All Posts by Laura Fuentes

The Daniel Fast- Getting Ready

A new year brings new resolutions, right? Well, I actually have not sat down to write mine down although I “plan” on it.  What I really need to do, is focus on what I have ahead of me without distractions, and the Daniel Fast is a 21 day challenge that I am willing to take on in hopes of getting there.

The Daniel Fast is similar to a vegan diet but with additional restrictions.  All I can drink is water and eat “foods grown from seed” such as fruits, vegetables and grains.  I can’t imagine not eating dairy products!! I have never followed a restrictive “diet” in my life… so this is going to be interesting (as in the British definition).

What made me think of doing this? Our entire church starts the fast tomorrow; but it was really my friend Sharon who made me say… Why not!?  I think I can do it.  Although my husband has serious doubts when it comes to my “functioning” without caffeine (Yeah, me too… but let’s not tell him that).

The Daniel Fast is a biblical based partial fast that affects our body, soul and spirit.

Body: Detoxes your body from caffeine (yeah, this is going to be fun), chemicals and sugar.  Well, maybe I could lessen my dependence on coffee?

Soul: In the soul realm is where we experience cravings, emotions, frustrations, and even happiness. I’m hoping to keep happiness and lessen stress (that is, if I can stop thinking about coffee).

Spirit: During the Daniel Fast our spirit is supposed to control our body and soul; so when we experience a craving, our spirit needs to take charge of it like a parent does with a rebellious child (Oh my, I can foresee myself becoming bipolar trying to control my coffee cravings now).

During this time, I will be doing a lot of reading, praying, and meditating about my life and my goals for 2011. If I can get motivated, I will work out too (as in doing P90X again and Turbo Fire).

Right about now, I am thinking that If could sleep through the 21 days I would be so happy! Hey, at least I’m being honest! LOL. Wish me luck!

3

Who Turned Off The Lights?

Christmas decorations meant one thing to me: tedious setup and take down. All the lights and garden decorations must be brought up and down from the attic every year… so I only put up minimum outdoor decorations (wreaths & garlands). Some people put up blow-up Santas on their lawns, candy cane driveway lights, or even fill their gardens with poinsettia plants. On the other hand, there are some homes that look like the seasonal department at Home Depot threw up on their front lawn.

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There is a house down the road from my neighborhood that goes above Christmas season decorating duties. If you are just driving by, the house looks like many others, lit up with many lights that flash at intermittent times. However, if you drive by often enough, you soon begin to realize that other cars are parked on the road watching the lights. Who sits there watching lights? I thought a few times. It was only when I had to wait to pass because cars were blocking the street that I saw the the sign on the corner of the front lawn that said: Watch our lights on 89.5FM. Curiosity got the best of me so I tuned in.

What an amazing show it was! Since I discovered “free” show about three weeks ago, we have made it a point to take our kids, friends, family, and even ourselves in several occasions to watch their lights. Take a quick look at the video below (turn up volume)

The synchronized light show has 4 songs that play over and over. We usually stay through at least one (if not two) rounds… a good 20min with the music blasting inside our car. Most nights we drive there in our pjs with the hope that one or two kids will fall asleep on the way back home (yes, we even take the scenic route back). This next video is my daughter’s favorite:

I have never met the family who lives in this house but I am very grateful they take the time to decorate their yard, trees, house, porch, and lawn for the rest of us to enjoy. I can’t imagine how long it takes to set up and take down every year. Some nights, Eric and I try to guess how much their electric bill may be… although I’m sure we don’t come close. Other nights I wonder what it would be to have all those lights blinking at night while you are trying to sleep!

Every time we drive to enjoy the show, I am grateful that someone would do something that requires so much work for the rest of us to enjoy. I don’t know how many Christmases they have been putting up the lights… but I hope they continue to do so. Because of this, I decided to leave a little note in their mailbox to express some of our gratitude.

To this family we would like to say: thank you so much for giving my family a Christmas experience to remember.

