Friday Favorites – Week 360 – Indoor Winter Picnic Basket

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7 Things Every Parent Should Know

7 Things Every Parent Should Know -

  1.  Every child is different.  I think sometimes we base our parenting styles and decisions on how things worked the first time around, or how our parent’s raised us. I have three children and they couldn’t be more different.  Growing up, I remember thinking that my sister had it so much easier, because I had already gone through all of the hard things.  And, that my mom favored her over me, which.. well I am still not sure that isn’t entirely true, lol.  But… now that I have children of my own I know that what worked for one of them wouldn’t necessarily work for the other.
  2. There is no such thing as the perfect parent.  Even though it is what we all aspire to be, we would save ourselves so much time right out of the gate, by acknowledging from the very beginning that we are human, and therefore flawed. There will be times when you have to say you are sorry.  You will not always be right.  You are charged with shaping these little lives that have been entrusted to you, but try as you might you can’t mold them into your own image.  (Trust me I’ve tried, lol)
  3. Quality and Quantity.  I know you probably thought I was going to say  Quality over Quantity.  But Nope.  Here’s is my reasoning you are probably never going to be able to please everyone see #1.  And, even though you will most likely try to find things that everyone is interested in and or try to give them as much one on one time, as possible.  That simply may not be the way that they remember it.  So do you best to spend as much time as you can, whenever you can.  And hope that it is enough.
  4. Routine. Routine is the key to any well oiled machine.  Bed times, chores, expectations, etc.  As I mentioned before, I thought my parents were too strict.  But, the thing about it is that looking back I see now that knowing what was expected of me and how I was to conduct myself played a large part in shaping me.  I can see now that a lot of the heartache that my friends went through I was lucky enough not to have experienced, because I simply didn’t live that life.
  5. Enjoy it.  I will be the first one to tell you that parenthood is NO WALK IN THE PARK.   You love your babies and you can’t imagine life without them.  But, sometimes you do.  You imagine what it would be like to pull your hands through you hair, throw on some bright red lipstick and skinny jeans and just jump in the car heading off to God knows where and for God knows what reason.  But, you know those days are over.  So once you are back from your pity party.  Make sure to enjoy these days.  One day you will miss it.  Since my oldest is 20 and my youngest is 6, I have a unique vantage point.  I can see the other side while still in the trenches.
  6. Document your days.  This is a controversial one for some people, because if you are snapping pictures then maybe you aren’t present.  I guess I have mixed feelings about this, because I see things from behind a lens that I am not sure I would notice otherwise.  Or maybe it’s that the things that I see make me want to pull out my camera to preserve the memory.  Like taking my daughters to the beach last year, and watching their faces so go from fear, to fun, to frolicking.  It was amazing to sit there and watch them grow before my eyes.  To me, it’s equally amazing to look back on those pictures and remember that day with joy in my heart.  I think I have always taken a lot of pictures, but when my son was little there were no iPhone’s and such, so there are way less pics of him than of the girls, and it is one of my biggest regrets.
  7. We Time and Me Time are a necessity.  Before they came, it was just the two of you.  And, before you became the two of you, it was just you.  Every relationship needs cultivation, even the ones we have with ourselves.  And, I believe this with all my heart.  If you are depleted at some time in some way, it is going to come out.  I am lucky enough to have my parents close by and when I need a break they are more than happy to afford us that luxury.  But, even if you don’t have a support system close by, little things mean a lot.  Can you both get off work for a couple of hours while the kids are at school, for lunch or for a movie or both?  Can you schedule a babysitter, and make a night of it?  Or maybe you just need the peace and quiet, or solitude of a massage, or mani-pedi appointment.  Figure out what feeds your spirit and your soul and do that, make time for that.


Our 2016 Fall Home Tour

Stage Presents 2016 Fall Home Tour Hero Image -

Welcome to the Our 2016 Fall Home Tour. This year virtually flew by for me.  I can’t believe it’s already time for another Fall Home Tour.  This year I happened to be working while trying to get everything together for the Season, which had its own set of challenges. And, I charged myself with trying to reuse as much of the past seasons décor but in different ways and or in different areas of the house.  For the most part, I was able to do that with just a few additions here and there.

