Margarita Mama

Separating twins — the great divide

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in birthday, daycare, developmental milestones, family, Featured, kid stuff, Margarita Mama, twins | 7 comments

Today is the twins’ last day being 3. And although they don’t entirely get it, they know big things are headed their way.

twins, hanging around

Kendall and Kayla, hanging around. (Photo by Rick McFarland)

In addition to turning 4 tomorrow, we’re about to split them apart a bit and see how it goes. It’s a gamble, but we’re hoping it pays off for them.

Our wonderful daycare’s kindergarten prep program has an opening — only one. And it’s hard to predict when another one will come along, as it stays pretty full since it’s so great. It might be months.

We’re nervous as all get-out about making the right decision here. They are EXTREMELY dependent on each other. To the point where Kayla will often let Kendall, her more boisterous sister, do most of the talking for her. And everything else.

In fact, that’s why the daycare director is trying to nudge us to separate them into different classes for a bit and see how it goes. Apparently, Kendall spends most of the day pretty much forcing Kayla to do whatever she wants her to. Kayla, being a people pleaser like her mama, goes right along with it.

They just had their yearly speech and development evaluations. For the first time ever, they didn’t come back with a bunch of terrifying notes. So we know they’re making big leaps and bounds. And we asked the director if we could pull out and put them back together if splitting them apart turns out to be a disaster. So there’s a safety valve in place here.

But I have a feeling it will be a bumpy ride, in any case. Habits are hard to break. And who wouldn’t want a best friend just like themselves to help get them through the day every day?

Wish us luck!


Margarita Mama

Who’s ready for some football?

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Activities, Ava, daddy, family, Featured, Food, football, Margarita Mama, pasta | 4 comments

It’s already that time — the time of the year when most of the weekend is filled with yelling, stomping and pouting. But this time, it’s not from the kids.

Football season is upon us!

Last year's game day gear

Last year’s game day gear

Ava asked this morning on the way to school if it was “time for the Razorbacks yet.” But she doesn’t particularly want to watch the game.

Instead, she’s excited because I promised her some “girl day” time together this football season while Daddy is off in Hog Heaven. And then heavens of every other SEC team out there. And then the purgatories that are the rest of them.

We’ll be doing a little shopping and maybe stopping for special treats, like ice cream. Perhaps going to the library and the park, too, along with more boring duties like heading to the grocery store together. As the season stretches on, I’m sure I’ll have to get a little more creative. So if you’ve got ideas out there, I’m all ears.

I’m generally all about trying to find fun gameday snacks, too, to keep the herd happy. Pinterest, I’m headed your way. Can we top last year’s peppers stuffed with cream cheese and little smokies, then wrapped with bacon?  Oooh, I don’t know.

In the meantime, Woo Pig Sooie! And Go Big Red, my Nebraskan friends!


Margarita Mama

5 things you need to know about renovations

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 in home, home repair, Margarita Mama, Uncategorized | 4 comments

Just about a month after hitting our limits with the ever-growing cracks in our tile flooring, we’re happy to have exquisitely beautiful, brand new, dark laminate wood flooring. It’s changed the feel of our home more than I ever would have expected, and let’s just say I am jazzed about it.

What lies beneath your floor ...

What progress looks like

There’s a little more echo in the house, now that the carpeting that shared space with the tile is gone. I can live with that. And there’s quite a bit more sweeping up of dog hair, now that our previously lighter colored flooring is not hiding it in plain sight. As a clean freak, I can live with that, too.

Ta da! It's sleek up in here now, yo.

Ta da! It’s sleek up in here now, yo.

Looking the other direction, in the same space.

Looking the other direction, in the same space.

Our dining room

Our dining room

Our not-quite-finished stairway

Our not-quite-finished stairway

But looking back on the overall experience, there’s some points I’d like to share for others considering a big flooring project, or any other renovation for that matter. It always helps to be prepared!

1. There will be dust. And dirt. And messes you can’t even fathom. And things will get broken, too.

You probably have no idea how much dust is lingering in hiding spots around your house already. And as much as we tried to remove our belongings, clean them, cover them up with plastic and shield them from chaos, saws still make sawdust and spread it everywhere. Kids and dogs are powerfully dirty forces on their own, and a workzone adds to that a thousandfold.

So keep your cleaning supplies at the ready. Steel yourself mentally for dusting and sweeping, sometimes repeatedly and seemingly in vain. Get new air filters, because you’re going to need them. And know that, eventually, things will return to normal.

Also know that weird accidents will happen, and they’re not the end of the world. For example, sometimes workers will move your refrigerator and a bowl full of shredded pork will fall out and break. No biggie! Also sometimes, jackhammers will shake that clock right off your wall. (It was cheap anyway. But take stuff you care about off the walls!)

