Speaker Stardom

Speaker Stardom | An Elite Booking Agency & Academy

For you the meeting planner, Speaker Stardom will spend hours researching our speakers to ensure they have outstanding stage craft, storytelling skills and something fresh to say in their field of expertise giving you peace of mind that earns your confidence and trust.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Summer clearance finds

I have been on the lookout for clearance finds that I can put towards birthday gifts and Christmas gifts. We are on a tight budget, so saving any way we can is my goal. 

I found some great things in the last week that I think are worth sharing. You might not find the same things, but you can always check. You might find something better! 


Our Hobby Lobby had this for just over $7! My kids all got excited when they saw it. Thankfully, they seem to have forgotten it since I hid it as soon as we got home. It will be a great gift to my oldest son who is the biggest Star Wars fan of my kids so far.


I picked up two of these packs of doll accessories from Walmart for $2 each! My youngest sisters are both big into dolls and since I am already sending one of them some other accessories that I found previously on clearance, these will be birthday gifts next year. The other pack will be for my girls who are getting their first 18 inch dolls from their Nana this Christmas. 

I clued my Mom into this find. This was at our Walmart for $39 on clearance. Online, it was even cheaper for just under $23. Both on Walmart.com and on Amazon. These are awesome drones! I had stopped in a Target recently when my Mother-in-law needed to pick up something and grabbed a 2 drone set for my husbands Christmas gift for $30 (they had tons of Star Wars toys at 70% off). So when my son get this one from his Nana, we will have a great collection to "battle" with!

These were other things I found. 
The mask is from the Star Wars Rebels cartoon - Sabine Wren. It was $2.50 and will be going to my oldest son. The balloons are getting put aside for fun in the sun. Since we don't normally have much of a winter, we can play outside with water a lot longer than some other states. The smaller packs were .50 each. The big bottle (going to Nona's) was $2.

Things are starting to get transitioned as preparations for the holidays are coming in faster. Some stores have Halloween, Fall, Thanksgiving AND Christmas decorations fully stocked already. Boggles my mind. I'm barely keeping up with buying everyones gifts and making the ones I'm able to...  

I also saw these and feel so much pride that classics are mixing with the new characters! Not as cool for me as the original Princess Leia doll or the Queen Amidala dolls that I've been collecting, but its bringing the generations together when they introduce toys like this.

And there were lice...

We have had a wonderful summer. Hard to believe it's coming to an end already. Monday is when my kids head back to school. With that being the case, I decided to get in as much fun as we can before then. Today, we went shopping. We did some crafts. And then, we went to the mall. While at the mall, my husband and I noticed our older daughter scratching the mess out of her head. She was really going at it. And when I asked her about it, she replied that part of her head just itched a lot. 

I don't know about you, but I grew up with very long and thick hair. When I was in public school, my hair was touched often by a lot of hands... And I came home with lice often. So often, that my dad even threatened to shave me bald. All of my stuffed toys, even one that I treasured, were tossed out. Bedding was stripped and washed. And I went through the long night of Rid in my hair while my mother combed through it with that sharp, fine-toothed comb. Far too often. My mother said it was about every two weeks. And I hated it! 

So you can imagine the dread I felt when I thought, please don't let it be lice! I told myself that maybe she was just sweaty. Maybe she hasn't been washing her hair too well. Can't shake a Mother's wisdom though. We got home and the purging began right after dinner. 
I started by looking through her hair. If you don't know, the sides of the head close to the ears, slightly above and the base of the head at the neck are the two spots usually affected by lice the most. I checked the base first. And boy was I shocked. She had eggs, or nits, EVERYWHERE! I grabbed the bottle of Rid I had from the last time we had to deal with them and got to work. We boiled water to dip the comb in after each stroke through her hair. They don't like heat. Like serious heat. So washing bedding and drying it in heat kills them on bedding, clothes and stuffed toys. Dipped the brush and combs into boiling water also kills them. Otherwise, they will maintain a tight grip. I call it the death grip. The eggs are attached to strands of hair in the same way. It takes a very fine comb to get them off. That's why you have to use the Rid version that comes with the special shampoo. 

