Inside My Mommy Brain!

You never know what you'll find…

“A two-year-old…

“A two-year-old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.”
Jerry Seinfeld

This. Is. My. Life.

This blog will be based on the antics, trials, tribulations, and the wonderful conversations that go on in my head as I battle to keep the house clean and my sanity intact and try to win the war with the toddler and the dog….

I hope you enjoy the read, writing may be the only thing that keeps me sane.  Well, that and coffee.

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Why Thanksgiving is Important to Me.

I thought I’d write about shopping, working retail on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, any of these things and then I knew, I felt I needed to tell my Thanksgiving  story.

Thanksgiving is a special time for me.

This Thanksgiving marks my fourth anniversary of deciding that it wasn’t too late to live happily ever after. It wasn’t too late to stop living in fear, it wasn’t too late to start living the rest of my life. I’m happy now, I’m safe, I’m loved, I’m one of the lucky ones, and I have the greatest gift of all, my daughter. Thanksgiving 2009 was the first time in years, that I had felt safe and happy.

Four years ago, a week before Thanksgiving, I made a huge life decision. I decided to end a toxic marriage and be happy. I moved with my best friend; he ended up becoming the love of my life. He deserves an award for being my friend the year that followed. I was lucky, I had someone willing to help me find a safe place. I bring this up because, when I told my ex I was leaving, I called my best friend from college and my family. At first, they were willing to help me move and pack. Then my ex called them and wove this incredible story of bull shit: I’d been on anti-depressants, I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t really going to leave him. The worst part? I had woven such a great tale of perfection and happiness through the years, they believed him. Only one person and the people I worked with helped me get out of my house. Now the friend and family know the truth, see that I’m happy, and still apologize they didn’t believe me.

There had been a lot of things that had happened that caused me to decide to leave. My ex-husband cheated several times, was mentally abusive, extremely angry, tried to force me to have sexual relationships with other men and women, physically abusive to my dog and I lived in fear that I would be next. After almost ten years in the relationship (4 living together, 5 married), I couldn’t take it any more. I refused to pretend through another holiday season that I was happily married and everything was just peachy. I was miserable, I was afraid, on anti-depressants, and just was in a very, very dark place. Even now, I still fear seeing him or having to deal with him at all. I mentally know that he can’t hurt me anymore, however, I still haven’t been able to completely overcome that many years of abuse. To this day, he stills sees that he did nothing wrong, that it was all in my head. At least that’s what a mutual friend tells me.

I can’t bring myself to give exact details on most that happened. I’ve relived them more times than I want. What I will tell you is the last thing that happened that made me know that I had made the right decision to leave. The week I left, I had to go back to the house alone. He was there. He wasn’t supposed to be. He had been cordial and making small talk..Until I got to the door to leave. That’s when he shoved me into a wall, hard enough to make a dent in it, asking me why he should let me leave, that I was his wife, I had to stay, I had made vows..I Was His. I just remember telling him I had to go, to let me go. He finally did. That was the last time I saw him alone. I saw him once more, in public to get a personal item, he was begging me to not leave. I have only seen him once, at a distance since then and if all goes well. I will never see him again.

There are no doubts in my mind, if I had stayed longer, the relationship would have turned physically violent or I would have died.

Ladies or gents, if you are in a relationship that makes you fear for your safety, you need help. Don’t be afraid to ask. It took me getting out of my relationship to see the signs of domestic abuse and violence. I was saw caught up in thinking I had done something wrong to deserve what was happening to me. Don’t let it happen to you anymore. There are safe places, people trained to help you. Abuse isn’t always physical. There are local places to seek help as well as many internet sites. Your local health department is a great place to start. These places can help you. I wish I had found them sooner and been willing to ask for help.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline http://www.thehotline.org/ 

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence http://www.ncadv.org/

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Green Mom’s Meet, Why We Try to Eat Healthier, and Pacific Soup Starters

Green Mom’s Meet

I’m a Green Mom’s Meet Ambassador.  What that means is I host a group of mom’s and dad’s once or twice a month, either at my house or at a location we choose, and we discuss parent issues like potty training, diapers, all the things kid related and it gets us out of the house.

