Sunday, February 25, 2018

Binge-Worthy Shows

So what have we been watching lately? The kids have discovered another classic and Blinky adores the modern take on Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

For school-ages kids:
  •  Full House - Hulu
  • Goldie & Bear - Netflix

Its apparent that the DH and I have a thing for dystopian fiction. We're wrapped up a few more shows that I've been dying to share with you.

  • Travellers - Netflix; So this was the DH's pick but it grew on me once I was able to separate Will Truman from Grant MacLaren. Good stuff. Fingers crossed there will be a season 3.
  • Altered Carbon - Netflix; I LOVE anything starring Joel Kinnamon!!! I read that Joel may not return for Season 2 as he's working on a new series for Amazon with The Killing co-star Mireille Enos. Count me in!!!
  • Midsomer Murders - Netflix; While not everyone's cup of tea, the DH and I love British dramas. It's an oldie, but goodie. Best yet, there are 19 seasons available. This one will keep us busy for a while!

Sunday, January 28, 2018


School mornings at our house are rough. Excruciatingly so! No matter how hard we try, we cannot seem to get everyone out of the door on time. Thankfully we live less than 5 minutes away from school. Otherwise Stinky and Blinky would have tardies every. single. day.

So I know you're thinking that getting up earlier is the obvious solution. I beg to differ. The DH and I wake up at 6. I head in the shower while he makes breakfast. Then at 6:30 sharp, I begin the process of dragging Stinky and Blinky out of bed. On a good day, by 6:45 they're at the breakfast bar, groggy and grumpy. I pack lunches, the DH scarfs down his breakfast, and we both beg the kids to eat their breakfast. At 7, the DH goes in the shower, I break up fights while eating my own breakfast, stop Blinky from feeding the dog, and start chanting, "Get dressed! Brush Teeth! Comb Hair!" By 7:15 I'm issuing threats in a raised voice before heading back into the bedroom to dress. At 7:30 both the DH and I emerge from the bedroom to discover that absolutely nothing has been done and start barking orders. Big time! Around 7:45 we're literally kicking Stinky and Blinky out of the door, tossing shoes, jackets, and backpacks to them while they head in the car. We usually pull up right at 7:50 just in time for them to get inside the building before the doors are locked. Ugh! My little angels have sufficient time to eat and get dressed. The problem is they require too much supervision and have zero incentive to do anything on their own which puts major stress on the DH and me.

But we have a plan! The DH came across an article that recommended using a playlist as a timer. Blinky and I worked on a collection of upbeat, positive, and inspirational songs that we enjoy. The idea is that Stinky and Blinky will become familiar with the order of songs, using that as a guide to realizing how much time they have left before we head in the 7:30. Yup! When they can achieve this goal for a week straight, we'll treat them to ice cream or dinner at their favorite restaurant. Whichever the budget allows.

I'm really pumped about our playlist. 1 hour and 2 minutes of hopes and dreams. Here it is:

Fingers crossed, this will be a raging success. I'll be sure to post updates!

BTW, in case any of you are wondering...on weekends and holidays, Stinky and Blinky rise with the sun with all of the energy and excitement they can muster. Go figure!

***Update 2/26/18***

So I don't want to jinx anything but I think the playlist is working. The four of us know what we should be doing when a particular song plays and are trying really hard to stick to the schedule. Most days we are out the door by 7:35, which is a tremendous improvement. Once in a while we have a setback but those seem to be outliers.The ultimate goal is to walk out of the door at 7:30 in a peaceful manner. And for the first time in forever, I think we'll get there.

Here's to small accomplishments and parenting wins everywhere!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Snow Day!!

Two snow days in less than a month. And nearly 1 3/4" last night. That's a double record for SE Alabama I'm sure! We enjoyed a mid-week break from school and work to sled, throw snowballs and spent way too much time outside in 18 degrees.


Those of you also snowed in, I hope you took some time to enjoy the beauty outdoors. And for those of you enjoying warmth and sunshine today, all I have to say is #jealous.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

This Stage of Life

I came across this on Facebook a few nights ago. It resonated so very much. I'm past the baby/toddler phase but the amount of worry, exhaustion, and stress are the same, if not more with school-age kids. God help us when Stinky and Blinky are teenagers! As for the other aspects of "adulting"...yasssss!

