looking for a savory, crispy snack but want to skip the greasy potato chip gut bomb? Cue Popadelics – a mind-blowingly delicious mushroom crisp that’s 100% vegan, non-GMO, and way lighter than your average chip.Made with real shiitake mushrooms, these crunchy discs of umami deliciousness come in flavors like Trippin’ Truffle Parm, Twisted Thai Chili, and Rad Rosemary + Salt. They’re so tasty, you’d never guess they’re actually good for you!

Fresh Fruit

For our family, nothing beats fresh fruit. Whether it is orange slices, chilled apples, watermelon drizzled in balsamic or mixed with mint and lemon, we are all about fruit. But if you want a super easy, tasty treat, I’m currently obsessed with fresh red grapes, bathed in lime juice, sprinkled with strawberry jello packet and dusted with sugar ( I know, the sugar is not great but it is so freaking delicious.) Then, put it in the freezer and enjoy in about an hour. They are just as tasty fresh from the cooler on a road trip.

guilt free grab 'n go snacksFrooze Balls – The Juicebox Reincarnated as a Chewy, Fruity Treat

Kids and kids-at-heart are going to go bananas for Frooze Balls. Think of them as the grown-up, portable version of your favorite juicebox from childhood – only way better.These apple-based fruit snacks are soft, chewy, and bursting with real fruit flavor in Apple, Strawberry and Orange varieties. They’ve got all the nostalgic goodness you crave, minus the artificial junk. Plus, they’re made with 6 simple ingredients or less!guilt free grab 'n go snacksOlyra Foods – Soft, Ancient Grain Breakfast Biscuits for Any Time of Day

 

While they may be billed as breakfast biscuits, there’s no rule that says you can’t enjoy Olyra Foods’ pillowy-soft baked goods as a snack! Made with nutrient-rich ancient Greek grains and real fruit, these tasty treats are the healthy fig newton of your road trip dreams.Not only are they organic, non-GMO, high in fiber and low in sugar, but Olyra Foods’ biscuits have been crafted from a generations-old family recipe. They are so yummy, even your pickiest toddler or tween will approve. 

Ritz Toasted Chips in Sweet Habanero

I am seriously addicted. But they are seriously delicious and bonus, they are toasted not fried. However, don’t mindlessly eat an entire bag like I did one night. You will certainly not feel great after doing so. Just remember, everything in moderation. 

guilt free grab 'n go snacksThe Only Bean – A Crunchy, Protein-Packed Edamame Chip to Satisfy

Edamame just got a serious upgrade with The Only Bean’s crazy-crispy (and crazy-addictive) edamame bean snacks. These light-as-air crispy puffs are bursting with plant-based protein and fiber to keep you fueled.Better yet, The Only Bean’s snacks are gluten-free, vegan, and literally made with just one ingredient – edamame! Go ahead and binge on salty, savory Sea Salt, lip-tingling Sriracha, or both. We don’t judge.guilt free grab 'n go snacks

Else Else Nutrition

Else Nutrition just launched the first Plant-Based ready to drink kid’s protein solution that tastes incredibly delicious, like nothing else on the market! Kids love the taste (even picky eaters!) and parents approve of the nutrition-packed benefits. Not going to lie, I LOVE the chocolate shakes myself. It’s also perfect for my CSID teenager. Creating a healthier and happier future starts early in a child’s development. Explore the new whole food kids’ protein drinks truly “shaking up” the industry for the better. 

Our favorite guilt free grab ‘n go snacks for our road trips

So, there you have it- a stash of road-ready bites that’ll turn your road trip snack game upside down in the best possible way. From mushroom crisps to fresh fruit to ancient grain soft-bakes and beyond, these munchies prove that eating well on the go is anything but boring.

Pack them for your next adventure and get ready to snack happy from point A to your ultimate summer destination. Your taste buds ( and your road trip partners) will thank you later! What’s your favorite road trip snack?

 

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how to make home maintenance easier

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Let’s be real, nobody likes to be in charge of home maintenance. Sure, I love having a beautifully landscaped yard but I hate getting up every day and having to water, prune, weed and repeat every.single.day. Just like I love a clean house but it is my least favorite thing to do with my time and I am not alone..  

According to a recent study, 68% of moms feel “guilty” that their home is not clean enough. However, between work, caring for your children and trying to maintain a social life (if you mean going to the grocery store, attending school functions and trying to squeeze in a daily walk for exercise… sure, we’ll say moms have social lives) , finding time to dedicate to cleaning can feel near-impossible. Believe me, when I have a free moment to myself the last thing I want to do is work. Can’t a mom just binge her favorite K-pop show in her bed, alone in silence?

Fortunately, you do not have to sacrifice your sleep or put yourself on the path to mom burnout in order to keep your home in a nice condition. Believe me, I’m talking from a place of hard earned wisdom. No chore is worth the panic attack. As long as the kids are fed and loved, your partner’s not completely ignored and everyone is healthy… you, my dear, are winning at life.

With that in mind, here are a few simple steps you can follow to make home maintenance easier!

Don’t let clutter control you. I have ADHD. Piles of clutter ( AKA folded clean laundry that never makes it to the closet) is my state of being. It used to overwhelm me but it’s not worth it. Clutter is likely one of the main reasons why your home feels messy. Clutter can make even the cleanest of rooms appear highly disorganized. Not only that, but studies have shown it can also be bad for your mental health! I told you.

Now is the perfect time to take control of household clutter, as opposed to letting it control you. There are many methods you can try here, from the famous Marie Kondo method to simply getting into the habit of putting things away after you have finished using them. Pro tip: If all else fails, do what I do. ( Shhh, don’t tell my mother-in-law). Move the chaos to rooms visitors don’t see. ( Maybe a spare room on the second floor or a defunct craft room in the basement that no one uses). Then you can get to it ( or not) when you have the time to get it organized. Mine is scheduled for September 2025 ( when both girls will be away at college). 

