4th of July. Celebrating a Great Nation.

I’m not going to give you a history lesson.  We all know what happened July 4th 1776.  But what I do want to talk about is the amazing fact that our nation has celebrated its greatness every year, for way over two centuries.  I think Independence Day provides a good opportunity to remind ourselves of how fortunate we are; a good opportunity to celebrate our nation, our people, our heritage, our freedom. 

As an American that lived abroad for many years (in Colombia, South America to be exact), I can attest to the wonders of this country.  It’s sad to think that so many people take this land for granted.  Yes, I know there are many real obstacles in life, but this is the land of opportunity.  No other country in the world offers the freedom and the numerous avenues to attain the sense of self-accomplishment and success that we all crave from time to time.  No other country in the world lets you do this.

Contrary to popular (yellow press) belief, our reality as a nation is far better than what we see in the news. Please don’t let yourself get absorbed by the media and the political propaganda of the election year. Your nation, OUR nation is great already! – yes, there might be a thing, or two, or three to change, but that’s just a political stand point-  We let ourselves get brainwashed by what we see and forget the beauty of what is already around us

I have a proposition for you.  This 4th of July, celebrate, not only the Independence of our beloved Nation, but also those who serve it, those who have died for it, and those who are part of it. 

Celebrate YOU, regardless of your background, social status, religion, race, sexual orientation, or heritage.

Celebrate your neighbor, your friends, your family and everyone that makes part of us, because it was UNITY that led this great nation to sign the Declaration of Independence, and it’ll be only UNITY what will lead us into a peaceful future.

United we are strong.  All people, from all backgrounds included.  Diversity is a powerful tool, and if we hinder this wonderful gift that comes with different cultures, different ideas, and different beliefs, we are denying ourselves and our children of the real greatness of this country. Embrace the fact that we are all different, we are all unique; we are the United States of America. Happy 4th of July! Let the fireworks begin!

**** Read more in our Diary!

Fathers Day

There are all types of dads out there. The fun dad, the strict dad, the goofy dad, the intellectual dad, the stay at home dad, the working dad, the single dad, and the every other weekend dad (sometimes by choice- others times not). Sometimes you aren't biologically a dad but for all intents and purposes you are a dad. Sometimes you are a single mother who fills the role of mom and dad. Whatever kind of dad you have, let me let you in on a little secret, they won't be around forever.

Take my own dad, pretty easily dubbed the "goofy" dad, you could catch him dancing around in his tighty whiteys on a  Saturday morning in the living room, or sneaking McDonalds happy meals as an after-school snack. He was the first to volunteer at the annual Christmas tree lot sale at church, and was front row at all my basketball games. He relentlessly embarrassed me by jiving around the house when I had sleep overs, much to the chittering amusement of my friends. 

He paid out weekly allowances in crisp $2 bills and never skimped on book fair funds. But don't even think about ordering a drink at a restaurant ("that's where they get ya is on the drinks!") water only for the Barlows. He took me on my ever fist roller coaster ride (and promptly instilled in me a fear of heights... to which I still cannot get over to this day) and terrorized me while watching Nightmare on Elm Street (really who lets a 3rd grader watch that?!) but he never complained when I faked falling asleep in the car so he could carry me inside and put me to bed.

So many people tell you to enjoy every moment with your children, "they grow so fast" they say. "Don't blink or you'll miss it" we are constantly reminded as we watch our children enter various stages of development and growth. What we don't hear enough of, is to enjoy our parents. We take for granted that they will always be there for us with a quick call or drive across town. Words of wisdom to calm pre-motherhood jitters, or interest rates and home loan questions when you purchase your first house. We simply take for granted the one constant in our lives, the one thing that's always been since we've been old enough to create memories, our parents.

My dad is terminally ill.

I have had to watch as the past decade has eaten away at the goofy, loud, tighty whitey dancing man that I have loved. Due to a degenerative brain disease he has slowly faded away both physically and mentally. The big tall man I remember from my childhood looks so small, frail in comparison. While that light and fire can sometimes be seen beneath the medicated sleepiness in which he so often finds himself, he is relegated to a bed, or a wheelchair unable to walk, needing help with everyday activities of living.  Gone are the days of bookfairs and dancing. 

So readers I leave you with this, enjoy your parents, they won't be around forever. They may not be perfect, in fact they are most likely equal parts infuriating, embarrassing, and loveable, but they are yours. 

I would gladly ride another million roller coasters to have my dad back, healthy and happy.

  

 

 

 

 

Best of Stephanie: Part One

Mia and I have a pretty amazing circle of friends. From bombarding each other with a million texts in the group chat (thanks for that as I try and sleep in the mornings after a 12 hour night shift- 92 messages?! Really?!), to (at least)  monthly game night sessions where we sip cocktails from plastic princess cups while we argue over whether or not one of our hubbies is cheating in HeadBandz (he was by the way), to planning international adventures to Europe (summer 2016 can't come soon enough!) we have a lot of fun. 

An integral part of this group is our dear friend Stephanie, known for her quick wit, sarcasm, and tough as nails attitude. Don't let her fool you though, beneath the hard exterior this chick has a heart of gold (and she makes a mean cheese dip for game nights- she may have to guest blog on a Fatten me Up Friday). She's the friend who will deck out in Panthers garb for the Superbowl because she knows you're a die hard fan even though she isn't even sure what the Superbowl means, she drops her plans on a Saturday to go to a Halloween party with you so you don't have to go alone, and she buys special toys and coloring stuff for your kids for the annual Christmas party so they will have something to do. But seriously she's the best- she completes this crazy gang we roll with.

I have been compiling a list of my favorite things we has said/posted/texted (much like our list of crazy things our kids have said- read that here).  Without further ado- the best Stephanie-isms of recent:

- The most unrealistic thing about watching Friends is not how they can all afford those apartments, but how they don't come home from work and immediately change into pajamas.

- Beach when your 16 vs 32:

 Where should we set up?

16: next to all those cute boys so I can show off my swimsuit

32: Where are there less people?

