Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015. Hello 2016.

It's almost here. In 12 hours we will have 366 days ahead of us to change the world! Ok, maybe not, change the world but do what we want. I always love the mystery of a new year. It's so unpredictable and exciting.

2015 wasn't so terrible. It was one of those years of practical living. We were happy and healthy and predictable in our life. I think sometimes life has to be that way. 

2016 is going to be one of those years where things happen. I can feel it, plus I got a sneak peek ;) The new year will be good, it is always good (Romans 8:28).

Enjoy your night...whether out and about or cozy inside! Be safe. And see you on the flip side.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year. Holidays. Seasons. Winter. Happy Everything in December to you. I'm not sure what this hashtag 2015 best nine is all about but I'm trending with it! 

It has been a fabulous week of celebrating. We awaited the holiday by playing board games, viewing decorative lights, and gathering with friends. We made cookies, ate cookies, and exchanged presents with others! We finally wrapped the holiday up with a nice little bow by visiting nearby family. It has been bittersweet to end this Christmas here in California.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Along The Way

Driving to Iowa always seems like a great idea…before the 54 hours of cumulative driving to and from. I'm still undecided on my preferred method of travel. Although, 5 plane tickets which equates to a small fortune is sort of out of the question when we are talking about going home. I'd much rather save my pennies driving and spend the airfare on some place a little more exotic.

The one thing I do love about a road trip is the scenery. There are some pretty funky places around the United States. Among my favorite this trip were the cement dinosaurs. As my kids like to say, it's a little 'derpy'. But I figure every kid needs a picture with a cement dinosaur. I know you road trippin' kids of the 70s and 80s have at least one!

Lots of new adventures in our home state. Iowa football game, ATV rides, clay pigeon shooting, and farm animal harassing to name several. Good ol' fun in the  Midwest.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Road Trip Thanksgiving Edition

And we're off! This year we are celebrating Thanksgiving with our family. Road tripping from California to Iowa and back again. Hope you all have a blessed holiday!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

That One Time We Thought We Would See Ellen

About a year ago, I made a list of 101 goals/experiences I wanted to be more intentional about. It's your typical 'so-many-things-in-so-many-days' list. Little goals and experiences I've always thought about doing but never make a reality. 

I have slowly been checking things off my list. I celebrated my random act of kindness birthday and met my reading goal. I've sent birthday cards to every family member...on time! And gave up alcohol and caffeine at separate monthly intervals. Still not sure why I felt that was necessary?!? But I made it through. 

Yesterday I was so excited to make The Ellen Show my next completed goal. My friend H, always a good sport for my ideas, accompanied me to Burbank at the crack of dawn (aka pre-traffic). My hopes were high and by the time we pulled in the Warner Brothers Gate 3 at 8:30am, I got smacked with reality. There was an enormous line of people, some who had camped out in sleeping bags. The Ellen people weren't due to arrive until 9.

We waited until the show handlers told us there was no chance of us getting anywhere near the studio. Then we did our walk of shame or sheer disappointment.  We had hoped from reading on the internet that we could at least get into the Riff Raff room and be guaranteed tickets for a different day. Nope, Ellen Show tickets are just too hard to come by. The only way we were getting in was with tickets requested online. 

I've been trying for over a year to request tickets but no luck yet. The process is crazy. You can only request once every few months because of the way they contact you and post show dates. The odds are reduced even more because of the thousands of people you are competing against for limited number of shows posted. Vegas odds may be better ;) This goal might take me 1001 days! Good thing it's a fun goal!!

(My only memorabilia ;)


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Candy Day Already?!?

I'm kind of in shock that Halloween is in two days. It's the strangest thing how quickly October, November, and December pass. I swear the school year just started and it's practically Christmas already! 

Happy New Year everyone! In case I miss it. While blinking an eye and all. But seriously, Saturday already? I can't even. Let my chunky season begin! I'll be stealing all my kiddos Butterfingers to kick the season off right. 