This stage of life. It’s hard, you guys.
I’m talking right now to you moms who are in your early to mid 30’s. You have kids. Likely two, three, maybe four of them. They probably range in age from newborns to  7 or 8 year-olds. (Give or take a few, on all of the above mentioned stats).
In this stage of life, you are dealing with exhaustion. Mental, physical, and emotional.
In this stage of life, you are dealing with teething. With ear infections. With stomach viruses. You are juggling nap schedules, and feeding schedules and soccer schedules. A million balls you are juggling, and you probably feel like you are dropping most of them.
In this stage of life, you are dealing with guilt. Guilt over having a career, and not spending enough time with your kids, or guilt over staying home with your kids, and not doing enough to contribute financially. Guilt over being too harsh with your kids. Too lenient. Guilt that your house is clean, but your kids were ignored, or guilt that you enjoyed your children all day, and now your husband is coming home to filth. Guilt.
In this stage of life, you are bombarded daily with a whole host of decisions. Some of them life-changing, some of them not. None of them with clear cut answers. Do I vaccinate my kids? Do I not? Do I send them to public school? Homeschool? Charter school? Do I continue to breastfeed? Do I blow the budget so that I can buy all organic? Do I force my child to apologize, even though the apology will be insincere? You don’t know the answers to ANYTHING, but you feel constant pressure to figure out EVERYTHING.
This stage of life is less and less about watching your friends get married and have babies, and more and more about standing by and witnessing your friends struggle in their marriage, and even get divorced. It’s a stage where you’ve got to put in the time and the effort and the work and the energy to make sure your OWN marriage stays healthy. And that’s good, but it’s hard, too.   At this point, you or someone you know has experienced infertility. Miscarriages. Loss of a child.
It’s a stage where you are buying houses, selling houses, remodeling houses, packing up houses. And then you do it all again a few years later.
It’s a stage where your hormones are all of of whack. I mean, you’ve basically been pregnant, postpartum, or breastfeeding for the last ten years, right?
It’s a stage where you are struggling with identity. Is my entire identity “mommy”? Is there anything even left of me that isn’t about mothering? Is there something more glamorous I could have/should have done with my life? I LOOK like a mom now, don’t I? I totally do.
It’s a stage where you are on a constant quest for balance, and can never find it.
It’s a stage of life where you are overloaded. Constantly. You are overloaded with questions. Your children never stop asking them. You are overloaded with touch. Someone is constantly wanting to be held, holding on to you, hanging on you, touching you. You are overloaded with to-do’s. There is so much to do. It never ends. You are overloaded with worry. You are overloaded with THINGS. Your kids have way too many toys. You are overloaded with activities. You are overloaded with THOUGHTS (thoughts about how to not be so overloaded, perhaps?).
It’s hard.
So….what do you need to do to survive it all?
You need to ask for help.
You need to accept help when it’s given.
You need to not neglect your marriage. You need to put your kids down for bed early. Sit outside on the back porch with your husband, drink a glass of wine, and have a conversation.
You need girlfriends.
You need your mom.
You need older friends, who have been there and done that. Who can reassure you that you AREN’T screwing it all up as badly as you think you are.
You need to not feel bad about using your kids nap time every now and again to just do whatever the heck you want.
You need to lower your expectations….then probably lower them again.
You need to simplify.  Simplify every single part of your life, as much as it can be simplified.
You need to learn how to say “no”.
You need to practice contentment
You need to be ok leaving your kids overnight, and going away somewhere. Anywhere.
You need to do something you enjoy, every day, even if it’s for no more than 15 minutes.
You need to pray. Girl, you need to pray.
You need a coffee you love, a wine you love, and a bubble bath that you love.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, you need to remember that…..
….this stage of life is beautiful, too. Like, really really beautiful. This is the stage of life where every single older person you ever meet tells you, “you’re going to miss this”. And you already know it’s true. It’s the stage where your kids love you more than they are EVER going to love you again, for the whole rest of your life. It’s the stage where they can fit their entire selves into your lap to snuggle…and they want to. It’s the stage where their biggest problems ARE ear infections and teething and stomach viruses, and you’re not having to deal yet with things like broken hearts or addiction or bullying. It’s the stage where you are learning to love your spouse in an entirely different….harder…..better…. way. The stage where you are learning together, being stretched together, shedding your selfishness together, and TRULY being made into “one”. It’s the stage where you get to see Christmas, Halloween and the Fourth of July through your kids eyes, and it’s so much more fun and magical than it would be just through your own eyes. It’s the stage where you get to watch your parents be grandparents…and they’re really good at it. It’s the stage of life filled with field trips, class parties, costumes, swim lessons, bubble baths, dance parties, loose teeth, and first steps. And those things are so fun. It’s the stage where you are young enough to have fun, and old enough to have obtained at least SOME wisdom. It’s SUCH a great stage.
But, man it’s hard.

