Category: Blog

Mommy Independence Day

I think every Mom should celebrate Mommy Independence Day.  This should be a day on the calendar every year in which the Mom gets to celebrate all the things she no longer has to do for her kids.  I mean they do have National Peanut Butter Lover’s day and National Cheese Doodle day so why not?  The end of wiping bottoms would top this list of celebrations.  I know every time my kids have reached a milestone, I celebrated with a great big Hallelujah!  Here’s some of the milestones we can celebrate with glee:

1.) When the kids can put on their own shoes.  Especially when they can tie them themselves.  Of course, it won’t be perfect (laces will frequently be untied), but we no longer have to do it – we can bark at them to do it – woohoo!

2.) Put on their own clothes.  Especially when they can pick them out themselves and not look like street walkers (but I guess this might adjust again when they become teenagers where it seems the goal is to look like a street walker at times).  Not my kids, I’ll have to start picking out their clothes again if it comes to that.  My husband doesn’t even like them to wear the leggings that are so popular these days.  My daughter was horrified the time she tried to wear leggings with a “not long enough” sweater and my husband told her to put on some “real pants”.  :-p

3.) Going on the potty.  The downside to this is that you will spend way more time than you want to in public restrooms which is disgusting.  Every time you run an errand, you hear the dreaded, “Mommy, I have to use the potty!”.  Or, “Mommy, I need a drink of water!” which you refuse because you know it will lead to having to go to the potty.  In fact, I just stopped drinking water altogether when I became a Mom because I didn’t want to have to take the kids to the public restroom – Moms don’t have time to use the restroom.  :-/  And I am still traumatized by the time I took my kids to the restroom only to have my 2 year old dig in the little maxi pad trash can.  “Look mommy!”  I’ll never forget that – I’m sure we all have our own horror stories about public restrooms, right?  :-p

4.) Feeding themselves.  And then, comes the even better milestone of them actually liking food!  Hallelujah!  My oldest started liking food at about age 8.  My middle child is starting also to like food and she’s 8 so maybe 8 is the magic number?  There’s hope everyone!  Of course, they still have their quirks with food but overall they are so hungry they will eat most things – woohoo!

5.) Being able to make their own sandwich.  And then, comes the even better milestone of them being able to make their own sandwich without creating a beach (sandy beach made of bread crumbs) in the kitchen.

6.) Reading.  And then comes the enjoying reading milestone.  This one is amazing!  Now, they can entertain themselves!  But, if you have multiple kids, they always seem to act at the lowest common denominator so I assume that you won’t get the full benefits of this until the youngest one really gets into reading.  Our youngest wants her siblings to play all the time with her and they can’t catch a break, so they only get to read at bedtime and when the youngest is occupied.  :-/

7.) Being able to reach the sink to wash their hands.  This was a big one for me because I have had back problems and nothing seems to aggravate the back more than picking up wiggly kids who can’t seem to wash the soap off just right, etc.  “Mommy, my hands are still sticky from soap – I need to rinse them more!”.  I used to improvise and get down on one knee and let them use my other knee as a step stool.  Also not good for the knees though. :-p

Of course, we will always be mothers and we love being moms, but it’s ok to celebrate when our role changes, right?  I can’t help but celebrate.  Our role is constantly changing, but we can always take comfort in the fact that we are still Mom and our kids will always need us in one way or another.  I prefer they need us conversationally as opposed to, “Mommy, you need to wipe my butt!”.  😀

Life is like a box of board games

I’m channeling Forrest Gump in that post title. So, you have to imagine me saying it in that accent while sitting on a park bench holding a board game. If you’ve met me, this is not hard to imagine. :-p

I like to look at life with comedy because if you don’t laugh you’ll cry, right?  I prefer to laugh so hard I cry – sometimes in an insane-looks like I should be in a straight jacket sort of way – but whatever I take what I can get.  :-p

These are the board games I’ve identified so far in my life:

Trivial Pursuit: When you learn a new fun fact and then you decide to quiz your spouse or friend about it so you can tease them when they don’t know the answer (even though you just learned it yourself :-p). But I’m not that mean – I usually do admit to just learning it.

Chess: When dealing with family (sometimes-amirite? Other times, it’s just easy). BTW, I suck at Chess. :-p

Clue: When trying to figure out which kid did it. Interrogate each kid to make your determination. It’ll be hard because each one will point to someone else. You have to be good at reading between the lines or good at threats.  Was it Colette with the permanent marker in the kitchen? Ding Ding Ding – I win!

Operation: When playing the family nurse.  Feels like this especially when trying to remove splinters and you have to use a needle to get it out.  Except instead of a buzzer going off, you have a kid screaming in your ear.  Bryon’s the nurse in our house – the kids don’t trust me – but I just think that’s because I don’t tend to emit a calm vibe most times..  That’s a nice way of saying I tend to freak out when someone gets hurt.

Charades or catch phrase: When you forget a word for something in conversation. Happens more frequently as we age, eh?  But charades is fun..

Jenga: when filling up the recyclables trash can over the top and try not to be the one who puts the piece of trash in there that knocks the whole thing over. Then, you’re the big loser and get to take out the trash..

Hungry Hungry Hippo: Anytime Mom or Dad is eating something yummy and the kids are around..

Scattergories: When you have to spell something out quickly while on the phone..  My reservation number?  Sure!  It’s R  like raucous.  S like sleep deprived.  V like vino.  1-4-5-6.  Looking forward to staying at your hotel.  Thank you!

Monopoly:  That ones self explanatory except the bank wins everytime in real life.  :-p

This begs the question – does real life mimic the board games or do board games mimic real life? Deep thoughts.

