Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Favorite Things Winter 2016

Here's a few things I've been loving lately that you might want to try out.

Rimmel Provocalips! it's Rimmel's version of long lasting lip stain.  I know that Lipsense is ruling the planet right now but I personally don't want to spend over $50 on one color of stain/gloss.  I like to change my color up on the daily and I think that price point is a bit prohibitive.  Lipsense for me, is just RIDICULOUSLY expensive.  I realize it's a MLM and I am not a hater.  I'm just not at a place in my life where buying lipsense makes any sense when I can get the same effect for a small fraction of the price.  Have I used Lip Sense?  Why yes I have.  I actually really like the product, A LOT.  I used it about 4 years ago and even did an old blog post about it.  That being said, I wanted to try out some drug store brands just to see how they hold up.  So far, I think spending $6.94 for this stain was well worth it.  You can watch my videos below to see for yourself. (p.s. I'm just going to apologize right now for my weirdness)

Image result for pampered chef chopper
Pampered Chef Chopper.  I seriously love this thing.  I use it practically every day.  I had the same one for about 15 years (holy good investment). This year I finally purchased another one and I'm so so so happy about it.  Once my 15- year-old chopper finally broke I tried about 3 other brands, including kitchen aid.  Let me just say, the Pampered Chef chopper is unbelievably better.  It chops up onions, peppers, etc in no time.  It even can make them teeny, tiny so my picky eaters don't even know they are there.  Buy one, you won't regret it.

This book is so life changing.  Well, it was for me anyway.  I had so many "light bulb" moments while reading it and I think anyone can and will benefit from reading it.  It was very interesting and not boring in the least.  I'm even thinking of ordering a few for gifts this year!
Image result for mindset

The Extraordinary Mom's Podcast.

I am a busy mom of five and a business owner so I just don't have as much time as I'd like to sit and read.  But this podcast is such a fulfilling podcast.  I seriously LOVE it.  It is so uplifting, encouraging, inspiring and enjoyable to listen to.  It's filled with practical advice from other mom's who share their experiences.  I've found it to make my mundane daily tasks fly by.  I love turning it on while I clean the bathroom or fold laundry.  If you don't know how to listen to podcasts yet post in the comments below and I'll give you the scoop, it's completely FREE!

If you're looking for some incredible music to listen to this season you MUST check out Pentatonix Christmas!  I'm currently listening to "Hallelujah" on repeat...all day long.
Image result for pentatonix christmas

Handmade Flower Tutorials

Hey guys, if you don't know already I own a custom hair accessory business and have been running it for about 15 years now (yes, I'm that old!)  But the reason I'm sharing this info now is that I've started sharing some of my how-to videos on you tube.  If you ever get in the crafting mood or are thinking of starting your own flower/bow making business you should check them out.  Or are just curious about them well here's one of them and if you subscribe you can see even more videos...if I ever get them posted.  :) 

Friday, November 4, 2016

What The Crazy Lady Taught Me

Woes of Renting
We live in a cute little neighborhood right now.  That happens to have been taken over by investors who keep buying the houses and renting them out.  Not to classify renters as any one thing (considering we are currently renting and have been for almost 4 years) but this causes a slight problem, which is transition.  When you rent, you are much less rooted to the area.  There are several houses that are rentals and so we see a lot of movement.

Rated X Movie
One such house is kiddy corner to us.  A few weeks ago our very quiet and nice neighbors moved out.  Shortly following, some new, less quiet and less nice neighbors moved in.  They did not lack pizazz!  On day one she was outside screaming obscenities like an X rated movie (I am assuming here since I've never actually seen a rated X movie) at her boyfriend? husband? brother? ex? who knows.  Anyway, my children were huddled in the corner of the room cowering in fear that we were being attacked.  I'm not going to lie; I wasn't sure if I needed to call the police because someone was being murdered outside our front door.  It was Straight Outta Compton.

As the days went by the yelling, screaming, glass throwing, obscene amounts of swearing, car kicking, craziness continued.  I'm not going to lie, it just started becoming normal.  Oh, it's just the new neighbor outside again.  Going BERZERK again.  I was pretty convinced she was either on drugs or, maybe she needs some drugs, and a lot of therapy.

Thank The Kids
You're probably wondering what I was thinking when I came up with the title, "What could this person have taught me?" you may be asking yourself.    Well for one, it taught me how insane you look when you yell at people.  I mean you look nutso.  Nobody looks at the yell-er and thinks the yell-ee is very deserving of this yelling they are getting.  Nope, they think, jees, that yell-er is so mean and onery and crazy.  If you're wondering how I came to this realization, you can thank my kids.  When I would start to get wound up and raise my voice for them to please pick up the 7 towels strewn across their bedroom floor they would say, "You sound just like our new neighbor."
Lol.  Gotta love kids.  Did I really sound like our new neighbor?  No, I was not screaming obscenities or throwing glass at my children.  But I realized that I also wasn't accomplishing anything by getting so frazzled by them.  I was just looking insane and scaring my kids by yelling so much.

An Ugly Cycle
Why did I yell?  Because it worked.  As soon as I got peeved enough everyone jumped on the clean-the-house-wagon and we finally got it done, and in record time.  Was it a bad experience?  You betcha!  Was I exhausted and guilt ridden?  You know it.  But I honestly felt like, this is the only way. It's the only way to get them to work hard for me.  But what I've realized over time and research is.  I've trained my kids to wait until I get loud before they hop to it.  It's not a good thing.

