Healthy Habit Tips for Busy Families

Manic:  Keeping my family healthy despite a crazy busy and absolutely manic schedule!

Managed:  Brainstormed ideas with my family so that we can work together to stay as healthy as possible with the right daily vitamin for both teen girls and boys, time management tips that get the kids (and myself) to bed on time for optimal sleep and more.  Plus I did some research to see just how much sleep kids and teens need and how much water they should be drinking daily as well.  So take a look to see if there are some healthy habits listed here that will help your busy family, too….

Get Organized Ideas For A Managed & Not So Manic School Year

Manic:  Soggy sandwiches in my kids’ lunch, crazy calendars that overlap, managing food allergies and more.  It all comes with being thrown back into the busy school year season.

Managed:  Found an awesome free calendar app that merges and sends the family calendar to every family member’s smart phone, finally found a formula for no more soggy sandwiches in the lunch box, easy, quick and healthy after school snack ideas and more. seg set up

Oh and I do know how to pronounce gluten, even though I mispronounced it in the segment….you will laugh at what I said!  Check these simple solutions out for a school year that is a little less stressed….

Heartfelt Words From A Worried Kid: What My Children’s Theatre Means To Me

My daughter is worried.  We got word this week that my daughter’s beloved second home (as she calls it), the Ahwatukee Children’s Theatre (ACT) may have to close their doors.  Once she heard this, she sat down at the computer and thoughtful words poured out of her heart and on to the keyboard.  She first reflected on just how long she has performed at ACT and the fact that she started there at the tender age of 5 years old as seen in this ACT show choir photo below….

At only 6 years old, she was proudly singing a sweet little solo with the Ahwatukee Children's Theatre All Keyed Up Show Choir at a Phoenix Zoo performance.

At only 5 years old, she was proudly singing a sweet little solo with the Ahwatukee Children’s Theatre All Keyed Up Show Choir at a Phoenix Zoo performance.


7 years later in ACT's Treble Makers Show Choir.

7 years later in ACT’s Treble Makers Show Choir.

After you read her sweet and very honest comments, you may want to donate and your donation is tax deductible and you can donate here.

But first, here in her very own words, is what a local community children’s theatre means to kids.  Lexi has experienced much growth since she first set foot in the ACT doors eight years ago.  She is now a teenager and here is her story with very little edits from me….

Lexi says:

head shot







What ACT Means To Me

Where do I begin?  I guess I’ll start where it all started, when I was five.  I began at Ahwatukee Children’s Theatre at that age, and I can still remember that my first play was Cinderella as an evil step sister along with Emma Horn and Megan O’Neall  as our mother. Cinderella with Evil StepsistersIt was so much fun that I had just had to do another play with ACT the next time around.

My second play with this theatre was Sleeping Beauty and I proudly got the part of Maleficent (this was one of my favorite roles ever), and guess what? It was so much fun again I just had to continue with this.

Once again landing the evil role of the evil queen in Snow White, I realized that I must of had a knack for evil characters!  Snow White & Evil Queen
as CruellaI especially enjoyed playing Cruella Di Vil and Mom tells me that was her favorite character that I have played.  It was so much fun!

Now I don’t want to sit here all day listing every part I had ever since I was five, but I’ll definitely tell you that not every part was nearly as special as my beginners luck in the first part (that I referred to in the first paragraph) and that’s honestly what it was, beginners luck.

I’ll tell you once I got used to that, it was a pretty big shock when I got a part that didn’t even have a name. I thought my world was over and kept feeling that way over the years every time my assigned character wasn’t what I had hoped for after auditions.  But the experience definitely made me grow and become wiser.

Now I realize that every part that I was assigned, regardless of the character, really did make me stronger and better at what I love to do.  cast picAnd that makes me appreciate even more now when I do get a part that’s close to the top of the cast list….if you know what I mean.

It excites me even more to know that I still have so much to learn about this profession that I hope to continue in.