Take preventative action. Another way in which you can make home maintenance as easy as possible is by taking action to prevent common maintenance issues. For example, you can install gutter guards to prevent clogs, blockages or other forms of damage to your gutters. This is such a simple preventative action but most of us don’t think of it until our gutters are overflowing. Believe me, you will be glad that you did.

Draw up a chores chart. Believe it or not, you are not the only person in the household responsible for keeping it in good order, even though it often feels like it.  Setting your children age-appropriate chores is a great way to reduce your workload. It is also known to help children become more organized and responsible. In short, it sets “the stage for becoming independent and successful.” While ticking their chores off the chart can be rewarding in itself, you may want to offer some other incentives, too! We started this when the girls were in preschool. We started with simple things like picking up and putting away their toys or bringing their dishes to the sink from the table. As teens, they do things like cooking dinner, folding laundry (SCORE) and running errands ( that I’d rather not do like grocery shopping).

If everyone helps out, that will definitely make home maintenance easier

Spend fifteen minutes a day cleaning. As mentioned above, it can often be difficult to make time in your schedule to deep clean your home. After all, it’s estimated that a top-to-bottom clean of a family home can take upwards of six hours to complete. But who says you have to do everything at once?  Thanks to ADHD, this mom cleans every room in the whole house at the same time so I never finish. It would be comical if it weren’t actually true. If you’ve got that neuro spicy brain that so many of us do, give yourself some grace. Embrace my new motto, not perfect…done.

If you can, dedicate roughly fifteen to twenty minutes a day to cleaning tasks, whether that be laundry , Windexing the mirrors and windows or vacuuming ( get a Roomba and take that one off your list). This way, you’re working through all of the essential home maintenance tasks without having to stay up late into the night. Providing that you complete tasks on rotation also means that you’re not letting any tasks fall off your radar. But if you need to, no worries, they’ll still be there tomorrow. Unfortunately for us, and contrary to what our families seem to believe, the cleaning fairy does not come at night.

Oh, but if it were true, home maintenance would be a breeze

Pro tip: If everyone that lives in the house jumps in and helps, you can deep clean a 3000 square foot home ( at least the first floor) in just under 2 hours. Remember that mom…work smarter, not harder. No one likes us when we’re tired and grumpy. So, let’s all clean hard for 2 hours on Saturday morning ( after 10 though, people deserve to sleep in) and let’s all be happy. Also, remember to eat and drink  your water!

Remember that you don’t live in a show home. While you may feel under pressure to maintain a certain standard of cleanliness within your home, it is important to remember that you live in a family home – not a show home. Things don’t have to remain picture-perfect all the time. What matters is you are managing a safe space for your little ones, your big ones and yourself!  Your home should be your sanctuary, not something else to add to your never ending to-do list.

If all else fails, girl, chuck it all in the f*ck it bucket. Let all those worries take a vacation.

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The Strangers Chapter 1, A Terrifying Tale of Survival in a Remote Cabin, Froy Gutierrez as “Ryan” and Madelaine Petsch as “Maya” in THE STRANGERS Trilogy, a Lionsgate release.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Hey there, my fellow horror enthusiasts! Ready to dive into the spine-chilling world of “The Strangers Chapter 1”? If you’re a fan of heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat horror flicks, then buckle up because this one’s a doozy! Talk about a terrifying tale of survival in a remote cabin. It really might. make you rethink that airbnb in the woods. Also, it’s the perfect summer horror movie to watch with your teens. Just the right amount of creepy.

 

The Strangers Chapter 1, A Terrifying Tale of Survival in a Remote Cabin, Froy Gutierrez as “Ryan” and Madelaine Petsch as “Maya” in THE STRANGERS Trilogy, a Lionsgate release.

Picture this: a young couple, played by the talented Madelaine Petsch and Froy Gutierrez, find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere when their car decides to take a permanent vacation. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they’re forced to seek shelter in a remote cabin that screams, “GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN!” But hey, where’s the fun in that?

Disclosure: I was provided a screener of The Strangers Chapter 1 for review purposes but all opinions are my own. Rated R with a runtime of 91 minutes.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I were in their shoes, I’d be hightailing it out of there faster than a toddler running from bedtime. But our brave (or foolish) protagonists decide to stick it out, unaware of the terrifying night that awaits them.

The Strangers Chapter 1, A Terrifying Tale of Survival in a Remote Cabin, Froy Gutierrez as “Ryan” and Madelaine Petsch as “Maya” in THE STRANGERS Trilogy, a Lionsgate release.

Enter the three masked strangers, who apparently missed the memo on basic human decency. These creepy intruders have one mission: to terrorize the poor couple with no mercy and seemingly no motive. It’s like they woke up and thought, “Hey, let’s ruin someone’s night for funsies!”

As the night progresses, the couple finds themselves in a desperate fight for survival. They’re forced to confront their deepest fears and make split-second decisions that could mean the difference between life and death. And let me tell you, the suspense is so thick, you could cut it with a knife (but please don’t, because that’s just asking for trouble).

The Strangers Chapter 1, Froy Gutierrez as “Ryan” and Madelaine Petsch as “Maya” in THE STRANGERS Trilogy, a Lionsgate release.

What sets “The Strangers Chapter 1” apart from other horror movies is the sheer unpredictability of the masked assailants. Their motives are unclear, making their actions all the more terrifying. It’s like playing a twisted game of cat and mouse, except the mice are armed with nothing but their wits and a whole lot of adrenaline.

 

Madelaine Petsch and Froy Gutierrez deliver outstanding performances, bringing depth and authenticity to their characters. You can’t help but root for them as they navigate this nightmarish scenario, and their chemistry on-screen is palpable. It’s the kind of connection that makes you invest in their survival, even as the odds stack up against them.

