Picking Perfect Pumpkins At The Pumpkin Patch ;)

Fall is absolutely my favorite time of year. Recently, we took the kids to go on a hayride pick out their own pumpkins. It was certainly a bit chilly, but the kids had a fun time. :)

Did you pick pumpkins this year? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :)

73 Questions With Heather of "Mommy Only Has 2 Hands"

I'm starting a new interview series on my blog, inspired by Vogue's 73 Questions (http://video.vogue.com/series/73-questions) in which I'm asking my favorite bloggers 73 questions to find out what they like, what they hate, and most importantly - what they know.

73 Questions With Heather of "Mommy Only Has 2 Hands"

1. What's the first thing you thought of when you woke up this morning?
Why are the kids screaming at this hour?
2. What's your favorite thing to do in your city? 
In the summer time we love to do Music in the Park. We pack food, and a picnic blanket, go to the event and the kids sing and dance. Its kind of magical to me.

3. What are three words to describe living in your city?
Nature, Family, Touristy

4. What's your favorite movie?
I've always liked You've Got Mail, there's just something about it that clicks with me as a blogger.

5. What movie did you laugh the hardest during?
The Heat with Melissa McCarthy. I loved her on Gilmore Girls and from TV and she's even more hilarious in film. What an actress she is!

6. What movie did you cry the hardest during?
I cried at a lot of movies...I can't really pin point one. But I also cry at the oddest times during the movies. My husband will look over and ask what the heck are you crying about? Just to name a few I start bawling over: Hope Floats, Powder, Free Willy, Dolphin Tale, The Notebook, A Walk To Remember...the list really could go on. 

7. Best animated movie ever created?
For me, it's Shrek. Could watch it again and again. 

8. Favorite tv show?
Gilmore Girls and Reba. Not sure why really. I like the mother/daughter relationship in Gilmore Girls and have always been a Reba fan. 

9. Last book you've read?  
Replay, it kind of reminds me of Lost, but its an intense book where a man dies every time he reaches the age 43 and replays his life. He gets to decide how he wants to live it each time. It makes you think. 

10. What's a book you plan on reading?
 I want to read "At Wit's End by Erma Bombeck. I hear its pretty good.

11. iphone or Android?  

12. What's your favorite restaurant? 
I love Macayos! Its not in my city, but if I can get to this Mexican restaurant during a visit to Phoenix, I'm a happy camper!

13. What's the coolest thing in your house?
Our wi-fi cameras I like being able to check in on the house from my phone. 

14. Favorite food? 
California Rolls from Teppan Fuji

15. Least favorite food?
Hmmm, probably the left overs I'm forced to eat because no one else will. ;) 

16. Favorite drink? 
My iced coffee every morning!

17. Favorite dessert? 
Anything from Coldstone, but since we are in October, I do love myself some good pumpkin pie!

18. Weirdest thing you've ever eaten? 
Escargot...not a fan.

19. What's the coolest thing about being a mom? 
I have little boys who wrap their arms around me and tell me they love me.
20. What's the hardest part about being a mom?  
When the tired tantrums start in the evenings and I can hardly wait til the kids are in their beds and I can shower.

21. Most important advice you'll give your kids? 
Just be the best that you can be and don't change yourself for others.

22. What's your favorite band? 
P!nk! Hands down that chick rocks!

23. Best gift you've ever received? 
Probably my iPad from my husband.
24. Best gift you've ever given? 
I gave my husband a full size air hockey table for Christmas the first year we were together.

25. A person you want to have coffee with?  
Lanny, my friend and mentor.

26. If you could invite anyone over for dinner, who would it be?  
Lanny, my friend and mentor.

27. Cheap shampoo or expensive? 
I now by shampoo specially made for curly hair and all the products that help me to maintain a nice perm.

28. Best way to decompress? 
Watch a Parenthood or Nashville, but one of them usually makes me cry...so not sure if that's really decompressing.

29. If you had one superpower, what would it be? 
To teleport: To go anywhere in the world at the drop of a hat.

30. Best thing that's happened this month? 
I have a new nephew!

31. What's the last hobby you picked up? 
Photography! I have a new camera and everything!

32. What topic would you own in trivia?
Oh wow, I don't know. I'm thinking maybe theatre history or something like that, since that was my high school and college majors/minor for the longest time.
33. If you instructed a college class, what would the subject be? 
"Reporting 101: How to find a story and get your facts straight!" (Journalism school) ;) 

34. If you taught a kindergarten class, what would the subject be? 
Gardening. Kids love to get their hands in dirt, why not teach them how to grow a garden?

