Saturday, December 1, 2012

Silence Is Golden...

Silence is golden.

Unless you have kids..

It was a normal Saturday morning at our house. I was cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast. It was quiet.

It was quiet.

That should have been clue number 1.

As I loaded the dishwasher, I thought to myself "man the kids are being so good".

That should have been clue number 2.

I  continued cleaning still amazed that my children were playing so well together.

Playing well together?

And then it hit me. Like all moms when the quietness, and the good behavior, and the playing well together clicked in my mind I know something was up.

I ventured to the boys room opened the door to find a homemade zip-line.

That's right folks, my kids had worked together to build their very own zip-line.


They did it using only a jump rope, the bunk bed, and a single door knob.

Pretty cool right?

If the 9 year old and the 5 year old hadn't been placing their younger brother in an Easter basket for the ride down I might be a little more proud.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Tips And Crowd Pleasing Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Now the holidays have officially kicked-off. And, that makes me oh so happy. Cooking for the holidays is one of my most favorite things to do.

I figured I’d share a few little tips I’ve found over the years while preparing my family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

Turkey Tip Number 1. Use an oven bag. Who ever invented those things was a genius!

Turkey Tip Number 2. When you’re readying your Turkey for placement in the bag, rub a packet of dried Italian Salad Dressing mix on the bird. The flavor is amazing! You know I wouldn’t lie to you.

Cranberry Sauce Tip Number 1. Forget the canned jelly stuff. Make it yourself. It’s super easy and so much better. Just follow the directions on the bag of cranberries.

Cranberry Sauce Tip Number 2. When you’re making the cranberry sauce try adding in a capful (or two) of coconut rum. The alcohol content will cook away and the coconut brings the cranberry flavor to a whole new level.

Potato Tip Number 1. If mashed potatoes are a must, try making a “loaded” style. Mix in chive flavored cream cheese, or sour cream, with some shredded cheese, and maybe some green onions.

Potato Tip Number 2. If mashed potatoes aren’t a half to, change it up a bit and make a potato casserole.

I don’t really have any special tips for Green Bean Casserole, just make it. It has to be on our Thanksgiving table.

Sweet Potatoes Tip Number 1. Try adding a layer of marshmallows between the layers of sweet potatoes. They make it even more gooey and delicious.

Sweet Potatoes Tip Number 2. When you want to brown the marshmallows on top, try broiling on low.

The most important tip I could share is to not stress. Enjoy yourself. If preparing the meal feels too much like a daunting task then there is no point.

Take short cuts where you can and get your family involved.

Thanksgiving is meant to gather families and neighbors together so we can give thanks for all the good we have and the bad. The bad? Yes, the bad teaches us to appreciate the good and be grateful.

On to the recipe.

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve looked forward to November, not just because it’s my birthday month either. I looked forward to pumpkin pie.
It’s not thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, right?
So here it is

Perfectly Easy But Still Crowd Pleasing Pumpkin Pie
You’re going to need

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin (about 2 cups)
1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk

2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust

Start by heating your oven to 425°F.
In a medium mixing bowl you want to whisk the pumpkin, the sweetened condensed milk, the eggs, the spices and salt together until it’s all smooth.

Now poor the pumpkin mixture into the pie crust.

You want to bake it for 15 minutes (at 425), and then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F; now bake an additional 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted 1-inch from crust comes out clean.
Cool, and garnish as desired. We like cool-whip around here.

This year, as you gather around tables, take a moment and remember all the good and give thanks. Remember your neighbors, family and friends no longer with us, teachers, law enforcement, fire fighters, and other public servants.
Remember our troops.

And, if you have a little extra food left over, maybe make a plate and take it to the gas station, or store employee that’s stuck at work instead of being home with their family.

Best Wishes for the Happiest Thanksgiving Holiday.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

I'm Thankful! And Soon, You'll Be Thankful Too

Back in August I attended the Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged Conference. Myself and 70+ women joined together for a weekend of fun, laughter, learning and boots!!

When I was planning to attended the conference I had no idea what to expect. I knew I was going to be 3 hours from home with 70+ women, most of which I had never met, and we were staying in a state park.

Sounds fun right? (It was a freaking blast!)

I went in fearing the unknown but, I didn't go alone. I manged to drag my girl Heather along for the ride and together we dragged another Shannon along with us.

Our road trip there was awesome!

We sang, we talked about how Okies drive 90+ mph till we hit a curve then drop to 25 mph, and we debated the oxford comma.

We also had some really nasty McDonald's because we waited to long to stop and eat and ran out of choices.

Even the register at McDonald's was taunting us.

The AWB hosted several "twitter parties' to give each of us attending a way to connect with each other prior to packing up and heading down.

During one of the twitter parties Country Outfitter joined us.

That was a dang good twitter party!

By the end of it, I had a sponsor paying my way, an invitation to pick out any pair of boots I wanted, up to $150 value), and a gift for you!

Now, I know you're all distracted by the whole "gift for you" and don't worry I'll get to that.

First though, let me tell you about these BOOTS! Hey it is my blog ;) I should get to brag a little.

Look at these beauties!


I took roughly 2 weeks deciding which pair of boots I wanted. And I couldn't be more pleased!

I picked a pair by Justin. The Justin Women's Burnished Tan Boot to be exact!

They have survived hospital stays, mid terms, and divorce court. (Not mine! I'm a legal secretary, remember.)

Last week my giveaway was suppose to "go live". It didn't.

It didn't because last week I was in the hospital with my baby girl.

