Thursday, April 10, 2014

i love rachael ray. she gets me.


this is a sponsored post for nutrish. all opinions are my own.

i don't believe in reincarnation. however, i sometimes wonder what i did wrong in my past lives to have deserved this. my name is mr. darcy. my very name screams dignity and hierarchy. yet, my life so far has been so much less than what i expected when i was born this pretty.

not to bore you with my sad story but i was abandoned by my mother. i had to look after my siblings and we ended up in the most humiliating of places, the humane society. we were wondering if our crate was the best we were going to get until a family came along to take us home. i thought things were looking up when i saw the adult of the group. then i noticed the four smaller people accompanying her. i should have made my protests then but i went along with the new arrangement. how bad could the four little people be? 

well, let me tell you, it has not been an easy road. first of all, they added a fifth little person to the mix. this one was really little, crying all the time, requiring all of my attention. he refuses to this day to use a litter box. this only got worse as he learned to walk. then he started eating my cat food, playing in my water and incessantly chasing me around my house. seriously, doesn't he realize how much beauty sleep i require to maintain my rugged handsomeness? 

i have documented some of my hardships. please take note of what i have endured.

this is what the fifth one does with his blanket each morning. can't a guy just nap on occasion? smothering is what it is. absolutely smothering.


this is how the fourth one carries me from room to room. 


can't i just sit on the couch in peace? does it always have to mean this particular brand of torture?


they started to craft me toys that are homemade. let me just make one thing clear. this is:


i wish i could say the older ones are better. they are not. this is what bedtime for me looks like. these conditions are just horrible.


one of the worst things about my life? i am forced to share it with my sister. she is not only clearly less attractive than i, she is also quite a bother, instigating playtime when i want to rest and stealing all the best places on the sofas.


i have tried to communicate my discontent with those i share this home with. first i started to refuse to drink the horrible water placed in a bowl by my cat food. that was just ridiculous. only fresh water from the faucet will suffice.


still, no one seems to understand me. until now. working with a team of pet nutrition experts, rachael ray created nutrish super premium food and treats for dogs and cats. made with simple, wholesome ingredients like real meat, nutrish foods are inspired by tasty recipes from rachael's kitchen. rutrish contains no by-products, fillers, or junk ingredients. finally, someone who makes products that meet my regal standards. it is about time.


they created naturally dry cat food. real chicken or salmon is always the number one ingredient in every bag of rachael ray rutrish® for cats. there’s no ground corn, wheat or soy. and there’s never any by-products artificial flavors or artificial preservatives. just wholesome whole grains and veggies plus the vitamins, minerals and taurine that i need to be healthy and happy.


i have been given wet cat food less times than i can count. still, rachael has made the wet cat food especially for me as well. inspired by recipes from rachael's kitchen, these delicious recipes are made with simple, natural ingredients like real chicken or fish. there's no grains or anything artificial either — just essential vitamins and minerals for a tasty food i will love (if they ever buy the wet food for me).

the best part for me? rachael ray has created rachael's rescue, an organization created for all the forgotten pets who may not have someone who smothers (i mean loves) them. rachael's proceeds go to help these cats. to date, proceeds from sales of nutrish have gone toward food, medical supplies and treatments for animals in need. many more shelters around the country need help, and through rachael's rescue, together we can make a difference in the lives of many four-legged friends. thus far, rachael’s rescue has donated more than $6 million to pets in need. 


i am making it my mission to spread the word. rachael ray gets me. we are soul mates. i think i'm in love. i'm looking forward to staring at her picture on each bag of nutrish. here is what you can do to help your own cat feel the love. head to http://nutrish.rachaelray.com/where-to-buy-nutrish to find out where to purchase the food we deserve. you can also head to the "switch to nutrish" webpage for a coupon to make your shopping even easier: http://nutrish.rachaelray.com/switchto.  finally, just go buy the food. you can find it where you buy groceries. my owners have claimed target as their second home. shopping should be easy. finally, post your pictures of your cat with the hashtag #nutrishforcats. i will live vicariously through your pampered pets. 