What Now?
Well I've jumped on the stop yelling train.  I just can't handle the thought that I look even remotely, on any level, close to how my new neighbor looks.  I REFUSE.  So I've drastically cut the yelling down.  I'm on a new mission.  First thing I did was apologize to my kids.  I mean, who wants to be yelled at all the time?  Then I told them, "guys, I'm not perfect but I want to be better, and I need your help".  I feel like I've been doing so much better.  I have reigned my little spit fire temper in so much and I feel so much better about myself.  Have I relapsed?  Yes.  But I'm not giving up!

Oh and in case you're wondering.  Crazy lady moved out (HALLELUJAH) and we are moving too.

 (p.s, does anyone else feel like they can't properly communicate without emojis?  I'm being for real here)

Have a great day feeling like an awesome person because you didn't kick the windows out of your own car today in a blind rage.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Don't Call the Police, it's normal.

Two words:  My garage.  It is so ridiculous right now.  I mean if I didn't have any pride I could post a jaw dropping pic for you but I do have a little pride so I'm not going to.  I will say I can park my suburban XL in there but once I do you have to shimmy and jump to get in the house.  I'm pretty awesome at it since I practice everyday.  You would think that at some point I would stop and think.  Hey, if I move this crib that is leaning against some chairs, that is leaning against some totes, that is leaning against some rusty bikes (relax, this isn't a memory test), that is leaning against my freezer then I probably wouldn't trip on it three times a day.  But, no.  I trip, and pretend curse (or actually curse depending on how much sleep I got the night before) and I just keep on keeping on.  Because I'm awesome like that and I'm secretly training for a future "Mom Ninja Warrior" show that I'm sure someone is going to produce.

I heard this true story about a family that left to go somewhere.  To make it more interesting, let's pretend they went to the fair.  And when they got back (from the fair) their house had been caution taped off as a crime scene.  Because, get this, after they left -- their "helpful" neighbor saw that their door was left ajar.  He peeked in to make sure all was well and was planning on closing the door and go on his merry way.  After he peeked in though he knew that their house had been burglarized.  Because it was "ransacked."  He immediately called the police because his fair-going neighbors had been broken into.   Much to the horror of all involved the house was not in actuality "ransacked" just a deeeesaster.  I snort laughed when I heard this because it was just a little too close to home ya know?  All I'm getting at is, I'm ready to make some changes around here.

I know change is possible.  Case in point.  I used to be a messy car person.  I hated it and complained to people about it but then I got a new car (the aforementioned Suburban) and I was bound and determined to be a clean car person.  And guess what?  I'm doing a pretty dang good job.  Do I have to clean it up everyday?  Yep.  Do I have to vacuum it regularly? You betcha.  Does it make me happy to get in and drive a lovely clean car.  You better believe it!  It's also nice when a friend needs a ride home to not have to rush out ahead of them to grab every half eaten piece of crusty pizza and throw it in the trunk.   I'm finally a normal person.  Kind of.

Anyway, I digress from my point.  How on earth do I get my kids to start helping with house cleaning?  I'm desperate. They will do a job or two after I ask them a bajillion times, and then they do the crappiest job at it (sorry kids but it's true, I love you but, you are not good cleaners)  I'll take all the advice I can get.  Oh, and when I try to show them how to do it they yell and scream that they already know how! I'll help them clean their room.  I'm talking, deep clean, every scrunched up pair of undies that are stuffed under the bed, each drawer wiped out, all the clothes folded in the "tidying up" way and before the day is through things are starting to gather again in the corners.  Someone tell me their magic cure-all.  We don't want neighbors to call the police on our "ransacked" house.

I go through stages.  If there's a week where I don't have PTA meetings, a dentist appointment, soccer practice and game, two basketball practices, three dance practices, gymnastics, back to school night, lunch out with my friends, a hair appointment then I spend every waking minute cleaning and organizing. Those weeks where it's less chaotic I clean non-stop and my house looks pretty dang good.  Inevitably though I do have things I have to do and that's when it gets sketchy.  As soon as I stop cleaning the whole thing hits the fan and we're back to the "burglarized" house.

I've read a few ideas that I'm wanting to implement such as, "minimalism" etc but I guess I'm not desperate enough yet.  AKA, I've yet to have the police show up to my "burglarized" house.  

In other news, Halloween is over and I'm kind of happy about it.  It's a bit exhausting getting everyone in their costumes 5 different times.  I like Halloween but I'm happy it's only once a year.  I guess I better go pick up 45 candy wrappers. 

Confessions of a Swearing, Ragged Mom!

It's been a rough morning.  You know, the kind of morning where everything is just a little bit off.  And it's making you think of lots of swears that you want to really really say out loud.  But as soon as you do you regret it and feel lots of guilt and then you want to curse at yourself for your lack of self control and inability to set a good example for your kids.  UGH.  ok so I actually didn't swear at my kids THIS morning.  It was close.  But I refrained.  The point I'm trying to make is WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?  I feel like I'm constantly helping them set out their clothes, get to bed early, find all their books, sign all the papes.  But each and every morning we have at least one (typically more) panic attack moments.