She was at her dad's for the weekend and while there she suffered a seizure like episode. We met up at the ER and after 5 hours of worry filled testing we were admitted.

Here is where the thankful part comes in.

While I was waiting with my daughter in the hospital some of the lovely women I've met through AWB were calling, texting, emailing etc. They were asking what they could do to make things easier.

They were sending positive vibes, and lots of prayers. They offered me dinner, or laundry, entertainment, or a shoulder to cry on. They just wanted us to know we weren't alone.

They cared!

Today as I type this I want to say I am thankful for my daughter's recovery.

I am thankful for my sweet Daniel's support.

I am thankful for Heather, Jasmine, Stephanie, Logan(who isn't a woman, but is a great Arkansas blogger), Kim, and so many others.

I am also thankful for good boots! They make the days easier sometimes.

Last but not least, I am thankful for you!

And, thanks to Country Outfitter you can be thankful for good boots too! (Yep, here's where that gift for you comes in.)

Country Outfitter would like to give one of my readers the gift of good boots (up to $150 value).

And, we've made it pretty simple for you.

1. Click HERE and submit your email address. (You may receive additional emails or offers from Country Outfitter it's totally worth it though! )

2. Leave a comment here on the blog telling me what you're thankful for and that you've submitted your email address.

A random winner will be selected in two weeks, November 29, 2012, after 9 p.m.

(DISCLOSURE: Country OutīŦtter, a retailer of Justin's Women's Boots gave me these Justin Women's Burnished Tan Boot to review, and as you can tell, I love them!)
Pin It

Thursday, October 25, 2012

And The Winner Is...

We go old school around here.
First, I assigned a number to each entry and then I wrote each number on a piece of paper.
Like this

See, 1 through 7.
Next I put the numbers in an ice cream bowl.
Like this
See, all there.
Then I called my oh so adorable assistant over and put him to work.
He had to take a little look
Then I told him to pick one.
Seriously, how cute is he?
He's got one.
And the winner is
Number 1!
Congratulations Gina! Email me your contact information please!
A big thanks to every one that came by and entered, and a HUGE thanks to Thearpon Skin Health for the gift!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Skin Is In, Part 2. A Giveaway For You!

So a week or so ago I told you all about my love of all things Therapon Skin Health related and especially the Theraderm Clinical Skin Care, Skin Renewal System.

This Stuff is GOLD

Seriously it's amazing!
So anyways, after I told you all about the company I decided to "man-up" and give you photographic proof of the change.
I showed you my before and after. 
Take a look at my early morning make up free face. (Times 2)

The before is on the left, the after is on the right.
And, that's just two weeks in.

I haven't edited either picture in any way.
If I had, I'd have done something about my unruly eyebrow.

See the difference?
Noticeably less redness on the right.
After my post went live I shared my results with Thearpon Skin Health on twitter.
Christina messaged me and offered to give one of my followers (US Resident Only) a complete Skin Renewal System so that someone else could share in the experience of clear healthy skin with me.
Knowing what it feels like to suffer with/from rosacea, I jumped at the chance to help someone else.
So, how do you win?
If you are a US Resident than leave a comment telling me what issues you have with your skin.
Hey, I shared mine it's only fair you share yours. And, you never know we might be able to get some pending skin questions answered for you.
Also, I think it's only fair to ask that you share some LOVE with a "Like" to the Theraderm ClinicalSkin Health by Therapon  facebook page.
While you're there you can find my Facebook page as well.

I'll be doing this drawing the old fashion way, ya knowing pulling a name/number at random, so please know that only your first comment will count as an entry.
Feel free to share this with your friends and family, maybe you can steal it from them if they win.
The drawing will be in one week on Wednesday October 24, 2012. That gives you time to enter and have your friends and family enter to. Plus, it gives me time to finish mid-terms.
That's it. Let's Recap.
Us Residents Only
 Leave a Comment Telling Me About Your Skin Issues,
 Show Some LOVE on Facebook. 
Drawing Will Be Held on 10/24/12

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bullying, The Truth Behind This Momma Wanting to Kick Some Ass (because that makes sense)

     I shall remember forever and will never forget.

      Monday: my money was taken.

      Tuesday: names called.

      Wednesday: my uniform torn.

     Thursday: my body pouring with blood.

     Friday: it’s ended

     Saturday: freedom”

      That’s the final diary passage of thirteen-year old V. Singh. He was found hanging from the banister rail at home on the following Sunday. It is also a defining portion of the book Bullycide, Death at Playtime by Neil Marr and Tim Field.  October is National Bullying Awareness month. I’d like to talk a little about school bullying.  Bullying by definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary means 1: to treat abusively 2. to affect by means of force or coercion. That’s so much more than just bad behavior.  

     For bad behavior to be considered bullying, it has to have two ingredients, says Rana Sampson. She wrote a pamphlet called Bullying in Schools for the U.S. Department of Justice. The first ingredient is repeated harmful acts against the same person. The second is an imbalance of power. That means one person (the bully) must have or believe that he or she has more power than the victim has. (Power can be physical strength, or it can be a type of mental control.)

Each bullying act, Sampson says, usually includes
* a victim,

* the ringleader bully

* assistant bullies (they join in),

* reinforcers (they laugh with or encourage the bully)

* bystanders (they don't take a side)

*  and defenders (they step in and stick up for or comfort the victim). (Hunt, P., & Nevins, D)

      According to the National Education Association it is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. I’d feel safe saying that could probably be an understatement.