Stage Presents 2016 Fall Home Tour Foyer -

Stage Presents 2016 Fall Home Tour - Formal Living Room -

Stage Presents 2016 Fall Home Tour Tablescape - Formal Dining Room - Stage Presents 2016 Fall Home Tour Tablescape - Formal Dining Room -

The Exterior of the House

Decorating the outside of the house/front porch area was a lot of fun for me this year.  Mostly, because I was able to use all  the decorations from last year. The only new purchases were our Pumpkin Door Mat and (2) bales of hay from Walmart.

The Formal Living Room – 

The formal living room is the least used room in our entire house, but since it extends into the Formal Dining Room, I can’t get away with decorating one room and not the other.  I was able to reuse a wreath from last year and a lamp that we bought last year.  We added some seasonal pillows with pops of orange to the couch and I think it tied the whole look together.

The Formal Dining Room – 

As always the Formal Dining Room is where we do the most decorating.  The table centerpiece is always the point of most contention.  Whenever the season starts, [in my mind],  I have already narrowed down the look I am going for.  However, that rarely works out the way that I think it will.  This year was no different, I put together what seemed like an easy look and I sent hubby on a mission to find me deer antlers.  He accepted the challenge and brought them back, but somehow we just couldn’t make it look like it did in our heads.  So then I went to Walmart and bought these Better Home and Gardens Acacia Wood Bark Chargers,  (Click the Link for Pictures), and some pumpkins.  At this point, I still wasn’t sure about what I wanted everything to look like, but, I knew that I wanted the table to have different dimensions.  I wish I could show you pics of the mess, when I laid all of this out on the table.  After shaking my head one too many times, I called in the hubby for reinforcements or maybe it was for a rescue mission.  I fiddled with a few things and told him what I was looking for and he waved his magic wand and our Centerpiece was complete.  The Fall Leaf Garland, was something that we already had, we used the Acacia Chargers to give the Pumpkin in Our Centerpiece some height.  I picked up the leaf candle holders and the Acorn Salt and Pepper Shakers from Family Dollar and all together it created this year’s Fall Tablescape.

Every year, I learn more and more about my husband from the strangest things.  This is no different.  I am pretty sure he could care less about the house being decorated for the seasons or Tablescapes, and Centerpieces, but he knows that it makes me happy.  And, even though he probably would never admit it, he subscribes to the concept of Happy Wife, Happy Life.  And, though I consider myself to be a creative person, what we do together far surpasses anything we do apart.  So I dedicate this post and this year’s Fall Home Tour to Mr. Stage without whom things just wouldn’t go the way that they do.  Well, that’s the mushy part of this post.  If you haven’t gagged yet, lol.  Thanks for coming on over!!  We loved having you!!  See you next year.

Stage Presents 2016 Fall Home Tour Tablescape Close Up -


On Your First Day of Middle School

First Day of Middle School The house is eerily quiet after a summer full of laughter and yelling.  And,  as I put the last load of laundry in the dryer, and sit down to relax before bed,  so many thoughts flood into my head. You finished your first day of Middle School.  Around this time last night, your Dad and I  sat and debated all the things that could go wrong and how we would handle it, if it did.  We were both nervous for you and dare I say shook. As we sat there with the tv off for almost 40 minutes just staring out into space.  It seemed unreal that our little timid girl was turning into this tween right in front of our eyes.    On our way home from dropping you off and speaking with your counselor, your Dad told me that he wrote you a note.  I grimaced a little, after all Dad is often known for his boyish ways (less frills and curls and more blunt and direct).  But, when I got home and read the letter. tears literally filled my eyes. (I thought about posting the note, but some things should be between a girl and her Dad.)  Now, I know that this doesn’t surprise you because over the years Mom has turn into MUSH.  Long gone are my hard exterior and Sky High Walls, blame your Dad for that.

