Tuesday, July 28, 2015

diy: front porch freshen up

as you all know, i recently moved into the cutest little house with my boys. it's an adorable place built in 1952, but the porch has seen better days and needed a little tlc.  

with a tiny budget, there were still some simple things I could do to add some character and personality.

i re-planted the planter with succulents and even some veggies and added some potted plants. 

a cute "hello"vinyl decal as added to the mailbox and the ceramic elephant i carried home with me from a college trip to india finally had a home in the entry.  

i happen to live on a street that receives a fair amount of door-to-door salespeople. i've had enough magazine and candy bar sales to last a lifetime, and as someone that works from home.....well, doorbells ringing and the constant knocking is the worst. adding the cute "please, no soliciting" decal serves its purpose of keeping them at bay while still looking stylish. 

if you're looking to make a few simple changes to your front porch, here are items similar to the ones I used:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

mmmmm, peanut-butterscotch o's

the backstory

during the summer, my kids are active. they are busy from sun up to sun down and they are hungry all the time. all. the. time. they eat everything in sight. it's impossible to keep them full. i am constantly looking for snacks and treats that are simple, delicious, and may just keep them all full until their next meal. this recipe is just that. it is so good. i find reasons to sneak in the kitchen and cut another little square for myself. everyone knows that if you just take little bites of something, it never really adds up to a complete serving, right? it may not be the most healthy of snacks (hello corn syrup, brown sugar and butterscotch chips trifecta), but i have no problem giving my kids a special treat when they are running around like monkeys...and they love it. you'll love it too. enjoy.

peanut-butter-scotch o's

1 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cups peanut butter

1/4 t. salt

1 t. vanilla

11 oz. package of butterscotch chips

6 cups cheerios (i use multigrain but regular o's work fine as well)

bring the corn syrup, brown sugar and peanut butter to a low boil in a large pot. 

remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt. add the cheerios and butterscotch chips all at once and stir until all of the o's are completely coated. 

press into a buttered 9x13 pan. 

allow to cool, cut and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

you're never as happy as you look on facebook.

you're never as happy as you look on facebook. it's a true statement, right? life isn't perfect. there are hard days......hard weeks......hard years. 

we all have our moments; it's real life. but how many of us actually post those less-than-perfect moments on social media? not me. do you? 

i know that i'm only posting the happy snapshots. i am pretty sure that is what all of my "friends" are posting....but still i find myself browsing my facebook feed at times and feeling downright sorry for myself and playing the comparison game. you know the one i'm talking about, right?  that friend from college seems to have the most perfect marriage......that high school friend seems to be the world's most perfect mommy and is always doing amazing things with her kids......the grass somehow appears greener in everyone's life, at times. 

a few years ago, i reconnected with an old high school friend through facebook. i had just started going though my divorce. she had gone through a divorce as well. did i take and post photos of me curled in a ball on the bathroom floor sobbing while my children slept in the next room? heck, no. did she post photos like that? nope. but we re-connected because we, while scanning the facebook feed, looked not at what everyone was showing us......but the absence of what they were no longer showing. 

there were no status updates from my sweet friend detailing the destruction of her marriage. 

there were no sob stories from me about feeling lonely and overwhelmed with my new circumstance.

what there was was an absence of happy family photos with a hubby in them. 

what we saw was more mama and kiddo photos overall, and less status updates, in general. 

my friend looked at facebook. she looked, she noticed the absence and she reached out......and i am forever grateful. 

she was a lamppost in a very dark and confusing time for me of change. lampposts will help. they will get you through any challenge. people are amazing lampposts. 

so, I urge you all, wonderful readers, to look at your facebook feed. really look. not at what someone is showing you, but the absence of what they are showing you. reach out to someone. and if you are struggling, be brave enough to be vulnerable and authentic to someone that reaches out. 

none of us are perfect. we each have flaws. we all have bad moments. you don't have to flood your facebook feed with "eeyore-like", woe is me moments, but you don't have to be perfect either. i'm not. i need to make sure i am not comparing my behind-the-scenes moments with someone else's highlight reel. 

i need to know more people aren't perfect. 

it's #RealLife, friends. 

embrace it. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

#winning at parenting

there are some moments in parenting when you just have to share your story. you have to share it because everyone else needs to feel a little bit better about themselves, even if only for a moment. this is one of those stories. you are welcome.

recently we went to cheer on my middle son's best friend as he played in an important baseball game. we collectively cheered on his little baseball buddy and all his under 8 teammates and then the group of us, my family of seven and two other families went out to a pizza buffet for dinner. we took up two enormous tables and i'm pretty sure the restaurant not only lost money on their "kids eat free" night but they also prayed and hoped we would eat quickly and take our chaos with us as we left.

