Thursday, July 31, 2014

10 rules for surviving divorce with young children

1. like nemo...... just keep swimming. some days it might feel as if you are swimming through honey. whatever you do, just keep moving. you will get through this. what is coming next might be crappy or maybe (hopefully) amazing but whatever you do..... just. keep. swimming. dog-paddle, if you must. just don't stop. if you stop, you might drown.

2. figure out who you can talk to...and who you can't. most people in your life will come from a place of love when offering advice. however, even the best intentioned may only help to increase your anger when expressing their own emotions of hurt and anger towards your ex. i don't know about you, but anger was not an emotion i needed more of. depend and rely more on the friends that will listen and offer support and love....and not express as passionately the anger and hurt you may be trying (oh, so hard) to keep at bay.

3. there will be causalities of war. you will lose some mutual friends and family. it will hurt. this, sadly, is inevitable. relationships change, people take sides loudly or in a quiet way by silently slipping away. but at some point, it happens. if you are a person who cares deeply about people (like i do) it is a painful heartache to see relationships change and even disappear. 

4. get a paid best friend (aka a therapist). a paid best friend is someone you can talk to about everything you are feeling and can listen with an unbiased ear and offer advice and support. it will be the best money you ever spent. it doesn't mean that you are weak or something is wrong with you. you are strong and brave....and (bonus): having someone to vent to will keep you from being one of those people that write crazy facebook status updates sharing more than they should.

5. put on your big girl panties and do whatever is best for the kids. it will sometimes go against everything in your nature, just do it. it is not their fault this is all happening. they will be affected by your divorce no matter what. so, try to keep them out of it as much as you can.  take the high road. protect the kids at whatever cost. put a smile on your face, make them feel safe and protected and loved. do not put them in the middle. protect their image of their father or mother. it doesn't matter what happened and how much you hate your ex---he/she is their parent. don't be the one to shatter the illusion they have of their parent's perceived perfection. life moves too fast. the years are flying by and they are growing so quickly. they will, sadly, know the reality at some point in their life. let it not be from you.

6. learn to love yourself again. depending on your situation, divorce can leave you feeling like you don't even know the person you have become. somehow, throughout my marriage i lost myself. it wasn't sudden. it was in small, tiny ways that chopped away at who i was. once the marriage ended, i realized all of those tiny chips equaled some pretty major erosion to who i thought i was. take the time to find out who you are as an individual, not as the couple. it's taken time, but i really, really like the strong, authentic, loving woman i have become. i love her. find the silver lining...

7. be kind. force yourself to find kindness even where you think there is none. at all kids performances, weddings, realize quickly that your ex really is a part of your life forever. you know the for better or for worse part of your vows? the ones that you thought you needed for the marriage? turns out they come in pretty handy for the divorce part too. when all else fails? follow the golden rule and treat people how you want to be treated....even if you are not treated the same in return.

8. embrace schizophrenia - this may sound weird....but, listen up. it helps to think of your spouse as two separate people--- one is the person you married and made a life commitment to..... and the other person is the father/mother of your children. compartmentalizing like this makes it easier to have conversations. find a way to separate 1.  the two of you and the marriage that didn't work out and all of that baggage from 2. the two of you as the co-parents to your children. protect that.

9. think before you speak. we all learned this when we were young and it still applies today. most of the words you wish you could take back will be those said in a moment of extreme emotion when you speak without thinking it through. stop. take a breath. process...think.... and then respond. 