After we all got together a few times, I discovered Green Mom’s Meet. http://www.greenmomsmeet.com  It’s a great website that let’s mom’s chat about all the things, “kid” and find ways to help keep our families healthy and try to live organic, green, and healthy.  If you’re interested check them out at the above website. You don’t have to be an Ambassador to join in the conversations and enjoy the information. I really like the site and I love that you can read about companies that offer a wide variety of foods for different diets. You can find organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, free-range; places that make simple delicious food with simple delicious ingredients.  I know I sound like a running ad for these guys but I firmly believe if I can’t pronounce it I probably should be eating it and this website helps me find information and products that help me live a little better.

The Why

Now, let me say, I am far from a health nut. I grew up a chunky kid, I’m a chunky adult.  I’m not morbidly obese but like most people I could use some extra exercise and I could eat a bit better.  However, after finding out I was pregnant and thinking about the future, the other half and I decided to work on our eating habits (we’ve made a lot of good changes) and to make sure our daughter grew up eating healthier than we did as kids. I grew up on fried Southern foods and he grew up on fast food. Now, we all know neither of those are really good for you on a regular basis.  We don’t eat fried foods except when I get a biscuits and gravy craving, The most fast food we had was when we were traveling a few weeks ago…I forgot to pack the snacks.  I will say, that after eating fairly non-greasy fresh foods, then having the random fast food cheeseburger, I remembered why I don’t eat that crap very often.  It was delicious going down…then I felt my body give me the “yuck” feeling.

So, back to the why.  After growing up fat and being fat as an adult and knowing the mental and physical struggles of trying to lose weight after gaining it, re-learning to eat healthy vs. eating whatever, and knowing that we didn’t want our daughter to have the same struggles, we’ve made sure the majority of her and our food was fresh fruits and veggies with lean meats. I also developed gestational diabetes while I was pregnant and I was determined to do whatever I needed to diet and exercise wise to not need insulin shots. I succeeded. Our goal now is to feed her fresh home cooked foods as much as possible using the best ingredients I can find. I want her to pick an apple over a candy bar when she has the option. Having her has made us realize that we need to eat better for us and for her.

Pacific Soup Starter

As a Mom Ambassador, I was picked to sample Pacific Tortilla Soup Starter. It’s from Pacific Foods. Besides the soup starters they offer non-dairy drinks (hemp and almond), soups, beans, cranberry sauces, turkey gravy, lots of great things. Pacific also has a recipe site that let’s you search based on dietary needs or specific food items.

With the sampling, we tried the Tortilla soup starter with Organic vegetarian re-fried beans mixed in. I followed the recipe from Pacific, found here. In the sampling kit, Pacific sent a great recipe using all our ingredients. My mom’s and I decided to hit the Pacific website and found we wanted to add a little more “spice” to things.  So we used the recipe linked and also made Spanish Rice, another recipe in our sampling kit.  I used all organic vegetables, cheese, and had organic chicken set aside for those non vegetarians that wanted to add it to their soup. I even managed to find organic sour cream.  Putting the bowls of soup together was almost as much fun as cooking and eating.  Everyone started with the soup and added extra veggies, onion, sour cream, cheese, tortilla rounds to personalize it to each one’s own tastes.

Let me tell you, everyone loved the flavors; even the kids. You could easily use the soup starter as a soup by itself without adding any extras. It has a low heat, spicy flavor. Enough to give the soup some zing without causing you to need a fire extinguisher to kill the burn. I know this sounds weird but it just tastes fresh, like something that would come out of my own kitchen. Even with the added soup ingredients you could still get a great taste of the spices and vegetables used in the soup starter.  We had a few people that wanted a little more spice so they added some extra chili’s to their soup. Just writing about is enough to make me want to make a kettle. It’s quick, tasty, easy, and delicious, especially on these cool North East, Up-state NY days. I’m going to use the soup starter in my next pot of chili. I think the tomato base with the added spices will definitely give it a little extra something.

So, the long and short is, if you want some great tortilla soup, try the Pacific Tortilla Soup Starter. It contains ingredients you can pronounce, tastes wonderful, is healthier, and is easy to use. I can’t wait to try their other products and soup starters. The other half has requested we try their French Onion Starter next.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  Check out the Green Mom’s Meet website, too.  Some fun foods and great ideas!