Let's be honest. We all sneak into the plastic pumpkins. If the sneaking is necessary and the candy is not already spread across their bedroom floor. A clear invitation for you to take whatever you want. What's your weakness when it comes to raiding your kids loot?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pumpkin Patch Time!!!

Is there any better time to be an American than Pumpkin Season, formerly known as Fall? I'm not sure how the stealthy marketing geniuses manage to change the focus of one holiday from one year to the next. 

I have never seen so much pumpkin spice in my life!! From cereal to beer, the flavor is everywhere. When I saw pumpkin spice gum, I knew things were out of hand. Talk about overkill!

Pumpkin patches are taking a close second this year in the overkill department, am I right?!? Thank you social media for that one! I'm as guilty as the next when it comes to the pumpkin patch. I need my annual kid pic. But can we all agree we are totally being ripped off over a few bales of hay and some strategically placed piles of pumpkins!

I'm sure we all know better. It's just too tempting to document our city kids enjoying "country" life. And by enjoying I mean smiling through clenched teeth. From what I've observed kids don't even like pumpkin patches! They are more interested in the inflatable bounce houses and petting zoos at the pumpkin patch. Not quite sure how those things fit into the farm scene but I guess it's all about keeping it authentic $$

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Care Package Love

I have decided it takes me approximately 77 days to send anything by snail mail. From my first inclination to my Saturday drop off, no less than two months has passed.

I have the very best intentions! Often times, I collect all my goodies and keep them in a box weeks before I seal it up. Just to be sure ;) I absolutely hate my procrastinating tendencies associated with mail. Therefore, way back in January when I created my 101 Things In 1001 Days, I knew sending a care package would be a goal. Knowing myself very well, the simple act of writing the task on my list would ensure completion! 

This festive Halloween care package was sent with lots of love to four littles in Iowa. My husband's nieces and nephews which are also mine :) For some reason I thought it worth mentioning. It sucks to be so far from everyone, especially little ones who grow and change quickly through the year. Care packages are a great way to send some love and care over the distance. As a military family, care packages are like are most fluent love language :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Stitchfix Fall 2015

Welcome to Love Letters To My Stylist, formerly known as a Stitch Fix Review ;) A much needed space for me to sing praises to my stylist who sends the best teal stamped boxes in the mail! 
It's been hectic but I'm finally posting my September Stitchfix box.
I love the way my stylist chooses styles based on the things I've posted on my Pinterest board. I may not receive the exact item but most pieces incorporate something I have pinned. 
For example, this month Leah sent me all jewel tones which my Pin board is filled with. 
I love her attention to detail so so much!

Skies are Blue Arminta Mixed Material Top in Burgundy



Market & Spruce Lille Quilted Detail Henley Top in Grey

My keeper: THML Mayes Crew Nexk Top in Navy.

Amour Vert Yvonne Dress in Teal Green
Beautiful but the wrong fit. I'm requesting a small this month!

Not pictured is a Street Level Zip Top Tote in Burgundy.

I just received an email that my next box is getting ready to ship. So another Stitchfix post will be coming soon!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

New Wheels!

There is a certain excitement which accompanies the purchase of a new car. Maybe it's the anticipation of years of monthly payments (obviously not :) or the thought of all the travel possibilities? I can't quite put my finger on why I'm feeling so happy about having a new minivan in my driveway.

Between my husband and I, we would love to have purchased something a little more sporty. However, those are pipe dreams when you have kids in the house.  Parents of ever growing social tweens and teens need plenty of seats to move groups of children from point A to B. 

So for the next few years, we will be driving a mini van and a Prius. Practical cars to a T! My poor Marine will have to endure the endless harassment from his co-workers about our choice of cars. After we do our time, you better believe there will be a convertible in the line up. Until then....we got a new car!!!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Goodbye Summer.

