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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Last Minute Thanksgiving Goodies...

That look anything BUT last minute….
Sound Appealing?
We thought so!

We've teamed up with Christina Williams, one amazingly talented chick from our home town, (who may have spent hours in a turqoise leotard as a fellow power tumbler - "GO WINDWALKERS!)  To bring some adorable goodies to up the style and function of your Thanksgiving table!
Find the printable for the "adult" table here.  Don't worry, that does not denote anything naughty.  You can print out adult versions of the "I'm Thankful For…" cards to uphold the tradition of gratitude despite the fact that Black Friday Christmas sales begin shortly after turkey is ingested… sigh.
Or you can even print out this darling "I'm Thankful for You" page and deliver to your host or hostess this week with a side of pumpkin goodness.
(See Ashley's recipes in the previous post)

And you can find some DARLING "kid" printables here.  These are great for kids of all ages and range from a basic coloring page for the little littles - to a word scramble or a few tables jokes for the bigger littles.
You won't be disappointed and since you'll be adding some flair to the tables, you might just get out of peeling and chopping veggies for the relish tray.
Just sayin'.

Many, many thanks to the lovely Christina!  You can read more from her blog at christinawilliamsblog.com

One more cheesy confession… we're so thankful for YOU!  Seriously, blogging can be a lonely little hobby, but just your sweet comments and you taking the time to stop us when you see us and laugh about some silly thing we posted here?  Heaven.

Y'all are awesome.
Happiest Turkey Day to you and yours.

XO
Amber

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pumpkin A Plenty...

So with Thanksgiving a mere two days away, and my cupboards and the grocery store aisles spewing cans of pumpkin (what can I say..when pumpkin goes on sale for $1.99 a can...I do what any pumpkin lover does...I stock up).  I decided to share a few of my fave pumpkin recipes. Tried and true by yours truly..so rest assured that any of the following will be instant winners ;)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies




First, let me warn you of the ease in making these cookies. They consist of only 4 ingredients and are mini bites of pumpkin heaven. I got this from my sister who makes them for our annual Lake Powell trip. Before she gave it up, she made me swear I wouldn't judge her because they were THAT easy.

1 large can of Libby's Pumpkin (can't be the off brand..just trust me)
2 boxes of spice cake mix
1 bag of chocolate chips (I only like milk chocolate. So what? I'm a chocolate snob)

Mix together..plop onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 12-15 min.



That's it! Could you die? Do this today and take them to your holiday gathering. People will be impressed. Plus it makes a million so you'll be all set. And if you are really feelin ambitious, top them with a can of cream cheese frosting. Now you really died..right? ;)


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes



Unfortunately, I can't take credit for these babies. Nope, these are a shout-out to the six-sisters who can cook and bake like nobody's bidness. Like for real...everything I try from them is fab. I may or may not own all their cookbooks;)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup pancake mix
1 1/4 cup water
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chocolate chips 
Directions: 
Combine pancake mix, water, pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Pour batter onto a hot griddle or pan and cook for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through.  Serve with maple syrup.
We had these for dinner the other night and every..single..one of my 5 kids loved them.
 If that ain't gospel, then I don't know what is.

Pumpkin Pie


In all honesty, I'm a darn good pumpkin pie maker. My mom has been teaching me the ways for a long time. We make our own pie crust which is key and we use Libby's canned pumpkin where we follow the recipe on the back, but there's a secret. You have to add about 1/4 cup more sugar (duh;) and a little more cinnamon than it calls for. It's a slice of heaven (get it? slice? ;) I couldn't resist). So tell your family that you'll be in charge of pies and they will be uber impressed..but then again..maybe you shouldn't, because the pie job will inevitably fall upon you for every future Thanksgiving ;)


So good luck with all your baking and holiday preparations this week. And hopefully, if you are in charge of something it can include the can of orange and you can use one of these recipes!
Happy Turkey/Pumpkin day!

XO
Ashley






Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wiggin' Out...


You'll never ever believe where Ashley and I spent a chunk of time this past weekend.  OK, maybe judging from the title, you will.  That's right folks… we went to a wig store!

I had this idea in my noggin' that instead of vacillating between the idea of cutting bangs and wanting to cut my own arm off because I cut bangs - I could just purchase myself a little wiglet of bangs… Let's call it a bang-ette just to be sassy.  