~~I’m the Mommy

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Fall Colds aka The Plague

So, sorry for the long absence, we’ve been traveling through my hometown area, where cell phone signal, data plans, and most internet goes to die. I’ll write more about my trip this week and post some photos. The wild life was out in droves and no I’m not talking about the people.

As the title states, its time for the plague at our house. It’s a fall cold but thanks to our ability to pass it back and forth to each other it eventually turns into the plague and definitely out stays it’s welcome.  Luckily, so far its only the parents that are suffering. I can only wish the small one doesn’t get it. Her dad tends to end up with bronchitis no matter what kind of cold or congestion he starts with.

We try hot tea, vitamin C, Echinacea(Sp?), and a few more before going to the doctor. I loved those Vick’s shower thingies.  I haven’t seen them around in ages though.  You know the ones where you throw this disc of vapor rub stuff in the shower and stand there in the warm steamy medicated goodness. I might have to go hunting at the pharmacies tomorrow if I can drag my snotty nosed, sneezing, coughing self out of the house.

What are some things ya’ll do to fight off colds?  Any special mom recipes, old wive’s tales? The only thing I remember is a kid was my grandma wanting to rub ground hog fat infused with herbs on my chest or shove it down my throat. Nasty stuff. Yes, I did grow up in the sticks.

Have a good day! Thank goodness sniffles and nasties aren’t shared through the internet.

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Bittersweet Birthday

I have a birthday coming up soon.  My next couple of birthdays are bittersweet.  I’ve been swinging from one emotional extreme to another.  Happiness, I’ve made it another year; fear, I’m two years away from the age my mom was when she died.  My mom passed away when she was 38 years old.  She was two weeks from her 39th birthday.  Cancer is a evil, miserable bastard. She had me young; she was only 15 when I was born. I didn’t think I’d ever get to this age. I was 23 when she passed and at the time, 38 seemed like it was an eternity away.

I think I’ve been really thinking about her a lot lately. I turn 36 near the end of this week and my birthday is bringing one of my biggest fears front and center; not living to see my daughter grow up. Thirty-six is the magic number because even though Mom wasn’t diagnosed until a few months before she died, thinking back this was when I first noticed her coughing more, not being herself.  The first diagnosis was lung cancer. Then, she started having headaches and seizures.  Her doctors ordered a brain scan, as well as a full body scan.  After the scans, the her oncologist came in to tell us the diagnosis. Let me tell you, when your oncologist chokes up and starts to tear up, you know you’re screwed.  I’ll never forget the day. He tried to tell us what he saw and then he put her brain scan up.  I didn’t need the doctor to tell me what I was seeing.  Her brain scan showed more than 20 “dots”, different sizes.  Some were the size of pin heads, others were an inch or bigger. All were cancerous tumors. Not only did she have the brain tumors, the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and there were tumors throughout many of her other organs. That was the day he told her to go home, enjoy her family, and make any amends she felt she needed to do. There were no treatments he could recommend. He told us continuing radiation or chemotherapy would kill her faster. That was absolutely, the worst day of my life.  That was the day that all hope vanished.

I don’t want my daughter to know that feeling until I’m at a ripe old age. I know there are lots of people to love her and take care of her, but if I follow the same timeline and die young, I would leave my sweet girl motherless at a very young age. I know how much that blows.  I might have been 23 when my mom died, but holy shit, did it suck. A part of me died the day she did.  It took me years to finally come to terms with her death and start living fully again. I’ll always be sad she never got to see me graduate from college, she was my biggest supporter.  She wasn’t there when I got married and she’ll never meet her grand daughter.  I’m pretty spiritual, maybe not necessarily religious, but I think there’s an afterlife and I believe she’s seen her from the great beyond or whatever you want to call it.  Just what I would have given to see how much she would have loved being a grandmother or just for one more phone call.

