Lifestyle, Writing, Podcasting, Military Life, Inspirtation, North Carolina

Porch Talk: Three Friends Talk “Coping” During #PANDEMIC (while raising children/pregnancy)

Three gal pals chat about the ups and downs during the #Covid-19 #Pandemic
Pictured left to right: Miranda Crosby, Danica Thomas and Alison Klakowicz


Fayetteville, North Carolina-

I recently had the chance to porch sit with my bestie neighbor, Miranda Crosby and our mutual friend Danica Thomas, to talk about the ups and downs we’ve experienced throughout the Covid-19 pandemic— and how we have coped with the changes in our lives.

We brought our unique perspectives, backgrounds, personalities, quirks to the microphone 🎙 to chat candidly about this strange time in life that has turned the world 🌎 upside down.

Miranda— an Army spouse whose husband deployed overseas in January— is pregnant with their first child all while wading through these new socially distant waters sans her husband.

Danica— a widowed Army spouse, is a military suicide awareness and prevention advocate raising two young daughters as a single parent while working and virtually homeschooling her daughters all on her own.

Alison (me)— an Army spouse, children’s book author, writer, podcaster trying to juggle content creation, marketing, writing, book sales while rejoicing as the final week of the school year approaches for her second grader. Thank the LORD.

Yes, we probably sat too close to one another for some of your tastes. No masks were worn. However, to settle your worrisome minds— we each have been very careful over the past two months to follow public social distancing rules. Promise.

We just enjoyed being together.

Talking face-to-face.



Learning from each other.

We wanted to create a podcast message for all the folks needing validation, advice, self-affirmation, reassurance that everything is gonna be alright (to be sung in Bob Marley’s voice).

You are doing a wonderful job.

It’s okay not to be okay.

Just hang in there!

Reach out to us if you need a listening 👂 ear.

You’ve got a friend.


Lifestyle, Writing, Podcasting, Military Life, Inspirtation, North Carolina

Melissa Vera- Adventures of Frugal Mom Blog

Melissa Vera of Adventures of Frugal Mom (photo by Curious Notions Photography)

Melissa Vera is the creator and contributor of four beautiful and informative blogs: Adventures of Frugal Mom, Champagne Style Bare Budget, Reading with Frugal Mom, and her most recent venture coming soon, The Writer and The Farmer.

Melissa— a 50-something mom of three young women (ranging in age from 25 to 18)— is happily married to her husband Raul (native of Mexico) of 25 years where they reside in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

She self- describes this moment in time as her transition into life as an empty nester.

When Melissa isn’t writing or interviewing women in business on her blog, she spends her spare time reading and crafting— among other talents and interests.

If you are looking for a blog that shares about travel, life in general, the three “M” words (Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood), everyday topics with an occasional recipe or craft thrown in then you have found the perfect blogger to follow.

She does it all! And is so good at what she does!

Listen to our recent conversation on Hodge Podge Podcast where we talk everything from North Carolina agriculture, blogging tips, DIY projects, raising children in the time of social distancing and so much more: 👂Podcast Interview with Melissa Vera

Follow Melissa on Facebook to learn more about her and her blogs!
Lifestyle, Writing, Podcasting, Military Life, Inspirtation, North Carolina

Children’s Book Review- Little Fergen’s Fish Feelings (and how he learns to cope with his parents’ divorce) by Charles M. Iker, LCSW, ACSW, BCD

Charles M. Iker, a professional psychotherapist out of Rochester, New York, has written a wonderful picture book, Little Fergen’s Fish Feelings, to help young children affected by divorce build healthy coping skills.

The book features an adorable little fish named Fergen who is a happy fish who loves his home he shares with his siblings and parents, but begins to experience difficult feelings when he learns his parents plan to divorce.

The little blue fish has a very hard time transitioning into his family’s new normal. He feels confused, sad, angry and afraid. Fergen’s tummy begins to fill with what feels like hundreds of tiny little fish swimming and fluttering around which makes him quite nervous and talkative. Other days, he refuses to play or swim. He pretends not to hear others around him. The comfort and safety he once felt is gone. He no longer knows how to talk to anyone about his feelings.

Fergen’s father (also named Fergen) notices the change in his son. He asks Fergen to go with him on a long swim one day where he talks to his son about when he was a small fish and experienced a sad time in his life. Big Fergen tells his son about all of the emotions he too experienced, and confesses that his behavior was out of control because he did not know how to deal with his feelings. So he was sent to talk to an old, wise fish named Sam who helped him to heal. Fergen’s father suggests to little Fergen he would like to take him to meet Sam as well. The pair then sets off on a journey through the ocean to find the wise old fish.

When they find Sam, the old fish suggests that they need a “Meeting of the Minds.” The son and father touch their foreheads together under Sam’s direction who then gives them special words to recite to one another,

“Starfish are red, Coral is blue, Free these feelings stuck inside of you.”

The two begin to repeat the words over and over. All of a sudden the little fish begins to talk about all of the feelings he’d stored up inside of him. With the release of his worries, the tiny little fish in his belly begin to pop out of his mouth (the same fish that had been hurting his tummy). Each of the fish represents an emotion Fergen felt and had kept down deep inside of him.

Sam explains to Fergen that feelings are “neither good nor bad, simply a part of life.” Fergen is then able to allow his feelings out into open waters to free himself of the emotions he’d trapped inside of him.

Fergen then feels so much better, lighter, happier. He now knows what to expect and how to help himself feel better when his worries become trapped inside him again. All he has to do is repeat the special words wise old Sam taught him. Although he knows life will not go back to the way it was, despite the changes he knows he will be fine and feel better with each passing day.

