Sock Monkey Love: Crafty Centerpiece for Valentine’s Day

Sock Monkey ValentinesI love decorating my son’s classroom for the holidays this year. It’s the first time I haven’t been working in an office full-time, so it’s something very special to me. My son (who is in elementary school) is jazzed about it too.

Getting cute decorations on a budget isn’t easy, so I went to Michaels to peruse their eye candy. And what did I find on sale? These shiny, fun, ribbon heart wreaths/door decor and some uber-cute red heart boxes that look like message hearts from back in the day…of my youth…like the Stone Ages.

Anyhoo, I grabbed a few items and headed to the school. The class mascot is the undeniably and infinitely popular SOCK MONKEY. All hail the sweater ape! And this classroom has a bunch of them on the shelves.

I was trying to work some magic with my hearts for the centerpieces, but I needed something to prop up the hearts and bring them to life. Enter sock monkeys! I picked various monkeys to put in various hearts, gave them each a monkey Valentine to hold and scattered the cute heart boxes. LOVED the bright colors! Thanks to Michaels for making this sometimes-crafty mom’s life easier.

HI RES PICS BELOW:

Sock Monkey Centerpiece

Sock Monkey Valentine's Day Decor

Sock Monkey Love Centerpiece

 

CLIENT SPOTLIGHT

Pure Barre & My Road to Recovery

Cathy Hale Austin, Cathy HaleThis month I am featured in the Client Spotlight at Pure Barre Lakeway! It’s very special to me, because my journey back to health has not been easy. I’m recovering from (and living with) a herniated disc. It was a long and grueling ordeal and as I sit here writing this post, I can still feel twinges of pain in my left leg. But thanks to Pure Barre, life is resembling “normal” again.

A catastrophic event did not occur to cause the injury, but I remember it seemed to happen the day after my boys performed in the school talent show last year. My back had been bothering me because I had slipped in the shower a few days earlier and in order to catch myself from falling, I awkwardly jolted my lower back. I woke up the next morning in excruciating pain and could hardly get out of bed. Little did I know, I had a degenerative disc (L5) and all hell was about to break loose. Continue reading “Pure Barre & My Road to Recovery”

Walt Disney World via Selfies by MommyQ

We recently visited Disney World in Orlando after Thanksgiving for a pre-holiday vacay. Lots of fun to be had, but sadly I forgot to pack my selfie stick. Booo! I did actually see a few other folks with their selfie sticks, so I knew it would’ve been fun. Oh well. Mom brain.

Anyhoo, we managed to snap a few shots between the lines, FastPass stress, expensive food, small thunderstorms, character meetings, way too many strollers, lack of alcohol and…oh, wait….I digress. Yes, I took a few selfies on the rides themselves. I learned some stuff too. #1 – I’m awful at taking selfies. #2 – The spinning tea cups still make me feel like I’m gonna puke.

It was a great trip and seeing Cinderella Castle “Frozen” with the amazing parade and fireworks was worth it! Still magical after all of these years…

Disney World Tomorrowland, Cathy Hale, MommyQ, Cathy Hale AustinWe’re all buckled in for a drive in Tomorrowland Speedway. Let’s just say I’m really glad none of my kids are driving anytime soon.. Space Mountain, Disney World, MommyQ, Cathy HaleThe best ride, especially on a rainy day, was the PeopleMover! We must have been on that ride 8-9 times, because the kids loved drive through Space Mountain and seeing the inside of the famous coaster without riding it. This was right before we were hurled into the darkness…at like 2mph…ha-ha!

Small World ride, Disney World, MommyQIt’s a Small World after all….it’s a small, small world….

Dang the Mad Tea Party and those spinning tea cups! I almost puked twice and dropped my phone into oblivion four times. This was captured mid-spin. Obviously, we are having a horrible time. 😉

Cinderella Castle Frozen

This pic doesn’t do the “Frozen” Cinderella Castle justice, because in person the purple/blue icicles are really amazing. Disney World definitely knows how to do Christmas. Just wish they knew how to do eggnog too…

National Cat Day: Finally, a Special Day I Understand

National Cat DayI’m so excited it’s National Cat Day today, because I love cats. I had a dog growing up, so I love dogs too. But I’ll take an independent, fickle and moody cat over a hyper dog any day.