It’s hard to explain to people that want to throw me a party, that want to celebrate with their friend, that as much as I appreciate what they want to do for me, I’d rather be home having a quiet evening with my daughter and other half.  I like to internalize emotions and not bother those close to me.  I, also, find it hard to talk about what’s going on, what I’m feeling, why these birthdays are hard for me. I don’t like to break down or show sadness.  There’s a small group of people that I let see that part of me, but not many. I know to some I’m probably coming across like a bitter anti-social bitch. I’m not really.

Having a party might be therapeutic, who knows? I know I can’t run from life and let my fear rule my every day; that I should celebrate to make memories for myself, my family, and my wee one, just in case.  I just don’t know if I can be happy and celebrate, it’s hard to be the life of the party when you are literally scared to death and the birthday just brings it a lot closer. I know that I’m healthy, I don’t have any problems right now. I see my doctor regularly and because of my family history I’m closely monitored for several different things.  I guess I wouldn’t be me or human if I didn’t think about the possibility or worry.  For right now though, for today, I’m going to enjoy my daughter. In a few weeks go see some of my family, and introduce my girl to one of her great-grandmothers.  Who can’t help but smile over that.

I know as bittersweet as these next birthdays are, I’m going to do my best to live each day to the fullest, play with my daughter, teach her what I can, keep on living my life day by day.  In the end, its’s all we can do, face our fears and keep on living.  Besides, I know my Mom, she’d ask me what the hell I was doing sitting around moping when there’s a whole world waiting for me and the little one to explore.

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The Badpiper! Kilt Wearing, Flaming Bagpipe playing, Punk Rocking Aussie!

So, I’m usually not intrigued by things I see as “gimmicky”; however, when a friend told me about some dude wearing a kilt and playing flaming bag pipes I thought I actually might need to see this.  Then they sent me a link to this guy called The BadPiper.  I found myself cranking the speakers on my PC and head banging along for a couple of minutes, despite the fact my toddler was giving me the “Are you o.k., Momma, look?” Then she started dancing along too!

This is the link they sent to me.  The Baddie playing Thunderstruck by AC/DC. http://youtu.be/K-Op1Mng4oY

I’m hooked on the music.  I love bagpipes and rock music; hearing him play just gets that bit of my Scottish blood up and dancing. Not only is the music great, The BadPiper, Cam McAzie, is also not afraid to talk to his fans.  He’s usually chatting it up on his Facebook page, responding to inquiries, answering questions, and just basking in some new found fame!

 If you like rock music, men in kilts, punk rockers, and/or bagpipe music,  you must

CHECK HIM OUT!

Seriously, boys and girls, how can you not love a punk rocker, in a leather kilt (worn the right way), playing a set of flaming bagpipes?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Badpiper

Personal Website: http://www.thebadpiper.com/

Product Promo: TheBadpiper!

Again, listen to the music, like his Facebook page, and buy his CD’s.  I promise I don’t know him personally, I just like his Bad self and his music!

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Toddlers and Tips for Road Trips

I have read horror stories about people taking road trips with toddlers. Non stop screaming, fussy, just angry, toys being flung about and I realize how blessed I am to have an almost 2 year old that loves going on long trips.

Like any child she has her moments; she wants to go for a walk, get out of the car, or is hungry and mommy doesn’t have a place that looks trustworthy to stop.

I think I’m lucky because we’ve traveled a lot by car from the time the small one was about 6 weeks old. We tucked her in the car and went to my dad’s for Christmas.  She slept most of the way, woke up to occasionally to eat and went back to sleep.  I can say I do not recommend pumping breast milk, even if you are the passenger and even if your breast pump uses batteries or has an outlet for the car, in the car, doing 70ish + mph on the interstate. Even using a cover up people are kinda nosy.

Then, every few weeks/months we’d take another trip.  We’ve driven from North Carolina to South Carolina, Virginia, around North Carolina, to New York, Then the small one and I have made several trips from New York to Virginia and Kentucky alone.  It’s actually really nice and fun for us.  She’s used to the long car trips and we plan our stops and our route so we can do some fun things, walk around, and have an adventure or two along the way.

