I’ll Do It Myself, Thank You: Play Dough

Play dough has always been my nemesis.

I love for my son to play with it. He is always so excited when we pull out the box of play dough cookie cutters, rollers, and toys. But it’s one of those things that’s so expensive, I almost feel like he might as well be playing with a Sharpie!

A fly on the wall might hear me snapping orders to him like “Don’t mix the colors!” “We can only play with 1 at a time!” “Don’t leave it out of the container!” I’ve become so obsessive over making sure he doesn’t ruin the play dough that I almost wondered if it lost it’s appeal!

That was until 1 normal afternoon when I was dropping off my boys at their NaNa’s.

I was heading to a church meeting and only had a few minutes to chat, and as I was attempting to fill her in on who had eaten last and when the last bottle was, she decided to keep the Little Man entertained by whipping up a batch of play dough (at his request!).

Within 5 minutes, he was standing at the counter playing with his own large, green ball! My jaw almost dropped!

Since then, I’ve never been back to the wall of Target dreaming of the multitude of colors my son could be playing with, but we couldn’t afford. Now, whenever the play dough runs low, I whip up another batch, and let the imagination set in!

Although it seems like there’s a majority of mamas who know about this little secret, I clearly wasn’t one of them! And since I didn’t know about it, I thought there was a possibility you didn’t know about it either! So, today I’m sharing with you 6 simple steps on how to make your own play dough!

All you need is 10 minutes of time, a few simple kitchen ingredients (I bet you already have!), and food coloring of your choice. You can even get a little crazy and grab some glitter.

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6 Simple Ingredients:

1/2 c. salt

1 c. flour

2 Tbsp. Cream of Tarter

1 Tbsp. Vegetable (or Canola) Oil

1 c. water

Food coloring

6 Simple Directions:

1) Combine salt, flour, cream of tarter, and oil in a medium sauce pan.

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2) Add water and oil and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes.

3) Add food coloring to make the color of your choice. (Hint: Not sure the right combination of drops to make a color? Most food coloring boxes will tell you formulas on the back!) 

4) Dough will begin to harden becoming more of a solid as you stir. (Warning: It will feel like you’re stirring for awhile with nothing happening, and then within a period of about 20 seconds your ball will start to form!) 

5) As soon as you have a solid mass, immediately remove from stove.

6) Use your hands to continue to kneed dough into a smooth ball of dough. 

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Optional Ingredients:

In the kneeding stage, you can add more food coloring or glitter to make your play dough colorful and sparkly!

If you want to give your play dough a scent, simply add a little lemon or orange extract in step #2.

 

The best part about homemade play dough is it actually lasts a lot longer than real play dough when exposed to the air. Simply store in an air-tight container or Ziplock baggy, and anytime you’re ready to play with it, take it out!

I also found this really creative Kool-Aid play dough as shown on The 36th Avenue! What a fun activity to pin for summertime!

Have you ever experimented with homemade play dough? 

Do you have any tips to make it more enjoyable? 

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Wrapping Up October 2013

Another month has come and gone in 2013. I can hardly believe November is tomorrow, and before I know it 2014 will be here!

This year has flown by so fast (which I’ll save for another post another time), but before time slips away from me I wanted to take a few moments to share some of my favorite memories with you from this month. As I look back on the last 10 months, I honestly can say that October has been the biggest point of transition for me; both professionally, internally, and as a mom.OctoberRecap10

 

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I’ve seen the most change come from Baby Z as he turned 9 months old. His personality, abilities, and teeth are now all finally coming through! The next few months as he turns 1 year are going to be exciting, and I can’t wait to share these times with you!

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I’ve also reached some highs and lows when it comes to Dallas Moms Blog. Owning your own business is an emotional roller coaster to say the least. One minute you’re sailing through with amazing ideas, generating revenue, and loving life, and the next moment you’re questioning everything you’ve done. Thanks to some kind words from my husband and friends, I’ve taken time and stepped back and modified my business objectives and believe everything’s now heading back up.

With everything that’s been going on lately with my business and the boys, it would be unusual if my marriage remained unchanged through it all. Tim’s been having a stressful time at work, and my work habits haven’t been easy on us as a family as we try and figure out how to fit my Work-At-Home lifestyle in with my career as a Stay-At-Home Mom. (I only have so many hours in a day!) However, I believe we had a sense of renewal last weekend when we attended Family Life’s Weekend to Remember in Oklahoma City. An event I’ll have to save for a whole other post because I have so much I want to share with you about that weekend. But just know it was Good. . . with a capital G!

