My Graduation Video Gift To My Boy

Manic:  Scrambling to put 18 years of pictures to a video slideshow format and not wanting to hire it out to save money…and to have the sentimental experience of doing it myself.

Managed:  My gal pal, Gina told me about a terrific site called Animoto that made this feat quite easy!  I was able to streamline the process, find perfect songs for each chapter that I created in the video and more.  The best part…my son loved it!  Some friends and family teared up when they watched it, too.  I was touched and my hard work of pulling so many pictures and then scanning was worth it.  Thankfully the rest the job was made easy by Animoto.

In this video, I especially loved the chapter I call “Little Sisters Aren’t So Bad” (shhh…don’t tell…this made my husband cry!) and I had fun putting the hockey years section together.  When I brainstormed a part called “Two Peas in a Pod” that featured my husband and my son in some amazing photos that capture ordinary moments that are so cherished now, I was thrilled with the outcome.

I was also able to really honor and thank our amazing family and friends who have been quite the spectacular village for our son.  I do believe it takes a village and this video enabled me to thank them, too.

And the milestones and “our wish for you” parts of this video towards the end really came together and brought out laughs and tears.

At the very end, a pretty cool surprise happens that no one saw coming!  So take a look, enjoy and try your hand at this video making magic using Animoto the next time you need to make a milestone or just a fun video.  I did it!  And make sure to go full screen when watching this and turn on the volume to see how the music matches the images.  I feel like I really accomplished something that my son will always cherish with this graduation video.

Happy Mother’s Day To My Mom Team & A Note To Those Of You Hurting Today

Happy Mother’s Day 2016!  With each hectic day that is part of the journey of motherhood, I am reminded that it does take a village!  My village is strong, beautiful, tender, fierce, fun, genuine, caring and amazing…and many other descriptive words that I don’t have room to all write out in this article.

My tireless mom team consists of my #1 fan for life, my own beautiful and giving Mother, my amazing and absolutely selfless mother-in-law and my go to awesome group of gal pal mamas who work together to help each other, oftentimes at a moment’s notice.

Before I continue with my Mom team, I want to first share that I am thinking of you out there who are Motherless on this Mother’s Day.  I am very lucky to have my team of extraordinary moms still here on earth with me and I know that those of you whose dear mothers have departed feel her spirit each and every day and the deep pain of her absence, especially today.  My heart goes out to you. broken heart teddy bear

On my mom team, there is my own amazing and most wonderful mama, Maryanne who just last week I honored on her birthday with my blog article, that she tells me, touched her deeply.  I am so glad because the words came straight from my heart and the logic from my head.  As I age and my own kids turn into grown-ups, I see my Mother’s dedication in a new light.  She has always tenderly cared for my every thought, fear, failure, victory, heartbreak and joy.  I CAN NOT thank her enough!  Mom, you are and always will be my best friend!

hockey mom grandma tees

This picture never gets old to me, even though it is indeed an old photo now. You just gotta love the hockey mom and hockey grandma tees!

A crucial member on my Mom team is my dear Mother-in-law, Betty!  I WON the lottery when I became Betty Harris’ daughter-in-law.  Back then when I was a naive 18-year-old dating her son through now at my current pushing the big 5-0 age….she has ALWAYS been there for me.

An oldie but goodie! Back in the day with my soon to be in-laws...I am SO blessed with these people!

An oldie but goodie! Back in the day with my soon to be in-laws…I am SO blessed with these people!

Betty ALWAYS cheers me on and very patiently listens to long-winded me.  She gently offers guidance when I ask for it…and I DO a lot because her wisdom is as true and as big as her heart.  I can’t thank Betty Harris enough for being my loving mom-in-law, confidante, friend, cheerleader, our own personal nurse (and she is one of the best professional nurses and college nursing instructors in the field) and more.  I love you Betty Harris!!!

And my gal pals!  Those last second phone calls to each other to grab a kid from the school pick-up line, to borrow sandwich bags the night before a school lunch must be made, to offer to host another teen “hangout” or to offer to be the driver during the hangouts.  And when my kids were little, my pals that saved the day and not only kept my babies later than planned, but even returned them to me bathed and very happy.  And my children looked at those pals like a second loving Mama….ahem…Ms Julie!  Julie & kidsAnd my gal pals love me and are as wonderful to my kids as they are to me.  It is like my kids have a bunch of honorary local aunties!  So many names come to mind, Lizzy, Jules, Yvette “my love”, Trisha, Bianca….you know ALL of the things you have done for both of my kids,B, to Amy for getting me through the very emotional high school senior year with my boy by reassuring me that I am normal and not losing my mind….Lisa K with your numerous rides to middle school, Janet with your helpful text last night and so many more of you that I am not naming only because I will run out of room!  I am blessed! It is especially touching to me that my teen daughter knows that she is very loved by her friends’ mothers and that my now adult son looks forward to seeing his pals and their moms!  I LOVE my gal pals and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do for spoiled me and for my babies!

Mom, mom-in-law and gal pals…you are rock stars and your love and support helps to make us all shine. Most importantly our children.  Happy Mother’s Day ladies!  XO


Oh Boy Do I Get It Now! Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday Mom!  April 26th!  It is your special day.  And I need to tell you something!  And that something is….