And let's be clear - if you're a girl, with hair, you've been there… in the whole, "To Bang or Not to Bang" club.  It's a real conundrum.  SO in we went.  To the wig store.  To meander amongst the false locks of both the human and Barbie varieties.
And here's what we learned…
A.  Trying on fake hair is hella fun.  Really, you should try it!

B.  There's a WHOLE lotta folks out there wearing fake hair and not giving a care.  And I think I'm down with that.  If you see a chick with gorgeous, long, voluminous locks, nine out of ten times, she has some fake hair in.  {I had no idea - but it's all starting to make sense.}

C.  You have a TON of options for fake hair purchases:  
-The clip in extensions
-The taped or laced in extensions
-Fake Top Knots
-Fake Braids
-Fake Pony Tails
-Fake Bang-ettes
-Full Wigs
-Partial Wigs
All this and more in real human hair or a fake hair - whatever you fancy.
So, since I'm using my mad money on Christmas at the time being, I opted for fake hair.  (Duh - I mean I'm only going to be clipping in fake bangs every so often)  And if those bangs weren't made of the shiniest hair I had ever seen!  

I maintained my vision and when I got home I did a little DIY bang trim and sprayed a bit of dry shampoo on them to dull them out a bit to match the rest of my dish water blond mop… clipped 'em in and BAM.  Bangs with no commitment, no regrets, and no awkward grow out period.
I think I'm in love... I just might need a little thinning from someone that has those fancy/heart-inducing thinning shears or something?  

Ash and I are now considering buying and splitting a set of clip in human hair extensions when we decide to be like Iggy and get "So Fancy".  

I'm just saying'… Don't wig out 'til you try it.  
XO
Amber

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Besties...

This past weekend, I was part of a miracle. 

I got to spend 24 hours of pure shopping bliss with no children or husbands interruptions with my bestie.  Say Whaaaa? I know, I know! Be jealous. 

But don't be fooled into thinking this happens all the time or came about all easy peasy...oh no.. this was a girls trip pre-planned for months. Which happens, at best, once a year..just in time to start our holiday Christmas list spending. 



We had to plan and prepare. It involves some serious bribery and skilled negotiation with the hubs' (whatev..they totally owed us this weekend ;)..we make sure they are done with any hunting and that they can hold down the fort with all the kiddos..and maybe just maybe put up the house Christmas lights (who were we kidding..and we didn't hold our breath;) But the houses were still standing and the kids were still alive so we'll count that as a win.

And the shopping gods still gave us a run for our money despite all of our meticulous planning..because, no lie....the day our getaway was to begin, my little Chloe woke me up to the tune of puke. NOOOOO!!! Which bytheway...why do kids always get sick on days you have things planned? It never fails. So I texted Amber and told her to pray it was a 4 hour bug so that we could still make our weekend work. And miraculously, less than three hours and three pukes later, Chloe was jumping on the couch and eating Cheeto's. Another miracle!

This was our convo that morning..and if you notice at the end, Amber's little 3 year old ended up with the pukes too...



And in the end, we totally nailed our weekend. We bagged our pedi's cuz were were on a shopping roll and who has time for that when you are crossing things off your list left and right?

And at 10 pm we finally rolled our shopped out little hearts into our hotel room with our dinner in tow and chatted until way too late. Sacked out, we didn't even budge until the alarm went off at 8am where we prepped and got ready for round two of holiday shopping and we even tried making a vlog for all of you..but deleted it as we watched it back and realized we were not as funny as we thought.



We concluded that we just need our own camera crew to follow us around and capture our sporadic craziness and sarcastic moments off the cuff ;)

And then, just like that, it was time to get back to our puking kid reality. And we vowed to make this more than an annual thing. It's the best thing in the world to be a mom and wifey..but it was like a rebirth to be with your friend who gets you and makes you remember how cool of a person you are and will tell you how bad those pants or wig (that's right I said wig..more to come on that later) really are #friendhonesty 







Am I right or am I right?

Right!

XO
Ashley



Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Best Offense...