Sincerely,

The Schneller & Fuentes Family

4 MacBook Submarine

As a working at home mom I have moments with my children that would not exhibit proper adult behavior; moments where I want to scream loud, very loud.  There have  been a few times where I’ve wanted to strangle my kid because he or she did something bad, really bad… like accidentally dumping a big glass of water on my laptop and having itself turn off.

Oh yes, this last one was bad…very bad.   While some people use their laptops to browse the internet, email, chat, and fiddle with social media; I use my MacBook to run our household finances, operate a company, blog, manage two websites, and all the other things listed above.  I’m also in the middle of filing for a patent; and all my product and company information are in it.  I am very attached to my MacBook. So much so, that if my house caught fire the one “thing” I would take with me is my laptop (emphasis on thing, not people).

When my son accidentally dumped a big glass of water on my laptop two days ago… I had to leave the house immediately before I did or said something I’d regret later.  I grabbed my keys and told my husband that I had to leave to go get Chinese food.  I cried, well, maybe I sobbed.  How could I have been so stupid to not have backed up my information in 3 weeks!!!???!  Honestly, I was more mad at myself for neglecting the back-up and blaming it on the busy holidays than at my 3-year-old for having an accident.

Upon returning from picking up Chinese food, when I had no more snot to blow or tears to cry out… I was hoping for a miracle.  I prayed on the way home that at least I could figure out a way to back up the information.  I asked God for forgiveness ahead of time just in case I let my temper get the best of me upon my return (thankfully not necessary).  Most importantly, I thanked God that although a new MacBook would be about $1,000 or more… at least I wasn’t spending it on a terrifying ER visit on a different type of accident.

While I was gone, my cousin Miguel was able to take the laptop apart to dry it out with a hair dryer, turn it on long enough to do a time machine back up.  That night it was stored and sealed with rice to absorb any moisture, and thankfully, it now works…sort of.

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In the end, the AppleCare warranty is now void because of the water damage and the laptop will eventually short out.  There are worse things that can happen in life… and I’m glad the recipient of the accident was my laptop and not my child.

1

Chocolate Fundraising

It’s that time of the year again! Pretty soon I’ll have my neighbor’s daughter knocking at my door to sell me girl scout cookies while at the same time my daughter is knocking on their door to sell them chocolate.

If you have a school aged child, I’m sure you can relate.  Why are schools constantly doing fundraisers? More so, why are the fundraisers always done with overpriced candy, chocolates, or baking items?  Some good fundraisers are the wrapping paper and magazine subscriptions.

This school year alone, I have spent $125 + buying out my kid’s fund raising chocolates, coupon books, cookie dough and chocolate bars.  Seriously? Yes.

This box below is the last fund raising box she brought home. The chocolate bars were $2 and not that great.  While kids are not ‘required’ to participate, how do you tell your child that she is not participating to help her class? Oh, yes… each class competes for ‘spirit’ points LOL.

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In September we had the cookie dough fundraiser and although this tub of cookie dough was $14 the cookies were amazing.

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We need fundraisers that will help clean up schools lunches, like re-usable zip bags, drink cups, or natural antibacterial products. Yes, you know how much I love all that ‘green’ stuff.  Another great idea would be to sell $1 tickets to win an Ipad, or Ipod touch. These are the kind of things that kids (and parents) want and who couldn’t spare $5-$10? Much, much, much better than candy, cookies, or chocolate.

Just my two cents… our daughter is in pre-k and we have years of fundraisers to come!

Not-so-good Santa Gifts

It’s been three days since Christmas morning and I’m already looking at some of the toys and thinking… this is so not for the age it says on the box! I actually thought about it as my daughter opened some of the gifts (from other people).

At 4 and a half, Sofia is a very crafty girl.  She is great with cutting, gluing, taping, coloring, and even using glitter. When she opened this gift and saw that she could make flowers, she was thrilled.  I think the key word is “she.”   The box says ages 5+ but I always feel like they are underestimating the age group.  What does + exactly mean??

