Oct 172015

Looking for a simple, low-cost way to celebrate Valentine's Day or Sweetest Day with your sweetheart? This is such a fun, easy way to make a romantic night special! Break out the chocolate-covered strawberries and wine--date night with your husband is on! Happy Sweetest Day, friends! Yup, that’s today!

What is Sweetest Day? It’s a day set aside in the United States to celebrate romance and love in our lives, with gifts, cards, and most often, candy. Basically it’s a day to celebrate sweetness with sweets!

Now, we know my battle with the scale is never-ending, but listen, a national holiday when sweets take center stage? It might be okay to relax that calorie count a little…and when Shari’s Berries offers to send us a box of their gourmet chocolate-covered strawberries? Sweetest Day may have just become my new favorite celebration!

When our berries arrived, my husband and I got our at-home date night on. We stashed the kids in bed, broke out a bottle and raised our chocolate treats in cheers to taking a moment to take a break for us. In the midst of work, school days, bath nights, homework fights, dinner cooking and piles of laundry, toasting our relationship often takes a back seat–often far in the back. Any excuse to table all of the other responsibilities and focus on each other is a good thing, a very good thing.

We didn’t talk for very long before our eyes started drooping and bedtime was calling, but we took time out for each other. Pausing to say, “Hey! I love you and I’m thankful to be hanging out it in this life with with you” is so important to a marriage.

Looking for a simple, low-cost way to celebrate Valentine's Day or Sweetest Day with your sweetheart? This is such a fun, easy way to make a romantic night special! Break out the chocolate-covered strawberries and wine--date night with your husband is on!

And delighting in those chocolate-covered strawberries together was a pretty fantastic way to do it! Sometimes a delicious, indulgent treat is just the thing to make a night with your love feel very special. Shari’s Berries has a full line of sweet options to help you celebrate the romance in your life. Check out out their selection and then treat yourself and your sweetheart this Sweetest Day.

Make sure to head over HERE to snag a bunch of savings on your order with all these coupons and discounts. Special treats don’t have to break the bank!

And while you’re waiting for your berries to arrive, pop over and read some of the sweet stories I’ve shared about why I love Dr. J so much and I’ll always be thankful to celebrating the sweet stuff in this life with him.

Happy Sweetest Day, friends! Go enjoy!

Looking for a simple, low-cost way to celebrate Valentine's Day or Sweetest Day with your sweetheart? This is such a fun, easy way to make a romantic night special! Break out the chocolate-covered strawberries and wine--date night with your husband is on!

****Thank you to Shari’s Berries for sending my husband and I some of their gourmet treats for the purpose of this post. My delight in their products is 100% genuine*****

Oct 082015

Ever wonder how you REALLY can figure out this motherhood/life-living gig? You aren't alone, I promise! Get the whole inside school and smarts here.One of the trickiest parts of motherhood for me has always been the persistent question pounding through my sleep-deprived brain, “Am I doing this right?” Sure, there are friends you can ask. If you’re lucky, really good friends who can help you tackle the tough, private stuff, but still, doubt can continue to thunder on…

The truth is, this parenting gig is hard. And until you’re in it, you’ve never done it before. Throw in kids who need a lot of things, like attention and being fed and bathed and schooled and such, and connecting with others about the deeper stuff in life gets pushed to the back burner. Plus, some private stuff is just really private.

So what’s a mom, a very busy, real mom who pours her all into every day yet still feels at the end of her rope to do when the tough questions come knocking at her door?

Enter VProud.tvThank goodness, enter VProud.tv. I love that this site addresses the real issues, the things that are truly on our hearts and minds as ladies of today’s day and age. VProud.tv doesn’t beat around the bush and doesn’t mince our reality. Whether it’s kids’ behavioral issues or concerns about what’s happening (or not happening) in the bedroom, VProud.tv is there.

Their recent parntership with HelloFlo to create the new VProud.tv Masters Classes promotes this mission even more.

What are these classes?

VProud.tv seeks to empower women through their online courses that provide them with the best health information, taught by doctors and experts, accessible on any device, from the comfort of their own homes.  The classes are paid, and you can watch as many times as you like, once you subscribe.

Stop wasting your time trying to sort out the facts on Google! These courses are taught by real, educated, experienced professionals. Get the genuine information you need, straight-up.

How does it work?

Subscribe, and then watch and learn in the privacy of your own home. Yes, this means you can watch in your dirty, spit-up covered jammies and no one will know.

What are the courses about?

Six very near-and-dear topics to our mom hearts:

Struggling with fertility and managing your pregnancies? Here is REAL help to keep you going--right along with the facts and truth you NEED.

Fertility for Beginners

Trying hard to conceive? Yup, been there. Good news? You aren’t alone. Better news? You can learn the ins and outs to address your situation here.