It goes something like this.  "Mom, my hero report is due today!"  "What?  How in the world are we talking about this now?"  "Sorry, I forgot."  "Holy crap. Ok sit down.  Let's crank this thing out."  I start spatting off hero sentences while mixing up chicken salad for their lunches.  Whilst (I always wanted to use that word in a sentence) running back and forth from my daughter's room trying to coax her out of bed and into her clothes.  Stopping every few minutes to match some socks, and pack a lunch.  Pause while I go and give my baby his binky and pat him back to sleep.  He's back to sleep (whew!)  Now I've got to brush some hair, and tie a shoe.  I also have to rush up and down stairs three million times looking for the lost book that HAS TO BE TURNED IN TODAY.   Never found the book btw.  Then, I usually chase them down on their way to the bus because, "Hey, you forgot your lunch, jacket, hero report that we JUST wrote!"

Not to mention I get to intervene on at least three hostile conversations about who's fault it is that Mom is in a bad mood now.  Because we all know, It's everyone else's fault!  This has got to stop.  I'm exhausted.  I hate mornings.  I hate all the crazy screaming and fighting, and tears and drama.  I'm just over it. 
Don't worry though, my daughter's folder got left in my husbands car (who was long gone to work) so I get to go up to his work, pick up the folder, and drop it off so my sensitive first grader won't get yelled at for not having her folder.  Which means she won't go to school the next day because she doesn't want to get yelled at again.

I'm doing my best but my best is not cutting it. None of my kids ate a lick of breakfast today because we spent all our time doing hero reports and looking for lost books so yeah, maybe not my best.  I think I'm going to go check all my kids out and take them to breakfast.  And write for the reason.  "Crappy morning.  We need a do over." 

That's what a great mom would probably do.  But I'm too tired and exhausted to be a great mom today.  They are just going to have to accept the fact that I'm a ragged mom today and it's just a case of the Mondays.

Speaking of hero reports,  all you Super-Moms out there.  What works for you?  What are your tips and tricks for "swear free" mornings?

Do share. 

p.s. I did try the whole get up super early thing for a few days and it definitely helped in the morning...but then I was dragging so bad in the afternoons.  I'm thinking I need two of me.  Or a sister wife.  :) lol

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


I've been thinking a lot about fear today.  And how it's kind of been running my life for a while now.  I woke up today early because I was worried (aka plagued with fear) about a whole bunch of things in my life.  I'm going to just throw out a few things that I have a serious amount of fear about.  I say few because I also have a fear of divulging too much info about myself out in this internet sphere and it coming back to haunt me in some way.

1. Sharing too much about myself (giving you all too much info about my real, true, messy life)
2. The dark
3. My kids getting hurt
4. Close family dying
5. Never having enough money
6. You seeing how messy my garage is
7. Unknowingly hurting someone's feelings
8. Making an idiot of myself and people making fun of me
9. Being a failure and not reaching my full potential
10. My kids not reaching their full potential because I didn't give them enough/the right opportunities

I'm just going to stop there before I put myself into full blown situational depression today.  UGH.  It's just too much to deal with when I start putting it in writing.

Fear can be so debilitating.  It really only has a very limited use.  A commonplace example is, fear of the water can keep your kids from drowning.  But on the flip side, it can also keep them from learning to swim.  Not being afraid, and learning to swim is so much better than just nurturing your fear of water and consoling yourself that fear is good because it's keeping you safe.  I haven't taken a formal poll but I feel safe in saying that 99% of swim teachers can teach an unafraid person to swim so much faster than a deathly afraid one.

I feel I am allowing fear to be a veil over my entire life (and I cannot be the only one).  I mean if I start really analyzing my fear driven decisions it's sort of crazy.  One comical, yet true example is I'm afraid to check out too many books/videos at the library.  (you're laughing I know)  It's really so stupid when I say it out loud.  But it's true.  So I only check out a few things each time.  Don't worry.  I'm training my kids in this fear-driven mindset too.  I hear them saying things all the time like, "no, we can't, it might be too much."  One of the coping mechanisms I'm using to try and combat this is- play-out-the-worse-case-scenario game. What would happen if I did try and check out too many things?  The computer might shock you. The library alarm could go off with flashing lights pointing right at you.  The library attendant might slam you to the ground, hand cuff you, while screaming,  "You're over your limit, you can only check out 7 books!"

None of those things are really going to happen.  But I'm limiting myself because I'm afraid of getting in trouble.  In reality, the worst that's going to happen is the computer screen or librarian tells me, that's over your limit.  Cue apocalypse.  Why was I so afraid of accidentally trying to check out too many movies?  I didn't want to get beeped at?  It's just ridiculous that I let my fear of getting in trouble (by mean librarians) or anyone for that matter keep me from trying new things.

The other day while I was at the library a librarian walked by and I did something absolutely crazy.   I slammed her down, hand cuffed her and asked her, "How many books/videos can I check out at one time?"  "Ten" She said.  Ok, I maybe didn't actually slam her down or handcuff her but I did ask.  And now I can walk through the library checking out in pure fearless glory.  

I'm just going to add one more fear to my list.

11. Librarians

What are you afraid of?  What fears are holding you back?  I'm tackling my little fears one at a time so I can move on to some of the more daunting ones. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Single Lick of the Family Lolli

You know how sometimes you do things as a mother out of absolute desperation?  Well, that was me last night, er this morning.  About 3:20 am my 2 year old woke up.  He was clearly not completely conscious and he started screaming, "drink ca cas"  My word for things that are nasty, filthy, gross. If he finds a skittle underneath the bleachers at the high school I adamantly tell him with lots of gross facials, "ew, that is ca ca, you can't eat that!"  Apparently I've done a good job of teaching him that word because he was very clear that he wanted to drink "ca cas"

Of course I'm willing to give him anything after about 30 seconds of the wailing.  I keep asking him for different things but I'm trying not to bring him out of my room because, of course, the one night he wakes up screaming is the night my Mom is staying over.  She has to get up early for work so I don't want to wake her so I'm trying to "shush" him and fulfill his needs and just get back to sleep.