Oh boy do I get it now!

With my firstborn about to graduate high school and my baby girl starting high school, I am reminded of how fast time flies and how this magic trick of kids growing up as you blink hits a mother’s heart.

So on this day, April 26th, my own lovely Mother’s birthday, I must say to you….oh boy, Mom do I get it now! And YOU deserve to have a very Happy Birthday!

My Mother with her three babies...and...sigh...during my self involved teenage years!

My Mother with her three babies…and…sigh…during my self involved teenage years!

I get how excited you felt as you waited for the birth of your three children, each and every time and why you labored the way you did…without an epidural…and with the patience of a saint as each one of us came into this world and into your loving arms.

I don’t get, however how you were ABLE to withstand the agony and pain of childbirth all three times without the beloved epidural that was my best friend!

I get how you encouraged me not to take after you and to have the epidural, as you know your own daughter’s pain tolerance level and couldn’t bear to see your girl in agony!

I get how you totally rearranged your schedule 18 years ago to stay one whole month with me and my hubs as we adjusted to being exhausted, overwhelmed and completely over-the-moon-in-love-with-our-newborn new parents.

So thankful all these years later that you stayed a month to help us with our firstborn newborn!

So thankful all these years later that you stayed a month to help us with our firstborn baby!

Thank you for that, by the way!

Then I go back a little deeper in time and remember the times that you begged me my senior year of high school to stay home and spend some time with the family.

My 1985 senior prom picture that my dear mother quickly snapped before I ran out the door!

My 1985 senior prom picture that my dear mother quickly snapped before I ran out the door!

I was much too busy to consider that option with all of my senior year commitments, big events, fanfare and excitement leading up to my big graduation day.

All you wanted was a little more time.  But I rudely declined back then.

Oh boy, do I get that now.  I so understand your simple and heartfelt request.

As I watch my own high school senior son come home briefly each day only to leave minutes later again. Oh how I get that.  Oh how I wish I could go back in time and spend a few more of those requested evenings home with you and the family.  Sorry Mom.

Darn that 20/20 hindsight!

Oh boy do I get it now how you would stay up painting until the midnight hour to make sure that I arrived home safely.  No matter how tired I am, I don’t go to sleep until my own chickens are safely back in the coop!

You didn’t even have cell phones then!  I can’t imagine.  Thank goodness you had…and still have…your painting.  You are such an amazing and talented artist!

Oh boy do I get now how you must have worked so hard to keep your emotions in check as the calendar pages just turned faster and faster until graduation day came and I walked across the stage and then onto an airplane to go to Texas.  I don’t remember you ever putting a damper on my special time with your own motherly emotions.  I haven’t been as good as you were as I have let mine show to my boy a few times.

But now that he is just three weeks away from his own graduation, I find myself keeping those emotions in check when he is around to allow him to take it all in.  To enjoy his special time without seeing his Mother’s daily tears that come and go, quite quickly actually, but regardless, as I walk through this process of letting go.

Oh boy do I get it now…how difficult it must have been when I would snap at you, give you that annoyed leave me alone look, yell at you (I am so sorry now) or just ignore my mama because I was just so busy with my teenage self.

You tell me that I wasn’t as bad as I remember.  But I think the process of a mother slowly but surely letting her child go to flee the nest is a bit like labor.  And that you forget the pain the teen years can cause (both joyful and painful pain) because the joy you feel for your child’s future is so exciting!  This time is filled with such anticipation and pain and with a certain discomfort that helps us to push that child out of the nest, to relieve some of that pain…and to embrace the excitement of the future.  Our kid’s future because it is no longer about us when motherhood sets in.

Oh boy do I get it now!

I remember hugging you goodbye as I boarded that plane and then finding myself suddenly surprised with the tears that filled that entire 2 hour plane ride.  Suddenly I was missing you so much and the ability to say yes to your request to stay home a little longer was no longer an option.

Time is a gift...make time to give yourself the gift of good health.

Time is a gift…I just didn’t know it then.

Oh boy, I started to get it then.

But I had NO idea just how much I would get it upon my child’s 18th year and especially now as we count down the very short three weeks left before he graduates.

So on this birthday of yours, I want to tell you Happy Happy Birthday to my loving and oh so giving Mom, my Mother who I can always count on, regardless of the 2,000 miles between us.  My mommy that I think about and appreciate so much more since I became a mommy…so thankful that you were there to witness that miracle of your grandchildrens’ birth both times.

And now during this very emotional time for me and very happy time for my boy, I know and completely understand, that due to unforeseen circumstances, we can’t be together this time around, but I want and need you to know that I am thinking of you so much during this birthday of yours and this bittersweet time of mine.

I am so thankful that our boy’s hockey tournament took us to your hometown just last month!  Talk about a gift!  You are an incredible grandmother and your grandchildren adore you, birthday girl!  Nationals 2016 with Grandma Maryanne

Thank you for always setting the example of how to both root for your children and to rein them in when needed.  Thank you for always extending open and expressive arms while at the same time knowing when to give your children a gentle push forward so that we could grow when needed.  So many things to thank you for.  And as I think of what gift to give you, I just keep coming back and reflecting on all of the gifts that you have given me.

Thank you Mom.