"Don't forget skin care"

16: *slathers on copious amounts of suntan oil

32: *meticulously covers every inch in SPF 50 waterproof

"What should we eat?'

16: Whatever greasy thing the street vendor is selling

32: I brought a cooler with snacks!

"What do you want to do?"

16: Let's play football! No, swim! No, let's go jump off those rocks!

32: *applies more sunscreen*

"Now what?"

16: Let's lay out and get more sun?

32: Ohhhh, that's a cool seashell!

 

- If I make it through today unmediated, I deserve an award.

- Does anyone know anywhere offering classes for Adulting? Or How to Adult? Or perhaps one of my dear FB friends is an Adultier Adult that I could consult?

- Anyplace I can shop and drink is OK is my book.

- I feel like Trump is the same guy/girl running for student body president back in middle school who promised free pizza for lunch every day just to get the votes...and we all know how that turned out.

- For anyone who's said that Ikea is the ultimate test of a relationship has clearly never pained a bathroom with their S.O.

- I just got an email notification to remind us of Channing Tatums birthday...does anyone remember why?? (Btw, we all got this reminder and can't remember how it got set)

- I don't think I have the stamina to be a girl

- There's nothing that ruins a "hey-I-look-pretty-decent-today" mood quicker than when you turn your phone on and it's in forward facing camera mode. Hello chins. Good morning to you.

- I think we'd be one step closer to achieving world peace of everyone would just use their freaking blinker. 

 We love you Steph! Keep entertaining us with your witty comments!

READ MORE FROM OUR DIARY HERE!

Part Two: Kids are Weird

Welcome back to another installment of Kids are Weird. If you are silently asking "Installment?" to yourself, you obviously did not read Part One: Kids are Weird. Have no fear, click the link here to read more hilarious and often cringe worthy things my children have said

  • "My shoes smell like seaweed."
  • (While eating some horrendous lollipop concoction from the grocery, Juicy Drop Pop or some other ridiculousness.)"This tastes like Monday. It's sour but also kind of sweet" (Sorry kid, I think you meant Sunday...that's what a Sunday evening tastes like, Monday is just plain sour). 
  • "It smells like ranch out here" (Ikea parking lot)
  • After a fun field day at the local high school "It seems pretty cool there, all they do is hang out, drink Coke, and sometimes write essays". 

 

  • "I love your farts, they smell like icecream"
  • "Let's just call him Donald Poop." (I'll let you decide who the 5 year old was referring too)
  • L: Who's your teacher? Me: I don't have one L: *Eyes widen in wonder and disbelief* So you can do anything you want?!
  • "So when I want a husband what do I do? Just walk up to someone and tell him he's my husband or what?"

*** READ MORE IN OUR DIARY!

 I swear these kids are crazy!!  

Writer's Block? Beat the Beast.

Let's be honest.  You can say you write a lot, and that you have been writing since you were young, but everyone goes through a scary (for us in this profession) condition called Writer's Block.  Symptoms include: inability to think, lose of appropriate wordage, thesaurus-constriction, lack of plotting capability, and overall sense of unwillingness to create the next chapter/page.

Writer's Block is not something you expect.  You may have an amazing idea one day, and, right in the middle of your writing, the block takes place.  Suddenly, you can't find what to type next.  Nothing makes sense, and everything (if you can think of anything) seems dull.  

So, how does one solve this problem?  The answer is not easy, but you can certainly work on it, as you do with any kind of therapy (for physical or mental conditions).  The cure comes with time. BE PATIENT! Here are some tips to help you get back to writing:

1. RELAX.  

Don't panic.  Relax your body and mind as soon as you feel the block happening.  Can't think of the next word?.  Take a break.  Drink some coffee, go for a walk.

2. NARROW DOWN THE THINGS THAT INSPIRE YOU.  

Whether is your pet, nature, your kid, a tv show, books, fairies, monsters.  ONLY you know what inspires you.  We all have the one thing that makes us think about a million stories when we look at it.  I like to look at trees, and the stars.  Yeah, that sounds weird, but for some reason trees, and fresh air, fuel my imagination.  It's hard to find your muse, but once you do, keep it in mind in case of a block emergency.

3. WHEN AN IDEA COMES...WRITE IT DOWN.

 Even if it's not related to whatever you're working on at the moment, when you have an "aha!" moment, jot it down! don't rely on your memory as the writer's block will, well, block it when you need it the most.  

4. WORK ON SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

 If you are working on a project and you get to that point where you can't write the next chapter, simply stop.  Start a side project or work on something totally different for a little while.  Go out of the house for a walk in the park.  This will trick your mind and inspiration will flow back to you when you least expect it.

5. MAKE A MOVIE.

 Yes, a movie, but not literally.  I always treat all my project as if I was a director of a Hollywood movie. See it in your mind, imagine your characters as if you were looking at them on the big screen.  What's gonna happen next? what's the twist of this story? Do this as you go to bed, or when you have a time to spare.  Start from the beginning of your story and add a little scene every time.  You will eventually (and unexpectedly) get some clue or inspiration that will unravel the rest of your masterpiece.  

6. MEDITATE:

I know you hear this all the time, but seriously, meditation is literally exercise for your mind.  Your imagination is your strongest forte...let's face it, if you are a writer you know this.  Meditation will allow you to travel places in the comfort of your mind, and get inspiration from places hidden in your own world.  

7. READ.  

I'm not telling you to copy and paste someone else's idea, but reading good literature will expand your own imagination.  Sometimes, one little word can inspire a whole new world of ideas in your mind.  

RELATED: WONDERING WHAT TO READ: CHECK OUT OUR BOOK REVIEWS!

8. TAKE A TRIP.  

If all others fail, traveling might be the way to go.  If your mind is blocked from producing the next chapter, jump in you car (or better, on a plane) and go somewhere that you've never been before.  A new place might wake up your inner muse.  You don’t have to go far. Even if you just go to the next town and drink a cup of coffee at their local coffeehouse. Just enjoying a different atmosphere might ignite your engines!