The shampoo has an awful smell and goes on dry hair. You douse every inch of it and rub it onto the scalp. Then you take the comb and go over each hair pulling everything out. 
I think it took me at least 2 hours. Plus, I had to cut her beautiful hair. She had long locks that went down to the bottom of her back. Now her hair is right at her shoulders. She looks adorable, but still. As a Mother, I want to spare her from this. I mean, honestly! How did she get them when she hasn't been at school? We haven't been out much. And she is the only one that had them. I checked the boys and the baby. Nothing. I ran the comb through my own hair and only found a ton of dandruff. My scalp is dryer than the Sahara right now... So where is this coming from?? I told her that she must wash her hair. We went over the proper way to wash it (again). I explained the importance of it. And she cried. No one likes having this happen. Her brothers shied away from her when she got close. I helped her wash out the Rid and then I checked her head again. Can you believe that there was more? I had to comb through her locks once again. Pulled out more eggs and more lice. Thus, I started my tasks all over again. 

While dealing with her, I also had a load of her bedding running on the sanitizing option in the wash. I have about 2-3 other loads to follow tomorrow. My boys were cleaning up their room, picking up toys in the living room, and taking turns helping with the baby who was so tired - that she just wanted to scream at us. My husband was trying to get some sleep before work. I have a dishwasher to empty in the morning, a load in the sink needing to be done, and will have to check her hair again. I'll wash it one more time to be sure. It feels like I'm standing before a mountain of chores. All of them needing to be done. And none of them appealing to me right now. The good news is, this is happening before school starts. I would not want to be in this mess during school days... 

A word to the wise, if you see them scratching - get checking! 

Label Daddy Review and Discount

Being a part of the US Family Guide gives me great opportunities. Like being able to write reviews for the amazing Label Daddy! Back to School is nearing the end. Most schools have already started up. Our kids go back on Monday. Did your summer fly by as quickly as ours did, or what!? With that, we had to get the supplies ready. And as suggested by teachers and Moms alike, supplies should be labeled with your child's name. You want everyone to know what belongs to your kid all through the year. After all, supplies aren't cheap. And there is a lot of it needed. 
So I grabbed the Medium All Purpose label pack. It's $20, comes with the perfect sized labels for glue bottles, crayon boxes, notebooks, folders, etc. I decided to get these for my oldest. So I put in his name, picked Emoji as his design. I love that Label Daddy has some new designs (though I'm hoping they bring back some of the others they used to have). After picking a design, you also pick the style. They had a variety of the Emoji ones, but I liked the color scheme on this one. Then I also chose to use the $5 add on and get them laminated. 
Now he has everything labeled. And he did it himself! It was great. I had to peel and re-stick a couple of them that he had put on the wrong items. They came off and went on to the folders with ease. They also stuck inside his backpack. These are washable too. So if I have to wipe down anything, they won't be ruined. And since there are 50 of them to the pack, I have some extra for later use if I have to get other supplies or for next year! 
They ship out really quickly too. I typically get them within a week or less of ordering. Shipped in a sturdy envelope that will keep them from being ruined by the Postal Service. 

Label Daddy also has some new things going on. They have a fundraising option you can use. You can contact them at FUNDRAISING@LABELDADDY.COM for more information. This year, they rolled out some First Day of School shirts and signs for fantastic photos to commemorate your child's first day of school. 
I'm truly a fan of Label Daddy. I use them for my kids every year, but I also use them for myself. I label my own things that I take out and about to let others know who it belongs to. I highly recommend them! So check them out and be sure to use this link and this code to get 25% off! USFAMILY25

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Journey to Pain Relief: The Simple Solutions