10. really think before you start dating. this may not your time of life. people often ask me why i have chosen not to date, up to this point, even though it has been almost 3 years since my marriage ended. short answer? it is because i choose to put my kids first. i am not saying that you can't date....or that i won't, at some point, if the right person comes along....i am just saying you might want to give yourself time. divorce has a way of chewing you up and leaving you at your lowest. through that pain, you will learn so much about yourself. if you give yourself the time and the space to feel that pain and move through it without looking for someone else to heal it for you, i believe you will be better off for that.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

san diego: come join me at the greatest show on earth®!

i am thrilled that the greatest show on earth®. ringling bros. and barnum & bailey® presents legends will be returning to san diego at the valley view casino center (formerly known as the san diego sports arena) from august 7-10th. i was able to attend last year with my oldest little and we had such an amazing time making memories. this year will be the first time my 4 year old gets to experience the circus with us and i can't wait to see the sparkle in his eyes as he watches the wonder and amazement of the circus come alive. this year, tickets are only $10 on opening night and a legendary $20 on other performances, so it is an affordable memory-making experience for the whole family. come join us!

be sure to arrive early for several exciting interactive elements they have before the show starts! opening 90 minutes prior to each performance, *all* ticket holders are invited to tour the animal open house to get up-close with their amazing animals. as if that isn't enough, one hour before show time, families can step onto the arena floor to meet the circus performers and animals at the interactive all access pre-show, *free* admission to all ticket holders. how wonderful is that?! plan on arriving early, because it was very crowded last year.

this year, iconic ringling bros. stars meet fabled mythological creatures at the place where legends live…the greatest show on earth®! experience unimaginable family fun, as amazing circus athletes perform awe-inspiring feats of daring, spectacles of strength and thrills of wonder in a celebration of the LEGENDS that have captured imaginations for centuries. ringmaster johnathan lee iverson guides paulo the legend seeker on his quest to discover real, living circus legends from around the world…along the way encountering the fantastical pegasus, a unicorn and the remarkable woolly the mammoth!


thursday, august 7th – sunday, august 10th

•thursday, august 7th at 7:00 pm

•friday, august 8th at 11:00 am & 7:00 pm

•saturday, august 9th at 11:00 am, 3:00 pm & 7:00 pm

•sunday, august 10th 1:00 pm & 5:00 pm


valley view casino center (formerly san diego sports arena)

3500 sports arena boulevard, san diego, CA 92110


all ticket prices are $20 with the exception of $40 (vip), $110 (ringmaster zone).

special discounted opening night tickets for only $10 each (select seating only; not valid on vip/premium levels)

all seats are reserved; tickets available for purchase online through, charge by phone at 888-9AXS-TIX or visit the valley view casino center box office.

*tickets may be subject to service charges, facility and handling fees.

hope to see you there! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

mmmmm: teriyaki chicken with brown rice

i am always looking for amazing new recipes to try. when i was given this amazing rachael ray recipe from the fabulous team behind nutrish cat food, i had to try it out. it did not disappoint and each and every one of my kiddos polished their plates. that's nothing short of miraculous. 

the other great thing about this recipe? it has the same ingredients as *rachael ray nutrish for cats*. my two cats love this food made with all natural ingredients. their coats are beautiful and they are such happy little animals. if you would like to make the switch to nutrish, here is a coupon for you to get started on the switch over for your cats: nutrish coupon.

we are so sure you will love it that we are even offering a prize to one winner. simply comment on our blog or our facebook post and you can win a bag of nutish dry food as well as some samples of the wet cat food. you'll have this amazing chicken dinner for two, you and your cat. you'll also be helping animals everywhere. since it launched, proceeds from rachael ray nutrish have raised more than $6 million for rachael's rescue, which helps animals in need. it's a win, win, win. for more information on nutrish, please click here.

here's the recipe! enjoy!

teriyaki chicken with brown rice

for the rice:

2 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup brown whole grain rice

for the sauce:

1 cup chicken stock

1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce

3 tablespoons mirin (rice wine)

3 tablespoons dry sherry

2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons sugar

2 thin slices of fresh ginger root (i used dry ginger)

1 large clove garlic, crushed (i used minced)

for the chicken:

2 tablespoons canola oil

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (i used chicken strips)

sea salt and course black pepper

2 medium frying peppers, such as cubanelle, or anaheim, seeded and cut into strips (i used bell peppers because i had them from my garden and they needed to be used.)