ACT helped me learn, thrive, grow, and mature in so many ways that I can’t even describe.  I want that to continue for boys and girls of new generations for as long as possible. Don’t you, too?

lex in oliver playIt’s funny how writing this to you guys is bringing tears of joy to my eyes as I think about all the amazing lessons that I’ve learned and memories and the friends I’ve made at ACT.

Traveling with my show choir two summers ago.

Traveling with my show choir two summers ago.

We also like to go see our friends in ACT plays and cheer them on. erin in play

I have felt a lot of love over the years at ACT. echo

I hope they continue fighting and receiving donations so they can keep this amazing place going and sharing the love that they have bestowed upon me.
alex annie stage

Please help them out in their fight to reclaim confidence of keeping this amazing place going for years to come. Even the smallest donation of $20 helps unbelievably.  rolesPLEASE HELP KEEP THEIR DOORS OPEN!!!

Before I sign off I want to give a special thanks to some of the people that have helped me grow, both as a young actress and a person….with directors

*Bailey Isenberg for giving me amazing opportunities to thrive as an actor and for dealing with me as a toddler!

*Melissa Snow for keeping me on track and focused throughout my roles and my dancing.

*Kendall Snow for being so sweet and kind and showing me so many more things that I’m able to do with my feet….and letting me sleep that one time during dance practice when I didn’t feel good.

*Lori Olawski for being one of the best neighbors ever and inspiring me to keep it together and organized as you have done!

*My family for supporting me and believing in me and coming to every show and accepting me when I was young….when I had those fits when there was no reason for one.  family 2014And for paying the bills and working so hard to give me the best life possible.

And to Michele Rubino who has shown me so much throughout the years.  You always give me a laugh when you know I need one and even when I didn’t.  Thank you for helping me so extremely much with my voice and acting and everything.  I always feel like you have my back. with Mich

I think you’ve all heard enough to understand.  Well this is Alexis signing off.  Thanks for reading my article.  Please consider making a donation to my beloved children’s theatre.  Any amount helps so much!  You can simply and easily donate here.



Our Top 10 Maui Moments To Remember & Recommend

Now that the crazy busy school year is back in full swing, I have found myself day dreaming more than once about our magical Maui trip that we took in June.  It was our first time to Hawaii and it was as wonderful as everyone had told us it would be.  Waleia beach

A lot of people have asked me what island activities were our favorite Maui moments, so here is a look at our awesome getaway along with some recommendations on what to do if you travel to Maui.  I have also included links for easy access and planning if you decide to book one of these fun adventures ahead of time, which I recommend.  Be sure to keep reading because our favorite Maui family fun pick is the #1 item listed and this countdown goes from 10 to 1.  If you go to Maui, you have to know about this cool activity that had us tasting, exercising, swimming and more all in one fun filled afternoon!

And two items to note.  One of the smartest things we did was to tuck in early every night so we could rise at sunrise every morning.  Not only did we take in the stunning sun rising over the ocean, but the winds come in the afternoon so you want the calm waters for morning outdoor water activities.  Here is our top ten list of things to do and see in Maui…group by surf board

10.  See a sunset and a sunrise.  Truly make time for Maui’s beautiful sunset.  You may find yourself packing your days with the abundant amount of island activities that are offered and I do recommend that, but do make time to just sit, relax and take in the sunset or a peaceful early morning sunrise.  The picture below was taken from our hotel which is on Wailea Beach.  We stayed at the Grand Wailea and the property was a little outdated in some spots, but extremely nice and very family and teenage friendly.  I will blog about my review of that property soon.  While staying on Wailea Beach, we never saw any planes in the sky, only the ocean and the island of Lanai that is located directly across the sea.  It was lovely.

HI sunset

trees and ocean

9.  Reserve a morning for relaxing beach time.  You will want to be sure to do this on Maui’s beautiful beaches.  We recommend the  Wailea beach for families because it is so pretty and offers smooth sand and gentle waves, making it ideal for kids.  The Grand Wailea Resort and The Four Seasons front the beach and although this isn’t a private beach, the intimate and small space feels like it is and was very relaxing.

meg excited on beach

gals on beach in Wailea

fav pic of girls in Maui

J & J on Wailea beach

8.  Do an early morning yoga class on the beach.  It was as wonderful as it sounds and this was a great activity that I enjoyed with the tween girls….

yoga on beach

7. Golf the stunning golf courses that Maui has to offer.  My teen son especially enjoyed his golf outings with his Dad…

Jack Maui golf

Hubs loved it just as much as our son, who golfs on his high school Varsity golf team.