 I’d like to show you a picture of my son
(Cutie Pie, isn't he?)

Now I'd like to show you what bullying can do.


My son, at the age of 4, was a victim of school bullying. After the bullying became physical we had no choice but to withdraw him from the program. Luckily for us, the damage has been fairly minimal. He isn’t dealing with any real emotional issues and everything but one scar has healed and disappeared.
Bullying is real. It’s not something that just happens to everyone else. It can happen anywhere.

     If you check out the website Make Beats Not Beat Downs, you can find information about the different types of bullying.
     “Bullying can take many forms but it usually includes the following types of behavior:
• Physical – hitting, kicking, pinching, punching, scratching, spitting or any other form of physical attack. Damage to or taking someone else’s belongings may also constitute as physical bullying.
• Verbal – name calling, insulting, making racist, sexist or homophobic jokes, remarks or teasing, using sexually suggestive or abusive language, offensive remarks
• Indirect – spreading nasty stories about someone, exclusion from social groups, being made the subject of malicious rumors, sending abusive mail, and email and text messages (cyber bullying).
• Cyber Bullying - any type of bullying that is carried out by electronic medium.” (
     Knowing what bullying is, the different ways it can occur and the seriousness of the issue; how do we prevent it? Can we prevent? Most people say the key to bullying prevention is awareness. You know that old saying “knowledge is power”, bullying prevention is a great example of that at work.  Be aware of your surroundings. No, not the physical surroundings, the people you are surround with. Familiarize yourself with their behaviors their moods. Be aware of those things so you can and will notice any changes. Read the clues. Are they having any frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness? Have there been any changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating? Are they having difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares? Are there grades declining? Is there a loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school? Maybe there is a sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations or feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem. These are all clues that something like bullying is going on.

     If you determine bullying is occurring, a resolution lies within your reaction. React the right way.  Stay calm, and have an orderly plan. Start by assessing the level of bullying. All types of bullying should be taken seriously, but how you handle it will depend on the nature, severity and duration. Once you have gathered all of the facts try emailing or meeting with the teacher. Here is where staying calm really comes in to play. Try to remember you’re on the same team. If the teacher can’t resolve the problem, involve the principal. Put it in writing, explaining the steps you’ve taken, and ask that they intervene. Find out what they plan to do to keep the child safe. Then monitor the situation, and if you’re not satisfied, meet with the superintendent or, if necessary, the school board. If it’s cyber bullying report the harassment to your Internet Service Provider. If it’s physical, report it to the police.
     Finally, no matter how tempted you are, don’t confront the bully or his parents. Tempers are likely to flare, which will just make the situation worse. Leave it to the school or legal authorities.
William Shakespeare wrote,

    “All the world’s a stage,
     And all the men and women merely players.
     They have their exits and their entrances,
     And one man in his time plays many parts, …”  (As You Like It, Act 2, Scn. 7)
     “The bully, the bullied, and the bystander are three characters in a tragic play performed daily in our homes, schools, playgrounds, and streets.” (Colorose, B.) And, just like the characters in Shakespeare’s play, the roles we have as characters in life are real and the consequences of some actions can be deadly.
Which characters are you?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Skin Is In!

And healthy skin is even better!

Remember last month when I told you I was headed to Pucker Up with the lovely lady bloggers of NWA for the Therapon Skin Health Perfect Lip launch party?

Well when I was there I met Christina. She is amazing and she works for Therapon Skin Health.

Did you know TSH (Therapon Skin Health) was a local company?

Really local.

NWArkansas local.


Seriously! We have had this company in our backyard and I am just now learning about them.


So anyways, a week or so after the party I sent Christina a tweet and I asked if they had a product or a combination of products that would be good for people, like me, that suffer with/from rosacea.

And, then I asked about something for teen acne.

Tweet was answered and product was shipped.

Such Pretty Packaging.

The Goodies Inside The Box

I'm in love with this product. I've been using it for 2 weeks and the difference in my skin is great!

Let me clarify, I was NOT paid to write this.

I was NOT asked to.

I just WANTED to because it really is THAT GOOD!

Proof is in the pudding right? Well here goes.

Take a look at my early morning make up free face. (Times 2)
The before is on the left, the after is on the right. And, that's just two weeks in.
I haven't edited either picture in any way.
If I had, I'd have done something about my unruly eyebrow.
See the difference?
Noticeably less redness on the right.
I'm looking forward to even further reduction in the bright red coloring from my rosacea as I continue to use the products. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Who Wouldn't Like FREE Boots

Hello lovelies!

Hope everyone is enjoying the approaching Fall weather.

Remember a couple weeks ago when I told you about meeting the Oprah of boots at the AWBU conference?

Well... Now it's your turn to meet her.

Kind of.

Ok, maybe you won't really meet her but, I can offer you some extra chances to WIN FREE BOOTS from Country Outfitter!!

It's not quite time for my giveaway :( It's coming I promise.

Lucky for you though, I know some wonderful women, fellow Arkansas Women Bloggers, that are partnering with Country Outfitter and giving a way FREE BOOTS!

Go check them out, enter away, and maybe just maybe we can rock new boots together!

Check out Debbie Arnold and sign up for her giveaway.

Check out Angie and sign up for her giveaway.

Check out Paige and sign up for her giveaway. (This one closes on the 20th.)

Check out Lela and sign up for her giveaway.

There you go, 4 more chances to win. Go. Quick quick.