Battling a mess of bathroom visits? You're not alone! Truly! Check out this smart resource to help you sort it out--and finally get a handle on all those potty breaks!


Control Your Leaking

Things not so pretty with the “Down There” control situation? We’ve got your back–or your front, however your circumstances roll.

At a loss with your pubescent teen? You're not alone! Snag tried and true tips and insights here to survive these dicey years--you can do it, I promise!


Parenting Through Puberty

Forget potty-training. Parenting just got real. Get the inside scoop on how to handle it with grace and savvy–while keeping your wits about you.

Trying to manage crazy kid behaviors and ready to pull out your hair? You're not alone, I promise! Get help here!

Decoding Your Child’s Behavior

This one rings near and dear. Honestly? I just don’t get my daughter’s behavior. At all. Any help I can get is a very welcome help.

Overwhelmed with diet plans and ideas? Here is the real scoop on how to manage a healthy diet for you and your family--you can do this, I promise!

Balancing Sugar in Your Diet

Listen, I am I the only hold-out who still occasionally bribes her kids with lollipops? Is it worth it? Get the real scoop here and figure out how to finally manage your family’s diet once and for all.

Having some problems in the bedroom? You aren't alone, I promise! Here is a real, true exploration of what we need and how to get it! Game on!

Understanding Sexual Dysfunction

True story: you aren’t the only one who has had these problems. Really. Get help understanding what the heck is going on. Now. You aren’t weird, I promise.

This life is rough, I know. But you don’t have to do it alone. VProud.tv is here to help. Sign up, snag some time for yourself and connect. And learn. And get smarter while feeling less alone.

We can do this life, friends. We can do it together. Really.


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Sep 212015

Have a crazy project you need your spouse's help to tackle? No matter how ridiculous or insane the task, follow these 3 easy-peasy steps to tackle that to-do list and get the help you need. Laughs along the way included!Here’s the situation: I have a plant. Specifically, an overgrown snake plant. It’s the most hideous plant of all time.

I blame my best friend. She gave it to me on the day of our high school graduation. I’m not sure why she hates me. No, really, in her defense, at the time it was a cute little baby plant full of life and perky green leaves in a sweetly hand-painted pot.

So the plant and I set off for college. And then a different college. And then my first apartment. And then our first house. And then our second house.

And the darn thing wouldn’t die.

And the even weirder thing? I didn’t want it to die. This ugly-as-sin, constantly growing plant had become a part of my history, a part of all my days, a part of me. While roommates and jobs have come and gone, children were born, and my mother died, the plant stayed.  And now I clock in at 36 years on this earth and find that I’ve lead more of my life with my stubborn plant than without it.

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say I like it, but I do admire the heck out of it. In one simple existence, it embodies my two favorite personality traits: integrity (it is fully and sincerely committed to being a plant) and tenacity (I have forgotten to water it for months at a time–it doesn’t die).

So the plant is here to stay, but along our journey together we’ve picked up a rather less enthusiastic addition to our company: my husband.

I can’t say that my husband is exactly Team Plant. I’d place him in more of a contractor role. You see, the plant and I need him for certain things.

While the plant hasn’t suffered from an overabundance of attention, there are certain plant-mothering tasks I take very seriously. Two, to be exact: the Biannual Moving of the Plant and the Once in a Blue Moon Plant Repotting. My husband hates both. With a passion.

Truth told? All this laborious loving on the ghastly plant is inane, I totally get it. Just don’t tell my husband this. We’re doing it anyway.

Have a crazy project you need your spouse's help to tackle? No matter how ridiculous or insane the task, follow these 3 easy-peasy steps to tackle that to-do list and get the help you need. Laughs along the way included!

Every spring, I make him drag the plant out from basement to around the front of the house, where we stash it in the corner of the porch and ignore it until chilly nights in the fall require the same process in reverse.  This might not sound like a challenging task. It is. The plant is huge and only continues to get larger, heavier and more awkward by the year. Carrying involves much grunting and under-the-breath snappiness. So, super-fun for everyone.

And then, once every few years, some sort of maternal green thumb instinct kicks in, I look at my sad little botanical disaster, and am filled with an intense panic that it must be repotted now. Suddenly it’s current pot seems way too small, ill-fitting, all wrong. I become filled with horror that I am surely stifling it’s blooming life capacity, and I know it’s time. It’s time to Repot the Plant.

The awareness that another repotting was in order just dawned last week. And my husband is plotzing. But it’s going to happen.

Now listen to me, friends, and listen closely. Your specific need may not involve intense panic over a plant pot. That’s fine. These steps to spurring your spouse into action are universally transferable to whatever your goal is, but they must be followed closely. 