The remote cabin setting adds an extra layer of isolation and helplessness to the story. It’s the perfect backdrop for a horror movie, with its creaky floorboards, eerie shadows, and a distinct lack of Wi-Fi (because let’s face it, that’s the real horror here). The filmmakers masterfully use the environment to heighten the tension, making you feel like you’re right there with the characters, holding your breath and praying for daylight.

The Strangers Chapter 1, Froy Gutierrez as “Ryan” in THE STRANGERS Trilogy, a Lionsgate release.

“The Strangers Chapter 1” is just the beginning of what promises to be a thrilling horror series. It sets the stage for more chilling adventures to come, leaving you both satisfied and craving more. It’s the kind of movie that makes you double-check your locks and think twice about venturing into the great outdoors. Talk about a terrifying tale of survival in a remote cabin?

 

So, if you’re ready for a heart-pounding, adrenaline-fueled ride, then “The Strangers Chapter 1” is the movie for you. Available on PEST / PVOD on June 7, 2024!  Thank you Lionsgate for a new horror movie series to look forward to. Just make sure you have a buddy to watch it with, because trust me, you’ll need someone to clutch onto when the jump scares hit. And remember, if your car ever breaks down in a creepy small town, maybe just call an Uber instead of seeking shelter in a remote cabin. Better safe than sorry, right?

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Making the most of a master bedroom, How you can have luxurious furniture and decor on a budget

Home renovations are very common in the United States, with homeowners investing time and money to transform their living spaces. We love an underdog story and are all about a fixer-upper. This is why we love a house with “good bones”. According to a report from Architectural Digest, the home improvement industry has seen a surge in activity, Americans spent $363 billion on home improvements, renovations, and repairs in 2020 and $406 billion the following year. This was an 11.8% increase from 2020 and nearly three times the average annual growth of 4.4%. By 2022, homeowners’ spending rose to $472 billion. Motivations behind these projects ranged from needing to upgrade aspects of their home to just simply wanting a change.  For me, when making the most of my master bedroom, top of the list of wants is luxurious furniture and decor on a budget. I have great style but with teenagers, tuitions and all that entails sometimes my finances and style are out of sync.

When it comes to home renovations, the master bedroom often takes center stage. As a sanctuary for relaxation and rejuvenation, this space needs to exude luxury and comfort. While many may assume that achieving a high-end look in the master bedroom requires a hefty budget, plenty of affordable solutions can elevate your room’s aesthetic without breaking the bank.

Here are a few decor and furnishing tips to consider:

Incorporate antique furniture

Antique furniture pieces can instantly elevate the look and feel of a master bedroom for less. A trend report highlighted by Real Simple states that vintage furniture store Kaiyo customers have saved over $50 million on top furniture lines compared to buying brand new. Aside from being a wallet-friendly option, vintage dealer Steven Brown says antique furniture is also more durable and made with better craftsmanship than mass-produced pieces. For those looking to infuse their bedrooms with a touch of elegance, visit thrift stores and estate sales or scour online marketplaces. Hunt for pieces like antique dressers, bedside tables, or a vanity that can add character and sophistication to your bedroom without the hefty price tag.

Upgrade your bed

One of the simplest ways to achieve an elegant bedroom is by upgrading to a larger bed size, as they effortlessly evoke a luxurious feel. Additionally, large California king beds are a surefire way to enhance your sleep, providing ample space even if you co-sleep with your kids. In fact, I’m not sure we would have survived the little kid years without a California King sized bed. It allowed for all the togetherness without the discomfort. While it may be a bit more expensive than smaller sizes, the benefits of improved sleep and enhanced bedroom aesthetics are well worth the cost. To create a more opulent atmosphere for a fraction of the cost, consider the California king bedroom sets that are labeled under “outlet” or “clearance” on Living Spaces. There, you can find options like the Willow Creek Cali king set for nearly half the average price of $2000 for a new Cali king bed frame. This set also has a matching dresser and nightstand, which means even more savings.

Don’t leave the walls blank

If you’re working with a bedroom that’s on the smaller side, maximizing wall space is essential. As discussed in our post How to Maximize Space In A Small Home, there are a few ways you can do this. For instance, you can install a tall bookcase that reach the ceiling or try a living wall planter. Alternatively, you can adorn your bedroom walls with framed artwork to add depth and visual interest. Good art can easily be very expensive. Luckily, you can find affordable art made by small artists at flea markets or on sites like Etsy. Interior design experts recommend going for large-scale pieces that complement your room’s color scheme for a polished, high-end look.

Opt for luxe curtains

When creating a luxurious ambiance, pay attention to the importance of curtains. Decorators advise against synthetic fabrics such as polyester and viscose, which can cheapen a room. Instead, Housing.com suggests hanging curtains made of flowy cotton or linen. These are well-suited for both traditional and modern bedrooms. Plus, they’re pretty low-maintenance and can be machine-washed rather than professionally cleaned, which MoneyPantry estimates can cost upwards of $189. Cotton drapes can be layered over blackout curtains, so you don’t have to choose between style and privacy.

Making the most of a master bedroom and transforming it into a luxurious retreat doesn’t have to break the bank. By incorporating these budget-friendly strategies, you can achieve an expensive look without spending a fortune. You can have luxurious furniture and decor on a budget.  With creativity and thoughtful planning, your master bedroom can become a sanctuary of style and comfort, offering a peaceful haven to unwind amidst the demands of daily life.

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How To Help Your Teenager Through Exams

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

School just got out for the summer but I’m already thinking about how to better prepare my girls to succeed next year. Exam time can be stressful for both teenagers and parents alike. As a parent, you realize that the results your teenager gets at school or college will reflect the path they take afterwards. Now, I’m not too worried because I know that there is no one path to success but some paths are definitely easier than others. If your teenager can do well, it could set him up for the future. This is why you need to know how to help your teenager through exams.