And, if you win, I should totally have some impute on which boots you pick!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pucker Up

Yay Saturday! I've been waiting a couple weeks for September the 8th.

I bet you're wondering why, aren't you?

Don't worry, I'm going to tell you.

A couple a weeks ago my friend Stephanie invited me to a NWArk Bloggers Meet-Up and today is the day.

The meet-up is sponsored by Therapon Skin Health.

We all get to try out their BRAND NEW Perfect Lip product, Pucker Up! Plus they're bringing a photographer and we all get NEW HEAD SHOTS!

And, like that alone is enough, there will be SWAG BAGS!

EEK!! I love that swag bags have entered my life. Some of the swag will be from Mrs. Meyers Clean Day, Oh Baby Foods, Country Outfitter, Blessings Unlimited, Junk Headbands, and Piggy Paint.

Wait, I'm not done...

The Moxy Ox is giving away 3 sets of 250 business cards! I'm not sure if you've seen their work but, chances are if you've seen any totally awesome business cards or stickers around here, they were probably designed by them.

Did I tell you that after the meet-up with the head shots, and the swag bags, we then get to go see STOMP at the Walton Arts Center?

Yep, we do!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


<3 Boot Love
His and Hers!
(well Hers and His really)

I Met Oprah! Well... I Met The Oprah Of Boots!

Well... I met the Oprah of boots!

Actually, I already knew her I just didn't know of her Oprah-ish qualities.

The weekend before last I had the honor of attending the Arkansas Women Bloggers' Unplugged Conference. Much thanks to Country Outfitter for sponsoring me.

Myself and 70+ other bloggers from all over Arkansas gathered at the Ozark Folk Center for a full weekend of fun, learning, and bonding.

Too explain how things happened, or why, or even to sum up the weekend is IMPOSSIBLE! It was great. It was amazing!

It was just AWBU; a once in a lifetime experience really.

So... back to meeting Oprah.

Saturday we all gathered together in preparation of a cookout, a little fiddle playing, some jig dancing, and that AHH Moment only  Oprah (or someone LIKE Oprah) could give!

Meet Stephanie, aka the Oprah of boots.

Saturday afternoon she came to the conference stage and said "You get boots, you get boots, YOU GET BOOTS!' (now you see why we call her the Oprah of boots, huh?)

Stephanie works for Acumen Brands, the parent company of Country Outfitter and thanks to them we were all gifted with a pair of boots of our choice (up to $150)!

We were all given a pair of boots to try out, and review.

I picked these lovelies!

Stay tuned, my review and a GIVEAWAY for you is coming soon!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Do You See What I See

Well... do you?

Heather and I kidnapped the third Shannon and headed off to Mountain View Arkansas for AWBU conference. (More on that whole kidnapping thing later) And, on our way we stopped at Mickey D's for a late dinner. Kidnapping isn't as easy as it seems so it took a little longer. (Again, more on that later)

While standing in what seemed like the longest MD line EVER, a shaggy looking barely 16 year old boy stepped up to the other register. 'Here," I whispered to Heather and Shannon, "he's going to open this line."


He just stood there. Staring at all of us.

After a few minutes I noticed the screen on the register.

Yeah it was saying just what we all were thinking.

That POS was closed!

Road Trip to AWBU (Part 1)

This is how my Friday started.

After I got the majority of the kids off to school I dropped The Dad off at work, and headed to Bentonville to pick up my paycheck.

You see, AWBU conference was starting today and I was trying to streamline my preparation. I took The Dad to work because I was carpooling with my BFF Heather in what was planned to be karaoke fest 2012, and we didn't want to leave one of our vehicles parked away from home all weekend.

So anyways, I took the Dad to work and hit I-540 towards Bentonville. It's 9 am and my phone starts ringing. It's my other BFF Shawna. Shawna NEVER calls me in the morning, she has kids and a job, it just doesn't happen, so I of course thought something was wrong. Nothing was wrong, she just wanted to chat. So we did.

I don't know how often you talk to your girlfriends, but when Shawna and I get the chance to speak to each other not text, it's usually a whole lot of OMG and laughing.

We were chatting about nothing really, and Boy 2, the baby, was just singing to himself from the backseat, so I wasn't really paying attention to my surroundings. I told Shawna I was headed to BV to get my check, and then home to pack for AWBU and the next thing I know I'm on the turnpike to Missouri.

MISSOURI!! In case you missed that!

Now that I was lost, I did what all good drivers do, I said "Shawna, hold on I'm lost" and then I turned the radio down.

I did manage to find my way out of Missouri and back into Arkansas. I also managed to remember to pick up my paycheck, eventually. (That's a whole other story)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Have Some Chocolate With Me

Tomorrow would be my Momma's 72nd birthday. Would be. She passed away 11 years ago this past February.

My entire life, well as far back as I can remember, I have celebrated her birthday by laying a single red rose and a Hershey chocolate bar by her bed for when she woke up. I always wanted it to be the first "gift" she got that day, and my older brothers and sisters were always happy to help me make that happen.

As we grew up I eventually became able to do it all on my own. And, for the last 11 years I have quietly continued to celebrate her birthday by laying a single red rose on her headstone and sitting along side it enjoying a Hershey candy bar.

Tomorrow will be no different, but, tomorrow I'd like each of you to help me celebrate her by having a Hershey chocolate bar yourself.

Maybe you could you send me a pic of how you're enjoying it. Post it here, post it on Facebook, tweet it. maybe that will make the day a little easier.