Have a crazy project you need your spouse's help to tackle? No matter how ridiculous or insane the task, follow these 3 easy-peasy steps to tackle that to-do list and get the help you need. Laughs along the way included!

The Three Easy Steps to Getting Your Spouse to Do Something Stupid to Make You Happy:

1) Commit. If you aren’t convinced of your need, neither will be your spouse. Take a definitive action to seal the deal. For example, if you are planning a messy painting project, send the kids away to Grandma’s or move furniture around just enough that moving it back would be a pain. Your goal is to show that you have already started to facilitate the project, that it would make more sense to continue and that it would be at least slightly inconvenient to backtrack.

This is also an excellent time to make any purchases needed to fulfill your goal. In my case, I ordered a bigger plant pot. It may or may not have been a coincidence that it was from Walmart, the most hellacious place to attempt to return anything. By the time my husband saw the pot on our porch, it was very inconvenient for us to return it. This made it easier for him to just agree to my request. See what I did here? Buy the pot.

2.) Introduce the idea slowly. I always like to start with the “drop and run”. About a week or so before I actually want something to be done, I casually mention it in conversation to get the idea on his radar, and then I quickly move on to another topic. The key is not to give him too much time to ruminate, or worse, begin to formulate an objection. 

I then throw out some “firm alluding”. Keep it casual, but begin to own the plan. This will be happening, remember? Closer to the time the magic will go down, toss your plan out again. For example, when chatting about our weekend agenda on Thursday night, I might say, “Right. So before we leave for the soccer game, we can get the plant repotted and then swing by the grocery store.” Be definitive. Claim it.

3) Never, ever let your spouse see you falter in your dedication to the cause. The pot arrived. It is ginormous. I was somewhat stymied. I considered converting it into a second bathtub for the kids. I’m not even entirely sure it will fit in our basement when we make the big seasonal move.

When I showed it to my husband, his jaw dropped and he asked, “You know this is insane, right? Like, I don’t think there is enough dirt in the world to fill it and there is no way I can carry that downstairs.”

He’s totally right, of course, but this is when you must stuff down any of your own wariness of the situation and staunchly channel your inner Lady Violet, sniffing, “I have no idea what you mean.” Flip the crazy, friends, flip the crazy. Act like they are being the ones who are off their rocker for not wanting to get on board.

And then, only then, if you play your game on point, you’ve got a shot at getting what you want.

That is, if you don’t write a blog post about your secret tricks of the trade and totally sell yourself out to your husband.

Godspeed, friends. May the plant pot, be it literal or figurative, come to fruition in your own home. As for me, I’m just off to nervously pray the darn thing fits through the door…

Aug 052015

The one blessing the comes from getting older? Knowing yourself! Trust me, it's a sweet gift. The pros that you've never considered--all here!Friends, I’m getting old. My left knee crackles when I stand up and I’ve caught myself saying, “Mommy has to move slowly, kids. Her hip is out again” more than I’d like. I can’t even tell you the horror I felt upon learning our local fireworks didn’t start until 9:45pm. How could I ever stay up that late? And I fully delight in my new pair of cushion-comfort slip-ons.

Yup, at this rate, I fully expect to be checking myself into the nursing home long about next week, and I’m okay with that.

You see, while I’ve a tad to go before cashing in on retirement, I’m not 20 any more. I’ve gotten to the age where I know myself a bit better, I’ve figured out my husband a little more, generally gotten better at this life gig, and finally found a face cream that works for me.

So I am really liking this kind of old. In fact, I love it.

1) I’ve gotten to be so old that I now know it doesn’t matter which card I buy for my husband on our anniversary; it will end up in the trash. What matters is that we spent another year together and are still in it to win it. We will still spend 15 minutes that we don’t have in the morning arguing about where he puts his lunch bag on the the kitchen counter. We are idiots. But at the end of the day, we kiss good night, and then we wake up in the morning and do it all again.

What makes a marriage carry on from year to year? These truths might surprise you--it's not the hearts and flowers you think. And this is the REAL scoop on the ins and outs--trust me!

2) Yesterday, I realized someone was probably mad at me. And I didn’t care. Whoa! This one is so freeing I don’t have words. But I think I’m finally at the point where pleasing everyone else isn’t the most important thing. Especially at the cost of self-detriment. Let’s hear three cheers for growing up in this very, very healthy way.

3) I know what I like and what I don’t like. I could pass easily on travelling with kids, loud noises, video games, and not enough alone time. Yet, on my hit list: flattering dresses, getting the mail, word games, putting my phone on silent, the Sunday paper, naps, real people, tons of supplements, the color seafoam, dark nail polishes, sweet wine, a tidy house, library books, and falling obsessively in love with particular TV shows. It’s fun to know what makes you happy and focus on that.