9 Things That Will Turn Your Child from a Gizmo Into a Gremlin

Whoever created the movie, Gremlins, must’ve been a parent. It’s the perfect analogy for children. Ever look at your child one minute and they are sweet and cute (Gizmo), then the next they are foaming at the mouth and having the biggest tantrum ever (Gremlin)?  I call this the Gizmo to Gremlin transition.  It happens in the blink of an eye.  I’m compiling a list of the things that cause it so I and others can be more aware..

9 Things that will turn your gizmo into a gremlin:

1.) Go on a playdate without a snack/drink or go anywhere without a snack/drink. They will claim to be dying of thirst the second they realize you have nothing for them to drink. You will end up buying a $3 water somewhere.  If you are on a playdate at a friend’s house, they will eat everything in your friend’s kitchen or complain the entire time about being hungry.  You may end up clamping a hand down over their mouth and making a bad impression with said friend.  :-p

2.) Let all the siblings sleep together and they stay up past midnight.  In the Gremlins movie, you aren’t supposed to feed them after midnight, but in real life – it’s don’t let the kids stay up past midnight – you’ll regret it.

3.) Wake them up from a nap. The phrase never wake a sleeping baby applies to everyone: never wake a sleeping baby, never wake a sleeping toddler, never wake a sleeping preschooler, never wake a sleeping husband.

4.) The witching hour: anytime between 4pm and 6pm.

5.) Serve them anything homemade.  I no longer answer my kids when they ask me what’s for dinner.  I tell them that’s a loaded question!  Or I’ll tell them it’s something frozen that I warmed up b/c they trust that stuff more than they trust my cooking skills..

6.) Tell them you are going to Home Depot.  They hate Home Depot, mostly because they will usually end up getting barked at by some old, grouchy person that thinks kids shouldn’t exist in this world.  But some are nice and give them lollipops so it just depends.

7.) Tell them it’s time to clean.  Although, now that they are older, I find that I tell them all to clean just to get them to play quietly together.  Somehow telling them to clean, causes them to play nicely.  Not exactly the desired response, but close.  Sometimes, as a parent, you have to improvise and be flexible to get what you want.  :-p

8.) Tell them no at the store.  I like to say, we’ll add that to the Christmas list.  If they push further, I pretend to add it to a list on my phone.. This applies more when they are little – now, for my older children I say no incessantly at the store – it’s like I’m making up for all the times I couldn’t say it when they were little.

9.) Tell them to share.  This evicts the worst response.  It’s like you are asking them to set their toy on fire or something.  Telling them to take turns isn’t much better – they will watch the clock like a hawk and nag you incessantly to see if it’s time yet.

Anyone else have any other things?  My kids are 4,  7, & 9 so the list might’ve been different when they were younger.. No, wait, it was definitely different and more exhaustive when they were younger. I used to say – it’s so hard being little – all the time because it seemed like EVERYTHING upset them.  Seriously, you could say, “We are going to the park!” and they’d get upset.

And gremlin kid after they’ve eaten all the snacks out of your friend’s pantry:

And now I’m going to flip the script down here and write about times when Mom turns from Gizmo to Gremlin:

Here’s Mom “happily” at the computer paying bills:

These are the things that turn Mom into a gremlin:

1.) Talking to me after bedtime.

2.) Scream mommy from another room over and over again and expecting me to come running like I’m some kind of butler.

3.) Leaving the house without shoes on or with only dress up shoes on and not finding out until we are at the destination.

4.) Incessant fighting.

5.) The sound of the bead bucket hitting the floor.

6.) Bouncing around so much upstairs that it sounds like a sumo wrestling match is going on.

7.) Having to repeat myself for the 5th or 6th time.

And gremlin Mom (angrily stuffing face with cookies while offering the kids none):


DIY is Fun (in a laugh at yourself sort of way)

I’m getting tired of watching diy videos with smiling, happy people in them. I need a more honest depiction complete with f-bombs and threatening to jump off a bridge,etc.. That would make me feel better.. I guess me and Bryon could start our own line of “lessons learned”, “don’t try this at home”, “hire it out”, or “just buy it at the store and here’s why” videos with an office space style tantrum at the end…

It would go something like this: you just put this right here like so.. Oh wait, that doesn’t work- I’m going to have to redo the whole thing. Hold on a sec while I get the baseball bat..

Or this: We should leave a half inch gap at the top of the cabinets so they can open and close them. Ya, definitely. Or should we because we will be shrinking the counter space? Ya, definitely not. Or maybe we should because they’ll want to be able to open the cabinets. Ya, definitely. But, then again, the counter space. Will they be able to chop stuff? Ya, definitely not. This conversation continues into the next day.

Or this: Let’s just feel in this duct opening to see how thick the flooring is. Ow – what the!!! Blood gushing everywhere.. Only band-aid we can find is a Frozen themed band-aid.

Or this: Bryon patiently teaching me how to install flooring. Video pans to my face which is bug-eyed because I’m scared I’ll chop off my finger in the table saw. Hence, video is not shareable. :-p

Or this: Filming how to install a door when one of the girls walks in and says, “Mommy, we finished all the Pringles – what else can we have to eat?”. “Just open another can of Pringles.” Bad parenting moment captured – delete recording.

Seriously, we’ve tried to do a few videos and it always seems to end with, “Are you recording? Turn off the camera.”. Mysterious hand comes up to cover the camera lens. :-p Much respect to those people who can make videos with a smile.