until next time, i will be hiding underneath some piece of furniture in the hopes of avoiding detection...or trying to eat my nutrish cat food before the smallest person beats me to it. wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

the worst memories


there are some days i will never forget for all the worst reasons. i will never forget where i stood in my classroom as a teacher on 9/11. i will never forget sitting on a soccer field as the ground started rolling during the california earthquake of 1989. my grandparents could recall in detail the news of the bombing of pearl harbor. certain moments are stamped indelibly in our minds.

for me, one more moment is forever etched in my mind. i was pregnant for the first time and my husband and i had embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. we had moved to cartagena, colombia for my husband's job and were living temporarily in the amazingly beautiful santa clara hotel. at about 3:30 in the morning of april 6th, we were woken by a phone call. i was closest to the phone and, in my sleepy stupor, did not even register that a phone call at that hour could possibly mean something horrible. as i tried to clear the sleepy fog from my brain, my father-in-law started speaking. his words were short and to the point. phil, my husband's younger brother, had been working an extra detail that night at his job as a sheriff's deputy. he was shot. he is dead. he was 25. i sat there trying to comprehend the words and then took in the weight of it all. the most distressing fact for me at that moment was that i had to pass the phone to my husband knowing the news before him and wishing with everything in me i could shield him from what he was about to hear. i looked over at him beside me, now awake in the bed and before i passed the phone to him, whispered the words, "i am so sorry." the memory of that moment still takes my breath away. 

this weekend marked eleven years since that night. eleven years of missing someone. eleven christmases. eleven birthdays. countless moments of wondering what he would be like today. i still find myself longing to pick up the telephone and call him up to chat and laugh. he was more than my brother-in-law, he was my friend and i miss him. i can't, however, even claim to know a bit of the loss my husband has suffered. so, each anniversary comes along and again, all i can ever really think to say is, "i am so sorry." it seems silly and inadequate and yet, nothing i say could ever fill the hole left by his death. 

a few years ago, we decided to work on filling up some of the holes surrounding the anniversary day with good things. we fill up the day with joy and happy moments for our family. my husband typically takes the day off of work and we fill it with activities. this weekend meant we filled it with a trip to the donut shop with the kids. a trip to build bird feeders at home depot. dinner with friends and neighbors. a movie night out. the day was filled with hugs and kisses, sunshine, conversation. we fill the day with life and family in honor of someone who is still a part of ours. somehow, bringing fun to a horrible day turns it around. i can imagine phil in all of the moments of our day, laughing with his niece and nephews, talking with his brother, enjoying it all. we had so many april 6th's in a row that were filled with so much sadness. there is something redeeming in filling years of april 6th's with something more. 

and so, we will continue to do so. we will continue to remember him and miss him while loving on our kids. we will play and laugh and hug and kiss more than we normally do. we will fill the day with life and remember him in all the greatest ways. we will remember to keep living. i think phil would love that.

Friday, April 4, 2014

the day my boobs betrayed me




once upon a time, my boobs were loyal. they were obedient. they stayed where i put them. they stood at attention. they required very little supervision. they always faced the same direction. they were, in a word, trustworthy.

after nursing five children, i noticed some dissension in the ranks. little bits of anarchy began to arise. they started to sag, well beyond what i deem acceptable. they can literally be rolled up like a burrito and each morning's dressing process requires what looks like the stuffing of a thanksgiving turkey. they are never "at attention." i can't even describe them as "at ease." they are so lazy that, when they are stuffed into place, they can be pointed any which way known to man. my final check in the mirror before leaving the house now includes checking for a lazy boob eye. sometimes you look at my chest and you don't know where to look as they are pointing in completely different directions. it's hard for me to focus. i can't imagine what is going through the mind of a poor unassuming passerby. still, all of these bits of rebellion do not hold a candle to my boob's ultimate act of treason.