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As I said, I’m now feeling like my life might finally be starting to come into alignment.  Juggling 4 different hats has been difficult, but with some great tips, great boys, and a husband by my side, I’m really looking forward to the end of 2013 and the beginning of a whole new year!

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Welcome November!

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Throwback Thursday: The State Fair

I realize that Throwback Thursday is typically reserved for displaying photos from some far off time in elementary or high school, but I’ll be honest. . . Who has the time to stop, scan in a photo, edit it so it doesn’t look all distorted from the scan, and then post it to a bunch of social media sites? Oh. I guess everyone but me! 

So, instead, my Throwback Thursday is going back to long, long, long ago. . . October 12, 2013.

I remember it so well…

We made our annual trip to the State Fair of Texas, and before this ridiculously embarrassing event happened, we were actually having a great time as a family of 4! My friends at #ChevyAfterDark were once again very gracious and gave us tickets to use anytime before the Fair closed.

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The New Big Tex.

Our October has been insanely busy, so we chose the 1 day to attend that always breaks crowd records: OU/Texas weekend. (I know! We’re crazy like that!) We did a great job of avoiding the crowds by arriving early and leaving before the game ended. We also tried to stay away from the overly crowded sections of the park and stuck to the more family friendly areas.

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I’m not 100% why we choose to go to the State Fair each year. It’s always a huge ordeal to get all the snacks, water, and diapers packed. Then when we get there it’s a constant struggle to stop someone from running off into the crowd. The food is expensive. The drinks are expensive. And September is always insanely hot. Not to mention that Tim refuses to play any carnival games and our boys are way too young to ride the rides.

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But I guess that’s what happens when you start a tradition! It feels weird to break it!

Do you have any traditions that you continue to do and aren’t sure why?  

 

 
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Repurpose Your Candy: Chocolate Candy Pie

Halloween has come around once again!

The festivities are only a day away and I’m already having anxiety over the two Costco bags of candy sitting on my counter. My only prayer is that our neighborhood has become more full with kids and that candy will be long gone come November 1st. 

You see, as much as I love a good Snickers or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, eating these are probably the most addictive thing I can have in my house. And if your house is anything like mine, the Halloween candy tends to go on…and on…and on… long into November. I have to get rid of it and fast or it’ll be the death of my diet.

Last year I posted a few fun ways to help that unwanted candy disappear–including a GREAT list of places to donate!

This year, I decided to follow up with that post when FoodNetwork.com invited me to try one of their Halloween recipes and share it with you! But instead of waiting until after Halloween, I thought I’d go ahead and test this one out in advance…you know…just to make sure it was safe. (wink wink) 

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Chocolate Candy Pie

Ingredients
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cups milk
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped assorted chocolate-covered candy, plus additional candy, for garnish
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
One 6-ounce chocolate or regular graham cracker crumb pie crust

Directions
1) Whisk together the cocoa powder, cornstarch, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in the milk in a slow stream.

2) Whisk in the egg yolks.

3) Place the mixture over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until it just begins to boil, 6 to 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking, until thick, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl.

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4) Whisk in the butter and vanilla.

5) Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

6) Fold the chopped candy into the pudding.

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Choose your favorite candies!
Hint: Freeze for easier cutting and folding into the pie.

7) Whip 3/4 cup of the cream with an electric mixer just until stiff peaks form. Fold a third of the whipped cream into the pudding to lighten it, and then fold in the other two-thirds until no streaks remain.

Cooking Break!

What’s the difference between soft peaks and stiff peaks? 

Soft peaks occur after a 2-3 minute period of whipping the cream. You’ll notice wave-like peaks forming although the consistency will still be liquidy. Stiff peaks occur after another 2-3 minutes when the cream no longer slides around the bowl and takes on a more solid form.

Stiff peaks should not move in the bowl.

Stiff peaks should not move in the bowl.

8) Transfer to the pie crust and freeze until firm but not frozen solid, about 3 hours.

9) Whip the remaining 1/2 cup cream just until soft peaks form. Spread over the pie and garnish decoratively with sliced or chopped candy.

Personal Note: Although FoodNetwork.com says this recipe takes 10 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook, it took me almost 45 minutes, so prepare for a little extra time when making this dish. I think this was due to being a mom at the same time and not being able to focus on a task for too long!

Looking for an additional Fall/Halloween Treat?

Check out my other FoodNetwork.com post–Monster Munch— on Dallas Moms Blog!

**I did not receive compensation for this post. Only permission from FoodNetwork.com to use their recipe. 

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Want to Start a Local Moms Blog in Your City?