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The next morning she wanted to make flowers so badly that Grandpa Yanni had to help her get things set up.  There is wiring to be cut in 6″ pieces, folded in half and then laid neatly on the tray so the 5-year-old can pour the molding liquid.  Hmmm, seems like my girl is supervising.

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Yanni had me take an up close picture because he wanted to make sure you saw that no way a 5 year old (well maybe the + kids) could twist the wire and make sure the molding liquid was poured in the mold without going over the sides.

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This got me thinking; how often do we buy toys that seem ‘great’ to later discover aren’t age-appropriate? Or, that although your child may be either close or at the age in the box… there is no way they could do the craft on their own?

Seriously, the instructions for this game are tedious and full of doing this and not that. All I can say is that Grandpa Yanni had the patience of a saint.  No way could I have sat to get things set up for her with Alex (who is 3) begging to do it too. It just wouldn’t work.  I hate to admit it, but this is one game that is going back to grammy’s house to work one when she has one on one time with my mother in law.

Have you received some toys/games/crafts that you know your kids are not ready for? If so, what do you do?

The True Meaning Of Christmas

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For many, Christmas is a time to get together with family and friends, enjoy good food, and open Santa’s gifts.  If you were a fly on my wall, you would have seen all that…. and more. It’s been a busy month for me; lots of shopping, cooking, cleaning, preparing my home to visiting family and friends… it was easy to loose perspective and think “I can’t wait to get it over with.”

I am sitting here thinking about the last two days at our house, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  This year has been atypical.  For the first time since I’ve had kids, my mother and Yanni have been here to experience their joy and happiness on Christmas Day.  Also the first time my in-laws and my parents have stayed under the same roof together.  It’s the first time my cousin Miguel from Spain has visited the United States.  It’s the first year I feel my kids have truly understood who and what Santa does.  The first time Sofia has sat and taken a picture with Santa.  And sadly, perhaps the last time we celebrate Christmas with Eric’s father (his story is another post).

It’s this last “celebration” that I feel defines the true meaning of Christmas. Sitting on a sofa chair was Eric’s father being fed by my husband pureed Christmas dinner with a Gerber spoon.  A small bowl of food may take a 6-month-old 5 minutes to eat, it takes his father a lifetime.  Lots of things go on around him while he eats sitting motionless all night.  My kids dance around him, talk to him, and even pet him on his arm now and then.  As I reflect on the past ten years, I think about how this man has gone from being a fully functioning golf pro to a powerless individual, I feel much sadness in my heart.

Meanwhile, the others are ready to take a nap from having eaten two plates of food, gone through dessert and are on their second cup of coffee; while my husband patiently continues to feed his father.  My eyes teared up as I watched my mother-in-law sit by her ex’s side, while her son is feeding him, and as she attentively holds his hand and lovingly talks to him despite no response from Eric’s dad.  For me, this was a surprise given his absence as a father and husband.  Christmas is about family; and regardless of the crap that might have happened in the past between two people, this time of the year makes us focus on the good things and the relationships that are important now.  There was no resentment nor hate, no negative feelings in the room that night… only love.  To me, Love is the true meaning of Christmas. What is it for you? Please share your experience.

Be A Tourist In Your Own Town

I’ve heard it. You’ve heard it.  A slogan by the tourism office: “be a tourist in your own home town.” Seriously?  If I lived back in NYC or SF I wouldn’t think twice; but New Orleans?  I’ve been here over ten years and I still feel like I’m not from here.  The last time I went down Bourbon Street at night was seven years ago… and the last for a while.  While I love the French Quarter during the day, specially Royal Street and down by the river… I can’t stand it at night.  It’s full of drunks, bars, loud music, and women walking around thinking they are sexy and showing body parts they have no business showing.   Again, this is Bourbon Street, not a reflection of all of New Orleans.   So when Eric and I were gifted a weekend get-away to the Royal Sonesta by our friends, I was hesitant to use it.  But, since I hear that it’s one of the best places to stay down in the quarter… right on Bourbon.

