Monday, July 27, 2015

Calling all Dragon Trainers!

We're Netflix addicts in my house, and now that it's summer vacation, I may possibly be guilty of letting my kids sit around and watch Netflix for HOURS some days. It's summer. It happens. (Here in Florida, it's too hot to play outside during the day unless we're at the pool, and it rains every afternoon.)

Recently my kids found Dreamworks Dragons: Race to the Edge on Netflix. They just can't get enough of Hiccup and Toothless. When Netflix sent us a package of Dragon goodies, my 11-year-old was crazy-excited, hoping it was the "Dragon Eye" in the box. (In the series, the "Dragon Eye" is powered by a dragon's fiery breath and it shows a map.) Alas, it was not the "Dragon Eye." It was a package of dragon themed goodies!

(If you have little dragon trainers in your home, you can give them a dragon-themed snacks of "dragon scales" Doritos, and "dragon claws" Bugles. Cute!)

My favorite item in this box of goodies was the sidewalk chalk because my kids voluntarily turned off the TV and ran outside to draw their own dragons and maps on the cement, and they played make-believe dragon trainer games all afternoon! Well, they played until the rain came, anyway.

Check out this new series on Netflix with your little dragon trainers!

Why I Support My Kids' Questionable Decisions

“Aren’t you supposed to be at school?” I asked my 20-year-old son who attends Le Cordon Bleu.

He looked up from his video game and responded, “Uhhh, no. I don’t have school.”

I didn’t question it. In between class sessions, he usually has a couple days off.

A few days later, I got home from work and found my son and his girlfriend hanging out at my house. “Why aren’t you at school?” I asked, puzzled.

His girlfriend gave him a look and said, “You haven’t told your mom?”


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

You Have the Power to Change the Person Looking Back at You

I don't like myself. I look in the mirror and tell myself, "You're not a nice person." And when you don't like what you see reflected back at you, it can perpetuate the behavior that you don't like. It's quite the self-defeating cycle. 

I'm crabby and irritable. I snap at the people I love. I wake up with a headache and I cry myself to sleep. I feel an enormous weight on my shoulders. Constantly. I worry about money. Or lack thereof. I wonder if anyone will take us in when we're evicted. Or will some miracle happen enabling me to save my home from foreclosure? I worry that I won't be able to feed my kids. I feel seething anger toward my ex who doesn't live up to his responsibilities. I fear living like this for the rest of my life. I agonize over decisions that will affect me and my kids forever. I let these fears rule my life. I let them dictate my behavior. And I hate it.

When you look in the mirror and don't like the person looking back, it can hurl you into a deep depression. Unless you look in that mirror and realize that you have the power to change the person looking back at you.

I had to go to the store today. I absolutely detest going to this particular store that rhymes with Halmart. I push my cart around, loudly sighing and rolling my eyes every time I encounter another patron blocking the aisle or walking slowly in front of me. I grunt and snort and make other passive aggressive noises, getting more and more angry with every person I encounter. By the time I reach the check-out, which is always 419 people deep, I'm texting my friends, Stand by with bail money. I'm at that store that rhymes with Halmart, and I'm about to go postal.

Today, however, I made it a point to smile at everyone. I grinned at every single person I encountered. Ordinarily I would've muttered under my breath a sarcastic, "Could you take up any more room?" to the woman blocking the entire aisle and completely clueless to my presence as I tried to push my cart past her. Today, I smiled and said, "Excuse me." 

Instead of contrition and an apology, however, she had the unmitigated gall to look at ME like I was annoying HER. Normally, I would have made a barely audible, snotty comment, calling her clueless and annoying, implying that she should live in a zoo, or something along those lines. Don't get me wrong; I'm not proud of that. I'm admitting that I've become a mean, impatient, short-tempered person with no tolerance for others. But today, I merely pushed my cart along, ignoring her surliness, a smile plastered to my face.