Well, I guess we can say it’s a good thing we don’t make DIY videos or no one would be wanting to DIY. :-p Don’t worry, we hire out all the plumbing and electrical – we don’t try to do that ourselves. :-p But flooring, new doors, kitchen cabinets, painting, patching holes, upgrading closets, deep cleaning – that’s all fair game. Maybe one day we’ll get it together and be smiling, happy, diy video people.:-p #MarriageGoals

P.S. The same goes for exercise videos.. If they could just be more honest maybe I could finish the video.. Just throw me a few- “wow- my legs feel like they are about to fall off – but let’s keep going”.. Or “I really feel like having a donut right now but let’s focus”.. Anything so that I know they aren’t oversmiling autobots hellbent on exercising til we drop- that’s intimidating.. :-p And when I start to feel like they are trying to kill me-I have to push the stop button- it’s just self preservation on my end..

But whatever the case, we are having fun learning new things.  And we feel so grateful to be able to work together and do the things we do.  We learn more about each other and life everyday.  It’s an adventure and we love a good adventure.  With the downs, come some really great ups that we wouldn’t have gotten if we didn’t try out new things and experiences.  Isn’t that the great thing about life?  Say yes to the adventures!

8 things I might’ve said to my kids this summer

8 Things I Might’ve Said to My Kids This Summer:

1.) If you don’t want to eat what I make, then you can go outside and forage for crickets – maybe make yourself a cricket taco or something. Or you can take your sling shot and kill yourself a rabbit for dinner.. Lots of rabbits in the backyard..

2.) Singing, “Do you want to be evil like me? Do you want to be cruel?”.

3.) We are leaving in 5 minutes, naked or not!

4.) The house was just clean 2 days ago! What happened?!?!

5.) Stop doing that! You are going to end up on that show, “Top 10 dumbest ways to die”!

6.) Why does the car smell like a dead animal? Forget it – I don’t want to know. Only to find that my kids were shoving actual food in the cubbies! And I had gnats circling my head while driving for weeks before I gave in and investigated.

7.) Shut the door – on repeat – until my voice got hoarse. Only to find out to my astonishment that they actually know how to shut doors – in Minecraft! I guess it’s easier to remember to shut the door when a monster is chasing you. Note to self: buy a monster mask. :-p

8.) This one is more of a thought: waking up in the middle of the night thinking oh dear Lord please tell me they shut off the water!

Ya, I do have some redeeming qualities, I hope. Luckily, my kids have a good sense of humor.. Anyone else have a favorite thing they said?



Northern California With Kids

We took a two week vacation to northern California with the kids this summer! I know some of you may be getting jealous, but let me put your mind at ease. :-p If I had to give it a name it would be the Great California Restroom Adventure Tour. :-p We visited many of the restrooms on the Pacific coast. In the process, we did see some sea lions, sea otters, nice views, etc while running towards the restroom, of course. And we did get to meet many of the locals while running up to them and frantically asking if they know where the nearest restroom is then sprinting off.. :-p And got to know a few more intimately while they watched my little one pee herself while waiting in line for the restroom. Turns out there’s not a lot of potties in nature. Oh, but it was still fun (in a sleep-deprived/slap happy sort of way – you take what you can get as a parent) – luckily, we usually had a change of clothes or a swim suit – Bryon packed the whole house on his back and then hiked with it too – what a man. :-p

For the first part of the vacation – the first week – we visited family in Sacramento. We stayed at my sister’s house. She has two daughters that are around my daughter’s age and a swimming pool so they had an amazing time together! My mom came up and also my brother lives there so we were able to visit with everybody. And we all really enjoyed each other’s company so it was great. They threw my girls a surprise birthday party b/c they aren’t able to be there for their birthdays which the girls loved. This part of the trip was nice and relaxing. Then, we ventured out on our own for a tour of northern California. They say that the difference between an adventure and an ordeal is attitude, right? Well, let’s just say when we were all in the right frame of mind, it was an adventure and when anyone’s attitude was off, it was an ordeal. Well, with 5 people in the family, someone’s attitude was usually off. :-p I joke but it was fun and it’s fun to joke.

The first spot we hit was Yosemite National Park. It was only a few hours from Sacramento. We did the Yosemite Valley Floor Tour. We thought this would be a great way to see all the main sites because we only had a day to spend there – 5 hours to be exact before we headed out to our next destination. It was nice and relaxing- I highly recommend this. We felt like we got to see the main attractions of Yosemite. It was an open air tram so you kind of felt like you were in it. Case in point, I even got hit by a VERY large bug in the head while riding. Of course, I did a crazy dance in my seat and tried not to jump and roll out of the tram. Looked around for it – it seemed to be gone. Then, a few minutes later, I look down at my daughter Cara and the giant bug is on her neck wiggling it’s ginormous antennae. My eyes got huge but I tried not to clue her in to what was going on. I took my jacket sleeve and swatted that thing on to the floor of the tram and then I smooshed it. I know bug enthusiasts everywhere are probably going to jump down my throat about that but as long as it’s not the bug jumping down my throat I’m good.

With kids, this tour was great b/c our kids aren’t that athletic and so hiking usually doesn’t end well – Bryon ends up hiking with the kids on his shoulders. :-/ Which is kind of a shame because we do love to hike and love nature, but oh well, you learn to improvise with kids, right? We do alot of trails that allow strollers, etc b/c even my 7 and 9 year old take turns in the stroller. :-p Yes, I know, we have bred a new form of lazy. j/k Maybe it will be better as they get older.  