I’ve created a little video In honor of my three cats, Rocky, Smoke & Tiger. Rocky & Tiger are about 14-years-old, so that’s why they just walk as their main form of motion. Smoke is a stray we’ve been feeding for almost six years! He’s too wacky to bring indoors (we’ve tried!), but he does have a Cat Igloo outside for the chilly nights that we rarely get in Austin, TX! Happy day, kitties. Happy day!

Globe Life Park

Farewell Jeter: Thank You from a New Baseball Mom

I’m not a treasure trove of baseball trivia, but I’m a big fan of the game. I watched the entire 2004 series featuring an epic and excruciating battle between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. I was hugely pregnant with my first child (due in November 2004), so vegging out on the sofa watching other people’s awesomeness was all I could muster.

I especially loved the Yankees that year (Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, A-Rod — yes, A-Rod) and, in stark contrast, I detested the Red Sox. Maybe it was because Big Papi couldn’t stop crushing home runs or because Manny Ramirez owned one of the most disgusting batting helmets ever in the history of helmets. Jeter was, of course, my favorite player. There was just something everything special about his uniform him. He was a legit superstar. And the fact that he was humble made him a hero.

Today I have two young boys and one of them plays baseball. He just graduated from tee ball into coach pitch, but this is Texas, so sports are very competitive, even at a ridiculously young age. It’s like real baseball, people. He has a mini athletic cup, little cleats, custom bats, batting gloves, practice every week, scrimmages and we travel to play weekend tournaments. It’s a family affair. More importantly, baseball gives us endless opportunities to teach him about building character.

Forget the athleticism and the physical development – capabilities at the age of six are impressive, but rather silly to worry about. What he gets to experience and learn first-hand is how to be a supportive teammate, a positive thinker, a person who perseveres and a good listener. He grows and improves daily, which is great, but he’s also learning to take the knocks and the tough calls in stride, which is necessary. As a mom, I need my arsenal of “perfect athlete” pep talks in the pipeline and ready to go. Enter Derek Jeter.

Me: “Everyone strikes out. Even Derek Jeter.”

Me: “Don’t worry about dropping that fly ball. Even Derek Jeter drops a ball once in a while.” Okay, that is a lie.

Me: “I’m sure Derek Jeter has spilled red Gatorade on his pants too. We can wash that out later…”

Derek Jeter has held up his end of the bargain by remaining hero-worthy. Jeter gives us the chance to teach our children how to be athletes by example. What a novel idea, right? Based on the news clips flooding ESPN right now, it seems as though our heroes are falling from grace daily. Unlike those clowns, Jeter understands that the term is aspirational, not ass-pirational. Whether you love him or hate him, you have to agree that Jeter has been steadfast to the end. He is retiring with the stardom he earned. He is retiring with grace. He is retiring with dignity.

On behalf of new baseball moms everywhere who are desperately trying to raise respectable young men, thank you Derek Jeter…

Our trip to Globe Life Park in Arlington this summer to see Jeter’s farewell tour:

Jeter Farewell Tour, Cathy Hale
Globe Life Park is my favorite! It is just beautiful. Yes, I’m all alone in my Yankee attire. You can take the boys out of Texas, but you can’t…wait, we were in Texas…never mind.
Derek Jeter, Arlington Park
Jeter crushed it and can you believe I captured the ball flying through the air? No way. Yes way. There it is. Boom.
Cathy Hale, baseball selfie
I’m not big on selfies, but if you know me, you know why this one is special… 🙂
Derek Jeter Jersey
This is what makes Rangers fans cool. They can “peace out” for Jeter. 😉
Baseball park food
Forget carb-loading, we were fat-loading…

 

index

“I Don’t Mean This in a Mean Way, BUT…”

indexKids say the darnedest things. We all know this is true. But what they say can be quite brilliant if you really listen. For instance, when we were little girls my younger sister would call breakable objects “glassable.” She mixed “glass” and “breakable” and voila! Glassable. My youngest son used to say, “buckle me out” instead of “unbuckle me” when he wanted help getting out of his 5-point harness car seat (and who can blame him for that?!)