Here are my tips to taking a road trip with your small, even if you’re a breastfeeding mom alone:

BEFORE THE TRIP:

  • Know your route –  before you go, use an atlas, GPS, or a site like Mapquest or Google Maps to map out where you are going and look for traffic delays. If you have AAA, they offer free maps and Trip Tiks.
  • Try to plan your stops – If you know your route and you know your kids “timeline” eating, pooping, fussy, then you can loosely plan pit stops along the way.  If you are traveling by interstate, most have websites that list their rest areas and if they are patrolled by state troopers.
  • Have Healthy Car Snacks – I love the GoGo Squeez applesauce pouches for this. If we stop for a quick snack, these little pouches are quick, fairly non-messy, and the pouches are recyclable. They also do not require refrigeration.
  • Organize your car – Keep those things you’ll need to get to quickly and easily, within reach.  Use a organizer to keep diapers, wipes, snack, toys, a change of clothes, bottles, milk, bottled water, mommy/daddy snacks quickly, easily, and safely accessible.   Use a trunk organizer. If you don’t need it, put it in the trunk.  If there’s an accident, the more stuff you have in the front of your car, the more potential harm you can cause.  I try to keep only soft toys and stuffed animals to play with.
  • MAKE LISTS – Make a list of all the things you need for yourself and your toddler on a daily basis; take into account if where you are going has stores and the items available.  I know many people are going, say what? Of course there are stores, not always.  I travel to some rural places with my tiny tot and you’d be surprised at what may not be available. Seriously, make the list. The first time I tried this I made the list and still left the “pre-squeezed” breast milk and the emergency supply of formula at home.  A list also let’s you evaluate what’s a need versus a want.  When you travel by car, your space is limited.  I tend to over pack for everything; I am a woman.  However, I quickly realized the stroller and the baby backpack (greatest invention ever by the way) really both didn’t need to go.
  • Charge all the electronics the night before the trip – make sure all your electronics, GPS, Cell Phone, Tablet, Camera, MP3 player (I know, I know, I’m going old school, but my 7-year-old Sansa e260 has a lot longer battery life than hooking my phone to the car) etc, is charged before you actually get in the car. Unless you have a new super car then your outlets are going to be limited.
  • Paperwork – Do you have your driver’s license?  Do you have your insurance information in the car? Do you have your medical insurance cards? The other thing here, if you are a someone who may be taking children that are not your out of the state with the parent’s permission of course, you may need something in writing from the parent’s allowing you to authorize medical care if something happens to the kid(s).  I know my aunts and uncles if they were taking any of their nieces and nephews for more than a couple of days and were a decent distance away from the family, they would have our mom write out permission.  I don’t know what the current laws are; I haven’t researched them in several years.

AT THE START OF AND DURING THE TRIP:

  •  Keep the things you need close by – I know this seems like the same thing as organize your car but I promise it’s a little different.  Especially, if you are traveling as the lone adult there are somethings you need to keep handy. Toys, the soft ones, keep them close, I put them in the front seat organizer, one pouch of toddler snacks, some granola for me, and a bottle of water.  I found the Small one  likes to change out toys, so when we start the trip with all the toys, allowed in the car, up front with mommy, then they are handed one at a time carefully back to her as she gets bored with them.  Generally, by the time we stop, she’s went through the supply, I re-organize and re-load the the front seat organizer, rinse and repeat. Organize the front area before leaving the parking lot.
  • Cell Phones – Cell phone safety, you have your child in the car with you, you do not need to text or talk while driving. My Droid has something called Smart Actions, that let’s me set the phone to automatically answer text messages with a standard, “I’m currently driving, I will return your text when I am able to safely do so”  it stops the phone alerts as well so there are no distractions.
  • Make frequent stops – your legs and your toddler will thank you.
  • Be prepared to stop for the night –  Sometimes the small ones just can’t take the car trip, they need to get out, or they just need to rest.  Keep the possibility of stopping for the night an option.
  • Enjoy the trip –  many times we get so caught up in “Did we pack everything?, Are we making decent time?, Are we…blah blah blah.  Who cares? You’re on a long road trip with the greatest little person in your life.  Use it to make some memories.

Again, I’m not safety or travel expert, just a mommy who loves road trips and these are just a few tips I use to make my life easier.  The small one and I have put more than 7,000 miles on the car together and most of it has been great!