Happy Birthday Mom.

Oh boy do I get it now, Mom!  So give me one more gift… I want you to have a wonderful birthday and a joyful year ahead.  You deserve to get back some of all that goodness that you always give.  I wish that I could wrap that up and ensure that this next year gives you just that.

So although a physical present is in the mail (of course it is coming late!), know that my gift to you is my heart.  The heart that you have taken such good care of.   Thank you Mom.  Oh boy do I get it now!

Oh and I must also thank you for helping to take care of your Mommy, too, my Grandmother as the years progress.  Your role as a mother, grandmother, daughter and wife are gifts to us all.  But it is your birthday today, so please give yourself a gift today.  Whatever that may be.  Something you are wishing for.  Do it.  Enjoy it.  Spoil yourself for one day, Mom.

You deserve it.

Happy Birthday Mom.

From your loving daughter….who so gets it now!me & mom at hockey tourney


Money Saving & Green Graduation Celebration Ideas

Manic:  Graduation season with so much to do, events to plan and emotions to keep in check and all on a budget and tight timeline.  It is enough to make an already emotional mother’s head spin!

Managed:  Found some unique ideas, ways to save and some earth friendly suggestions, too.  I showed this festive fun stuff on my recent morning show segment on KTVK’s “Your Life A to Z” morning show, so take a look…

To read the written column that accompanies this segment and has all the information, prices and more, visit the KTVK website at this link.

A Letter To My Soon To Be High School Graduate

Dear son,

Forgive me for my strangeness during your senior year, especially during this last action packed, emotionally charged phase.

30 days from today, you, my 6’1 baby boy, will take the nicely pressed gown off the hanger and grab the matching blue cap and head to high school for one last time.gown hung and ready

I teared up the day I hung your freshly pressed gown in your closet for safekeeping just a few short weeks ago. And also the day I ordered it, back in the fall.  Why does that feel like 5 minutes ago?!

In 30 days, you will walk across the stage, diploma in hand and become a graduate.  I will be anxiously watching, camera in hand, surrounded by loving family and friends who come to celebrate you on this day. Some of these same people also held you as a wide eyed infant.  Now you will be a wide eyed high school graduate. I am predicting a few tears from my own wide eyes as I watch you.

You will walk across the stage with your diploma in one hand and your future in the other.  You will toss the cap, shake hands and give those wonderful big bear hugs of yours that I so love.

I still can’t believe that it is YOUR turn to be 18 and to graduate. And that it is my turn to let my baby fly the coop.

And my head is challenging my heart every day that we get closer to these two big events.

Soon after this big day, you will proceed to walk out our front door to a dorm room to become a college student.

I am really not sure how that will be for me.  I am more concerned about how that will be for you.  I know it will be incredible.  But what will it be like those first few weeks when the realization hits that you have truly left home?  I know it will be more than fine, exciting and thrilling.  But oh how I wish that I could magically appear when you have those moments of maybe needing to call out, “Mom” ….that I could be there in your room in mere seconds.

My heart says to tell you that you can call me the instant that happens.  In fact, please do!  Or if you decide to resist that urge, my mind says that I understand and that I readily accept that.

My head tells me to truly plan to do what the college adviser told us parents to do at the open house.

We were told to let go.  “Let go parents”she gently said to us as we sat quietly still hearing all about the college that our children had chosen.

My head totally agrees with that.

My heart has other ideas.

Don’t worry, my head will win out on this one because my heart knows that it is the right thing to do.

You are holding up pretty well through all of the excitement, hoopla, planning, finals, numerous year end senior events and even having to deal with the weird person that your mother has become lately.

I know I am more manic than ever but also super managed (probably in an annoying way for you) as I check off the list.  The huge to do list that occurs during senior year and then revs up to high gear during the last two months.

That is my head at work.

And I can’t forget about your little sister.  She is also graduating 8th grade the same week that your graduation happens next month.  And from a middle school that has over a week’s worth of their own events.  Or the fact that starting high school is also a big milestone for her that must not be overshadowed by your college start.

So this Mama heart feels double the exciting anxiety for both of you!  My head’s job is making sure that it is kept in check.

So at this point, I am somewhat of an excited, bumbling, emotional, managed, manic, overwhelmed and overjoyed person that I know at times, may puzzle you.

You are both anxious and chill about the approaching big day and the even bigger day that soon follows of starting college.

So if I seem a bit hazy and anything but lazy right now….and if I seem a little off, a little shaky, very proud and a bit loud, but filled with quiet tearful moments that I can no longer hide as we approach this huge summer of change….well…it is that head vs heart issue again.

Please bear with me and know that this time is about you.  It is your special time and I want you to take it all in!

My mind instructs me to be organized, helpful to you, prepared and so thankful for this gift of graduation season and the family, friends and joy that come with it all.  In exactly one month from today.

My heart, on the other hand, struggles to understand that it is time to really let go.  My job of being a hands on Mama bear is done.  I did the best I could and I know at times that I could have done better.

Being a mother is constantly a battle between the heart and the mind.  But I tried to find a balance between my heart and my mind with every parenting decision I made, some very tearful and difficult and some so joyful that my heart swelled up two sizes!

I am told by moms who have walked this road before me that being your mom remains the same wonderful loving experience, just in a new chapter.  For both of us.