35. What's something you can't be subjected to for too long?
Opinionated Sacti-moms.

36. What's the best exercise? 
I personally like the elliptical at my gym. Seems to work a whole lot of areas.

37. What's the coolest thing you've ever seen? 
With my own eyes and not on TV, I'd have to say a sunken ship off the coast of Zihautenejo in crystal clear waters while snorkeling over a drop off.

38. What's the best date idea?
I would love to do a drive in movie. 

39. What's the last person you texted? 
Lacey some pictures of our boys playing together this morning.

40. Favorite brand of jeans? 
Right now, Lei.

41. Facebook, twitter, or Instagram? 
Instagram, a picture says a thousand words.

42. What color dress did you wear to your prom? 

43. Blow-dry or air-dry? 
Since having a perm, I air dry it.

44. Do you dress up every morning?
No, only when we have mom's group or I have to go in and talk to someone at JJ's school.

45. If you have the clothes in anyone's closet, who would it be?  
I like the way Kate Beckinsale Dresses. Cute, classy and a little bit sexy. 

46. Three things always in your purse? 
My phone, wet wipes and of course my wallet.

47. If you could play a historical figure in a movie, who would it be? 
Dr. Sally Ride, first American woman in space.

48. What's been the best thing about 2014? 
So far I guess its a year of firsts, my son starting Kindergarten, a new roof, going to Disneyland, there's been a lot of great things about this year.

49. What's a current trend you hope doesn't exist in 100 years? 
Ha ha, well I guess thongs above your pants, girls, just stop!!

50. What's a goal of yours? 
To manage work at home life with family life, its very hard to balance both.

51. Kittens or puppies?  
Kittens...I don't have to walk or bathe kittens.

52. What was your first pet?  
I think it was a cat named Thimble...I was very young.

53. Country you want to visit?

54. Underwater or outer space?
Well since you can't breathe in either of them....I guess I'll choose under water.

55. Where would you spend retirement?  
It used to be the thought of a nice beach house...I think I'd still enjoy that.

56. Favorite board game?  

57. Biggest learning experience of your life? 
Motherhood, it really is a learning experience each and every day.

58. Proudest moment of your life? 
My college degree. Statistically I shouldn't have a degree. No one in my immediate family even has a high school diploma, so having this degree means the world to me.

59. What are you most excited about in life right now? 
Upcoming vacation time...time away from the bump and grind and hopefully a time to reflect and analyse what truly is important in my life.

60. What's your favorite holiday?
Its always been a toss up between the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. I guess what I like most is gathering with people to celebrate something with no expectations...but now since I host Thanksgiving every year, the expectations kinda keep piling up. I still enjoy some delicious food and good company though and feeling grateful for all I have.

61. What do you love on your pizza?
I love ham and pineapple!

62. Favorite app? 
Right now its my netcam app. I get to spy on my home from my phone since we set up cameras in the house. Its kinda cool.

63. Favorite website? 
Pinterest...I could browse for hours!

64. How do you feel about selfies?
Eh, I sometimes take them with my kids just so I can say I'm in a photo with them. I rarely am the one that is photographed with them, I'm always taking the picture, so I may occasionally do a goofie selfie with the kids in the shot.

65. What is one thing you wish you knew in high school? 
That nerds really do rule the world!

66. Heels or flats?  
Flats, I gotta be comfortable, although with being 5 feet tall, you'd think I'd wear heels more

67. If you could live in any decade, what would it be and where? 
I'm pretty happy in this one. Its been the decade I've been the happiest.

68. What's the biggest surprise you ever had? 
A positive pregnancy test...or how about 2 positive pregnancy tests! ;)

69. What's the cutest thing on planet Earth? 
When kittens see their reflection in the mirror and get all worked up with those ninja cat moves and baby pandas.

70. If you could moonlight as another profession, what would it be? 
I would be a movie director, I've always wanted to be behind the scenes.

71. What band, past or present, would you be a groupie for? 

72. What are you doing tomorrow? 
Running errands, catching up on work and probably a bunch of house cleaning.

73. What do you hope to be doing a year from now? 
I guess just enjoying what I'm doing now but getting paid more for it.

Don't forget, you can check out Heather's blog at Mommy Only Has 2 Hands.

What do you think of this post? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :)

Want Your Own Personal Graphic Designer?