Then I remember, I bought 5 or 6 suckers from the bulk foods section of Winco the day before to keep him from jumping out of the cart (another desperate attempt example). He forgot about them and I hid them after we got home.  Thinking quickly I dashed to the hidden suckers and offered them.  Do you want a sucker?  Thinking "ca ca" might be a "sucker"  Nope.  Volume of ear splitting screaming just increased drastically.  

Finally I give up on quieting him.  "Go ahead and scream" I think, and start for the kitchen. "Do you want water?" "No!" he screams.  "Which cup do you want to drink 'ca cas' out of?" This is my distraction technique...Let's get him thinking about his cup choice while I rack my brain of what it is he is actually wanting.  After I've already pulled about 7 cups and lined them up on the counter, he picks a filthy blue cup out of the dishwasher.  Filthy blue cup it is. I start rinsing it out so he won't actually get sick and start trying to figure out what "ca ca" he wants to drink.  I want you to know he has not stopped bawling and screaming this entire time.

By this point Dan has joined in the quest to help solve the problem, which is saying a lot about the level of noise we're talking about.  Dan can sleep through a lot of ruckus.  So together we are offering, juice, milk..when realization sets in, "Oh, do you want some of Daddy's drink?"  I look to Dan with a pleading look of, "Please tell me you have some Diet Mountain Dew somewhere!"  Daddy's drink is, "ca cas" because it actually is nasty tasting and not good for him so I don't want him to drink it.  "Whew!" We finally solved the problem. Dan pads out to the street in his basketball shorts and bare feet to find a can of diet mountain dew hidden in his trunk.  "You're ok, we are getting you a drink of "ca cas" I assure him so he'll stop sobbing. The hiss of the freshly opened can can barely be heard over my babies continual screaming for "ca cas".  Afraid of messing up we offer, "do you want it in the can or the blue cup?"  See, we're experienced parents and we know, one little mistake such as pouring it in the wrong cup or pouring it in a cup at all can set you back another 10 minutes of frustration and wailing. That is not a risk any sensible person is going to make at 3:30 a.m.  He doesn't want it in the cup.  We lift the can to his trembling lips.

And, He burps.

Crying stops, he cuddles into my neck and says, "go to sleep."   He did not drink one smidgen of "ca ca" or of diet mountain dew or of anything.  He didn't even have a single lick of the family lolli.  All he did was scream bloody murder for 20 minutes.  Burp and go back to sleep.  Oh the joys of motherhood.

You've seen the DirecTV  "Settlers" commercials right?  I don't know why, but I love them.  They just tickle my funny bone. Look them up on you tube and you'll know what I'm talking about. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Things I'm Loving - Summer 2016

I love finding out about people's favorite things because they often become some of my favs.  Here's what I'm digging right now!

Sage and Harper Back Pack- I feel like I should become a spokesperson for this darling company.  I mean everyone is always stopping to ask where my bag is from, how I like it and I'm not shy about sharing my love for this bag.  I use it every day.  I've had it since Christmas (best gift ever) Here's why I love it so much:  The color hides dirt.  I have never washed it but it still looks new.  It stays on my back and doesn't whack my poor kids in the face every time I bend over to tie their shoes.  I feel like my arms are free to carry a kid, carry my purchases, or just be free.  It's so nice.  I also love the size.  It's not to big so I can't stuff 25 diapers in it (who wants to carry that much crap around all the time) but it's big enough for my essentials.  Just get yourself a backpack already.  Trust me on this.  You will love it.  AND...they are having a huge 40% off sale right now.  Use the code: SPRINGFEVER and get yourself a killer backpack for a killer deal. 

Image of Back Pack (02)

I was just congratulating myself the other day, "gosh you're toilets have been so clean lately, and you haven't even been cleaning them that often"  Then I remember.  "Kell, you have no room to accept congratulations for the clean toilets... you bought those Clorox automatic toilet bowl cleaners." 

Product Details

I bought the 10 pack at Costco.  Cuz I love throwing $300 at Costco every time I go there.  Gosh that place is so bad for my bank account. Unless you love washing toilets, you will love these babies.

Twizzlers Super Long Nibs- best licorice ever.  Enough said.  Walgreens and (sometimes) Wal-Mart carry these. 
Product Details

Sally Hansen Air Brush Legs! I love this stuff.  It's an instant tan, right where you need it.  It only takes a couple of minutes to put on and it stays on.  I use it every single Sunday and the bottle is still going strong (I bought it a couple of months ago).  I also use it for everyday use when I wear shorts or a skirt.  Basically if my legs are showing, I am using this stuff.  I bought the "medium glow" shade and I think it looks fabulous! I love that if I put too much on I can just take a washcloth and some warm water and soap and it will come right off.  No blotching, no weird aroma, no streaks.  Just faux tan legs.

One leg done, one leg not.  If you can't tell the difference, then you might be color blind.  Just get your vision checked and get back to me.

 My time lapse video to show you how easy it is to get a flawless application.

Product Details 

Best song to sing in the car with the kids! -Break Up In A Small Town - Sam Hunt
Best song to jam to after school when I'm dreading making dinner -Ain't Your Mama - Jennifer Lopez
Best dance song- Don't Let Me Down - The Chainsmokers ft. Daya 

What are your favorite things?  Please share in the comments below because I'd love to know what I'm missing out on.  

Monday, May 16, 2016

Pap Smears, Root Canals, and Family Photos

I think you can all understand what pap smears, root canals, and family photos all have in common right? No? then it's possible you haven't experienced all three or you would know. There are three main commonalities required for each.  1. Prep work 2. Endurance 3. Enjoying the fruits of your labor. Let me elaborate.

Prep Work
If you've got a pap smear scheduled this week I'm pretty sure you're going to take a few steps to prepare.  Including, but not limited to, shaving, waxing, trimming, additional cleaning.  You're going to wear your nicest, or least-stained undies (even though no-one, besides you, even sees them), you're going to do a little prep work for that glorious moment when your bare legs are sweating like crazy in those charming stirrups while your OB talks about the movie he saw last week. We've all heard the story about the woman who, intending to spray a deodorizing spray right before her pap smear, accidentally grabbed glitter spray.  Her ob was surely impressed with her preparation that year.

If you've got a root canal scheduled you've probably already endured the worst part, which was most likely an abscessed tooth.  If you've had an abscess you won't need help remembering how it started out as just a bit sore, and you flossed it because maybe something got stuck, then the pain increases to really sore and a little swollen.  If you're like me, it's at this point that you call the dentist because you've gotten past the point of tolerating it with 4 Ibuprofen every 4 hours, chewing on ice constantly and telling your kids, "yes, you will start another movie for them" for the 3rd time that day.  You've never been this excited for a dentist appointment in your life.  You will do anything, literally anything to get some laughing gas, and a shot.  Heck, I'll take 10 shots at this point if it will help with the non-stop throbbing that has become your tooth.  And that's when your dentist informs you that there's nothing he can do.  You have an abscess and all you get is a prescription for an antibiotic. No pain numbing shot, no pressure-releasing drilling, just waiting.   "In 2-3 days you'll feel better" He explains.  "2-3 days?" It's at that point when you look in the mirror and realize your cheek has swollen to three times it's size, you can no longer be recognized by family, and you cannot go out in public (as if you would anyways.) The dang dentist is no good to you now and you get to see an endodontist.   You start prepping for the big day by getting a million x-rays, and most likely, the first appointment where your roots are numbed and then pulverized by scrapping needles up and down.  The finger impressions you left on the armrest as you wait in anticipation of the impending "little pinch"  are just beginning to return to their original shape when it's time to come back and finish your little root canal. This was just the preparation. 

If you've got family photos on the docket you've likely spent hours prepping by pinning adorable families smiling perfectly, hours online shopping, more hours returning the items that didn't work, hours walking through the mall explaining to everyone that "I'm just browsing." while in actuality you're desperately searching for the perfect necklace, belt, hat, earrings, hair bow, dress, sweater, shoes for everyone in your entire family (which for our family of 7 is sooooooo exhausting) Not to mention stalking the weather forecast in hopes of no rain, no tornadoes, not too hot, not too cold.  I mean even Mother Nature needs to comply on your big day. You've tried on everything in your closet in different combinations, you've spray tanned, cut your boys' hair, "polished" shoes with a magic marker, ironed (for the first time in 2 years), took notes while watching make-up tutorials on you-tube. Tweezed the heck out of your brows.  These are going to be the best family photos ever, your preparation will not be in vain.  Everyone's going to be happy, healthy, excited, smiley, and looking beautiful in a flawless, not-overdone way right?

The doc comes in and I can't help thinking, "Why I can't give myself a pap smear?"  Can't they just bring in the kit, let me watch a short video on what-not-to-do, and come pick up the kit a few minutes later?  I'm sure it's not that hard.  But no.  They need to get the specimen themselves.  I honestly get so stressed about such silly things like, where to put my clothes, how fast do I need to get dressed because, heaven forbid, the doc raps on the door when I've got my panties around my ankles.  I don't know why it's that big of a deal but I whip off my clothes at lightning speed, fold them gingerly, hide them, clasp my paper gown fiercely and wait.  They obviously haven 't done any scientific research on the amount of time it takes to get undressed because I'm pretty sure I get naked in under 1 minute.  Then I wait about 15 minutes shifting back and forth on the paper, trying not to tear it with my bare buns.  You know what comes next, lay back, put your feet in the aforementioned stirrups or place your feet flat together with your knees apart.  Boy oh boy.  This is fun. Then there comes the "little pinch" again.  Well it's over now, you endured. 

After the abscess, enduring the root canal is amazing.  You're just so happy that the antibiotic did indeed work and you can now put this all behind you (with only an occasional glimpse at your horrifyingly ugly chipmunk-cheek-phone-selfies.)  The thought of that week will help the endurance of the root canal seem like a trip to the Caribbean.  Sure you have to get more x-rays, shots, you have to prop your mouth open for 3 hours, you have to endure the saliva oozing down your neck, but it's worth it.  Your nerves and roots will never cause you pain again.  "I LOVE YOU Dr. Gibby" will go through your mind the whole time you're laying there, especially if you got laughing gas.  

It's family photo day.  The clothes are laid out on your bed like little one dimensional bodies, the curling iron is hot, the hair spray handy, you've put in the work and your ready for anything.  You've got bribery fruit snacks and smarties in your purse, the location already in your gps, nothing can go wrong.  And then your son starts puking, your 5th grade son has somehow grown 3 inches over night and his pants are now capris.  Your husband is late, your toddler refused his nap and is exhausted and emotional.  You would be bawling too at this point if you had time to re-do your makeup but you don't.  So you pull it together.  And maybe yell a little, at everyone.  Since the baby won't let you put him down you downgrade your daughter's hair style.  Straight is just as cute as curled, right?  You give the puker Motrin and bribe him that if he will just fake it for 10 minutes he can go back to sleep very very soon.  You pick different pants for your son and you glare at your late husband to get dressed now.  This is just what you hoped for.  A happy family moment captured forever.  After a good self pep-talk in the bathroom mirror you apologize to your husband and hustle everyone out to the Suburban. You take a deep breath.  The children can smell fear, stress, and anxiety so you want to act cool, calm, collected.  "Let's have fun guys!" you cheerfully say through gritted teeth and you select "My House" by Flo-Rida on you-tube and crank it up - loud.  You've got to keep the toddler from falling asleep somehow. Your teenager rolls her eyes as you start getting in your groove.  Pointing to each kid for their "solo moment" you yell "Work It Babe!" right as you pull up to a red light and your husband does his best robot arms ever.  The windows go down and you get your 5th grader to do the "sprinkler" to the rocking beat.  Your toddler hits the "dab" and everyone starts laughing.  Even the puker.  Deep Breath.  This is going to be ok.  Once on location, someone may have stepped in bird poop, someone may have cried, someone may have pinched someone else, someone probably started climbing up on rocks that they were told to not get on and scraped their knee but, according to the photographer, "We got some great shots" so you trust in her Photoshop skills and hope for the best.

Enjoy The Fruits Of Your Labor

If I'm being honest the fruits of a pap-smear can be a little hard to conjure up.  But I'll be danged if I'm going to give up on my analogy that easy.  After googling, "why should I get a pap smear?" and "do women who get pap smears live longer?"  I've come up with a few pap smear "fruits" for you to relish. To begin with, there's the relief that it's over. Whew! You now have a whole two years to wait until your ob office starts leaving you robotic voicemail every week, for 6 weeks, until your voicemail gets full and your guilt takes over and you schedule your annual appointment again. Let's not overlook that fact that you also got to sit in the doc's office for a while, by yourself, to get caught up on instagram or the latest "People" magazine.  It was kind of nice those 20 minutes of peace, at least in hindsight it seemed kind of nice.  And after, you probably stopped and got a beverage as a reward for being so proactive in protecting your health.  See, three amazing pap smear fruits: relief, moment of peace, a beverage.

Fruits of a root canal are easy to see.  Say, "chipmunk cheeks" three times and you know what I mean.  Ice chomping, thrashing back and forth on the bathroom floor in pain,  holding heated rice bags to your cheek, calling your dentist at 3:00 a.m., all of these things bring back a lot of miserable memories and a root canal is the only solution. If it weren't financially prohibitive I would consider getting voluntary root canals on every tooth because thanks to laughing gas, "I LOVE Dr. Gibby!"

See those beautiful Christmas cards? that gallery wall? The Facebook update where everybody chirped in to say how cute your family is?  Fruits of the family photo right there.  For some reason all the crying and stepping in bird poop and spit up chocolate stained, turned inside out shirt moments all seem really funny now that the pics are printed.  They are the crazy journey that got you those beautiful photos that you will cherish forever.  All it takes is opening up your photo album and you're ready to start all over again. It was totally worth it.  

To see a gallery of my family photos over the years and to read through a few tips I've rounded up over the years keep scrolling down.  Or click here.

Family Photo Tips - Plus My Family Photo Gallery

1. Take photos all the time.  Not only will you be happy you have all those moments captured, your kids will be well versed in family photo etiquette. aka look at the camera, pretend you're happy, hold still, take your fingers out of your nose.  You get the idea.  We definitely have had our bad moments....but I feel like my kids have been trained.  They know that the sooner they cooperate, the sooner we're done.  Sometimes the best photos turn out to be ones we didn't necessarily plan.  We just took the time to stop and take a few unplanned family pictures and they will be a treasure to our family forever. 

2. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.  No amount of preparation will always guarantee a perfect family photo op.  But hungry, sleep deprived, sick children are a sure way to have a terrible experience. Make sure you have extra, back up clothes for the spit up that hit your sleeve the moment you picked up your baby.  Treats, bribery, threats, I'm all for them. A little preparation can go a long way when it comes to family photos. 
3. Find a way to laugh. True joy and laughter will deliver the best pictures.  Spank Daddy and chase him around a bit to make the kids giggle.  Do a somersault and tickle their toes.  Be the crazy fun mom that kids love to have around. 

4. Don't wait until you have the perfect outfits to get pictures taken.  Do I LOVE shopping my heart out to find the perfect coordinating outfits?  Yes.  But I can't always do that.  And I've found that I love the pictures that weren't so coordinated just as much as the ones that were.

5. Find a photographer who has your style.  Every photographer has a different style that they just naturally capture.  If you look through a photographers blog and you see only a couple of pics you like then you want to keep looking.  This photographer probably isn't your style.  If you love every single photo they took?  Book em.

If you want to read about more about funny family photo memories, go here.

Gallery of my family photos over the years. 

Since we were all dressed up anyway, we got a quick snap-shot at my brother's wedding. 