Although our teenagers will have to rely on their own knowledge, there are some things you can do to make school and the exam season much easier. If you’re wondering how to help your teen get through her exams, check out the following tips.

Meal Prep

One of the best ways you can help your teenager tackle studying for exams is to make sure she eats well. Eating and drinking properly is essential. Your teen will need the vitamins and nutrients for good brain function and to maintain energy levels.

If you’re seeing your teen going back and forth to the fridge for energy drinks and snack bars, they may not be eating well enough. Do her a favor and make sure she eats three nutritious and well-balanced meals a day to give her the best chance at absorbing and retaining all the information she’ll need to do well on her tests.

Avoid Adding Pressure

Many teenagers say that they feel pressure from their families more than from anywhere else. It’s easy to unconsciously make your teen feel under pressure by hovering too much or asking a lot of questions. I know I’m guilty of this and I never thought it was putting pressure on them until my girls told me it was. Now, I think before I start asking too many questions about exams. Maybe you’ve even offered incentives for doing well. Bet you didn’t realize even that can feel like immense pressure to a kid studying for exams.

There are many variables that contribute to the grades that each child will get from their exams. It can depend on revision time, nerves, whether your child got enough sleep, and all sorts of things. Encourage your teen to do well but take the pressure off. I like to tell my girls to just do their best. Really, that’s all any of us can hope for. 

Good Sleeping Patterns

It can be tempting for your teen to stay up late trying to cram in revision hours before an exam. Who amongst us hasn’t spent an all-nighter cramming for exams? Not only is this counterproductive to remembering information but it’s also unhealthy. My freshman year of college, I stayed up all night studying for a chemistry exam only to fall asleep at dawn and miss my exam.The best thing your teen can do is sleep well and use the hours available to study.

Although you have no control over when your teen goes to sleep, it can help to explain why being well-rested before an exam is so important. Encourage your teen to get as much rest as needed before an exam.

Play Games

Your teen is going to need a break from studying every now and then. These mental breaks are important for clarity and taking time to have some fun. Games are a great way to have some fun while still keeping the brain engaged. My girls and I live for our Mario Kart brain breaks.

However, more cerebral games like Chess, for instance, are ideal for engaging your teens brain and developing problem solving skills. Even though your teen is taking a break, he’ll be able to return to his studies with the ability to continue without too much effort.

Study With Her

There may be some subjects that you aren’t familiar with but that doesn’t mean you can’t help your teen study. If you want to be hands-on with helping your teen, getting stuck into study with her is ideal. Find a quiet place to sit together and test your teen on his knowledge.

You can ask questions from what you read on a page or ask typical exam study questions from past exams. This can be particularly good for teens with ADHD. Spending this time is a good way to bond together and your teen will remember that you were there to help when she needed you.

Recognize Exam Stress

Most teenagers have a healthy amount of exam stress. However, some teenagers may suffer with an unhealthy amount. For instance, some teenagers may display signs of severe anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, and many more. This happens to be the case for my girls who both suffer from extreme test anxiety.

If you recognize any of these symptoms, it’s worth talking to your teen about what you see. Make sure your teen knows that physical and mental health should always take priority over exams and you’re always there to talk if she needs to.

Let Little Things Go

Perhaps your teenager has a chore list to do around the home. Maybe she’s responsible for walking the dog in her spare time. During exam season, these things need a little more flexibility.

If you notice dirty plates in his room and his dirty clothes are still unwashed, give her a pass. You can help her by taking on a few of these jobs so she has more free time to study without feeling overwhelmed by everything she has to do.

Be Positive

Have you ever read the information on a page three times and still not been able to take it in?  Preparing for exams takes a lot of effort and there will be times when your teen may feel like she’s failing. Be positive and supportive during this time so she knows you believe in her.

Make her feel like as long as he does her best, she can’t fail. Empower her to be confident. No matter what the outcome of her exams are, she can forge her own path if she works at it. Where there’s a will, there is always a way.

Study Space

If you’re able to, create a dedicated study space for your teen that will help to set her up for success. If she’s trying to study in the room she shares with a younger sibling, it may be hard to get anything done. Find a quiet and secluded place for her to study, even if it’s just temporary.

It’s also worth explaining to other family members ( younger siblings, I’m talking to you) that your teen needs space and quiet while she studies. Doing well in exams can be a whole family effort when your teen needs a helping hand.

Exercise

Teens cannot live on studying alone. The brain doesn’t work as well without good blood and oxygen flow. Encourage your teen to take walking breaks to get her body moving. It could be as simple as getting up and walking up and down the stairs in your home.

Even better, go for a walk with your teen outside to get some fresh air too. Healthy body and mind for everyone. This will be a huge boost to your teen and she’ll go back to studying with renewed energy and perspective.

Listen To Any Concerns

Don’t assume your teen has no concerns because she hasn’t voiced any. You may be surprised at what your teen is thinking if you ask her. Take some time to talk to her about how she’s feeling about her exams. And make sure she knows that her feelings are valid.

Try to validate her concerns and offer support. Often the best thing you can do is listen, rather than trying to offer solutions. You don’t always have to be the fixer. If your teen feels heard and supported, other things will fall into place.

Reward Effort

Rather than offering an incentive for results, think about rewarding effort. You’ll be able to see how much effort your teen is putting into her studies. Regardless of the results, if you know your teen has worked hard, reward the effort.

This will show your teen that effort is worthwhile and hard work pays off in many different ways. It could mean that your teen is willing to try again if she should fail this time around.

Ask For Support

If you can see that your child is struggling with a particular subject, it may be worth getting some extra support. An hour a day with a tutor at home could make all the difference to your teens exam results. How your teen is taught will affect how she feels about the subject and exam results.