no such luck for the owners of that restaurant. we were in for the long haul and with the kids at one table and the adults at another, we enjoyed some adult conversation while the kids ate themselves into oblivion.

when the my middle son had officially eaten all he could, he asked if he could go sit outside. the restaurant was particularly chilly so i agreed he could go sit out on the patio as long as he took others with him. so, my son, my nephew, my daughter and my son's best buddy wearing his baseball uniform went outside to sit on the patio facing the parking lot.

the restaurant has windows covering the entire wall looking out to the the patio and the entire parking lot so the kids were all in clear view the entire time. while we adults sat and talked, i would occasionally cast a glance outside. as i did, i noticed something that caught my eye. my nine year old daughter had her hands covering her mouth in horror. there in the other chair next to her, my son's baseball friend was leaning back in his chair, bracing himself for the next blow. my son and my nephew were systematically taking turns punching him as hard as they could in his privates. this was in full view not only of the entire restaurant but of a parking lot full of cars and passers by. #awesome. with each blow, i watched as the friend smiled and said, "nope, still doesn't hurt." this brought on fits of laughter from their little table and then they continued to draw back to hit him time and time again.

it took my husband about two seconds to hop up and walk outside. his words once outdoors to the table of trouble were, "there will be no more hitting anyone in the penis. do you understand?" the word, "penis" about did my daughter in and she collapsed in a fit of hysterical laughter. the boys snickered and chuckled as he walked away. my husband made his way back into the restaurant and had just sat down at our table when my son opened the door, stuck his head in and said loud enough for the entire restaurant to hear, "but daddy, he is wearing a cup!"

did you hear that sound? that was the sound of the last bit of my pride dying a slow and painful death. i knew it would happen eventually. that was the day. i buried my face in my hands and moaned.  #winning. let's be real. #winning is not something i even aspire to anymore. i think #makingit and #learningtolaugh are more attainable goals. i think i like them better. #reallife is so much more fun than #winning anyway.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

mmmmm: tuscan tortellini salad

the back story:

summertime is in full swing and so are summer cookouts. we love gatherings with friends and outdoor picnics. this cold salad is the perfect addition to any summer get together. i brought it to a neighborhood potluck recently and had several requests for the recipe. in honor of all my amazing neighbors and great summer times together, this recipe is for you all. 

tuscan tortellini salad


prepare the tortellini:

32 oz. package of refrigerated, cheese-filled tortellini

cook tortellini according to package directions; drain in a colander. rinse well with cold water.

make salad dressing:

1/2 c. canola oil

1/2 c. chopped white onion (i use frozen chopped onion)

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoon dried basil

2 tablespoon dried oregano

2 tablespoon dried chives

4 cloves garlic, minced (i use pre-minced garlic in a jar)

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

whisk together in a large bowl. add the tortellini. mix well.


2 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks

12-15 cherry tomatoes, halved

3/4 c. sliced pitted kalamazoo (greek) olives

3/4 c. sliced black olives

3/4 c. finely shredded parmesan cheese

spinach leaves, approximately 1-2 cups

8 oz. fresh mozzarella, chopped into bite-sized chunks

1/2 cup pine nuts

this recipe can be made in advance. leave parmesan, pine nuts, fresh mozzarella and spinach leaves until ready to serve.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

do something good

this post is sponsored by the fabulous people at smartypants gummy vitamins. all the thoughts and opinions are my own.

the last couple of weeks have been a struggle for me. there are big issues...big legislations...big problems...big things happening in the united states. my facebook feed is full of people sharing their opinions on everything from state rights to gun control, from gay rights to racism. articles i have read are full of comments with people spending hours and hours fighting with one another, trying to change each other's minds. people are hurtful. offensive things are said.  people are so focused on their rights, their feelings, their ideas that, to read the vast majority of what is written, there seems to be a general lack of concern for others, especially if others think differently than we might. 

i find it all very discouraging. i keep looking for people who are kind and loving. every once in a while i'll find a post by someone who is sharing their thoughts in a loving and respectful way and it honestly brings tears to my eyes in its compassion, in its love, in its kindness. i know our nation's issues are important. i know that people feel passionately. i know that there are problems that need to be fixed. i know all of it. i, however, see a tremendous amount of energy being poured into fighting over issues behind the mask of our computer screens and i see little good coming of it. i'm not advocating silencing your voice. we are a privileged people because we have the right to share our thoughts and viewpoints. i am saying, however, that we may be able to take a piece of our passion and our energy and redirect it into something tangible for someone else. 