The hotel is beautiful inside and out. It really reflects a lot of New Orleans style and the people that work there are some of the friendliest hotel staff I’ve encountered.  Here, I enter the main door with Malcolm in the middle of Bourbon (his joke, not mine).

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The Royal Sonesta decked its halls with real Christmas trees, so much so that walking down the hall smelled like Christmas.  Fashionistas: FYI –  no sane person wears nice shoes to walk on Bourbon Street; they will end up smelling and looking gross by the end of the night.

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The rooms were great although a bit small. However, my husband was happy that he had a big screen tv (46″) in the room to enjoy.  The lobby had a PJs Coffee and both mornings Eric went down to get us some and deliver it back to the room (this was part of the deal).

One of my favorite things of our stay at the Royal Sonesta was the Sunday brunch at Begue’s Restaurant inside the hotel.

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The fresh bread and pastry assortments were delicious.  Just walking by I felt like I was inside a bakery shop and the two pieces I picked were still warm from the oven.

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I took this picture (below) for my mother.  Although I don’t eat oysters, she would have truly enjoyed a never ending supply, gulf shrimp and sushi. Can I say that the sushi was amazing!!?.  I had crawfish rolls, blue crab roll, and the oyster roll (not as slimy as raw oysters but not my favorite).

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Most people’s first stop is probably the omelet station. However, unless you are in New Orleans, you probably won’t see crawfish, shrimp, andouille sausage and crab as ingredients… nor the option to have it made with bacon grease (seriously).

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The omelets did come out to perfection and the first plate was only meant to fill up while Eric and I drank mimosas.  Some of the food: chevere goat cheese mashed potatoes, smoked roasted ham, sushi, bacon, sausage, and shrimp over corn grits (Eric’s favorite – see recipe http://bit.ly/gZSzdJ).

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This lovely woman cooked up my husband’s favorite station.  Fresh waffles with with either bananas fosters topping or cherries jubilee topped with ice-cream.  Yes, you read correctly. Ice-cream.

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Plate number 2. Prime rib, Serrano ham, orange ginger french toast, smoked salmon, goat cheese and fresh eggnog shooter.  Eric’s plate: waffle topped with bananas foster and ice-cream, berries in a wide sauce, fresh chocolate torte.

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After all that food we had to go for a walk on Royal Street.  This man seemed to not be getting anywhere but I thought he was hilarious. I love the stores there. The galleries are phenomenal, eclectic and traditional clothing, amazing shoes, and of course…great entertainment.

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We sat by the river steps and enjoyed a beautiful day.  Jackson Square plaza is one of my favorite spots in the quarter.  It’s classic, the carriage rides are lined up to take you on a tour… the perfect ending to a great weekend!

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We also sat down to watch the Dragon Master Showcase.  A group of 4 guys who perform amazing synchronized shows on the street.

I took a lot of pictures and video over the weekend.  So many, in fact, that I had to plug my phone in the wall inside a bar while Eric watched the Saints game.  I really enjoyed the weekend and time alone with my husband (kids at in-laws).  Definitely a good break before the holiday madness that is yet to come at my house.  No departure could be complete without Teddy and Frosty stopping by to say goodbye. 🙂

Many thanks to Joe and Kay for gifting us the weekend stay at the Royal Sonesta.

Thanks for thinking of us! xox

1 Car Wash-aholic

Alex is a car-wash-aholic.  He LOVES to go through the car wash. Every Thursday we go through a car wash because he insists that the car is dirty. Seriously?  I mean, it’s winter. I don’t really mind a little dirt on the car, this drives my husband nuts and how exciting can going through a car wash really be?  Very, apparently.

Anytime we are driving around he points out any car wash he sees…. “hey, look mom!! a blue one! a red one! let’s go seeeeeeee!!!!”  Last week, he spilled his snack and crumbled his scone and then said: “look, now WE have to go vacuum and wash the car mom!” Unbelievable.

