Monday, December 29, 2014

genelle: 40 things i learned in 40 years

this is the month. both heather and i jumped over into a new decade. i thought i'd be upset by this milestone but i'm surprisingly confident. i've learned a few things in my first four decades. here are my top 40.

1) 40 is young. really, truly young.

2) it's okay to say "no." it's also okay to say "no" without explaining your reasons.

3) jobs, chores, checklists will all still be there tomorrow. people need you to invest in them today. you can tell your priorities by how you choose to spend your time.

4) videos of your parents and grandparents as well as your kids as babies are among the things you will grab if there is ever a fire in your house. make sure you have them.

5) i will never regret getting an education, whether it be college or grad school, it's always worth while...even if just to shock all the people who think stay at home moms are stupid but telling them you have more education than they do.

6) "you can dance if you want to, you can leave this world behind" is just what you'll need to do some days. dancing it out is some of the best therapy you can find.

7) there is no modesty after childbirth. it's like a circus side show and everyone is invited.

8) you can actually choose to be joyful. feelings are followers. they will usually go where you tell them to go.

9) judgmental people are not worth your time. they are also some of the most insecure people you will ever meet. it's best to avoid them and their opinions of you and others. 

10) a dirty house can mean that you take time to spend with your kids. it can also mean that you sat around in your pajamas all day and watched tv. no one but your kids will know the difference.

11) God is real. 

12) you will never live up to all the expectations of others. you can choose to wear those expectations like a chain around your neck or you can shake those expectations off (thank you, taylor swift) and just be.

13) marriages require work. period. anyone who believes in the fairy tales and a simple "happily ever after" is setting themselves up for failure. a good marriage takes work.

14) a good marriage is worth the work.

15) nobody wants to go out to eat with someone who only eats a side salad. no one. order something delicious and say "mmmmm" with every bite. people will love going out to eat with you.

16) compliments make people's days. compliment strangers. compliment friends. compliment your spouse. compliment your kids. compliment yourself.

17) styles change. i don't care how cool you think you are right now, one day you will look back at pictures of yourself and cringe at your style choices while also saying, "dang...i was hot back then."

18) i don't feel much older than 25. my outsides look older but my insides feel young and free. it's the inside age that matters.

19) laundry will never be done. the house will never be completely clean. the to-do list will never be finished. embrace it. it's a beautiful mess.

20) surround yourself with people who make you laugh, really laugh. laughter is good for the soul.

21) there are some friendships that will grow apart as years go by but your siblings will be with you until you die. it's good to invest in those relationships too.

22) your spouse was never meant to meet all your emotional needs. 

23) perfection is unattainable. grace is not.

24) a good book is like escaping into another world. it is a way to disappear into something altogether different if only for a few moments. 

25) we are our own worst critics. we need to be more kind to ourselves, to be brave enough to get in the pictures with our kids, and have a tough enough skin to laugh at our mistakes.

26) smart phones and computers do not meet emotional needs. 

27) there is something special about those friends who have known you forever. they know your history and your story that would take years to retell. those friendships are worth keeping alive.

28) there is a wealth of wisdom in countless disney movies. "let it go" and "just keep swimming" are honestly profound words to live by.

29) learning how to manage the money you have is one of the greatest lessons you will ever learn. (the money that you have does not include your credit limit).

30) the world is so, so small. see as much of it as you possibly can. 

31) too many women complain about sex with their spouses. sex is awesome. orgasms are awesome. connecting with your spouse is awesome (and necessary). it's time wives give sex a better reputation.

32) i will always be glad i learned to type, speak a foreign language and play a musical instrument. those three things have opened entire worlds for me. 

33) your kids will both do what you do and say what you say. it's best to watch both.

34) hair dye is a gift from the heavens above.

35) a cup of tea and an hour of quiet can make you a better person.

36) i'm a good parent. i'm not a perfect parent...but i'm a good parent. learn to say that to yourself. 

37) girlfriends are an absolutely essential commodity. they are more precious than gold.