If your teen hasn’t got a good teacher at school, some extra tuition could change everything, including your teen’s confidence.

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Love letter to my daughter on her 17th birthday

Gabs, 

It’s been a hell of a rough year for you. Life’s thrown you so many curveballs. Things people much older than you couldn’t navigate easily. But you never give up or quit. You fight through the uncertainty. At 17, you’ve had to navigate more than any little girl should ever have to navigate on her own. I tried to step in front of every single hardship and take the hit but that’s not how life works. Instead, I’ve had to watch from nearby, ready and willing to stable you, to pull you up and push you forward. Pushing through the noise and breaking down doors to help you get what you want and need that’s my job. You’ve faced every single trial and tribulation with grace. I wish I could have taken every struggle away.  

Maybe we’re too much alike. It’s been like this since you were a little girl. We both know this and it’s probably why we butt heads so often but I hope you know that no matter what standoff we’re having, how hard you push me away or how long you give me side eye and the silent treatment, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll always be just there; beside you, behind you, or in front of you to guide you to the place where maybe you can’t see because you’re new to it or you’re too overwhelmed by all the obligations and expectations of the world. To me, you are the world so I couldn’t care less about what the world expects of us. The thing I care most about in this world is you and your sister

Those tears that seem to fall like a waterfall, I don’t see weakness. I see strength and too much love for your little heart to hold. You are one of the strongest people I know. Never stop talking to me. There is nothing that you could ever say that would change my love for you. We are all human. We all make mistakes. Believe me, I’ve made plenty. Our humanity and humility is what makes us better humans to the world. Our mistakes are the lessons that teach us to be who we want to be and change so we don’t become who we don’t want to be. 

Always remember that you cannot make anyone love you and you can never control anyone else’s reactions to what you say and do. You can only control your own heart and mind. Keep that in mind when you move through this world. Your words and actions have consequences so consider that before you hurt others. No one owes you forgiveness and you owe no one. The people we’ve loved and lost teach us what we want and need in friends and partners, so never dwell on the loss for too long. Instead, be thankful that you learned such an invaluable life lesson.

I know that your 17-year-old heart takes things personally. I know that every blow feels like the end of the world. Everything is so big at 17. But, I promise you ( I pinky swear on my mama heart) none of this will matter in 5 years. You are growing your soul as much as you are growing your body; stretch and reach. This is the evolution of who you are meant to be. Take it all in because one day, even the hardest bits will be looked back upon with fondness. But why make life harder than we need to?

Never compare your beginning or middle to someone else’s ending. Don’t worry too much about what other people think about you. Their opinion is their’s and has absolutely nothing to do with you. Be happy. Don’t overthink. Fall in love. Dance. Play in rain puddles. You’re never too old for snuggles and hugs. And I’ll never stop listening, caring or wanting the best for you. Go for it. Flap those wings and fly as high as you want. I’ll always be here to catch you if you fall.I’ve got  you forever. You’ll never stop being my baby girl, even when you have your own baby girl. 

Next year is a big one for you. I want it to be the best. You deserve all the happiness and none of the worry and struggle that you’ve had to endure this past year. Let’s make 17 unforgettable in the best possible way. Stay your loving, sweet, funny, goofy, don’t give a shit attitude that you are now. You are smart and beautiful and more than enough. It is my greatest privilege and honor to be your mom and there will never be a day that THAT is not true. 

Love you to the moon and back, forever and ever!

xoxo ,

Mama

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glioblastoma, what not to say to cancer patients

Estimated reading time: 0 minutes

Today’s Throat Punch is a bit of an emotional express train, but it’s an important one. Because while I fancy myself a bit of a comedic truth-teller most days, some situations require putting the funny-lady shtick aside momentarily. This is that moment. Apparently, we all need a tutorial ( a “What Not to Say to Cancer Patients ” for Dummies” if you will) so people can stop saying stupid AF and insensitive things to cancer warriors; to people we know and love. If you don’t stop hurting the feelings of people already dealing with the hardest moment in their life, I may have to put on my ass-kicking superhero outfit and throat punch you for them. You’ve been warned.

What is Glioblastoma?

We’re talking about cancer in general but glioblastoma, in particular, today -according to Cleveland Clinic, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common type of malignant (cancerous) brain tumor in adults. Cancer cells in GBM tumors rapidly multiply. The cancer can spread into other areas of the brain as well. Rarely, the cancer spreads outside the brain to other parts of the body.

Glioma tumors like GBM start in glial cells. Glial cells are vital to nerve cell function. GBMs specifically form in glial cells called astrocytes. GBMs are the fastest-growing astrocytoma (tumor that forms in astrocytes). It’s the kind of diagnosis that punches you in the gut and sinks your heart straight through the floor, no matter who you are.

I’ve had more friends than I care to recount bravely fight the cancer monster over the years. I’ve seen it turn vibrant humans into mere shells, ripping away independence, cognitive abilities, and bland normalcies we so casually take for granted each day. Right now, someone I love is facing the kind of diagnosis that knocks you to your knees. She’s one of the bravest and most brilliant women I know and the last thing she needs is to the suffer fools saying stupid ass shit to her online or in person. Thats why I’m writing this because you all need to use your common sense and ask yourself BEFORE you open your mouth, “How would I feel in her situation if someone said what I’m about top ask her?” and then shut your mouth. 

It’s a different kind of nightmare when the thing you’re battling resides in the very home base operating your entire physical existence – your brain. Glioblastoma is quite literally your own body turning against you in one of the cruelest, most insidious ways imaginable.

So if you’ve never been impacted by a loved one facing this reality, trust me – just be quiet and send up some gratitude. Because it’s a hell that vastly exceeds any offense my usual Throaty subjects could ever dish out.

