Category Archives: friends

I died…

Last week my life changed forever, I died.

Ok I didn’t completely and literally die, but after this last weekend I will never be the same. It all started a little over a year ago I began my healthy life crusade. Working out was a regular part of my schedule, I even found a tribe of women working out and supporting each other. We hiked and I shared part of my journey here.  I was preparing and planning for my very first Spartan race; hiking and weight lifting to prepare myself physically, especially hiking around with Baby K on my back. I could handle a little 3-5 mile obstacle course, no big deal! Ugh if I only knew then what I know now… I could not imagine what a life changing event I was in store for.

The original plan was to go with a group from Tribe, but this summer has thrown all of our schedules off and no one else was able to attend. AJ had previously volunteered with me at a race so we both had a free race coupon to use. His original plan was for a Beast or Super Spartan. Knowing I would be alone, I registered for my very first Spartan.

I knew going into the race there would be obstacles I was not ready to overcome, the rope climb is my ultimate nemesis. Even knowing this and knowing the 30 burpee penalty per failed obstacle, I was going to finish! My goal was to come in under 5 hours.  I know, 5 hours for 4 miles? Yes, 4 miles of up a ski resort mountain and back trails, cleared specifically for the race. Oh yes and 20 obstacles and doing 30 burpees per failed obstacle, this was going to take some time.

Race Map

To my surprise (and complete gratitude after the fact) AJ registered Friday night to race with me. He wasn’t doing it for him but for me! In reality, going into it I was not certain how nice I would be able to be. This might make or break our marriage. We would come out of this more in love or I’d be so raging angry and cranky I would say not nice things to him causing a rift in our relationship. 

Pre-race face

Morning of the race we were running late but arrived with time to spare. 8:30 am we climbed over the Spartan starting wall to begin our very first Spartan Sprint. Up the mountain we started, over 5 foot hurdles, yes while still going up the slope of the mountain, further up we went still. The first mile was the longest drudge to the peak. It was not a straight up climb nor was it a well worn path. There were some more walls to climb over but these I did on my own since they were on level ground. Although I did smack my ribs pretty hard on either these walls or the hurdles when I broke the mouth piece off of the camelpak I was wearing ugh! Bruised ribs SUCK! Over another wall, under another and through a third, yep through it, there were holes.

Miles 2 and 3 blurred together for me.  Hiking up and down hilly, rock covered, sprain your ankle terrain, intermixed with obstacles designed to push you to your physical, emotional and mental limits, you bet I lost track of what mile and obstacle we were at. Obstacles such as crawling under a cargo net in swamp mud fit for any wallowing pig. Then make it thru the crawl and slush thru a few more mucks of water to a dunk wall. Down into a pit of water, scramble up, back down into another and up again until the third time you’re down in deeper water facing a wall you now have to go under, the dunk wall. After the mud it was actually refreshing.

Back up the mountain we went to the slip wall. You’d think having a knotted rope to climb up a slippery wall (remember all the mud and water we just went thru?) would make it easy. Sure I did. I got right on up there, grabbed the rope and scrambled up the wall. I was about to pull myself up to the top when someone next to me lost his footing and slipped. I lost my concentration and footing as well. Then I felt the ribs, again. I was going to fall, until someone behind me stopped me. Someone was below me helping me to stay up, AJ up top reached his hand out to help me over the top and I made it! Dang slippery wall. There were more variations of walls and other obscene obstacles. Some were a cake walk for me, others… not so much. There was a sandbag carry, just like it sounds. Grab a heavy bag filled with sand, lug it up and around the mountain a bit and drop it back off. The Hercules hoist, using a rope and pulley system hoist a heavy bag up to the top of the rigging and back down again. Don’t let the bag free fall to the ground… not cool, or part of the challenge. The plate drag. This was cleverly designed on the side of the mountain with little holes dug into the path. All in all those were the easy ones for me, and the ones I enjoyed. Oh yes and lets not forget the bucket brigade. Fill up a 10 gallon bucket to the designated fill line (probably about 2/3 for the women) with small pebbles and carry it in front of you up and down the mountain. The biggest burpee maker of them all was the spear throw. You get one chance to throw a spear at a hay bale Spartan target. The spear has to stick. ONE. CHANCE.  Yep I came close but you know the saying… horse shoes and hand granades…

I learned very early in the race, this is not a place for “every man for himself” mentality. This is a place for first timers and experienced Spartans to come together, uplifting, supporting, cheering and helping each other all along the way. I cried so many times and for different reasons, heck sitting here thinking about it I still get a little teary. There were people who had finished their own race come back over and help AJ finish my burpees for the rope climb! I was so beat down I didn’t have the capacity to do more than 5 burpees without feeling like I was going to pass out. They knocked em out like it was nothing. Strangers boosted me up and pushed me over obstacles. Some held out a hand to help me up. Others gave me a conversational distraction from my fear of heights atop the A-frame cargo net. Another kind soul named Katie stopped and helped encourage me thru the barbed wire. Most people were rolling thru, we were crawling; that rolling crap for that long makes me dizzy.