Take your vitamins and drink your milk! We don't eat and drink as healthy as those before us did. Particularly in America. We are overweight and underachieving. Weakened bones can't hold us to a higher performance. Eating things that boast calcium additives, doesn't mean that you are going to retain it better. As a matter of fact, some vitamins and minerals will cancel each other out. Do a little research. Know what your body might be missing and see what you can take that will boost its own supply, while avoiding the things that will block it from absorption. Take, for instance, tea. If you are suffering from an iron deficiency, or your blood iron is low - stop drinking tea while eating more peanut butter, red meats and greens. Tea absorbs the iron your body needs.
Keep the exercises simple if you are hurting. Nothing wrong with working out. Actually, it will increase bone as well as muscle strength. This in turn might lead to weight loss. And all of this can lead to less pain throughout your body. From the research I had done, working out lessens and lengthens the bodies ability to stave off the effects of arthritis. I tried hard to work out daily to keep the spine strong. And for a while, I think it worked. Until arthritis was no longer the only problem I had going on back there. You can be slightly sore, but don't push yourself until you are aching and feel like you're dying.
 
Get support in the form of better pillows. Normal pillows may seem fine. You might think that your pain and lack of sleep are stress-related and only curable by medicine and doctors, but at least try a different pillow. I switched to a gel-filled memory foam pillow. While my neck isn't completely satisfied, I have at least noticed a difference. And when I get migraines that drive me back to bed, that pillow is always cool under my head. It helps so much!
Dressing comfortably means the tight-fitting and heels need to go. I worked in a professional setting where heels were a daily additive and looking like a million dollars showed confidence. But those shoes added to the pain, as did tight pants. Try it. One day, wear heels and tight pants. Then the next day, flats and loose clothing. Tell me if you notice the difference or am I going crazy. I'm not saying put on the proverbial "tent" dress from the 70's and wear thong shoes. But something that is so tight it looks painted on, is doing more damage to your body than that of something truly comfortable. Besides, ladies, if you show it all off, what is left for their imagination? Or am I so old fashioned that only I think that way any more?

Focus on other things to trick your mind. Part of my pain management training during my teen years while dealing with spinal fusions, was to focus my mind on other things. When you think about other things, your mind can't focus on pain so much. Yes, there are times when the pain is so great that you can't think about anything else. But let's say your pain is no more than a 4, try to keep busy with other things. It will distract you from the signals your brain is sending.
Warm showers or baths can help to loosen the muscles and relax the tension your body feels. When you are in pain, you tend to subconsciously tense up more. Try soaking in the tub. Playing music, adding bubbles, and even doing so by candlelight are all fun, but also helpful in relieving that added stress that your body is building up. Using lavender scents and Epsom salt helps to relax you as well. So take time to release.
Massage is something that I suggest, but also think only works if you got someone truly good at what they do. I've had a few friends help me with this. Not all hands are equal. Some people are truly gifted. No training required. I've usually been on the giving end though I have no training, but plenty of practice. I know what to feel for and know how to work out the kinks without causing pain. At least bad pain. Sometimes we have to hurt a little to feel the really good stuff. Sadly, not as many times, have I been on the receiving end. And even less often, have those been helpful massages. So if you find someone who can do it well, I suggest making time for it. And if you can't afford a pro, but know a good friend, maybe work out a barter system!
Physical therapy is suggested by doctors. Sometimes we have to learn to move in ways we never have before to really get the range of motion that eases the flow of energy and keeps us going. I've never been able to take this route and I'm not sure how well it will work for me, but I still think it deserves a place on this list. 

I've also heard that acupuncture works wonders. I've never had it, and not sure I want it. It is something to ask your doctor about though. 
Posture is a learned trait. We tend to slouch a lot. Such an easy thing it is to sit straight up. However, far more comfortable we find it is to slump our shoulders and be lazy. Such actions restrict the proper flow. They stress the spine. If you cannot find the ability to train yourself to stay upright, there are braces you can wear that will hold your shoulders back.
This last one is the hardest for me, but know your limitations. I struggle with the things I've had to let go of. Motorcycle riding, roller coasters, and running are my top three so far. Things I enjoy, but suffer so much afterwards. Letting them go means I hurt less. Sometimes that is what you have to do. For the better.  