4) In the same vein, I have discovered what works for me. Everyone is different. Embracing what best fits your life is a wonderful thing. Knowing truths about my myself, like that I need a Mother’s Helper to not lose my crap, certain products will work for my fine hair, and that I must eat high amounts of protein to feel well has made a tremendous difference in my quality of life. Get smart about yourself.

5) Spend your time as you see fit. When my husband and I finally snagged a too-precious kid-free weekend and spent it gutting and remodeling our bathroom? Let the naysayers naysay. Someday we may delight in hearts and flowers. Today, it was more romantic for both of us to sweat it up together and have toilet that isn’t stained a decided brown hue. Every time I take a pee for the foreseeable future, I will think of him and his handyman skills and swoon a bit. I promise.

6) You laugh. So no, it still isn’t totally funny that my kids got me so riled up that I drove our minivan through the garage door. But…it sort of is. Any someday it will be totally. And truth told? It doesn’t matter. None of this really does in the grand scheme of it, so you might as well treat yourself to a giggle along the way. Bonus? Laughing does wonders for those ab muscles.

The one blessing the comes from getting older? Knowing yourself! Trust me, it's a sweet gift. The pros that you've never considered--all here!

7) You must love your body. On my list of old-age wisdom, this is far and away the fuzziest. While you can’t beat yourself up for your body shape or size and the value of a good cronut should never be underestimated, you only get one body. Take care of it. Vitamin it up, eat the greens, skip the late-late nights, and drive on by that drive-through–at least until you can’t take your kids’ whining any more.

8) Speaking of kids, throw yourself into them with abandon. Believe me, no one is happy-dancing more that my husband and me that both are kids have solidly moved up to booster seats and we can kiss those convertible car seats adios. We aren’t the type to mourn moving-out-of-baby stage. But we’re not stupid. We’ve only got one life. And we’ve only got the two of them. So you’d better believe we’re giving them our all. Collapsing on the couch after they’re in bed included.

9) You believe in yourself. My number one cheerleader, my mother, took an early exit from this earth. While others love and support me, I fully believe the best gift we can give ourselves in this life is to believe in what we can do and where we’re going. The Mom of the Year, something that matters very much to me, wouldn’t exist if I didn’t stubbornly hold onto a belief in myself.

10) It’s always better to love. Recently, my daughter ran toward me for a hug so hard that she unfortunately crashed into my face as I was bent over to tie my shoes. Still, I’d far rather rock my black-and-blue facial mark than never have been the recipient of her love. When you care for people, it might get messy, but listen, from someone who has loved and lost A LOT in her 35 years, it’s always better to pour out than to hold it in. If you care for someone, let them know.

Really, friends, the crux of getting old is choosing to love on what and who is important to you as you learn who you are on this earth. It’s simple. It’s a blessing. Go grab the walker and let’s get old together.


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Jul 272015

I learned so much from reading and watching The Astronaut Wives Club! These ladies of the original Mercury 7 had a gift--a gift for recognizing what mattered on this earth and embracing it. So proud to learn from their example!As I write this, I am currently up-to-date with my On Demand corners-of-child-rearing viewing of Astronaut Wives Club (I know, I KNOW. Mom victory!) and 3/4 of the way through the true-story book that inspired the show.

I first ingratiated myself in astro-culture when my sister said, “You have to watch this show. Seriously.” She said “seriously”, so I tabled my go-to excuses of having no time and I’m-so-tired-I’m-passing-out-as-soon-as-I-get-the-kids-in-bed and got on board. And I’m so glad I did.

As I started watching and loving the show, I knew I must read the book too–this was a fascinating piece of American history to explore! So I snatched a copy up from the library and dug in.

And I am wowed. Wowed as this era of history becomes vibrantly real to me in way that my 7th grade social studies books were unable to deliver.

As I excitedly delve into the world of the wives of the first astronauts and their families, Rene, Trudy, Betty, Jo, Louise, Marge, and Annie have become my new heroes.

In days marked by tremendous change and great uncertainty, their incredible class and grace under fire is astoundingly inspiring. Of course they weren’t perfect, but they got so much so darn right–in a time when it mattered so darn much.

1) They valued friendship. They had young kids and were jealously, constantly competing for their own husband’s flight status. They decided to be friends and commit to supporting each other anyway. How boss.

2) They got up every morning and got dressed. Listen, I’ll never stop being a fan of yoga pants, I promise, but I also know when I get up in the morning and pull myself together, the tone for the day is be far more positively set. Dressing for success is a real thing.

3) They supported their husbands. Regardless of whatever era or movement we’re in, standing up for what your partner believes in and encouraging them along the way will never go out of style.

4) They didn’t give up on their own dreams. Trudy’s passion for flying and Rene’s refusal to let go of her own voice? Inspiring.