My EVERYTHING was challenged and I came out on top! I still can’t believe it myself. I have officially conquered the mountain and finished a Spartan Sprint!

Let’s recap the obstacles:

starting wall: CLEARED with assistance
hurdles: CLEARED with assistance
walls: CLEARED
OUT: CLEARED
Mud Crawl: CLEARED
Rolling mud/Dunk wall: CLEARED
Slippery Wall: CLEARED with help
Barbed wire: CLEARED
Spear Throw: failed
Rope Climb: failed
Sand Bag: CLEARED
Plate Drag: CLEARED
Herc Hoist: CLEARED
Olympus: CLEARED with help
7 foot wall: failed
Inverted Wall: CLEARED with help
A-frame: CLEARED
Twister: failed
Bucket Brigade: CLEARED
Multi Rig: failed


Fire Jump: CLEARED

I died. I have been reborn over the fire and now…
I AM A SPARTAN! AROO!!

I’m not quite ready for a beast or super but there are other venues this summer for Spartan Sprints…. maybe! I said never again when I finished this one and I’m already looking at the schedule for this year! Oh man I’m in trouble!

Part of me will never be the same and I am glad for that. If it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you right? I have been changed. The Spartan community is a unique creature in itself as well. I ended up finding out the names of most the Spartans who helped me on the mountain. Part of me will never forget them. They and that mountain were part of an experience I do not wish to soon forget. 

What is something you’ve done and conquered? Did it scare you? Would you do a Spartan?

Check 3 and 4 off of my 40 by 40 list!

I’ll Show You My Fellow Blogger!

This month we wanted to mix it up a bit and introduce you to some other bloggers out there.  There are a lot of blogs out there in the far reaches of the internet. How do you find someone you can relate with? How do you know if a blog is a good one to follow? How do you choose to start a blog, let alone what you write about? Hopefully our fellow bloggers will be able to give you a guide in the right direction. At the least you’ll find a new blog to follow and expand your own blogger friend universe. Without further ado let me introduce you to my fellow blogger, Ashley Meir from The Rad Mommy (head on over and give her a like or follow on these other social media platforms:

Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest


Can you tell our readers about yourself and your blog?

My name is Ashley Meier and I am a blogger at The Rad Mommy as well as a wedding and portrait photographer. My blog is essentially a mommy blog that focused on empowering and inspiring entrepreneur and working moms.

Describe how did you first get into blogging.
I really like to write and was looking for a creative outlet. I love business and I love being a parent, so why not combine the two :0).

Can you tell me some of your strengths that really helped you in blogging?
I have experience with website design and maintenance, and also do a lot of blogging with my photography stuff so I think that helped. Also, just knowing how to find a following on social media has been huge, although I am still growing and finding my exact niche.

How would you describe your blogging style?
I am a conversational and informative blogger. I want my readers to get something out of what I am writing and delivering. I am also exploring podcasts and videos to help with that.

What type of networking do you think is better to enhance your traffic to the blog?
I think Facebook Groups are huge, and then just connecting with like-minded people who do what you do, and want what you have to offer.

What do you think is the best service a blogger can provide to his readers?
I think it depends. Whether that’s light reading, education, products or services; it really depends on what the blog is trying to achieve. There is a need for it all.

What would be your ideal working environment? On the beach in Costa Rica 🙂 . I just love working on a computer with a big monitor and a cup of coffee or glass of wine close by.

How do you manage time to run your blog efficiently?
Scheduling posts and not biting off more than I can chew. I am still getting in my rhythm but those two things have helped tremendously. Also just staying focused!

What do you think is the best strategy that worked well for you to get more traffic to your blog?
Writing about viral topics has yielded the biggest results for me thus far. And then having other people become my cheerleaders and share my content.

