Being Present Doesn’t Mean You’re There

My children have been asking me to spend more time with them more recently. I thought this was an odd request due to the fact that we are always around each other. Choosing to be a stay at home mom was not an easy choice to make. It meant we would be down one income but on the flip side, it would create more opportunities to guide and educate our kids. Our kids will not be so little forever and will eventually grow up and move on with their lives. Work can wait.

Choosing to be a stay at home mom was not an easy choice to make. It meant we would be down one income but on the flip side, it would create more opportunities to guide and educate our kids. Children are only young once and will eventually grow up and move on with their lives. Work can wait.

I told my husband that the kids mentioned they wanted more time with me. He suggested that perhaps I was not as present as I thought I was. Turns out he was right.

The kids and I held a meeting the next day in order to determine what the real problem was. Their number one complaint, drum roll please, was me spending too much time on my phone. The second was not really listening when we are having a conversation.

OK, what parent is not guilty of one of these or both? Back to being a stay at home mom. If you’re honest with yourself, you can admit that it can get pretty boring and repetitive. My phone is an outlet or

Back to being a stay at home mom. If you’re honest with yourself, you can admit that it can get pretty boring and repetitive. My phone is an outlet or a type of escape from the mundane things around the house. However, I never have it out during school hours. The time we spend learning is very important and the kids and I both respect that boundary.

It is the rest of the day where we all seem to go our separate ways, right through dinner and until bedtime.  I do in fact get my “me” time by carving it out. The early morning hours is my time to focus on myself. This includes workout, meditation and Bible reading. I am by no means a morning person but I found this was the best time to focus on me.

So after our meeting, we decided to put a few things into practice:

  • Absolutely no electronics at meal times.
  • If someone is speaking, put down the phone and be engaged and give a thoughtful answer.
  • Understand that at times we may not be heard and that is OK.

Kids need to know the world does not revolve around them. So, naturally, there will be boundaries in place that are aimed to help them understand that nagging is not tolerated. If I said no once then don’t ask me another million times in an attempt to try and wear me down.

Also, they understand that not every moment of the day can and will be spent with them. They need to use their imagination to play and create moments for themselves.

I am confident that moving forward that I will be able to be more present and not just merely there.

Have you had to overcome a similar challenge? Sound off in the comments!

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Autumn Fun List

Fall Fun list


Two Summers ago the kids and I made a Summer Life List and we had a blast with it.

The list served a few purposes:

  1. It forced us to get out of the house and into the sunshine.
  2. It helped us grow closer as a family.
  3. The activities ensured that the kids would be busy.
  4. Lasting memories would be made.

Now that I am thinking about it I am not sure why we didn’t do the same thing this year. It wasn’t until the Summer was over that Audy brought it to my attention that we didn’t have a Summer Fun List.

Fast forward about a month and here we are in Autumn. Er, as Autumn as Southeast Texas can get.

We sat down and thought about the fun things we could do in the Fall and came up with some fun ideas.

Starting this weekend and continuing till the end of October we will try to get everything done on the list.


Fall Fun List: 

  1. Go Stargazing
  2. Bake Pumpkin Bread
  3. Make Smores
  4. Make Candy Apples
  5. Make an Autumn Wreath for the Door
  6. Drink Apple Cider
  7. Go on a Nature Walk
  8. Fall Photo
  9. Have a picnic
  10. Visit a Corn Maze
  11. Indoor Camping
  12. Fall scented candles
  13. Make a Pine cone Bird Feeder
  14. Fall Scavenger Hunt
  15. Roast Pumpkin Seeds
  16. Try a New Hot Cocoa recipe
  17.  Leaf Rubbing Art
  18. Decorate the House for Fall
  19. Make Popcorn balls
  20. Binge watch Movies all afternoon

 

How do you prepare for Fall? Leave a comment below!

Cooking Through An Entire Cookbook

try something new Monday

I have never cooked through an entire cookbook before.

As far as cooking goes, I like to do it but it’s not my favorite thing to do. However, I do admit there is a certain pleasure you gain from seeing other people take delight in a dish you prepared.

But the above statement does not apply to the mom life. If it’s not a chicken nugget or french fry most kids turn their nose up at anything else.

Therein lies the challenge in making healthy and well-balanced meals that appeal to your husband as well as your kids. Most might say to just make the food and the kids should be grateful. Yeah, perhaps that might be reasonable on some level. In my experience I take a lot of time to budget, meal plan and carefully select grocery items. So, when the kids take two hours at the table to eat dinner I get pretty agitated.