I left the store and pushed my cart along the walkway, stuck behind an elderly woman who was propelling her cart exceedingly slowly as she struggled to maneuver it along the path in front of the store. I didn't get frustrated, as I followed along toward the crosswalk that leads into the parking lot.

I loaded my groceries into my car, proud of myself for not losing my cool the entire trip. Then I stopped. I was congratulating myself on not being a total jerk. What was wrong with me? That behavior is not worthy of congratulations; that behavior is just how humans are supposed to act! I returned my cart to the corral and looked around the parking lot, searching for the older woman. I found her a couple rows over in a handicapped spot, and I headed that way.

As I approached her, I had second thoughts. "What am I doing? I'm such a dork!" I told myself as I walked up to her, then continued walking, lest she (or anyone else) think I was weird for stopping to help her. Angry once again with myself for the way I was acting, I screeched to a stop, pivoted on my heel and turned right back around. Great, I thought as I paced back and forth in front of this woman, she probably thinks I'm casing her, weighing my chances of stealing her purse and getting away with it. She's going to take out her cane and beat me with it, no doubt, because I'm being so weird and creepy.

"Hi. I'll take your cart for you," I offered.

She looked at me and smiled, joking, "Can I get my groceries out of it first?"

I laughed and said, "I don't know. I forgot to buy ice cream and that looks pretty good," eyeing her bags of food. Oh yeah, good move, Dawn. Imply you're going to steal a senior citizen's ice cream. That's great! I berated myself with sarcasm while looking to see if she was picking up her cane to clock me.

I helped her put her bags in her trunk while making small talk about the weather. Although it was super hot and humid, she asserted that she was happy for the heat because her laundry was hanging on the clothes line at home. We chatted about laundry and HOAs and her husband for a few minutes. Then I told her to have a great afternoon as I took her cart and walked across the parking lot to the cart-return. I smiled the whole way. Not because I was forcing the smile on my face. Not because I was proud of myself for doing what everyone should do every day just because it's right. I smiled because I felt good. For the first time in a long time, I just felt good.

It doesn't matter what you're going through because guess what - everyone else is going through stuff too. Wallowing in self pity and taking out your frustration on others doesn't fix anything. It doesn't help the situation; it just makes you feel worse. Getting outside yourself and your issues and putting others before you makes you feel good. It lets you forget about the garbage in your life and enables you to focus on someone else, so not only are you helping another person, but you are making yourself feel better in the process. Win-win!

It seems brainless, right? Why wouldn't we do this every minute of every day? Why indeed. We let ourselves get so wrapped up in our own little lives and our own little problems that we have blinders on to the rest of the world. We need to remind ourselves every single day to take those blinders off, look in the mirror and act in a manner we want reflected back at us.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Style It Yourself with Suave's Luxe Style Infusion!

I've been using Suave hair care products for years! Not only are they a FRACTION of salon products (and even other drugstore brands), but they do an AMAZING job! As a single mom to 6 kiddos, I'm always looking for ways to save money, but so often you get what you pay for; you may save money, but you'll sacrifice performance. It's so rare that you find a product that is affordable yet works as well as more expensive brands. Suave is that brand! Luxe Style Infusion are those products!

I have very thick, coarse, dry hair. I live in Florida where there's always 1000% humidity. By the end of the day, I look like Roseanne Roseannadanna.

Really. See the resemblance?

Who has the time or the money to get a blow-out every week? But thanks to Suave's Smoothing Light Weight Weather-Proof Cream, and Anti-Humidity Hairspray, I can look like this . . .

I love how lightweight the smoothing cream feels. My hair doesn't feel weighed down with a lot of "gunk" when I use it. I use a small amount of the Smoothing Light Weight Weather-Proof Cream on my wet hair, then I blow it dry if I have the time. If not, I let it air dry while I do other chores. Then I use a flat iron to smooth it out. Finally, I finish with a mist of the Anti-Humidity Hairspray. Voila!