How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?
I want to truly define my niche, whether that will be working on getting high amounts of traffic or developing resources like webinars and courses for readers.

What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from that?
Not sure yet 🙂 . I think blogging can just get tedious and discouraging because it doesn’t happen overnight. But, I do see the reward in sticking with it, like anything in life.

Tell me about your proudest achievement.
When I had a post go viral! It was SO fun to see my numbers go up while looking at my “live” analytics.

Who has impacted you most in blogging and how?
Everyone and everything. Being a parent and being a business owner.

What is your greatest achievement outside of blogging?
I am a mom to two little girls and I run a super successful wedding and portrait business. I am on to my next dream of creating the life I want by working my way into the blogging worlds.

How do you think I rate your blog as an interviewer?
I think you will like it and hopefully find some good resources from it.

What do you do in your spare time?
I drink wine, travel, ride my bike to breweries, exercise and hang out with friends – all while mommin’ of course.

Where would you like to be in blogging five years from now?
I would like to have bloggers blog for me, so I can sip cocktails on the beach and focus my efforts on the content, instead of the marketing aspect.

What was the most challenging moment in your blogging journey so far?
Just seeing how slow growth is, and working really hard on content that doesn’t always get high traffic.

Can you name some of your favorite bloggers and explain why they are your favorites?
My favorite right now is Melyssa Griffin. That girl is on her game and I learn something from her every time I read her stuff. There is no fluff there.

What inspired you to start your blog?
I wanted an outlet and wanted to start designing even more freedom into my life.

How do you motivate yourself to keep the blog up and running?
I am still pretty new to the blogging life, but I think just focusing on consistency and then letting myself rest if I am not feeling it. Having expectations but not ones that make me feel like I am chained to it.

Can you tell me about few sources from where you get products for review on your site?
Just things I use. This is not really my blogging focus but might be at some point.

What do you find the most frustrating aspect of blogging?
The tedious work of formatting posts, designing graphics, scheduling social media posts, etc.

In the future where do you hope your blog will take you?
I really hope it can turn into my full-time job so I can officially step away from photography. I love photography, but long term I see more of myself in the inspiration realm of things.

Have you met anyone interesting/famous on your blogging journey?
Not yet :0). But I did run into David Spade one time at the Cheesecake Factory (but that was like 12 years ago, lol).

Do you have any specific goals for the rest of this year?
Create some content, define my niche and start making more money on the blogging side of things.

What is the biggest difference in your life post-blogging?
I have a lot more to do!

Did you have any professional help or did you created the blog yourself?
I created everything myself. I am into this DIY thing.

How active are you on a weekly basis? How often do you communicate with your followers?
I have about two posts a week, and am constantly posting on social media several times a day usually. Most of it is scheduled though.

How much time do you spend blogging?
Yikes! Not sure yet. Probably about 10 hours a week right now.

What do you think is the best social media strategy for getting more visitors to a blog?
I think it depends on where you want to focus your time. Long term I am thinking Pinterest might be the way to go though, because Facebook and Instagram are limiting the audience reach.

Would you encourage other people to make their blog?
Absolutely! It is a great outlet. But know a direction you want to head before investing too much time, and don’t expect to be an overnight success.

Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?
It is both my profession and my hobby. I am building a business here 🙂 .

A lot of people think that blogging is an easy way to make money online. Do you have some tips for those people who are interested in making money from the blog?
It is NOT easy, but it is doable. I think you just have to be focused on what you want to do, and head there. You will constantly be evolving though, so don’t expect to have all the answers right away.

 

Thanks so much Ashley for letting me interview you. It is a pleasure getting to know you behind the scenes of your blog.
I have learned a few things from this interview and hope all of you have as well. Do you have a fellow blogger you’d like to introduce us to? Link up with us below!

 

Monthly link up every third Wednesday!

Aunt Sue, Bees and Miracles

For several years I had strong spiritual promptings to keep bees. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I attributed the impressions to our principles of self-reliance and emergency preparedness. I didn’t act on those promptings until early in 2010 as I was talking with my sister Sue (known to many as Aunt Sue from her close association with our 6 children). I don’t recall how the conversation turned to beekeeping, but I learned that she was having the same spiritual promptings. And so we took the plunge together and bought 2 hives, bee suits and equipment and 2 packages of bees. We drove to upstate New York to pick up our bees and equipment and began our journey to honey heaven.