Have you noticed how much I have loved being apart of Dallas Moms Blog? I try my hardest to not talk about it too much on my personal blog (as I could probably talk about it every day), but since I’ve taken ownership of the site it’s been an amazing personal and professional growth experience for me! It has been such a great opportunity to play a part in connecting moms in our city and to get to know the other women on our fabulous team.

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Dallas Moms Blog is an amazing resource for moms in the Dallas area and we are passionate about what we do! I’m proud to be part of something that is making a positive influence on both our beautiful city here AND on a national level! Did you know Dallas Moms Blog has over 30 Sister Sites around the country?

These 30+ Sister Sites make up City Moms Blog Network. Each site is written and run by local moms, for local moms. They provide parenting information unique to their community, and to make things even more fun, they each throw fabulous events to get moms in their cities out on the town.

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This network of locally focused moms blogs has empowered women all over the country to start their own businesses. When someone joins City Moms Blog Network as a Sister Site owner, they are joining a family that is eager to encourage and support one another. Sister Sites are provided with assistance in the startup phase, ongoing education and resources for continued support, and a community of fellow site owners eager to share best practices.

With the help of City Moms Blog Network, these Sister Site owners are able to become entrepreneurs (mompreneurs) and local influencers, all while doing something they love and are passionate about. I have loved watching the {founder/founders/owners} of {city} Moms Blog grow it into what it is today, and I am thankful and proud of the part I am playing in that!

Is there a City Moms Blog Network Sister Site in your area? City Moms Blog Network is currently looking for Sister Site owners in 25 specific cities in California, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington. If you or someone you know might be interested in impacting moms in your community like {city} Moms Blog is, jump at this opportunity to join CMBN with your own Sister Site. These ladies are passionate about what they do and would love to partner with YOU to do the same!
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Let the Reliant Challenge Begin!

If you live in Texas you know that right around October, we reach this time of uncertainty in the weather.

When fall rolls around on September 21st, even nature is confused. Leaves are falling, but temperatures remain in the steady 90’s and (and if we’re unlucky) 100’s.

Then almost overnight–sometimes literally overnight–rainstorms will move in and it’s so long heat and hello beautiful fall temperatures. Although the 70’s and 80’s are  welcome break after the months of long, humid heat, you can imagine what an adjustment it is for our homes! From A/C blasting all day to a mixture of heat and air conditioning.

And don’t get me started on trying to figure out what to wear. It’s almost just as confusing.

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Up until a few weeks ago, we’ve been using a basic thermostat that we purchase back in our second year of marriage. I remember when we installed it, we were so impressed by it’s abilities! {It was replacing one of those circular 80’s style thermostats which you had to fiddle with almost 4 times a day to keep cool.} It not only had a digital display of the temperature, but allowed you to program when the A/C or Heat kicked on. For 7 years it met our needs.

This summer, I think our little thermostat met its match. By the time September hit, although it was digital, we were back to adjusting the thermostat several times a day because it was starting to go a little crazy. Heat? A/C? It had no clue!

Ironically, right around the time we were thinking about purchasing a new thermostat, Reliant invited me to participate in their Energy Awareness Month challenge!

Nest1 They’ve invited 5 bloggers in Dallas and Houston to participate and raise awareness for simple ways Texans can conserve energy during our first real month of fall. So, I used this challenge as an opportunity to up my energy saving game and install a Nest!

The Simplest Way to Save Energy

If you’re not familiar with the Nest Thermostat, it’s definitely THE way to help you save energy. Thermostats make up for over half the energy in your home. That means if you’re not correctly programming your home’s temperature you could be wasting up to $173 a year.*

Nest allows you to not only program your thermostat, but takes it to the next level and actually learns your temperature habits. As you adjust the temperature at certain times of the day, it remembers these variations, but also learns when you’re away from the house through “Auto-Away”–built in motion sensors that detect movement while you’re up and walking around your home. If you work outside of the home, it’ll learn your work habits and set itself to be energy efficient while you’re away. Genius.

Other Ways To Conserve

Lightbulbs On top of our new Nest addition, I’m also trying to be more proactive in conserving energy through obvious ways. Shutting off the lights when we leave a room or leave the house. Filling up the dishwasher before setting it to run. Watching my water settings on our washing machine. (If I don’t need warm or hot water, then use cold and being aware of the water level.) 

I know my next step to conserve even more energy is to finally make the switch from incandescent to fluorescent or LED, but I have to be honest…this will be the toughest switch to make of all simply for vanity reasons.

Although as I did a little browsing at Home Depot today, I was becoming more optimistic as I discovered fluorescent bulbs are looking a little more appealing.

