Their Stories Are Not Mine To Tell

Their Stories Are Not Mine To Tell

You may have noticed that there are a lot less blog posts on The Destiny Manifest today. I’ve left the more popular posts on crafty stuff, recipes, as well as many of the posts I’ve written about my journey through grief and loss… but I’ve removed nearly all of the personal family posts about my children.

This change has been a long time coming. I didn’t realize how public I’d actually made my children’s pictures and stories, and when it finally occurred to me, I still didn’t do anything about it immediately. I have decided to stop writing about the girls from now on, because they are older now, and their stories are not mine to tell.

That wasn’t enough though, and that became apparent when a group of tween misfits decided to cyber bully one of my daughters via social media. They created a false account and posted her picture, and then later, created an impersonation account in her name, using another stolen picture of her. It took us many days (and a police report) to have those pictures removed, and it really illustrated for me how much I have underestimated my family’s presence on the internet.

I’ve spent days making my public social media outlets as private as possible, setting thousands of pictures to private on Flickr, and removing blog posts that I now feel are too personal about my children. I’ll still blog, I think. But I’ll be a lot more mindful about what I post from now on. I love saving beautiful stories about experiences for my daughters to remember, but now I will save them only for my children, instead of the internet at large.

Happy 12th Birthday, Lakin!

My oldest daughter Lakin’s 12th birthday was yesterday, but she’s decided that she’s not “officially” a year older until exactly 10:55pm, the time she was born on July 16, 2001. I was going to post these pictures yesterday, but she requested that I wait until she was “actually 12”. So, here we are!

We had an awesome Pokemon birthday party on Saturday, complete with super cool Pokemon “Pokeball” fondant cake that David and I spent all night decorating. {Check out this post with fondant cake decorating tips and hints for beginners!}

We also decorated two dozen Pikachu cupcakes — and in case you don’t speak Pokemon, Pikachu is one of the more popular characters, widely considered to be the mascot of the Pokemon franchise. He’s not Lakin’s absolute favorite Pokemon, but we were pretty well out of energy by that point and fondant decorating two dozen cupcakes to look like Squirtle the turtle just wasn’t going to happen. Next year!

Pokemon & Pikachu Tween Birthday Party!

Early Sunday morning, we headed over to the video game store so Lakin could use the gift card that was burning a hole in her pocket. She traded in two older games for store credit and used the whole amount to buy… a new Pokemon game! Who would have ever guessed?

In addition to the new game, she is also the proud owner of FOUR new Pokemon t-shirts, several brand new outfits, and a make-up bag with mascara (clear), powder (ivory), and lip gloss (nude). I’m willing to let her start wearing a little make-up, but as you can see, I’m not ready for it to look like she’s wearing make-up. In time, my girl, in time.

Pokemon & Pikachu Tween Birthday Party!

All in all, she said it was an “awesome” birthday – the highest of compliments from a tween!

(I can’t believe I’m almost the mother of a full-blown teenager! Yikes! Where did the last dozen years go!?)

Pokemon & Pikachu Tween Birthday Party!

Goldfish Snacks for Growing Tweens #MakeItGoPuff

Goldfish Snacks for Growing Tweens #MakeItGoPuff

Collective Bias Disclosure Statement

I thought I knew what to expect with tween girls. My little sister spent an entire summer with me when she was 12, so I have some prior experience dealing with preteen mood swings and the generally cranky attitudes. My own girls have been handing out attitude and hormonal eye-rolls for a couple of years now, so I’m used to that. I’m even used to having to cajole (and sometimes threaten) them into taking showers and wearing deodorant.

However, I was not prepared for the voracious tween hunger pains. Yes, I know that tween and teen years are the period of most rapid growth, and that for girls, the growth period begins around 10 to 11 and lasts until age 15. Having that knowledge is a completely different thing from seeing the effects of that statement on one’s pantry shelves (and grocery bills)!

Goldfish Puffs for Growing Tweens #makeitgopuff

I buy snacks every week at the grocery store — applesauce, peaches and pears, carrots, bananas, cheese sticks, broccoli florets, Goldfish snacks. These are the same snacks I’ve been buying for years, but now the kids go through them like wildfire and then wander about moping that “they’re starving”. 

When I went shopping at Target last week, I came across Goldfish Puffs. They come in a larger chip-style bag and in several bold flavors — Mega Cheese (my favorite), Cheddar Bacon (the tweens’ favorite), and Buffalo Wing (David’s favorite). The Goldfish Puffs got rave reviews from the girls, and a thought occurred to me.