But since we’re being radically candid today, I do have ONE thing I’d like to firmly THROAT PUNCH into submission:

What NOT to Say to Someone Battling Cancer

We’ve all been there – someone we care about gets dealt a world-shattering health prognosis. Glioblastoma, or otherwise. And despite our utterly pure intentions, we WILL say inadvertently awful, cringeworthy things in the aftermath as we grapple with how to act.

Comments that make us smack our foreheads in private, realizing we just barged straight into a fully-body-fazed moment of profound uncomfortable silence.

I’ve been that foot-in-mouth airbag inflater more times than I can count. I’ve also been the recipient of stupid and insensitive comments when I was at one of the hardest moments of my life. We want so badly to provide comfort, to say the “right” thing that’ll take away the suffocating weight, but we often shove our foot directly into the wound instead.

So consider this your official game plan for what to SHUT UP about when supporting someone going through hell:

  • No Comments About Causation, Vice or Fault

“Did you smoke/drink/eat too many processed foods when you were younger?”

No, Karen, they didn’t “do” anything to “cause” this. Cancer is an indiscriminate monster, period. Unless your genuine medical advice was solicited, stop trying to diagnose a way to rationalize the unthinkable.

  • No Platitudes or Toxically Positive BS

“Don’t worry, you’ll get through this! Everything’s gonna be just fine!”

Oh wow, super cool! I didn’t realize this was armageddon allergies and not, you know, a terrifying brain cancer! While positivity has its place, false reassurances often just gaslight away the person’s very visceral fears and struggles. Let them feel how they need to feel.

  • No Narcissistic± Sidetracking

“I once had this cousin who had a scare, and let me tell you…”

For the love of God, STOP. This isn’t your moment to make an irrelevant grand pivot and arrogantly make things about yourself for 28 minutes. Exercise restraint and make this about THEM.

  • No Unsolicited Treatment Instructions

“From what I’ve researched online, you shouldn’t be doing chemo – only natural remedies and a dairy-free juice cleanse!”

Unless “Dr. Facebook School of Health” is an accredited medical dynasty I missed, keep your unqualified treatment recs to yourself. Ask how YOU can best support whatever THEIR medical team suggests.

  • No Weird Existential Probing

“So…do you believe in the afterlife then?”

I CANNOT stress this enough: the name on the Grim Reaper’s ominous guest list is not yours to shortcut RSVP for! Blatantly morbid Qs only amplify fear and discomfort, so shut your literal forever piehole.

…And Above All Else: NO MAKING IT THEIRS

  • “Your/The Cancer…”

This fire-breathing monster FORCED its way into their life uninvited. It was not some assumed decision or claimed identity. It’s simply an unfair, horrific circumstance beyond their control that they’re being outrageously strong in fighting.

So make damn sure you don’t go accidentally making this THEIR personal “thing” to have with possessive language. It’s NOT THEIRS – it’s the disgusting affliction they have the profound audacity to keep rallying against each day. So afford them that vital distinction.

At the end of the day, someone facing a cancer nightmare doesn’t need your wacky armchair expertise or stifling social niceties. They need two very simple human superpowers from you:

  • A stubbornly present supportive ear to listen…

  • And a soul strong enough to look the dragon’s flame straight in the eye alongside them without flinching.

Just show up and BE THERE, through all the scary valleys and occasional picturesque peaks this horrendous road is sure to bring. Let them lead the conversation where they need it to go.

Do NOT co-opt their grief. This.Is.NOT.about.You.

I don’t care how terrible you feel, I know it sucks. but you need to be cool bitch. Hold it together. Only speak affirmations of your unwavering faith in their ability to keep fighting, and that you’ll be their kick in the pants when they need it most:

“I don’t know what’s coming, but I know YOU – and you’re stronger than whatever bull$#%* this thing will throw your way. I’m locked in, strapped in, and not letting go for a second until we’ve kicked cancer’s ass together, side-by-side. Whatever you need from me – whenever you need it – you’ve got it.”

Because at the end of the day, that’s all any of us really needs when facing the abyss:

The validation that we don’t have to be stronger than we’re capable of.

Just strong enough to never have to be stronger ALONE.

So let’s all take a big collective breath and do BETTER at being present for those being swallowed whole by this nightmare.

Say THE right things – or just shut up and SHOW UP with the strongest heart you’ve got. That’s more than enough to start.

Sending all my love and strength to every last warrior still waging this heaviest of battles today, especially my girl, Jill. You are the bravest souls, and you’ve got infinite love, light and support behind you for the hearty fight ahead.

If you know someone going through a cancer struggle, I implore you – check in on them. Ask how you can tangibly lighten any load, no matter how small. Offer to lend an ear without caveats. Stay involved in their journey without forcibly inserting yourself as a hype-person. Send them a meal for the family. Pick up the slack. Drive the kids to school. Do the laundry. Load the dishwasher. It might seem mundane but when you’re going through a life changing struggle, the little things matter. 

And most importantly, if they’re a parent facing this terror…ask what you can do to support their child or children too. The psychic/emotional/physical tolls of this beast impact entire families. Do what you can to ease that unbearable burden in any way they need.

We’re all in this life thing together – let’s start showing up that way for those doing the hardest pushing and shoving against darkness to keep seeing brighter days ahead. 

While you are here, if you want to do some good you can start here:

I don’t ask for much ever but Jill Smokler is one of my dearest friends and favorite people in the world. She is facing one of the most challenging moments in her life.
 
glioblastoma, what not to say to cancer patients,Jill Smokler
To know her is to love her and I f@cking love her… so much. She has made it her mission to help moms and women all over the world; from making them laugh and cry their way through motherhood, to putting Thanksgiving meals on tables for families who otherwise would have none, to helping us Gen Xers and Millennials laugh our way through our perimenopausal rage. She’s always been there for us and it’s time we’re there for her.
 