You can always find inspiration where you never thought to look.  Maybe a history book? or an old movie.  Reality, and the world around us, provides a constant feed of amazing stories that need to be told.  all you have to do is look around and listen.

Hope you unlock your muse!

Always,

Mia

WHAT FUELS YOUR IMAGINATION? LET ME KNOW!Please comment and share below!

Netflix Night

I am a huge fan of Netflix, enough so that recently hubby and I decided to cancel cable *gasp* and use Netlix (and Hulu) exclusively for our TV viewing. 

Are you stuck in a rut and need a new show to binge on? Have no fear! Pop that popcorn and grab you a cold one because I have complied a list of my top 10 TV shows to binge on!

1) Supernatural: Into fantasy/horror/legends/lore? Oh and also really hot brothers? With 10 seasons on Netflix (and just renewed on the CW for the 12th season) you have binge worthy material for weeks, months even! In a nutshell you have two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester cruising the country in a '67 Chevy Impala fighting all things that go bump in the night (and looking dang fine when they do it).

2) New Girl: Everyone loves a good sitcom. Zooey Deschanel is too cute in this comedy about a group of 30 something's housemates navigating life, love, and careers. Episodes are 30 minutes in length and there are four seasons currently up. This show literally has me rolling it's so hilarious, all the characters are great. 

3) Orange is the New Black: If you haven't heard of this one you have probably been living under a rock for the past 2 years. A Netflix original with three seasons currently out, this has been a smash hit as far as shows go. Loosely based on the memoir of Piper Kerman, prim and proper main character Piper Chapman has been remanded to prison for a term of three years. Watching her acclimate and adapt to life on the inside is a good mixture of hilarious and heartbreaking. What really makes this show are the supporting cast members. Pipers fellow prison inmates are so well written and their story lines addicting. 

4) Gilmore Girls: Mother/daughter duo hilarity ensues through each hour long episode. Single mom, Loreli Gilmore and daughter, Rorie Gilmore have such great onscreen chemistry you can't help but fall in love with them and the small town in which they reside, Stars Hollow. All seven seasons are available on Netlix and the best part? Netflix revival is in the works with new material being released later this year (binge and blog to come when released!).

5) Jessica Jones:  A great Netflix original done by Marvel about superhero (I'm pretty sure she would hate that title) Jessica Jones (imagine that). Jones is a whisky drinking PI with superhuman strength and hard as nails attitude. There is only one season available now (bummer I know) but I'm pumped to see what next season has in store. Season 1 is a cat and mouse game between Jessica and her fellow super powered nemesis Kilgrave who is able to control others through verbal commands who is strangely obsessed with Jessica since she escaped his mind control previously. 

6) Breaking Bad: Chemistry teacher turned meth maker Walter White kills it in this five season long drama which originally aired on A&E. Watching his downward spiral from clean cut family man to drug producing mastermind is fascinating to say the least. My favorite part of the show hands down is his bumbling sidekick, Jessie.

7) Daredevil: Another Netflix original done by Marvel which revolves around Matthew Murdock, small time attorney by day, ass kicking superhero Daredevil by night. Oh and did I mention he's BLIND? Blinded in a horrible accident as a child, Murdock has come to work around his "disability" to be one bass ass superhero. Righting the wrongs across the city. Being that it's in the same Marvel universe as Jessica Jones, I see some crossovers in store for us (squeal!).

8) American Horror Story: Whats really neat (if you can call horror and gore neat) about this series is that while all 4 seasons consists of (roughly) the same cast of actors, the story lines change from season to season. A haunted house,  an insane asylum in the 40's, a coven of witches in New Orleans, and a traveling circus/freak show in the 50's. Season five which hasn't been released yet was my favorite so far alternating time periods in a haunted hotel. (Lady Gaga nailed it in her TV debut!). It should be available in October 2016.

9) The X-Files: So I recently discovered X-Files was now on Netflix and I have been on a binge ever since. It takes me back to 3rd grade when my mom would make nachos and we would stay up late to watch in her room (parenting win or fail? I say win but I'm partial). FBI agents Mulder and Scully travel the country investigating paranormal and extraterrestrial events, events that seem to defy all logic and explanation. With a whopping 9 seasons, this binge could last awhile so stock up on goodies!

10) iZombie: This is a new one for me that I am not finished with as of yet, but Mia raves about this show. I had seen commercials on TV (back in my cable watching days) and written it off as a cheesy way to cash in on the zombie craze. Mia finally convinced me to give it a try and I am so glad I did. Liv Moore was on her way to a prestigious career as an MD when an impulsive night out with colleagues just so happened to be the night she was turned into a zombie. No shambling, moaning creatures here, more like a normal (if pale) chick with a intense desire to eat brains. Quitting her job as MD and working for the hospital morgue she has access to all the brains she needs to satisfy her cravings but with one interesting side effect, she temporarily gains personalities of the dead, as well as flashes of their memories. I'm only a couple episodes in, but if the rest of the season keeps on pace with the first few, I don't think I'll be disappointed!

So that pretty much wraps up my top 10- what do you guys love to binge on? Any good shows/movies I should add to my list?!  

CHECK OUT MORE LISTS AND STORIES HERE!

The Pack Rat Saga: Update

So if you guys have been following along with our blog (if not, what are you waiting for dummy? Subscribe and don't miss all the good stuff!), you know that we recently sold our family home of seven years and stored everything into PackRats as we waited for the closing date on our new home. Missed that post? Read it here.

I felt like I needed to provide you guys with some follow up information, in case you were worried for all my worldly possessions in the hands of the ever so disorganized PackRat corporation.

I am pleased to announce that not only were my PackRats delivered right on time (gasp!) but they were also my actual PackRats, with all of my belongings. I had feared they would deliver some other unit (valid fear people- for real read the original post).

Now comes the fun (insert sarcasm and eye roll here) task of unpacking and organizing all the crap loaded up inside these two suckers. I am sensing the need for a beer run soon...

Related: Moving is a B...and I don't mean Breeze

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Discover the wonders of Ipsy!