Goldfish Snacks for Growing Tweens #MakeItGoPuff

It seems that the best kinds of ” teen snacks” are mini-meals in between regular meals, so I’ve done a little experimenting and come up with a few ideas that incorporate the newly-discovered Goldfish Puffs into slightly larger mini-meals that will {hopefully} tide them over until dinnertime.

The girls both love macaroni and cheese, specifically the microwavable kind. When I’m making mac & cheese for family dinners, I make macaroni casserole from scratch, but there’s no accounting for taste, and the tweens love quick and easy mac & cheese. In order to spice it up a little, I crushed up a handful of Goldfish Puffs in “Mega Cheese” flavor and sprinkled them on top of the girls’ mac & cheese. They absolutely loved this… it disappeared in no time and it’s their new favorite snack.

Macaroni and Cheese with Goldfish Puffs #makeitgopuff

Next, I tried adding Goldfish Puffs in “Cheddar Bacon” to mashed potatoes — once again, rave reviews! The girls prefer their Goldfish crushed into their mashed potatoes, while my husband prefers the crunch of the non-crushed Goldfish Puffs in his potatoes. He’s developed a serious love for this particular snack and has been taking it to work for lunch.

Mashed Potatoes with Goldfish Puffs #makeitgopuff

I’ve got all kinds of things in mind now — popcorn with Goldfish Puffs mixed in, chicken breaded in crushed buffalo wing Goldfish Puffs — and they’re delicious to snack on, straight from the package (or bowl) too.

I might be fooling myself by thinking I know what to expect in raising tweens and teens, but I do seem to have solved the growing tweens’ snack cravings… at least until the next growth spurt hits!

Learn more about Goldfish snacks by Pepperidge Farms by following along on Facebook or on Twitter. Pick up your bags of Goldfish Puffs at your local Target store today! You won’t be disappointed!

Goldfish Snacks for Growing Tweens #MakeItGoPuff

Summer Fuel Rewards with @MasterCard #FuelFamilyFun #MC

Summer Fuel Rewards with MasterCard! #FuelFamilyFun #MC

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It’s officially summer and the kids have a million ideas about what they’d like to do. Unfortunately, very few of those ideas are free. I don’t know if it’s a “tween thing” or what, but apparently the days of happily braiding {free} friendship bracelets and drawing {free} chalk designs on the front walk are over.

When asked what they’d like to do over their summer vacation, their answers ranged from “pool party with my friends” and “Six Flags in Atlanta” to “that hotel at the beach with the water park in the lobby” and “the mall, so I can get some new cool summer clothes, because the ones I have now are boring”.

Okay… deep breath.

We’re not made of money. We’re not even comfortably getting our bills paid every month. We’re still firmly in the oh-my-gosh-we’re-out-of-bread-and-we-don’t-get-paid-for-a-week zone, so clearly we’re going to have to do some fancy financial footwork if we want to scratch anything off of our tweens’ “Must Do” lists this summer.

One of our biggest expenses this year has been our gas budget. We don’t drive long distances, but between school and David’s job, we do a lot of driving within a small area. This figure doesn’t go down much in the summer; school is out for the girls, but David does more driving between the various schools in our area, helping the custodial crews with all the work that must be done.

Summer Fuel Rewards with MasterCard! #FuelFamilyFun #MC

This is where the Fuel Rewards Network helps us so much with saving on our budget. The Fuel Rewards Network is a free loyalty program that allows you to earn savings on fuel when you purchase groceries. All you have to do to start earning rewards is visit the Fuel Rewards website and sign up. It’s very simple and takes almost no time at all. If you link your MasterCard, you can earn an additional 3¢/gal for every $100 you spend on groceries! You can even use a MasterCard debit card to sign up, if you’ve given up all credit cards, as we have!

I went grocery shopping yesterday (visit my Google+ album to see how that went!) and spent just over $100. I paid with the MasterCard debit card that I linked to the Fuel Rewards Network and saved a total of 10¢ off per gallon – 3¢ for spending $100 with a linked MasterCard, a one-time 5¢ bonus for linking up my MasterCard, plus 2¢ in grocery rewards fuelperks!

We’ve been using the Fuel Rewards program with MasterCard for the last two weeks and we’re already up to 55¢ off per gallon in fuel rewards! Now, we have had family in town and we’ve done a lot more grocery shopping than usual, but still, that’s a huge savings!

Summer Fuel Rewards with MasterCard! #FuelFamilyFun #MCI normally spend around $300/month on groceries, so I could be earning between 30¢ and 55¢ per gallon in fuel rewards every time I fill up using the Fuel Rewards Network! We have a 15 gallon tank in our PT Cruiser and we typically fill up three times per month. Gas is averaging $3.16/gallon this week in our area, which means it will cost us $47.40 to fill up our tank.