A few years ago we came up with try something new Monday. No matter what dish it was the entire family had to eat it and we all decided if we liked it or not. It went well for the most part. As I started working it was much harder to plan for those nights so we stopped.

Since, my life list challenge includes cooking through an entire cookbook I thought it would be fun to bring back try something new Monday using the book.

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As you can see from the photo this cookbook is well-worn. Mainly, because its been through a lot. It is my favorite book and I have tried many recipes from it. However, there are tons more that I never prepared.

So, beginning next week I will make one meal from the book on Mondays. Then once a month I will share some of the photos.

I am hoping this will expand my family’s preferences.

Have you ever cooked through an entire cookbook? Did you end up liking something you didn’t think you would?

Houston, We Have a Problem

Panic began to set in on August 24th. News outlets began to bombard the airwaves with reports that Tropical Storm Harvey was set to become a monster hurricane.

You can read about the storm on just about any news outlet but here is a link to The New York Times.

As a born and bred Gulf Coast resident I am all too familiar with hurricanes and their power. However, with that familiarity comes a bit of skepticism that a major hurricane will blow our way.

After all, we hear non-stop year after year during hurricane season that one could possibly come our way, but then it never does.

Allison, Rita and Ike made a mark on Texans. One that is still felt to this day. Those affected picked up the pieces and moved forward with their lives. Living on the coast, you take the good with the bad.

Then comes Hurricane Harvey. Reminding every one of the worst that could happen. By the middle of the week when Harvey was to arrive, there was still skepticism in the air causing people to delay on getting supplies. The very same supplies we knew we needed to stock up on at the very beginning of Hurricane season.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

The day when people began pouring into the stores to buy non perishable food. I am one who waited till the last-minute and was in a long line. I definitely learned my lesson.

While waiting I overheard this conversation:

Man number one: “I need my Blue Bell.”

Man number two laughs: “What are you gonna do with it when the power goes out?”

Man number one: “I’m gonna eat up right then and there but at least I have it!”

Comical moment but the reality was that none of us knew what was going to happen. We never dreamed melted ice cream would be the least of our worries. We never imagined it would get as bad as it did.

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Empty bread shelves.

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This was the middle of the line. I jumped in towards the back near the dairy cases. 


Friday August 25, 2017

Hurricane Harvey made landfall north of Corpus Christi Friday night. It came ashore as a massive Category Four hurricane. This is not entirely surprising. The kids and I went to the beach the weekend before and the water was further from the shore and very warm.

Warm Gulf water is the main ingredient in fueling a hurricane. What was so unusual about this hurricane was that it would be caught between to weather systems. Now, I’m no meteorologist but that sounded like a very bad thing.

A rainmaker such as Harvey was going to be stalled because it couldn’t move. That meant massive amounts of rain would be dumped on a city that floods very easily.

Houstonians experienced Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 and we got soaked. The storm caused 9 Billion dollars worth of damage and killed 55 people. No one wanted that to ever happen again. Yet, here we were at the mercy of Harvey.

Into the night…

There is something that happens to your body when you’re on guard constantly. You get anxious, almost borderline paranoid. Our phones were blowing up with tornado alarms almost twice an hour. We couldn’t sleep, we couldn’t eat. The only we could do was keep an eye on this storm and hope things wouldn’t get any worse.

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The kids and I placed a jar outside to see how much water we could collect. In five hours this is what we collected. I realize the ruler is upside down. As soon as I snapped the first photo the power went out. Then just as fast it came back on so I quickly snapped it. 

 

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As you can see from this little guy’s face he was so over the storm.

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My cat is 17 years old. The only thing that bothered her through the storm was whether I fed her on time or not.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

By this time we’re super exhausted but thankful the water had not risen near our front door. We did not dare venture out because it was still storming. We collected another container of water and this time the pitcher filled up in just three hours.

Massive amounts of rain was falling and the sky was gray to black all day. The news was reporting homes that were being flooded and multiple rescues and evacuations were taking place. I packed a very small bag with a change of clothes for the kids in case we needed to dash out of the door. It was a scary feeling.

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This pitcher was filled to the top within three hours. I had to pour water off so it wouldn’t spill.


Sunday August 27, 2017 through August 29, 2017

Things started to improve on our side. Many neighborhoods around us, particularly close to the Brazos river were evacuated and many were placed in shelters or homes of friends. We seemed to be in a pocket where we had street flooding but were spared water in our homes. Several of our friends had water three feet or more in their homes.

It was such a sad sight but their positive attitudes helped me to feel motivated to assist them and anyone else who needed help.

I have video posted on my Instagram account of the flooding near my home.