But, I am in tears for many reasons.  There is nothing like knowing that your child is loved.  I know you are saying he is my Dad and he is supposed to love me.  Which of course is true, but it’s the way that he loves you that chokes me up.  It is knowing that we were all, you, me and Dad sitting on pins and needles for the last two weeks coming up to the New School Year.  It is the little secret conversations that I would catch a second or two of when walking by, over the summer.  The way he thought of how to prepare you as best he could for what comes next. Or the pride that I saw in his eyes when you walked across the stage at your Elementary School Graduation in May.  And, it is my own understanding that there really is nothing like a Daddy’s love for a little girl.

So as I brace myself for the Middle School Years and the changes that I know you will make and the person who you will become.  I remember something that I thought of when you were just a wee little girl.  I hoped that you would always be able to feel the love that surrounds you.  And, that means when we don’t see eye to eye, or when discipline feels more like punishment and my caring seems more like “stalkery”. And, all these years later as you embark on yet another part of your journey, I hope this still.  You are one of my greatest accomplishments and you are loved, supported and wished well in more ways than you will ever know.


Spring Break – Perfect in It’s Imperfection

our “perfect yet not so perfect” spring break

Recap of Spring Break 2016 -

Spring Break is over and things are getting back to normal around here.  I have been out of pocket for a few days, that normally happens over extended breaks.  The blog and the business run around my family life and not visa versa.  Last week was Spring Break, so I spent as much time as I could hanging out with my little ones.   I am always trying to teach my kids lessons that I am still learning and yes,  I know just how hypocritical that sounds. But, I guess it’s in hopes that by teaching the lesson, they  will avoid some of the same mistakes that I have made in my own life.  One of the things that I am always telling them is that they have to roll with the punches or that certain things are beyond their control and they are.  But, it is a lesson that I struggled hard with and for a  long time.  My mom always tells me that God will keep teaching me to be patient and understanding until I am both.  Spring Break was an exercise in just that.

Our trip to Florida for Spring Break was great!! But, I am not sure that you would have agreed taking it at face value.  I have been back and forth to Florida three times in less than 30 days.  Now, my sister lives there, but that has never happened before.  As I am sure you remember me saying in my last post, we lost my sweet niece on the 15th.  So, I went down when she was sick and was there when she passed.  I went back for the service and then I returned for Spring Break and to physically lay eyes on my sister.  Saying this to say there was a melancholy under tone to our trip, but we were determined to make some good memories, in spite of it.

The first night there we had date night.  We left all the kids with the nanny, and we went out and enjoyed some grown up time.  It was great to spend some time with my sister and her hubby that was just light and fun.  The next day we took the kids  to the Central Orlando zoo.  Now, if you know me at all, you know that outdoors and heat are not my thing, but the kids had a ball.  The highlight of the trip was to be our trip to the beach.  After all nothing says Spring Break like the beach.  On the day of the beach trip it was COLD… Yes, I said cold in Florida.  But, we went anyway thinking that maybe the weather would warm up.  When we arrived at the beach, the tides were so high that they actually closed the entrance to drive on to the beach.  After circling around we we were able to get in, and when we got on the beach and out of the car the wind was so fierce and sand was blowing everywhere.  So we had to vacate.  Talk about three disappointed girls, yes I said 3 because I included myself.  So pouts and all we packed back into the truck and headed to go get something to eat.  The plan was that we would eat and stay in the area for a while in hopes for a change in the weather.  But, the change never came so we ventured back to my sisters house.  On the way back, we decided that since they were already dressed to get wet we would take them to the “Splash Park” not too far from where we were.  By that time it was getting warmer, and though a little apprehensive at first, with each splash the beach became a distant memory and we once again in their good graces.