I think she would like that.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kicking Up My Boots At AWBU

Did you see my new badge?

It's over there on the left.

I'll give you a hint, #AWBU.

Ah, now you see it.

Little ol me is going to be a part of the Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged Conference.

And, it's all thanks to the kind folks at Country Outfitter.

I've been a fan of Country Outfitter for awhile now. My daughters' birthday list usually consist of something from their website. So, when I heard they had signed on as a sponsor of the conference I was beyond excited. When I got a tweet saying they'd like to give me a scholarship to attend the conference, I did a happy dance. I did several happy dances.

Arkansas Women Bloggers, AWB, is a network of support for women in Arkansas that blog. I bet you kind of knew that by the name though, huh. AWB has given me a supportive group of women to bounce ideas off of, and that stand behind me cheering.

I'm a transplant to Arkansas, Originally from Oklahoma. When I moved, I left most of my support system behind. (You can look here for a little more about that.) The ladies in AWB have made this Okie feel a little less out of place, and a little less homesick.

I am thrilled to be attending the conference, and so grateful to Country Outfitter for sending me there.

I am looking forward to meeting so many new faces, and to be thanking them in person for the support they have given me. I hope to learn a thing or two, and make some new friends, and most importantly, to Gather~Grow~Connect.

Oh, and one more thing, stay tuned to the blog for the next few weeks; I've got a little surprise coming your way, and who doesn't like a giveaway. Now, go tell your friends.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


My doorbell just rang. It never rings. I knew in an instant what it was.

As I walked from the kitchen to the front room I saw the FedEx truck in my driveway.

That poor innocent FedEx girl. She didn't know what she was getting into.

I opened the door with a squeal, and said "OMG that's my LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER book from Snapfish"

She couldn't hand it to me fast enough.

It's HERE! The book is here. My heart is full!

And, the book is beautiful. It's the perfect combination of all of us. It's like having a piece of every single person that was a part of the Listen To Your Mother shows.

I will NEVER be able to explain what I got from LTYM. Sometimes words aren't enough. Sometimes feelings can't be labeled. Sometimes gifts and blessings can't be counted.

Listen To Your Mother gave me, at the very least, my voice back. This book will be a daily reminder.

I came, I saw, I wrote, I spoke. We cried.

Thank you will never be enough, but, THANK YOU Ann Imig, Lela Davidson, Stephanie Funk McCratic, and Snapfish!

Seven Minutes of Heaven

There is something to be said when a mom will wake up early during the summer to make fried tortillas with cinnamon and sugar for her kids. 

Some would call that "breakfast"

Others would call it a "poor choice"

I call it "seven minutes of heaven"

That's about how long they're quiet when they're eating. 

Try it. You'll like it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Boy 1 Is Wondering...

So the other day, The Dad and I were spending some time with Boy 1.

We were headed to get some lunch when Boy 1 started to ask questions.

Questions are great.

I love that my kids ask questions because they want to know, or learn something.

What I don't love is the unknown of what said questions may be.

Being a parent is hard.

Anyways, back to the other day. So we are headed to lunch and the questions start.

It's the normal stuff. Woo Hoo!! Nothing to see here people; just a 5 year old boy asking his Momma and Dad "why" about a million times or to change the radio station, or if he can go here or there, and could we do this or that.

Then he asked...

Boy 1 "Dad, do humans make other humans?"

(so glad he asked The Dad)

The Dad "Well what do you think? Your Momma is a human and you came from your momma."

Boy 1 "DUH Dad!! I know Mommies make babies but do humans make other humans?!?"

The Dad "You ARE a human, Momma is a human, babies are human."

Boy 1 "Oh! Oh yeah I knew that."

Man, my kid is a genius ;)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Homesick At Home. What It's Like To Be New In Town 4 Years Later

I'm beginning to wonder if this state will ever feel like home.

The beauty of the Natural State does a good job of filling the void for awhile but, at some point it should start to feel like you're home; right?

I feel like I've moved in but, maybe a piece of me is still across the state line waiting.

I find myself wishing I had the relationships I had there, over here. I miss my friends. I miss having girlfriends. I miss the bond and the inside jokes that date all the way back to grade school.

I miss knowing if I call, the phone will be answered or the missed call returned. I miss conversations via text with so many LOLs it starts to look like nonsense . I miss riding around in the car singing at the top of my lungs. I miss laughing so much my stomach and my face hurt.

Don't get me wrong, I have met some wonderful people here. D introduced me to his circle of friends and they were very welcoming and kind. This is their home already though. They have their friends, their girlfriends, their inside jokes, and their bonds established.

When I was home, I had a place in my community. I knew where I stood with people. I had professional relationships, and I had paid my dues.

Here it seems like I just can't get through the door. I try. I honestly try more than anyone would ever know. Will it ever be enough, or what "they" want? Who knows.

I volunteer. I love it. I jump at any given opportunity to do it. I could say I do it only for the good of doing it but, that wouldn't be completely honest. Although I do, do it just for that, I'd be lying if I didn't say I thought community service would open some doors for relationships, personal and professional.

I'm four years into the move. My kids are happy and healthy, and building relationships of their own. I'm happy for them.

Moving back isn't really an option because they deserve the time to establish the very bonds I am missing.

It's a bit embarrassing to admit I'm lonely.

I have a great guy who loves me so unconditionally, beautiful children that make me beem with pride, but I don't have the huge piece of me that comes from being home.

How do I make this home?

What else do I need to do?

How do you become part of a group or even make new friends?