2. Stay on top of things. And communicate!

When there’s people working in your home, it helps them do their job when you let them know what you want and need. Day one, I told the very helpful and jovial flooring store owner that I’m a picky lady. I’m also easygoing, for the most part. And so is my husband. So without getting our panties in a wad, when we realized we wanted things a certain way — like the stairs — we let them know.

And when a few things didn’t turn out quite right, we let them know that too. Kindly, and in timely fashion. Then things got fixed. Open communication goes a long way toward your satisfaction with the finished product.

3. Projects always cost more than you plan for and take longer, too.

Despite our saving up for this flooring for quite some time, we hadn’t thought much about things like extending the new flooring up the stairs and into the upstairs hallway for the sake of sightlines. Or needing to replace the quarter-round molding. Or that giant closet space under the stairs. Or new floor vents and a toilet seal.

Even the best planners come across a few things here and there. As we say in our house, every project equals at least four trips to Home Depot. (I lost count on this one, though.)

4. One thing leads to another.

Now that some of our walls have been painted and there’s new flooring around, gosh our old stuff looks shabby in comparison. There’s dings in the walls now that need patching and/or repainting. Our molding sure appears scuffed up now. The kitchen cabinets, as well. Home improvement is a never ending saga. It’s just part of the game.

5. Not everything will turn out 100 percent perfect.

As an engineer and an editor, my hubby and I are a very precise couple with very precise wants and needs. We like everything to be just so, just as we planned. But even we know that nothing in life is absolutely perfect. There’s a little ding in ONE board. Eek. First reaction, freakout. Second reaction, well, we can get a little coverup stick and fix that.  Life goes on!

Anyone else out there have some thoughts they’d like to share? I’d love to hear them!


Back to School ShoeDAYS Giveaway

Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in fashion, Giveaways, Margarita Mama, shopping, The Promenade at Chenal | Comments Off

Who doesn’t like the idea of free shoes? Um, no one.

I have a bit of a shoe thing myself. So I’ll be hitting up The Promenade at Chenal’s Back to School FREE ShoeDAYS Giveaway! They’ve got four stores kicking in a pair for this fabulous contest: Designer Shoe Warehouse, the Nike Store, Paul’s Shoes and Warren’s Shoes.

A pair of lovely work shoes I picked up a few months ago at DSW.

A pair of lovely work shoes I picked up a few months ago at DSW.

There’s just a few simple steps so you can enter to win:

LIKE the Promenade’s Facebook page by clicking HERE. Then watch each Friday in August  — starting Friday, Aug. 8 — to see which shoe store you can win from that day. All you have to do to seal the deal is LIKE and SHARE each ShoeDAYS giveaway post.

Got these at the Nike Store last year around now. So cushy!

Got these at the Nike Store last year around now. So cushy!

Easy! Fun! Free shoes! Can’t think of a better combination.

promenade ad

NOTE: This is a compensated post. But all opinions are my own, of course.

Destruction day

Posted by on Jul 28, 2014 in home, home repair, Margarita Mama, Uncategorized | 1 comment

After two weeks of rearranging our belongings and evacuating everything from the first floor into the garage, playroom and master bedroom, we’re ready for flooring-destruction day.

It’s not exactly Young House Love worthy up in here right now. Unfortunately, we didn’t get everything painted ahead of time due to a hectic weekend. However, it’s about half done and we’re ready to rock-n-roll on the rest.

Using a lot of painter's plastic ...

Using a lot of painter’s plastic …

Kitchen is ready, with fridge in the hallway. (That's where that goes, right?)

Kitchen is ready, with fridge in the hallway. (That’s where that goes, right?)

Toilet is out — outside. Because we live in Arkansas. Of course.

Toilet is out — outside. Because we live in Arkansas. Of course.

Covered and ready to go, with half the couch in the garage

Covered and ready to go, with half the couch in the garage

Dining room, ready

Dining room, ready

I’m more than ready for the chipped tile to come up, along with the dog and kid attacked carpet. So, common’ flooring guys! We’re waiting.

Can’t take it anymore

Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in daddy, home, home repair, Margarita Mama, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Something has been bothering me for quite awhile now. And the time for action has come.

We’ve been covering up a problem. In the meantime, it’s only gotten worse.

Our kitchen floor

Our kitchen floor

Nearly exactly two years ago, I wrote this post about our floor. Since then, the cracks have only spread. But flooring doesn’t come cheap. And we’re the kind who like to simmer on an important decision for a long time, then finally get fed up one day and spring into action.

But I’m also the kind of wife who likes to pile on.