i love to buy groupons. i buy them, forget about them, and then scramble to use them at the last possible moment before they expire. i'm incredibly reliable in my groupon disorganization. as luck would have it, i purchased a groupon for a massage for my birthday and forgot to book an appointment until the week before it expired. the only available massage therapist was a masseur, or as i like to call him, my mansuesse. before i had five kids, i used to love booking a mansuesse. they have big, strong hands, they apply enough pressure, and, frankly, they shut up for an entire hour. i used to imagine in my never-had-a-baby-body days that i was probably the highlight of the mansuesse's massage giving days. now i feel like i owe the poor man an explanation for what he is about to encounter. "five kids....the old grey mare she ain't what she used to be." still, i bravely booked my last minute appointment with my strange new mansuesse and hoped for the best.

all was well at the beginning. before my massage, my mansuesse asked me what i wanted, the massage started and i literally did not hear another word out of the man's mouth. silence for an entire hour. i was in heaven. i was finally at a relaxed point in my hour long endeavor and had been rolled over onto my back as i was massaged on my neck and shoulders. that's when the boobtrayal occurred. as the mansuesse lifted my arm above my head while massaging my shoulders, my boob that had been discretely tucked underneath the covers, decided to do a "hail mary" and jumped right out into the open. now, the old boobs would have never moved from their assigned location. this day, however, all bets were off. i could simultaneously hear george michael singing, "freedom, freedom..." in the background while my boobs were screaming for their mardi gras beads.

i laid perfectly still for what felt like an eternity but in reality was probably one second while i contemplated what to do next. i decided complete and utter denial was the best option. i figured the whole question about the tree falling in the forest applied to this situation as well. "if i keep my eyes close and never actually see the protruding breast, i can never confirm or deny that it actually happened." as i laid unnaturally still and forced my breath in and out, i did my best impression of a sleeping client. i'm pretty sure my mansuesse did not buy it for a minute but, again, if i just pretended it never happened, possibly he would not notice it either. the ridiculousness of that statement is made more clear when you understand these are not little 'a' cups we are talking here but post-baby 'dd' cups. i liken it to a giant cereal bowl full of jello jigglers falling onto the kitchen counter. one is the size of a human head. it would be impossible not to notice. still, i played the stupid card and told myself to "just keep breathing." meanwhile, i cursed my stupid, independent boobs repeatedly and vowed never to get a massage again.

it only took a second for my tactful mansuesse to lower my arm and discretely pull the blanket up. this time he didn't stop until the blanket nearly reached my neck. i could hear the collective sighs of my boobs as they were put back in captivity. i'm fairly certain the anarchist boobs' appearance scarred the poor mansuesse for life. he may never recover. yet, when my hour was up and i'd put the offending appendages back into their secure locations, i emerged from the massage room with eyes now wide open. i searched his face for the look of horror i expected to find there and, instead, was greeted with a glass of water and the last question i was ever expecting, "would you like to book your next appointment?" i'm fairly certain i could not wipe the look of shock off of my face. i quickly cursed my boobs once again, told myself to "man-up", and booked my next massage...right after i left a ridiculously large sympathy gratuity.

if this day in history has taught me anything, it is to be prepared for the unexpected where my boobs are concerned. there is no telling where they could pop out next. in the meantime, i will continue to get massages from the same man. i figure there's nothing left to lose. still, i can't help but stifle a giggle each time he pulls my sheets up a little bit higher. well played, defiant boobs. well played, indeed.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

baby bloggy boot camp

this post is written by me on behalf of liz lange and ergobaby.  product was provided.

at our first blogging conference

the first conference genelle and i ever attended was put on by the fabulous sits girls. our minds were blown. we had come into the blogging world by chance and had no idea that there was even a business to blogging. we left with a arsenal of knowledge that has helped to grow and shape where we are today. about a month ago i had the opportunity to attend another one of their conferences that took place right in my own hometown of sunny san diego (even though for the poor out-of-towners it rained the entire weekend). i was uber lucky to attend the special pre-conference event, baby boot camp and be surrounded by the cutest newborns on the planet while getting to preview incredible product from ergobaby and learn more about blogging.