So as you move out to move on, know that my mind will be readily available for any advice that you may seek, to let go as you go, to discuss or not to discuss (as you wish) things that may be on your mind.  My hands on days have been fulfilled and what a wonderfully exhilarating and happily exhausting joy those years gave me.

Every one of those days that filled these last 18 1/2 years absolutely filled my heart to the core.

So as my mind struggles to fully comprehend the changes that it is time to make, my heart remains steadfast and full and is always available to you.  Whether I am in the next room here or miles away from your dorm room, my heart is always with you.  Always my son.

30 days from today you will cross that stage and walk into your new chapter! 2016 grad paper

My hands off chapter, your hands on go get em’ world chapter!

I couldn’t be more excited for you and more joyful for your future!

That is just how much I love you, my little baby boy, my curious toddler, my big boy preschooler, my handsome hockey player, my mindful middle schooler, my busy bee teenager and now my young man.

That magical transition happened so quickly from birth to 18 and the sheer speed of that is puzzling to my head and heavy on my heart when I watch clips from your graduation video that I am now working so hard on.  Truly a labor of love.

You are the most heartwarming experience I could have ever imagined when I was imagining you those 9 months leading up to November back in 1997!

What a ride it has been!  Thank you for being a good and kind son and for working with my Mama mind when I had to tell you no at times.  Thank you for embracing my heart even though I know it was embarrassing at times to have such a mushy Mama!

My heart and my head just couldn’t be prouder.  Both can be seen quite clearly in this handsome senior prom picture that your Dad took of us last weekend.  Happy Graduation son!  Go get em!

Senior prom pictures :)






Moms: Senior Year is the Worst…In a Good Way!

Moms of teens.  Read this or bookmark this to read before or during your child’s senior year in high school. It just may be therapeutic for you.  Because something unexpected happens to a lot of mothers during this final year of school for your child.  Something a pal told me about.

She said that senior year is the worst!  But in a good way.  With a lot of cheers.  And some unexpected tears that may take you by surprise when you least expect it. 

You may think that it is PMS, hormones or maybe perimenopause.  But read on because it is a phenomenon that I am so glad my friend told me about before it happened to me…during the nine months that make up a child’s high school senior year.

Yeah, that 9 month thing is ironic!

But first let’s talk about your kid.

This is your child’s big year.  The year that their senior year of high school arrives.  2016 grad paperAnd since my child’s senior year is rapidly coming to close, I feel like I am now experienced enough to write this piece and to share this insight with you.  It is your son or daughter’s special senior year.

And a lot of milestones and busy work come with that final year of high school….

Cap and gown pics.

College tours.

College apps….lots of work for your kid…you have been warned!

First games, last games.

Senior nights when moms are recognized and appreciated.

College acceptance letters 🙂

College rejection letters 🙁

18 year immunizations and those medical records that must be sent to colleges.

Last Homecoming.  Last prom.

FAFSA college form…not fun! Again you have been warned.

Designing and ordering the graduation announcements.

And many more moments that I am forgetting.

And at last graduation and move out day.

And for you…..a surprise.  Unexpected tears months before those milestone days arrive.

And sometimes no tears at all…even at a moment where tears are expected.

You think it is only going to happen on graduation night but I’ve got news for you mommies about facing your child’s senior year.  Kind of like labor, the nine months that make up that senior school year is filled with emotion as you once again help your child to prepare to enter the world.

And this time around it is the real world, not the cozy world of a new Mother’s arms.  But a world with Mommy’s arms gently pushing that baby of yours out of the nest.

I haven’t decided yet who this is hardest for, the child or the mother.  I will get back to you on that, but my hunch so far is that it is harder on the Mama.

Lucky for me, I was warned about this motherly phenomenon of unexpected grief and tears ALL throughout senior year over a glass of celebratory wine last summer with my gal pals, Amy and Melissa. We went to dinner to toast and cheer the big event that they had both just experienced, the graduations of their firstborns.

Me about to join this club...moms of seniors club!

Me about to join this club…the moms of high school graduates.

I sat wide eyed sipping my wine listening to their experiences.  I was thinking about my firstborn, my son who had just finished his junior year in high school.  I asked the gals all about the big day, the graduation. And about the day that they moved their sons to the dorms, too.  I expected tales of giant tears and tight hugs with an extra squeeze from the emotional mothers on those two big anticipated days.  I didn’t think about the nine months leading up to graduation day and how much the mom feels.  I figured that all happens on graduation night.

So I asked the gals all about the big graduation day.  How they felt.  Their answers surprised me.  And prepared me.

There were tears on that big day they told me, but then Amy said something that I want to share with you.

Amy gave me some insight that I hadn’t thought of before.  Some of the days and months that fill the year, those nine months leading up to the big graduation (and soon after the move out day) are actually more painful than the big day itself.

MORE painful.  I hadn’t thought of this.

She said that senior year is the worst!  In a good bittersweet and emotional way.  What?!  I hadn’t considered that I would be celebrating AND mourning ALL year long.

Now with my boy’s graduation day a little less than two months away, I get it.  I really get it.