If you are anything like me, your makeup routine consists of a quick drag of eyeshadow across your lids, a dash of eyeliner, and on good days a brush of mascara. I just don't have the time to elaborately paint my face every morning. I'm more the mom rushing around in yoga pants and a ponytail. I have been wearing the same brand and color of those three beauty items since college. That being said, I do occasionally like to venture outside my comfort zone and try out new products or even *gasp* do my makeup for date night.

Perusing the beauty aisle at any local drug store can be daunting to people like me (don't even get me started on the make up counters at the mall- forget about it). One of my coworkers at work was ranting about Ipsy one day so I decided to give it a try.

What is Ipsy?

Ipsy is a monthly glam bag subscription that sends you 5 personalized beauty products each month inside of a cute makeup bag. When creating your Ipsy account, you are prompted to answer numerous questions about hair type, style, make up preferences, skin type/tone, etc in order for the glam team to pick products which best suite your preferences as well as colors that go well with your skin tone and type.

How much?

Ipsy costs $10 a month and is set up as an automatic payment from a debit/credit card when you sign up. 

Show me your Glam Bag!

I've gotten some really great products in my glam bag- most I would never have known about being that I don't venture too far outside my comfort zone with makeup. The bag definitely pays for itself as the products are all high end and while most are sample size, I usually get one to two full size products per month. Check out a few pics of my glam bag goodies!

I definitely recommend this service for all you ladies out there! I signed up with Mia and another good friend so we swap and trade if we get something we don't necessarily like or need and for $10 bucks a month it's a totally affordable treat each month!

Check out the links below for more info or to sign up!

https://www.ipsy.com/new?cid=opensubs&refer=utq1y

https://www.ipsy.com/

READ MORE FUN ARTICLES HERE!

An Open Letter to J.K. Rowling

Last week I read an article about an open letter to J.K. Rowling.  “That could’ve been me writing that letter” I immediately thought.  In fact, I wrote a letter to Ms. Rowling many years ago.  A not-so-open letter that I never sent.  

 

If you don’t know who she is - stop reading right now, we are no longer friends- just kidding! J.K. Rowling is the amazing author of the Harry Potter series.  You might not know this about me, but I’m a die-hard Harry Potter fan. I can also say that this wonder wizard saved my life. Here’s my open letter to Jo.  

 

Dear Ms. Rowling:

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I came across the fourth Harry Potter book when I was still a teenager.  I used to be an avid reader, but at that point in my life my love for books had slowly faded away along with my willingness to breathe.  For this reason, I had never read any of the three previous books before Goblet of Fire. As I wondered about my life in my post-adolescent years, I picked up your book and embarked on the best journey of my life.  I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t know Harry before his fourth year, so I took it upon myself to investigate, and what better way than to read the three previous books.  

As Harry grew up throughout your amazing narrative, my lonely soul grew with him.  He was my companion, and my best friend. He showed me that you're not alone, even when you think you are, and that there’s always a way to defeat your demons (or your dementors).

I got to know and adore Hermione, and Ron, and to experience their own frustrations, sadness, and happiness.  Hermione showed me that being nerdy is cool (in my own way), and that being a girl is synonymous with being strong.  

I walked the majestic hallways of Hogwarts, and rode the train to Hogsmeade a million times, just to have a butterbeer at the the three broomsticks. I never got lost at Hogwarts because I always had the Marauders Map handy, and I enjoyed every Care of Magical Creatures class Hagrid taught. I wanted to help Hermione with SPEW, and was annoyed by Peeves. I learned about dragons, and how to calm down a three-headed dog. I wished I could try out for the quiddich team, and I always wondered if I was a Gryffindor, or a Slytherin. I could also -probably- see a thestral, and ride on a hippogriff while fighting a dementor with my very own cat patronus.    

I followed Harry through his journey of discovering himself, as I also discovered myself.  I cried like a baby when Sirius died, and laughed every time the Weasley brothers played a prank.  

Ms. Rowling, thank you.  Thank you for saving my life, as I entered in a deep depression, immune to medication and conservative treatment. My heavy spirit was crying helpless in the face of the emptiness filling my life.  Nothing worked until I picked up your book. Harry showed me a different, magical alternative to my pained reality.  Reading your words worked better than anything I’d tried, because your story showed me that happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light (thanks Dumbledore).  

Thank you for allowing us to enter your world, for teaching me that I don't need felix felicis to be lucky, for showing me that being strong is hard, but possible, for letting me discover magic where none exists, and for opening the door to the unlimited possibilities of my own imagination.  

Thank you for saving my life, as I completed the three tasks and earned my own tri-wizard cup.  

I'm a muggle forever humbled by your creation.  

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Mothers Day Musings

Being a Mom is hard work. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining here I'm just stating the facts. 

There is no other job that comes readily to mind where you are on call 24 hours a day, lose all sense of privacy (I don't think I have taken a shower without at least one person barging in the bathroom in 9 years, honestly), contaminated with all manner of bodily functions (not my own I might add), and all without any sort of monetary recompense. Sounds insane right?

But I'll fill you in on a little secret. It's worth it.

Every snotty nose, temper tantrum, sleepless night, pays for itself, a million times over. 

It pays for itself in big eyes full of pride when they learn to ride a bike without training wheels.

It pays for itself in the patter of little feet in the middle of the night wanting a snuggle in bed because they are scared of the dark and the way that little body curves so perfectly to mold into yours. 

It pays for itself in notes/drawings/doodles/stories left on your bed or tucked away in your purse for no other reason than the obvious, they love you. 

It pays for itself when your child selflessly donates his savings to his schools fundraiser for the local children hospital

It pays for itself with sweets laughs and giggles as they play with Papa, rolling around on the floor of the living room tossing around toys you just put away

The days of endless carpool lines, bickering over homework, nagging about cleaning up toys, and sibling squabbles will eventually end and what will you be left with? Memories. Savor these moments. Soak them in. Enjoy every last second with your precious babies, because soon enough they will be grown. They will be out in the world with only the amour of your love and support to protect them and guide them. 

Make their armor tough. 