We had a bit of an uninvited guest this weekend.  Sunday morning at 2 am... Croup showed up.  Which  made me cuss, cry and also host a sleepover with my oldest on the trampoline in 20 degree weather under layers of goose down.  #WUT
Now, you should know that I am basically a ninja when it comes to preventative health care... hence, my reaction to a surprise croup attack.  And hence, (I just love to use that word) my obligatory reaction to share my secrets with all of you in our friendship circle.  Sure, it might be a bunch of whooey... but I'll have you know that we had ZERO pukes last year (except for one strong gag aversion to jello) in a household comprised of three boys ages 4, 3 and 2, and we weren't even hermits!  Like we got out and did stuff!!  And attended preschool!!!  And gymnastics!!!  I can't stop shouting!  It still amazes me!!!
WHOA.  So take it or leave it.

But really, ya'll know the best offense is a good defense when it comes to the war on germs.
Let's begin now:

For the Kiddos
These first two are legit and they help in the war against the common cold AND the gut health:
XClear:  This is a nasal spray that my boys give themselves every night.  It was recommended to me by an Ear, Nose, Throat doctor who told me that the XClear is a natural way to clean out germs from the nasal passages and keep them moist and clean.  Gross?  Yes.  Fantastic?  Definitely, Yes.
Probiotics:  Mix 1/4 of a tsp in your kids' drink each day to boost up the immunities in their gut.  I have used Culturelle for Kids and recently this Raw brand.  I have no preference and neither do my kids.  Oh wait, they don't even know I give them this.  WIN.
Hand Sanitizer:  Obviously you should use the hand sanitizer and the lysol like you're addicted.  I have really been loving the one that Melisa introduced me to called, Pureworks, since it lasts longer on my little grubblers' skin.  You can contact Melisa here:  www.amyoungevity.blogspot.com 

Next up, the Multivitamins.  Get yourself a big old jar full at Costco.  They're delicious... I pop a few every time I dispense them.  Everyone loves gummy bears.

The flu Vaccine.  Well duh.  It's typically free even with our crap insurance these days since it's preventative.  And that's about as "free" as you can get these days.  Hello there cynic.


For YOU... and the Men in Your Life
Because as we've previously discussed ain't nobody got tolerance for a dude with a man cold.

Culturelle or Other Probiotic:  Not to totally mimic Erin Andrews and her Trubiotics commercials... But seriously, 90% of your health is found in your GUT.  So, you know, feed that gut some good bacteria.  Please.  You don't even have to masticate for this one.  Pop and swallow.  It's the new bend and snap.  These products are pricey... but as I remind the hubs, they cost far less than a week of work missed and a trip to the doc and the pharmacy.  So there.

Airborne: Go ahead and pretend their orange TicTacs... little bursts of happiness.... and eat one whenever you get the munchies.  I chew on a couple of airborne a day this time of year.  I don't know, maybe I should include a disclaimer like, "Consult with your physician before following the advice on this bliggety-blog" but you're wiser than I am so such a disclaimer would be lame.
These next two bits of defense are universal for all the people you lay claim on:
Water and Gatorade: Ask anyone who is related to me and they will tell you I'm a hydration freak of nature.  My kids know that when I say, "Hydration Station" they come running for a beverage.  I'm a little proud of that and anyone will tell you to keep these machines we call our bodies well oiled.

Sleep: No brainer.  I know.  But get some of it.  Like, a substantial amount of it.  Which means you may have to set rules on how many episodes of Homeland you allow yourself to watch every night.  Which is my new found addiction and deserves it's very own blog post in the near future.

And with that may you now repel every nasty germ in orbit in this universe.  AND share with me your best defense tactics.  One can never have too many.  Amen.
XO.
Amber

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Christmas Boutiques...

No lie guys..but this last weekend, I went to my first and realistically only boutique for the Christmas holiday season.

But I feel like it's a right of passage or something..the whole boutique thing...it's like a segue into the Holiday season. And while I'm really not a crafty type person, I still get suckered into going..every year. I mean I'm not complaining too much. They do have a chocolate booth and we all know that's right up my alley. Plus I like the holiday spice smell in the air and all the Christmas decor...it starts getting my head into gear for all the shopping and prep I need to do to get ready for the big day.





But other than the chocolates (which..gasp...I even managed to avoid..I know..I know..who am I?).. there just wasn't too much to see. It seems to be all the same old stuff. Baby car seat covers, printed leggings (which I can't decide if they are still in style or if they were just a one hit wonder), the ever famous Sentsy bars, baby tutu's, bows and leggings and the wooden letters that spell "HoHoHo" covered in printed scrapbook paper (excuse me while I throw up a little bit..because wooden letters that spell stuff and me are so on different sides of the street...it's another blog post entirely) But people like my mother-in-law who are in love with them..are keeping them in business..so no worries.