5) They lived their lives regardless of their children. I know, I struggle with this one too. But the truth is, there was a time and place in history when children were not the central force around which all adults orbited. Moms cooked, cleaned, and made time to chat with friends while the kids entertained themselves. And they still turned out okay.

6) In the big moments, they were together. Regardless of what was going on in their own lives, when someone’s husband was launched into space in a rocket, they made sure they were together. When the American president was shot, they came together to mournThe commitment to remain beside someone is a valuable gift.

I learned so much from reading and watching The Astronaut Wives Club! These ladies of the original Mercury 7 had a gift--a gift for recognizing what mattered on this earth and embracing it. So proud to learn from their example!


7) The “little things” mattered. Granted, to a 1960s Texas housewife, air-conditioning was not a “small thing”, but they didn’t take for granted the conveniences as we so often do in modern-day. They knew a running washing machine was (and it still is) a blessing.

8) They knew that, at the end of the day, things were beyond their control. Watching your husband launch into space in a small vessel had a way of reinforcing that regardless of endless planning and prepping, you had no control over what happened. This life can change in a blink of an eye. Time to start praying indeed.

9) Privacy mattered. The Astrowives were in the media, but they maintained boundaries within their Life magazine contract. While it was important to share their stories with the world, what was private family stuff appropriately remained private family stuff.

10) They kept putting one foot in front of the other. The idea of Betty Grissom mowing her lawn in her curlers while her husband prepared to shoot into space gorgeously highlights the value of getting up every day and doing what’s before us, regardless of how big and daunting life may be. To me, this is true heroism.

So, Astrowives, here’s my Standing O to all of your classy coolness. Well done. Well done. The world may long remember your husbands, but to me, you’ll always be the superstars who rocked the Space Age.

Jul 202015

The one moment when things nare clear and feel do-able as a parent. It DOES happen, really. Though, admittedly, it's elusive. Here's how to find it and why it's important to hang on until it comes--you can do this, really!I’ve never been one for excessive optimism regarding my capacity to handle my kids. I wish I was. I wish I was the type to bound out of bed in the morning with a big “Let’s do this!” fist pump in the air. Instead my first thought tends to be more of the “If I bury my head deeply under the covers, maybe they won’t be able to find me?” variety.

I love my children. Excessively. But I’ve made no secret about the fact that I feel entirely overwhelmed by them–almost always. And the older I get and the more I know myself, I become exceedingly convinced that my personality type doesn’t fit with having young children. What?? I know, this sounds a bit contrived. But here’s my logic: if my natural bent is to find renewal and energy in time spent alone, our current frenzy of group bathroom trips and the need for Mommy to help with Every Single Thing allows for very few of these restorative solitary moments. When they are in school a bit more or able to pour their own cereal, my sanity might have a better shot at existing. For now, it’s dicey.

It’s dicey, and I spend 95% of my days counteracting the stream of “I can’t do this” thinking. I fantasize a lot about naps, wish desperately for an available friend who wouldn’t think me crazy, mantra “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and call my husband at work in defeated panicky tears during the moments when things like trying to get both children in their car seats and leave the house on time gets to be too much. Somehow we get through and today becomes a yesterday and we move on.

And somehow my kids seem to being doing okay. Better than okay, actually. They’re pretty happy, which I think might be the biggest win in this life. God knows how this happens, because to me, our days feel like a full-on circus show of chaos. But somehow it’s happening.

I will never forget one day, when my son was just over a year old when I was lamenting to a friend, “I have no idea how I’m going to do this.” “But Mer,” she said, “You already ARE doing this.” I’ll never forget her words because I’d never before considered that maybe life is what happens when we aren’t paying attention.

Maybe succeeding at something isn’t some grand finale line we cross or finish, it’s just waking up every day and doing what’s in front of us. Whether we feel like stuffing our head under the covers or not.

Maybe doing something is what happens when we are trying to figure out how to do it.

And maybe, just maybe, I was already doing it.

I was taking care of the children I had no idea how to take care of. Huh.

In the good moments, you know the non 4pm-I’m-going-to-beat-my-head-against-the-wall-if-one-more-little-person-whines-for-one-more-little-thing moments, this positive thinking started to take root. And then, as if God knew I needed I little confirmation to seal the deal on my belief that I might actually be able to handle my children, He gave me my Firework Moment on July 4th.

The one moment when things nare clear and feel do-able as a parent. It DOES happen, really. Though, admittedly, it's elusive. Here's how to find it and why it's important to hang on until it comes--you can do this, really!

You see, we’d always avoided Fireworks like the plague. We are very early-to-bed, early-to-rise people and the thought of dragging fussy kids out late and getting stuck in hours of traffic never seemed appealing. And then this year, our son asked to go. So we did some ill-informed brainstorming about where best to park, packed up the lawn chairs and drove off in the truck.