my husband and i lived in south amercia for six years. while there, we were surrounded by people who were desperately poor. every day we were encountered by those who were hungry, people who were living in shacks, children who were malnourished. 

cartagena, colombia is full of 1/2 million displaced people who live in shabby, dirt-floored houses without running water, without food, without basic life necessities. we watched people everyday fight for survival and it was heartbreaking. 

the truth is, there are people everywhere in need. there are hungry people in our own backyard. there are people fighting for survival here and across the globe. there is so much need and so many who need us. imagine the good we could do if we redirected a piece of our passion, an ounce of our energy from our fights over issues to answering a need in someone else in a tangible, real-life way. 

there are so many easy ways you can help others. we at thethirdboob are huge fans of vitamin angels. this non-profit organization gets vitamins to children in need around the world. they just announced this month that they have reached their 1,000,000 child with vitamins donated by smartypants gummy vitamins. having seen malnourished kids in south america, kids whose hair is falling out because of vitamin deficiencies, with skin diseases from unsanitary living conditions, half the size they should be because of lack of nutrition, i am extremely passionate about children getting the nutrients they need to not just survive but to thrive. through corporate donations as well as individual gifts, vitamin angels is reaching those kids and giving them a better chance at life. it truly is an amazing company. 

there are some easy ways you can get involved in their program. the easiest way to be a part of this solution is to purchase smartypants gummy vitamins here in the united states. for each bottle of smartypants vitamins you purchase, the company donates another bottle to vitamin angels to distribute to needy children around the world. imagine if we all did something as small as purchase a bottle of vitamins. the impact we could make globally is staggering to envision. 

you can also give directly to vitamin angels through online giving. take a moment and also follow vitamin angels and smartypants vitamins on facebook  twitter and instagram. every time i see pictures of the children these organization are helping, my perspective is changed. i am more grateful. i'm more passionate about helping others. i'm so happy to be involved. 

vitamin angels is not, however, the only way you can get involved with those in need. there is so much need in our own backyard and around the world. beyond the hungry, there are countless hurting people you meet everyday. find someone to love. find something to give. find something of your own you don't need and donate it to bless someone else. bring someone a meal. volunteer at a food pantry. do something tangible. 

in spite of our disagreements, in spite of our differences and no matter what our stances are on issues, we truly are so blessed in so many thousands of ways. those blessings come with an accountability to look beyond ourselves and to do something for others. be passionate about what you believe in. be a voice for your cause, but do it with kindness. we do not have to agree on one single thing for us to be kind to one another. let's do that. let's show kindness. let's care for those in need. we will all be much better for it. 

follow vitamin angels on: 

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vitaminangels?fref=ts
instagram: https://instagram.com/vitaminangels
twitter: https://twitter.com/vitaminangels

follow smartypants vitamins on:

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SmartyPants.Vitamins?fref=ts
instagram: https://instagram.com/smartyhealth
twitter: https://twitter.com/SmartyHealth

Friday, June 26, 2015

dear heather and genelle: part 2

from time to time over the past four years, we get emails or facebook messages with questions about us....who we are....what makes us tick.....and the most popular...."why are you called the third boob?!?" 

we started a monthly q & a series answering all of your questions. the first post of the series is here, in case you missed it. keep the questions coming! (email us, tweet, facebook message, leave a comment at the end of a post or send smoke signals. we will get to your question; we pinkie swear). 


heather and genelle

if you could live anywhere, where would it be?

genelle: i've lived in quite a few places. i grew up in northern california, spent my college years and early adulthood in san diego county areas, moved to south america and lived in both colombia and venezuela and now have settled in the south. i don't know. if it was only myself to consider, i would love to live in a foreign country again. five kids complicates that answer. i'm pretty content to stay put for a while and let my kids grow up here in the south.

heather: i would probably never leave san diego, but there is part of me that always wanted to live in a tiny small town someplace quaint and simple......and another, braver part of me that secretly wishes i had been brave enough to live abroad.

what would you change about yourself if you could?

genelle: i would have more patience. i feel like with kids of any age you need more patience than is realistic. with four boys and a girl, i feel like i am short all of the time.

heather: i would really, really love to just not care at all what people think. at least for a little while. overall, I do okay with this, but I'm a recovering people pleasing butt kisser. ;-) 

what really makes you angry?

genelle: stereotypes

heather: prejudice and bigotry. 

what was the last movie you went to? 