38) no one wants to be around a complainer.

39) you cannot put a price on experiences. put money in exploring and not in things. things break. experiences last a lifetime. 

40) you are uniquely created for this time and this place and your specific purpose. your life does not need to look like anyone else's. there is only one you. we are supposed to look and be different. embrace being different.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

heather: 40 things i've learned in 40 years

today is my 40th birthday. (how the heck am i 40 already?!). through all of the ups and downs, i wouldn't have changed a thing. every joy and sorrow has taught me so much. i feel so very thankful for every person that has come into my life and helped mold me into the person that i am truly happy to be today. 

here are 40 things that i have taken away from my life, thus far.

1. life is short. too short. appreciate it.

2. peanut butter and chocolate is a perfect duo.

3. show grace.

4. it's just as important to take time for yourself as it is to be there for everyone else. (remember: put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others.)

5. be kind.....and when it's hardest to be kind....well, that is when it is most important.

6. change is the only constant in life.

7. there is only one person that you spend your whole life with, and that is yourself. learn to really love yourself.

8. don't drive around looking for a good parking spot. just park in the back and walk.

9. be humble.

10. life is so very subjective.

11. forgive. forgiveness truly is a gift that you give yourself.

12. happiness is not permanent. neither is unhappiness. so cherish the good times, and remember the bad times will nemo says, "just keep swimming".

13. learn how to see yourself in someone else's shoes. compassion and understanding are learned behaviors. practice.

14. talk less, listen more.

15. diamonds are most certainly not a girl's best friend.

16. "people won't remember exactly what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel."

17. the answer said with love in it is always the right one.

18. storms don't last forever.

19. christmas music played year-round makes me happier than just about anything.

20. everything seems so much clearer when you look back on it all. hindsight really is 20/20.

21. there is no such thing as being perfect. embrace the perfectly imperfect. "be yourself; everyone else is taken."

22. you are stronger and more capable of things then you think. take a chance. do something that scares you. you may be surprised at the outcome.

23. tell the truth. always.

24. trust your gut. stay true to yourself. people almost always show you who they really just have to be the one to accept it as truth.

25. the laundry will never be 100% done.....unless you are doing laundry naked.

26. to be happy in a relationship, you have to be happy with yourself first.

27. life really is like a choose your own adventure book. make the best choices you know how to....who knows how long the book will be, the adventures you will have or how it will end.....but, the choices? they are all yours to make.

28. karma is real.

29. never miss an opportunity to build someone may stay with them their entire life. never take the opportunity to tear someone may stay with them their entire life.

30. 40 is much, much younger then i once thought it was.

31. relationships are important and the really great ones take work.

32. even if you’ve fought to hold onto something......sometimes it’s just time to let it go.

33. travel.

34. learn to accept a complement. it's important. (i'm still really trying to work on this).

35. people are usually not the same at 18 as they are as an adult. go to your high school reunion with an open mind. you may be surprised.

36. be real. the more honest and open you are with the realities of your life, the more honest and open people will be with you.

37. most people deserve a second chance.

38. you have to let go of the bad, in order to make room for the good.

39. as elsa says..."let it go".....tomorrow truly is another day.....

40. your yesses and your nos, verbal or otherwise, teach people how to treat you.

40 years have been pretty darn good....but i can't wait to see what the next 40 hold. i'm thinking the best really is yet to come.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

waiting for her to die

she used to love christmas. it was one of her favorite times of the year. my christmas memories are full of her...big pots of texas chili on christmas eve, a present filled tree, tons of laughter and musical dancing santas filling her house. my grandmother brought laugher everywhere she went and she loved us to pieces.

and i am waiting for her to die. scratch that. i’m praying for and hoping for her to die. for the end of her life. for a time of death. for a chance to finally say goodbye. and i feel like a horrible person for putting my thoughts down in writing.