It has been true for me.  I am so glad that Amy explained this. So a few months later when my own unexpected tears sometimes trickled down quietly, I remembered Amy’s words.  And at other times when the emotions poured out (and couldn’t always be hid from my bewildered boy), I remembered again what she had shared with me.  Thank you Amy!

Senior year is the worst!  And the best!  And I’m not crazy to have these see saw emotions.

It is not my crazy hormones or perimenopause.

It is a normal.

And it is probably a little confusing for your kid, too.  Whether or not they admit that to themselves or to you.

You may even notice that your child pulls away a bit more than usual and is a bit grumpy with good ol’ mom at times.

My belief (and my mommy intuition tells me, which I have come to trust after 18 years of this parenting gig) is that this sometimes hurtful behavior is also normal.  That my child is preparing to leave the nest, so separating from Mama may be a subconscious way of preparing.

After all as anxious as we are, it has to be somewhat scary, even for the most adventurous and confident kid.  Don’t you think?!  I do.  Even if they don’t show that and some do, but others keep quiet about their emotions.

However the good news is that the loving and fun moments outweigh the tough ones, as that 17 or 18-year-old does celebrate the many milestones of senior year with Mom.  Well most of the time anyway.

Sometimes they want a little space.  I get it.

But back to this Mom’s roller coaster emotions.

Funny thing.  Some predictable moments didn’t make me tear up at all.  Like the day the cap and gown pictures were taken.  No tears.  Not sure why, perhaps because those pictures are done right after junior year ends so it hadn’t really sunk in yet.  I mean graduation was still one whole year away.  cap and gown pic proofs

But I’ve got news for you.  Senior year flies by!  The fastest one yet, in my opinion.

I also didn’t cry when the boys gave their mothers flowers at the season ending Varsity golf banquet. What’s wrong with me, I thought?  Why am I not tearing up?

And a big surprise is that I didn’t cry when I was called out to the ice to accept flowers from my 6’1 strapping hockey player son.  Hockey has been a part of our lives with our boy since he was a little wide eyed 5-year-old.

But don’t be fooled.  If this happens to you and tears don’t come at expected times, just wait because that lump in your motherly throat happens.  And it happens more than once during that incredible and very busy senior year.

Because you see I did end up tearing up on the ice.  It just wasn’t at the moment that I expected.

As soon as this formal picture was taken, he surprised me.  I figured he would skate quickly away as I left the ice.  But instead he took a moment to lean down, plant a kiss on me and say, “I love you, Mom”

….and I melted. on ice senior night with Jack

I hurried off the ice so the next mother could have her moment, but I almost choked on the lump in my throat!  I didn’t see his embrace or his kiss coming and it rocked.  It rocked my motherhood galaxy.

And there have been other unexpected surprise tears along the way.  Just like Amy warned me about.

The first day of the new and final hockey season back in September.  After 14 years of hockey, I figured I was ready to hang up my hockey mom hat this season.  But the moment that I plopped that worn out old hat on my head, tears enveloped me.  I didn’t see that one coming either and it took my whole family by surprise!  Fortunately, I had my tears under control by the time we took this picture.  Then we left for the very first game of the very last season.  Yep more quiet tears as we drove looking up at my Jack hockey 2015Thank goodness Amy had warned me about this so I could reassure the family that I was OK.

It is normal because senior year is the worst.  In a good way!

And more recently there was that day that I realized that it was time to email far away family the graduation plans.  I kept putting off writing that email until my sweet Mother-in-law asked me about sending it out.  I told her that I was excited to write it and didn’t understand why I kept delaying the email.  Then I realized why and I said to her, “It is time, isn’t it?”  and she softly replied yes as we both understood my quiet tears that spilled over to her end of the phone.

Happy tears and sad momma tears of putting the process of letting go into actual words that was emailed to loved ones.

Putting it in writing makes it official.  Cue lump in throat.

And the day that the actual cap and gown came in. Jack's grad cap

My son asked me not to cry (and he sounded serious like it was going to maybe annoy him….pesky teenagers!) so I made sure that I  didn’t shed one tear when he tried it on.

I unintentionally saved the tears for later when I went to the dry cleaners to retrieve the nicely pressed gown.  Still doing just fine.

Until I placed it in his closet.

Where it sits now waiting to come out soon, very soon, to take him across the graduation stage and into the next big chapter.  I didn’t see those tears coming either that hit right when the hanger hit the rack.

But time to get it under control again.  The clock is ticking so quickly now.

I have left before me one last Prom picture session, graduation day and dorm move in day.

Those teary moments that come and go throughout senior year have helped to slowly prepare me for the inevitable and yes, very exciting, next step of letting go.  A little like labor pains I guess.

Those unexpected senior moments helped me to prepare.  Each tear cleansed my weary AND happy heart to cherish the past and embrace the future.  HIS big new future.

And yes you will feel both weary and wonderful at the same time.

Because senior year is the worst.  In a good way.

You have been warned.  Buy a big stock of Kleenix at Costco before senior year starts.  Then keep those tissues handy and embrace it, sweet beautiful Mamas!

You earned every one of those bittersweet tears.






Our One Big Change & One Small One for Allergy Relief!