I might not have given you the true answer to your pain relief, but I do hope this list at least gave you options that you might not have thought to try yet. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

More Valuable Than Rubies

Most people who have read through the book of Proverbs in the Bible are acquainted with this verse: Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (Proverbs 31:10)
It's the passage that details the Proverbs 31 woman. The Christian version of the perfect woman. The woman that cannot physically exist. Or maybe you are that woman and are so amazing, the rest of us feel like dirt in comparison. Anyhow... She gets up before everyone else, runs the perfect household, and goes to bed after everyone else. And so on and so forth... 

What does that have to do with me? Easy. I aspire to be her. Don't get me wrong. I will never be that woman to a T. I can barely manage the getting up before everyone else and going to bed after everyone else. But this morning, I will! No wait, I have! (Forgive me, I'm not sleeping well.) 

I woke up this morning at 4:46 AM. Not by choice, mind you. I woke up from an almost scary, crazy dream. One of many these days. I found myself stiff and in pain. After checking the time on my phone, I realized I had a few text messages. Go figure, the night I fall asleep shortly after 9 PM, everyone wants to talk. I start replying before my brain reminds me that everyone sleeps, but me. And yes, I texted someone who woke a second before my message came through. Though that person and I share a special connection and they are far more gracious than others would have been. My husband was also up as he was at work. He's used to my occasional late night to early morning texts. He gently chides me to get more sleep, while understanding that that is sometimes not possible for me. I'm happy to get 4 hours of sleep a day. Not ideal, but I manage. 

So then came the choice of what I should do. Obviously, I have a bathroom break and drink some water. But then what? I could toss and turn and try to find a comfortable position to sleep in. Who knows, maybe a couple more hours of sleep before the kids wake up! Pfffttt. As if! I'd be lucky to get 30 minutes in there somewhere. So why force myself to try to sleep? Instead, I decide to be productive. I get on the computer to answer emails and work on the blog. 

I've been slipping with this. I love blogging. I love working on reviews. This month, I have 4 I am already in the planning stages for. But I'm limited on my screen time. My laptop went kaput and I can't afford to replace it. So I am sharing my husbands computer. Which means there are stipulations to its use. First of all, I cannot use it if he shuts it down. Sure, I know how to boot a computer. I just don't know his two passwords. Yes, he has two now that we switched to Linux. (Sayonara Windows, knowing you has been such a pain!) And I don't know either of them. This doesn't stem from a trust issue. Don't even think such a thing. This comes from him not having a habit of telling me and I don't ask. He also has a password for his phone and my Xbox Live account (the latter being because I keep getting hacked or they keep screwing me up). 

The second reason that I might not be able to use the computer is that he's sleeping. The computer is in our room. And since he works nights, he sleeps during the day. When he's sleeping, I can't be clacking away at the keyboard. So I have to stay up late or wake up early. Or wait until the late afternoon and hope I can steal a little time upstairs without the kids needing something, or he's on the machine, or debating whether I need to do chores more than I need to blog... 

This is where I managed to work on the blog and even took a shower! When he comes home from work, I'll look less like a zombie and more like a human being for a change. 

These thoughts also come after reading a blog post by a woman that just might be the Proverbs 31 Woman. She is an Engineer, Wife, Mother of 2, Entrepreneur, and Blogger. She wrote about how she gets every task done and how to manager her time. She even cooks for an entire week every Sunday. That includes home made baby food and lunches! Talk about a punch in the gut... I only dream of being that awesome. 
As far as being the worlds greatest Mom or being the most amazing wife ever... yeah, I'm so far from it. I think I'm good at cleaning, but I'm also good at falling asleep while trying to feed the baby. Or while trying to fold laundry. 

It is so hard to see your own value when you are surrounded online by women who do so much more in life than you ever thought possible. Heck, my own Mother is still raising 8 of my siblings, was volunteering for the US Naval Sea Cadet Corps, keeps an organized home and does home-cooked meals daily. She's a deal finder on a regular basis. She's more stylish than I could hope to. I aspire to be the Wonder Woman she is, but have no reason to think I ever will be. 
I'll probably be dead on my feet by 2 this afternoon. But at least I gave myself that pick up of being a "virtuous woman", even if only for a couple hours. 