i grew up living about one mile from my maternal grandparents. we saw them multiple times a week. they went to our same church. my mom worked for a time in their business. they were as integrated into the fabric of our lives as they possibly could have been. and it was amazing. my brother and sister and i grew up with these amazing people in our everyday lives. when i was in elementary school, i would head to my grandma’s house and she and i would take long, epic walks, some days walking for miles. we would talk and sing and tell stories. we usually ended up at the cafe of thrifty drug store for a coke and i would be in heaven. i felt spoiled by one-on-one time with one of my favorite people in the world. 

my grandmother was a great southern cook and i learned early the delight of texas chili and cornbread, of cakes every day of the week, of ice cream on every occasion. she was witty, hilarious even, and could find the humor in just about any situation. she made quilts for me and for each of my friends when i was away at college and she prayed for each one of my girlfriends to find a great husband. i had friends that would go up to her and ask her to pray for them too…she had a pretty good track record where her prayers were concerned.

i have a stack of letters from her that i will never part with. she wrote me one letter a week for every week i was away at college. they would tell of her days, include comics, funny stories, simple life anecdotes. they are amazing and they helped me through those years away from home while i was branching out on my own. she was a lifeline to me and i have no memory in my life where she is not a part of it. 

but now she doesn’t know my name. she doesn’t know anyone’s name. she doesn’t know where she is or why. she’s forgotten her husband, her daughter, her son, her grandkids. she is lost somewhere in the wrecking throws of alzheimer’s and dementia. it is a miserable combination of diseases that sucks all the mental capacity from its victims and leaves only the shell of their former selves. it is torture.

it is torture to see this amazing woman trapped inside a working body and a lost mind. it is torture to be forgotten, to turn into someone who causes more disturbance than joy. it is torture to watch her go and to know there is nothing we can do about it. it is torture to have no time of death, no moment to say goodbye. the person she once was is completely gone. she has been gone for years and yet her body remains. how do you mourn someone who is still breathing? how do you say goodbye to someone whose eyes are still open with life? it’s impossible to do so.

so, we keep on moving. my mother goes to visit the woman who has impacted her more than any other, her own mother, and she grieves a prolonged grief. she is lost to this woman who doesn’t know her own daughter and my mother has to mourn that loss over and over and over again. my mother has to walk with the dread of another visit where she is unwanted and where her very presence causes confusion and pain. yet how can she stop? how can she abandon a mother even if she finds my mother a stranger?

and so i am praying for my grandmother to die. i am praying for here to leave this shell of a body behind. i’m praying for a date of death, for a finality to properly mourn. i’m praying for release, both for her and for us. i’m praying for this all to stop because it’s too much. it’s too much to watch. it’s too much to grieve for years and years. it’s too much to know how much my grandmother would hate this. she. would. hate. this. it’s simply too much pain mixed with too much love for one person. i want the pain to stop so the love can continue and the beautiful memories of the amazing woman my grandmother was can rise to the surface and give her legacy the honor it deserves.

she loved christmas. she loved my grandpa. they married when they were barely eighteen and were still very much loving one another and caring for one another when he passed away five years ago. i'm sure somewhere in the shell of her body, she remembers him and longs to see him again. if i could give her one thing this year, it would be the gift of release, of letting go of the shell she has become to be reunited with the man of her dreams and to celebrate christmas in heaven. i believe that would be the greatest gift i could ever give to one of the greatest women i have ever known.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

holiday gift guide: cats and dogs

this is a sponsored post for the lovely people at nutrish cat food. as always, the ideas, stories, 
and crazy thoughts are all my own. please consider making the switch to nutrish. we at the
third boob have done so and we could not be happier. click here for more information and a coupon especially for our readers. 

as you spend countless hours this time of year buying presents and wrapping gifts to carefully lay under the tree, don't forget about the fur babies in your life. the cats and dogs that are a part of the fabric of your family. there are lots of ways to include your pets in the holiday festivities.....consider a special treat under the tree or a stocking hanging with the others for the jolly old man to fill. here are our favorite picks for gifts for our furry friends this year.



disclaimer: although we received some products for free, many are purchased on our own dime and *all* are products that we love and the opinions are all our own. also, from time to time we do use affiliate links in our posts.