Our current 55¢ savings on each gallon brings the cost down to $39.15 — about $8.25/tank or $25/month savings!

I don’t know how tight the average family’s fuel budget is, but $25 is a tremendous savings for us! With that extra money every month in our summer fun budget, we will certainly be able to replace some of those “boring” summer clothes for the tweens, or throw an awesome pool party for Lakin’s 12th birthday!

The best part? I didn’t have to do anything except visit the website, sign up and add my MasterCard… then shop like usual!

Summer Fuel Rewards with MasterCard! #FuelFamilyFun #MC

Hurry up and get signed up… the faster you do, the more you can save! For more information and to keep up with all the news about the FRN program, you can follow them on Facebook and on Twitter.

What will you do with the money you save using the Fuel Rewards Network & MasterCard?

Summer Fuel Rewards with MasterCard! #FuelFamilyFun #MC

Top 10 Books for Kids Ages 9 to 12

Best Books for Older Kids Ages 9 10 11 12

I’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Books for Kids Ages 9 to 12, based on an informal poll of my library-loving tween daughters, their friends, our family, and my own youthful reading habits. If you haven’t read any (all!) of these great books, I encourage you to pick them up and enjoy! You’re never too old for a great kid’s book!

Anything by Rick Riordan:  My girls enjoyed the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, but they really loved the Kane Chronicles series, particularly the first book. Our copy of The Red Pyramid is held together with several layers of clear packing tape and has been read countless times by both girls. The books are cleverly written adventures that explore ancient Egyptian mythology and the world of magic. Every time Lakin or Addah read Riordan books, they become utterly immersed in the world inside the pages, emerging only to laughingly read a particularly witty section out loud to me.

The Chronicles of Narnia: A classic series, and for good reasons. Talking animals, adventures with mythical beasts, magic and mystery and fantasy combined with the fight between good and evil… what’s not to love?

Guardians of Ga’Hoole: My oldest adores this book series, which follows a young barn owl and teaches a message of leadership and friendship.

Island of the Blue Dolphins: What an amazing novel this is! I must have read this a thousand times as a child… couldn’t get enough of this tale of Karana, who survives alone for 18 years on an island in the Pacific Ocean. She is a tenacious heroine who overcomes incredible obstacles, from the constant need to forage for food and water, how to clothe herself and dealing with the death of her little brother. I highly recommend this for kids and adults. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.

The Hobbit: Excellent for reading out loud to younger kids, and perfect afternoon reading for tweens, this prequel to the Lord of the Rings books follows Bilbo Baggins on his adventures across the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood forests of Middle Earth. Definitely worth reading (even for adults!) before you see it at the movie theater!

Little House on the Prairie: Oh, how I loved the Little House books when I was a girl! I read the first two books to my girls at a young age, and I was thrilled when they became old enough to read the entire series themselves. I still read these once a year or so, just to get lost in the world of Ma and Pa, Mary, Carrie and Grace, Laura and Almanzo.

Dragon Rider: The Dragon Rider books are long, but an easy read for the 9 to 12 year old crowd. This tale of a young dragon who sets out in search of the legendary ancestral home of the dragons enchants kids and makes for a great read-aloud book for younger kids too.

The Last Dragon Chronicles (series): These are Addah’s absolute favorite books and she’s been working her way through the series for the last couple months. Each book in the series highlights a different clay dragon with unusual powers and the adventures that ensue telepathically. She highly recommends them… in fact, she’s insisting that I need to read them now.

A Wrinkle in Time (series): This trilogy is a great read for kids who struggle with fitting in, feeling lonely, or who have dealt with loss. Both of my girls checked these books one out of the library enough times that we bought our own copies.

Harry Potter (series): Of course! Lakin has read up through Prisoner of Azkaban and Addah is halfway through the first book. I’ve read all of them many times (my favorite is the last one, and I cry every time). I will encourage the girls to read them all, for the amazing characters and story and the lessons learned within.

The books that stand out the most from when I was this age are books that my kids haven’t yet read, but they’re on our list to be checked out from the library. I loved Bridge to Terabithia, Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret,  Misty of Chincoteague, Tuck Everlasting (oh how I loved this one!), The Secret Garden, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Girl Who Owned a City, and Roald Dahl’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, and so many more. I was one of those kids who spent my free time devouring books like my life depended on it!

What were your favorite books when you were 9-12 years old? Leave a comment and add your top picks!