I guess I'm just not your typical boutique buyer of a gal. Because other than a pair of $6 buck earrings..because like you can pass that up! And a Christmas-y scented Sentsy bar..I went home with nada..and I wasn't even mad about it. 





And it seems to be the same thing over and over. I go, I shop, eat a bowl of soup, and come home with very little to show for my outing. Except a good time with the girls, with no kids, no spouses, and no time constraints...with the slight hopes that maybe this year will be different and I'll find the mother load of crafty greatness. But until then, I'll settle for a night away from all the craziness that is constant at my house..every..single...day. And for the kick-in-the-pants realization that the holiday season is upon us and that I better get a start with the Christmas shopping.



So happy holiday boutique-ing and if you run across a great one, let me know. This little lady isn't ready to call it boutique quits just yet.

XO
Ashley





Thursday, November 6, 2014

Default...

It's Thursday morning and on my calendar I have a star with a smiley emoticon next to it.
Why?
Because for two hours I am dropping off my beloved (yet time-change induced demonized) kids at my darling Mother-In-Law's house.  Bless her soul.  For real.

I might do something productive with my two hour block of time… I might not.  Truth be told, all I really want to do is head to Einstein's bagels and get a blueberry bagel with a schmear of strawberry cream cheese (don't judge, we all love carbs no matter how we try to avoid them) and stare out the window all comatose.
Why?
Well, this will be day four of me being alone with the kiddos while the hubs travels.  And that's nothin'.  I know.  It's really just a drop in the bucket.  We're used to keeping up the home front in a respectable way while our Daddy-o conquers the world as the main earner of the household.  And we're grateful.  Really really grateful.  But his absence this week can be piled on top of an October full of business trips and hunting trips which left us with our Papa Bear for a total for FOUR days.  And two of those were spent hunting with my kids and the mister… which was equal parts adorable and torturous.

PLUS, this whole "fall-back" phenomenon has created three little terrorists on the home front, and they have all but crushed my will to live.  Just yesterday, for example, they held a confetti party in the garage with dog food and followed that up with another confetti party downstairs in the office with glitter.
HELP.ME.
Single parents of the world.
HOW.IN.THE.HELL?

Which leads me to the best written blog of all time ever about being "the default parent"…  Read on, because I've copied and pasted it below to save you an extra click…
{We're givers like that}
The article is entitled, "The Default Parent" and it's written by a genius of a gal named M. Blazoned.
The link to the original article on her blog is here:
http://mblazoned.com/1/post/2014/09/the-default-parent.html
Just in case you adore extra clickage...