I mean, if we’re going to do the floor, shouldn’t we get on that painting project we’ve been meaning to do for the past 5 years now?

So, instead of just clearing out the whole first floor of our house for the installation crew, now we’re painting, too. (And when I say we, I mean Daddy. Because we’re still in that divide-and-conquer stage of the game in which one of us has to supervise/distract the children if we’re actually going to get anything done.)

Don't ask how that trim was done — a "don't try this at home" sort of moment

Don’t ask how that trim was done — a “don’t try this at home” sort of moment

The children are not pleased. Their toys are crammed upstairs in every nook and cranny. It’s boring.

But when it’s done, it will be beautiful!

Tips for roadtrip sanity

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in Activities, Margarita Mama, Uncategorized, vacation | Comments Off

As we’re coming off a set of 10+ hour family roadtrips and another round just a month away, I’ve got travel on the brain.

Kayla, Ava and Kendall, ready for summer fun

Kayla, Ava and Kendall, ready for summer fun

Normally, I make tons of lists, overorganize, overprepare and drive myself batty until the moment we hit the interstate. For whatever reason, time just got away from me and I didn’t have any moments left to get all that done — and we still made it to our destination and back in one piece! Better than usual, even.

I think we’ve benefitted from getting this long car ride business down to a science. The keys are movies, music, toys and snacks. (Duh, right? But everyone’s got their own twists on this.)

Here’s our strategies:


MOVIES: Our oldest has a portable DVD player with headphones kinda like this one from Best Buy that she can operate herself from the back seat of the minivan. Money well spent, my friends. It has held up well through several years of abuse, and it plugs right into the car’s power jacks.

3021086_saFor the toddler twins, who clearly aren’t old enough yet to maneuver a movie screen on their own, we strap on seatback screens pretty similar to these at Best Buy. Again, this kind of setup is a bit of an investment. But over time, it’s one that pays off in sanity points. They can hook together to play the same movie, but most of the time, our girls go their separate ways and watch something different. This gives us an easy switcheroo when they’re done and extends the happiness.

We always keep a flip-book-style carrying case of movies handy since it’s way easier than hauling around a bag of movie cases, and it mostly lives in the car, so we never forget it. All we have to do is slide in the current hot tickets — Frozen and How to Train Your Dragon, naturally — and we’re on the move.

For a cheap mood booster once everyone’s hit their limit in the car, stop at a McDonald’s for lunch and hit up the Redbox. Nearly all of them have one, and you can return the movie at your destination or another McDonald’s along the road. This makes the kids rather happy, and it’s pretty cheap, too!

MUSIC: Everyone knows music sets the mood. After a long round of movie watching, switch them off for awhile and take a break for some music.

We still have Baby Einstein in the rotation for sleepytime, although it’s rare that we actually have kids sleeping in the car these days.

For the most part, I prefer a round of peppy car dancing to help nudge out everyone’s grumpies. It also helps everyone move a little bit, lessening complaints about being trapped in car seats.

Our rotation right now is generally “Happy,” “What Does the Fox Say” and the entire Frozen soundtrack. And Kids Bop 20-whatever. I’m amazed at how those CDs get even the 3-year-olds into a groove.

TOYS: Previously, I packed vast bags of small items to constantly interchange among the children in an attempt to keep everyone entertained. Over time, I’ve realized that all that does is lead to things getting thrown down on the floor, which adds to my own nuttiness because then the van’s a mess and no one can move around on it.

Instead, this time we stopped at Walgreens at let each child pick out one thing from the toy aisle. (They often have buy one, get one free deals there, too.) Kayla and Kendall each picked out a sticker/activity book, and Ava chose Gak, which somehow managed to stay contained. Somehow, this one small switch seemed to make a big difference — when you give children choices, it makes them feel special.

SNACKS: Again, this is an area where our kids’ ability to make choices has let to a happier trip. We start out from home with everyone getting a sippy cup or juice pouch and a breakfast item. At any post-lunch stopovers, I have stopped packing a big bag of things that end up getting crushed, instead letting the girls each pick an item for themselves at whatever gas station we land at.

For the most part, our kids don’t eat a lot of junk food at home, so it’s still a genuine treat to them when we’re on vacation. They also usually enjoy sharing their treats with each other, so everyone gets a little bit of each thing. Last  time, this was chips, gummy bears and Twizzlers. (Note: This was kind of a treat for mom to snag a bite, too!)

If anyone out there wants to share their travel sanity tips, I’d love to hear them!

Swimsuit sagas

Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in Arkie Mama, body image, friends, Health, lady stuff, Lucky Mama, Margarita Mama, Motherhood | 6 comments

Surely by now you’ve seen Put on that Swimsuit, the ode to enjoying summertime happiness with your kids written by Jessica Turner on the Mom Creative blog, which hit the Huffington Post and went viral.