in a small pot, bring the stock and butter to a low boil. stir in the rice and cover. reduce heat to low simmer and cook for about ten minutes until rice is tender.

place the sauce ingredients in another small pot and bring to a boil. let the sauce reduce by about half, 15 minutes at medium heat, at a low boil. (be careful it is a low boil! if it boils over, it makes a huge sticky mess...not that i would know.)

add about 2 tablespoons cooking oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat. season the chicken with light salt and more aggressively with pepper. cook for about 8-9 minutes, turning occasionally. remove. add the peppers and stir for 2-3 minutes, letting them remain tender-crisp. add the scallions and toss for one minute more. remove from the heat.

slice the chicken breasts into 1/2 inch thick pieces (or just use the strips from the start.) 

arrange the rice on plates or in shallow bowls and top with peppers, scallions and chicken. drizzle the sauce evenly over the chicken and rice, then serve.


Monday, July 7, 2014

someday...part 3

someday. someday i'll wake up to a quiet house and this parenting business will all be in the rear view mirror. for now, i just dream of someday. 

someday part 1 and someday part 2

1. someday i'll be able to go the bathroom without returning to find this.

2. someday my laundry room won't look like this.

3. someday i won't find rocks in the washing machine.

4) someday i'll walk into the living room without finding mysterious spots on my sofa.

5) someday my kids will actually bring their shoes in from outside before a three day batch of rain.

6) someday i won't be forced to retrieve sippy cups thrown under adjacent cars.

7) someday my daughter will know that taking a pair of scissors and stabbing a brand new aerobed not once but twice might not be the best idea.

8) someday i will return from putting clean clothes away without finding a toddler playing in toilet water...all over the entryway.

9) someday my kids clothes won't appear with mysterious stains...all over them.

10) someday my son will eat a cookie without this happening on the one day i forgot to bring baby wipes.

someday...a girl can dream can't she? if you have pictures of your "somedays," send them our way. it's good to know we're not alone.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

summer challenge

i have to be honest, a summer with all five kids at home can be overwhelming. the last days of school, i can feel my heart beating faster, my breathing rapidly increase. i wouldn't say that i have a full blown panic attack but i definitely feel the pressure. thoughts of filling a summer with activity for five little people can be daunting.

this year, i decided to get organized. the more organized i became, the better i felt. i created an entire summer checklist for the kids to accomplish each day. surprisingly, the kids were all for this idea. we are now two weeks into our summer here in the south and we are on a roll. i can't say this will work for everyone but for us, this has been a life saver. too much idle time during the summer causes problems; kids fight, they are restless, and quite frankly, i don't want to have to entertain them all day everyday. i'm also from a family of educators. my dad is a retired principal, my mom's a former teacher and speech pathologist, my sister and sister-in-law both teach and i used to teach high school. my kids are surrounded. i don't want them to spend the summer losing all the information they learned over the school year.

all of those factors led to our "summer challenge." each day the kids have a series of tasks to do. at the end of the week, they can earn a star for completing a week of tasks. the stars add up to rewards. it's a simple concept but, surprisingly, the kids love it. i have to be honest, i love it too. they are busy and working for a couple of hours a day and i have time to sit with each of them to help them get their projects or teach them something new. i am actually thrilled with the results. feel free to use this idea and run with it. it may not work for you exactly the way it has worked for us but, please, make this your own and use it to bring some sanity to your own house this summer.

Rules: These were read to the kids on our first day. They all agreed so we kept going!

My kids had already been trained on their weekly chores so that was easy for them to continue. They had several books already purchased for them to enjoy over the summer. We purchased Bridge Books from

i printed out a check list for each week. i made several copies for each child with a place for the dates at the top. each child has their own clip boards so their lists can travel with them.

we brainstormed as a family for great ideas for rewards. this is what our family decided upon.

at the end of each week, if my kids have completed their assignments, they get a star for each area. 