Monday, December 15, 2014

elf on the shelf ideas: week 3

if you have missed them, we have elf on the shelf ideas covered for you. here are our previous ideas from weeks past.

we are hitting the elf home stretch and we are saving some of our favorites for last. here is another week of elf on the shelf ideas. if you are anything like me, i'm ready for our elf to fly home until next year. still, my kids are so stinking excited about him that i press on. i'm not sure if one day they will thank me or if i am ruining them for their future spouses. regardless, here i go with week three.

elf on the shelf ideas: week three

day 1: "be good" in m & m's

this one takes a few minutes to prepare. i'm not going to lie. still, about this time in december my kids need a reminder to actually behave. i may or may not have already threatened to return all of their christmas presents if they cannot be nice to one another. elf has my back this night.

day 2: a mirror warning

this one goes hand in hand with the one above. sometimes the kids need a note from their elf to get the "behave" message into their brains. i reserve this one for particularly rough days. it usually does the trick.

day 3: planting seeds

this is one of my favorites. i purchase some little decorative candy balls (in the sprinkle section of your stores) and put them in a bag labeled "seeds." the kids are given instruction to plant the "seeds" into a bowl full of sugar and see what happens over the next night.

day 4: the "seeds" sprout

i get that these cookies are probably not the best thing for my kids, but at christmastime, i live by the "everything in moderation" motto. these cookies are ready to go in the refrigerator section of your grocery store. i have seen some people put sticks into them to make them stand up but i like just placing them in the sugar. it looks more like they sprouted up overnight. the kids are always amazed at our elf's abilities.

day 5: snowball fight

this one really doesn't take long to set up and it is super cute when you get all the pieces together. your elf just needs a snowball fight opponent and some marshmallow "snowballs" to make it look cute. legos are the perfect barricades to protect the two fighters from the incoming blasts.

day 6: elf makes christmas treats

every year we make a big batch of all kinds of different christmas treats for our neighbors. each year the elf gets the baking day started by making our first batch. the kids get excited when they see this one because they know what is coming.

day 7: the elf's grocer list

one of my favorite movies of all time is "elf." if you remember the four major food groups for elves are candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup. what better to add to the grocery list than the diet essentials?

that's it! week three...done. you are on the home stretch, my friend. you've got this. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

essentials for travel with kids

traveling with kids can be challenging. if you are doing it solo, like me, you have to have things really dialed in to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. the boys and i recently returned from a road trip to disneyland and california adventure (more to come on that later) and these items made for a smooth trip. hope they help you, as well.


sleep is the first thing on my list, because it's the most important (in my opinion). if the kids don't sleep well, then i don't sleep well and everyone is grouchy if we don't get enough sleep. after lots of trial and error, these are my perfect solution for a great nights sleep for all.

marpac dohm sound machine 
a sleep/sound machine is key, but not just any sound machine. the dohm by marpac is like no other (believe me, i have truly tried them all). the dohm sound is not produced by a recording on a loop. there is no pattern to the sound, it is just blissful white noise. you don't hear the party down the hall of the hotel, the couple next door enjoying their kid-free time or elevator noise. i have been using the dohm sound machine for almost 7 kids started sleeping with one as infants and i take a one with me on every trip, even business trips (ask genelle). i even keep a spare at all times in the closet in case one machine might someday stop working. obsessed doesn't even come close to describing what a brand loyalist i am. you will be hooked once you try one. you can thank me later. 

intex pillow rest twin airbed with built-in electric pump

bringing twin air beds is essential, if we are traveling anywhere by car and can afford the space. with the air beds the kids sleep well, we don't have to pray that the hotel honors our request for 2 double beds and a roll-away (or charge us for the extra roll-away) and everyone is happy. this is my favorite airbed, because it inflates and deflates so easily and stores very compact.