Hubs loved it just as much as our son did and our boy golfs on his high school Varsity golf team, so this was especially enjoyable for them to experience together.

6.  Take surf lessons for the fun of it and for the great exercise you will benefit from as you learn how to surf.  The girls absolutely loved their surfing lessons at Maui Wave Riders.  gals get lessongirls on surf boardMeg up on board5.  Go Ziplining!  This was such a blast and if you want a zipline that is family friendly, then go with Maui Zipline, which has the coolest and friendliest guides who keep it fun, while making sure that all is safe.  For the thrill seekers, check out Flyin Hawaiian Zipline.  We selected Maui Zipline instead and it was a blast.  Check out our cool zipping pictures…


We loved our guides.  Such nice and fun gentleman that sang, joked and kept us calm when we felt a little bit of zipline anxiety.  They always put safety first, too.

We loved our guides. Such nice and fun gentleman that sang, joked and kept us calm when we felt a little bit of zipline anxiety. They always put safety first.

Lex loving ziplining4.  Go Kayaking….but a word of caution with the kayaking.  When you book your kayaking tour, ask about wearing shoes because when our kayaks were coming in, several of us tipped over and several cut their feet on the rocky bottom of the shore.  Plus one poor guy (we don’t know him but he was in our tour group) was stung by a sea urchin as our boats came in.   The waves can make coming in a bit rough so I would definitely ask about wearing some type of water shoe. Other than that, it was awesome.  Take a look…

girls on kayak

My beautiful view from my kayak.  The others had just left their boats to snorkel.

My beautiful view from my kayak. The others had just left their boats to snorkel.

in my kayak pic

Me all natural….and happy!

3.  Go Snorkeling!  Our family had a blast seeing amazing sea life below and we couldn’t get over just how clear our visibility was under the sea.  Our guide took us to an area where sea turtles are often spotted and although the turtles didn’t appear for us that day, we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the many species of beautiful fish that made an appearance. Make sure you bring an underwater camera.  We sure wish we would have had one with us to give you a view of our spectacular sightings below the sea!  An all inclusive kayaking/snorkeling/hiking one day package can be booked through Hike Maui and I highly recommend doing it this way.  The cost is $170 per person and the land and sea adventure lasts for 7 fun filled hours.

The girl loved snorkeling....

The girl loved snorkeling….

....and so did my guys!

….and so did my guys!

 Jack snorkeling

Then it was back in the boats and check out the beautiful view we all enjoyed as we paddled our way back….


So pretty!

So pretty!

2.  Go to a Luau!  This is just something you have to do at least once.  If I ever return to Hawaii (and I hope that I get to) I don’t think I would go a second time to a Luau because it is expensive, but it is something very Hawaiian and fun to experience.  We booked our Luau through our hotel and I think that is a good way to do it.  I also enjoyed getting all dolled up for the big event….

fav maui pic of John and I….and the kids enjoyed the festivities as well, so a fun and a yummy time was had by all as we watched the amazing performers do their thing, too.
a & m luau


One of the amazing Luau dancers!

One of the amazing Luau dancers!

1.  And our #1 top pick that we all agreed on was the amazing Twin Falls hike that we enjoyed through a beautiful jungle located in Maui that has zero snakes and mainly friendly wildlife.  This was the coolest experience ever!  You can book this through Hike Maui and I highly recommend this very easy and scenic hike that takes you deep into a stunning rainforest.  We got to taste fresh foods right off the trees as we walked.  The kids jumped off cliffs into beautiful Hawaiian waters and danced under the waterfalls.  Just check out these super cool pictures….

hiking girls

girls tasting on hike

Tasting fresh foods right off the trees as we hiked was amazing!

maui hike creek

So beautiful!