Are you the default parent? If you have to think about it, you're not. You'd know. Trust me. The default parent is the one responsible for the emotional, physical and logistical needs of the children. Spoiler alert: It's typically the one with the uterus.
The first time I knew I was the default parent was when our first child was napping and Dan and I were painting the guest room. When she cried, he didn't, even for a second, pause what he was doing and consider getting her. At this point, we both worked in the corporate world and we were engaged in the same home project. It was a level playing field, well, if you didn't count the fact I carried and fed her for nine months in my body, which would make me slightly ahead in the not-being-the-one-to-default-to-her arena. I thought, well this is bullshit.
What is the Default Parent?
Fourteen years later, I'm still the default parent. Now I work part-time from home with my own consulting business, so it makes a little more sense, but it's still kinda bullshit. Mum, mum, mum, mommy, mom, mom, mama, mommy, mom. All. Day. Long. I handle the needs of all three of our kids: activity sign-ups, transportation logistics, doctor & dentist appointments, friend and boy issues, hurt feelings, school fundraisers, gift buying, haircuts, clothes shopping, and thank you note writing, which, incidentally, is the work of the devil. I also manage the organization of drawers between seasons to see what fits. This is a crap job that only the default parent even knows exists.
Default parents know the names of their kids' teachers, all of them. They fill out endless forms, including the 20-page legal document necessary to play a sport at school, requiring a blood oath not to sue when your kids gets concussions, because they are going to get concussions. They listen to long, boring, intricate stories about gym games that make no sense. They spell words, constantly. They know how much wrapping paper there is in the house. The default parent doesn't have her own calendar, but one with everyone's events on it that makes her head hurt when she looks at it. They know a notary. They buy poster board in 10-packs. They've worked tirelessly to form a bond with the school receptionists. They know their kids' sizes, including shoes, dammit.
Shout Out to the Back-Up Parent
And by the way, this blog is in no way a competition between husband and wife for who has it worse. My husband is the default earner, the default lawn mower and the default spider killer, which all come with equal stress and dissatisfaction that he is welcome to blog about. He's also incredibly helpful and an awesome husband and parent. But, in my defense, the lawn and spiders don't say "mommy" a hundred times a day, and his boss doesn't come on vacation with him. Just sayin'. And he'd be the first to admit that I got the short end of the stick. His face hurts when I rattle off only the few things I manage. So, he helps a lot. But, in terms of logistics and administrative duties, he's the back-up parent.
Happenstance
There is a bit of difference between the default parent and the back-up parent. Lily has jazz on Monday nights. I know she will get there and get home, despite Gracie having tennis at the exact same time. The logistics are on me. No problem. I got this. Sometimes, I get a call from Dan eager to help. These calls typically start out with, "What time does Lily get out of jazz?" I already want to punch him in the face. It's the same time EVERY week! And while he's chatting with me lackadaisically about how he can "help," I'm simultaneously showing a crying George how to borrow in math, a concept a second grader can't understand at all, making dinner (OK, fine, boiling pasta), and trying to return one last work email. So, yes, on occasion, it works out that Dan's work schedule, and running schedule, make it so he is literally driving right past Lily's dance studio at the exact moment in time she needs to be picked up. Helpful? Yes. Default parent? No. Default parents don't operate on happenstance.
Showering
Being the default parent, at least in my case, is not about the husband being an asshole -- it's that kids don't contemplate proximity or sensibility in looking for help. They look for the default parent. Me. I've been in the shower and put my daughter's necklace on. She walked right through my room, past her dad and went to me. True story. Even my husband was like, "Hello. I'm right here." I've taken exactly five showers in my house without being bothered by a child and his or her immediate need. I've blown up balloons in the shower, unknotted shoes, put on band-aids, signed report cards, and braided hair. I know... lock the door. I'm a dumbass. But they'd tunnel in. I'm sure of it.
Information Overload
Forget the information superhighway, default parents are the real deal in data storage and retrieval. Unknowingly, we walk around our houses taking mental pictures of where everything is. We see a headband on the bathroom floor and our subconscious knows that information will come in handy to avoid a complete tweenage meltdown. I was once in California for work and got a call asking me where George's sneakers were. And here's the worst part... I knew. The stuff that the default parent is storing in their brain is in direct correlation to the amount of wine they are drinking. Too much.
Quarantine Tent
What's troubling is there seems to be no meaningful escape for the default parent. They don't get a break unless they physically remove themselves completely from their families... and throw their phones in a lake. Even when they do get a weekend away, they leave a detailed spreadsheet of daily activities organized by event time with notes. They arrange carpools and playdates, and leave a wrapped present for the birthday party. The non-default parent? They just leave. Incredibly, they just kiss us goodbye, and leave. Motherf***er. OK, deep breath. Serenity now. The only dream left for the default parent is to contract a highly contagious, non-life threatening virus. But even then, we know the children will find us in our quarantine tent to ask us to open a jar.
Survival of the Species
Look, parenting is tough all around, and both parents are contributing in meaningful ways. I get it. Good to keep in mind that I'm not an expert on parenting. I'm sitting in my kitchen, wearing fuzzy socks, writing about the mythical idea in my head called "the default parent," because it took me a long time to figure out why I was so damned worn out. I honestly think the default parent is a good idea and probably necessary for the survival of the species. Otherwise, kids would be left places, doing blow, and the whole operation would fall apart. But it doesn't change the fact that the scope and volume of managing this many lives and details comes with a surprisingly huge emotional and mental exhaustion that is unique to the default parent. It deserves to be understood... and named! Otherwise, we are going to be the ones who start doing blow.

Are you still with me?  Gold Stars all around.
Plus now you have the very reason you will see me staring out the window in a daze if you drive by the local Einstein's.  Listen... if you want to look on the bright side... the kids will be alive and thriving with Grandma and I won't be doing blow.
High Fives to All Y'all tying shoes from within the shower.  :)
XO
Amber