bed tents:

bed tents are my hidden travel secret. they are super fun for use at home on the boys beds, but they have become a travel essential as well. bed tents slip easily onto their twin sized air mattresses and give them a fun and comfortable spot that is all their own in an unfamiliar hotel room. once i started using these for travel, the kids never wake up in the middle of the night wanting to get into bed with me. that is a win, in my book. we currently have the race car ones, but how cute are the tree house and cottage designs?! a huge hit for both boys and girls.

snack time:

packit freezable snack bag

in our home, we use these bags daily for school lunches, but they also come in so handy for trips. they are made with built-in ice packs, so you simply freeze the whole things and then pack it up with goodies that you want to stay cool while you travel. we love it for things like cheese sticks, yogurts and other dairy products. they are compact, so easy to freeze in the little tiny freezer compartment of the hotel mini bar fridge, too.

nalgene kids bottle
i have been a big fan of nalgene for years, but i love them even more (now that i have kiddos) for these awesome kids water bottles. there are no straws to clean, they are easy to re-fill at a drinking fountain or with their drink of choice and my kiddos can use them easily themselves. perfection.

snackeez travel cup

okay---i know that this does not sound like a likely choice, i mean...they are an "as seen on tv" products, right? believe me, i had my doubts...and i must say that i was 100% wrong. these handy cups are *fantastic* for car travel! they hold a snack in the top and lots of liquid in the bottom, and together they fit into one cup holder so NO SPILLS. i am a total convert. 


i always bring at least one zip tote bag. they are the easiest to fill with easy to access essentials and also come in handy when you are trying to gather all of the things from the car that you want in the hotel room with you, when you arrive at your destination. scout bags are my personal favorite because they are durable, easy to clean and come in a wide variety of styles, patterns and colors. 

i recently got this two-piece luggage set and have been super happy with them. they are incredibly lightweight (which means i haven't gone over the 40 lb. airline weight limit) and i can't believe how much of a difference having spinner luggage makes in transporting luggage compared to my old, roller suitcase. 

i like to give my kids their own luggage to be responsible for. they get to decide (with guidelines) what they will be packing and carrying. it's a win-win. 

ebags packing cubes

these handy little ebags are my favorite suitcase packing secret. i can easily keep like items with like items (like all the "swim" stuff goes in one cube, so that if we get to the hotel and the room isn't ready, it is easy to grab the swim items and kill time the fun way). the ebags are also great to separate my items from each boys by labeling or having each person have their own color. i suggest to make one a sleeping cube. i pack the sleeping cube with pajamas, toothbrushes and anything else we may need for bedtime and place the cube at the top of the suitcase. that way, it is easily accessible if we end up at our destination late.


entertainment is an essential piece to having a successful trip with kiddos. here are some of our very favorites from our last trip to disneyland.

  melissa & doug travel hangman 

what a fun way to practice spelling test words!

  crocodile dentist

this is a fantastic game that is so much fun....and doesn't have noise or take batteries so perfect for a plane ride.

  shark dentist

crocodile's noisier counterpart. so. much. fun. (as long as you don't mind the noise).

  ipad car headrest mount holder
when taking a road trip, try out these ipad holders for rear seat entertainment. both boys loved it and could watch their own movie choice.

  jlab jbuddies kids volume limiting headphones

if you are looking for a pair of kids headphones, i love these volume limiting ones from jlab. they come with various sticker options to decorate the outside (in this case, a robot). 

  iguy protective case for ipad

at all times, when my kids have the ipad, i keep it in this protective case. it looks fun for them and is easy to carry....for mommy, i can breathe  sign of relief that the ipad is safe.

  rca 9-inch mobile dvd player with additional 9-inch screen
if your car doesn't have rear seat entertainment and you don't want to go the ipad route, try out this great, 2 screen dvd player. my boys liked that they could pick from any of our dvds to watch and mommy loved that, with their headphones in, i could listen to music on the way to the happiest place on earth that wasn't kid chosen. 

so, there you have ti. travel with kids can be fairly easy, if you prepare and gear up with the right equipment. let me know if you have any other products that have worked great for you---i would love to know about it!