See the pineapple?  We got to taste some and it was delicious!

See the pineapple? We got to taste some and it was delicious!

Check this out! Meg is washing her hair with the natural Awapuhi plant that was pulled right off the trees on our hike. Our hiking guide told us that Paul Mitchell harvests this plant to make their high quality shampoo. Here are the girls holding the Awapuhi plant that Paul Mitchell uses….

in jungle with awapuhi

So cool that they got to wash her hair with the real stuff right under a stunning Maui waterfall….

Check this out!  Meg is washing her hair with the natural Awapuhi plant that was pulled right off the trees on our hike.  Our hiking guide told us that Paul Mitchell harvests this plant to make their high quality shampoo.  So cool that she got to wash her hair with the real stuff right under a stunning Maui waterfall! And the kids got to jump off the cliffs, too.  Hubs and I snapped pictures while the teens did the jumping…

Meg jumps off Maui cliffand more rock climbing….

Lexi rock climb water

and relaxing, too….

Jack hanging out on hike

gals hike water

and holding beautiful animals….

Lexi holding chamelonDo you see why the hike was our favorite Maui pick?  It included all the elements of fun, exercise, tasting Hawaiian foods, swimming and beautiful scenery.  Our hiking guide, Kahi was amazing!  He is a Hawaiian native who knows his stuff when it comes to the Maui island environment and history and he is a sweet family man with four children and nine grandchildren of his own.  So he was the perfect hiking guide for our family that included some adventurous souls and some of us who opted more for a relaxing hike sans jumping off the rocks!  I just love these shots of us in the jungle and check out the cool bamboo trees, too….


Jack silhouette in jungle

Cool shot of my teenage boy taking it all in. Best memories ever!

gals on hikegroup pic by Bambooin jungleunder waterfallI guess I will close now.  It was so hard to pick pictures out of the over 100 shots that we took!  Here are a few more of my faves to close this article.  Have you been to Maui?  What are your favorite Maui spots?  Tell us in the comments section. We didn’t get to eat at Mama’s Fish House or take the road to Hana, but we came to close to doing all that had been recommended to our family.  I truly loved every second of our Hawaii adventure and I will keep our treasured Maui moments in my heart for the rest of my days.  Aloha!

Just checked out and don't want to go home!

Just checked out and don’t want to go home!


me by Maui waterfall

I left my heart in Maui and will daydream about sitting by this waterfall when I have hectic days!

Tween Tips from a Tween on Balancing a Busy Bee Life!

Manic:  Our kids’ busy schedules.  Were we this busy when we were kids?!  I don’t think so.  My daughter is a go getter and she takes on a lot and challenges herself with a slightly perfectionist personality that she works on balancing.  Last year she balanced show choir, three musical productions (both in school and with her beloved Ahwatukee Children’s Theatre), student council, honors courses, yearbook photographer, broadcast club, dance and voice lessons that included two recitals and volunteering in our church nursery and earning the #1 top fundraising spot for a holiday drive that was done with her middle school.  And this year is shaping up to be just as busy for her so far!

Managed:  Coming to the realization that with this spirited go getter, it is best for me to step aside and let her do her thing with a little gentle guidance and direction from me and her Daddy when needed.  I am so proud of how she works hard to guide herself.  This year she has asked to add “blog contributor” to her achievments, so here is another installment from Lexi and this is a good one called Managing the Life of a Busy Bee.  Take it away, Lexi….(and as always, this has very little edits from me)….

Lexi says:

head shot



Managing the life of a busy bee

You can ask anyone, and they’ll let you know that I’m a busy bee. How do I do it you ask?  Well let me start off by saying that I don’t take any magic pill and it’s not that I’m different from anyone else. The secret is really basic and easy, and that secret is simply staying healthy.

Staying healthy is one of the best things you can do for yourself, but staying healthy can sometimes be hard to do.  Try your very best to get to bed on time and make sure you get the right amount of sleep that is recommended for your age group.

Also try to stay on task.  For me, TV is one of my greatest enemies because it pulls me in so easily and by the time I realize that I have homework, it’s already 10 pm!  So if you have a busy work day ahead, hide the remote from yourself (LOL).