Want to know more about the Reliant Challenge? 

Make sure to continue following along each month as I attempt to make our home more Energy Efficient and compete in a variety of challenges.

What’s in it for me? A Trip to BlogHer 2014!

How can you help? I’d love for you to help cheer me on each month, but as far as helping me win, this one is totally up to me! I could definitely use some advice on ways to me more energy efficient! Have any ideas? Make sure to comment! 

You can also follow along with my competition; 4 other Dallas and Houston bloggers:

  • The Nerd’s Wife – Arena is a Dallas mommy blogger, who admittedly, married a nerd.
  • Frugal Confessions – Amanda has chosen to live the frugal life by choice and because she has a passion for it.
  • 7 on a Shoestring – Staci is a mom of five – yes, you read that correctly! Based in Dallas, she looks for ways to feed and entertain her large family on a shoestring budget.
  • Cheerios and Lattes – Mackenzie’s blog focuses on making family life more enjoyable, sharing recipes, activities and DIY projects.

May the most energy efficient win!

 

*Fact provided by Nest Thermostat.

**I’ve been asked to participate in the Reliant Challenge to raise awareness for energy conservation. I have not been compensated for writing this post or mentioning Reliant; however, as part of the challenge, we were provided with a Nest Thermostat. 
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Enjoy that Sweet Sip of Adulthood with NickMom #Motherfunny

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As motherhood has taken over my world, I’m finding myself getting more lost in the world of childhood. Those rare moments of being an adult are becoming farther and fewer between.

When I wake up in the morning, unless I’ve feeling extremely ambitious, which is 1% of the time, I usually throw on a t-shirt and jeans. Not because it’s how I choose to dress, but because it truly is the ultimate mom uniform—next to yoga pants. Nurses wear scrubs. My husband wears business casual khaki’s and polos. I wear tees. It’s the only thing I have in my wardrobe I can change out of several times a day after several incidents of spit-up and not seem like I’m changing my whole outfit. I wear jeans because it’s the easiest material to scrub off the flying baby food that happens more frequently than I’d like to admit. Nowhere else except in motherhood could you get away with making this your daily fashion trend!

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In my day, there’s usually zero adult interaction with the exception of my daily conversations on Facebook. And when social media is unusually quiet, I’ll share my day with myself through an unusual amount of status updates or tweets. My more intelligent conversations happen after a chorus of “why’s” where I realize I’m digging far deeper into the world of helicopters that I’d ever thought I’d go.

On more than one occasion I’ve missed major world events such as the government shutting down, airliners crashing into ports, and major car accidents because the 6th showing of the Rocket Ride episode of Yo Gabba Gabba was more important to my 2 and a half year old than Mommy’s need to have 5-10 minutes of knowing what was going on in the “real world.”

Even by the time my husband gets home, we’re talking dirty diapers, baths, and finger painting.

It’s not until that first sip of my evening glass of wine that I feel a wave wash over me. Almost like a much-needed slap in the face at the end of my day.

With each sip of that sparkly sweet goodness, I am taken away to the world of adulthood where “sharing” isn’t always necessary.

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What does my wine say about me? It says, I’m a mom but I’m also Super Women. I might drink a sweet glass of Riesling, but I know how to pick up frogs and lizards. My Pinot Grigio might be feminine to you, but my boys think I can wrestle with the best of them.

So, if you walk into the kitchen and find me standing at the sink with a glass by my side, you might think I’m lost in the world of bottles and sippy cups, but in my head, I’m savoring the few, rare moments where I’m more than just a mom.

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Thankfully, NickMom also gets that!

If you haven’t left your television on after the last episode of Team Umizoomi, then you might not be aware of the great content being provided by NickMom after your kid’s head to bed; such as stand-up focused on topics of childhood and parenthood and  some of my favorite family sitcoms like Yes Dear and The New Adventures of Old Christine. And although NickMom is designed for moms, my husband has really enjoyed many of the episodes of  Parental Discretion with Stefanie Wilder-Taylor–stories of motherhood can easily transfer into the language of fatherhood!

So, if you need a few more moments to be an adult, grab your tall glass of wine and tune your TV to NickMom for some clean, adult humor or catch a few videos and games on NickMom.com between nap times. It might just be the pick-me-up you needed to survive another day!

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What does your wine choice say about you?

** This post has been sponsored by Collective Bias and NickMom; however all opinions are 100% my own. I stand behind all products that I endorse. My husband really has watched NickMom with me and enjoyed it! 

Can You Top This Embarrassing Story?