baby bloggy boot camp is a mini conference within a conference where, while surrounded by awesome mamas and babies, i became re-invigorated with the idea of blogging. having the opportunity to learn from industry experts and leaders, like tiffany and fran from the sits girls and the fabulous ladies from rookie moms, was powerful and i left armed with a huge to-do list of ways to improve what we are already doing. 



in addition to knowledge, i had the opportunity to preview some incredible products from ergobaby. when i had my first child, ergo had not yet come on the market. by the time i had my second, i ditched my first carrier and bought an ergo carrier. it was *amazing*. my back and shoulders didn't hurt using the ergo and it adapted so easily to different carrying positions that were good for both me and my child. the only downside was that i couldn't use it to have my child face forward. enter the new ergo 360. releasing soon, the new ergo 360 allows you to wear your baby in four different positions while continuing to be comfortable and ergonomic. our testers loved it so much that we will be including it in our popular getting ready for baby series (when it's available), along with their fab swaddler and wrap carrier. we will be giving you a more detailed review of these products in the future in our "getting ready for baby" series, but they have received rave reviews from our mommy testers already! (we love it when a brand we adore can hit it out of the park with products really mamas need). 


aside from receiving fabulous product to test and gaining valuable knowledge for my business, the most important thing i walked away from the weekend with was a deep understanding of how important it is to surround yourself with people that make you a better person. find people that lift you up when you are down and challenge you to be a better you. find people to surround yourself with that listen to you and care what you have to say. find people that make you laugh until you snort, people that can be there to cheer you on. in blogging, we call those people a tribe. in life, they are the definition of friendship. find your people, and treasure them. 


Friday, March 21, 2014

diy: playtime door signs


i have five kids and i live in a neighborhood absolutely full of school aged children. that means a lot of knocks on the front door asking if someone inside is free to play. don't get me wrong, i love that my children have playmates and that there is no shortage of activity at our house. it truly brings me joy. still, there were just some moments when playtime is not going to happen. there is often homework to be done, chores that need attention and extra curricular activities that mean that any given day may not work for playtime. i found myself making trips to the door more often than i wanted to so i decided to craft up some simple door signs to help all the kids know when we have a green light for playtime and when we may need to try another day. these really are extremely easy to make and they have made all the difference for a peaceful afternoon any day of the week.

here is a step by step for my signs so you can make your own.

start with unfinished boards. i found these at hobby lobby for a couple of dollars each.


step one: paint each board a different color. i used red, yellow and green on purpose. if kids aren't reading yet they generally know that red means stop, yellow means wait (or caution) and green means go. i figured i'd help the non-readers learn the signs as well.


step two: i wanted to add some extra color and fun to my boards so i tore up some fun paper and adhered it to the boards using mod podge. 




step three: once the mod podge has had time to dry, i used a stencil and a huge black sharpie to write on the words. 



step four: lastly, i drilled two holes, one on each side of the board, large enough for me to push some ribbon through. after tying knots on each side of the board, they were ready to hang.


we store our signs inside our coat closet door, ready for use each day. they fit right over our outside door wreath hook everyday we use them. 



Monday, March 17, 2014

celebration: home depot birthday party


my oldest just turned 6 last week. for his birthday party, he decided he wanted it at our local home depot store. slight problem: home depot doesn't do birthday parties. 

i wanted to make this birthday a happy one for my first born, so i set out to make it happen. after lots of begging and pleading and general niceness, i was able to make it happen! (rock star mom moment).

have you ever been to one of the kids workshops that home depot has? (if not, check out your local store---they are so much fun!) our home depot hosts one every saturday and the boys and i have so much fun building an awesome project together (last week was a bug catcher). as a single mama on a budget, the bonus is that they are also *free*. the amazing woman that runs the kids workshops at our local store went above and beyond to make my son's dreams of having a "kids workshop" home depot birthday party a reality.