If you’ve ever enjoyed her stories on Scary Mommy, listened to the She’s Got Issues podcast, sat around a table or a pool under the warm Florida night or had the privilege and honor of knowing her, loving her and being her friend, please donate!
It is our turn to show up for Jill by relieving her of some of the massive financial burden that this fatal disease is causing so she can focus on fighting and being present for her three kids without the added stress of paying for medical expenses, experimental treatments and everything they entail, rehab, and the list goes on.
 
Let’s show Jill that this massive community she has touched is still here and in this fight with her!
Please donate here ( if you can) and please share this fundraiser far and wide!
 
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Tiana's Bayou Adventure Opens June 28 at Walt Disney World

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Y’all Ready for This Splash-tastic New Adventure? Listen up, princesses and Disney adults, alike! The clock is ticking, and we’re just DAYS away from one of Disney’s most wildly anticipated new attractions dropping into the Magic Kingdom; Tiana’s Bayou Adventure!

Is Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Coming in 2024?

On January 22, 2023, the iconic Splash Mountain ride closed for royal renovations. But no fear, on June 28, 2024 the iconic ride will reSPLURGE anew as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. This is a musical, heart-pounding celebration of the first Black Disney princess, Tiana herself! Have I mentioned that she is my favorite princess, with Merida, Rapunzel and Moana coming in a close second. Who am I kidding, I love all of the Disney princesses. I just happen tp identify with some more than others.

And if this news doesn’t instantly flood your heart with nostalgic Disney magic and pure HYPE, we might need to revoke your mom card. Because let’s be honest – what’s more iconic than a strong, determined heroine who didn’t just dream it, but DID IT? Tiana built her entire life from the ground up through hard work, grit and an unshakeable belief in herself. Bring on the Black Girl magic because I am here for it!

She’s the Disney princess for today’s mamas hustling on a million different levels ( and especially those of us with ADHD) while still trying to keep our poise, grace and beignet powder properly applied, you feel me? Tiana understood the assignment.

Is Tiana’s Bayou Adventure the Same as Splash Mountain?

While Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is replacing Splash Mountain, it’s far from a simple rebrand. This new attraction picks up where the 2009 movie “The Princess and the Frog” ended, inviting guests to join Tiana, Naveen, and their friends on a new adventure. You’ll explore the bayou, discover the rich culture and spirit of New Orleans, and experience Tiana’s story of hard work, perseverance, and dreams coming true in a whole new way.

So get ready to be DAZZLED as you drop down into the lush, jazz-filled heart of New Orleans and join Miss Leading Lady herself on a brand new, musically delectable adventure.

Is Tiana’s Bayou Adventure Going to Have a Drop?

The Iconic Drop That Had No Business Slapping That Hard Let’s start with the obvious – Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is keeping that surprising, serotonin-spiking 52-FOOT PLUMMET that made Splash Mountain an undisputed thrill ride queen.

Except this time around, you’re free-falling straight into the festivities as Tiana, Naveen, Louis and probably some dapper, lively critters get the band together for the Mardi Gras party of the century.

Just picture it: you’re bobbing along, shimmying through the bayou to some jammin’ zydeco when BAM – you get LAUNCHED over a modern day grand picture mill-esque showstopping scene starring the iconic princess herself. Then it’s “raining” as you splash down into the celebration, instantly becoming the life of Tiana’s party. WHY LAWD?! Sorta. It’s a water ride, after all. 

It’s taking the surprise element that shocking drop of Splash always delivered and leveling it UP with the festive, jaw-dropping pageantry only Disney could conceive. You’re about to be part of the show, baby!

Tiana's Bayou Adventure Opens June 28 at Walt Disney World

(Bennett Stoops, Photographer)

Everything to Know Before You Drop Into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

But That’s Not All, Folks… While Tiana herself will obviously be the emerald-studded guest of honor, the new ride is stuffed with surprises, scenery and characters that’ll have your family squealing from the front row.

There’s the whimsical aesthetic of Tiana’s bustling New Orleans restaurant-running life to admire as you float through. The zydeco funk soundtrack hitting from every mossy branch (we WILL get songs stuck in our heads, it’s happening). Then, maybe some fun, useful cooking tips from Mama Odie’s mouth herself ? Probably not,  but wouldn’t that be cool?

And we’re predicting there will be at LEAST one critter convention showstopper celebrating Naveen’s motley princess-charming crew where we finally get the 3D Louis the Gator experience we all secretly craved.

Speaking of, how stinking ADORABLE will it be to watch our little ( and big) kiddos’ eyes lite up as they finally see their beloved Tiana & Co. in the full flesh? My teen girls cannot wait and neither can I. The first time I met Tiana at Walt Disney World, I actually cried. I cried folks. Look, my soul is prepared to levitate at the first sight of my girls screaming “THERE SHE IS!” at their favorite Disney heroine like she’s the dang president or something.

TL;DR – it’s about to be an overstuffed Sammy of New Orleans-inspired delights, magic, and heartfelt life lessons that’ll sear your childhood into the footprint at the bottom of the ride. Just as a family Disney journey should be.

The Inspiration Behind the Ride

The Powerful Princess Story We Need But beyond the splashy thrills and Broadway-esque fanfare, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure gives us a much-needed beacon of inspiration we could all use more of. Especially today’s youth.

Tiana: The Ultimate Role Model

Unlike so many other Disney princesses, Tiana wasn’t born into wealth or royalty. She was a young woman from humble beginnings who rolled up her sleeves and DID. THE. WORK. to make her wildest dreams a reality. Who wouldn’t be inspired by her? She’s a “can do” attitude icon.