Since we paid for admission to the beach, hubby and I managed to escape back there later in the day, the kids stayed with my sissy and we got to have some one on one time.  I will consider that her anniversary gift to me this year.  Yesterday made 7 years since I married this man.  And, still just a couple of hours alone with him ALWAYS refresh my soul.  Even when I don’t feel like I need it.  So Shout out to him today + this was the first year that he was able to take off the entire week to spend with us.  Another Spring Break survived and enjoyed and now back to our regularly scheduled programming. (P.S. – I know there were no pictures of me.  But, you know how that it is, I am always the one behind the camera. #mommylife)

Time Spent with Family Quote -

What did you do to celebrate Spring Break this year?  Feel like sharing, we would love to hear your story in the comment section below.

Check out Our Previous Spring Break Shenanigans Here.

Friday Freebies: Future Bride Freebies


Will You Be My Maid of Honor Printable Card - Future Bride Freebies

For Personal Use Only – – Not for Commercial Use – Do Not Alter or Redistribute. ©2016 Stage Presents

With Valentine’s squarely behind us, spring on the horizon, and  the wedding season approaching it seemed only right to dedicate a few of our Friday Freebies to the “Brides to Be”.  The wedding planning phase, while it holds its own frustrations, can be one of the most memorable and rewarding parts of your big day.  It is a time to bond with your family and friends as you embark on your new adventure.  So don’t half step do it up right!!    Ask them to stand with you on your Special Day with these Will you be my Maid of Honor Printable Cards. (Download Below).  Two different versions of Will You Be My Bridesmaids Printable Cards are available in another post  we shared here.

Will You Be My Maid of Honor Card - Future Bride Freebies -

To Download: Right Click and Save

He Asked, You Said Yes.  Wanna take your new last name for a trial run?  Try out this Adorable “The Future Mrs”  Tech Wallpaper.  Right Click On the Second Picture Below and save this to your device and or computer.  Then simply Edit in Your New Last Name and there you have it.  For Installation Instructions on Your Device – Follow This Link. Plus what a Great Way to Share Your Good News with the World.

The Future Mrs - Editable iPad/iPhone Wallpaper - Future Bride Freebies - ©2016 Stage Presents

For Personal Use Only – – Not for Commercial Use – Please Do Not Alter or Redistribute. ©2016 Stage Presents

The Future Mrs Blank - iPad/iPhone Wallpaper - Future Bride Freebie - ©2016 Stage Presents

For Personal Use Only – – Not for Commercial Use – Do Not Alter or Redistribute. ©2016 Stage Presents

I’ve been married for almost 7 years now.  So, I guess I am no longer a Newlywed.  But, I truly enjoyed this stage of my life and I trust that you will too.  Do you know a future blushing bride?  Be sure to share this post with her.  What was your favorite part of the wedding planning process? I’d love to hear about.

Our 10 Favorite Romantic Movies

Our 10 Favorite Romantic Movies -

Since Netflix and Chill” has apparently become a part of Pop Culture, we decided to pull together a list of Our 10 Favorite Romantic Movies (5 from me and 5 from the Mr).  Just in case, you are stuck indoors on Valentine’s Day, or looking some movies to add to your At Home – Date Night Arsenal – Check these out.

His Choices:

Brown Sugar


Jason’s Lyric

Something’s Gotta Give


His Romantic Movie Choices - 10 Favorite Romantic Movies


Love Jones

Something New

Disappearing Acts

When Harry Met Sally

City of Angels

Her Romantic Movie Choices - 10 Favorite Romantic Movies

I am always curious to know what movies people love.   I love a good referral.  So please share your favorites in the comment section.  I need to beef up my arsenal, as well.

And, don’t forget to download your Friday Freebie here.

Freebie Friday Valentine's Day Printable

Looking for some Valentine’s Day Craft Ideas  – Check out Our Valentine’s Day Across The Web Post.

5 Reasons Mommy and Daddy Need Overnight Trips

5 Reasons Mommy and Daddy Need Overnight Trips

You love your kids and being their parent is one of your greatest joys.  Right?? Of course it is, but it’s probably also the reason, you worry too much, don’t get as much sleep as you used too.  And… are in serious need of some ALONE COUPLE time.  [Enter the Mommy and Daddy Guilt.]  But, honestly there is nothing wrong with wanting or needing that alone time.  In my opinion, it is crucial to the success of a relationship.

