The Seasons of Depression

An old cherry tree sits just outside my bedroom window. For several seasons I’ve watched it blossom to life—ripening with evergreen and fruit. I’ve also witnessed that life slowly drifting away in the cool autumn breeze. As the branches empty one by one, I sit and gaze without expression. Each leaf that falls reminds me of a ten-year-old girl buried deep in a closet, hiding behind bags of old clothes. Ashamed of the tears, she desperately tries to hide her Read more

How to Survive Walmart in Five Easy Steps

Walmart is a scary place. It’s like the convergence of Willy Wonka’s Oompa Loompa Land with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest all rolled up into a gigantic chocolate-covered meatball. Most of us could trade horror stories about trips to this Prozac-riddled fun park—one of the only places in the world where you can buy guns and ammo, knives and swords, and toys and groceries, yet have to be 18 or older (with a valid ID) to buy Wite-Out. Read more

Dear Toddler, Screw Your Tantrums

Dear Toddler, I woke up this morning with every intention of having a great day. Outside the window, playful little birds bounced through the trees. Mother Nature gleefully peeked her yellow face from behind the clouds. The new coffee I purchased tasted like paradise in a cup. I was so in love, I tried finding the number for the grower in Antigua so I could properly thank him. A day like this … how could anything go wrong? And then you Read more

I’m a Closet Pooper

I have a huge confession to make. I can’t poop when anyone is around. For some reason, I completely freeze up and my shooter shuts down. I call it the emergency shit switch. It’s like a catastrophic event when I need to poop and there are people nearby. The switch gets flipped and shit just stops. Literally. My husband, on the other hand, has an open door policy when using the bathroom. It’s like he needs morale support when taking Read more

Real or Artificial? How Much Do You Love to Sweep?

Posted on by Crystal in Contests & Giveaways | Leave a comment


Five years ago, I made the switch from real to artificial Christmas trees. It was hard letting go of the smell of fresh pine that filled the air. But with little ones, pets, and not a lot of time to worry about watering and cleaning up after yet another living thing, artificial was the way to go. I’ve purchased both lit and unlit artificial Christmas trees. I strongly prefer the unlit as you control the type of lights and don’t have to manhandle an entire tree when a light does (and one will) go out. Currently we have 7 foot artificial Christmas tree (like the one seen here) that is easy to set up and take down. Read more

Learn and Explore with VTech Toys (Review & Giveaway)

Posted on by Crystal in Product Reviews | 2 Comments


As a mom to five and with two under the age of three, I’m very particular when it comes to choosing toys that offer ample opportunities to learn, but that also entertain as well. If you look around our house, it becomes immediately apparent that we have a preference for toys that are interactive and “smart.” And two out of every three toys are VTech! That’s why I was so excited to have the opportunity to review four new VTech toys that have quickly become my kiddo’s favorites. Read more

Kids Cast Their Votes for the Best Toys of 2014

Posted on by Crystal in Kids, Life As We Know It | Leave a comment


Children may not be able to vote for the president, but they do learn about the democratic process at a young age. In the United States, the democratic process is linked to civic leadership and personal empowerment. So it makes sense to have kids vote on one of their most beloved topics: toys. There are a few notable lists of kid-voted favorites for the parent who is looking to buy what kids want. Read more

Cinnamon-Schnapps-Spiked Candy Apples; A Devilish Treat

Posted on by Crystal in Gram's Recipe Tin | 3 Comments

spiked candy apples

Planning an adults-only Halloween party? If so, consider spicing things up with these Cinnamon-Schnapps-Spiked Candy Apples! Skip the caramel and go for a devilish treat that can be paired with shots of cinnamon schnapps or red hot candies! Read more

Are You Kidding Me? (Book Review)

Posted on by Crystal in Book Reviews | 2 Comments


Have a crazy family? Is life loud and out of control? Stacey Gustafson makes all that feel normal in her new book Are You Kidding Me? My Life With an Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives–a great read for moms, grandmoms, middle-aged men, newlyweds, and everyone in between. Her humor should be a currency, because we’d all be richer. There’s a laugh with every turn of a page. So get prepared with a big box of Kleenex! I’m highly recommending this book. Here’s why: Read more

Stress-Busting Tips When Balancing Work and Family

Posted on by Crystal in Kids, Motherhood | 5 Comments

Mother with  daughter

Working mothers are more stressed and spend more time multitasking at home than working dads, according to a study in the American Sociological Review. A survey by Pew Research reported 41 percent of moms who work full time and 40 percent of those working part time said they constantly feel rushed. But moms don’t need a survey to tell you that you’re feeling stretched thin without much left to give at the end of the day. There are ways to carve out some time and indulgence just for you. After all, a happy mom makes for a happy household. Read more

Easy Candy Corn Cake Pops

Posted on by Crystal in Gram's Recipe Tin | 3 Comments


Since childhood, I’ve had a love affair with candy corn! It’s my little bit of heaven on earth. Many of my friends and family, however, would rather eat raw liver than put a piece of this sweet treat in their mouths. Whether you like the taste and texture or not, there’s no denying that candy corn is a quintessential part of every Halloween. So get ready to jazz up your holiday with these Easy Candy Corn Cake Pops! There’s very little baking required, since all you need is a box cake, can of prepared frosting, and several colors of candy coating. Read more

Give Your Children the Online Tools They Need to Succeed

Posted on by Crystal in Kids | Leave a comment


Every child is different. Each thinks differently, learns differently, and applies knowledge differently. Educators understand this but, because of budget cuts and the varied abilities of teachers, they need to teach as if every child is the same. For good or bad, the new Common Core Standards have placed the learning ability of children and the teaching skill of parents under a microscope. The good news is we do not have to teach our kids alone. Numerous online resources can help children become academically successful, no matter how gifted they are. Read more

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