And you know what? It was awesome. Setting up the chairs in the truck bed in the back of the parking lot gave a us a sweet height vantage point (and made us feel very redneck boss). We were able to throw everyone in their car seats quickly and peal out early to avoid long exit lines. But that wasn’t the victory.

The victory was the moment when, holding my son on my lap as the fireworks boomed overhead, I looked over to my husband, holding our daughter on his lap, both of them captivated by the show. And I thought, “We did this. Wow, we did this!” We had done the very grown up thing of taking our kids out to fireworks. And we were going to wake up at home the next morning and feed them breakfast and keep them safe and happy. We were going to keep taking care of them. We were taking care of them.


My Firework Moment. The moment I got it; I was taking care of my kids and I could do it.

I don’t know that we will ever really feel like we’ve got this, friends, but the thing is, we do. I’m here to tell you in all those lonely days of doubting yourself, you don’t need to. You don’t need to doubt you can do it, because you’re already doing it. You’ve got this. Really.

***This post dedicated to my dad, who listened to me whine all day on July 4th about having to take my children out so late. He told me to buck up, and that I’d probably get a blog post out of it. He was right. As always.***

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May 112015

Finding a way and a time to take a break with your husband when you have young kids in the house is a beast. But not only can it be done, it NEEDS to be done. Here's the easiest, no-cost way to date your spouse tonight!Once upon a time, there was a Mommy and a Daddy. They were happy, but they were very, very tired. You see, their 3 yr. old and 5 yr. old were the adorable lights of their lives, but these children required a rather sizable expenditure of energy. To feed them. To make sure backpacks were properly packed for letter Q Show-n-Share day. To repeatedly holler during their soccer games for them to stop staring at the clouds. And to endlessly explain that there are no monsters hiding in closets. And to generally try to keep them alive–that too.

Mommy and Daddy loved each other very much, but their love had taken on a quiet, persevering character, the way love does when time and busy days full of wiping little bums press on. They had heard of and believed in fantastical things like date nights and trips, but that darn needing-a-sitter jazz kept edging its way in.

So they wintered down, in more ways than one. Cozying up at night and settling in on the victory of surviving another day in suburbia while delighting in the small things–like a child who didn’t patter down the stairs in search of water more than three times and the rare, shocking evenings when Mommy didn’t pass out from exhaustion before 8pm.

It was, despite the echoes of dull ordinariness, a sweet life, a very sweet life.

Except, Mommy missed Daddy. And she knew he missed her. And she was pretty sulky that three of their favorite television shows had taken leave of the airwaves around the same time. Life would not be the same without Parenthood, Parks and Rec, and Mad Men. The cold was making her grouchy too. The winter had been long, and some serious Vitamin D with a side of fresh air was very needed.

It was time for something to give.

And it did.

Spring came.

This means many, many things: sports, school ending, parties, flowers, lawn mowing and maintenance, digging summer clothes out of boxes, scowling at ginormous thighs in the mirror, etc. But for this Mommy and Daddy, it meant one thing more important than all the rest: the deck was open.

Finding a way and a time to take a break with your husband when you have young kids in the house is a beast. But not only can it be done, it NEEDS to be done. Here's the easiest, no-cost way to date your spouse tonight!

I’m not entirely sure what we do on the deck. There is usually crickets chirping and chill music in the background, margaritas on the weekends, a fired-up grill when we’re ambitious, sometimes games, sometimes friends, hopefully children asleep in their beds upstairs. Occasionally silence, but usually chatting.

Chatting about all the things–kids, work, house, friends, hobbies, hopes, prayers. It’s as if an edge comes off, an edge that corners in the rest of the time. It’s through our deck talks that we make plans and dream dreams. That I heal hurt about my mom. That we craft never-to-be-realized fantasies about bagging it all and moving off to some obscure corner of the world to keep bees.

The deck is our date. Our time. Our space. It’s when we shrug off our sluggish winter shackles and find ourselves again–find each other again.

Deck time matters. It matters so very much.

We might have kids who need a lot. We might not have a sitter or any elaborate plans. But we do have a deck, and we are most certainly rocking it this summer.

Here’s the same hope for you, readers: find some deck time. Whatever it looks like in your corner of the world, whether there is an actual deck or outdoors included or not. This life isn’t going to break for you, so take a break for yourself and what matters, however it works for you.

Taking a pause to breathe and connect? It’s pretty darn cool, trust me.


Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:9435286, copyright:iofoto


Mar 182015

No sitter but still needing a date night with your husband? Here's a few simple (really!) steps to bringing a coffeehouse into your own home. Trust me, with 2 of these tricks, even the kids will be happy! Date night is on!!One month ago, my husband and I had a coffeehouse date. To be more accurate, 16 years and one month ago, we had a coffeehouse date.