Especially if one day they are to become Mothers themselves ;) They're gonna need it.

The Pack Rat Saga

If you've read my post about moving, you are aware that we used PackRat to store our (bagillions) of household items while we wait to find a new home. (If you haven't, what are you waiting for?! Click here and get caught up!) It sounded like such a great idea: Order PackRat, Pack Rat delivered, load PackRat, PackRat taken away & stored at local facility, schedule delivery of PackRat to new house when we close. Simple right? No hassle for sure! Wrong.

Delivery went off with only a slight hitch. We ordered and scheduled delivery online (convenience- score!) for a Saturday morning. The delivery window was 8am-12pm (Meh, I hate delivery windows). The driver called when he was an hour out...at 11:45. Strike one PackRat! Tardiness is high on my list of pet peeves, ask anyone who's been late meeting me for dinner or *gasp* a movie. With the help (coercion, help, same diff right?) of some great friends we quickly filled it up. Hubby quickly noticed that just one PackRat was never going to hold all the crud we possessed. No problem right? We will call and arrange another one? Wrong 

After spending close to 7 hours breaking down furniture and jamming the PackRat to full capacity we went back to Mias house to ease our weary bones (and drink a few cold ones). Hubby called up the PackRat distribution center to explain that we would need another storage unit added to our order and to schedule delivery for later the next week. ONE HOUR LATER, he had finally secured another PackRat, same size as the original at a HIGHER price than the first. How is that possible?! I don't even know, but we were so exhausted that we just didn't have the energy to fight it (anymore that we had already tried in the hour long conversation with customer service). But it was all squared away, PackRat to be delivered the following Thursday between 9am-12pm. Whew, easy sailing now we thought...Wrong.

Monday morning comes and hubby receives a call that delivery is on the way. "Uhhhhh, scheduled for Thursday people, THURSDAY." insert awkward pause. "Ooopsy, sorry- see ya Thursday". Wrong

Thursday arrives and hubby calls in the AM to confirm delivery for that day and to verify that one of us needed to be present to sign off on received unit. "What delivery?" they say. "We have nothing scheduled for you today" they say. Now if people were cartoons, steam would be coming out of hubbys ears and an alarm siren would be blaring above his head. After going over our order YET again, they confirm delivery between 9am-12pm (after a short debacle were they claimed they had no units in the size we requested- but miraculously they located one for us after some back and forth- they probably felt the steam through the phone at this point). Thank goodness that was resolved right? Wrong

By 11:00 hubby was getting anxious as he had not received a call that the driver was in route. Given that we had ample reason for anxiety at this point- he called dispatch...again. "Oh you're unit isn't scheduled for delivery until between 6pm-9pm". At this point I'm sure my husband had a mini stroke and dropped the phone. After recovering his senses and (not so) politely going over our order for what seemed like the MILLIONTH time, they dispatched the closest driver with a PackRat to our address. It arrived at 12:45 right as I was running out the door to pick with the youngest from Pre-K. At this point, what else could go wrong you ask? Nothing! Wrong

Pickup was for that Saturday (being that we closed on our home that Monday). Feeling that things would probably get screwed up, again, Hubby called Friday night to ensure pickup would be there the next day between 9am-12pm. "No sir, pickup is scheduled for Tuesday" they say. "TUESDAY?! We wont even own that residence on Tuesday" hubby says. After some debate and some push back we scheduled pickup AGAIN for Saturday. 

Just FYI- they did come on Saturday and safely picked up our PackRat. I am a tad skeptical when it comes time to deliver it to the new house what (or whos) (or when the) stuff will actually show up. 

If you are moving and considering using PackRat to store your stuff, DON'T, just don't. Save yourself the hassle and check out POD's or some other brand. Unless your a glutton for self punishment then go right ahead, but you've been warned! 

XOXO

CoCo

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Moving is a B (and I DON'T mean a breeze)

Let me get you guys up to speed. So recently hubby and I have decided we needed to say goodbye to our starter home of 7 years and look for something a little larger in a neighboring county with lower taxes (just typing that sentence made me feel suuuuper old- taxes?! Since when do I care about taxes?! I turn 30 and suddenly I'm my mother. But I digress).  My wonderfully gracious Mia offered up her home to us while we transition between selling our house and buying another (and honestly I'm having a blast over here- I may never leave!) 

I have complied this short list of things to remember or take into consideration when/if you decide to move:

1) When you reserve your U-Haul, POD, moving truck, or in our case Pack Rat, plan on filling at least double what you expect. We made the mistake of thinking "oh sure all our crap that we have amassed over seven years with two children will surely fit into this 16x12 pack rat- no problem."  And wouldn't you know, *gasp* it didn't and we had to scramble to reserve another. (And we still had to store some things in Mia's garage) 

2) Start collecting boxes ASAP. Our house was under contact in 24 hours and we needed boxes quickly.  Take a look on your local yardsale sites on facebook. (Many housing communities or towns have their own designated facebook page strictly for people wanting to buy and sell unused items- a virtual yardsale if you will). Also check out the app OfferUp- same kind of deal. I put up an ad in need of boxes and was able to score quite a few this way. If you (or someone you know) works in a business setting, the boxes that copier paper are delivered in are really great for packing as well. I was able to snag tons from work. Check local store like the ABC store, Lowes, and Home Depot (usually in the AM is better when they are restocking selves). They are usually more than happy to have them taken off their hands.

3) PURGE! I purged. A lot. I probably could have filled an entire third PackRat with all the items I purged while packing. If you haven't used it in a year- GET RID OF IT. You don't need it. I have a tendency to hoard things, I know this one can be hard, but there was no need to keep the 2358 crayons in the art drawer that were broken  into pieces barely able to be grasped by my five year old. I sorted all my purge items into things I could sell (remember that yardsale website & OfferUp?!), things to donate, and things for the trash. This was also a great opportunity to (finally) go through the kids toys/clothes and get rid of stuff they no longer played with, was broken, or didn't fit. 