Now, we did happen to get the worst seat on the tram because we barely made it there in time – do not sit in the seat where your back is up against someone else’s back – it was awkward and my hair bun kept rubbing against people’s backs – I had to sit hunched over.  The reason we were running late even though we gave ourselves an hour to get to this place was because of the parking – there is no parking – you will have to wait forever for someone to leave their spot or park really far away and hike there.  It’s bad – so that’s the one downfall – give yourself plenty of time to get to the lodge.  I don’t like this picture of me but I want you guys to see the tram so I have to sacrifice.  :-p

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After that, we ate dinner at the Yosemite Valley lodge and headed out for our next destination – San Luis Obispo – this was as far South as we were going to go in California. I’m glad we left while the sun was still out b/c the roads were kind of windy. We arrived at our hotel in San Luis Obispo kind of late. When we got to our room, we found that the bed was not made and there was beer in the trash can and towels on the floor in the bathroom – almost as if someone had just left so we could have the room. It was weird and a little disconcerting. The hotel manager gave us a key to another room, but the other room didn’t have a bathroom and I was not willing to stay in a room with no bathroom – hello! the name I gave this vacation was the The California Restroom Adventure Tour! – I was not about to have an overnight restroom adventure too. So, we just took the clean bedding from the second room and remade the beds in our first room. We were on a budget so the hotel was not the most sought after. You get what you pay for, I guess. The hotel was Morro Shores Inn & Suites. At the same time, this hotel was not as bad as it could have been so I’m still thankful. Otherwise, it was pretty updated and relatively clean (like the carpet didn’t turn your feet black, etc). And it had working A/C which is apparently not always guaranteed at the less expensive hotels. Although it took us a bit of sweating it out to realize that the thermostat was working backwards..

We got to sleep VERY late because we all slept in the same room (2 queen beds). The girls slept in one bed and me and Bryon in the other. They had a hard time getting to sleep, of course, which is usually the case when they sleep together. So, lots of coffee was in order in the morning. We headed out to Montana de Oro State Park and boy was it beautiful! I highly recommend going there. Here’s some pictures:


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We took the Bluff Trail because it was stroller friendly and we definitely used that stroller for all three kids! They were fighting over it. Eventually, we had one in the stroller and one on Bryon’s shoulders and the other one had to suck it up which of course “wasn’t fair”. I was kind of wishing we had at least a double stroller. I had been reading from my phone to Bryon on the way to this park and one of the sites mentioned to beware of rattle snakes. Well, when we were walking the trail, a huge lizard crossed our path and Bryon screamed like a muppet. It seriously sounded like a muppet screaming. We laughed so hard! I had never heard him scream before – now I know why – he keeps that under wraps. I guess telling snake stories on the way to the trail is a good way to freak people out. :-p

MontanaDeOro_Coco MontanaDeOro_Family

The views were so beautiful! We saw lots of birds and you can go down and explore the tide pools in places. We didn’t see much in the tide pools, but it was cool, nonetheless. I like to explore to see if I can see some sea life. Colette didn’t like that part because she was scared I was going to get swept away by the waves! So, she screamed mercilessly when I was near the water. I might have told them once or twice to be careful near the water because of the waves and might have freaked them out a bit. Learned my lesson there. We ended up on a beach where the girls played in the sand. We ate our Subway sandwiches that we had brought along. It was a nice day. We also saw alot of squirrels or chipmunks along the way.


After that, we began our drive up the coastline to Monterrey. We began that drive around 4pm which was perfect because we got to see the sunset and the roads are really windy so we had enough light to not drive that in the dark which is good. I realized that I couldn’t live anywhere along that drive because it’s too hilly. I like to be able to see for long distances (being from TX). We arrived in Salinas about 8 or 9pm. We passed by Big Sur – the views were incredible.  This was the only time on the trip that we got to see the sunset.  We kept chasing it everyday but it never panned out.  This was beautiful though – it happened so fast – the sun just disappeared into the ocean.


We were pretty excited about our hotel in Salinas, CA. We decided to stay in Salinas because it was significantly less expensive and we were able to score a 1 bedroom hotel room! Woohoo! We had a bedroom with a door on it and the girls slept in the living room on a sofa bed. Privacy, at last! This is the way to go people. I will try to find this from here on out on our vacations. It was Residence Inn by Marriott Salinas Monterrey and I LOVED this hotel. It had a full breakfast buffet included in the price which had EGGS! – I love it when they have Eggs. It had eggs, fried potatoes, salsa, sour cream, waffles, pancakes, sausage, the works! I love breakfast buffets..

After stuffing our faces, we headed to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. This was my second favorite place we visited on the trip. I highly recommend going here. The views the most beautiful and the hike is kind of cool – along the rocky coastline. You also get to see sea lions and otters! Bring your binoculars, but they also have a guy with a telescope that you can zoom in on the animals and animal-watch. There are also tide pools along the trails to explore with crabs and other creatures in there. So fun! My daughter did scream at the top of her lungs again (b/c I was too close to the waves) but I was getting used to it.

Here’s some pictures:

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Next, we headed over to Carmel beach which was beautiful – the white sand was gorgeous. And the bathrooms here were the best! :-p The girls made a sand castle – I called it the meatball castle because that’s what it looked like. The water is, of course, cold but they enjoyed just getting in up to their knees and watching the water pull away from them – they said it felt like they were moving. If you want to get in any further, you have to have a wet suit – too cold. We didn’t get wet suits, etc because our kids don’t really know how to swim that well and it would make me nervous anyway. They were happy just to play in it like that and build their sand castle.  We also saw some dolphins playing which was neat.

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Then, we headed out and did the 17 mile drive which was gorgeous. But I was kind of done by that point. It was alot in one day. And we were ready to eat. We headed to Cannery Row and tried to find food there, but we just walked around and headed back to the hotel – figured we’d save some money and get fast food to eat at the hotel. Everything is just so expensive when you try to eat out with kids. We ended up getting Hardee’s to go. The kids like the huge nachos and we got our burgers that were significantly less expensive than those at the burger joint on Cannery Row. But significantly more expensive than burgers in St Louis – $10 for the combo vs $7 in St Louis. The girls did spend a ton of time at the candy store picking out candy that we missed the hotel pool, but oh well, they had fun deciding on candy.