Swimsuits can be tough for mamas. Do I ever know this — remember, I’m the lady saddled with a saggy kangaroo pouch for a stomach and dozens of pregnancy pounds I can’t seem to shed.

I want you to know, though, that even I strap on the swimsuit and go for it. I’m not particularly proud of how I look — the definition of beached whale, in fact — but I can’t let that stop me and my kiddos from having summer fun. I’m not at the pool for a fashion show. I’m there to spend quality time with my girls and/or get some exercise.

Arkie Mama recently decided to go bikini and is loving it. Of course, she’s celebrating the fact that she’s still alive after a gut-wrenching, life-changing scare in the desert. And I also think about Lucky Mama and Aunt Jenn, whose battles with MS may someday present physical limitations.


Shouldn’t we all be appreciating life? None of us know how long we’ve got. What disease or disaster may steal moments away from us later. So let go. Live a little. Who cares what anyone else may think — you’re living for yourself, not them. No regrets.

Dinner in a dash

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in eating/food, Food, Health, Margarita Mama, pasta, Recipes, side dishes, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Have you been to Sam’s Club lately? I’m not there as frequently in winter, but picnic and party season has arrived, so that’s my kind of jam.

I headed in recently to pick up a ton of supplies for work, along with a few things for us and was pleasantly surprised to see family sized grab-and-go meals that were both fairly healthy and delicious.

This caprese chicken pasta salad was a hit at a reunion-style potluck we attend in each June in a tiny township near Camden. It’s also something that could be easily duplicated at home for guests — chicken and pasta in a creamy pesto sauce, topped with mozzarella balls, fresh tomatoes and basil. (Just let ‘em think it was all you.)

caprese pasta salad

caprese pasta salad

Now, for dinner. This chicken parmesan wasn’t at all on my Type A, OCD meal-planning schedule for the night. But it was getting late, Daddy was out at a work event, and Ava — who NEVER eats outside her comfort zone — took one look and said this looked yum. Sold. We paired in with a bag of Sam’s frozen, microwavable broccoli, which is a staple in our house since its florets are so much better than most of the bits and pieces you get from most brands. All three kids made a happy plate, and so did mom. There was also plenty leftover for dad to have a late dinner plus a lunch the next day, which is a big win in my book.

chicken parmesean

chicken parm

Now, I’ll admit I didn’t bring this green bean side dish home, but I really wanted to. If Daddy had been home for dinner, it may have been another story, but I knew those onion slices would have wigged out my crew. Those monsterously huge chunks of butter also gave me pause — I’m sure I’d have removed at least half of that. It seems like a good dish to add to the mental recipe file, however.

green bean almandine

green bean almandine

If anyone else out there knows of great places to jet in and pick up family dinner while running errands, I’d love to hear them. I know Whole Foods sometimes has family sized pastas, and they’re pretty good, too.

June is all about Dads

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Activities, daddy, Giveaways, Health, holidays, Margarita Mama, The Promenade at Chenal | Comments Off

It’s almost Father’s Day, so it’s time to get shopping to show the guys in our lives how much we appreciate them. All that breakfast making, lawn mowing and car washing that he does should pay off with a nice reward.

The Promenade at Chenal has helped us generate a few ideas with a handy Father’s Day Gift Guide that provides plenty of cool gifts like this one:

You know he wants one of these! Apple iPad, iPad Mini & the newest iPad Air From $299-$499 Covers From $39+

Apple iPad, iPad Mini & the newest iPad Air
From $299-$499
Covers From $39+ at the Apple store

And this one:

Rugged Wireless Boom Box, $129 at Gearhead Outfitters

Rugged Wireless Boom Box, $129 at Gearhead Outfitters

There’s also an added perk if you go the gift card route from June 2-13. You get a voucher for a free iced coffee or tea at the brand new Cafe Brunelle with every Promenade gift card purchase, so you can try it out while you’re there, or pass the treat onto dad.

But wait, there’s more.

Right before Father’s Day, the Promenade and St. Vincent West will be hosting a Men’s Health Month event Friday, June 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Dads, grandpas, uncles, brothers and sons can take a little lunch break in the spirit of health while showing off their putting skills in exchange for a set of Wilson Staff 50 Elite golf balls, courtesy of Everett Buick GMC. And there’s more! The guys can also enter to win other prizes from Nike, lululemon athletica, Gearhead Outfitters, Big Orange Burgers, the Tavern Sports Grill & Bar and Chenal 9 Theatres.

Check out more details here.

promenade ad



This is a compensated post. However, all opinions expressed are my own, of course.