There is just something about Labor Day weekend that makes me feel I need to go to the beach. Yes, it is the unofficial end to summer; however, Southern California won't see Autumn for another two months. In reality, we could go to the beach any weekend of the year but it won't be Labor Day :) There won't be families and groups of friends celebrating until the last ray of sun falls below the horizon. It will just be another glorious day to take for granted and the vibe will be all wrong ;)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hello September.

The subtle arrival of my favorite month! The flip of the calendar puts my mind in overdrive. I immediately want all of Starbucks fall menu, trips to Disneyland, and cooler weather. Waking up to 60 degree temperatures gives me hope that autumn is right around the corner!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Jack found a forever home! I was beginning to worry about him. Every week we'd bring him to his adoption fair and six hours later we we're back to pick him up. A new interested family every Saturday that always fell through. Third time is a charm! We sure will miss Jack. He was a really great dog! But we are learning most shelter dogs are really great dogs! 

Wishing him and his new family the best! #adoptdontshop

Monday, August 17, 2015

Back in the Swing of Things

After seven weeks of summer vacation, school is back in session. A big woohoo that things are going smoothly. The kids and I are getting to be good at this absence thing. We sure miss the Marine and fingers crossed one of these years he can be home to experience Back To School and celebrate an August birthday. We've had a pretty long streak without him during this time of year. Always a reminder not to take time and small moments for granted. You never know when the Marine Corps will come calling!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Where'd That Damn Thing Go?

Have you seen it? I must have misplaced mine about 16 years ago. I could really use it right now. 

I've been trying really hard to hold my shit together. But man, separation is hard. Temporary single parenting is hard. Being thousands and thousands of miles from your spouse is hard. Strained communication on top of it all is hard. Trying to suck it up because technically this isn't a deployment is hard.  

I want an easy button! Not standard issue for most military families. Not even sure what that looks like. A nanny? Family visitors? No job? Trip to the spa? Maybe just a good cry. I've been doing plenty of that this time around. Man, I remember when I use to be a powerhouse with these separations...ok can I just call it a deployment?!? No tears. Head down, push push push through months of whatever to get it done. This time I was crying by day 2. New record!

I wish I were a lot of things right now. Mostly just better at handling things without feeling like bursting into tears. 

Does anyone else go through this during deployments or TDYs? The sadness, loneliness and feeling overwhelmed by added responsibilities? Geez I feel like a really good candidate for some meds right now! Oh well might as well be honest, right? Lord knows I need to get this out of my self and get through this mood :/

Friday, July 31, 2015

Believe In or Settle For

I'm a list person. That's just who I am. Come into my house on any given day, ask me to see all the lists I currently have, and I can show you at least 5. Lists make me feel organized. They make me feel focused and accomplished when I cross even one thing off. Doesn't matter if that one thing was get the mail out of the mailbox!

You better believe I buy into bucket lists, life or seasonal. A certain number before a certain age lists. And most recently, a 101 Things in 1001 Days. I've been working on the latter since the new 2015 year. To keep on track with the '101 Things' list, you need to complete a task approximately every 10 days. Seven months into the list, I should have 21 things accomplished. I have 15. While it's not on schedule, I still feel good about the progress. Some of my list is a process, like send birthday cards to every person in my family throughout an entire year. That takes a while to complete. While others are things I can choose to complete in one day, like 'Say yes for a whole day'. Believe me everyone wants to be around for that day!

All of my list is meant to push me towards bettering myself, enjoying my life, and accomplishing some goals. One of my 101 Things includes answering all 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind. I felt the questions would push me to open up to others. Which is kind of cheating because my blog does provide a bit of anonymity, but it's a start!

Currently on #7: Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?