As an adult it seems so stupid to cry at night because you're homesick.

It's not sleep-away-camp, it's life. It's the life I willingly chose, and a life I love with my family. But, it's still hard. It's still lonely. It's still scary.

Everyone deserves to feel like a part of something outside of their family. So here I am world, ready and waiting to feel like I'm home again.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day and Something To Screw

Sunday is Father's Day, and since I have to work and the girls are all gone for summer visitation, me and the boys took the Dad out tonight night for some yummy BBQ. It's his favorite.

While eating dinner, Boy 1 started questioning what activities were to come. 

Boy 1, "Hey Daddy, What are we going to do tomorrow while Momma is gone?"

The Dad, "Man work."

Boy 1, "Man work? Like what?"

The Dad, "We are going to mow, then spray bug stuff, maybe plant Momma's new flowers, and work around the house."

Boy 1, "Work with tools?"

The Dad, "Yep, working with tools."

Boy 1, "COOOOOL DAD!!"

(Our food comes and we start eating, THEN....)

Boy 1, "Hey Dad? Tomorrow can you find me something to screw?"

The Dad, while spitting Diet Coke out of his nose, "Yes son, yes, I'll find you something to screw."

Happy Father's Day!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Toddler Still Likes "Baby Food"

Boy 2 is my youngest.

He is my baby.

He is almost two (next week to be exact).

And, he still LOVES his fruit puree.

Boy 2, is a fan of fruit purees. It's one of his favorite things to eat. He eats "big people food" to but, everyday he likes a little fruit puree for a snack. So everyday I gladly open a package, squirt it into a bowl, and let him enjoy it.  And, sometimes I just let him suck it out of the package.

I get asked more than I ever thought I would, "Isn't he too old for that?" or "Are you really still feeding your toddler baby food?"

Yes, YES I AM!

Stop judging me.

I'm sure most of us still feed our children applesauce. Heck we probably eat it ourselves. So why is applesauce acceptable but not other fruit purees? It just seems stupid to me.

I feed my boys, both of them, purees from Oh Baby Foods

Oh Baby Foods is a local company that provides 100% organic foods, made from regionally-raised ingredients grown 100% by US farmers. It's good for my boys. It's good for my community, and our Country's farmers.

Oh Baby Foods currently offer 6 super yummy "meals for babies"

Peachy Keen, Basil Babe, Pearfecto, Wise Punkin, LavenBerry, and AmazeMint

Boy 2 is a HUGE fan and his big brother, Boy 1, is five and he still likes them to!

So, I'm just going to sit back and take the judgement while my boys eat their all natural 100% organic"baby food"

Come On and Sing It With Me Car Wash! Get With The Feelin' Y'all Car Wash Yeah

(You're singing the song now aren't you?)

I went to wash the van this morning.

I had the boys with me and apparently they had their ears were turned on.

As I gave my gift card to the attendant  (yes I had a gift card to the car wash) I say, somewhat under my breath I thought, hope this is worth $12.

He gives me suckers for the boys and says "put it in neutral, no brakes, no hands, no wipers, and the vacuums are free." 

We go through the car wash, I take full advantage of the free vacuums and as I'm hanging up the vacuum an attendant walks by us.  

Boy 1 looks at him and says "these suckers and the free vacuums almost make it worth the $12." 

He is so my child.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Talking Lunch With Boy 1. He's 5.

Me, "What do you want for lunch?"

Boy 1, "Um, how about a grilled cheese."

Me, "Ok. Go sit down and I'll make you one."

Boy 1, "Mom? I don't want like a regular grilled cheese. Can you better it up with some avocado?"

Me, "I don't have any avocado we ate it the other night with dinner."

Boy 1, "Not cool Mom, not cool!"

Bragging Rights

I've got to give the Dad and myself a few pats on the back. It seems that throughout the craziness that is our life of wrangling 5 children, we must be doing something right.

Last month I told you all about Daughter 1 being asked to prom, the week of prom, by a senior boy who found himself without his previous date.

Daughter 1 was excited but cautiously hopeful in her preparation. (We aren't raising naive children around here.) In fact she was so cautiously hopeful that she didn't allow herself to get excited till 9 am the morning of the prom as I sat to do her manicure.

Don't worry, she didn't get stood up or anything. She went and had a good time and more importantly followed all the rules we had laid out.

In preparation for the big event we had the boy over for dinner. We expressed our concern with the timing of things and how it might be perceived and where that would fall on our daughter. He assured her, and us that things weren't exactly friendly with his ex-girlfriend/prom date but, that things were definitely done and in an ok place. So we allowed her to go and have since  kept a close eye on the friendship/high school relationship.

So here's were the bragging and patting on the backs begin.

Today, Daughter 1 sent me a string of text messages:

Text 1. "He's not over her."

Text 2. "Don't worry I'm not sad or anything. I'm mad."

Text 3. "I deserve better than that."

Text 4. "So does she."

Text 5. "By the way I got a 94% on my Biology semester test."

As I read my daughter's first message my heart began to hurt for her but, before I could text her back and say something mommy-like she sends the second and then the third.

By the third message I was smiling. "I deserve better than that."

She had been listening. She had been hearing us as we told her nightly we loved her and she deserved the world. She knows it's the truth.

As a Momma there are countless dreams and hopes I have for my children. Self respect and awareness is problem on the top of the list. To witness my 16 year old little girl define her worth is amazing. She is wise. She is kind. She is beautiful. She is loved. And, she knows it.


