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!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

is it time to throw in the towel?


it's crazy. 

there are twists and turns along the road......and most of it is not predictable. i hate that part. 

people get cancer. people. get. cancer. i mean, how jacked up is that? marriages end, fires sweep through cities destroying homes. destroying lives. 

those are some of the big things that make us stop in our tracks, that make us stop to catch our breath.....but the little stuff can throw us off course getting sick, a water pipe bursting in the house (when fixing it wasn't part of the budget), car repairs, sports uniforms that cost more than you want to spend (but you love how much it makes your child shine with happiness doing something they love). 

life is just plain stressful. sometimes, it feels as if you have hit your limit. we all go through that, right? 

what i know is this: allow yourself to take the time you need to process. take a deep breath. or twelve. so, maybe i don't get to writing that article i was going to post weeks ago. so, maybe i have to buy my child's birthday cupcakes at the grocery store instead of making the awesome ones i saw on pinterest. 

it's okay. focus. prioritize. breathe.....and take one day at a time. it will all be waiting for you when you are ready. 

life is somehow predictable that way, at least.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

simple solutions: killing fruit flies

spring has sprung. the weather here in the south is already pretty hot and with the warm weather, the bugs have started to invade. i'm originally a california girl and i was always used to black flies all summer long. now that i'm in the south, bugs take on a whole new meaning. there are bugs from the first warm day until the first frost...a. lot. of. bugs.

i can't say that i'm a fan. with my kids running in and out of the house a thousand times a day, they are inevitably going to make it indoors. fruit flies or gnats (as we called them in cali) are literally everywhere. 

here is a simple solution to kill the fruit flies that make it into your house. these ingredients are natural so you don't have to worry about little hands getting into things they shouldn't.

first, make sure the fruit in your house is either kept in the refrigerator or is completely covered. covering your fruit may work to keep fruit flies out of the fruit but they are crafty little devils and will manage to find a way. we keep our bananas in the microwave and try to keep all other fruit in the fridge. that has helped to keep some of the fruit flies away. also, as tempting as it is, avoid leaving the doors or windows open with just a screen in place. fruit flies can go right through a screen and will invade your whole house.

once there are fruit flies in your house, here is the way to attract them and kill them.

pour about 3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar into a bowl. add about one teaspoon of dish soap (i love mrs. meyer's dish soap and method dish soap because they use natural ingredients. they work perfectly for this). avoid using too much dish soap as the bugs will not be as attracted to the smell and it won't work as well. here is the result...only three flies dead in about an hour. 

with just the right amount of dish soap, you will have scores of flies dead in less than an hour. it is amazing. dump out your dirty, bug filled vinegar every day and keep repeating until you are bug free. it works like magic. enjoy a bug free summer!

Monday, May 12, 2014

test rocker...and parenting a soon to be senior is hard work!

carissa rogers is now one of my extremely fun, nearby neighbors...and a fabulous blogger as well. you can find her blogging about life at

hi thirdboob fans! you should be very jealous. because a few years back I met the thirdboob team in person! i know right?? then one magical day after moving my family coast to coast, landing near charlotte, NC… i realized miss nellie here lives almost in my backyard. as in, i routinely jog past her house and throw dirt clods! go ahead. be jealous. 

sigh… spring break is over. 
4 weeks of school until summer vacation officially begins! 
oh wait… that means i’m one year closer to owning a SENIOR. IN HIGH SCHOOL PEOPLE.
one year closer to sending her away to college.
one year closer to… 

deep breaths. it will be o-kay. she’s a smart cookie. she is independent and kinda feisty (just like i like her). she has a plan right?

ummm yeah… not that she’s shared with me! 

i wish i could say my kiddo knows exactly what she wants to do with her life. that she has a dream college all picked out and has a 12 step plan in place for getting accepted and scholarshipped through it. 
but she doesn’t. 

and she seems completely calm about it.
i’m over here freaking out, but she’s calm??

here’s my sneaky mom plan: 
i’ve researched and figured out when and where the college prep tests are held. i know how much they cost to take—a lot by the way. i’ve encouraged her to STUDY, despite her crazy busy high school life.  i located an online prep course called because the in-person courses are more cash than we can afford and she doesn’t have time to spend whole saturdays in a course like that. 

i’ve scheduled a mother-daughter college road trip, to tour a few local colleges. how fun is that?!  (no, don’t ask her.) and we are meeting with the school guidance counselor to discuss her strengths and hopefully encourage her to come up with a plan… any plan… soon. 

i also know a few of her dreams. moms are tricky that way. for example i know she wants to be in and around theater for a few more years. and she dearly misses her oregon pals (since we recently moved). there’s a college near our old stomping grounds where she would have both old pals and a terrific theater program. she also imagines a world where she spends time in New York City.  she was born in Brooklyn and can’t get enough of all things gritty and New York-y. hell-o, there are schools in New York?
but still, she has to come to these decisions on her own.
and dang if that isn’t the hardest part of this parenting gig?
letting her make her own decisions. 