This book is a wonderful resource for any child and/or parent experiencing a major change in their life. It provides clear and wise advice on how to accept those changes as well as how to communicate about your feelings in a positive way. The colorful and sweet illustrations by Ron Bracato provide relatable yet fun images children will learn from and enjoy.

Educators and counselors working with young children experiencing the trauma of divorce will love this book and want to implement it’s positive message into their counseling practices.

Little Fergen’s Fish Feelings is Charles M. Iker’s first children’s book. He holds thirty-five years of education and experience in psychotherapy; to include a degree and background in child and family therapy. He has extensive clinical experience working with children and adolescents and adults providing individual psychotherapy, couples’ therapy and family therapy.

The author pulled from his experience as a father and therapist who went through divorce and watched the emotional impact it had on his child and stepson to inspire him to write Little Fergen’s Fish Feelings in hopes of helping other children through the trauma of separation and divorce.

To find out more about Charles and his therapy practices, education and experience, look here:

To purchase a copy of the book, look here:

Lifestyle, Writing, Podcasting, Military Life, Inspirtation, North Carolina

20 Things I will NOT Take for Granted After Covid-19

If social distancing has taught me anything, it is to try my best to remain on a positive minded track.

Have I done this consistently? Nope.

I’ve had my meltdowns for sure, but through timeouts, interventions and prayer I find my way back.

Here is a list I wrote down to remind myself to remain grateful and positive with the hope that this phase of life will end and a new better chapter will begin.

20 things I will not take for granted after Covid-19:

1. Putting my son to bed on a school night with the reassurance of knowing we have the privilege of attending a FREE PUBLIC SCHOOL.

2. Dropping my son off at his elementary school where he has the opportunity to LEARN and GROW— and I have time to work on my own projects. Treasured time to myself (alone) in my home.

3. The ability to mindlessly and without worry walk through a store. Any store.

4. The luxury to go out in public— eat in a restaurant filled with people. To have the great fortune to attend theatre and music concerts. To walk through a bookstore or library and peruse through books.

5. Family time! We GET to spend time with our families in our homes. Go for walks, be silly, talk with one another about whatever we want! What a privilege!

6. To travel anywhere in my country I want, when I want, to see what I want to see because it is my right as a US citizen. WOW. (I can’t wait to hit the road!)

7. Each and every venue, store, school that allows me the opportunity to visit, read and sell MY children’s book!

8. The chance to take my son to a PARK, MUSEUM or PLAYGROUND.

9. The ridiculous privilege to sit on a public BEACH and soak up the sun.

10. The opportunity to volunteer and serve others in public.


12. ANY person that works in public to SERVE OTHERS- doctors, nurses, emergency workers, retail workers, food service workers, postal workers, sanitation workers, etc.

13. The great fortune of being able to physically attend CHURCH SERVICES when and where I choose.

14. Having a solid, daily routine where I can run errands at my leisure.

15. Children. How lucky are we to have children in our world?!

16. Parents. Feeling so fortunate to have my parents alive and well. To be able to visit with them without worry of making them sick.

17. A husband to share a life with. And one with a stable, government-funded income (and health benefits) to support our family— without fear of losing everything we have worked for over the years.

18. Every comfort of home I currently possess at my fingertips that has made this transition easy when compared to others with much less. I will strive to not WANT things I do not NEED.

19. A sanitary life! The ability to own: Hand Sanitizer. Gloves. Masks. Hand Soap. Clean Water. Cleaning products.


Make a list of your own today. Reflect. Remind yourself this too shall pass and we will be better for it!

Lifestyle, Writing, Podcasting, Military Life, Inspirtation, North Carolina

COVID-19: Mom’s Choice Awards Free Resources to Help Parents & Teachers

Excited to be included in this list of free resources provided by amazing Mom’s Choice Awards Honorees.

Check it out here:

COVID-19: Free Resources to Help Parents & Teachers

Lifestyle, Writing, Podcasting, Military Life, Inspirtation, North Carolina

Six Step DIY Hand Sanitizer- Made from supplies you have at home!

My son and I had a fun at home science project today. We decided to make our own hand sanitizer from ingredients we had on hand. With the spread of Covid-19, we felt it would be really cool to make our own without having to leave the comfort of our home. So we gathered up the ingredients listed below and gave it a whirl!

DIY Hand Sanitizer Instructions:


  • 3/4 cup of isopropyl or rubbing alcohol
  • 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel
  • Lemon or Lime juice and/or your choice of essential oils (4-5 drops)
  • Measuring cup, mixing bowl and mixing tool
  • Bottles with caps

Steps to make hand sanitizer at home:

Step One-

Measure out 3/4 cup Alcohol and pour into a mixing bowl.

Step Two-

Measure out 1/4 cup Aloe Vera Gel and pour into mixing bowl with alcohol

Step Three-

Add juice from half a lemon 🍋 into bowl mixture

Step Four-

Add a few drops of your preferred essential oil. We chose Tea Tree Oil.

Step Five-

Mix the ingredients together— preferably with a smile 😃

Step Six-

Pour the mixed ingredients into a small container.
Voila! You now have your own hand sanitizer without walking into a store— all made from kitchen and bathroom supplies you had on hand!

We were pleased with the outcome. It should be noted that the mixture comes out more of a liquid than a gel, but it smells nice and if directions are followed closely, it should be effective!

For more information on hand sanitizing best practices, visit the CDC’s website here:

Lifestyle, Writing, Podcasting, Military Life, Inspirtation, North Carolina

Teacher Read Aloud- Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck picture book!

I hope you all are safe, healthy and happy! I’m so excited to share this video of my son’s former First Grade Teacher, Ms. Moylan, read aloud Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck on YouTube ❤️!!!

Take a trip today with Ms. Moylan through the pages of my awesome children’s travel and adventure picture book 📚!

Go here 👉😍:

Interested in purchasing your very own copy for your home library? Look here👉: