Nov 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Traditions

Growing up my mom would put the turkey in the oven super early in the morning and then we would head into downtown Houston for the Thanksgiving parade. Now that I'm a parent I'm pretty sure my mom was insane to take on an outing like a parade when she was cooking the meal. But I'm glad she did since it's a great childhood memory.

Now that I'm married my husband and I have combined some of our Thanksgiving traditions. Now it's a given in my house that football will be on all afternoon. That was a Thanksgiving tradition in both of our homes. It's pretty cool thinking about how we took things from both of our childhoods to make our new family traditions.

Breakfast is Egg-A-Roll Casserole which is a cheesy egg casserole that my goofy kids renamed. The recipe is from my mother in law and I love it. I can't imagine Thanksgiving without it.

After breakfast we watch the parade on TV. It's not nearly as much fun on TV but it's the only choice here. The kids get a kick out of seeing Santa and their favorite characters. Brett is bored out of his mind and counts down the minutes until football starts.

Lunch is always a few appetizers. Both of our families did this growing up. We normally ate snacks at the parade growing up.

Dinner has changed. We both grew up eating around 2 and we both hated it. I will never understand why anyone wants to eat a huge meal at 2. I like to eat in the evening between 5 and 6. I aim for 5 and we usually eat closer to 6. Perhaps this year we will get closer to 5. Another one of my family traditions at Thanksgiving is lefse which is a Norwegian food. It's amazing and mandatory on my Thanksgiving table.

I never liked stuffing until I had my mother in law's cornbread stuffing. It's so good and I make it every year, even when I don't host the meal.

Dessert for Brett was pumpkin pie but we both hate pumpkin pie. I love all things pumpkin except pie and lattes. I grew up eating apple pie so that is our Thanksgiving dessert. I serve it with vanilla bean ice cream which is all the kids ate last year.

After two days of cooking the chef does not clean! That was a tradition in my family that Brett continues. Then we put the kids to bed, pour another glass of wine, and veg on the couch.

What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions?

Nov 19, 2014

Secret Service and My Son the Mischievous Wanderer

This past weekend I learned that Secret Service agents are very forgiving towards children and my son has zero respect for red ropes.

Allow me to explain.

We went to Washington DC this weekend and my son managed to get into three restricted access areas in the Capital, Library of Congress, and the White House.

We went on a tour of the Capital and my kids were bored out of their minds. I don't blame them, I found the tour pretty boring too. You go in a big group wearing headsets to hear your tour guide. It's pretty easy to get distracted and let your kid out of your sight for 2 seconds which is exactly long enough for Mark to slip under a red rope to see a statue up close.

Not this one but notice that he's touching one? Anyone surprised?

After the tour we went to the Library of Congress to see the Magna Carta. I knew the kids wouldn't care but my cousin and I wanted to see it. The Gutenberg Bible was on display in the lobby and my girls were fascinated with it. I needed to pick up Mark and Molly so they could see it. Unfortunately I picked up Molly first. Mark couldn't possibly wait to see it so under the rope he went and hands and face right on the glass before I could grab him.

He left a kiss mark on the glass. It's important to leave a mark everywhere you go.

When we went to the White House I wasn't taking any chances. I held his little hand or kept him within 1 arm length for the entire tour. We made it through the White House without any incidents and we were walking out the door when Molly realized she lost her hat.

Brett and Molly went looking for it while I stayed behind with Mark and Isabella. Bad move mom, bad move.

As Brett was asking a guard if there was a lost and found place a women overheard them and said that Molly left her hat in security. They couldn't go back to security and they couldn't go back around to security so wait began for Secret Service to bring Molly's hat up. Now this is not a hat that I care about. It's a hand me down hat, no big deal if it gets lost. But Brett was pretty sure he has a great White House story to tell so he waited for the hat.

It took 20 minutes.

During this time I have no clue what is going on. The kids and I looked at the piano, talked to Secret Service, sang a song, and looked at the White House guide books, and I said sit still about 100 times. Maybe more, again I wasn't taking any chances after Mark's antics the previous day.

While I was getting the adult brochure book out for Isabella to look at, Mark took that as his cue to crawl under the rope to check out the stairs. Kids know just the right moment to make their move. Now he was only a foot or so under the rope crab crawling when I turned back around.

My heart about stopped when I realized what Mark had planned, he was trying to get up the staircase! I put on my mommy don't play face and said "get back here NOW!" You know the tone, when your mouth hardly moves and you didn't raise your voice but you are yelling at your child. He knew instantly that he was in big trouble and came back to me.

The secret service agent said it was OK, but keep a closer eye on him. And then he laughed and said that kids crack him up and told me it happens more than I would think. Then he told Mark what was at the top of the stairs why no one was allowed to go up there. He was actually very nice about it. I was still dying inside.

The title of this picture is

Remember the time we went to the White House and Molly lost her hat and secret service had to find it and it took 20 minutes and while that was going on Mark went into a restricted area of the White House?

It's a working title.

Seriously, my kid has no respect for red ropes. By the way, this is the same kid who crawled into a restricted access area of the USS North Carolina and I had to coax him back when he got stuck.

Anyone else have a little mischief maker in the family? What is the craziest place your kid has gotten into?

Nov 17, 2014

Visiting Washington DC with Young Kids

We live just a short drive away from Washington DC which is number one on my husband's top 10 cities to visit in the world. Until this weekend we've never made the trip since I thought my kids were too young to enjoy DC. Why did we decide to go? My cousin was in DC visiting from Australia who I haven't seen in 3 years so regardless of my kids' ages we went.

I'm so glad we did.

Not only was it great to see Chis and Alex we had a wonderful time! We were there for a short trip so there were many things that we didn't get to do but we hit the most important ones on our list.

Mark and Chris saying goodbye

I will say if you're not willing to walk miles and miles a day, Washington DC is not the trip for you. in 2.5 days we walked 14 miles. Yes my kids walked the entire time even when they whined that they were tired. I will say the promise of going swimming at the hotel pool at the end of the night ended the "I'm too tired" whining instantly.

Things that worked for our kids.

My kids really liked the Washington Monument even though we didn't get to go to the top. They loved looking at it and there is a really cool tree for climbing close to the monument. My kids played on that tree for 20 minutes which was a perfect break for them to have fun and let loose. Plus we were headed to the WWII memorial and Lincoln Memorial after that where they needed to be a little quieter.

Going from the Washington Monument, to WWII, to Lincoln was a great plan. Not only are they in a row but it gave my kids just enough time to play before they needed to be calm and quiet.

The Smithsonian Natural History Museum was a stop everyone loved. There are so many cool things for the kids to touch and see up close. Our last stop of the trip was Arlington Cemetery and I'm going to brag for a minute here. We talked about how Arlington was sacred and that they couldn't talk above a whisper the entire time we were there. My kids were either silent or whispering the whole time we were there which was 2 hours!

Don't tell me miracles don't happen.

The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider was amazing to watch. We were all fascinated and we got to see a wreath laying ceremony as well.

Things That Didn't Work for my Kids

We went on a tour of the White House. Write your Congressman to get a tour - it is awesome. Just know that little kids could care less. And watch your kids while you're there. I turned my back on my son just long enough for him to slide under the ropes into a restricted access section of the White House. Secret Service was much nicer about than I thought they would be.

We toured the Capital Building and then went to the Library of Congress. None of my kids like the Capital tour and I thought it was pretty boring as well. Except when Speaker John Boehner walked by us and then his aids came by with huge bags of Popeye's Chicken. I don't know why but my kids thought that was hilarious. My 6 year old liked the Library of Congress but the twins at 4 wanted to leave the second we got there.

Finally the Thomas Jefferson Memorial was a miss. We went on the last day and it was freezing cold being there on the water.

Why You Should Take Your Kids

The city is absolutely beautiful! I haven't been to DC in years and I forgot it's beauty. Seeing DC in the fall for the first time was great even though it was really cold our last day.

Your kids will learn something at every single turn. Take pictures of the things you want to remember and look at them every night for about a week. That will imprint the memories for your kids.

Almost everything you do is free! We didn't pay for a single venue! Which makes DC an affordable trip for families.

Even though some things were boring for my kids, I'm glad we went. Everyone had a great time and I loved taking my husband to DC for the first time. It was fun watching him experience it. Add DC to your list of cities to visit.

Have you ever taken your kids to DC? What did they like the most?

Nov 12, 2014

Mommy War From Within

Every day I'm convinced that I am failing either in my parenting or in my professional life, sometimes both.  Either I yelled too much that day or I didn't get all my work done, something always goes wrong in my mind. I've decided that perhaps that's not a bad thing. 

You see when I bake cookies I don't worry about how they'll turn out. I read the list of ingredients and make sure I have everything to make them. I follow the directions exactly and hope for the best. Sometimes they don't turn out great but I don't really care. They're just cookie. No big deal. 

My kids didn't come with directions. And how they turn out is a big deal. The most important job I have is raising my kids. That's why I worry when I make a mistake. The stakes are high.

My professional life is fun and difficult at the same time. It's difficult finding work as a freelancer. Not to mention time consuming and defeating when you hear no too many times in a row. Thankfully I love it and my skin is getting thicker every week. 

Being a mother is hard. It's the most intense on the job training you'll ever go through. People talk about the mommy wars and they are real and ridiculous in my opinion.

But the most tragic mommy war is the one that we have with our self. When we spend too much time focusing on the fact that we are failing we are at war with our self. 

I yell too much, I'm failing at having patience. 
I'm failing at getting my oldest to eat a variety of foods, what if she never eats meat that isn't processed?
This weekend I took my kids to a book fair, epic failure they went in three directions and we ended up leaving shortly after arriving. 
I was turned down by a magazine for a free lance piece...again. 
I didn't get that blogging opportunity I wanted. 
My laundry is so backed up that Molly was out of clean jeans today and Mark is wearing his sister’s socks. 

On and on the list goes. Do those failure diminish my value as a person or mother? Or are they just signs of my imperfection?

 It's OK that we feel bad when we mess up. Feeling bad shows how much we care and that we want to do better. I try many things with my kids and some are gigantic failures. I'm constantly going after something professionally that doesn't go through. Hearing someone say no to hire me is a regular occurrence in my life. 

Failing doesn't make us bad mothers or women. Failing shows our courage, the courage to try something new and dare that our lives could be better. 

Failure leads us to look at the problem from another angle and try again. Failure is how we find success. 

Success will never come if we aren't brave enough to put ourselves in the position to fail. 

Be brave. Make mistakes. Fail. Learn. And then try again. End the mommy war with yourself. 

We know it's worth it. 

Nov 10, 2014

My Favorite Veteran

Veteran's Day is more than a day off from school. It's a time to celebrate all the men and women who served or are currently serving our country.

Living in Las Vegas near an Air Force base means I knew many people in the military. Several of my friends' husbands were in the Air Force. My best friend from high school joined the Marines and has served three tours. We know many Veterans.

But this man is my favorite Veteran.

My dad was in the Air Force during Vietnam. He was one of the men who joined voluntarily. He never talked about his time in the military when I was growing up, but lately he's told me some of the details. It's interesting hearing about the time in his life before he got married and had kids.

This year on Veteran's Day take the time to thank the Veterans in your life.

Nov 5, 2014

Do You Embrace New Opportunities?

People do not like change generally speaking. We like to live in our comfort zone and stay safe. Changes are never comfortable and rarely safe. Most change is trust upon you like losing your job or learning that a loved one has passed away and you just have to deal with it. On the other hand are opportunities which are changes that you choose to tackle.

There are two types of people in this world; lookers and leapers. Lookers are the people who look at opportunities and make decisions based on fear. Leapers are people who look at opportunities and make decisions based on possibilities.  

My husband and I are leapers. When an opportunity presents itself we leap. Of course with three kids to take care of we make calculated leaps but we are open to new things, places, and experiences. We don't base our decisions on fearing if something goes wrong. We just try our best and if it doesn't work out we make a new plan.

Like the saying goes, if plan a doesn't work out you have the rest of the alphabet to work with.

Neither of us were born leapers, in fact we are recovering lookers. I used to be the lady who made pro con lists and always based my decisions on what was safest. Fear kept me in the same job, living in the same city, and not making any changes. Along the way I decided that was not how I wanted to live and I started making decisions based on what I want for my life instead of fear.

While I was in college I thought I needed to be practical and I got a degree in business instead of history/education like I wanted. Big mistake, I hated working in business management! I changed careers and went to grad school to be a teacher.

I quit my job to be a SAHM in 2008. In Las Vegas! Where my husband owned a construction company and the market was tanking. That was a huge leap and while we have some financial problems along the way, I don't regret a thing!

I left my family and home of 20 years to move to Raleigh without even visiting the city first. I just knew it was the right decision for us and we needed a change. No regrets, I love it here!

Now one of the best parts of my life is that I have no clue where I'll be in 5 years. I know my husband and I are open to new opportunities and I know we will take a few more leaps in our lives. It's a little scary but mostly exciting.

Do you embrace new opportunities?

Nov 3, 2014

Insta Natural Age-Defying Skin Clearing Serum Review

I love the line from Steel Magnolia's when Dolly Parton's character says "time marches on and sooner or later you realize it's marching over your face." I don't know if truer words have ever been spoken when it comes to aging. Thankfully we can do something to slow down the aging clock. Using a skin serum like the Insta Natural Age-Defying Skin Clearing Serum is one thing to slow down the aging process. I received a sample of the serum as a member of Tomoson in exchange for this review. All opinons are mine.

Sadly now that I'm in my 30's I'm getting acne again. I have no clue why my teenage nightmare has reappeared in my life. It's bad enough dealing with acne in my 30's but I'm also beginning to get wrinkles. Acne and wrinkles are not supposed to go together. Insta Natural Age-Defying Skin Clearing Serum combines the power of Vitamin C and Retinol to fight against aging and acne and hyper pigmentation.

Vitamin C and Retinol helps to combat issues such as wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, discoloration, and dry, rough skin. Meanwhile, a combination of Niacinamide and Salicylic Acid soothes irritated skin, treats blemishes. These ingredients unclog pores to remove redness and inflammation, resulting in a clearer, brighter complexion while also diminishing signs of aging.

Key Ingredients:
+ 20% Vitamin C
+ 3.5% Niacinamide
+ 2.5% Retinol
+ 2% Salicylic Acid

I started using the serum three weeks ago and I'm noticing a big difference in my skin. My complexion has a more even color and I've seen a slight improvement in my acne. I think the biggest change comes from using a product that isn't too heavy for my skin. I like how light the serum feels when I apply it. I think if like me you're dealing with acne and wrinkles you will like this product. Insta Natural Age-Defying Skin Clearing Serum is available for purchase on
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
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