Friday Favorites – Week 360 – Indoor Winter Picnic Basket

 photo Friday Favorites Banner 2.jpg

Please support and follow our lovely blog party hostesses:

Jerri at Simply Sweet HomeTwitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst

Christine at Light and SavvyTwitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst

Jen at Creatively HomemadeTwitter | G+ | Pin

Maisy at Becoming AliceFB | G+ | Pin

Sheree at Stage PresentsTwitter | FB | Pin | Inst | Inst

Lisa at Condo BluesTwitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst

Amy at A Day of Small ThingsPin

Penny at Penny’s PassionTwitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst

Kelly at Under a Texas SkyTwitter | FB | G+ | Pin | Inst | BL

If you are featured this week, be sure and grab a featured button for your blog!

 photo Friday Favorites Featured Button.jpg

You can show your love for this week’s favorites by going over and commenting on the posts and by pinning or sharing!

And if you love all of this week’s favorites, please pin, share, and invite your friends to this week’s linky party! Continue reading

7 Things Every Parent Should Know

7 Things Every Parent Should Know - www.stage-presents.com

  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.

“TODAY’S LITTLE MOMENTS,  BECOME TOMORROW’S PRECIOUS MEMORIES.”

Hubby’s 2016 Holiday Gift Guide

hubby-2016-holiday-gift-guide Years ago my hubby and I started creating Christmas lists for each other to shop from.  Even though, we didn’t know exactly what we would get.  We knew that it would be something that we wanted and it cut down largely on having to return or exchange things.  Plus it made for two very happy parents.  Since we started, I have had so many friends to inquire as to what is on my hubby’s list, just so that they can get ideas for their own loves.  Hence, the start of Hubby’s Holiday Gift Guide.  This is year two of his Gift Guide.  So let’s jump right in.

check out hubby’s picks for 2016 (with clickable links)

2016-gift-guide-with-pictures

A. Stance NBA Legend Socks
B. Hex Focus iPhone 7 Case
C. Hum By Verizon
D. The Royale Cuoio by Greats
E. Polaroid Snap
F. Grenade Grips Dumbell/Barbell Grips

Want to see his Holiday Gift Guide from 2015 — click here.  If shopping for your honey can prove to be challenging, rest assured you are not the only one.  Hope that this Gift Guide gives you some assistance.  And, if you manage to purchase something from this list and it’s a win, I would love to hear all about it in the comment section below.  This time of year is particularly busy for hubby at work, so I have to give him a quick shout out for making time to help out our Stage Readers.  He rocks!!

Our 2016 Fall Home Tour

Stage Presents 2016 Fall Home Tour Hero Image - stage-presents.com

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.com

Stage Presents 2016 Fall Home Tour - Formal Living Room - stage-presents.com

Stage Presents 2016 Fall Home Tour Tablescape - Formal Dining Room - stage-presents.com Stage Presents 2016 Fall Home Tour Tablescape - Formal Dining Room - stage-presents.com

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 - stage-presents.com

“AUTUMN PAINTS IN COLORS THAT SUMMER HAS NEVER SEEN.”

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 - www.stage-presents.com

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 - stage-presents.com

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.

Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye: Explaining the Pain of Loss to Your Little Ones

As a mother, I think we realize pretty early on that parenting is not a task for the faint of heart.  We are faced with the fact that even though motherhood may be the most rewarding job that we will ever have, it also the hardest .  We realize that we are going to be forced to be teachers sometimes, when we don’t consider ourselves qualified to do so.  This is exactly how I felt with the sudden loss of my two year old niece.  I literally found myself thrown abruptly into unfamiliar waters, dealing with more emotions than I knew what to do with and  such all consuming loss.  I struggled with how I would explain this unspeakable thing to my babies.    At almost 40 years old it was the first loss of a close family member, that I had ever experienced.   While feeling cheated, devastated and lost, It seemed so very unfair that they should have to experience this pain at such an early and impressionable age.  I wondered how I could explain something to them that I in no way, shape, or form understood myself.

Coupled with all the emotions already coursing through my body was FEAR.  Blinding FEAR.. The kind that made you want to lose your lunch. roll up into a ball and pull the covers of my head and just not acknowledge that tragedy like this really existed.  But, luckily for me, my dh stepped in and made me realize that this would help no one.  So together we sat in our bed, in the middle of the day, with our tears and our grief and talked out what and when would be the best way to tell our children.  At the end of the conversation, spent and not totally convinced in what we had decided, we just laid there staring at the ceiling fan.

There was no way to predict just how our babies would respond, so we decided to wait until the weekend.  At least, they would have the weekend to be alone “in their feelings”.  I grew a little choked up prior to the conversation, so hubby jumped in.  He explained to them what happened and explained that our “sweet girl” would not be coming back to us, but that she was resting with the angels.  I watched so many emotions cross over their faces, confusion, hurt, disbelief, all emotions, I was still experiencing.  It was hard for them to process.  Our youngest is only 5 and I am still not sure how much she really understood.  But, my 11 year old took it very hard.  She spent the whole day crying on and off,  and I honestly couldn’t blame her.  This experience in no way makes me an expert, and I pray it is not a subject that I am ever an expert in.   But, if I had to share my thoughts with any one of this subject this is what I would say.

  1.  TIME:  As adults,  more often than not death comes and we are not prepared for it.  I am not sure if that is a blessing or a curse.  But,  as parents, I say take the time you need to prepare yourself for the conversation.  Even though you can’t predict what their reaction will be, no one knows your child better than you.  So go with your gut and tell them your own way.  It’s easy to be influenced by what every one else thinks is the right time or thing to say.
  2. ACKNOWLEDGE:  Even though you may be in pain too.  Make the time and effort to acknowledge their pain.  Let them know that whatever they are feeling, be it hurt, anger, sadness, etc. is OK.  They don’t have to justify the way that they feel.  Help them work through their emotions, as you work through yours.
  3. ACCEPT:  Accept the fact that things may never be the same.  Life has changed for them.  Life has changed for you.  Everyone has to grieve in their own way, and in their own time.
  4. HOLD ON:  Hold on to each other.  Hold on to your faith.  Be their source of strength and allow them to be yours.  Family is EVERYTHING, and don’t any of your forget it.

Some of you that follow me via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc… have reached out to me and my family with kind words and sentiments and that means more than you all will ever know.

Our lives will never again be the same, but we are and were blessed to have had Skylar Janae in our lives.  She will forever be missed and loved.

Memorial Garden Stone

Photo Source: TheComfortCompany.net

 

hearts

 

Friday Freebies: Future Bride Freebies

SO YOU ARE GONNA BE A BRIDE?

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 - stage-presents.com

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 - www.stage-presents.com

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

Armageddon

Jason’s Lyric

Something’s Gotta Give

Spanglish

His Romantic Movie Choices - 10 Favorite Romantic Movies

HER CHOICES:

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 stage-presents.com

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?