Dear Readers,

As you may or may not know, I have a degree in Graphic Design. Well, technically it's "Visual Communication Design" from one of the top-ranked communications design schools in the country - Kent State University. (Seriously. I'm not making this stuff up.) I have taken a 3½ year sabbatical which I has been amazing. I have been able to travel, spend time with my family, develop new passions, and just live life. The past 3½ years have been some of the best years of my life, I wouldn't change it for the world.

It is on this note that I bring you some exciting news... that I will be opening my doors as a graphic designer once again. So, if you or anyone you know is in need of a graphic designer, shoot me an email at lisabrowndesign@yahoo.com. I'm looking forward to creating some great designs.

Lisa Brown
Graphic Designer

Fun At Acting & Piano Class

I've been wanting to get Phoenix & Ariana into an acting class for a while now. They went to their first class last month at a program put on by our local metropark. In a nutshell, it's an acting class for the preschool-8-year-old crowd and focuses on activities and games that introduce kids to movement, rhythm, drama and character. They both had a blast at their last class, and couldn't wait to go again.

Phoenix was very comfortable during this second class, and got right into acting. Ariana, however, was a bit more timid. I think it may have been because there were a lot of new faces that she wasn't comfortable being around. I notice that she tends to be more comfortable when she's around people she knows well. Either way, they both said they had a fun time, and that's what really matters. This time, they even wrote their own play for the finale, choosing the character, plot, costumes, etc.

And, after class one of the days helpers gave Phoenix and Ariana some quick piano lessons as well. It was on the piano that Ariana really became comfortable, and it was fun to watch them have fun together.

To me, this is what homeschooling and unschooling is all about. It's about living life, having fun, and giving yourself plenty of time to experience new things. It's about meeting people and learning something new from them. It's about showing up early so you have a little more time to spend where you're going. It's about staying late to a class so someone can teach you to play the piano. 

Have your kids ever taken an acting or piano class? Have you? What did you think? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :)

What I Wore Wednesday

Fashion? Me? Well, I'm working on it. I've been out of the fashion loop for a while now. But, inspired by a few fashionistas who keep posting ridiculously cute outfits they wear, I've decided to join in on the fun in a series I'm calling What I Wore Wednesday.

Today is another library day. After seeing how my jeans looked in my first What I Wore Wednesday post, I was motivated to buy a brand new pair of jeans. I'd never thought I'd be a skinny jeans girl, but when I see them on everyone else, they really look amazing, so I figured it was worth a try. Today was my first attempt to pull together an outfit with my brand new skinny jeans.

Super Skinny Jeans - American Eagle
White Tank - Kohls
Plaid Shirt - Hollister
Necklace - Premiere Jewelry
Shoes - Kohls

I'm Linking Up With:
    Have you tried skinny jeans? What do you think? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

    What I'm Reading

    I know e-readers have been about for a while now, but I've just started getting on board. I never though I'd be an e-reader person, but I love that I can read a book on my iPod while I'm rocking Ariana to sleep in the living room. I had tried books, but between having lights on and the noise from the flipping pages, it just wasn't working. I had recalled there being a Kindle app for iPod, so I downloaded it, and haven't looked back since.

    I've always loved reading, so it feels awesome to get back into the swing. Here's what I'm reading right now. 

    How to Live on 24 Hours a Day by Arnold Bennett

    I've been on a bit of a productivity kick lately. I seem to be noticing a lot of women I know being super-productive lately. Not content to simply appreciate the work of others as I coast along, I've decided to become a bit more productive myself. This book as certainly helped me as well as a few other resources... but that's another post! At only 36 pages, it's also a quick read. After all, the book is about being productive!

    On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

    This is another book that came from a desire for self-improvement. As I was scrolling through my Goodreads, I noticed a blogger I admire (Dear Crissy) reading quite a few books on improving her writing. Well, if a blogger I look up to can improve her writing, certainly, I can improve mine! So, after a search for good books, I decided upon On Writing Well by William Zinsser - based on the fact it is well-liked by writers, available for download on my iPod's Kindle app, and, of course, free. :) I'm only 8% through this book, but am looking forward to diving into it a bit more once I finish a few other books first.

    Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

    Years ago, I got a few of the Pretty Little Liars books for my sister for her birthday. Years later, the books have become an amazing television series, and I've found myself completely in love with the show. Looking for a bit of a fun,guilty pleasure read, I picked up the first book in the Pretty Little Liars book. Overall, I'm very impressed with it. As I read along, I can re-live the stories I first learned to love on television. Right now, this is my go-to book when I read. I absolutely love it! It's also a free Kindle download, so get it while it's still free!