Time to get busy and feed the brood. What woman do you aspire to be? Why?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Swim Suit for the Mom Bod

I'm no longer eager to play dress up in the fitting rooms and test out styles. Okay. Correction. I was never fond of clothes shopping.
Swim suits are the most difficult. Followed closely by pants. I feel awkward.
Which translates to me thinking I look awkward too. It takes forever to find something that accentuates my curves satisfactorily. Everything is typically too loose/tight in the waist, but perfect length. Or too short. I usually have my kids in tow as well. They don't like waiting for mommy to try on clothes. Its considered boring. And now that I have quite the mom bod going on, these things are intensified. I'm not so well toned. Or tanned. Not like I used to be. My hips and thighs need toning, my belly is flabby with an extra 30 lbs that needs to go. But the most I seem able to do is sit ups in bed and squats while holding the baby and trying to bounce her to sleep. 

Let me just explain something before any of you decide to go heavyweight on me about size. I don't think of this as beautiful:
Or even this:

I'm sorry, but that is just ugly. Someone please donate cellulite to fix what they are missing. And I'm not just referring to a lack of cleavage. Ribs are showing. Angles are pointy. That is not beautiful. That is emaciation. However, I don't think of this as pretty either:
This and larger is a death wish, no matter who you are. Its one reason I couldn't stand Mama June.
They used her gross obesity and lack of good manners from her and her daughter to turn them into celebrities. That, to me, is a gross way to entertain. 

I believe that women are beautiful in their own way. Size doesn't matter, so long as you are healthy and happy for yourself. The above examples are sitting on the extreme ends of the spectrum. Everyone else has their place in between. I look at all the women I know and think each of them are beautiful. I don't judge them at all. 

So where am I going with this? I don't feel beautiful. I'm 5'10" (ish - the scoliosis and spinal deterioration might have shortened me a little), and weigh in at 170-ish pounds. I wear a Large now. I'm the girl who was forever tall and lanky. My friends joked about setting up a fat bank to donate to me so I could have curves. My best attribute was a toss up between my long legs and my eyes. Everything else was flat and sharp. Then I had kids. I started to soften up. My rock hard abs went, came and went again in between pregnancies. I worked out and started eating less. Not so much healthy, just less. Now I'm nearly 30, have 4 children, and am 30 pounds over my healthy weight. My OCD screams at me when I sit and the side that is most crumpled from curvature in the spine has rolls. I look down and there is a roundness in the belly that makes my filter-less children ask if I'm having another baby or just fat. My reply, "I'm just fat." I don't want to be a super model. I don't want to look like a celebrity. I just want to lose 30 pounds and flatten the stomach a bit. Thanks to the back pain, as well as my age catching up to me, I'm finding that is easier said than done! I put off getting new clothes because I believed that I could get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes by the time my daughter turns 1. She's 8 months and I haven't lost a single pound... *head slap here* 