Next up, our Sea Otter adventure. This was my favorite activity of the trip. We went to Kayak Connection at Elkhorn Slough and did their Family Adventure Tour which was a two-hour kayak tour. I rode in the triple kayak with Colette and Cara and Bryon rode in the double kayak with Sydney. Turns out the triple kayak is a little harder to maneuver because it’s longer but I did ok with it – definitely got my exercise in for the day. They had to wait on me a little bit because we were paddling in circles at times. :-p

Our tour guide was great! We were the only ones on this tour so we got a one on one experience. We first paddled out next to the sea lions which were on the beach right next to us. Then, we headed out into the slough and there were sea otters everywhere – they would just pop up next to us while we were paddling. We even got to witness one eating a shellfish up close – cracking it open and sucking it out. So cool! I will never forget that experience and I hope the girls won’t either. It’s especially unique because the sea otters are endangered and they have just started to flourish in this area so we were witnessing an incredible thing and teaching the girls about endangered animals and the importance of protecting them. So awesome! I highly recommend this. We also got to see and touch a sea hare (it inked itself with purple ink and the girls thought that was so neat) that our tour guide found hidden in the sea lettuce as well as touch the sea lettuce. The girls loved this hands-on type of experience.

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After this, we headed up to Santa Cruz which we were planning to hang out there but it was so crowded and we couldn’t find parking so we just moved along to San Francisco, which I’m glad we did because we were able to make it to our hotel before dark which was good. We had to get to the airport to drop off our car and then catch a cab to our hotel. It would not have been fun to do all that while being tired because it was a lot of work to clean out the car and we had so much stuff to lug around too. It was perfect timing. We got to our hotel (Kimpton Buchanan) around 6pm – a little bit after the happy hour social, but they gave us coupons for 2 free wines each at the restaurant. Then, we explored a little bit the area we were staying in – Japan Town.
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I loved staying in Japan Town. It was so neat and they happened to have a Japanese Festival going on that same weekend we were there. There was also a Pride Festival going on in the rest of the city which we weren’t interested in attending with the kids so we attended this Japanese Festival and it was sooo cool! We also ate some Japanese food at a noodle place and the kids really liked it. We went to Golden Gate Park and let the kids play on the playground there.

Then, we headed to Baker Beach and wished we had brought a bottle of wine! We ate our peanut butter and honey sandwiches (trying to stick to the budget which was hard – I don’t really like peanut butter sandwiches) and lots of chips (because this was the splurge item). The kids enjoyed playing in the surf (up to their knees) and we enjoyed the view of the Golden Gate Bridge wishing we had wine. :-p We took the bus everywhere because we didn’t have a car. It was fine. Better than driving but it was a lot of walking for the kids. They held up though – jumping in and out of that stroller. We did see two naked old men walking around the city while waiting for the bus, but luckily the girls didn’t see them and I only caught the back side not the front. Whew! :-p
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We did have a unique bus experience with one guy saying rather loudly, “The angels are on my side! Are they on yours? I don’t think so!”. He kept saying this over and over and over. Then, I heard a boom and thought (or hoped) he fell down when the bus stopped. I was thinking – the angels might not be on your side right now.  I actually don’t think he fell, but it was still funny to think about that possibly happening. Then, when he got off the bus, everyone breathed a sigh of relief and looked gratefully at each other but then he pops his head back on the bus and says, “I heard that! The angels are on my side! Are they on yours? I don’t think so!”. Geez, guy, just get off the bus and quit trying to tell us that the angels aren’t on our side. How’s that for a Have a good day! :-p It would’ve been kind of comical to watch him walk into a street sign or something, but that didn’t happen..  Sorry, but he was annoying.

Next day, we explored the main tourist places of San Francisco in the city. We took the bus down to the Ferry building. We were planning to eat lunch there but by the time we arrived it was sooo crowded with the lunch crowd that we ended up just eating our dessert on a bench (blueberry cake – cake by the ocean, baby). See a theme here?  If any place was too crowded, we made a beeline for a different place – we aren’t big fans of crowds.  :-p  Then, we took a water taxi to the Fisherman’s Wharf because the walk would have been too long for the kids and we just happened to run into a lady selling water taxi rides.

We had lunch at a seafood place on the wharf and then headed to Coit Tower which we decided not to go inside because the kids would’ve never made it up all those stairs. Then, we headed to China Town and explored a little there and had some Chinese food. The kids get a kick out of it now b/c there is a China Town in minecraft and there all like – we’ve been there!  :-p  And back to the hotel in Japan Town for dessert. We really liked this place across from the hotel called Moyo’s for frozen yogurt – we went there a couple of the nights.  It was in a little mall place that had a bunch of stuff (KinoKuniya Mall).

The hotel was in a great location. We had no problem finding food and snacks – the hotel was called the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel in San Francisco, CA and I highly recommend it. It’s a good price for the city, great location, recently renovated so everything is very clean and nice. They don’t offer breakfast which was the only downside, but we were able to go to the nearby market and get things for breakfast so it was no problem. Love that place!

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View From Coit Tower


China Town Entrance
Back in Japan Town for dessert

We called my littlest daughter Elf on this trip because she actually almost did the splits while getting on an escalator, she really wanted to push all the buttons when we got on the elevator and she thought a wild animal really looked like it needed a hug (though we told her not to).