    Paradise Valley (The Daughters of Caleb Bender Book #1) by Dale Cramer

    This was actually the first Kindle book I downloaded. I've always been fascinated by the Amish, so a story like this was naturally intriguing to me. I love how the romance escalates... from quick glances, to eventually taking the big step to holding hands when nobody is looking. I love the sweet innocence of the characters. While it's certainly not the intense page-turner, it's still a pretty decent book. I'll likely start reading this again once I finish Pretty Little Liars.

    What are you reading? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

    What I Wore Wednesday

    Fashion? Me? I know, it sounds crazy. I've been out of the fashion loop for a while now. But, inspired by a few fashionistas who keep posting ridiculously cute outfits they wear, I've decided to join in on the fun in a series I'm calling What I Wore Wednesday.

    Today is our library day, so I was looking for something fun, but not too fancy. I haven't yet been bitten by the fall bug, and am very much in love with colorful clothes. I love this skirt - it was handmade in Thailand, and something I don't wear nearly enough.

    Photo Credit: Ariana Brown

    Skirt - Etsy
    Necklace - gift from friends in Brazil
    Top - Express
    Shoes - Kohls

    I'm Linking Up With:
    Are you ready for fall, or still into summer looks? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

    What I Wore Wednesday

    I mentioned how I was feeling in a bit of a rut lately. Well, I think I know the perfect way out. I've actually started watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians for the first time, and it really has me interested in fashion. I'm no Kardashian, but I think it'd be fun to focus a tad bit on fashion in my life. So... here it is... a fashion & style post I'm calling What I Wore Wednesday. :)

    Here's what I wore for a moms night out dinner at Quaker Steak & Lube. I haven't shopped at Walmart for clothes in ages, but between hand-me-down jeans from my sister and some old, old, shoes, I'm sure wearing more than enough from there!

    Lace-Trimmed Tank - H&M
    Faded Glory Jeans - Walmart
    White Stag Shoes - Walmart 

    Taking this photo reminds me that I really do need to get a new pair of jeans for the winter. I have exactly zero jeans that fit me well right now. My go-to store is usually Express. They tend to fit the best and be the most flattering on mt body. Who knows, maybe I'll be sporting some new jeans in my next fashion post! ;)

    I'm Linking Up With:
    Where is your favorite place to shop for jeans? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

    The Tablecloth

    "Ken have you seen the black circular table cloth?" I yell loudly from the living room.

    It's Sunday. The day our family has dedicated to cleaning the house. Only it's not we that usually clean the house. It's more just me. So I suppose today is the day our family has dedicated to have me clean the house. Because that never happens. 

    So far I've done three loads of laundry, cleaned the bathroom, mopped the kitchen, and washed a few heaping piles of dishes in the sink. The table was a disaster after the pot-stickers and rice our family had for lunch today. So, I cleared off the tablecloth and got ready to throw in the washing machine. As I grabbed a recently-laundered tablecloth to put on the table, I was greeted by a disgusting sour milk smell. Gross. I grabbed a second tablecloth, and it smells even worse. 

    "Why do all of our table cloths smell like sour milk?" I wondered. I suppose a logical answer would be that somehow between a three-year-old and a five-year-old, milk has been spelled plenty of times on the tablecloths. 

    The two sour milk-tastic tablecloths got thrown into the laundry room to be washed asap. As I rummaged through drawers looking for a black circular table cloth, I was surprised that it was nowhere to be found.

    "How do we lose a tablecloth?" I wondered in my head. 

    "Ken have you seen the black circular table cloth?" I yell loudly to from the living room.

    "No... Did you check in the closet?" He yells back. "You might have put it in there thinking it was a towel." 

    Not likely, but I check anyways. I've checked everywhere else, so who knows where it could be at this point. 

    I see a black corner of fabric peeking out from underneath some towels. My heart almost skips a beat as I move the towels on top of it to see what it was. Only a pillowcase. I keep looking. Sure enough, after moving a few more towels I see it. My tablecloth. My black beautiful circular tablecloth. I quickly remove it from the pile of towels and take a quick whiff. I want to make sure the nasty milk funk hasn't gotten to this one yet too. It smells clean and I am relieved.