  1. Intimacy.  You remember what that is right?  The two of you alone without any little voices screaming for Mommy & Daddy. Watching a movie without having to pause it. Emotional Closeness.
  2. Get Away. You may be thinking that it’s enough just to have the time alone.  But, being away from home, makes all the difference.  When you are at home, you are more likely to look around and see all the things that need to be done.  Getting away even for a night, checking into a hotel and letting other people take care of your needs, while you take care of each other, is priceless.
  3. Decompress.  Clearer and Cooler heads prevail after you have had some rest.  It helps when faced with making big decisions whether it be for you as a couple or for the entire family.  Or maybe you just need to get your mind right as you head into the new work week.
  4. Rejuvenate.  I know that you have been on vacation and when you came back you felt like you needed another vacation.  You know why that is, you probably had to wrangle the kids, lol?  If you can, convince your significant other to participate in a couples massage, or a mani and pedi, or any spa type activity. Even if you do nothing, but take a long nap, wrapped in each other’s arms.  It could go a long way towards you feeling like you got some rest and relaxation.
  5. The Health/Well being of your marriage.  Anything worth having is worth devoting time to.  It is so easy to get so wrapped up in the day to day family life, that you forget that you were individuals before you were parents.  Spending time alone allows you to rediscover each other, continue to have firsts together and keep the marriage fresh, new and healthy.

Invest in Your Marriage Quote

My disclaimer:  I am not an expert by any means, I can only speak to what works for us. We(hubby and I), are just coming off a Couple Weekend celebrating his birthday. It’s been a while since we have been able to have some alone time and just those few days reminded me of how important time together really is. What are some of your favorite ways to get away, even if it is just for one night?


This month’s Creative Interview has been one of my favorites thus far.  The reason behind that is that Kori is a personal friend of mine, that I have NEVER physically met.  Back in 2003, when we were both pregnant with our now 10 year olds, we joined an Online Parenting Group for Expectant Moms due in November.  I think we were both looking for people who were experiencing the same things that we were at that time, like the indigestion, weight gain, and over all pregnancy woes.  The group went through major transitions over the years.  And, literally there are only a few of us still standing.  But, what developed out of that setting were some very meaningful and unexpected friendships.  She was the first military wife that I had ever known.  Long before my obsession with the Lifetime Show. I was always fascinated by the way she  played her position taking on whatever was thrown at her while still maintaining order, stability and security for her family.  The sacrifices that not only those serving our country, but also the families left behind is humbling.   Check out what Kori has to say about life as a military wife and mom and transitioning to civilian life.

Grace Under Fire From Military Wife to Civilian Life

When did you become a military wife?

We were married June 19 2001.  That’s when my journey as a military wife began.

How long was your dh in the military?
He was in the United States Marine Corps for 20 years.

Was he in the military before you got married and did that weigh into the decision to marry him?
While we did date in high school we were not together when he joined.  When we got back together he was already a Marine.    Him being in the military really didn’t have any bearing on my decision to marry him.  Partially because my father was in the military when I was a kid so I had an idea of what my life was going to be like.   And partially because it didn’t matter to me.

With him being deployed, was he able to be their for the births of all of your babies?
I was really lucky and he was home for all of my pregnancies and births.  There are many women who don’t have that.

What was the hardest time that you spent alone?
In March 2011 he was deployed on ship in the Asia Pacific Region.  (Japan, Thailand, Malaysia etc).  I awoke one morning to many texts , Facebook posts and Facebook messages asking if Mike was ok.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  I turned on the news and found out there was an earthquake and tsunami in that area.  I quickly turned on the computer and had a message from him that read, ” I’m fine.”   During the next communication I found out that they were on their way back to Japan to see if they would be needed in the clean up efforts.  For the next couple of months the stability of the of the Fukushima Dauichi nuclear power plant went from bad to worse, getting up to level 7 emergency. Nuclear chemicals were leaking out and evacuations took place. The ship remained “docked” in Japan.  So there was a very real fear of what chemicals he may have been exposed to.