I remember about 15 years ago, all it would take was a comment about my outfit or a slight slip in the hallway and it would seem like my world was ending. Mortified in 7th grade that I didn’t make the cheerleading squad, I called my dad and asked him to come and get me because I was too embarrassed to stay at school and face my friends.

I wish I could go back and tell my younger self, just wait! You don’t know what embarrassing is until you have children! They’re able to take it to a whole new level, and every day it’s like walking around with a ticking time bomb waiting for those moments to happen.

You know it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of where and when, and you just pray, they’re the type of crowd that’ll laugh at you rather than look at you in complete disgust!

StateFair1 Take my son for example. We decided to be absolutely ridiculous and brave the Texas State Fair on the busiest day of their most crowded weekend. (Why? We’ve sort of made a tradition of it, and now feel obligation to go.) Thinking we’d outsmart the OU/Texas madness, we headed straight for one of the indoor kid-friendly exhibits. It was the perfect spot to get a few moments relief from the humidity, take a seat, and allow my 2 and a half year old to explore some of the learning tables they’d set up.

We’d spent about an hour inside and were having a great time when out of no where I hear laughing. I look over to see a crowd of college kids laughing and backing away from something. I follow their gaze and what do I see?

A small white little bottom with pants around his ankles, little hands holding up a bright orange shirt mid-belly, and a stream of yellow arching down into one of the” fake” outdoor displays.

It was almost movie like. In slow motion, my jaw dropped as I watch my husband take a flying leap off the chair and begin sprinting over to my son. By the time he’d reached him, it was too late. My son was already pulling up his pants and had a “proud” look on his face.

My husband and I exchanged a brief glance and I immediately began throwing our gear back into our diaper bag and packing up my 9 month old. I could feel the burning red embarrassment coming across my face.

Thankfully the workers saw the humor in the situation, and one of the ladies working the table even offered him hand sanitizer.

Just when I thought I’d done a great job of potty-training, it was in that moment I realized by allowing our son to use the grass in our backyard had (in his mind) transferred into it being acceptable to use the grass anywhere. Including fake grass. Indoors. With other people around.

Unlike when I was 17, I’m trying hard to see the humor in situations like these. Thankfully the rest of the crowd saw the humor too which has made it a little easier to absorb, but how easily that incident could have turned into judgment.

Has your child ever really embarrassed you?

How do you process situations like these?

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Free Screening of Delivery Man on 10.10!

Disney Pictures (aka DreamWorks Studio) has been kind enough to offer all of our Dallas Moms Blog Mom’s Night Out guests tickets to a free screening of the upcoming comedy Delivery Man!

I’m super excited because they’re now extending this offer to my friends!

This FREE screening will take place on Thursday, October 10th at 7:30PM.

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AMC North Park 15
8687 N Central Expy Dallas, TX, 75225

To grab a ticket, head to http://www.seeitfirst.net/pin/200227 and your ticket will be emailed to you!

Will I see you there? 

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Buried in a Pile of Emails and Events

When I took ownership of Dallas Moms Blog back in May, I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into! What I thought would be a little tinkering here and there and a dab of this and that has turned into (almost) a full time job.

I’m doing my best to balance two lifestyles…

Stay at home mom by day.

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Work at home mom by night; and nap times.

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I consider myself so thankful to be able to spend time with my boys while they’re growing up. I know how fortunate I am to stay at home with them and watch as the reach their milestones, but at the same time, when your work day begins at the end of a long day with your kids, it can be exhausting! 

When I took on the role of owner, a lot of plans and events were already rolling. There were some ideas I had to try out on my own to know whether they’d be a success or failure. My time since taking on the site has finally reached a peak. With play dates , 1 promotional event, and contributor meeting in the past, Project Mom quickly approaching this weekend, and our Moms Night Out and Date Night just weeks away, I can’t tell you have excited and relieved I’ll be once October 14th roles around! 

For the rest of the year, I’ll be able to focus on just maintaining instead of creating. I’ll be ready for a much needed break from the chaos of planning and coordinating, and can once again put the focus back on my family-literally! Once Dallas Moms Blog shuts down its events for Fall, I’ll be hopping in the car on my birthday weekend to celebrate my marriage at Weekend to Remember in OKC.

Although it’s just Oklahoma, I can’t WAIT to enjoy some time in the car with my husband, reading my latest Book Club book, and catching up on a little personal blogging.

But that still seems light years away.

So for now, I need to put my head down and plow through. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We’re just not quite there yet!

Want to see what my team has worked so hard on the last 3 months?

Come to one of our events and see me in action! I’d love to have you there! 

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