They get to choose the reward for our family. That's it. So far so good. The kids are engaged. The days are full. The rewards are fun. This is my kids' summer challenge...and my summer sanity.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

my army of women

my husband has been working a lot lately. with his law enforcement job, it is anyone's guess when or if he'll be home on any given night. normally i can handle the masses but yesterday was a different story. my toddler was on day four of a raging fever and that night, while my husband was out chasing some bad men, my daughter got sick as well. i was up all night with the pair of them. as 7:00 AM rolled around and my other three stirred, i knew i was in need of reinforcements. i'd used the last of the fever reducers over night and there was no way i was going to be able to drag all five to the store.

i contemplated what i could do...leave them at home? take a couple of them? wait until my husband magically returned from work? i wanted to be self-sufficient but when it came right down to it, i knew it was time to wave the white flag of surrender and see if there was anyone who might be willing to help a mom out. i posted this to facebook:

that was it. a simple cry for help in the middle of my sleep deprived morning. i figured someone had to be heading for the store during the day. still, it was hard for me to press send. it was hard to admit i needed help. i liked feeling like i was the rocking mother of five. and yet, when it came right down to it, i figured between the killing of my pride and a trip with five kids to the store, i'd bury my pride and stay at home.

the crazy thing? the response. within minutes someone offered to pick up the medicine. i thought the flurry of messages would end after that but that was just the beginning. there was this:

and this...

and this...

and this...

and those were just the facebook messages. by the afternoon, there were 36 facebook messages offering help. there were several texts from friends. not only did i get the two bottles of medicine, but my favorite drink from starbucks. someone else brought me juice and a party tray of chicken nuggets and fruit from chick-fil-a for lunch. i had three offers for dinner, two people who just came and dropped off food. countless others texted me throughout the day to see how i was.

my friends from out of the area chimed in on facebook too. their responses?

it's hard to believe places like this exist. i was and am still honestly awed by it all. what a remarkable group of people surround me, right? they truly are some of the greatest people on earth, in the greatest neighborhood on earth, from the greatest church on earth, in the greatest town on earth. i know i am blessed.

the more i got to thinking, though, the more i realized that this is how life is supposed to be. we are supposed to count on each other. we are supposed to live in community with one another, support one another, come along side one another, do life with one another. we're supposed to be honest, and vulnerable, and put our pride aside. the miraculous happens when we put aside the facebook and instagram version of ourselves and take a few minutes to just be real. the results are magical.

i may still be sleep deprived. i may still have two sick kids. my husband may still be a walking zombie. but i'm not alone. i'm surrounded by an army of amazing women who have my back. and just like that, am invincible. i think i may just go conquer the world. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

mmmmm: lemon trifle

summer is the time for cool desserts. this one is in honor of my sister. it's her absolute favorite. she'll fight you for the last bowl. it takes a little time to make but it is so worth the effort. enjoy!

lemon trifle

for the pecan crumble layer:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup melted butter

for the lemon custard layer:

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup flour

1 3/4 cups cold water

3 egg yolks

2/3 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons grated lemon peel

for the cream cheese layer:

1 8oz. package of cream cheese

3 cups confectioner's sugar

8 oz. whipped topping or two cups of sweetened whipped cream

mix pecans, flour and melted butter together in a small bowl. press into a greased 9 x 13 pan. bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. remove from oven, set aside and allow to cool.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and the flour. Stir in the water until it is smooth. cook over medium heat, stirring while cooking, until hot and bubbly. reduce heat and continue cooking for two minutes more. 

remove the mixture from the heat. stir a small amount of the hot liquid into the egg yolks. add the egg yolk mixture to the pan and cook while stirring until there is a gentle boil. cook for two minutes more. stir in the lemon juice, butter and lemon peel. 

transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature without stirring the mixture. cover the mixture with wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.

in a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioner's sugar until smooth. fold in whipped topping or sweetened whipped cream.

crumble the baked pecan mixture. begin layering the trifle. start with a layer of lemon custard. you will use approximately 1 cup of each part of the trifle per layer. top with whipped cream mixture and a layer of the pecan crumble. continue this process two more times. top the trifle with the remaining pecan mixture. refrigerate and enjoy!