genelle: i went to see "far from the madding crowd" with my mom and sister. we are all suckers for british literature and this story doesn't disappoint. i will eventually own it.

heather: I seriously can't remember the last time I went to see a movie. It's been a while since I've seen a grown-up movie and the last kids movie we saw in the theaters was home. time to get back to the theater. going to the movies is really one of my favorite things ever. 

if you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?

genelle: right now it is summer vacation from all my kids. i love them. truly. but right now, all i want to do is spend a day completely by myself. i want to sit on a beach somewhere or in a lounge chair, read books, take a nap, eat great food and for one day only think of myself. it sounds selfish but it is definitely the truth today.

heather: lay on a beach in a plush lounge chair sipping fruity umbrella drinks and feeling the warm sun on my skin and the tropical breeze in my hair. ahhhhh.....can't you just picture it? dreamy. 

which would you rather do: wash dishes, mow the lawn, clean the bathroom, or vacuum the house?

genelle: ummm...do i have to pick one? isn't that why i have so many kids...so they can do some of those things? if i had to choose one, it would be the dishes. i love anything that involves water...even washing dishes.

heather: agh! they all stink! i would say vacuum is the best choice in that bunch. i have two boys, so never *ever* the bathroom. 

who is your favorite author?

genelle: i'm a classic literature fan and especially a sucker for british lit. i'd have to say that jane austen is my all time favorite.

heather: i can always read anything jodi picoult. love her books so much. easy to read and she is a magical storyteller. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

summer camp checklists

this is a sponsored post for cvs minute clinic. the thoughts and opinions are all my own.

summer is in full swing. i'm juggling the summer activities of my five little troopers and we are enjoying a change of pace and some quality time together. there is a limit, however, to how much togetherness we can tolerate before the fighting begins. that's just life and our own little bit of normalcy. there are seven of us in one house for the summer and it makes things pretty chaotic. having a schedule and some planned activities for different kiddos helps tremendously to keep everyone moving and to make together time a bit less intense. i don't know about you, but i have scheduled camps, vacation bible schools and other activities to keep everyone occupied as the weeks move on.

this year my two oldest did two different sports camps. while they weren't sleep away camps (wouldn't that be amazing?), they were still camps that required some preparation and some planning. if you are sending your kiddos to camps this year, here are some tips to make the process run a little bit more smoothly.

1) plan ahead. 

many camps require camp physicals. even if they don't, summer physicals are a great way to make sure your camper is ready for all the demands summer camps have to offer. make sure your kiddos are up to date on immunizations and get the camp physicals done as quickly as possible. we love heading over to the cvs minute clinic to get all our quick medical trips in. the nurse practitioners review immunization records, do a thorough check-up, and will complete any necessary paperwork. we don't need an appointment and we can get everything handled in one day...physicals included. my insurance pays for the visit and i'm good to go. i'll take anything quick and painless when i'm carting five kids around!

2) pack by outfit. 

this is my go-to packing plan for all our trips and especially for anything where the kids sleep away. i help the kids pack their bags by outfit per day. this helps us not to overpack and it helps the kids to be organized as they travel. with my kids away on overnight trips, i also put each day's outfit in a ziplock bag. i do this for multiple reasons. first, there is nothing worse than the smell of dirty camp clothes. if the kids take the clean clothes out of a ziplock bag and put the dirty cloths back in the ziplock bag, the smell is contained. no one wants to put on clean clothes that smell like end-of-the-day camp wear. ziplock bags solve this completely. this also helps kids to remember to actually change their clothes and their underwear each day. i can't tell you how many friends i have who tell me they sent a bunch of clothes with their kids only to have them return home in the same outfit they left in...socks and underwear included. just...gross. one ziplock for one day's clothing works wonders. it's worth the extra effort.

3) send something familiar. 

pack the favorite blanket or stuffed animal. pack the special things the kids love to sleep with or the items they go to for comfort when they are upset. camp can be hard for kiddos so having loved items in hand can make the experience that much easier on them.

4) send more snacks than you think necessary. 

my daughter went to gymnastics camp this year. she did hard core, exhausting physical exercise and conditioning for six hours a day. imaging going to a boot camp or cross fit for six solid hours several days in a row. she was exhausted and absolutely starving. i packed her with tons of snacks to help her get through the day. if you are at the cvs minute clinic, stop in by their snack foods. we found a ton of great options for her and my son to keep them going through the day.