Thanks to an intense year of being taught the importance of good manners and his genuine desire not to be disrespectful, my younger son (now 6yo) has a great new habit that harkens me back to my sorority days. If he knows he is going to say something that could be interpreted as mean, he prefaces his statement with, “I don’t mean this in a mean way, but….” And then he says something… well, honest. But he says it in such a way that it doesn’t seem mean at all. It is genius and sweet and kind of premeditated. Pure. Gold.

It reminds me of the “compliment sandwich” we were taught to use when we had a problem with a fellow sorority sister. In an effort to help ease the insane drama that often occurs with a bunch of crazy drunk emotional girls, we were told to deliver bad news sandwiched between two compliments. For example, “You look really pretty today, but I think you’re a lying troll and by the way, I love your perm!” And shockingly enough, it worked every time. Especially the part about the perm.

It seems my sweet little guy has mastered the art of the “compliment appetizer.” Even better. Less carbs!

 

Confessions of a Non-Stage Mom

There are four words that can strike fear or love in a mom’s heart. Elementary school talent show. Ahhh, I have such fond memories of mine. I did a tap dance routine with my younger sister every year. I believe in our very first show we wore raincoats and twirled umbrellas to “I Love a Rainy Night” by Eddy Rabbitt. Oh, yes, that was a 45 rpm record that we played over and over again until it was so scratched it wouldn’t play anymore. As we got older, we stepped it up with some clogging to “Mountain Music” by Alabama. Yes, that’s how we rolled in Virginia 30 years ago.

Last year, my 8yo son performed in his talent show for the first time. You can read all about it here. This year with both kiddos at the same school, we thought they should both perform. It was a no-brainer for my older son (he’s 9yo) who pretty much has one awesome talent – Kung Fu. Figuring out a talent for my athletic kindergartner was more of a challenge. He couldn’t dribble a soccer ball or throw baseballs on stage. Hmmmm.

One day Pharrell’s “Happy” came on in the car and my youngest son shocked me by singing all of the lyrics and singing with some attitude. Yes! He would sing in the talent show. He wasn’t very into the idea at first, so we got him a few singing lessons to test it out. After the first lesson, he was hooked. I was so excited for him to branch out and do something he had never done before. He was six! Everything is a big accomplishment when you’re six, right?

As the show got closer, we started practicing everyday. And then a few days before the show, my nerves caught up with me. No, not his. Mine! I suddenly felt like I had unintentionally pushed him into something that would blow up in my face. What if he forgot the words? What if he froze? What if he just puked on-stage? What if it was a horrible experience that plagued him for life? I could envision him walking into a therapy session at the age of 25 and saying, “Well, it all started when my mom wanted me to do that stupid talent show when I was in kindergarten…”

That’s when I realized God blessed me with boys for a reason. This mommy is not cut out for stage stress! Dance recitals, solos, gymnastics…balance beam routines? Oh lordy. I don’t know how moms stay calm. I would be popping Xanax like Skittles with wine chasers.

The night of the show, I told both boys I was proud of them no matter what happened during the show. They had impressed me so much with their hard work, nothing could erase that. And it was true. I was 100% proud. Doing well in the show (or just having the guts to try) would be icing on the cake. In my mind, they had already achieved so much.

And without a doubt, they both did great! My older son who just loves being in the spotlight did so well. He was psyched! My youngest NAILED IT. He sang, he did his choreographed moves, he smiled and he had fun. Afterwards he found me in the crowd and we shared a very special “I know exactly how you feel” hug that was priceless. Of course, we’re already discussing next year’s act… 😉 talent show steele3 talent show cruz3    talentshowcruz