 

Links to some of the websites I use to plan and order travel supplies:

https://maps.google.com/

http://www.aaa.com

http://www.mapquest.com

http://www.randmcnally.com/

http://www.interstate-guide.com/

http://www.amazon.com, search for Car Organizers

http://www.diapers.com, use code MXNI015347 to save 20% on your first order, great car organizers as well!

https://www.google.com/shopping/product/4565958416731128468?q=baby+carrier&sqi=2&sa=X&ei=gZZTUqjKAZOr4APY04GYDg&ved=0CHQQ5Q0wAA – this is the link to the backpack, I’ve used it since she was old enough to sit up on her own and still do.

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Why So Much Violence? Hug those close to you.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my cousins lost her life in senseless act of violence.  She was 28 years old. I wasn’t close to her, I remember seeing her last when she was a kid and I saw her mother over the summer when I was home. Her mom, my great aunt was excited to tell me and my grandmother about my cousin, her kids, and how much she loved all of them; that she worried because they had moved quite far from home.

My cousin was murdered by her boyfriend. They had one child together, the baby girl is barely 1 year old.  Not only was my cousin murdered, but the baby was left alone for hours or days.  Fortunately, the wee one is unscathed physically. My cousin also had three other children.  When you read stories of murders, mass killings, wars on the other side of the world.  You see it and you wonder about what causes people to snap, then you get your coffee and go on to the next news article. When violence hits this close to home you really stop and reflect on all the bad.  This guy not only killed his daughter’s mom he essentially orphaned his daughter.  If he’s convicted, the state they lived in still has the death penalty.

I’ve been checking news articles and there is not really much information on what caused the incident. It’s just been said to have been a domestic case. I think I’m still dumbfounded. My aunt really isn’t doing well, the family is very close lipped on what is happening with the kids and no one wants to talk about it.

As a mom and a daughter, I’m just feel sick about it all.  I can’t imagine what my poor aunt must be feeling.  Just even trying to think about the loss of my daughter at any age makes me physically ill; just the thought causes instant tears. I lost my mom to cancer when she was only 38.  I’d give anything to be able to caller her, tell her about her grand kid. As a daughter, who misses her mom everyday, I’m angry that this person decided it was his right to put these kids in a situation were they will not only miss their mom, they will be lucky to remember her because of their ages.  The youngest one now has to grow up without her mom, her dad will more than likely be in jail, and she will know that it was her dad that killed her mom.

I have these questions:

  • What gave him the right to decide to destroy all of these lives?
  • What happened between them to cause this?
  • Was there a mental problem?
  • Just why?

Will I ever have answers? Probably Not.

I offer this advice to all, take a minute today, tomorrow, everyday, to hug your children and loved ones.  Tell them how much they mean to you because you never know when you may never have the chance again.

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What Halloween Costumes Are You Anticipating For Your Little One(s)?

I have been wondering the same thing, Go-Go Daddy couldn’t have said it better!

Go-Go Daddy and Me

Fall is finally here and Halloween is slowly creeping up. Last year we celebrated Aria’s first Halloween and it was the best Halloween for me since I was 10 years old. Aria was a stellar Princess Leia and the force was strong with her.

This year we are planning on doing a trio costume theme. Saga is a comic book written by Brian K. Vaughn and Illustrated by Fiona Staples (Fiona was considered as Aria’s name in the beginning. My wife vetoed it). It depicts two lovers from long-warring extraterrestrial races, Alana and Marko, fleeing authorities from both sides of a galactic war as they struggle to care for their newborn daughter, Hazel, who occasionally narrates the series. Aria was in my wife’s belly when this first came out and so it wasn’t a surprise that it resonated with me (The having a new born daughter and being two separate races…

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Burning Man from above

Burning Man from above.
Check this out.  Just an amazing photo!

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Gevalia Caramel Mocchiato

Gevalia Caramel Mocchiato

So, I tried this thing called HouseParty after a friend recommended it. I figured it was a load of crap til I got picked for some free stuff…Awesome! This is Gevalia’s Caramel Mocchiato for the Kuerig. Seriously, folks if you like to get the occasional free stuff and have parties with your friends check out http://www.houseparty.com!

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