What am I to do? Well, I'm setting new rules. I'm moving to plan B. I've told my husband how I feel. I'm getting him to realize that even though I love the fact he will always see me as beautiful, regardless of how I look, I need the support to lose the unhealthy weight. He has been very good at it! We make fresh smoothies almost every day. I've been buying healthy snacks. We gave up Pop Tarts and Doritos. I stopped buying cinnamon rolls, except for a once-in-a-blue-moon breakfast treat for the kids only. Laying off the pizza and cooking more foods that incorporate veggies. Cookies or ice cream are for special treats only. And are mostly given to the kids. Which reminds me... Side note: we tried a couple new ones. Hostess Twinkie version and Halo Top chocolate.
Can you believe that both were not to the adults liking, but the kids seemed to think they were okay? The Twinkie one tasted like birthday cake and the Chocolate one... tasted awful. Bland. Sugarless maybe? I barely withstood one spoon. Gave it all to the kids. They didn't seem to mind it. So much for the "better for you" ice cream. Its a lie! Guilt-free zone? Only because you are eating tasteless ice shavings.
Back to my journey of losing weight. I've been eating more salads. And to make them interesting, we added chicken. The one we really enjoyed was chicken cooked in balsamic dressing. It makes eating salads easier for my husband. He's not big on the greens. 
We drink lots of water. Doing these things has made me feel better about myself. Then I checked the scale. Nothing. My husband weighs himself. Guess who lost 10 pounds? Uh huh. Then came a real test. With summer, comes the possibility of pool time or river fun. I had to get a swim suit for my 4 year old daughter and who else? Yes, me. I no longer fit into the ones I had. One of them hadn't been used in so long that the straps dry rotted. Who knew they could do that?! So the mom who hates shopping for clothes, let alone a bathing suit, heads to Wally World. All 4 kids in tow while my husband sleeps off a night of working. You know how much I dreaded trying them on? And there weren't many left to choose from. Its so late in the season, they had the crappy ones no one wants anymore. 
I finally came across this two piece set.
I love the color. Its light weight. And the design was decent. I tried it on. But the fitting rooms don't have mirrors inside. What is wrong with that store?! No, you have to walk outside the dressing room to the corner where the sales floor starts to use a full-length mirror. This is where my children were stationed and waiting for me. The lady attending the fitting station gave me the look over as I came out. I was asking my kids what they thought. She says, "Lady, with 4 kids, you look amazing! I've seen women come in here with no kids, looking terrible and fat. You got it, so flaunt it, honey!" Walmart is not known for its amazing customer service. They are known for having Wal-Martians. People who look so awful, there is a website dedicated to pictures of them. People who shouldn't be allowed to leave their homes. Don't believe me? Look at this website and try not to wet yourself laughing or be careful. You might want to bleach your eyes at some of them.  So to have her so openly complimenting me, gave me courage that I do have some of my good looks left.

Another way I find myself being reminded that I'm still pretty high on the hotness scale, would be the fact that my husband still gets excited when he catches me undressing. If you are in a relationship and don't have that kind of romance, I feel sorry for you. Doesn't matter how old you are. Its great having that physical attraction. I even put on the lingerie that was given to me at the bridal shower. As my mother-in-law said, sometimes its good to just feel pretty in them.

Now don't get me wrong, I've accepted and even embraced my Mom Bod. I have better defined hips and a bigger booty. And I love it. Heck, as of right now, I can actually say I have boobs. I just can't stand a muffin top. Or a spare tire. It drives me insane. Especially when I work out as often as I can. Just holding my daughter and doing squats while trying to get her to sleep is a workout.

So here goes. I'm embarking on a new trend. I'm going to love my Large(r) self. I'm going to teach myself to see it as beautiful. I won't give up on my desire to lose the extra pounds. I need that for my back issues. But I'm going to start investing in bigger clothes. Its time to get out of the rut of wearing the same handful of t-shirts and 2 skirts. I bought a skort and pair of shorts for the summer. I'm finding a style that will flatter my curves a little more. And I'm going to "flaunt it"!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Giving My Kids Motivation to do Chores!

Chores aren't fun. I do them often because I'm OCD and can't stand to have clutter or a mess anywhere. But now I'm seeing that there is just too much for me to handle on my own. So I've taken some time to devise a system that will motivate my kids to help out around the house just a little more. 
A family friend that I call my Nana S. sent this picture to me.
It gives me a little more direction in how to structure who can do what around the house. 

Growing up, my family had a "Chore Store". We had fake money that we got for doing chores. Each chore came with a dollar amount. Then my Mom had a picnic basket with little things she'd find at garage sales, thrift stores, dollar stores, and flea markets. We could "buy" the things from that basket at the end of the week with the "money" we had accumulated from doing chores. It was a fun way to celebrate the end of a week well done! 
I've taken to that path, but added my own upgrades to it. I printed out this Excel worksheet I created. Then laminated it to make it reusable. I took a Lego bucket to use as the storage for all the things my kids can "buy" at the end of the week.
I'm lacking in things for my little girl, but hoping to get things soon. 
They now feel more motivated to read to the baby or to wipe down the table. Now, there are times when I find they don't want to be helpful. Regardless of the rewards. So I got a little crafty. I now ask, "Who wants to be my volunteer?" They don't know the task, they don't know the reward. Its up to them to volunteer and do the task. Once they volunteer, they have to do the chore. And then they get their initial in the correct slot so they get "paid". And it gets done right away. 
I think its important that kids do chores. After all, Moms can't do everything alone. Then we have less time and energy to spend on them. It also teaches them responsibility. It teaches them how to care for themselves. They won't be living under my roof forever. Eventually, they will move out and need to know how to do things for themselves. 