From working multiple jobs to bobbing for frog princes in the dead of night when opportunity knocked, Tiana showed that grit, perseverance and leading with your heart will always win out. Her story isn’t about tiaras or toxic tropes, it’s about manifesting the life you want through sweat, smarts and self-belief. #Preach

And in this world of overwhelming think pieces and thinkfluencer anxiety…that message feels more relevant and POWERFUL than ever, doesn’t it?

Tiana's Bayou Adventure Opens June 28 at Walt Disney World

(Olga Thompson, Photographer)

A Family-Friendly Adventure

With all the social media fluff, filtered fronts and princess fallacies being CRANKED into our daughters’ worldviews on a daily basis, I’m pretty dang stoked to usher them into this next iconic Disney era. One where a hard-working young queen who looks like them gets to take the well-deserved lead and center stage, while still jamming to absolute bops.

Get Ready to Drop Into the Magic

So Let’s Dive Right In to This New Adventure! The way I see it, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is more than just an adrenaline-pumping boat ride with jazz hands. It’s set to become yet another wildly inspiring, smile-insemintating, generational bonding experience – like only Disney can provide.

The New Orleans Connection

It’s an homage to New Orleans’ rich cultural ties and Black histories; a testament to the people who live and breathe NOLA. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is a life primer on dreaming BIG, working harder, and becoming the main character you’re meant to be. And most importantly, it’s a reason for families everywhere to make more magical memories as we collectively slip-slide into summer.

So let’s get ready to make a splash, mamas! Don your cutest Tiana-approved seersucker and make those Walt Disney World vacation plans ASAP. Because this attraction isn’t just bringing thrills – it’s bringing a whole new paradigm of Disney fun. And it’s bringing empowerment along for the ride. Believe me,  you won’t want to miss it for the world.

Don’t miss out on the adventure! Book your tickets to Walt Disney World now and be among the first to experience Tiana’s Bayou Adventure on June 28, 2024. For tips on maximizing your Disney vacation, check out 10 Tips for Maximizing Your Walt Disney World Vacation for Free. Plus, learn how to make the most of your trip with How to Plus Up Your Walt Disney World Vacation for Free.

Remember, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure isn’t just a ride—it’s a journey into the heart of New Orleans. It’s  a celebration of dreams, perseverance, and the magic that happens when you believe in yourself. Share this post with fellow Disney fans and start planning your magical adventure today!

Book those vacay packages now! The bayou is calling, and it’s time to let the good times roll with Tiana taking the lead.

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BAB shopping app

You know what really makes me feel out of sorts? Trying to online shop like a normal, functioning human being instead of the out-of-control, gabillion browser tab-having, aimless browsing CYBER-TROLL that I really am. Enter the BAB shopping app.

There you are, just an innocent mom looking for a new sundress or sandals for an upcoming beach vacay with the family. You pull up one website to peep their spring collection. Cute prints, fair prices, you add a few picks to your cart to mull over.

Then, out of nowhere, the primal shopping maniac possesses your cursor. Next thing you know,  you spiral into a multi-hour, multi-store, multi-browser BENDER of massively disappointing proportions.

Disclosure: The video in this post is sponsored but all opinions about BAB shopping app are my own.

Suddenly it’s 3am…you’re drunk off buying power…you have 9,428 open windows…and $2,718 worth of COMPLETELY INCONGRUOUS SHIZZ in carts across 27 different websites.

You’ve got:

  • 16 sundresses (no shoes or accessories)
  • 7 hideous candle options
  • Half of Home Goods’ dinnerware section
  • A $179 dog raincoat (you don’t own a dog)
  • 37 anti-aging serums and supplements
  • Some guy’s entire Etsy inventory of garden gnomes
  • 68 mini travel accessories from the skymall catalog

…and the free Hulu binge just logged itself out from inactivity. FML.

We’ve all been there, amirite?? Idly clicking and maniacally hitting “add to cart” one too many pairs of ripped mom jeans or seasonal throw pillows we SWORE we needed deep in the money-is-no-object delirium of 2am. We’re about to organize the shopping madness. 

Well NO MORE, my digitally unhinged sisters! That feverish shopping psychosis is about to be REINED. THE. EFF. IN!

Introducing: BAB shopping (aka Big Ass Bag) – the revolutionarily simple app that finally wrangles all your frantic online hauling into one blessedly organized place.

With BAB you can: ✨Curate collections for every niche interest or hobby (baby showers, gardening, dog mom-ing, crystals, you name it!) ✨Budget shop across dozens of sites just using one easy payment method ✨See at a glance how much you’re spending and where ✨Compile lookbooks and outfits in one clickable place ✨Share/collaborate carts with other mom friends …and more!

It’s all the indulgent, unhinged joy of window shopping from the comfort of your couch (or bathroom, no judgment) – but without the frantic CLOSING of 94 tiny browser search windows when your husband/roommate walks in.

You can leave BAB open indefinitely and it somehow makes your compulsive digital hauling seem…organized? Curated, even? A COLLECTION, not a cry for help!

And yes, it’s absolutely a place to harmlessly DUMP those 3am impulse purchases that sober-light hits and you immediately regret. BAB doesn’t judge your 11th pair of ugly Crocs this month, friend. We’ve all been there!

So for all you mompulsive online shopaholics out there – the digital black holes who leave aimless browser trails of abandoned e-carts in their wake like modern-day Ariadne’s string – get yourself BAB to rein in that feverish online spending energy!

It’s gonna change your entire digital hauling game, promise. (No more waking up at 4am like, “WHY do I have a cart full of male rompers from Banana Republic??” ever again!)

Tag your most out of control online shopping friend and tell her to getBAB-ing, you beautiful unshowered trolls! This simple app is about to be the organized chart-topping banger your life of internet aimless discography has been desperately needing.

So BAB up, haul responsibly, and stay spicy! This is the year we’re all finally getting our financial lives together…ish.

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