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What is it about the bubbles?? It’s loud and not that fun for me… but Alex points and says.. “look, look, it’s getting the dirt out!!”

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“Ooops! It missed a spot!”

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I am sure I am not the only one who has a child that makes infinite requests to do something they love. I admit, that there are times I use…. “want to go to the car wash?” as a …reward for coming to the dreaded weekly grocery trip.

What are some of the things your kids beg you to do?

Finally Santa!

The last time my daughter took a picture (willingly) with Santa was when she was 6 months old and didn’t know what it was all about.  On her second Christmas, she took one look at Santa and cried.  She was petrified.  There went our Christmas card that year.  Every year since; we have talked her about Santa, we’ve written letters and left her notes from Santa for her to read on Christmas morning.  Nothing.  She loves the guy. She brings him presents.  She talks about him.  You would think she would just pose for a picture, right?  Finally, this year Sofia is 4 1/2 yrs old, and seems to understand what’s going on with Santa, the meaning of Christmas, and our Elf on the shelf.

This time around, I tried something new.  The Portable North Pole (THANK YOU Jennifer), where one can create a personalized Santa video with your kid’s name, photo, what they want for Christmas… AMAZING.  I created a video for Sofia and another one for Alex with their photos and wish list in less than ten minutes.  THIS DID THE TRICK!

She was amazed that Santa really knew what she wanted and he also knew her life.  The next day she told me she was ready to go see Santa (I had to see it to believe it.)

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She sat next to Santa and had her picture taken. I should add that she sat in the same petrified pose (yet smiling) for 6 takes. She did not move.  Meantime, Alex was telling Santa all about his rocket and silly socks he wants for Christmas.

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After Santa they got to ride the train as a prize. Sofia rode about 3 times and Alex about 6 or 7 (I may have one ride left on the 10ride pass). He LOVES TRAINS.

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I had also promised Alex a boy scarf and thank goodness the Gap had a green and blue one (he would not quit talking about his green and blue scarf he had to have because it’s cold).  He rode on the train another five times while his sister and dad were at the Mac store (she LOVES those white computers).

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I am happy my girl has finally gotten over her fear of Santa. I didn’t think it would happen…. but it did.  She surprises me once again.  Sofia, Mommy is very proud of you.

12

Mount Everest of Laundry

Ask any mother with more than one child: what is one of the most noticeable differences you’ve encountered when going from 1 kid to 2 or more?  She will tell you that laundry exponentially increases at a rate that is not congruent with the addition of one little person!

My family knows that I am a clean freak. My mother jokes that I like my floors clean enough to eat out of them (Mr. Clean commercial anyone?)  But when it comes to organizing and putting things away… not so much.  It wasn’t so bad pre-kids but now I constantly feel like I can’t keep up with laundry, kids clothes, and the “stuff” that comes through our house daily.

When I moved to this house over 4 years ago, I talked my husband into buying a front loading washer and dryer because we were having kids and we would need the bigger load capacity (I sound silly, I know.)  In truth, we had two perfectly working machines that I practically gave away!  They are too big for our laundry room… yet they hold massive loads!

No one told me that one front loader washer holds a TON of little kid stuff!!  Below is one load (yup, I mix it all up, wash everything in cold and use an organic detergent that I love and get super cheap on Amazon)

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Most of the time I fold it the same night it comes out of the dryer… putting it away, however, is another story.  Laundry usually happens late at night, while I am working, reading, or blogging.  Unfortunately, sometimes I forget the stuff in the washer or in the dryer… and the next morning the sight isn’t too pretty. On a really busy week, the laundry can wait on top of the sofa for a couple of days. Sadly, I try to use up the freshly folded stuff so there is less to put away when I get to it (pathetic I know… but very efficient!) This sight for a couple days in a row drives my husband crazy.