5) stay in touch. 

find a way for the kiddos to stay in touch with you during camp. if the camp has the capabilities, make sure your kids know how to email you when away from home. if there are phones, make sure your kids know how to reach you if they need an "i love you" for the day. if those aren't possibilities, send some self addressed, stamped envelopes with the kids and stationary for them to write you the old fashioned way. they will also love getting cards in the mail from you at camp. send a photo and a little memento from home to help ward of homesickness. a photo and a little note from home can be just what is needed when the kids are away and missing home.

6) remember first aid. 

don't forget all the other camp essentials. send plenty of sunscreen, uv protectant lip balm, uv protectant sunglasses, bug repellant, calamine lotion or benedryl spray, and bandages. i love these sports bandages for my kiddos that i found at cvs because they are sweat resistant for my little athletes. whatever you might prefer, sending a little first aid kit helps kids feel secure knowing they are prepared for anything that might come their way.

7) have them chronicle their trip. 

send a notebook or a disposable camera. ask your kids to write down what they did each day so they can share it with you when they return home. encourage them to remember details in writing so they can relive their experience in the future. they'll look back on those memories happily in years to come.

8) have a plan if things go wrong. 

let's just say your kids didn't remember "leaves of three, let them be" or they didn't put on sunscreen as well as they imagined. let's say they got stung by some insect and the wound looks less than wonderful. when summer mishaps happen, it's great to know there is a place you can go for quick treatment of minor injuries and problems. we head to minute clinic when these unfortunate occurrences happen as well. the nurse practitioners can treat poison oak and poison ivy, they can treat bug bites when needed and can even help relieve painful sunburns. i love the ease and of these appointments. you will love them too.

9) have fun! 

enjoy the moments when your kids are off enjoying time away. take a deep breath and know that, in the midst of all the running around and the chaos, you and your kids are building memories that will last a lifetime. summer is magical for kids. it can be magical for us parents too...especially when the kids are off at camp.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

our favorite posts of all time

it's hard to believe that it's been four years since we started this blog. what began as a place for our close friends to share recipes or see what to register for when having a baby has grown into a thriving community of people worldwide that we consider an extension of our own families.

the past four years in each of our lives have brought about many stories.....some make us laugh and others have made us cry....but all have made us grow and learn.

here are our favorite posts of all time. thank you for coming along on this journey with us. we are thankful for each of you and look forward to sharing many more stories to come. 

heather and genelle

genelle's favorites:

the third boob: the story that started it all
all great things in life have to start somewhere. our list wouldn't be complete without this post. it gave us our name and has been the story we re-tell over and over again everywhere we go. why "the third boob?" this is why.

this was our first post to be featured on "scary mommy" and it stirred up a ton of conversation and controversy. we hand never been called "fat slobs who sit on the cough eating french fries all day" before this post was published. you've gotta love a good discussion starter!

failing as a mother
there are certain posts that are so vulnerable that it is like getting a snap shot of our lives at a given moment. this was one of those posts for us. it was extremely hard to write, painful still to read and it touches moms everywhere who are walking through this journey of parenthood.

the day my boobs betrayed me
there are some #reallife moments that are just hysterical. they are too good not to share. this was one of those moments. it still makes me laugh every time i read it.

my days are numbered
even with all the funny stories and very difficult moments, there are days when it hits you. time moves way too quickly. when one of our 20 something guy readers said this post made him cry, we know we had something that resounded with many.

heather's favorites:

my sparkling truth: confessions, a single mama and the road trip
if we decide to do a sponsored post, we do so only if we love the product already and if it fits within a story we want to tell. this product fit both and was the first time i wrote about the changes that were taking place for my family. it was scary, and the support you all showed me i will never forget.

why i killed my ex-husband
you can't get more raw or honest then this. and i have never been more proud of myself for something i have written before. 

heather's 40 things i've learned in 40 years
genelle's 40 things i've learned in 40 years

genelle and i both turned 40 this past december and wrote these posts. we have been friends for 20 years and although we are so alike in so many ways we are also so different. if you want to get to know us, i think these posts give a great insight to who we are and how we think. 

grief, loss, acceptance and love

sadly, at this stage of life, i don't think i even know one person whose life hasn't been touched by cancer. this is one story of how it's changed my life. 

did you go to your hight school reunion? i had the hardest time deciding if i should go or not. find out what i decided. 

i can't think of a post that makes genelle and i laugh more. no, diy projects are not funny. what is hilarious is that i had put zero thought into this post. i snapped a couple photos of something i had done in my house and put it up on this place called pinterest.....and it exploded. to date, this is the single most read post on our blog of all time and gets hits daily even now. it's the gift that just keep giving? apparently, if you want a post to go viral you put in zero though and slap it up onto pinterest. hilarious, but we love the love and appreciate it so much.