On July 5, 2011 I got a call from my sister telling me she was just diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. I cried. A lot. I knew nothing about leukemia or its treatment, but as we spoke I began to receive some very strong promptings from the Spirit. Sue would be OK. All would be well. I would be a bone marrow donor for her. Was that even a treatment for leukemia?! I didn’t know, but the promptings that day were powerful and undeniable.

We later found out that without a transplant she might only have six months to live. They started chemo treatments immediately. My wife Ruth cut Sue’s hair in preparation for her losing it all. And so, I did learn that a bone marrow transplant was indeed a treatment for leukemia and I was soon tested to see if I was a close enough match. The doctor told us they test for certain “markers”. There had to be a match of at least six of those markers for them to even consider me as a donor. Off went my blood to the lab. About a week later I received a call from Sue. The results were back, I was a ten out of ten match, very very rare. I cried. A lot. And the Spirit confirmed what it had already told me.

The week before the scheduled transplant I drove to Hershey Medical Center two and a half hours each way every day for a week to get shots that would increase my white blood cells. The shots worked so well I could feel my spine throbbing in the night causing me to moan and groan in pain. After two nights of pain I asked if there was anything they could do for the pain. “Oh sure, no problem!” (WHY did I wait 2 days?!)

The day of the transplant arrived and I was hooked up to “la machine” for 6 hours.


They needed something like a million cells and after 6 hours they took a count (however they count those kind of things). 1, 2, 3, 4…3 million it is!

Now the transplant… kind of anticlimactic. But then the intense final chemo treatment and I’ve never felt so helpless watching my sister hallucinate and suffer in pain. But all went as well as could be. While many others passed away even after their transplants my sister hung in there.

Sue has not been without complications and difficulties, but remains cancer free for over 3 years now. But what does this have to do with bees?

Sue’s primary occupation prior to the leukemia was a full time massage therapist. Giving massage 6 days a week had taken a toll on her and while battling cancer she wouldn’t be able to handle that much physical effort any more. Through her association with other bee keepers and people in the community she found there was a market for raw local honey. And so for the past several years Aunt Sue has transitioned from massage therapist to The Bee Lady and has for the most part been able to provide for herself because of…bees.

Hindsight is twenty-twenty they say. Indeed in this case it is. Because of spiritual promptings years before the cancer came, and because we acted on those promptings Heavenly Father has provided for Aunt Sue in a miraculous way.

Al who know my sister know the incredibly beautiful person she is. Heavenly Father has given Sue great blessings, and Aunt Sue blesses all she comes in contact with.

I don’t know why Heavenly Father offers miracles to some while others suffer on intensely, but I testify that our Heavenly Father knows us and loves us. If we pay attention we will see His hand in all that we do. If we act on the promptings of the Holy Ghost he will bless us abundantly.
-Bob Woolley

 

Friday Find

This week’s find comes from in the woods where the deer roam, ticks may bite and waterfalls flow into the rivers. Trees branches above provide shade on the forest floor for any and all roaming the many trails winding around the land. It is on one such trail I found something incredible today. 


This beautiful waterfall was a stop along the way to finding what was deep inside. Over the last year I have been on a journey to find a stronger healthier me. Today I found part of her with the help and support of my local Tribe. I packed baby K on my back in his Tula and headed off into the woods. An hour and forty minutes later we had traversed many inclines, crossed creeks, and traveled 4 miles. The journey was smooth goon at times, others it was arduous. 

The trail was a trial of my endurance and in the end I came out the other end of the trail a new person. I have a new bench mark of what I can accomplish. My perseverance was tested and I passed. Although no one could do it for me, I could not have done it without some of my Tribe. These ladies did not carry me or baby K but the did use their words of support to lift me up. 


Today I found my inner trail hiker, my inner beast, my inner strength. 

Pie Night 2016

Years ago when we first moved to Jersey, we were invited to our first ever Pie Night. When the Sommerkorns moved out of the area, many were saddened by their departure and the thought of the end of Sommerkorn Pie Night. We could not let this happen! I am no Liz the pie professional but I took on the task of keeping Pie Night tradition. Over the years I have incorporated many pie recipes from the web, old cook books and of course Liz’s selections. (Seriously this woman has amazing skill and talent with pies.)

The idea behind Pie Night is to enjoy and savor all of the delicious pies before Thanksgiving dinner. Usually on Thanksgiving the table is adorned with a gorgeous turkey and all the filling sides. By the end of a Thanksgiving feast there is no room for pie. It is shameful as pie deserves our love and respect as much as the turkey! Pie night to the rescue; an entire evening devoted to pie. Yum!