RELATED: THE PACK RAT SAGA

4) Line up a babysitter if you have kids. This one I am adding in retrospect because we didn't really think about this one too much. We are lucky enough to live near my mom who helps us out enormously with our kids. She watches them on weekends when hubby and I have a date night or when we take a trip to get away, her support is invaluable. Because of the timing of the PackRat being delivered (it was a busy weekend with a birthday party for the kids to attend) it was difficult to arrange to have my mom help out, and we really don't have many other people we trust with our kids (Mia was already roped into helping us load the PackRat). Just try and imagine heavy furniture coming down the stairs, children running around grabbing toys out of boxes, or "helping" by loading up boxes. It was chaos. I finally had to corral them into the backyard with some bubbles and chalk under strict orders not to come inside. This worked pretty well, but I would still suggest getting a sitter lined up and saving yourself the inevitable meltdown (and I did mean grown up meltdown- the kids didn't bat an eyelash at the mayhem).

Do you guys have any great tips/tricks to share for moving? What suggestions do you have from your last move?

**** READ OUR DIARY***CRAZY THINGS HAPPEN THERE***

Change your life with a Scavenger Hunt. GISHWHES 2014

In August of  2014 I decided to do something that I had been wanting to do for a long time.  Year after year, I read and followed (digitally) thousands of people doing amazing things around the world, slowly building up the courage to do it myself.  GISHWHES, although hard to pronounce, is probably one of the best experiences of my life.  It stands for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.

Picture of Misha, taken in seattle, WA in  2014 by one of our group members. 

Picture of Misha, taken in seattle, WA in  2014 by one of our group members. 

It all started when actor Misha Collins was challenged to engage fans of the TV hit series Supernatural in voting for the show on People’s Choice Awards in 2010.  After the show won, fans started to respond to Collin’s (weird) requests on Twitter.  Fans would send pictures or videos of themselves completing tasks.  GISHWHES officially started in 2011 and it holds many world records in many categories.  It is, no doubt, the biggest international scavenger hunt in the world, attracting thousands of participants (more than 14,000), and co-participants yearly from all around the world.

Here's how their website describes it: 

We try to create a list that is challenging, thrilling and absurd. We like to see items that make us tear-up and laugh out loud. We like to have participants break out of their comfort zones, re-awaken their inner artist, and do a bit of good in the world. We’re proud to have broken several Guinness World Records including: the most global hugs, 108,121; most pledges to commit charitable Acts of Kindness, 93,376, which we did in partnership with our friends at the non-profit Random Acts (www.therandomact.org); and of course, let’s not forget the prestigious Longest Safety Pin Chain – over a mile long! We’ve also: delivered thousands of items to the homeless; raised the money to completely furnish every room of a home for a wounded veteran and his family (we’ll be posting videos for this soon!); had a Mars rock named after us by NASA; made Christmas trees fly; and have been reported on by news organizations around the world, including Al Jazeera.
— www.gishwhes.com

 

So, in 2014 I decided to give it a go, and along with a couple of friends (CoCo included) we signed up without knowing what to expect of this week long hunt.

All we knew was the basics.  We would be assigned to a group of 15 people and we would have to come up with a plan to communicate and delegate tasks.  We knew that Gishwhes would reveal a list -on their website- of about two hundred items to complete by submitting pictures or videos (less than 15 seconds) of ourselves performing the tasks.  

Each item comes with a set of points, depending on difficulty. The team that gathers more points is the winner.  There are extra points awarded for quality and creativity, as well as points taken out for not following the rules. We also knew the amazing prices that being crowned winner entitled.  An all expenses-paid trip for your whole group to a beautiful destination accompanied by Misha Collins himself.  

The winner teams have made wonderful memories in places which include a castle in the highlands of Scotland, a pirate ship in King's Landing, Croatia, in the jungles of Costa Rica and in a deserted island off the coast of Canada.

A few days before the list was released (which is usually on a Saturday afternoon), our groups were assigned.  IF you already have 15 people in your group, you give it a name, and wait for the list.  If you are flying solo, or only have a few people in your group, you wait to be paired with another small group or groups until you have 15.  The coordinators of the hunt, directed by the one and only Gishbot (yes, there are a lot of made up words and silliness included in this game), set up the groups.  

Ours, consisted of four different small groups with people from Washington state, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Australia.  But, how can you have a cohesive group with people all over the world? You may ask.  That is the beauty of Gishwhes.  No matter where you are, you are able to participate and have fun!

Our group’s name was… are you ready?... Quackles Loves MultipeBison Loves SoupsNatural Loves Geekwhes. Yes, it was a mouthful, but we made it work.

preparing for a picture...

preparing for a picture...

Before the release day, I gathered everyone’s email and created a google document accessible to everyone in the group.  The idea was to copy and paste the item list on it so everyone would have live access to assignments and/or edits.  Members put their names by the items they thought they could complete and then marked them out once they were done.  That way we didn't waste our time in duplicate items.  And then the fun began!

The list of items contained things that sounded almost impossible to achieve, but in reality, you can do it, you just have to be creative.  Items go from acts of kindness towards strangers, to building ridiculous sculptures made out of easily found materials (like feminine pads and Kale, lots of Kale).  A lot of public exposure, singing, dancing, sticky situations (literally) and laughs.  You would be surprise how complete strangers will go out of their way to help you.  Really.  

 

OK, I know you are dying to see examples.  We managed to accomplished a few things:

 

Item 17. Image. You are off to a most elegant formal evening gala. Disaster strikes! Your outfit is ruined.  Dress yourself in an outfit fit for such evening, using only items found in your bathroom. 49 points.

 

Item 35.  Image.  Suck the blood from a doughnut.  10 points.

 

                      Item 35

                      Item 35

Item 36. Image.  You at the beach, pool or on a boat, wearing a homemade, 99% edible, candy bathing suit. (the remaining 1% can be inedible thread or wire, but we don’t want to see it) 53 points

Item 49. Image.  Make a 5 foot in diameter bird’s nest on a sidewalk in a upscale neighborhood. Nes in it. 47 points.