On February 18, 1999, my husband called me on my college dorm room landline (because those things existed) and asked if I’d like to go hang out at the coffeehouse with him. Channeling all my quintessential nerdy-ness, I was confused by this random dude I’d seen in the computer lab (because those things also existed) making such a ludicrous request on a Thursday night, “But…I’m studying,” I sputtered.

I know, I had such a way with the men, it was stymieing.

Not to be deterred, he suggested I bring my books along. I did. And I never opened them the entire night.

Fast-forward a year into the future, same coffeehouse, same day, and once again, no studying happened. But a marriage proposal did, followed a bit later by a wedding.

And ever since all those initial visits to our coffeehouse, we’ve made a commitment to go back. Every February 18.

Except…kids happened. Admire our ambition, because at first, we weren’t slowed down; we took them with us. But then, they got older. And things like getting to bed on time for school the next morning on a Wednesday night made the 1.5 hr. trek for a cup of tea, however beautifully sentimental, increasingly impractical.

We debated all the sides of the coin–hire a sitter, dump on a friend, go on the weekend, find a closer coffeehouse…we went round and round and round the options. Logistics and circumstances continued to lead us solidly back to the conclusion: going this year was going to be really, really tough.

I was feeling rather grouchy and pouty about the whole thing, to be honest. And then, inspiration struck. If I couldn’t get us to the coffeehouse, maybe I could get it to us?

I am not a crafty person. I am not a creative DIY-er by any stretch. But, the coffeehouse matters, you see. So I told my husband, “I’ll take care of it” and refused to answer any more questions.

No sitter but still needing a date night with your husband? Here's a few simple (really!) steps to bringing a coffeehouse into your own home. Trust me, with 2 of these tricks, even the kids will be happy! Date night is on!!

How do you create a coffeehouse in your own home?

1) I found some very cool copper wire LED lights. I ventured into our mess of a garage to secure a hammer and a few nails. I strung them around our dining room and dimmed the lights. Of course I waited to the last minute to do this and then panickedly tried to untwist the last wire as my husband pulled in the driveway.

2) I got the kids on board and braved the glitter. The coffeehouse always features a series by a local artist. I figured my most talented local artists were right in my own home, so together made “A Life in Glitter” and I hung their work around the dining room.

3) I made my husband teach me how to use Pandora radio on my phone a week prior. Yes, I’m this dumb. I queued up some sweet jazz tunes and let the vibes roll.

4) I stocked up on my favorite chocolate mint tea ahead of time, and I got over my life-long fear of making scones. And you know what? They were pretty darn amazing.

5) I laid out our Scrabble game. We always play Scrabble when we visit the coffeehouse; remember, I said I was a nerd…

6) I bathed and fed the kids early. Way early so I would have time to prep. Who says chicken nuggets at 4pm doesn’t count as a solid dinner? They still came and ate with us, for the record.

7) I swung by Redbox for a “new” movie that would captivate them to minimize interruptions while my husband and I were dating it up. Our daughter still peed all over the bathroom floor 5 minutes into our date. It added to the mood.

8) I dug our chalkboard sign out of the basement and wrote “Welcome to MJs” (name of our beloved coffeehouse) on it and propped it in the corner. Not quite the same thing, but helped me pretend.

9) I got out the pretty plates and set the table with a cute sugar bowl.

10) I enlisted the support of a sweet friend–mostly just to cheer me on and to talk me down at the last-minute when I couldn’t get the lights untangled. It helped tremendously.

And then, when my husband walked in the door, I had the kids greet him, yelling, “Welcome to the coffeehouse, Daddy!”. This part isn’t exactly like what would happen at a real coffeehouse, but it is what happens at our coffeehouse. Because this 16 yr. old coffeehouse may not be many things, but it is full of a lot of love and some very cute kids who make staying home worth it.

Someday we’ll go back to the real deal; for now, we’re busy cleaning up the pee.

No sitter but still needing a date night with your husband? Here's a few simple (really!) steps to bringing a coffeehouse into your own home. Trust me, with 2 of these tricks, even the kids will be happy! Date night is on!!


First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:24048985, copyright:eugenesergeev

Feb 132015

Some of my favorite sweet smiles! If you simply can't stomach icing one more heart-shaped cookie or the classroom Valentines' cards have done you in, read of few of these for a teensy break.  Because even if you can't have all the wine and roses, Valentine's Day is a pretty good time to feel the love!If you’re anything like me, you may be a bit knackered from all the kid’s Valentine fun that’s been going down this week. And this isn’t going to be a post about trying to embrace the true meaning of Valentine’s Day despite the crazy. Let’s be honest, it will be a miracle if I even manage to stay up with my husband for even an hour after putting the kids to bed. The forecast for fancy heart-filled loved-laced celebrations looks grim around here.