Points for the Momma and the Dad we ARE doing something right.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lather Up! Leather Doesn't Look Good On Any One

May in National Melanoma Awareness Month and as a 14 year survivor I always love an opportunity to push sun safety on everyone.

When I was 16 years old I was diagnosed with Superficial Spreading Melanoma.

"Superficial spreading melanoma is by far the most common type, accounting for about 70 percent of all cases. This is the one most often seen in young people. As the name suggests, this melanoma grows along the top layer of the skin for a fairly long time before penetrating more deeply."

I had a freckle appear on the inside of my arm, along my elbow. At first I thought nothing of it. I've had lots or freckles. They kind of come with the territory when you spend every waking moment you can outside. As summer went on and school started, I started thinking it looked like it was getting bigger. But, I just chalked that up to me seeing things.

During  my "Well Child" physical my doctor noticed it. He asked me if that mole had always looked like that? Mole? Last I checked it was a tiny little freckle. I told him my freckle had appeared sometime during the summer but, that we hadn't really thought much of it. He immediately called for my mother to come into the room and explained to her that things looked very irregular around the boarder of my once freckle, now mole, and said we need to have it biopsied.

"The first sign is the appearance of a flat or slightly raised discolored patch that has irregular borders and is somewhat asymmetrical in form. The color varies, and you may see areas of tan, brown, black, red, blue or white. This type of melanoma can occur in a previously benign mole. The melanoma can be found almost anywhere on the body, but is most likely to occur on the trunk in men, the legs in women, and the upper back in both."

A few days later we headed to the dermatologist. Nervous, scared, but, hopeful it was nothing. The dermatologist agreed that it looked rather irregular and that a biopsy was necessary.

He had my mother sign some more paper work, and then numbed my arm and took what looked like a miniature post hole digger to my elbow and removed the entire freckle-mole-totallynowscary-thingy from my skin.

At check out the nurse assured us not to worry, and reminded us that no news was always good news, saying 'If you don't hear from us in the next two weeks, forget all about it."

4 days in I was still feeling fairly confident that it was nothing more than another weird freckle. Imagine my surprise when on the 5th day we got a phone call asking us to come back into to the dermatologist's office.

"Superficial Spreading Melanoma" he said. "We need to remove some more tissue and make sure nothing has spread."

That statement is still one of the most terrifying things I have ever heard.

Luckily for me, nothing had spread. Everything was gone, and the skin cancer had been completely removed.

Since turning 16 I have had skin checks every 3 to 6 months depending on any weird changes happening to the freckles or moles on my body. I have had ungodly amounts of biopsies; usually they come back fine, but other times they come back as dysplastic.

"DYSPLASTIC NEVI (atypical moles) are unusual benign moles that may resemble melanoma. People who have them are at increased risk of developing single or multiple melanomas. The higher the number of these moles someone has, the higher the risk; those who have 10 or more have 12 times the risk of developing melanoma compared to the general population. Dysplastic nevi are found significantly more often in melanoma patients than in the general population"

After every biopsy I wait with baited breath in fear of a phone call saying "We need you to come back into the office" With every mole that comes back as dyplastic, my fear goes up, as well as my desire to tell people to cover up.

I don't care if "tan fat looks better" being alive looks a WHOLE LOT better to me.

Protect yourself, protect your children. You can prevent melanoma. Sunscreen is a lot cheaper than quarterly skin checks, biopsies, more invasive surgeries, or a funeral.

We Got Our Tonka On

Saturday afternoon Boy 1, Boy 2, myself, and the Grandmother headed to the John Q. Hammons Center for the Junior League of Northwest Arkansas' Touch A Truck event. It was "The best field trip ever!" according to Boy1.

When we got there we went right to the Tonka play center. It was awesome. They had sand boxes with Tonka trucks in them, Tonka tents, hard hats & vest for pictures, balls to play with, balloons, and Tonka mats for playing with even more Tonka trucks. My boys probably played there for 30 minutes before they were ready to go explore some of the big trucks.

I loved that the Tonka play center was located right by all the big construction equipment. My boys went from playing with a dump truck to exploring IN a dump truck. Brilliant.

For roughly 2.5 hours my boys climbed in and out of bucket trucks, tanks, school buses, cement trucks, semis, backhoes, dump trucks, police cars, firetrucks, swat trucks, and just about every other possible vehicle or service equipment known to man. They sat on motor-cylces, ate popsicles, learned about fire safety, shot a BB gun, had their faces painted, played in sand, played in dirt, played in rice, and painted pictures. They were given treats from various vendors and sponsors; candy, frisbees, rubber bracelets, coloring sheets, pencils, stickers, and temporary tattoos.

For roughly 2.5 hours on Saturday my boys were treated as if they were "King of the World" and they were allowed to act as such.

For roughly 2.5 hours my boys laughed, squealed, clapped their hands, jumped up in down in excitement, and sat in amazement.

Thank you to the Junior League of Northwest Arkansas, Tonka, and all the working men and women of Northwest Arkansas for bringing Touch a Truck to my boys. Thank you for giving Boy 1 "the best field trip ever!'

Monday, May 7, 2012

She'll Need A Dress, My Listen To Your Mother Piece

Everyone knows now.  The phone hasn't stopped ringing, and knocks on the door keep coming.  I'm not in the mood for sympathy from others.  Maybe my lack of sleep is to blame, maybe I just don't want to hear it'll be ok, or feel someone else's arms around me.  My focus today is solely finding what my Momma will wear.