we took over the training room, every child built and painted a tool box with their parent (all of the instructions, materials and paint was supplied). after the building was complete, the candles were blown out on the tray of homemade cupcakes, bellies were filled with birthday, sugary goodness, and each child went home with their finished project as well as some quality time with one of their parents.


the cherry on top of the proverbial sundae was that the party was *free*. home depot didn't charge us a dime. 

the only things i spent money on were:
plates, napkins, cupcake supplies, plastic construction hats and little favor bags that were filled with a few goodies.


it was a birthday party that he will never forget....and a happy mommy moment too. happy birthday, little man. your mama sure loves you.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

st. patrick's day fruit rainbow

when i was growing up, my mom did an amazing job of celebrating each and every holiday. from valentine's day to the fourth of july and everything in between, we celebrated. st. patrick's day's celebration involved shamrock cookies and corned beef and cabbage and lots of green. i am not as good at celebrating as my mom was but i still love to make each holiday special.

a fabulous mother of five served this sweet rainbow treat at a pre-st. patrick's day party and i absolutely loved it. it is so simple and, aside from finding enough rolos to equal a pot of gold, it is very easy to make and put together. if you have a get together this weekend, this may just be the perfect treat to serve to your guests...or just to save for your family's own st. patrick's day fun.



st. patrick's day fruit rainbow

strawberries, washed and halved


mandarine oranges, peeled and separated into slices

pineapple, cut into cubes

green grapes, pulled from the stem

blueberries

purple grapes, pulled from the stem

one bag of mini-marshmallows

one large bag of rolos


arrange the fruit by color on a large platter in the shape of a rainbow. use the marshmallows for a cloud and the rolos for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. serve and enjoy the smiles!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

san diego: new home development, Black Canyon Estates





I was born and raised in San Diego and love it here. San Diego is a beautiful place to live for *so* many reasons, but having your own space and land here is harder and harder to come by. KirE Builders have developed a beautiful new, affordable community east of San Diego, in Ramona where owners can enjoy sprawling land with enough space for your own organic garden, or chicken coop. Black Canyon Estates, located off Black Canyon Road, consists of 35 new semi-custom estate homes on 2+ acre minimum lots. With expansive floor plans and unbeatable views, this community sets itself apart from much of what is available in San Diego. 




On March 15th and 16th , from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily, the builders are hosting a “Model Grand Opening Event” that is open to the public and open to all agents for viewing. On Saturday only, a free catered lunch will be served to all in attendance while supplies last. In addition to walking through the beautiful new model homes and enjoying a delicious lunch, there will be face painting and other family-friendly activities. Don't forget to enter their opportunity drawing to win a new iPad or maybe even a gas gift cards, simply by touring the models.



Black Canyon Estates consists of 35 semi-custom estate homes on 2+ acre minimum lots, 6 floor plans to choose from ranging from 2,200 to 2,710 sq. ft. The Open House is open to public, no realtor needed to attend. No appointment or RSVP necessary.

If you are unable to attend the grand opening, but are still interested, you can schedule a private appointment by calling 877-612-7465 ext 101

With six different floor plan options, each home posses a unique look and feel. With the added land space, homeowners are able to customize their property with an orchard, garden, pool, detached workshop or office, guest villa or a recreational vehicle garage. Also, in order to combat increasing utility rates, all of the Black Canyon Estate homes come “standard” with a feature solar system.



I will personally be previewing the estates next weekend and can't wait to see, in person, all that the community has to offer. Be sure to look forward to my article after I tour where I will share all of my experiences with you.