Allergy season has arrived!  Ah choo….watery eyes, scratchy throat…ugh!  No fun!  So our family tried two remedies, one giant one and one small daily change (a drink recipe) and both have made a difference.  I have actually been off Claritin for three months now!  Check out these ideas out that I showed in my recent KTVK 3TV segment on the “Your Life A to Z” show.  Plus some healthy eating ideas, too!  If you want more information about the remodel hardwood floors, click here on Excalibur Hardwood Floors.


Tackling the Zika Virus: What Moms Should Know

On Sunday, I looked out my bedroom window and saw a huge mosquito.  I was so relieved that it was on the outside of the window.  Even here in Phoenix with our sunny dry desert climate, we still get those pesky little pistols that seem to find me and my daughter especially tasty.  I immediately thought of the dreaded Zika virus when I saw that uninvited pest and felt happy that pregnancy is in my past and not in any of my immediate family members’ near future.  But I am still worried about this virus and the potential of contracting it with every mosquito that I know we will soon see more and more.

mosquito drinks blood out of man - macro shot

So when insect and pest expert, Jim LaBrie, owner of Bug & Weed Mart offered to share some much needed information about the Zika virus threat on my blog, I readily agreed.  Here is what we need to know…

Jim says:

Tackling the Zika Virus: What Moms Should Know

zika sign

 What is the Zika virus?

If you’ve seen or read any news over the last few weeks, chances are pretty high you’ve heard something about the Zika virus. But how much do you really know or do you need to know? According to the CDC, the virus has had no locally active transmissions in the continental United States. However, the rate at which Zika has spread in countries just south of the border is certainly a cause for concern. We anticipate Zika virus will be in Arizona, probably by summer. It’s already in California, New Mexico and Texas, so Arizona is a logical next stop.

The primary way someone may be infected by the virus is from a mosquito bite. There have also been recent reports of the virus spreading through blood or sexual contact.

Living in a transient community like Arizona that attracts many visitors from around the globe, the spread of the Zika virus is not news we should ignore.

Protecting Home, Familyspray leg

So what can be done to prevent any possibility of a localized infection as mosquito season approaches?

  1. Check for standing water

Regularly check your yard and the perimeter of your home and take note of any trouble spots of water accumulation.  Areas around air conditioning units where condensation can form or drip lines, valve boxes for sprinklers, leaky hose bibs, bird baths, pool or spa pumps, watering cans, potted plants with bottom dishes, and shrub and garden beds are all areas where sitting water can commonly be found.

It only takes an eighth of an inch of standing water plus a rise in temperatures (which is inevitable in Arizona) for mosquitoes to appear. When you do discover standing water, treat these moist areas with natural bacteria that will consume the mosquito larvae.

  1. Consider time of day

Avoid playing or hanging out in the grass or near shrub areas at dawn or dusk.  If you are going to be outdoors during the early morning or evening, wear long sleeved clothing and pants.  Also remember to wear insect repellent, and look for products with DEET and/or Picaridin. Better yet, get both.

  1. Take action

Consider hanging a chemical-free, low-voltage electric repellant on or around your patio to naturally ward off mosquitos in and around backyard areas.  These nifty tools can effectively control up to an acre!

Treat shrubs, lawn, under awnings, on patio columns, and walls with a permethrin liquid spray.  Using a hose-end sprayer will speed things up.  Repeat as necessary, up to every two weeks.

Use a pyrethrin aerosol spray, which is safe to use indoors, to keep away any mosquitos that occasionally get through doors, windows and cracks. These can deliver a lot of sprays for continued use, and are safe for people and pets.

If you are planning a vacation, avoid travel to Zika-identified countries (Remember to check back to the CDC website for up-to-date info). This is especially important if you are pregnant, as the virus has been known to cause birth defects when a mother passes the virus on to her unborn child.

The intention here is not meant to cause panic, but to help with prevention and protection.


Jim LaBrie is a father and grandfather and the owner of Bug & Weed Mart, a do-it-yourself retail store that specializes in bug and weed prevention, with five location. To learn more about pest prevention and protection you can visit or on Facebook


Family Wellness Ideas That Have Been Working For Us!

From my KTVK Channel 3 segment on the “Your Life A to Z” show that aired today….

The main reason I blog is to share ideas on how to make our manic lives a bit more managed and when I find natural remedies that work, I get really excited and I can’t wait to share on this blog! remedy pic 1

Let’s Go from Head to Toe…

Stuff for Stuffy Head

*Allergies – Boy have allergies become a big issue in our desert.  It didn’t used to be this way and it is believed that a big reason is because so many people discovered our beautiful Valley of the Sun, moved here and planted their favorite flowers and plants from back home.  Whatever the reason, I have been a big allergy sufferer to the point where my runny nose and sneezing would wake my husband.  He asked me to try to figure out my allergy relief plan, for both of us.  We also have four cats so that contributes a bit, but testing proved that most of my allergies are plant related and food related.  I cleaned up my diet first and foremost with a lot less sugar and bread and that made a huge difference for sure.  Two more changes followed.

First getting rid of our carpet and I mean a lot of it!  We recently installed beautiful hardwood floors and things are better for sure.  We hired Excalibur Hardwood Floors and the difference is both visually beautiful and physically appreciated with less allergy problems!  Carpet traps and holds dust, pet dander and more so it makes sense that wood or tile floors would help with allergies.  And just look at how much better and cleaner our bedroom looks!  Love this….b4 after floors

I also started drinking a little concoction that our show’s makeup artist, Karen Hall told me about and she looks and feels amazing.  She doesn’t even begin to look her age, which is somewhere in her 60s.  So I always put a lot of stock in her recommendations.