It's close to 11 now, and the funeral director has called (again) asking for the clothing, wondering what we have planned for her to wear.  This part should be easy, my mother always talked about what she wanted to be buried in.  I've known since I was 7 exactly what she wanted.

“When I die, you better put me in the best red dancing dress you can find. AND heels! I have to have heels on. I'll need to have my Charlie on and don't forget red panties"
My mother knew what my dad liked, and she wanted to go out still catching his eye and ready to dance the night away.

So why is this so hard?  Hell, it's February; finding a red dress should be easy.

It's 1, and if I don't go now I never will.  I gather my belongings, kiss my baby girl goodbye and head to the department store.  As I'm browsing the racks of dresses a happy little sales girl says "Can I help you find something? Are you looking for a dress for a valentine date? Have you seen these?"  Shit!  Now I know why I didn't want to do this; people, people asking questions, staring at you waiting for answers, filling the already awkward silence with even more questions.  I guess I have to acknowledge her but, what do I say? Clearing my throat I say, "I'm just looking, but thank you.  I'll let you know if I need anything."

Back to the racks I come across a dress.  It's satin, has tiny roses on the top, an empire waist, and spaghetti straps.  It also has a matching cardigan and since I've been directed by the funeral home her outfit must have sleeves this is perfect.  I make my way to the under wear department where I find red lace panties that perfectly match the dress. Onto shoes; without many options I settle for a pair of strappy red heels.

I make my way to the register and here is the sales girl I have been trying so hard to avoid.  "Did you find everything you need?" (GREAT more questions) "Yes" I say.  "What's the special occasion, Valentine's day?"  She's staring, waiting. God, why am I not a better liar?  "My mother passed away.  I'm buying her funeral clothes."   Silence...

Driving to the funeral home I feel a bit of relief.  I have one more thing done, one less thing to worry about.  In the parking lot I find myself clutching the dress as if it's the last piece of my mother I will ever hold.  How do I do this? How do I hand off of the outfit my mother will be buried in?  Why, at 19 years old am I even here?  This isn't fair.

As I hand over the clothing the director says "This is want you want her to wear?"  "Yes," I say.  "It is going to be open casket, and a traditional Catholic Mass right?" she says while looking at the stuff I've brought.”  Oh here, we won't need these shoes, or these panties; Honey we don't really dress them from head to toe" she continues.  "But," I mange to squeak out, "It's what she wanted.  It's what she always wanted.  She wants to meet my Dad again how she met him before; in a red dancing dress.  I have to make sure she gets this."

I have to make sure she gets this.  I need this.  I need to believe in this, as long as she gets this, she will be reunited with my dad how she wanted.  I will have done this one thing to prove I love her and she will know.  She will know that she is important and she is loved, by me.

I picked this one insignificant detail to focus on because it was easier than thinking about the only person I felt had ever loved me was gone.  The only person capable of loving me so wholly and unconditionally was gone.

Now what?  I'm only 19.

I'm only 19 and now, I'm my own mother.

Listen To Your Mother, Why It Mattered To Me

Listen To Your Mother has come but I wouldn't say it's gone.

On Sunday April 29th I took the stage at Walton Arts Center with 13 beautiful and talented women.

All of us are at different points in our lives, all of us with different stories, all of us are new to this whole LTYM thing, and all of us are now closer than ever before.

For me LTYM was about honoring my mother one more time. It was a chance to feel like I had done something right. Like I hadn't failed her.

You see, my piece, She'll Need a Dress, was me telling the story of finding the clothing of which to bury her in. The circumstances in life leading up to such event have made who I am today. As well as a little uneasy with and unprepared for the emotions that came with telling my story.

When my Momma passed away I was only 19, newly 19 at that. It was a fairly regular Sunday. Except that my Momma was tired. Very tired. I had asked her numerous times if she felt ok, or needed to go to the doctor. Each time I woke her or questioned her she assured me everything was fine, she was just tired.

As the day went on and turned into evening I woke her up for dinner. She didn't want to eat, so I again asked if she wanted to go to the doctor. Again she said she was fine just really tired.

I started to watch a movie and time got away from me. Before I knew it, it was after 9 p.m. I went to wake my Momma up one more time, and in that instant my life changed forever. I opened her bedroom door and said "Momma" she didn't respond so I said it louder, still nothing. I went to shake her a tad and when I did I discovered her body was lifeless.

I screamed and I tried with everything in me to revive her. 911 was called and paramedics and police came from out of nowhere. I continued to try to revive her. Paramedics told me there was nothing else we could do but, I didn't want to believe them. I begged, and begged for them to bring my Momma back but, it was too late.

I have forever felt like I failed her. I didn't wake her in time. I didn't try hard enough to revive her. I always wonder if I had done just one more repetition if it would have mattered.

Listen To Your Mother gave me a moment in time to do it right. To honor the woman she was, and to honor her memory. Her legacy is all I have left of her and I wanted to do it justice.

As I took the stage last Sunday, the emotions started to take over. I realized about the time Stephanie said my name to the audience that I really might not be ready for this.

When I began to speak the tears started to fall. Lucky for me we had the greatest audience anyone could ask for. They opened their hearts to me as I not so eloquently poured out mine.

I gave them a tiny piece of me and they gave me pieces of their hearts in return.

Together we cried, we laughed, and we cried some more. Together.

For a moment in time all the Mommas in the world were holding me tight.

For a moment in time I didn't feel alone in my burdens.

(photographers courtsey of Megan Clemence Photography)