Mamas, keep on keeping on! I'm told there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Binge-Worthy Shows

Last January, the DH and I cut the cable cord and began watching Internet tv exclusively. One year later, I can confidently say we don't miss cable tv (or the cable bill) at all. We utilize Netflix, Hulu, and Prime TV.

It was an easy transition for us, kids included. The only downside is that the ease of binging shows has turned us all into couch potatoes. Womp - womp!

Since I've garnered a wealth of information about binge-worthy shows in the last year, I thought I'd share our top Internet-based tv shows with you.

For school-aged kids:
  • Tumble Leaf - Prime TV
  • Fuller House - Netflix
  • The Kicks - Prime TV
  • Miraculous - Netflix
  • Family Matters - Hulu
  • She-Ra - Netflix
  • Wishenpoof - Prime TV
  • Lego Ninjago - Prime TV
  • Barbie Life in the Dream House - Netflix
  • Super Monsters - Netflix

For adults:
  • The Crown - Netflix
  • Orphan Black - Prime TV
  • The Mindy Project - Hulu
  • Homeland (first 5 seasons) - Hulu 
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Prime TV 
  • House of Cards - Netflix
  • Ozark - Netflix
  • Hand of God - Prime TV (this show definitely deserved another season!) 
  • The Killing - Netflix
  • Damages - Netflix
Of course, we still watch current episodes of our favorite network shows like Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Blackish, The Good Place, and Empire thanks to Hulu. It's not like we're savages! I simply wanted to highlight the quality entertainment options on Internet-based tv.

Our watch lists are constantly being updated, so stay tuned for more recommendations and possibly a few reviews.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year!

2017, right? What an emotional roller coaster! I've learned a few tough lessons this year, and in the process, learned a lot about myself. 2017 is also the year I decided to take risks and live more intentionally. There's still a lot of room for improvement, but I'm grateful to be ending the year on a higher note than it started.

Tonight is the last night of 2017. No matter your current situation, tomorrow is a new day, a new year, and a new beginning. What will you do with the blessing of another year?

Happy New Year everyone! Make 2018 count!!

MSC Seaside Naming Ceremony - Day 3

Welcome back, friends! So what did I get up to on Day 3? Well, exploring the various staterooms was top of the list! My absolute favorite was the 2 bedroom / 2 bathroom Grand Suite...because of this balcony. There are only three of these suites on the ship and they are exclusively available with the Wellness or Aurea Experiences.

The Seaside Suite features a private whirlpool tub. Look at that view!

Yacht Club guests have the luxury of a ship-within-a-ship experience. They can enjoy the general areas on board, or retreat to their private:
  • Concierge Area
  • Grill & Bar
  • Pool
  • Restaurant
  • Sun Deck (with the option of private cabanas)
  • Top Sail Lounge

Featuring personal butlers, and first-class service, MSC's Yacht Club is the ultimate in privacy and luxury.


Touring the various stateroom worked up an appetite. The DH and I reluctantly left the Yacht Club had lunch at Seashore Restaurant, the other main dining room.

Immediately following lunch, we did a food tasting of the Specialty Restaurants. You know...for research. We had seafood samplers at Ocean Cay Restaurant, filet mignon at Butcher's Cut, banana pudding at La Boheme, and steak at Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi. We heard the chef was there but we were shamelessly stuffing our faces. It was hands down, the best steak we ever had!!! I paused long enough to get these photos of Asian Market Kitchen.


We wrapped up our multi-location feast with cocktails poolside.

Work responsibilities called and the DH attended an MSC Cruises tradeshow with me. Agents received valuable information about marketing the ships, but it was perhaps more interesting to learn how dedicated the executives are to this company. There is a distinct difference being a family-owned company, and not a corporation. As an agent, I want to see MSC succeed in the North American market.

Dinner that evening was back at Ipanema. (The first night on the ship, dinner followed the Naming Ceremony and was a little hectic. Waiters sat us, not at our assigned tables, but at whichever table was free, for efficiency.) On this night, we were seated with an NYC agent and his daughter. It was fun chatting with someone who's been in the business much longer than me.

Following dinner, we explored the ship a little more. In the background, we could hear singing from the 70's party, which we'd planned to attend but missed because we were souvenir shopping. (About that, now that the ship was sailing - for a few hours anyway near Bimini in The Bahamas- the shops were open.) Finally, we ended the evening with formal pictures.

When we returned to the cabin, we packed in preparation for a 7:30 am disembarkation. It was literally the shortest cruise we'd ever taken but enjoyed it nonetheless. And I had the best time reliving it with these recaps!

If you have any questions about sailing with MSC, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to help!