Ignore the weird face I'm making. It was a quicky selfie.

On days that I don't have time to flat iron my hair, I use Suave's Curl Defining Gel Serum. This stuff is awesome! I just pump a couple squirts in my hand, distribute it throughout my wet hair, and go. (If you use too much, it can make your hair a little crunchy. A squirt or 2 is all it takes.) It tames my curls/waves and prevents the frizz of epic proportions that would otherwise occur.

Suave also has a line of volumizing styling products if you have thin, limp hair. You can check out Suave's Luxe Style Infusion products and instructions on how to Style It Yourself HERE!

Monday, July 13, 2015

23 Signs It's Summer Vacation

The temps are high, the days are long, the smell of freshly mowed lawns fills the air, and the sound of kids whining, “I’m bored” engulfs your senses. Ahhh, summer vacation … that magical time of year when the kids are home. All. Day. Long. As a parent, I have a love/hate relationship with summer vacation. On the one hand, I love that my kids are home and no one has to get up early! But on the other hand, I really hate that all I do all day long is pick up “stuff” and do dishes!

Here are 29 tell-tale signs it’s summer vacation …

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Driving Safely on Cooper Tires

Recently I had the opportunity to visit the Cooper Tire and Vehicle Testing Center (CTVTC) in Texas. While I was there, I got to drive SUVs that were identical in every way except their tires. One was equipped with Cooper SRX tires, the other had a set of the leading, comparable, competitor's tires. I drove three laps in each vehicle on Cooper's wet pad. (Driving on the wet surface, enables one to get a good idea of tire performance at lower, safer speeds than would be required on a dry surface.)

Several bloggers took turns driving before I had the chance to test the tires. As they completed their laps, they got out of the vehicle, exclaiming what a difference they felt between the two sets of tires. Ever skeptical, I didn't buy it. I didn't think there would be any discernible difference. I mean, they're tires! Comparable tires! How different could they be, right? I expressed my skepticism to one of the guys from Cooper. "I don't think I'll be able to tell a difference," I stated confidently. "No offense, but they're tires! Tires are tires, right?"

"Just give it a try. It's a safe closed track, so remember to really push the vehicles," he encouraged me. 

So I did.


Seeing (or driving) is believing. The Cooper SRX tires way outperformed the competitor's tires, and when you discover that Cooper tires are more affordable than brands like Goodyear, Michelin, Bridgestone, etc., it's a no-brainer. 

I never really thought much about tires until I visited the CTVTC. Honestly, they're just tires so who cares? But after experiencing the difference in tires firsthand, it has made me rethink things. Like most of you, I haul the most precious cargo ever - my kids. Skidding all over the place on a closed track is one thing; I wouldn't want to skid into oncoming traffic on the highway, however. And I have teens who, although they're good drivers, are inexperienced drivers. I don't want them driving on tires that aren't going to keep them safe.

Unfortunately, tires are one of those things that you have to buy blind, and oftentimes you need to purchase tires on an emergency basis - your tire goes flat and you need a new one pronto. You can't go to a tire dealer and say, "Hey, will you put these Cooper tires on my car and I'll test drive them for a week and let you know if I want to keep them, okay?" It just doesn't work that way. Cooper understands this and offers a 45-Day Road Test Warranty which lets you try out the tires and if you aren't satisfied, you may return them to your original dealer within 45 days of purchase for a FREE OF CHARGE Cooper brand replacement, including mounting and balancing.

The next time your vehicle needs tires, I urge you to check out the Cooper SRX or CS5 tires. I really believe that, like me, you'll be pleasantly surprised! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Turn Off the Light! No, YOU Turn Off the Light!

I was letting my friend's dog out last night when my daughter texted me this.

This was quickly followed by a text from Mara . . .

Tell me I'm not the only one. Lie to me if you have to. These girls are planning to move into their own apartment in less than a year. Maybe I should get them a Clapper for a housewarming present. Do they still make those?

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