Pie Night, as is our spin on the tradition, is Friday night before Thanksgiving. This year I took a deviated path on recipes. This year’s pies came from old recipe books my Grandma has given me from the 60s, 70s and 80s (that’s fun sometimes just trying to figure out the ingredients and measurements), some came from newer recipe books, family recipes and of course Pinterest.

Instead of a traditional chocolate cookie crust (I ran out of Oreo’s) I opted to make some chocolate dough pie crusts. They aren’t the same as a cookie crust but served their purpose.

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Chocolate pie crust
Sometimes, even my large kitchen isn’t enough counter space for Pie Night prep.

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Beginning of pies

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Lots of delicious ingredients

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Lattice apple pie

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Gingerbread Pie

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All the pies ready to go

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…and they’re off!

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Must have a Kim photo bomb (even if it’s planned)

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Go ahead… finish that up
The favorite of the night was the chocolate mint cream pie (seen sitting in the middle of the table with the chocolate cookie crust). Down low on the list were Gingerbread Cream Pie, Salted Chocolate Pecan and Peanut Butter Bacon pies. In all fairness the Salted Chocolate Pecan and Gingerbread both did not set enough and ended up being devoured by my family the next day when they were set. PB Bacon is one I have not made in a few years but made it by request from Big D this year. A new concoction for me this year was an Almond Joy pie. It was scrumptious!

Things I learned/proved:

  • Instant vs Cook & Serve puddings… it makes a difference
  • some pies will take longer than the recipe says to set firmly
  • chicken pot pie will always be a favorite, it’s a staple now
  • Oreo cookies dipped in homemade German’s chocolate cake icing are delicious!
  • everyone has different taste

I think the last one makes pie night fun and worth while. I enjoy baking and seeing others enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap

Happy holidays!! I love this time of year for baking. In a few weeks my counters will be covered by various cookies for gifts and cookie exchanges.

Wait, why keep it all in person? This year I am joining an online cookie exchange and sharing with you one of my favorite recipes.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

  • 1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 c white sugar
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ~1/2 c powdered sugar
  1. In a medium bowl mix together the first three ingredients. Add in eggs and vanilla. Continue mixing until smooth and shiny.
  2. In another bowl combine next three ingredients. Stir flour mix into cocoa mix with a wooden spoon only until smooth.
  3. Cover the door with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 350. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll spoon of dough into ball. Cover ball in powdered sugar.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes for smaller cookies and 12-14 minutes for larger cookies. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from cookie sheet.


My family loves these cookies and I end up making a double batch so I have enough for gift boxes.

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These are the cookies I saved from the cookie monsters in order to take a picture for you. Seriously they were about half gone!
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Don’t they look delicious? Please don’t try to eat your screen, these are only an image.

What are your favorite cookies to whip up for the holidays? I love trying new recipes, and you really can’t go wrong with cookies. For another delicious recipe, head on over to Katie’s blog and check out the recipe she’s sharing as well!

Date Night Swap

Do you know how much a babysitter costs nowadays? When I was a teenager rates were $1 per hour per kid. Now it can cost hundreds of dollars for a few hours of kid free night out! No wonder there are so many failing and problematic marriages and relationships, parents don’t have the time to work on their relationship.

Last month our friends Chris and Katie had a date night and I watched two of their kids while they kept the baby and the other kids were with family. They had a nice night (mostly) without kids. Bonus: no sitter to pay!

Fast dorward to yesterday. AJ, Dawn and I volunteered to help out at the open house for the Philadelphia temple. We couldn’t take the younger two kids with us so we asked Katie to help out and cash in our date night exchange. We knew we’d be in for a few more date nights for them but it was a great opportunity for us as a family. 

Katie and Cheis graciously accepted the 12 hour challenge. It was the first time I was away from baby K for more than an hour. The traffic home was horrendous and took longer than we anticipated. My little kids were pretty well behaved. The best part was I knew my kids were being taken care of and loved by someone we trust and know. 

I can’t imagine having to leave my kids with someone we barely know and paying for it not knowing how they were being treated. 

If you have friends with kids then talk to them about date night swap. Your kids are in good and trusted hands as well as saving yourself money! 