By this time, we were so ready to get home – at least, I was. Maybe I’m a bit of a homebody I’m realizing. It’s a lot of work taking the kids on vacation and it can get stressful at times with the lack of sleep and the stress of keeping track of everyone and bleeding money but it’s so worth it! I don’t think we’ll be taking that long of a vacation again – one week might be our max but I’m so glad that the kids got to spend time with their cousins and make those memories/have that bonding time because they were at the perfect age for it and that’s something they’ll never forget and that’s the reason for so long of a trip. Next time, though it will have to be a one week max.. I highly recommend seeing Northern California with kids and this was a great, safe, itinerary for anyone looking to go there as a family. Have fun!

About This Site

Hi, I’m Denise!  I just realized that I never wrote an About post for this website.  I started this website when me and my husband began an adventure in real estate.  We bought a 4-unit property that was built in 1969 and is a bit of a fixer upper.  Hence, the realty in the website name.  And housewife b/c I am a stay-at-home Mom to my three daughters.

We were looking for something that I could do from home that was flexible and provided us with a little extra income and so we became landlords.  Plus, my husband is handy and that helps significantly, so he’s basically taken on a second job.  We’ve had many experiences through this adventure and I thought we’d blog about it here and if anything helps or encourages or entertains anyone else through this then great!  We also rent out our old house that we used to live in – that comes with different adventures also posted here.

My hope for this site is that you’ll be able to find recipes (easy, mostly), tips on property management (landlording), cleaning tips (b/c I have to), home decor ideas, renovating ideas, and mommying shenanigans (the most fun and challenging part but also most rewarding).  But through all of it, I hope to convey humor and make someone laugh b/c if we don’t laugh we cry, right?

The name of the website also came from a play on the Real Housewives shows.  I do love those shows and I watch every season and every city.  I know some people are going to look down on me for that and I understand.  My husband feels the same way.  He can’t even stand for them to be on if he is in the room so it’s a secret pleasure of mine.  As I’ve told him, I only watch them as a way to know what not to do.  I really do learn a lot from the shows.

There’s usually a voice of reason on the show and there’s some give and take so it’s not all bad.  It’s not like watching Jerry Springer or anything – which I don’t watch.  I used to watch the Real World but I gave that up several years ago b/c I felt like there was no voice of reason on that show – just bad behavior and I felt dirty after watching it.  I think the Real Housewives casts pretty well to have a variety of people – there’s usually a voice of reason, a pot stirrer, a big spender, and someone on the verge of divorce every season.  I don’t even know why they call them housewives b/c most are not married but whatever – details..

I’m not sure how my About Me post became all about Real Housewives.  I am not one of them nor do I look up to them – no way no how.  I just love analyzing the psychology of relationships and I’m always watching reality shows that involve groups of people and group dynamics b/c I find it interesting.  I also love Big Brother, Survivor, Bachelor, and Bachelorette.  When groups of people that are different are forced to be together, conflict arises and I like to see how it’s dealt with and analyze it.  Could they have said this or that to make it better?  Etc. Or I take mental notes: Never bring sprinkle cookies to a dinner party (those who have seen The Real Housewives of New Jersey will get that).  I really should’ve gone into the psychology field but I didn’t b/c career paths there were less clear.  But I can practice it secretly.  :-p

For myself though, I absolutely abhor conflict and avoid it at all costs – it gives me anxiety.  Maybe that’s why I watch the shows – I’m in shock that people actually willingly put themselves through that.  I couldn’t do it.  This post is indicative of how my website is – lots of tangents, analogies and analyzing things b/c that’s me and I have to be me. I might veer off topic every once in a while, but I’ll try to make it interesting..

Here’s my NOT AN EXPERT clause: I am not an expert – just a person that does a lot of diy stuff so don’t sue me (literally) if it doesn’t go well for you – not my fault.  :-p  When things don’t go well for me, I only blame myself – I don’t understand today’s philosophies of people being sue-happy and that’s another tangent for a different day, but I don’t hang around people like that so hopefully that’s not you and we can be friends.  :-p Unless, of course, a box falls on your head at Wal-Mart or something.. That might be a little different. I suppose there are appropriate times for people to sue, but you know what I’m talking about. People should use it sparingly and judiciously. Besides, I have no money so sueing would be pointless – as I mentioned earlier, I’m a stay-at-home Mom. :-p I just feel the need to put a disclaimer in here somewhere: not an expert. :-p

Which brings me to the next point. The bible warns against quick money: Proverbs 13:11: Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.  Remember: Hard work pays off.  It may not always pay off financially but it may just feed your soul and that’s the best kind of pay.

On that note, last but not least, me and my husband are Christians and we do our best to follow the principles set forth in the Bible.  We fall short constantly but that is the human condition.  We do our best not to judge others b/c we ourselves aren’t perfect.  The only perfect person was Jesus.  Jesus was all about love and compassion so if you don’t have love and compassion then you are doing it wrong – ok, so maybe I am being a bit judgmental on that point.  We enjoy good people and especially people that point us toward God and we’d like to give all the glory to Him in everything we do that’s good.  Everything bad – not God’s fault – the fault of our human condition.


Fred Bird – My arch nemesis

FredBirdAnybody else get anxiety about volunteering at their kid’s school?  Well, one year I volunteered at the Fall Carnival at my daughter’s school.

It was hard to choose what to volunteer for.  I didn’t want to lead a game b/c I was having some back trouble and thought I’d get grouchy picking stuff up constantly (like darts, and things that the kids use for the games).  And it would’ve been weird if I had taken off my shoes and used my feet as hands to pick stuff up which is what I do at home.  Also, you have to be all excited and fun and extroverted when putting on the games and that doesn’t always match my personality.

So, I thought temporary tattoos – that should be a safe place to just kind of blend into the wall!  And it was only for 2 hours – what could possibly go wrong?  Maybe if I messed up a tattoo a kid might scream but not likely b/c most kids are easy going- though you always have that one kid – who I’m not going to judge b/c my kid has been that one kid at times.