    I quickly walk over to our table, shake out the tablecloth, and center it perfectly on the table. I place our stainless steel napkin holder on top of the table. Our napkins are a mix of store-bought white squares, brown rectangular ones from Taco Bell, and a packaged wet wipe from Quaker Steak and Lube. I stand back and take a minute to observe the clean table. It won't stay this way for long, dinner is coming up in two hours. But for now it looks good.

    I love to hear what you have to say. Just leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every comment. :) 

    The Truth About Kids & Screen Time

    I have always been a fan of limited screen time for kids. Mostly, I limit screen time to about 60 minutes a day, but we have unplugged completely on occasion.

    I'm always interested in learning about viewpoints that challenge my own. So, when I read an article about allowing children to self-regulate television habits posted at http://sandradodd.com/t/economics, I was intrigued. To sum up the article, when we limit access to something, we make it important. When we allow unlimited access to something, it becomes less important. So, when we limit television, we make kids want it more.  I wasn't sure if I was sold on the idea, but I was willing to give it a try. So, for the past 7 days, we've allowed out kids to watch unlimited television, and gave them unlimited access to the Kindle & LeapPad.

    In a nutshell? I'm so not a fan of unlimited television and screen time for my kids.

    Here is what I observed.
    • They clocked in 6+ hours each of television a day. Between the two of them, my kids would, when given the chance, watch television from 9am-noon. Then, after lunch, from 1pm-4pm, and sometimes have room for a show or two after dinner. Watching television and playing Kindle/LeapPad literally became their life. And, for what it's worth, they only watched two shows, both of which were non-violent, and age-appropriate: Wild Kratts & Toopy & Binoo.
    • They weren't interested in activities they would normally be interested when the television was on. The would normally love to cuddle on the couch to read a book together, but this week, not only did they not want to listen to a book, they actually seemed to hate the idea.
    • They became aggressive. Turning off the television to eat became a battle. They became full of anger, hate and resentment because they needed to stop watching television.
    • They became impatient. Normally, if they'd call me for help, I could tell them to hold on, and then I'd take care of what they wanted. This week, if I didn't help them immediately, they became furious.
    • They became uninterested in things that were educational. Usually, I can get my kids to watch an educational DVD, read an educational book about science, etc. But, this week, they wanted nothing to do with anything educational. Both as a homeschooler and unschooler, this simply wasn't going to fly. While I consider myself an unschooler because I never force my kids to do anything educational, they're usually open to doing educational things. It'd very important to me to keep this desire for learning alive.
    I've been told that the copious amounts of television my children have been watching is part of the binging process... allowing them to have as much as they want until they no longer want it. But, I just couldn't live this way. I couldn't deal with the lack of desire to learn, the attitudes and dis-respect. So, I've officially put our unlimited screen time experiment to an end.

    AAP And Screen Time Recommendations
    • Children Under 2 - No Screen Time
    • Children Over 2 - 1-2 Hours/Day

    Can Children Be Addicted To Television?
    In short, yes. A person can be addicted to anything. Here's what the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition says in regarding use-related disorders.

    Substance use disorders span a wide variety of problems arising from substance use, and cover 11 different criteria: 
    1. 1. Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than the you meant to
    2. 2. Wanting to cut down or stop using the substance but not managing to
    3. 3. Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance
    4. 4. Cravings and urges to use the substance
    5. 5. Not managing to do what you should at work, home or school, because of substance use
    6. 6. Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships
    7. 7. Giving up important social, occupational or recreational activities because of substance use
    8. 8. Using substances again and again, even when it puts the you in danger
    9. 9. Continuing to use, even when the you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance
    10. 10. Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance)
    11. 11. Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance.
    The DSM 5 allows clinicians to specify how severe the substance use disorder is, depending on how many symptoms are identified. Two or three symptoms indicate a mild substance use disorder, four or five symptoms indicate a moderate substance use disorder, and six or more symptoms indicate a severe substance use disorder.

    I suppose that for some families, children may learn to monitor themselves, but it wasn't working with ours, and I wasn't willing to keep trying in hopes that one day things will change. This unlimited television experiment also reminded why I started limiting television time in the first place. It's not because television is bad, but rather because play is so good. Every minute my kids spend in front of the television is a minute they could have been playing. I'd much rather have them playing, especially since they're so young. At this age, playing is a child's work. It makes sense to take advantage of this wonderful time by giving them as many opportunities to play as possible. I already knows what works for us, and I'll be going back to that. :)