I can’t begin to express to you how grateful we are to have such wonderful friends. I don’t know of anyone else who would watch someone else’s kids for 12+ hours. Katie and Chris are owed many date nights but that is one of the great aspects of date night swap with friends. Go on give it a try. 

A Day in the Life…

There are plenty of blogs, posts, and editorials about being a stay-at-home parent or a working parent.

Then there’s the parent shaming and judging. Of course no one would ever intentiinally endanger their child by letting them loose into a gorilla cage, wading with alligators, or leaving them in a hot locked car. Does anyone remember the mother who claimed a dingo stole her baby?

Yes there are mentally unbalanced people, no one is perfect but I’m not about to cast the first stone!

Recently I’ve thought about the parable, (or is it a fable?) of the man, his son, and the donkey. Long in the short of it A man and his son are traveling with their donkey and as they Journey the hear other people’s opinions on how they are traveling. By the end of the story they have travelled in various positions the boy riding on the donkey the man riding on the donkey both of them riding on the donkey and none of them riding on the donkey all to appease the people as they passed by.

Why are we so concerned with the opinions of others on how we are living our lives? Most of these people, as with the man and the boy in the parable, are only passing through our lives and yet we allow them to have so much sway over our choices.

As I’ve said before, I consider myself a granola mom, not completely crunchy. We cloth diaper, yes it takes a bit more effort than disposable diapers but I can’t even begin to tell you how much money I’ve saved in 14 months! When we first decided to cloth diaper I had some nay sayers. I’m delighted we didn’t listen.

What am I getting at? What works for one person may not work for another. Baby wearing vs strollers. Nursing vs formula. Co-sleeping  vs bed training. Hand holding vs child pack leash. This list goes on, but I think you are starting to understand.

My way of parenting isn’t THE end all be all best way to raise kids. I don’t believe there is only one right or best way to raise kids. Heck my own kids get raised differently. Baby K is the only one we’ve cloth diapered.

Yes we all want out kids to be safe, healthy and well adjusted. However, no one is perfect or has all the answers. Each and every one of us as parents is still learning how to be out best version of a parent.

So to that I ask: Can we just all be parents again?  Let’s quit judging the mom yelling at her kids at the store. Stop shaming the mom in the corner of the restaurant trying to nurse her fussy child. Instead of pointing at the dad trying to figure out which formula he needs while a toddler is pulling items off the shelf, HELP! 

Offer the mom a knowing glance. Give dad a hand. Help each other up instead of putting each other down.

In the meantime I’m going to continue cleaning up my family’s messes, and teaching my kids how to help.

Jenn’s Two Scents

Many moons ago we were gifted a soy candle for Christmas. I loved it but one day it was all used up. I searched high and low, near and far for more soy candles but alas they were all overly priced and not as nice.

Last year my friend L turned me onto an Etsy shop run by a fellow military wife. L loves supporting small businesses, her friends and other military wives, she’s great that way. I searched Etsy and found the shop, so tiny and cute. All of her candles were soy and handmade. When I looked at the prices my eyes opened wide, the cost of one small soy candle was half what I found anywhere else. I pointed and clicked and within no time at all, three soy candles were coming to me. Jenn messaged me when they had shipped and again to make sure they arrived lickity split! What great customer service she provides, I thought, I will definitely put her in my favorites.

Lo and behold the candles arrived, wrapped and packaged with care they were inside. Cinnamon & Vanilla was the first to be lit. Oh how the scent created an atmosphere so pleasant. I lit and burned the candle over and over until finally one day there was no more. I gifted Maple, Bourbon and apple to friends for enjoyment. Theirs, like mine, is all burned out.

Spring time is here, L asked if I wanted to order. Yes please but I need to know they won’t make me sneeze. Jenn quickly sent, upon my request, scent strips for my nose to determine which was the best. I liked them all, but had to choose as I could only store so many candles. Sniffing and smelling I looked online again when I spied in Jenn’s shop soy wax melts had appeared! I laughed and I giggled as I told L all the scents I love, just get them all! Quickly again the scents did arrive, this time much smaller as was the wax inside.

I opened and smelled them, enjoying each one. I wanted to see how well they compared to other wax melts I have tried from you know where. One bar with six cubes, only one scent I must choose. English Garden, one cube did go into the warmer and melted so well. The warmer stayed on from day into night. I wanted to test how long this garden would last. When I arose on day three from my room I was still greeted by a pleasant English Garden perfume.

I’ve enjoyed telling and sharing these products with you, I hope you have also enjoyed my little review.