She told me to try apple cider vinegar mixed with honey.  I was thrilled to find that Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar With A Honey Blend (this is how it appears on the label) is sold at Sprouts Farmers Market.  Every day I mix about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the vinegar with 8 oz of water.  It tastes like apple juice and I have been amazed with the results.  Since I started drinking this twice a day, my allergies have disappeared.  I have been off Claritin for over three months now.  I have also avoided any sinus issues thus far that I almost always have every year.  I am hopeful that this will carry me through Spring, when our allergy season kicks in to high gear.  I will report back on my blog if it does and for now I am thrilled with this natural remedy!  Definitely try incorporating the Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar with Honey Blend into your diet if you are an allergy sufferer.  Be sure to dilute it with a lot of water since the acidity can damage tooth enamel.  Drinking it straight is not recommended. As always, whenever trying any new remedy, double check the ingredients with your doctor to make sure that an ingredient isn’t present that may interfere with a current medical condition.

And speaking of sinus issues…

*Sinus Issues – For the last several years now, I take a special bath at the first sign of sinus pressure and this remedy has worked wonders.  I put a capful of Kneipp Eucalyptus Sinus Relief Herbal Bath in a hot bath under the running water and soak for about 15 minutes.  kneippIt works wonders and really helps to open and relieve my sinus pressure.  I buy mine on Amazon for around $15 a bottle and it is worth every cent.

Healthy Meals for the Mouth

*Quick & Healthy Breakfast Idea – I found a terrific instant oatmeal that I approve of and like, but it isn’t sweet enough alone for my family, so I experimented with three simple ingredients to sweeten it myself.  My family loves it and I feel good about providing this super quick, tasty and healthy breakfast to everyone before we all head out to another crazy busy day. remedies

I use the Better Oats Oat Revolution Steel Cut Instant Oatmeal with Flax brand.  I recently noticed this brand the last time I was at my grocery store, so I bought it to give it a try.  I love that the packets are filled with ingredients that only include steel cut oats, flaxseed and salt, with no added sugar, so each packet only contains 1 gram of sugar.  Compare this to many other brands and you get 9 grams of sugar and a bunch of ingredients that I can’t pronounce.  No thanks.

So here is the 2 step prep that I do to naturally sweeten it.  These steps are kid and teenager approved….

Step 1 – Simply boil water or heat milk, if you choose to use milk.  The handy oatmeal packet has a measuring water line so you know the exact amount to add to your oatmeal.  However, I just eye the amount of water or milk.  I think almond milk would be so tasty to add to this, but my daughter is allergic to tree nuts, so I use water.

Step 2 – Add 1/2 a banana and mash into oats and water.  mash itTop with cinnamon and you have delish and healthy oatmeal that was made in under 3 minutes and is kid approved! done oatmeal

*Farm Fresh Local Foods for Dinner – I just love when I find healthy new tips for families, especially when it comes to cooking nutritious and tasty dinners.  I am SO excited to tell you about the new meal kits that I have been receiving that come from a local and organic farm! Sunizona Family Farms now ships dinner kits that contain everything you need to make a healthy, organic and tasty meal.  Plus I have been trying to prepare and eat more plant based meals and this service makes it easy and tasty, which I am thrilled about.

One of my favorite Meal Kits from this farm contained organic whole food ingredients to make yummy veggie Queso nachos that actually used eggplant, garlic, seasoning, red bell pepper and other surprising ingredients to create nachos that tasted hearty and fantastic! Wondering how this works?  It is super easy!

Every Tuesday, I go to my favorite local healthy cafe, Pomegranate Cafe to pick up my weekly Sunizona Family Farms Flavor Crate which is filled with the organic and fresh produce and foods that I ordered online over the weekend.  Recently Sunizona Family Farms added the Mealkits.  I preorder over the weekend and pay online.  Each Meal Kit costs $22 with a subscription option available.  For that very fair price, I receive a box packed with every fresh whole food ingredient needed to make a meal and a side dish, which may be a salad and sometimes a healthy dessert, too.  Some of the other Meal Kit recipes I have made, that my family loved, include the Minestrone Soup which also came with items to make a nice tossed side salad and yummy whole grain garlic bread.

Skin Stuff

 *Dry Skin – With our temps warming up again and our super dry climate, dry skin continues to be a problem for a lot of us.  Our triple crown plan has been coconut oil, oatmeal baths and a product with a funny name called Toe Juice.

Coconut oil just rocks because it can be used for all types of issues from head to toe.  I cook with it a lot and I always dab a little on my lips, nails and hands.  I do a lot of hand washing and my hands always start to get little eczema spots, so I have been able to stop the rash in its tracks with pure organic virgin coconut oil. I also make sure to apply hand cream nightly before I go to bed.

Oatmeal bath – Sometimes eczema develops on my daughter, around her legs and arms.  It is definitely getting better as she grows up and she is now 14, but when she does get a flare up, she immediately takes an oatmeal bath with Aveeno Oatmeal packets that we get at the drug store.  This has helped a lot.