  One of my all-time favorites. 

Cade stepped in bird poop about 5 secs before this photo and was so so mad.  
But he still smiled....kind of. :) 
I love the colors in this one.

                                                        No, one's matching and it's ok
                Totally sucking-in, as hard as I could since I was 4 months pregnant with Crew. 

                                              I spent $0 dollars on clothes because we were
                                       wicked poor.  But I don't care.  Those faces are too cute!

        This photo is beyond precious to me.  It captures true JOY!
And relief that I'm no longer pregnant. 
And Cysie got into my bronzer and I didn't know it and my face shows it.  :)

So happy everyone looked at the camera.  So so happy.  
See it was totally worth it guys...right?

                                           Freezing our ear lobes off but smiling out of fear!

                                            My teeth aren't photo-shopped at all.  They really
                                            are florescent white.  lol


Thursday, May 12, 2016

If You're Having A Bad Day - Call My Sister

Look how cute my sis it.  Don't let her cuteness fool you....I've never met anyone with worse luck than Katie.  Her life is stranger than fiction.  Short story to illustrate:

Her kids missed the bus (a regular experience I must admit).  Of course it's raining and well you Moms know how it is.  If they're not too late, you can just drop the little nuggets off, watch them run with their "packpacks" bouncing on their running bums and dream sweet dreams of going home to some peace and quiet for the next 7ish hours  If they're not too late there's no need to check them in.

But, if they are too late then you have to find a parking space, walk in, give an apologetic smile to the secretary, fill out a "check in/out" form with an excuse i.e. "my kids and I struggle with time management".  It's a much bigger deal if you catch my drift.  So in order to avoid the whole check in scene as soon as they walked back through the door to announce they missed the bus she hopped to it.  "Get in the car! Hurry!" and ran vigorously to her new Sequoia, in pajama pants, with no shoes, no bra, in the rain.   She was motivated.

But, her kids were too late.

Once the "packpacks" were hung on their pegs, Katie went on her way.  With only Clarabelle, their new boston terrier puppy, to keep her company Katie hopped in and turned the ignition with exciting plans to shower, get dressed and get on with her vacuuming, dish washing, and clothes folding fun for the day.

As she started driving, the red blinking gas gauge finally caught her attention and she remembered she was dangerously low on gas.  As the wipers whipped back and forth she could see a blurry sign up ahead "Flying J"  she coasted there and sighed with relief when she made it.  She started filling up her tank.  To keep the rain out, and Clara from making a run for it, she shut the door.  Just as she bent over to shake the remaining droplets of gas into her tank and return the pump she saw cute little Clarabelle perch onto the window sill and "click".  Clarabelle's paw stepped on the the "lock" button.  After a few moments of trying to get the puppy to accidentally hit the "unlock" button she realized it was useless.  

Let's re-cap shall we?  The rain was pouring down, Katie was bra-less, shoe-less, in soggy-bottomed pj pants at a gas station with her keys locked in her new SUV.  Her husband was hours away at work.  Her puppy, along with her phone were locked out of reach.  Without any other options, she tip-toed into the gas station with arms folded across her chest and asked the clerk for permission to borrow their phone.  Luckily her hubs answered and she found out that he is a genius.  "I taped a spare key to the back side of the license plate. Just borrow a screw driver, screw off the license plate, and you're good."  "Thanks babe!" She said as relief flooded her.

Once the plate was removed, the key un-taped, Katie returned the screw driver and happily opened the door to smell the worst smell ever.  Dog poop.  Poop trapped in a humid car with no ventilation,  their brand new car for that matter. 

I'm pretty sure you can see why my day never seems that bad after a good chat with Katie.

Did I greet a gas station clerk bra-less?  Did I tip-toe barefoot through the school today?  Did my puppy poop in my brand new SUV?  No? then I'm having a great day! I'm going to enjoy it. Hope you are having a great day too.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How To Survive Summer, For The Free Spirited Mom

I hate schedules.  They are a straight jacket to me.  I admire those moms whose schedules are engraved in their babies heartbeats and they religiously go to bed at 7:30, all year long.  But I am not like them.  I've spent plenty of years trying to be them and I've spent plenty of years feeling guilty that I can't.  I'm not saying either way is better.  And that's just the thing.  Being super scheduled isn't better for me.  And maybe not for you.  If your kids wake at 6:00 am to a well-rounded breakfast STOP reading immediately.  I will have no advice or humorous short story to amuse you that will benefit you.  This article is for us mom's whose children go to bed at 11:00p.m. one night and 8:00 p.m. the next.  This rambling is for the "free spirited mom."

Nothing short of dangerously high doses of benadryl, black-out curtains, and duct tape would get my kids to sleep at 8:00 during the summer.  They are too busy at gymnastics, baseball, basketball, dance, cheer, playing minecraft, jumping on the tramp with sprinklers to bother with bed-time.
This is one of the biggest mistakes I make at the beginning of summer.  I set ridiculous goals-impossible goals, meaningless goals, goals that do not make me a better person, do not make my kids happy, do not do anything but make me feel guilty and incapable as a mom.  Tell me I'm not the only one who makes up timed schedules that they want their life to look like.  You know something like this.....

7:00 a.m. everyone dressed, beds made, at breakfast table (to enjoy a delicious, well-balanced meal)
8:00 a.m. 2 pages of homework, 1 science, 1 math
9:00 a.m. do 1 hour of service for a needy neighbor
10:00 a.m. 45 minutes of vigorous exercise
10:45 a.m. silent reading (classics- no doubt)
12:00 apply for Summer school because this is for the birds and we all want to die!