Item 58. Image.  Register to be a bone marrow donor.  We need to see a screenshot of your application.  We will grant 3 points for each applications for up to 10 applications.

           We all did this one.  (register to be a donor by going to bethematch.com

Item 78. Image. Get a previously published sci-fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha and the Queen of England and an Elopus. 59 points. 

            New York Times best selling author, Jason Hough helped us out.  Thanks Jason!! (read the short story here).  Also visit his site for the latest information about his amazing upcoming books! (www.jasonhough.com)

 

Item 84. Image. Two images side by side. Send a military care package. 27 points- This one made the Gishwhes coffee table book!

image.jpg

Item 91. Image.  Using public transportation, commute to work wearing only the trash your household produced the previous day.(reciclables do not count as trash). 62 points

Item 93. Video. Give one of your favorite and most valuable objects to a homeless person.  31 points.

Item 99. Image.  Zombies need to buy toilet paper too.  What does that transaction look like? 67 points.

Item 106. Image.  You’ve heard of Ronald Reagan’s trickle down economics”? Show us what trickle down ice-cream-onomics would look like.  One person on top, messily eating an enourmous melting sunday, with two people on the floor below, trying to catch the drippings in their mouths as they fall, this needs to be a real mess. 38 points.

Item 110.  Image. Create a heroic Captain Picard using condiments (mustard, relish, ketchup, etc) for paint. 19 points.

I made this out of ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, and relish 

I made this out of ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, and relish 

 

Item 165.  Video. Your friend is in bed, not feeling well.  Feed them a big bowl of warm (not hot) chicken noodle soup.  One caveat: instead of a spoon, use a leaf blower. 73 points.  

Other items included, covering yourself in peanut butter or honey and offer free hugs in a public place (video).  Feed your demons (image), and at least 10 people having a water balloon fight wearing business suits (10 people)

Feed your demons

Feed your demons

 

There are strict rules about not sharing or publishing ANYTHING from the list, pictures, video or text while the competition is going.  Gishbot patrols ALL social media to spot any rule-breakers.  If you share your work before the hunt is over, you can get your whole group penalized.  Believe me, it’s not worth it! Just wait a week and then you can share all your pictures with friends and family.  One recommendation for first time gishers: read all the rules and regulations on the gishwhes website.  Use only the media sharing sites they allow (Youtube and Imgur) and follow all instructions carefully so you get full credit for your creations.  Our group created a secret Facebook group and we shared the items (pictures) we were working on for the group to vote and provide feedback… that way all members could see our group’s items before they were submitted.  We all got to vote (and since it was a secret facebook group, our pictures were safe from everyone else to see so we weren't breaking any rules).

There are other items that were quite difficult to achieve.  Like have NASA mention your group’s name from space (it has been achieved before). Or have a celebrity wear a t-shirt with your group’s name.  Well… these kind of items are easy to achieve if the participants are celebrities themselves.  Many Hollywood actors, like William Shatner, participate in this scavenger hunt yearly.  So if a celebrity team OR a group that has a celebrity in it wins, then the runner-up non-celebrity team also gets to enjoy the price.  It’s only fair!  Thanks to all our wonderful team members from 2014! You are abnosome (abnormally awesome). 


What are you waiting for? Renew your faith in humanity and sign up for Gishwhes today! Go to www.gishwhes.com for more information and inspiration from other participants.  Now, who wants to be on my team?

***See a complete list of items from 2014 here*****

Check out some of our pictures and videos from that fantastic Gishyear here

HAVE YOU DONE GISHWHES????? HOW WAS IT?! Comment below and let us know!

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Part One: Kids are weird

It's no shocker that kids are weird, like really weird. As a seasoned mom of two (9 and 5), sometimes even I'm slightly stupefied by the odd, off the wall, embarrassing, and downright creepy things they say. I decided a couple weeks ago to keep a running list of all the strange things I have heard. So in no particular order, here's what I've got:

They look son nice and harmless.....just wait....

- "I wanna lick your face, it looks like it tastes like nachos"

- "When I die and go to heaven, I want to be a dog"

- "I bet being an adult feels goofy...and loud."

- "I want my name to be hopscotch burp. I don't want to be "Lily". *laughs mischievously* Just kidding, that's a silly name. Just call me hopscotch..."

- (Watching Say Yes to the Dress) "Wow she looks like a Princess! But how in the world is she gonna poop in that thing?!"

- (While snuggling on the couch watching TV) "Ewwww you're so freckle-y. I can feel it on my feet." (I'm pretty sure she was referring to my leg hair on that one...)

- *Points to wedding picture on mantel* "There's a picture of you so when you be old and dead I can remember you"

- (To the elderly man checking us out at Target) "Why do you have such long hair growing out of your ears?"

-Conversation overheard in the backseat:

Kid 1: I'm gonna go to college for fashion

Kid 2: When we are in college we'll  be like normal adults

Kid 1: Cool, so we could drive places by ourselves and go to Monkey Joes whenever we want

 

Check back regularly because I am sure I'll have more off the wall things to share with you soon! Moms, what are some of the crazy things you've heard from your kids? 

*** read our article on traveling with kids, and here***

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Poop Gate 2016

Parenting is tough. You find yourself saying things and involved in situations that you never could have imagined in the "pre-children" stage of life. You remember that time right? When you were getting ready to go out at 9pm versus half passed out on the couch with a glass of wine on the side table, debating which show to watch on Netlix.

The text conversation below perfectly highlights the absolutely insane things children do, and the equally insane ways in which we deal. This is a conversation between my hubby and myself as I clock in for my graveyard shift at the hospital.

 

He didn't find my play on words humorous by the way.

 

15 minutes later....



True Story. 
 

I'm interested to know if this only happens to me..... Share or comment below (#momlife). 

I need wine now,

Coco

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UPDATE on Easter Edition: Operation Rabbit

Hoppy Monday everyone (get it? hoppy?!)? So if you read yesterdays blog post, I'm sure you are DYING to know the conclusion to the rabbit saga. (If you DID NOT read yesterdays blog post I suggest you stop reading this now, and click over to that page(HERE) so you will know what in the world I'm talking about) If you continue to read without reading yesterdays, I warned you, spoiler ahead! 