How was the transition when going from being a Military Wife to being a civilian?
The transition from military wife to civilian wife was difficult for me.  I spent all of my adult life living one way and then it was just done.  We moved to a non military town and I felt out of my element, sometimes I still do and it’s been a year.   As a military wife I was always able to find people like me.  As a civilian I felt alone and like I didn’t fit anywhere.

When did he retire and after how long?  Do you think he regrets it or was he happy to move on?
He retired from the Marine Corps March 31, 2014. After 20 years he was ready to move on.

What were some of the major changes after he retired?

Major changes were the move back home.  Finding a home, a job, new schools for the kids.   Healthcare was huge because we never had to deal with health insurance before.  The stability we had was gone.

 How did it change the family dynamic?
The family dynamic hasn’t really changed too much.  Mike is home more now so I’d say that actual co parenting is new.  Before I really just decided what was what and now it’s discussed more.

What advice would you give a new military wife?
It’s all what you make of it.  If you decide things stink…they are going to stink.  You have to be able to find some silver lining.   Find friends, they will help you through.

What advice would give to a wife who is transitioning to civilian life?
Just go with the flow.  There will be ups and downs but you will get through them.  It might be hard for a while but you’ve been a military wife already, you’ve got this.

Is there anything that you would have done differently at any juncture in this whole process?
I don’t think I would’ve done anything differently.  The military gave me a great life, now it’s time to see what civilian life has in store.

“It’s all what you make of it.  If you decide things stink…they are going to stink.  You have to be able to find some silver lining.   Find friends, they will help you through.” –Kori Gaff

Creating A Space You Love

Creating A Space You Love -

Are you anything like me?  Do you spend hours pouring over the pages of Home Decor Magazines looking for ideas to make your house a home?  One of the very first magazine subscriptions that I purchased was Real Simple.   I received that magazine for years, before I moved  into a home of my own.  I loved to see how people created spaces that reflected their personalities but that were still livable and inviting.  Once I had a family of my very own, it was very important to me that the home we live in was both comfortable and staged.  To that end, I feel like our home is always a work in progress.

Without the funds to just walk into Haverty’s and have their stylist design rooms for us, we literally have taken our time and piece by piece have watched our vision come together.  I am always on the hunt for something that looks like this, at that price.  Treasure hunting on a budget, I guess. Some mornings I walk down the stairs and I’m tickled pink at just how things are working out. Some mornings, I wish I could scrap the whole thing and start over.  But, it has definitely become a passion project for me.  Friends and Family that pop by are always telling us how they love the way we decorate our home, and inquire as to where we got this piece or that piece.  And, I have to laugh because I know how many hidden treasures we have stashed in closets that we thought were the way to go and then turned out they weren’t.  I think we could probably style a small apartment with some of the things we have stored away.

I was blessed to find a hubby who seems to love this kind of thing as much as I do, or maybe he is just humoring his high brow wife.  (I hope that isn’t the case.)  But, I dare say that he has come home with just as many finds as me, if not more.  We don’t always see each others visions, but we agree that we both have to love it, for it to find a permanent place in our home.

Apparently, even the Pro’s take this approach when designing their own homes or homes for their clients. Check out this post by three of my favorite blogs Life on Virginia Street Effortless Style and The Blissful Bee titled From the Magazine to the Pages of Your Home.

Looking for More Inspiration that literally springs from the pages of a Magazine?  Elements of Style shows us how she pulled inspiration from House Beautiful to come up with A Boathouse of One’s Own.

Lastly, Destiny from Just Destiny Mag, lays down the law on how she Creates a Meaningful Home in this awesome blog featured on Jenna Burger’s Blog.

It’s definitely easy to get overwhelmed with the process, as with anything else but the rules for us are pretty simple, fill your home with things that you love and things that make you happy.

Stage Presents: Creating A Space You Love

For a Glimpse Into Our World, Check Out Our Fall Home Tour here or Our Spring Mini Home Tour here.