These new homes begin in the $500’s. Anyone that goes under contract in the month of March this year (2014), is eligible to receive $5,000 in design studio credit towards interior upgrades in their new home! additional information may be found at www.BCEramona.com or by calling (877) 612-7465 Ext. 101

Thursday, March 6, 2014

instant responses for mothers of many



when i got married, my brother gave my husband a cassette tape with taped responses to questions i might ask him during our marriage. (yes, i just said cassette tape. for those of you younger than 30, google it.) during the speech my brother gave at our wedding, he explained how the cassette was to be used. as my husband and i were lying on the beach and a beautiful woman walked past, all my husband would have to do is push play and it would say, "no hunny, she is not prettier than you."

this tape was filled will several fantastic tidbits. "you're butt does not look big in those pants." "whatever you want to do, dear." you get the picture.

i've decided i need a similar recorded device to respond to all the comments i get from people when they find out i have five kids. once strangers wipe the look of horror or shock off of their faces and finish counting and recounting my children, the comments and questions are usually one of ten. my responses are usually some variation of the ones here, usually with some version of a smile on my face once i wipe the shock or horror from my own face at people's lack of filters. here is what my recording would say if i had one. it might just work for mothers of big families everywhere.

  • "no, i don't want to have my own reality t.v. show." seriously, people?
  • "yes, they are all mine." do we normally take other people's children to the grocery store?
  • "no, i do not homeschool" i'm not sure where big families became synonymous with homeschooling but, nope....happily send those babies on the bus each morning and pick them up each afternoon.
  • "yes, i am busy." duh.
  • "yes, i do believe in birth control. it is totally appropriate to ask that question too, especially in front of my children. i'm so glad you asked."
  • "yes, i have a t.v. in my bedroom." when you have five kids your sex life is open for discussion in the line at target....just in case you were wondering.
  • "yes, i know how it happens." ...and open for discussion at the movies, the dentist, the drug store...
  • "yes, they were all planned." this is just the discussion you want to have in front of your five children. kids: "mommy, what did that man mean, 'were we all planned?'" me: "who wants candy?"
  • "i don't know how i do it either. i'm pretty sure i've blocked whole chunks for time from my memory." people do amazing things every day. surely parenting five kids can't top the list.
  • "i would have to say, better me than anyone who doesn't want kids. it's actually a pretty great life and i'm amazingly happy. don't knock it 'til you've tried it." what other answer is there?

cheers to all you moms of big families everywhere...for pasting a smile on your face and answering all the inappropriate questions and comments and then some. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

fun finds: february beauty must-haves








hard to believe that february is already coming to an end. i *love* trying new products and these five are my current beauty must-haves. 






1. jack black intense therapy lip balm -- black tea & blackberry
the lip balm is creamy and thick and the scent is simply fabulous. it's the perfect blend of a luxury product with the fun, modern scent/flavor. this lip balm is my favorite on-the-go item to have in my purse and workout bag.







2. opi nail envy
i don't have the best nails. with stress and anxiety comes nail biting/picking for me and it's hard to get my nails to stay strong and looking good. i am always on the lookout for a good nail strengthener and have really been happy with this product. it really is making a big difference in my nails.





3. rodan + fields redefine products
i hadn't heard of rodan and fields until a friend from college told me about them. the drs that invented proactiv created a new line of products that, in addition to a line that treats acne, they also have these awesome lines to target aging skin, like mine. my friend, heather sent me some samples and i am hooked. truly. my skin has never felt this amazing and i even had a couple people comment on how i am "glowing". i'll take it! i am placing an order stat. 






4. trader joes coconut body butter
if you have a trader joe's near you run and get some of this body butter. i picked the product up on a whim one day and now i can't get enough. it is so moisturizing and the scent is light and tropical and instantly transports me mentally to a beach in hawaii. a mental vacation to hawaii? not as good as being there in person, but sign me up!







5. nutraluxe md
i naturally have pretty long lashes, but with age i have noticed that they seem a little thinner and sparse. i started using this product that a friend recommended to me and it's truly amazing the difference it has made in my lashes. people have started asking me if i got extensions! ha! its super easy to apply and you get beautiful, long lashes without the upkeep and cost of eyelash extensions. sounds like a win-win to me.



so loves, that is it for this month. let me know if there are any products that you have used and love and i need to try. i will be constantly trying new things and reporting back the best of the best to you. xo- heather