I do believe in what I am doing right now. Personally, I have committed to being fully present for my family. I have struggled with my desire to spread myself a little thinner with activities, more schooling, or committing time to a cause placed on my heart.  But my kids and husband won out because of my personal choice. I'm not feeling the pressure of time right now. I feel everything has a season and this particular season is about my family. I trust there will be time for the other things later. I can honestly say this is a new feeling :)

Professionally, I'm on the fence about whether I'm settling or believing in my work. On one hand, I feel like I believe in my work. The field of school age care is developing. I like being a part of a field with so much potential growth. I like creating and implementing a quality program for my (work) kids. I like that my job supports families who work and provides them with a sense of comfort regarding their children. Those things make me happy. I also believe in my role as a leader. Not that I do a phenomenal job at leading :) but that I have learned more about myself in this role than any other aspect of my life. I have been knocked down repeatedly. I've cried lots and lots and lots of tears. I've been boiling mad for days. I've contemplated quitting without notice and finding a retail job with a really great discount for the rest of my life! But I have always picked myself back up. And after I do, I'm better for it. A little meaner… but better.

When I feel I'm settling, it is because I believe there is bigger work out there. A demographic really in need of help. Parents who work but can't afford quality care. Kids who are begging for someone to encourage, support, and work off the clock for them. My heart is ready for that kind of purpose. I just don't think the season is right.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

That Face Though!

Gaahh! He walked out of the kennel and into the meet and greet area. I gasped 'Oh no!' Out loud because sometimes I forget to filter. I thought to myself, 'A pitbull'. A pit bull said with disappointment and a little disgust. See I'm one of those people who buy into the stereotypes for dog breeds. I know, I know you have the sweetest pit bull who would never hurt anything. And I'm sure that is true. But I don't really believe you. Because the media has convinced me pit bulls are vicious animals. In fact, when it comes to pet fostering I have a strick no-certain-type-of-dogs rule. 

What is that saying? Rules are made to be broken? Well aren't they?  Not a motto I typically live by. However, there was something about this guy. He was so gentle and friendly with all of us. All of us including Charlie who is 100% diva at all times. When we go to pick up these fosters, Charlie ultimately decides. If he doesn't snap at them for smelling his butt, then we figure that is approval enough. One hurdle down, second hurdle…figuring out the breed of this familiar looking face. I straight up asked what the kennel tech thought this "Cattle dog" was mixed with. Wouldn't you know They couldn't quite say... Maybe a lab???  Ms Gullible, 'oh ok. I can see that. I guess.' But the minute we got in the van with Jack, I had this suspicion we were bringing home a pit bull. And I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it. 

We've had him all of 10 hours and we are definitely loving his personality. Which happens with all our fosters. Charlie picks some pretty smart doggies! Submissive pup, too. Just the way Charlie likes them! Jack is very gentle and mellow. The neighbor's dogs have not been very welcoming. They have been barking up a storm about the newbie.  Charlie plays the cool kid and sides with the neighbor dogs. Which means standing behind Jack barking at him. Poor Jack! All he wants to do is play. He is very social. Wow, look at all these stereotypes Jack is breaking!   I'm starting to feel like a little bit of a jerk. Anyways, with all this harassing Jack hasn't barked or growled back. In fact, he seems to be a little intimidated by all the noise. 

Maybe, once Jack gets comfortable with us he will bite someone or attack another dog?? I mean if Jack is part pit then it should be expected right?!? Or maybe not? I may see all my assumptions disproved by this adorable mix breed :) What ever that mix may be! And who knows I could be wrong. What do you guys think? What breeds would you guess Jack is?

I mean really…that face though!

Friday, July 24, 2015

When They Are About To Leave

You know those last few days before he leaves? The ones when you so desperately try to fill your mental and emotional reserves with time and experiences and just plain moments together as a whole family? 16 years later and we still do it. I'm not sure if it means anything to the kids or my husband. I mean the leaving is inevitable. And if you've done it a hundred times, then…well…you've done it a hundred times. Same shit, different year. Right? One last trip to the zoo doesn't change the fact that your entire family is going to be separated in a few short days. No matter how often we do this separating, I still want to spend the last days together. And one of those days better be fun! You know to balance the 'not fun' part ;)

He knows the day is coming. Probably because I reminded him 25 times, "I really want to do something fun before you leave'. It may be the only time I get away with dragging him around town without him fussing about it. 
"Do you want to go to Disney?" I've trained him well. Every other year, the fun day has to be Disney.  But the kids are getting older, they want Six Flags roller coasters and Universal Studios special effects. I was looking for something a little more self-guided. I suggested a day in San Diego. We never go to San Diego anymore since we moved a little further north. 