since working directly with the team i’ve become a genuine fan of their product. 
i’m happy to share information about with the thirdboob family.
if you have any questions about using the online test prep resource please ask! did you know they should take the tests at least twice? 

if you have questions about parenting a soon-to-be-senior, well, good luck. it ain’t easy! 
TestRocker has recently been awarded the prestigious PTPA award and they are now running a FREE live webinar class series! Check out the free webinar class schedule here. Features
  • Heavy on the Video Tutorials (A Must for the YouTube Teen Generation!)
  • $699 for a 6 Month Online Unlimited Course (Less than in person courses and SO much more convenient.)
  • Mobile Friendly *(No need for an app, the course runs just as well straight from your smartphone browser as on a laptop.)
  • Both SAT & ACT Online Courses Available
  • Access to the Test Creator & Tutor
  • Available 24/7
  • Informative Blog with Test Tips and Tricks
  • Works Anywhere Your Smartphone Works!
  • Free Online Webinar Series!

Additional Resources for Teen Test Prep Help
Guide to Test Day Tips (and many other helpful tips on the Blog)
LIST OF 2014 SAT & ACT Test Dates
5 Test Prep Tips From the Experts
I also found these two articles on test prep helpful to understanding how the tests work and what is most important:
  • From SAT Testing Tips
  • From’s Kelly Roell, author of ACT Strategy Smart:  Top 10 SAT Test Tips
Everybody gets access to an exclusive offer for TestRocker’s study program (and a generous one). Simply email and mention Carisa Rogers for a special discount on the program. In the mean time use this unique link to sign up for a free trial. []

Disclosure: Carissa Rogers—author of and her daughter are testing out the Test Prep platform (say that 10x fast!) at no cost to them. Her opinions and stresses about helping her daughter get into college are all her own. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

adventures with the mole patrol

getting older is not my favorite thing. i feel like i am still twenty-five on the inside and yet my body is not cooperating with my internal clock. combine that with the fact that doctors are repeatedly telling me "you're not as young as you used to be," and "well, at your age..." seriously, people. i get the picture. i know how old i am. no need to write my advancing years in the sky.

one of the joys of the late thirties is that medical procedures that once seemed far off are now imminent. words like mammogram, colonoscopy, and suspicious moles start to be recurrent. it's like a variation on a theme, chanting your age repeatedly from the medical profession.

well, one of those calls came this week as i went to my dermatologist for my annual full body scan. with fair skin, light eyes and a family history of melanoma, these scans take place on a yearly basis. i like to call this "the mole patrol." i thought this term was incredibly witty until i went into my first scan a couple of years ago. i did not realize at that time how true the phrase was. i figured the doctor would look at the basic areas of my skin, where moles already existed, and then i'd move on. oh no, that didn't even begin to describe the event. after telling me to strip completely naked and giving me the most attractive disposable gown, they came back into the room to perform the "scan." scan isn't exactly how i would describe it. frankly, i'm not sure why they bothered with a gown at all. 

the doctor came in wearing a lamp on his forehead. no joke. it looked like he was mining for gold. i should have told him then that there was no treasure to be found in them thar hills but my wit got lost somehow in the midst of my exposure. he asked me to stand and then proceeded to look over every inch of skin on the surface of my body. every. inch. i knew things were going to be bad when he pulled down the gown and looked at my boobs. he then told me he was going to lift up one boob at a time to look at the skin underneath it. if that doesn't tell you the state of your less-than-perky boobs, i don't know what will. he then proceeded to my back. when he told me he was going to separate my butt cheeks, i started looking around for a hidden camera. surely this cannot be normal procedure. but there was the nurse, chatting with me about the weather and what movies were out. seriously, he is looking in my butt crack and you want to know what i'm doing this weekend? crawling into the first available hole, that's what. mole patrol? i'm pretty sure the patrol had left the building and we were on to full scale excavation at this point. 

this fun was repeated this week. i know. crazy.  i went back. i do it every year. i swallow whatever pride i have left and get the job done. you see, i had a sweet friend die of melanoma a few years ago. you can read her store here. two more of my friends have had it in various stages. one has a large scar on her shoulder where it was removed. the other has a scar covering his entire abdomen as he lost an abdomen full of lymph nodes where the cancer had spread. one mole the doctor saw on my face this week was explained to be "probably nothing." probably nothing isn't quite good enough for me. i told him to cut that sucker out right then and there. 

the mole patrol may be miserably uncomfortable. having the doctor shoot my nose up to numb it so he could carve a chunk out of my right nostril...admittedly not so fun. still, i have had five babies. i have had so many people up in my business i couldn't remember them all if i tried. i've given birth in teaching hospitals. it was like a class reunion in my delivery rooms. really, if i can get over the number of people who have seen my push a baby out, what's the big deal with the butt crack? i have carried five babies and delivered them all. i am one tough cookie and really, what is there to be modest about? when it is all said and done, the fact that i have had five babies motivates me to do whatever it takes to be around for them as long as i can. if that means someone with a lamp on his forehead inspecting my nether regions then so be it. if that means i'll have a huge hole in my nose for mother's day this year, there's no better badge to wear. if this is the worst my late thirties can throw at me, bring it on. i can take it. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

10 things every traveler needs

hotel rooms suck at having enough outlets in the room. this has saved me on many trips and comes in handy at the airport too. 