By day three you can imagine what a failure I feel like.  This year I'm setting different types of goals so my kids don't hate me, I can leave the guilt in the gutter where it belongs, and I can actually feel less stressed about the upcoming summer.

Although my free spirit is claustrophobic to schedules I also don't want to spend the summer with my kids' hair in a snarl, watching cartoons, with bowls of curdled milk rotting on the tv stand.  I want to have fun, I want them to learn, I want my HOUSE TO BE CLEANISH (I'm still realistic yo!) and I want the fighting to not be out of control.  Here's what I'm hoping for. (No times will be assigned to anything because I'm just such a rebel.)

1. We will eat our meals together
Few things invigorate irritation in me more than making breakfast 6 different times.  I just can't handle getting the milk out again and again, and hearing the whining of "I'm starving!" five minutes after cleaning up the last meal.   You get the idea.  One kid got up early, ate cereal, then didn't want eggs but one kid woke up late, ate eggs now doesn't want lunch and I'm a slave to their bi-polar appetites all day eerrry day.  So I'm going to be firm on, eat now or wait!  I have to admit I'm a little nervous about sticking to this but I'm going to try.  By golly we are all going to sit at the table and eat (or watch each other eat) this summer!

2.We will leave the house every day
I don't know why I need this but I do.  If I'm forced to leave the house even to just go to the bank I have a better day.  If I have a better day, so do my kids.  I'm going to have a list of places to go in the rare occasion that we actually don't really have to go anywhere.  Then we will go to the park to eat lunch, we will go to the library to browse magazines, we will leave the house.  It's the only way to motivate me to get dressed, do my hair and makeup and look like a civilized person.  If I know I don't have to go anywhere I stay in my jammies, work a lot, or read a lot, and forget to eat or feed my children.  I'm weird, I know.  That's why I have to leave the house so I can pretend that I'm not as weird as I really am. 

3.  I will have time alone
I have 5 kids.  I don't know if you can understand how many requests that is per day but let me just say, it's a lot.  They all need a lot of love, time, food, pieces of paper, socks, reassurance, rides, money for the movie, toilet paper, Popsicles.  That comic with the little kids fingers stuffed under the bathroom door that says, "they will find you" is so true.  And that is where the true FEAR OF SUMMER lies.  We have no time for ourselves.  I don't really think I need that much time to myself, just a little.  I need to re-group sometimes.  I need to sit down sometimes.  I need to think sometimes.  So I'm going to set a timer for 30 minutes each day that is mine, and mine alone.  Maybe I'll need more than 30 minutes but I'm hoping that my kids can stay alive by themselves for 30 minutes each day without me this summer so I can be a better me.

That's it.

Is part of me wanting to keep going?  To add a few more goals?  Kind of.  Part of me really really wants to add 4. don't swear at your kids 5. take them lots of fun places 6. deep clean one room everyday 7. read four books together 8.  sleep out on the tramp.

But I'm not gonna.  We might do some of those things (don't count on the sleeping outside one...I'm scared of the dark. I need dead bolts in my life) we might do them all, but I'm not hinging my need-to-feel successful this summer on typed schedules.  I'm going to love my free-spirited self and enjoy this summer with very few goals.

Are you a rock star summer Mom?  What's worked for you? This list isn't set in stone so maybe you have the magic solution all us "free spirited" moms need.  If so, do share...


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sitting On My Own Blanket

I had to watch a "Ted Talk" to get the nerve to start this post.  LOL, ok really it was a serious of famous rich people giving mini quotes of "never give up!" and I felt inspired enough or guilty enough that my nap wasn't going well because I kept tossing and turning thinking "you have not even tried".  "You basically just give excuses for why it won't work".  And by try I mean writing.  I've had the inkling to start writing for a while now.  And by while, I mean about 22 years.  Even as I type each letter, the fear of rejection is sitting on my lap whistling a tune.  I've got so many excuses about why I can't; I could probably fill my first book with a run-on sentence full of layers of self-doubt.  What should I even write about?  People won't relate, people will write me hate mail because it's so bad.  I imagine myself wiping mascara off my cheeks while reading pages of mean comments amidst two empty bags of party size Cheetos and multiple extra large Symphony bar wrappers.  

Have you ever sat at the fireworks and needed just a little more blanket to keep the chills from inching over your arms?  You pull slightly at the edge to gain some footage but someone else is sitting on it.  And you pulled again, this time with more force and realized that the blanket is lodged and whoever is sitting on it is not giving way and you almost give up.  "You don't need more blanket that bad" you console yourself.  Then you realize that you are the one who is sitting on the blanket.  You are the only one who is in the way of getting more warmth and happiness during this breezy independence night.  That's me.  I'm sitting on my own blanket.  My own weight is a lot heavier than I thought.  I can't get it out from under myself.

It's stupid once you write it down.  Ridiculous.  Just rock to the other side or roll over.  It's not that hard now is it? So here I am I'm just diving over and ripping that blanket free.  And I'm hoping I can encourage some of you new friends along the way.  Whatever you are holding back on. just stop.  STOP reading right now.  Walk away from the computer desk, phone, tablet, and get a piece of paper and pen.  Write down what it is you want to do and start today!  Let me know what it is in the comment section and we can encourage one another along the way.