So, we did San Diego. ComiCon was in town. I knew the boys would love it. We didn't have tickets to the actual ComiCon but there was plenty to do outside the convention center. Plus, I knew it would be easy to convince the husband to swing by The Donut Bar. 

Which is the most fantastic donut shop ever! And frankly is reason enough to road trip to San Diego! We booked the harbor cruise; just in case, ComicCon was a flop. I'm not sure why I thought that would happen. We ditched the harbor cruise after the 1st hour on the water. Kids choice, of course! 

San Diego never gets old to me! It really is a beautiful city. And now I have my happy memories and pictures to get me through this short business trip :/


Thursday, July 23, 2015

My End Of Summer

The end of summer is looming near. I'm feeling pretty good about starting a new school year. I've spent 6 weeks planning the entire school year and it has reduced a lot of anxiety over my work/life balance A big struggle for me. This week I made a few freezer meals to have on our busy nights or at the end of a stressful day. I'm feeling positive about this school year! 

Not to get ahead of myself, I still have 12 days left of summer break. A summer break that has been oh-so-good for my soul. Strange because I really haven't done much to yield that outcome. I guess  nothing to speak of can be just what you need! 

For the next twelve days look for more casual outings with my kids on the Instagram! It's the only thing on my to-do list. And maybe a pedicure.

Roller skating was our main outing this week. I think we need one more skate before school.

The boys have been attending basketball day camp at our local community center. They go at different times because of their ages. It's a blessing! They are the best of friends and love to be together. But all that together time leads to bickering and arguing. I'm about to reach my limit on that nonsense!

Ky has found a renewed interest in photographing her dog, Charlie. We all helped her create a chalk scene for her recent session.

All that fun and it's only Thursday! Watch out world!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Aquarium of the Pacific

Courtesy of my animal loving daughter, a picture overload of Aquarium of the Pacific. I would call this a hidden gem, located in Long Beach, California. The aquarium is probably overshadowed by SeaWorld. And if you are anything like me, you figure not much can top SeaWorld when it comes to displaying sea life. Oh, but I was wrong. I love a smaller aquarium because they often focus on the regional habitants. Don't you want to know what is swimming around your toes at the beaches, rivers, or lakes in your area? Ok, maybe we are better off not knowing! If you have irrational fears like me, that is ;)

I loved this gigantic wall tank. I would have been happy to pay my admission and sit in front of this tank all day.

But I have kids who have LOTS of energy! Plus, there was so much to see.

Jellyfish get my vote for best exhibit at any aquarium. Aquarium of the Pacific has lots of jellyfish. There is a jellyfish petting tank. Not sure how that works but for the brave. 

Yep, that is my kid. Hanging on the aquarium :/
Don't judge!

Hands down, the most number of interactive exhibits of any aquarium we've visited. Which is only like 7 aquariums total. But still.

More jellies!

The outside of the aquarium after we were all evacuated because of a fire alarm.
Does anyone else find it ironic to be evacuated. for a fire. at an aquarium.
Haha…we heard it was a false alarm and eventually went back inside.

I'm giving this aquarium a thumbs up. There is a lot to do. Not only the aquariums and interactive exhibits but there are animal shows outside as well. A shark tank, which you may have seen on Instagram, and a bird aviary where you can feed lorikeets. 

I have a feeling we will be back later this year because our Marine Corps Ball is in the area. 
It's a nice smallish place for the kids to explore without the stress of keeping tabs on them.  Winning!