It was going as expected – nice and boring and uneventful until Fred Bird walks into the gym.  He’s all taking pictures with people and having a good time with the paparazzi following him and comes straight up to the tattoo table and asks for a tattoo.

Well, I tell him that the tattoo isn’t going to stick to him b/c he’s got fur.  And he’s like, “What?!?!” but he doesn’t talk so he was gesturing WTH with his hands.  Then, he points at his arm that he wants a tattoo there.  And I explain to him that, “I’m sorry it’s not going to work.”  Then, he pounds the table with both his furry arms and makes a big scene demanding a tattoo.

At this point, the whole gymnasium full of parents (and kids) is looking in my direction and I feel my face turn bright red.  Next, he puts his leg up on the table and points to his leg that he wants a tattoo there.  But the costume is covering his legs.  So, I explain to him again that I’m sorry but it’s not going to stick.  He puts up his hands like he’s completely exasperated with me and then proceeds to put my entire head in his mouth!

Pictures are being taken, etc.  My face at this point is the color of his costume and the entire gym is staring at me and laughing.  At me not with me.  I look across the room, hoping at least my family wasn’t watching this, and see Bryon and the girls staring at me and they are not laughing (they look like they are in shock – probably at how red my face was) and my oldest daughter had this strange look on her face – like she was embarrassed of me which made me want to die.

All you parents out there can relate that all we want to do is make our kid’s school life better not worse and therefore, I try to blend into the wall where ever possible.  Yet, here I was managing to be the laughing stock of the gym.  :-p  I’m not exactly sure what he wanted or how I could’ve avoided embarrassment – maybe I should’ve pretended to give him a tattoo for the photo op and instead I spoiled his photo op b/c I was too busy trying to bury my head in the sand.  :-p  LOL!  Oh well, at least it was entertaining for everyone else!  If only my face didn’t turn so red, I could play things off a little better.

Flash forward to today and it is the funniest thing ever to me to retell that story but at the time – complete embarrassment!  :-p  Moral of the story:  if you think the temporary tattoo table is a safe place to volunteer, it’s not.  No place is safe when volunteering at the kid’s school.  Just buckle up and enjoy the ride – it could make for a good story later!!!  :-p

How I Met My Husband

marriageMeeting my husband was sort of like a mini Bachelorette show for me.  I know a lot of people don’t like that show but I happen to love it.  :-p

I used to be an IT consultant before I decided to stay at home with the kids.  I traveled for work and basically lived in hotels out of a suitcase.  I gave up my apartment in Houston, TX at some point b/c it didn’t make sense to have one since I was never there and I didn’t want to have to fly back and forth every weekend.  I was on a project in San Francisco where they were trying to get me to live to reduce expenses on the project but I just couldn’t see living there (I was there for 10 months).  Being from Texas, San Francisco was just way too different for me.  The cost of living was the biggest shock to the system.  I couldn’t imagine paying the prices they were asking for housing and the raise wouldn’t have been nearly enough to cover the expense.

In addition, I feel like there is such a different culture in San Francisco than I’m used to.  It seemed to me that many of the men weren’t ready to settle down or weren’t interested in women or they only ate salad (which was probably the worst thing).  :-p  I got a lot of funny looks for eating huge plates of meat and potatoes on dates and men eating tiny, extremely healthy salads (kale used to only be used for decoration, right?) – no thanks, I’m not a brontosaurus.  Not just funny looks though – sometimes looks of disapproval which bothered me.  I don’t care that much about my appearance or health (I should care more about my health) that I’m willing to be unhappy (aka – only eat salad).  And, with the men I was meeting, it seemed to me that they cared a lot about appearance and being healthy which would only drive me NUTS.  Now, I hate to generalize everyone (I didn’t date everyone :-p) there but that was just my experience.  Whatever the case, I was just finding it hard to “settle down” which is what I really wanted.

When I saw a project come up in St Louis, MO, I was extremely excited!  A few of my friends were already working there and I got word that they were in need of software testers.  I jumped on it.  I’ve always had a thing for the Midwest though I’d never really been there (unless you consider TX part of the Midwest – not sure).  You could say my type of guy is a Midwestern guy.  They not only had to have the Midwestern look (manly man type of look – I guess the opposite of metrosexual) but also the values b/c it’s the values that I find the most attractive (good old-fashioned family values).

I signed up online from California to do a pre-dating (just like speed dating) event in St Louis, MO about a week after I arrived there.  I thought it would be a good way to meet some St Louis people and maybe they could show me around.  I had no idea that I would meet my husband there.  Though I did pray that I would.

There were 13 guys and 12 girls.  The age range was 25 to 35 years old.  There I had an advantage b/c I was 26.  You spend about 6 minutes with each person and then the organizers ring a bell and the men switched tables.  The women got to stay at the same table.  The held it at a bar called Llewellyn’s in the Central West End.  I arrived a little bit late from work so I didn’t get a chance to get a drink – which was definitely a Godsend.  :-p  We talked about basic things – what do you do for work, for fun, etc.  They had some ice breaker cards on the table, but we didn’t really use them.

How it works is that they give you a piece of paper with everyone’s names on it and you select the people that you would be interested in seeing again and if they also selected you, then the organizer will give them your phone number.  Everyone I talked to was really nice and interesting so I selected 7 people to see again!  Well, they all selected me too so I had 7 dates potentially to go on!  I went from having no social life to a crazy social life!  :-p  Bryon only had one date to go on with me b/c he was more selective on who he picked. That is, maybe the choices weren’t that great – hence, all my dates. I think many of the women were on the older side of the date range which is a big disadvantage at these things if the men are younger and vice versa. It all just depends on the candidates that sign up.