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If I did laundry daily, I’d only have one load to put away.  In theory, it would be easy; but in practice, I wait three days and then the laundry becomes massive.  For three years we’ve had 2 adults, 1 teenager, and two kids.  I miss my cousin Sue who didn’t mind to fold as long as she was watching tv.  I know some of you reading this have more people at your house; all I can say is that I feel for you and I can’t imagine!

Although I haven’t posted my resolutions for the year, I can tell you that improving my “putting away” skills is towards the top of the list and over 2/3rds of the items have something to do with organizing.  My husband jokes that I am a the “cleanest disorganized person he knows.”  I admit it’s true, but I am just trying to hold life, family, the house, bills, carpool lines, a part time job, another business, this blog together and it’s exhausting!  Good thing that humor and my personal superglue always help!

4

Are You a Late Night Shopaholic?

Admit it. You know you do it. It’s late, you are surfing the web and searching out coupon codes to make the items on your wish list discounted.  Some of you can spend hours on Ebay looking for a ‘red dress’ to wear this holiday season and you are digging through 109,217 results to your search.  Time to narrow it down sista.

My mother can go ‘shopping’ at Marshalls or Macys for hours and come home empty handed (don’t ask how); yet, she goes to Trader Joes and buys over $100 worth of stuff in less than ten minutes.  She loves to go look around, touch everything, and see… it’s an outing for her.

Everyone has their own shopping downfalls or habits.  For me, it’s Bare Minerals night on QVC.  Yes, I admit it. I just can’t change the channel when they are doing their “swirl, tap, buff” demo.  Yes, it’s pretty pathetic and embarrassing… but I sit there and watch it from bed while my husband is asleep. What’s worse, I rarely buy their make up on tv.  I go to Sephora.com and buy it when I am out of something or on QVC.com they have a new ‘collection’ coming out.

Two weeks ago I bought their “Perfect Gift 7pc Collection.” It was the perfect gift, for me from me.  It came in a cute hat box with:

  • 0.05 oz Tinted Hydrating Mineral Veil – LOVE IT
  • 0.02 oz Creme de la Creme eyecolor in mocha cream -LOVE IT
  • 0.02 oz Magnifique eyecolor in smokey plum -LOVE IT
  • 0.03 oz Avant-Garden blush in bright carnation – Good winter color
  • 0.012 oz Black Coffee Big & Bright eyeliner in brown-black -USE IT EVERY DAY
  • 0.33 fl oz Flawless Definition Volumizing Mascara in black -AMAZING
  • 0.13 fl oz Pretty Amazing lipcolor in brick rose rouge – Could do without since I only use gloss

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Pretty cute, right?   What is your secret shopping downfall?  Be honest, you know you have one.  Leave a comment and you could win a brand new 0.13 fl oz Pretty Amazing lipcolor in brick rose rouge by Bare Minerals. Winner will be randomly selected on Sunday Dec 12th @11pm Central time by Random.org

1

Mom Bribes

I can’t think of a single mother I know that does not use bribery on her kids. Sounds terrible, but we all do it. Since there isn’t much ‘junk’ in my house… bribery happens when I am out and about with one, two, or more kids dragged to do things that they may not consider fun but necessary for the household.

Most of the bribery happens between Thanksgiving and Christmas at my house.  It’s the busiest time of the year for us.  I have house guests, entertain some, shop for many, cook for half a football team, and still have to get the daily things in our mom-to-do list.  I know I can’t be the only one who loves Thanksgiving and Christmas yet is overwhelmed by all that surrounds it.

After 2 days of staring at an empty fridge and a depleted pantry, I had to hit the grocery Sunday afternoon.  It was almost time for Alex’s nap and my husband was at the nursing home visiting his father… to go or not to go.  Thus the…”if you come to the grocery with mommy you can pick out a doughnut.”

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With list on hand and a very tired 3 year old, here I was at Walmart restocking for the week.  While I feel terrible that I had to bribe him to come (after the…”I want to stay home and play mommy”) the groceries got done.  As much as it pains me to admit, I had to bribe him again with M&Ms yesterday to do some time sensitive errands yesterday afternoon.