I have the sort of things they need to work on anyhow. Such as: making their own beds, reading books aloud, wiping down the table, cleaning their own bathroom. Life skills they will need later, but will help me with now. 
Do you have a chore list? Do your kids help out? What rewards do they get for doing so?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Christmas started in July?!

Seriously... when did Christmas tree shopping start in July? And why is the "fall" decor already having a 40% off sale in Hobby Lobby?? Where have the times gone?! 

Okay, moving on now...

I've been slowly working on gifts for the remaining birthdays and Christmas. I'm searching for things that aren't run-of-the-mill. Trying my hands at crafts. And yes, checking clearance. Its the thought that counts, not how much money was spent. Besides, I still to what I know about people and try to be creative in what I give them. 
Tonight, I had to go to Walmart since my baby girl is teething and ran out of her Tylenol. You parents with teethers and those who have passed this phase know exactly what I mean! She busted the one through the skin tonight and was screaming bloody murder into my ear while doing so. She wouldn't take her nap and wanted bottle after bottle because its soothing, but I can't give her that or she throws up everywhere. So... to Walmart my husband and I went! 


(Yes, she's wearing a super hero shirt and looks adorable!)
While there, we also went to look for pajamas for my older daughter. She will be turning 5 next weekend. *eeee!* Where has the time gone?! My baby isn't a baby anymore. She's starting kindergarten in a couple more weeks. I'm excited, but also sad. Anyhow, we needed to get her a gift and she's been needing some new pjs. Walmart, at least our store, has a very limited selection. As a matter of fact, most of the ones they had on the one rack of pajamas were on clearance. But guess what size they didn't have? Yep. Hers. So that was a no-go. But wait! I need to get gifts for my two younger sisters. And they had everything in their sizes. So now that I know that, I'll be going back to get them pajamas or shirts in the cute horse and unicorn prints. They also had all their Wonder Woman clothes for girls on clearance.
Is it just me, or was that movie a bust? I mean, all the Wonder Woman merchandise is already on clearance. Or was it a great movie that no one needed the stuff for? Hmm... Haven't seen the movie still (shocking, right?!), so don't ruin it for me. Even if it wasn't that great, I have to satisfy my WW craze. She is my hero after all. And I did like her in the Batman movie. 
We also grabbed a couple tee shirts for baby girl. She is outgrowing her onesies and I try to put her in tees and pants when she's crawling around on our stained concrete floors so that she's not scraping her legs. They were $2 a piece. Not a huge discount, but I only needed a couple more. 

We checked the clearance aisle. I like that Walmart keeps it mostly to one valley (that is retail talk for an aisle with both sides having the same thing). There, was where I found some pretty good deals. Like the doll food set for a few bucks.
My sisters are into the American Girl dolls and are thrilled to have 18" dolls to play with. My girls are getting their own from their Nana as well. So I had to grab this fun set to add to my sisters' collection. 
I found these bath toys for the baby. She is quite the inquisitive one who loves to splash and play in the bath. Unfortunately, we only have Mommy and Daddy's stuff like soap bottles in the tub. So now she has actual toys to play with. Best of all, they were only .50 each. There were some toothbrushes on clearance. I can't do the cheap brands. They always leave bristles in my mouth. But these Colgate ones should work. I grabbed a few to keep on hand. Plus, I have them in case family visits and needs one. They rang up .50 each, which was cheaper than the sticker said. 