2. voyager digital luggage scale w/ 110 lb. capacity & smartgrip

ever stressed about your baggage being over 50 lbs.? this lightweight and easy to read scale will put your mind at ease before you even reach the airport.

3. ebags packing cubes

these have changed my packing experience. easy to pack what you need, sort it out and get to what you need when you need it. when traveling as a family, try having a different color for each family member and it makes unpacking a shared suitcase a snap.

i have this on my phone at all times and continually get asked about it. no one can see what you are looking at on your phone or what you are typing. 

same as the above privacy screen, this makes airplane travel so much easier without the nosey eyes of the person in the seat next to you seeing what you are working on. 

worth every penny. truly.

this small device turns my ipad into a mini laptop and serves as a case and stand as well. awesome.

throw this item in your purse or briefcase and have power for your laptop or phone, even when an outlet isn't available to use.

most comfortable neck pillow i have ever used. heavenly.

i normally hate eye masks. they smash my eyelashes and feel awful. these are very lightweight and are curved so your eyelashes don't bump against them. it's wonderful for the plane, a not-so-dark hotel room or are awesome if you are a migraine sufferer. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

the third boob...or the day i became every man's fantasy

there are some stories that never get old. for those of you who may not have heard the story that began this crazy journey, this is for you.

the first pregnancy is the most exciting. that's not to say that other pregnancies aren't full of wonder but the first one is full of all things new. every change is a new experience and the unknown helps to add to the thrill of it all. i was like a lot of first time pregnant moms. i enjoyed that first pregnancy...until i noticed a kiwi sized lump growing in my armpit. the worst of scenarios raced through my mind. did i have cancer? was this a tumor? when the doctor ordered an ultrasound of the lump, i was thinking the worst. 

sitting in the office of the ultrasound technician, i stared at the monitor trying to figure out what she was seeing on that little screen. "what is it?" "all i can see is breast tissue. i'll send the results to your doctor." i felt a sense of relief. no tumor, just breast my armpit. i had no idea why that would be and my ob-gyn was actually of very little help in that department. i was told it was just breast tissue. breasts swell during pregnancy and that it should go back to normal after giving birth. this was a great theory but, after looking around, no other pregnant women seemed to be walking around with a kiwi in one pit.

finally a lactation consultant friend of mine told me it could be an extra mammary gland. this was confirmed in the hospital after i gave birth to my first son. a second lactation consultant came in to check on the nursing situation and i blurted out, "i think i have a third boob." to this, in the tradition of lactation consultants getting all up in your boob business, she peeled back my hospital gown to examine the said appendage. here's where it gets good. this lady had all the good information. apparently, your milk lines run from your armpit all the way down your abdomen (think a cat or a dog with a litter of puppies). you can be born with extra mammary glands or extra nipples anywhere along your milk line and, unless you have a visible nipple, you may not know it's even there until your breasts swell during pregnancy. the consultant then proceeded to tell me that there was a woman in the hospital the day before with eight boobs. (i can hear the collective gasps through the computer.) i all of a sudden felt pretty happy just to have the one. she then continued by saying that it would go away after nursing and that, because there was no visible nipple, it would dry up and shrink back to its former undetectable size.

here is where she got it wrong. my milk finally came in for my first born and while i was nursing him, i asked my husband if he'd turn up the air conditioning because i felt like i was sweating profusely. i then looked down to see that no, i wasn't sweating. what i thought had been the tiniest of brown freckles was instead a nipple that was currently dripping milk down into a puddle on my shirt. yep...sign me up for the circus people. not only do i have a third boob but it lactates. lac. tates. 

i had to nurse with a towel in my armpit and while most nursing moms got to walk around with just absorbent breast pads in their nursing bras, i got to do that and wear a huge band-aid on my armpit. just so we're all aware here, my son was born in june...tank top weather. fabulous.

so, there you have it. i think the third boob can give everyone a brighter outlook on life and on their after-baby bodies. your stomach may look like a venetian blind from the stretch marks you earned or you may have skin that now somehow resembles an elephant's trunk. still, looking in the mirror at yourself you can always say, "at least it doesn't lactate." so, here's to you, third boob. thanks for making most of the world feel a little bit better about themselves...and for giving us a great story to tell. cheers!