But this is going to be a post where I share some of my favorite sweet smiles from over the past few years. If you simply can’t stomach icing one more heart-shaped cookie or the classroom Valentines’ cards have done you in, just pop in on a few links for a teensy break.

Because even if you can’t have all the wine and roses, Valentine’s Day is a pretty good time to feel the love. Enjoy the weekend, friends, however you spend it!

I realized my husband and I were totally on the same page–thanks to a Hallmark card.

That moment when you realize your spouse may actually be a bigger geek than you are.

Love is when the toast is burned, but we pretend it’s not because the morning is a crazy mess and we don’t want Mommy to lose her crap.

My husband has the weirdest bunch of hobbies ever, but I’m not even going to blink an eye.

I am 35 years old and I can’t put on my own shoes.

I busted the oil pan on the minivan and our budget was glaring at me. My husband reminded me this had nothing to do with the stuff that really matters on this earth.

My husband incessantly makes piles and chews his milkshakes; I am choosing to love him anyway.

With 5 simple words, my heart was stolen all over again.

Some of my favorite sweet smiles! If you simply can't stomach icing one more heart-shaped cookie or the classroom Valentines' cards have done you in, read of few of these for a teensy break.  Because even if you can't have all the wine and roses, Valentine's Day is a pretty good time to feel the love!

Some of my favorite sweet smiles! If you simply can't stomach icing one more heart-shaped cookie or the classroom Valentines' cards have done you in, read of few of these for a teensy break.  Because even if you can't have all the wine and roses, Valentine's Day is a pretty good time to feel the love!

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:23101678, copyright:SolominViktor

Third image credit: depostiphotos.com, image ID:18280999, copyright:alexraths

Feb 042015

Keeping up with videos and pictures can seem daunting. With this simple app, all the guesswork and challenge of keeping up is erased--easy-peasy and FREE! Go score it now!My kids are at really cute ages. So many times I wish I could bottle up their 5 yr.old-ness and 3 yr. old-ness and keep it forever. Not saying they won’t do cute things in the years to come, but I find it pretty magical when my son explains the reason his girlfriend likes him as “I showed her my ducks.” Will it ever be this innocent again?!

My husband and I try to capture it all–we really do. We even have preschool concerts and big events down to a science; I snap the pics and he records the video as his hands are more steady. And then we do our best to text the highlights to friends and family, throwing some of our favorites up on Facebook. But at best, our efforts are haphazard.

So when I found out the OneDay app was coming to Android as of yesterday, 2/3/15 (it has already been on iTunes), I was pretty stoked. I had heard about this app endlessly from friends. About how awesome it was, how much kids loved it, and what a perfect way it was to capture memories all in one custom-made video. Now that it’s available on Android for FREE, it was time to give this app a whirl. Plus, the sweet new Valentines’ stories are adorbale!

What is it?

The OneDay App is an instant movie maker that helps parents make movies of their children like a pro in seconds with fun holiday themes and curated, thought provoking, fun story sets.

Is it hard to use?

No! OneDay makes it fun to create short movies of your child’s life with a few simple steps. You open the app, pick a question from a wide selection of fun story sets, and record your children’s answers. Then the app automatically stitches the recorded videos together, and adds music to make quality, priceless movies to share with family and friends.

The strength of the app is in its simplicity. No thinking required. No editing or video skills needed. If I can do this, so can you!

Overwhelmed by pictures and videos of your kids? This one app pulls it all together for you--all you have to do is film your cute kiddo! Go make some memories--the easy way!

How do I do it?

Download the app, chose a set of themed questions for your movie (try one of the Valentine’s prompts I mentioned–they are the perfect way to send a smile this time of year!), record your child’s answers, hit “save and created story” and then watch your edited video, with music and transitions.

The app guides you through and does all the hard work for you. You just record your kid and have fun!

What does a video look like?

So glad you asked! Check out what my very non-skilled, non-tech-savvy self came up with:

One with a touch of heart (please ignore my daughter passionately flailing on the side) and

One I like to call “Brother-Sister Love” (if you have a sibling pair at home, you will know exactly why this is so precious…)

Want to get this easy video-making fun for yourself?

Go HERE for iTunes and HERE for Android, download the app and let it guide you through making your own keepsake to share with friends and family.

Did I mention that it’s FREE? It definitely is. Go score fun for yourself and and get ready to laugh it up with your kids! With this app, you are all video stars!

*****This post was sponsored by OneDay, but my delight in this app is 100% genuine!*****

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:3505216, copyright:Demixx

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