Thursday, June 5, 2014


today i am the mother of an elementary school graduate. as i sat yesterday in the graduation ceremony, i was shocked at my own struggle to catch my breath.  each one caught in my throat as i inhaled and it felt like the weight of the world was on my chest. i watched as my son walked into the ceremony and flashbacks filled my mind: of the first day of kindergarten when i dropped him off in his classroom, of field trips, lunches, each grade's struggles and joys, and of each afternoon when he stepped off the bus. how could this possibly be happening? how could he be moving on to the horrors of the middle school years? it has come too soon. he can't possibly be ready for this. 

but he is ready. the problem here is all mine. he is prepared, excited even. each day he seems to crave more and more independence, more responsibility, more of a life of his own and less to be a part of mine. parenting my son from birth has been a constant pouring, and pouring, and pouring into him, teaching him, training him and pushing him to do things on his own. each day that's what we are doing, training our sons and daughters to be on their own, to be independent, to think for themselves. each time we reach a parenting milestone we are thrilled. they conquer potty training. they eat by themselves. they sleep in a big boy bed. each moment feels like such a victory and it is. it's a monument to great parenting. but as i look back it becomes so clear that each victory is a step in preparing him, all of them, to be on their own, to stand on their own two feet and to live their own lives.

and i struggle to catch my breath. parenting is a whirlwind. the mantra runs on replay through my head. days are long, years are short. days are long, years are short. years are short. years are short. and i struggle to breathe again. i have worked so long to prepare him for this day but i am not prepared. i've become acutely aware that parenting is a consistent process of "release." we train them up to let them go. we let them go. release. each parenting victory, each monument, each milestone...release. countless moments of release. it doesn't hit you until they walk across the stage when their name is called...release. he is ready and so excited. release. pieces of my mommy heart break. release none-the-less.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

diy teacher flower pot

the end of the school year is quickly approaching and it is time to think about end of the year teacher gifts. i am convinced that all teachers deserve a gift card of some sort as a teacher's gift but i love this pot to display the cards and give the teachers a keepsake to remember the year by.

1) begin with a cheap clay flower pot. i purchased this one at home depot for 
about $3.00.

2) paint the bottom portion of the pot with chalkboard paint. i love this paint because it goes on thick and only requires one coat. there will be plenty left to create other amazing projects.

3) paint the top portion of the pot with a yellow acrylic paint. i got this paint at hobby lobby and love it as well because of how thick it is. i painted the inside of the pot as well to make sure all the clay portion is covered up to where the dirt will fill the pot.

4) paint the entire pot, both inside and out with polycrylic finish. the pots need to be covered even on the unpainted areas if they are going to keep their painted finish after the flowers are watered. 

5) gather the tools you will need to finish the rest of the pot. you'll need a tape measure, a glue gun, a chalk pen and a black sharpie.

6) using the tape measure and the black sharpie, measure one inch measurements around the pot. label the inches by number. add the marks for the half inches and quarter inches. when that is finished, cut a large piece of coordinating ribbon and carefully glue it around the pot, tying a bow at the center. using the chalk pen, write in the teacher's name.

7) create a "thank you" note. i used old scrapbooking materials to create one i liked. 

8) visit a florist or a floral department inside a grocery store and ask for floral picks. use the picks to hold the thank you note and several gift cards.

9) plant your flower. i love gerber daisies so of course that was my flower of choice. 

10) arrange the flower picks in the soil and have your kids present them to their amazing teachers. enjoy!