Another tip that helps drastically is not getting sick. Right now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Thank you Captain Obvious,”….but I’m serious…getting sick does no good for you and puts you behind.  So take a vitamin every day and wash your hands.

Finally don’t stress, this one is maybe one of the most important points because this is what gets you sick and off task. If you’re stressed about something, you need to relax, breathe, and look at the positives to give yourself confidence.  If you look at the negatives, you’re probably not going to get very far.  Just be smart about what you are taking on and believe you can do it.

Well that’s my advice, so thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time:).


A Texting PSA With A Lesson For Teens & Parents

I had to share this texting PSA because it affected me unlike any of the others that I have seen.  It is not graphic and it is done in good taste with a lesson for us parents as well.  I made both of my kids watch this super short video that leaves you thinking about the choices we make both in the car….and at home when we are trying to contact our driving children.  Take a look…

Back to School Adjusting Advice For Parents & Kids…From a Kid!

Manic:  Back to school can be manic for our kids and they don’t always know how to express that to us.

Managed:  My tween daughter asked me if she could share a few tips for kids and their parents when it comes to easing back into a busy back to school schedule.  She wrote this article below with very few edits from me and I think she has some great tips here….for both the kids and the parents.  Take a look….

thumbs up 2014 first dayLexi says:

So far for me I’m back in school but it still feels like summer. Sadly that feeling won’t be present for long. Though I had my summer and I think I’m ready to get back into the 6:00 am wake up times, not to mention after school activities and on top of all that, homework.

Call me crazy for thinking that I’m ready for that again, but this year I’ve set goals for myself and that is what’s driving me to be better and more on top of things this year.

Yet everyone is different, so my advice is to try to find out what kind of person your child is when it comes to school. Who knows, it might answer a lot of your questions.

Something else that’s really helped me this past week is breakfast.  I’ve been eating really filling and healthy foods in the morning like apple slices with peanut butter plus a banana and milk or a bowl of cereal along with a granola bar, and maybe scrambled eggs with strawberries and orange juice.  These are just some examples of things that change your day completely by giving you more energy and filling you up until lunch.

My last note of advice (especially for you ladies) is to have a system of making the morning less stressful. For example, lay your outfits out for tomorrow and have an idea for your hair style so you know how much time you will need in the morning.  Also have your school bag ready so you aren’t stressing over finding an important paper or book when there is only five minutes left before school starts.

And mainly just breathe. Like it or not, school is back and it’s here to stay, so why not make the best of it, and if you already have….then you are right on track.

This is Alexis, thanks for reading and see you next time.

Thank you Lexi!  I’m going to for sure take your advice about remembering to just breathe.  This article took me by surprise and I loved what she wrote.  I had no idea that she was working on this until she gave it to me and asked me to share it on my blog.  We wish you all a wonderful school year! 

Kid & Mom Approved Lunch Box Menu Ideas

Manic:  Coming up with lunch menu ideas day after day that both my kids and I can agree on since we want tasty, but healthy items.

Managed:  Brainstormed with my kids and came up with several ideas, like this one that is pictured.
lunch box Watch my morning show segment below to see several other ideas, plus I found some very unique and functional lunch boxes, too. 


And Just Like That….Hello Junior Year & 7th Grade

Manic:  Raising kids…and the hectic back to school season.

Managed:  Taking it all in because, just like that, I now have a 7th grader and a high school junior.  Where does time go?! Here are their first day pics.  She posed for me and let me take several shots.  He barely let me take one picture and was out the door and in his car faster than I could blink….and as my Father-in-law once told me….don’t blink because they grow up just like that.  first day 2014 (1)

And just like that, here is another set of a first day back to school photo shoot by this slightly emotional Mama who is holding on tight and enjoying the ride.  I can only imagine how I will feel next year when Senior year arrives!

Thumbs up to the 2014-15 school year!
thumbs up 2014 first dayI’m wishing you all a happy and healthy school year ahead!

Ways To Save on Back To School Shopping