After a frantic week of planning and Craigslisting (GASP- yes my 55 year old mother CRAIGSLISTED! Can you use that as a verb? I'm not sure but let's not get distracted here people), my mother secured not one, but 2 silver fox rabbits. She even went to the local feed and seed store and bought the swankiest outdoor rabbit hutch she could find: 

 

Look at that thing, isn't it a beaut?! It's like the Taj Mahal of rabbit houses. (And don't worry all you animal lovers out there- she also purchased a crate for indoors when its too cold or rainy) 

I guess it goes without saying, the kids were THRILLED. I guess it also goes without saying that I was thrilled. These things are the cutest, softest, "non-bitey/scratchy" (to quote my mother) rabbits ever. They will certainly be loved. 

So without further ado- let me introduce you to the newest members of the family:

This is my oldest with his rabbit- affectionately named "Spike". (just to note- they are both girl rabbits- we don't really care about gender appropriate names in this house)

This is my youngest with her rabbit which she named "Hippity Hop Hop" (try saying that five times fast)

 

 

I hope you all had a great Easter spent with family and food! If you don't celebrate Easter, I hope you had a fantastic Sunday! 

WHO LOVES BUNNIES??? Let us know! Share or comment below!

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Easter Edition: Operation Rabbits

I love my mother for many reasons, one of which are her random emails/texts at strange hours. Now I have been on the rabbit bandwagon for years, pestering my husband to the point of insanity but he staunchly maintains his anti-rabbit stance (does the man have no heart?!). Perhaps I have been going about this operation all wrong. Who knew all I had to do was ply mom with some good wine, and let her do all the dirty work? If I had known it was this easy, I would have had her knock a few back before discussing my curfew in high school….

       From: xxxxxxxxxxxx

       Date: March 20, 2016 at 10:46:17 PM EDT

To: Coco

Subject: Easter

I keep passing that house that has the sign in front for rabbits and I am seriously thinking about getting 2 rabbits (they do better with a friend) for the kids for Easter - to keep at my house....

I am on my second glass of wine - is this crazy? I can get a hutch to keep outside - move inside the garage in the winter. Every Easter I think about ducklings or baby chicks - but no way we could keep those as they got bigger - but rabbits are doable and I think L is old enough to know how to treat them/act around them?

We had rabbits when we were little, am I being too nostalgic?

Every time I go into that feed and seed store I look at the hutches...I need a voice of reason.

 

       From: Coco

       Date: March 21, 2016 at 12:50:35 AM EDT

To: xxxxxxxxxxx

Subject: Re: Easter

GET THEM! I will totally be your voice of reason, it's SO REASONABLE to get a pair of rabbits. They are so easy, no potty training, get a hutch for outside. Just think of those little faces lighting up at the surprise on Easter (mine included).

And the plot thickens…

 

I received messages via Pinterest throughout the night with all things rabbit; various types of breeds of rabbits, hutches, dietary needs for optimal health, rabbit farms, really just anything you could think of related to rabbits. 

We will venture to the parents later this afternoon, be sure to check back to find out the conclusion to this gripping rabbit saga!  (HERE IS THE REST OF IT!!!)

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Workshop experience with Dr. Brian Weiss

signed copy of my book (english version)

The Many Lives, Many Masters Workshop by Dr. Brian Weiss in Atlanta, GA.  February 20, 2016 was an awesome day.

When I was a teenager, my uncle handed me a little paperback book, and made me promise that I was going to read it with an open mind. 

When I read the title of this book, “Many lives, Many masters by Dr. Brian Weiss” I didn’t know what to expect.  So, keeping my promise to my uncle, I read it. 

I can’t tell you how this book changed my mind because, the complexity of the subject is such, that it could take me writing a whole book in order to explain it. 

I was a new person. I was actually grateful that I read this book as a teenager. I don’t think I would’ve been the person I am now if it wasn’t for the things I’ve done, and reading this book is one of them.  I know it sounds a tad dramatic, but it is true. 

Dr. Brian Weiss is a world renowned psychiatrist and hypnotherapist from Florida, who has been researching the field of regression since the late seventies. He has written several books with real stories and experiences as well as wonderful lessons of spirituality and personal growth. 

I attended one of his all-day workshops in Atlanta.  I didn’t know what to expect since it was my first time at an event like this. I was surprised to hear him talking. He was very calm, almost peaceful in the way he spoke (as if he was in a constant relaxed state). 

He spoke of his work, a little bit of background on the subject of regression. Then he had the audience engage in relaxation exercises. Hypnosis is not the elaborate dramatization you have seen on TV by phony hypnotists. This was more like YOU exploring your own mind. 

Guided by his very soothing voice, you were prompted to imagine yourself in beautiful places while being very well aware of your own body. The connection with mind and body in this state is unique. It was an experience everyone should engage from time to time. Regardless of religious backgrounds, his techniques and his knowledge in the subject have something for everyone. 

            meeting Dr. Brian Weiss

            meeting Dr. Brian Weiss

I left the workshop like a new person; a new person with the will to explore my own mind even further, while relaxing my body. Relaxation and meditation are great tools for a healthy mind and body, and I am grateful to have experienced it at this workshop. 

Signed copy. Spanish Version

After the seminar, I got a chance to meet with Dr. Weiss and have my books autographed. I had my English and my Spanish version of Many Lives, Many Masters and he gladly signed them both. He told me he had been to Colombia (South America) four times. I was glad to hear that since that’s where my family is originally from. When I left I realized that, without me asking, he had signed my Spanish version in Spanish! What a thoughtful, humble man. Thank you Dr. Weiss. And thank you uncle for asking me to read this book so many years ago.  

You can follow Dr. Weiss on Facebook  www.facebook.com/DrBrianWeiss  and twitter @DrBrianWeiss

Peace!

Mia.

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK or MET DR. WEISS? LET'S SHARE EXPERIENCES! LEAVE ME A COMMENT BELOW...