 

DSCN1957The candle on the right in the little mason jar is from Jenn’s Two Scents. It burned with an even scent and  the wax melted evenly, unlike other candles such as the one on the left. I LOVE that about her candles. I hate having to try to maneuver around wax while trying to light the wick. 12729086_1701337520151663_7875633933107124035_n

These are Jenn’s cute soy wax melts (her stock image). I have about seven different scents in these and if the others are anything like the English Garden, they will be beyond well worth the price. These are half the price of other brands I have seen and as I’ve mentioned the scent lasts for days.

Guess what!? When I told Jenn I wanted to do a review she offered two winners for the giveaway! One winner will receive two soy wax melts and another winner will receive a small soy candle! To enter, comment below with your favorite scent from Jenn’s Etsy shop, Jenn’s Two Scents. Visit and like her page on Facebook too will ya?  One entry for commenting on the blog, visit Instagram for additional giveaway entries as well.

I’m going to go put Cinnamon Chai in my warmer now. Enjoy!

*This giveaway will close June 7 at 11:59pm ET*

Friendships over time

I’ve been struggling for a few days on how to write about this experience. Three drafts have been started and scrapped. It is not for lack of words or a message but more an appropriate, meaningful way to portray what I am trying to express. Please read and understand this is part of life and my life experience.

I am 33, soon to be 34 years old and my best friend is my husband. I am not simply saying this to be cute or prove my marriage is any better than anyone else. My point is he is my best friend in the truest sense of the term. He is not what this post is about. My realization is about best friends and friends in general.

Living in California I was never wanting for friends. I had a good quantity of quality friends and a bigger quantity of friends. There was always an event, party or just friends hanging out together. My social calendar was never blank. Friends were a phone call and 10 minute drive away, sometimes 15 at the most.

I told several close friends there was no way our friendship would change simply over my moving across the country, being married and having another kid (not in that order). We would ALWAYS be close friends and nothing would change our friendship.

Six years later and what I believed to be a near impossibility has become reality. I was not surprised when I lost touch with some of the more casual friends. Those friendships were momentary and simply for that portion of my life. However, the quality friendships I am saddened to say have also fallen to the wayside.

Life moves on. People change. Paths traveled are no longer linked. Our paths and friendships drifted apart over the last few years and I am ashamed to say I did not make the effort required to upkeep many acquaintances and friendships.

Much to my delight not all has been lost. On my recent road trip to California I did not make many plans to see a plethora of friends. Some schedules did not mesh but we have hope for a future visit and continue to stay in touch, I was not highly disappointed as I was able to see this friend on our last visit out to California. Other friends in Utah were also unavailable but we continue to talk and stay in touch.

A woman I have grown to love and cherish dearly was available and we made concrete plans for a day with her and her kids. A simple day at K’s house by the pool was all we needed to remind ourselves how distance can not change our affection for each other. We laughed, watched our kids, swam a bit to cool off, ate ice cream sandwiches and even cried just a little. K is an amazing woman and friend. This was a good for the soul visit.

On our last day in California a dear friend returned my phone call and we made arrangements to spend the day together at the beach, with my kids of course. We talked about our current happenings, mutual friends and acquaintances, and catching up. Mostly we just talked. We were ourselves, no airs, no pretenses, just us. Our beach day easily could have taken place six years ago. With C there was no crying but we did laugh, remind each other why we became friends to begin with and most of realized we did not need to work at our friendship. This was a good for the heart visit with C.

The last was a visit with a girlfriend I met when I was 18. Eeek let’s not do the math on that one please! Queen B and Queen C in the collection department, dancing buddies, weekend sleepovers, you name it we probably did it, or thought about doing it. M stayed up until midnight to welcome us into her home for a night on our journey back to our home. M had her spare room made up for us and in the morning made a delicious breakfast. M can cook and is part of my cooking inspiration. She may have grandbabies now but we can still stay up all hours of the night talking and laughing. I know M will be there when I need her and though some things have changed about us our friendship is still intact. The night with M was good for the mind (and tummy), yum!

All together I have realized as much as we may love some friends the paths we are on may separate us and take us in different directions but true friends will not require work or extreme effort. Good, quality friends will remain friends over time. These visits with K, C and M reminded me how lucky I truly am. Though I may not have the 10 minute drive to these dear friends, they and others I hold dear are still a part of me and near my path.

Here’s to good souls, hearts, minds, food, and friends.