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Aftermath in Stafford Texas. The water had subsided. You can still see Harvey in the sky. 

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We didn’t see the Sun for days and on the 29th a break in the clouds revealed it. It was the most beautiful thing we had seen. 

 


Within the past few days the world has had their eyes on Texas and boy we did not disappoint.

In a city as big as Houston there often isn’t time or desire, in some cases, to stop and talk with your neighbor. Everyone has their nose in a phone or are running late somewhere. Often you can go to a store or outing and never speak once to a stranger.

On the flip side southern hospitality exists and Texans are so good at it. Think of it this way, in some families they may go weeks without talking but as soon as something major happens or someone is sick, the family will band together and take care of each other.

That’s sort of what Houston is like.

First responders, prominent people in business and everyday people came out and showed the greatest love they could in helping each other. It really was a beautiful thing. We had to participate in some way especially since we went unaffected materially.

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The kids wanted to give away the toys they don’t play with. They reasoned that they wouldn’t someone elses trash so they sent used toys that were in good condition. Our donations went to Rockport Texas which was hit the hardest by Harvey.

Houston is still working through the mess and people are still being evacuated because of rising water. Many parts of the city are still under water.

To see photos of the aftermath The Houston Chronicle has a slide show you can view. The cover photo was also taken from The Houston Chronicle website.

Some stats on Hurricane Harvey from various news outlets:

  • 50 inches of rain fell. That is how much rain Houston receives in one year
  • Estimated damage is 180 Billion dollars
  • 19 trillion gallons of water dropped over southeast texas
  • More than 30,000 people displaced
  • The death toll is at 30 people

If you can donate to a trusted charity or send supplies to Texas, those affected would be greatly appreciative.

Some people have opinions about everything. Including what we all should have or should not have done with this storm. As devastating as this storm was Texans will rebuild. We will build more thoughtfully and prepare better in the future.

I’ve been told that perhaps we should move. How could I? There is something about looking out on the Gulf as you stand at the shore. You respect its power but also soak in its peace.

As I mentioned earlier, life on the Gulf means you take the good with the bad and you share it all with your fellow Texans.

 

 

Eclipse 2017

The kids and I have been eagerly awaiting the eclipse that was to happen here in North America. Today was the day and we were not prepared!

(The featured photo is from NASA. The link is below)

Since we live in Texas, visibility was only at sixty percent so we knew it would not be a huge difference. We did however, notice the sky had changed and it looked a bit like early evening.

Unfortunately, we did not have viewing glasses and I never got around to making the eclipse viewer with the kids. ( Yeah I know :/)

We did go outside and try to look up at the sun but like I said without the glasses to cancel out the surrounding light it was disappointing. It was still nice to go out and experience the light change in the middle of the day. Another thing I noticed it was also not as blazing hot outside for the middle of the day.

Here are our pictures:

 

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This photo was taken at 1:16 p.m. The sun was still pretty bright. 

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A view without a filter. The lighting outside was a bit darker as you can probably tell from the color of the tree.  This photo was taken at 1:25 p.m.

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A friend of mine was able to capture this photo from Houston.  Photo Credit: Olya Valyan

Here is the link to the site for NASA. You can see more photos of the eclipse and get more information.

The next eclipse will be in April 8, 2024 and here in Texas we will have greater visibility.

Were you able to see the eclipse? Share your experience below.

OMG! LOL! A Surprise Emoji Party!

Well, I did it! I threw a surprise party for the kids.  This was on my life list!

It was a real challenge to keep my mouth closed.

One night while the kids were upstairs they overheard me talking to a friend about the party and they immediately came downstairs to ask me about it. I was so upset that I let it slip so I told my husband about how I failed to keep quiet.

He came up with a solution that we would tell the kids that something came up and we needed to push the party back. It was a genius idea!

In order to make time to decorate I asked my mom to keep the kids overnight so I could set up without them noticing.

Before I got started my husband bought me a great dinner from one of my favorite seafood restaurants! We got to enjoy a meal with peace and quiet!

After that much needed meal I had the energy needed to get decorating!


Decorating

The first project I worked on was the Instagram frame for the photos!

This was a big hit!

I originally wanted to buy this pre-made but I wasn’t able to so I thought to make my own.

Materials Used:

  • Foam Poster Board
  • Exacto knife
  • Foam Sheets in White, Red, Gray and Blue
  • Foam letters
  • Printer to print out photos and text
  • Instagram reference photo

Instagram Frame


I used tablecloths from the Dollar store to make the backdrop. The emojis are napkins because I wanted to save time. If you scroll down a little bit you can see the plates I turned into emojis for the food table backdrop. I intended on making a bunch of those but I was short on time.