So, needless to say, I was busy.  I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss out on anyone so I went out with everyone. See my post about searching for the magical unicorn – Lighter Shade of Gray – this is completely in line with my personality- or personality disorder. :-p

Bryon was the last guy to call.  I had already gone on a few dates by the time he called b/c some of the guys called the second after they got my number which I wasn’t too keen on (looks a little frantic and desperate).  But I was waiting for Bryon to call b/c I really liked him – I had written some good things by his name.  I wish I had kept that paper so I could remember what that was but he was definitely a front runner – he definitely would’ve gotten the first impression rose if this was the real Bachelorette.  ;-P

So, finally he called and we arranged to meet up at the Spaghetti Factory in downtown St Louis at the landing.  I was living at Gentry’s Landing in downtown so this really worked well for me – I guess that’s why he picked it – very thoughtful.  Except I suck at directions and even though I went downtown everyday for the past week to get to my apartment, I missed my exit to get there and ended up going across the bridge into Illinois.  I was already running late from work, so I had to call and tell him I was going to be extra late.  He was very nice and talked me through how to get there.  And he was waiting outside for me when I arrived at the Spaghetti Factory to give me a big hug.  That was nice.

We ate great food and had great conversation.  It was really nice.  Then, we went down the street to get a drink – I can’t remember where.  We had to end the date a bit early (early for me b/c I’m not disciplined and never had a set bed time) b/c we both had work the next day and we ended with a small kiss on the lips goodbye.  Perfect.

While we were on the date, he arranged for a second date (that’s how you know the date is going well :-p).  He finds it funny though b/c when he asked what I was doing on the following Saturday, I asked what time on Saturday?  This indicated to him that I had another date which I had no idea that that’s what it indicated to him but that was true.  :-p  I did have another date but I was willing to squeeze him in.  :-p  Which was probably not fair to that other date but at that point I didn’t care.  Bryon was the front runner.

Fast forward to Saturday.  I went on my “other” date.  It was not good.  The guy I went out with was ready to be married like that day.  He took me to an Italian restaurant on the Hill which was nice and had great food but everybody in there was much, much older than us – like I think I we were the only ones that didn’t have white hair.  I was thinking that if I dated this guy, this would be us.  He was talking about me meeting his parents (it was our first date!) and marriage.  I got really scared off and I drank waaaaaay too much wine during that date.  I thought this guy doesn’t care at all who I am, he just wants to marry anyone.  I was dying to get off that date.

After dinner, I had him take me back to my apartment b/c I had scheduled Bryon to pick me up at 9pm to go to a comedy club.  I think my date had figured we would do something after dinner which I hadn’t even factored that in to my thinking in my original planning of this night.  I kept checking my watch b/c I was cutting it very close.  I didn’t want the two of them to run into each other.  I basically got out of one car, barely got inside, when Bryon called that he had arrived.  It was REALLY close and stressful!  I’m pretty sure I had to be a bit rude to my first date in order to race out of the car (like, I basically dropped and rolled out of the car when he pulled up to the apartment complex), but I didn’t want to get busted.  Woops!!!!

This poor planning almost ruined my chances with Bryon b/c by the time he picked me up I had already had a couple glasses of wine to get through my first date which didn’t go well.  To him, I wasn’t the same person he had met on the first date we had b/c I was tipsy Denise which is different.  We went to the comedy club and had an OK time.  I could tell something was off.  Then, he dropped me back off at my apartment.  I knew I had to do something to reel him back in.  So, I invited him up and showed him pictures of my family on my laptop.  He realized that I wasn’t crazy, tipsy Denise.  I was the same person he’d met on the first date – so long as I didn’t drink.  And that is history.  We found our crazily ever after.  And, in this area of my life, I found my magical unicorn. 🙂 Still searching for it in all the other areas. :-p

Doll Face

doll-clipart-doll_13Anyone ever get hit on by a Contractor? I’m sure many women (and even men?) have experienced this in the home improvement industry. I got called a doll by one over text. I’m like hmmm. What kind of doll – there’s such a variety:

Raggedy Ann – this is what I feel most like – raggedy explains it all.

Cabbage patch doll – I eat a lot of cookies and junk food while I renovate and Chinese buffet, of course, which could fill out the face from sodium bloat.  It’s a definite possibility.  I especially love those Mother’s brand cookies which are frosted animal shapes with sprinkles – yum!  I know even an ant wouldn’t touch those, but I love them..

Barbie – I definitely don’t have the dimensions for Barbie so we can rule that one out. :-p

Cute little porcelain fragile doll – eh, probably not – I have big German bones and broad shoulders.

Teddy bear – could be b/c I don’t have time to shave my legs as often while renovating.

One of those crazy ones from the movie Dolls that murder people – I would hope not, but I can be a grouch while renovating so we can’t rule that one out.

Blow up doll – b/c I’m usually spaced out on paint fumes – jeez I would hope not this one. :-p If so, I need to change my blank, zoned out, paint fume stare to make sure my mouth is closed. I hope I’m not looking at people like that actress Kristen Stewart. I can’t even watch the Twilight movies because I feel like she looks at everyone like she’s about to kiss them – and when she looks at her Dad – that just creeps me out.

My husband doesn’t mind at all which is funny. He just says he doesn’t necessarily agree with my tactics at getting stuff done. :-p But he really likes a good price. I think he’d sell himself for that if he could – just kidding! I actually don’t really mind it too much other than that it just makes it awkward. I am kind of flattered to be called a doll as long as it’s one of the cute ones. I am approaching forty – I’ll take all the compliments I can get! :-p