My final grab was a framed mirror. I had this big bag of pearls my mother sent me.
And I've been using them for various projects.
But I still have so many left. Then, while on Pinterest (so addicting!), I came across a marvelously cute idea for a girls room decor item. And it spawned another idea that would make the perfect gift for my oldest daughter. I decided to decorate a mirror with pearls to hang in her room. She loves to dress up and dance around. And a couple times, I've caught her doing so in the bathroom in front the mirror. Now, she will be able to in her own room! In addition, its girly. Just like her. But classy enough that she can grow with it as well. I have to get more glue sticks, but I'm excited about it so far!
Yes, I went to Walmart for one thing. I left with much more.
BUT, in my defense, I now have some more gifts out the way. Who else out there has already started putting gifts to the side??

Friday, August 4, 2017

New Mexico or bust!

I was about ready to bust. After all, it was a twelve hour drive each way for our family. Four kids, one being 8 months old. All of us stuck in the rental van together. You know how that goes? "Mom, her leg is touching me!", "Mom, can I have more chips?", "I have to pee!" (at which I respond, "Can you wait just a little longer? We have to find a gas station.") "No, I can't hold it. I really have to pee!" 

*deep sighs and a head slap*

Yep. That was the drive there and the drive back. We left early Friday morning and got back home Sunday night. It's been described as a "whirlwind trip" and that's exactly how it felt. Too much time in the car, not enough with the person we went to see. 


We spent time and money preparing for this trip. I wanted to make the road time as painless as possible. I wanted to keep the kids as entertained as possible. I wanted myself and my husband to feel as comfortable as we could. Sitting for 12 hours... I can barely manage 2 hours at time! But I had a goal. A very important goal. We were going to see Great Grandpa Al! 

One thing we purchased to make the trip better was the Ozark Trail cooler.
It was truly worth the nearly-$50 price tag! If you make long trips, plan to go on all-day park adventures, or otherwise need a long-lasting drink/food cooler - this is it! They boast staying cold for up to 3 days. And they aren't kidding. I had 2 ice packs and enough drinks to cover us for at least half the drive one way. We thought we needed more ice, so we filled 2 gallon-sized baggies with ice to add on the bottom and the top of the waters. After 12+ hours, the ice from one bag had melted, but was still icy cold. The other bag still had ice! The zipper on this thing is water tight. Keeps liquids from spilling out like you wouldn't believe! The carrying strap that goes over your shoulder has gel in the center to keep it comfortable. I can't stand chaffing straps. And it has a convenient zipper pocket in the front. Need I say more? My husband and I were thrilled all throughout our trip that we had decided to spend the money and get one. We have so many plans to use it. Water park, lake, road trips... Oh yeah, gonna have some ice cold water all day today and tomorrow without adding ice! If you are looking to get one for yourself, we picked ours up at the local Wal-Mart. *These opinions are strictly my own. I was not paid, given incentive, or otherwise coerced into writing this mini review!*

Most of the trip was through flatlands.
Seriously. Everything is flat and looks the same.
I even got so bored that I started playing with my sons fast food toy...
Most towns we drove through were ghost towns. People lived in shacks, but there was nothing in the form of businesses. How do they manage?! 
We did enjoy some rainbows along the way. 
We stayed at the Hyatt Place Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico right alongside the airport. It was affordable, we were able to book it online, in a safe part of the city, and within a 5 minute drive to Grandpa's house. Let me just say, this hotel room was perfect for our 6-person family.
There were two beds in the room, with a half wall separating the "living room" area that had a pullout couch.
Trash cans were larger than your standard hotel rooms normally carry. This is a big deal when you have kids.They even set my daughters Minecraft Ocelot stuffed toy in her pillows to greet us when we came back that afternoon. I only had 2 issues with this place. One elevator was constantly having issues. We found it quicker to take the stairs sometimes. And then we had issues with drainage being slow in the shower. Other than that, it was a wonderful stay! 

My baby girl even begged Daddy to let her "drive". I can already tell, she will be quite the troublemaker! Just like her Mommy. 
Every time we stopped, we all had to get out. Potty, food, gas, and stretching those legs. Probably why the trip took 12 hours. But the time we spent there was totally worth it. The weather is a million times better than what we have here in Texas. They actually had cool breezes! Can't tell you how refreshing it was. 
I'm looking forward to the next time we go. So much more to do!