We had meatballs, hot dogs, ham and cheese sliders, veggies trays, mashed potato bombs, cupcakes and chips and salsa. Perfect finger foods for kids on the go!

Emoji 1

Candy Table with the Poop Emoji Pool Float

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Candy table

Emoji 2

The table before I added the food.

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I made this sign for the food table

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My son likes to send this emoji to me because Koalas are his favorite. I thought it would be fun to make this for him.

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We love to play the game Portal so I thought this would be a funny joke for my kids. They loved it!


 

Here are some pictures from the party.

 

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My parents with the grandkids. We are missing one who is five months old.

 

 

 

South Padre Island Texas

SPI Opening Pic

A couple of weekends ago we took a quick trip to South Padre Island Texas. In all the years I have lived in Texas this was the first time we made the trek down towards the border.

South Padre Island is a barrier island that is apart of the Brownsville-Harlingen Metro area. It is considered a resort town and has plenty of hotels and shops on the island.  It is also a HUGE Spring Break destination.

We were only there for the night since my husband surprised me as part of an anniversary gift. He knows I love the beach and have always wanted to visit SPI. Off we packed the kids to drive five hours from Houston to Brownsville. First stop was to drop Zoey off with my Brother-In-Law so she can have fun playing with her doggie cousins.

Zoey

Zoey on her way to play with doggie cousins. Don’t mind the crusties in her eye she had just woken up.

We stayed in Brownsville because it was more affordable with three kids and it had more restaurants that were geared toward families. Brownsville is a decent sized city with a few major stores and chain restaurants. The hotel we stayed in was very comfortable and right off of the freeway.

The only issue I had with staying 35 minutes from the beach was that the drive back to the hotel was a little uncomfortable due to being sandy. Normally I bring a cheap jug of bottled water to the beach with us in order to rinse the kids off but I didn’t think about that day!

Once on the island you will see lots of beachwear shops, surf boards and restaurants. We didn’t see any spots to park on the beach like you can in Surfside Beach or Galveston. Which, I guess is a good thing if the beach needs to stay clean and protected for the wildlife. We parked on Gulf street and walked across to the beach. You will need to pay attention to the no parking signs but they are very obvious.

As soon as the soft powdery sand hits your feet you sink down a bit. It was a little hard to walk in and keep my balance but it was also refreshing. The blue-green water instantly relaxes you as you find a spot to settle. There are beach chairs for rent if you didn’t bring your own or didn’t want to lug one around.

Needless to say the water is beautiful and the sand is very fine. It was a welcomed change from Surfside and Galveston beaches that we frequent. Galveston beaches are murky and pretty dirty but they are reasons for that. Several big rivers empty into the gulf which bring dirt and trash. Houston is a major city and lots of runoff enters the Gulf as well. The stretch of water near Galveston is so shallow that the water really just churns up a lot of sediment and waste. It’s just a recipie for ugly water.

But I love Galveston for its history and charm and still visit the beaches there. You can even see dolphins, whales and jellyfish.

However, SPI has a brilliance of its own.

SPI Water

Rolling waves of South Padre Island

Sand

Crystal clear edge

Sea Turtles are near and dear to my heart. To me they signify the delicateness and wisdom of the ocean. The endangered Kemps-Ridley Turtle nests mainly in SPI as well as Green Sea turtles. The Padre Island NS Division of Sea Turtle Science & Recovery posted on their Facebook page that 2017 is a record-breaking year for Kemps-Ridley sea turtle nests. There have been 348 nests in Texas with 216 found on the island itself! From April to August you can see hatchlings race for the water or attend a scheduled release. 

Sea turtle

Photo credit: Padre Island NS Division of Sea Turtle Science & Recovery

So, if you see a Sea Turtle report it to 361-949-8173. We didn’t see any sea turtles but it was expected since the beach was full of people.

Next time we go back I hope to spend more time snapping pictures of the wildlife and the many variety of birds. Texas is a great spot to see migratory birds and it seems many of them stop in SPI for a little while.

For now these are the photos I did snap.

Bir SPI

Bri waiting to cross over to the beach.

Dunes

Dunes

Mav spi

Mav after a dip in the ocean.

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Audy after wading in the ocean. My husband doesn’t like to take pictures so I covered him with a Sea Turtle 🙂

Sand toys

Sand Toys! SPI has the perfect sand to build with.

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Majestic as ever!

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Till next time!

Have you been to South Padre Island? What was your experience?