Toe Juice – I discovered this product a few years ago and I love it for all over skin issues, especially for my dry heels that are back again now that flip flop season has returned.  Toe Juice with DermaVine was developed by a high school chemistry teacher for his infant son’s split, cracked feet. Doctors and pharmacists didn’t have a solution that worked, so he used a combination of well-known plant extracts to create the solution. Looking to avoid the messy, greasy issues of available creams, lotions, and salves, he pursued a liquid application. I apply it to my own dry heels and then use a pumice stone to get the cracked dry skin right off for silky smooth heels.  toejuicebottleWhen I blogged about this, I had several readers to tell me that it worked wonders for their skin issues, too!  Toe Juice can be purchased at

For Feet

 Speaking of feet, when I write about my foot injuries, I always get a good response.  I guess foot problems are a popular topic.  I broke my right ankle three times in 25 years, had plantar fasciitis and recently sprained the top of my foot.  My poor foot has taken a beating, yet I have never had cortisone shots and I am still running around, sometimes getting 20,000 steps in a day on my Fitbit.  So here are my blog’s most popular tips for healthy feet…

*Use Boiron Arnicare Arnica Gel to reduce bruising and inflammation following a foot injury.  My bruising went away significantly faster every time I remembered to apply this gel that is paraben free, non sticky, unscented and nongreasy.  Arnicare-Gel-5thPanel-left-800It is a homeopathic ointment that my Mom first told me about and it works great.

*My physical therapist sent me to an athletic locally owned shoe store called Sole Sports where the experts on site actually have you run on a treadmill to evaluate your gait to see which shoe best suits your needs. The Adidas Supernova Boost tennis shoe has shortened my recovery time because this shoe gives me the support my fragile foot needs.  adidas-ultra-boost-womenI paid $129.99 at Sole Sports and it has been worth every penny.  Make sure you are in the right shoe for your foot.  Also look for a good supportive sock like the Feetures brand which provides light padding and arch support and is made with wick moisture fibers to keep feet dry and odor free. feetures-elite-light-cushion-no-show-tab

*Before trying the cortisone shot, ask your podiatrist about the alternative natural treatments that we did with ultrasound and more.  It is worth trying that first and it worked for me.

*Wear better high heels.  I have actually found orthotic heels that are stylish and supportive enough that I can still wear heels to events that require me to be on my feet for an extended amount of time, like a wedding, for example.  The line that I love and has been interesting to my readers is the Ziera line. I purchase my orthotic high heels from Foot Solutions.

What are your wellness ideas?  Share here in the comments section because we love to share tips to help all of our make our manic lives a little more managed….and healthy, too!




















My Parenting Lesson: Almost Missed the Writing on the Wall!

My Facebook memory page brought this article up today.  I wrote it three years ago when my girl was 11 years old.  Such a good parenting lesson to remember and to share again, especially for those of you with school-aged kids and tweens.  Ever had a parenting lesson that you learned from like this one….   

Manic:  Me trying to get my family to keep a tidy house!  Ugh!

Managed:  Taking a moment to see something special that was right in front of me….but I almost missed it. Thank goodness I decided to look past the clutter.  Read on parents, because there is truly a good lesson here and it was almost lost on me…

My tween daughter had been keeping a very nice, tidy and color coordinated room and I loved it!  A few weeks ago, she took it upon herself to change things around and I didn’t like it.  I was greeted by her changes, which included a beat up old chalk board that hung crooked across her wall.  wallThe wall had been filled with pretty framed pictures of her gal pals.  She moved the pictures to the back of her bathroom door, which I didn’t love, but I told her that was a cute idea.  I have learned that with a daughter it is important to realize that she does model some of my habits (like hanging pictures, which I love to do), but that she also needs to be her own individual and come up with her own creative ideas.  So I decided that I would support her bathroom door hung gal pal pictures, but I was less eager to embrace the crooked chalkboard.  And do you know that an entire month went by before I stopped judging and stood still long enough to see the writing on the wall?! Just look at what that old crooked chalk board says….board

It says Oliver really big because she was preparing for her Oliver auditions at that time (and she is in rehearsals for that now).  It also lists New Years Resolutions:

1.  eat better food (I love this one)

2.  learn gymnastics

3.  better grades (she has made all As and only 1 B this year)

And at the the bottom it says:


Friendship not gossip.  Fun not drama.

Later when she returned home, I asked her what the hand with the number 11 on it meant and she told me that this is her current hand size because she is 11 right now.  That makes sense and I love it because soon she will be too cool to do stuff like that.

So my lesson learned is that what I saw as clutter was actually her well thought out goals that she had made for herself.  At that moment, I was disappointed in myself that I hadn’t noticed that right off the bat.  That I hadn’t let myself see past the clutter.  And then I felt thankful that something made me stop my cleaning that day to just stand there and take a look at my daughter’s creation.  I left feeling proud of her goal setting and the clutter didn’t bother me a bit anymore.  Funny how that works.  Parenting is tricky and I love that I get to learn from my tween girl and my teen boy because sometimes it is about us learning from our kids.

And I told her that all As and one B was very good and to go easy on her perfectionist self 🙂