Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I double dog dare any of you to raise a toddler without a serious supply of crackers!

We’ve successfully weaned Reef off the bottle & formula – almost a month without one and it was a lot easier than I anticipated.  It’s harder on Pete and I because bottles are associated with babies -- it’s one step farther away from baby-hood and one step closer to toddler-hood. It’s crazy to me how many processes in this journey to raise him feel difficult due to our own emotional hang ups.

Now that the bottles are gone, we are a bit obsessive with making sure there is always a sippy cup in Reef’s reach. This kid LOVES milk! He slams it and sometimes we have to take it away from him so that he will come up for air.

When we travel, we have to pack a large supply of healthy snacks and plan accordingly if we are going to eat out to ensure there are baby friendly options for Reef.  It feels like he is always eating now -- breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. And in between all of that -- crackers, crackers, crackers!

So now that we’re stocking our cabinets with easy to munch items like freeze dried fruit slices and multigrain crackers. Oh, and let's not forget we now have 6 teefers. Hello beef jerky and salt water taffy!

What’s your family’s favorite snack to take along?

Song: More Time   Artist: NEEDTOBREATHE

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

the sunday of summer

the majority of you who read my blog are likely near in age, right?! and back when we were young, our summer was sufficiently 3 months long: you got out of school in may, i think, and started up again after labor day in the first week of september. am i right?!

we’ve screwed with time so much, what with adding a leap day to every fourth february and moving clocks forward and backward each year, that i’m pretty sure we’ve ripped a hole in the space time continuum. for me, summer started with the last school bell of the year and ended with the first bell of the new school year. and it seemed like a long time.

now that i have kids, i’m sure that some of that still holds true. however, it seems that the summer is shortened. yup, like somehow a month was lost. again, i’m convinced that screwing with space and time has caused a lot of time to go POOF. either that or it was the teacher’s union.

those first 4 or so weeks school is out, reminds me of how i feel on saturdays – carefree. you’ve typically stayed up way late on friday so you sleep in a little. and maybe it’s just me, but things just seem slower on saturdays. you hang out with your family… and your friends… and you have bbq’s… and you don’t think about your job. it’s just easy.

on the weekends, a fun saturday night leads to a lazy sunday morning. you load up on coffee to shake the cobwebs from your head, have a big brunch, and then think about the chores you need to get done before the next work week begins. and somewhere in there is a mid-afternoon nap. after you wake up and prepare that big family dinner, something starts creeping into your mind.

you have a glass (or bottle) of wine during dinner…and, there it is again…that weird emotion. then it hits you. that something is the sunday evening blues, that i mentioned once before, and the dread of the looming work week that starts in a mere 10ish hours.

a couple weeks ago we left july behind. holy crap time flies! and, guess what? it’s now time to go back to school. to me that means only one thing…we have reached august…the sunday of summer. summer is ending.

Song: Summertime   Artist: The Sundays

Friday, August 17, 2012

happy little trees

Thursday, August 16, 2012

choose happy

Some wonderful quotes from the writings of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a psychiatrist and teacher.  On the subject of choosing happiness, I thought these were perfect to share......

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.  Beautiful people do not just happen.”
“There is within each one of us a potential for goodness beyond our imagining; for giving which seeks no reward; for listening without judgment; for loving unconditionally.” 
“There are no mistakes, no coincidences.  All events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
“It is very important that you only do what you love to do. You may be poor, you may go hungry, you may lose your car, you may have to move into a shabby place to live, but you will totally live.  And at the end of your days you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do. Otherwise, you will live your life as a prostitute, you will do things only for a reason, to please other people, and you will never have lived.  And you will not have a pleasant death.” 
“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.”

Aren't these so beautiful?  I know a few people who have actively chosen happiness, despite their unfortunate circumstances.  It's the most empowering, beautiful thing any person could ever do.  And every time it happens, whether in a small or large way, it's a gift to the world.

Can you relate to these quotes?  Or do they remind you of someone in your life? AND, if you have your own story that you'd like to share on the blog, email me at mandi.hulse2 [at] gmail.com

Song: Sweet Disposition Artist: Temper Trap


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

{products i love} skin care

I have been obsessed with skin products ever since I was a young girl.  It started in 1989 with my older sister’s transparent, copper colored bar of Neutrogena. (It felt so fancy and grown-up using that, because it wasn't a bar of Zest.)  I may have used a Buf Puf, followed by Sea Breeze astringent and a cotton ball.  Or a friend’s St. Ives Apricot Scrub and my aunt’s Oil of Olay.  Yep.  I did that.  And then came Clinique's (3) step program (of course, purchases were coordinated according to the "Bonus Time" free gifts that we watched the newspaper for.)  Every routine was completed, of course, with a chapstick application from Avon.  (And yes, I'm surprised that I could provide links to all of these as they actually still exist.)

Well, I've tried a lot of products over the years. But in true junkie fashion, I've loved every minute of it. However, I got sorta lazy in my early adult years. In my twenties, I used hand soap to cleanse my face. Went without moisturizers. Neglected sunscreen. And what happened, you ask? Well, the skin that everyone complimented now consists of wrinkles, enlarged pores, dark circles, sun spots and a skin cancer scar.

I don't expect you to be as nutso as I am over products, but in the past year or two, I’ve grown obsessive over products that reverse time and make a difference. In case you'd like to know, here are the products I use now.

DAIRY-FREE! Oh man, my skin drastically changed when I went dairy-free. I'd never seen such a change in my skin, so I decided that I didn't need icecream that bad, but it sure took a while to adjust.  You see, I was a bowl-of-Blue-Bell-every-night-before-bed kinda gal. 

Boscia Purifying Cleansing Gel. Asians always have great skin, so I figured Japanese technology must have the 4-1-1 on skincare. I was right! Seriously dramatic results within the first week of using this stuff. Foams well, lacks fragrance, and thoroughly strips away makeup without irritating my skin. I’ve been using this cleanser now for approximately 2 years, and it’s become a gold standard for me. My only wish is that it would become available in a larger container. I wash every morning and night, followed with Boscia Oil-free Daily Hydration or Boscia Recharging Night Moisture.

Chanel UV Essential. 50 SPF!!! And besides loving the way it smells, it’s tried and true, reducing the appearance of my sun spots or melasma…whatever it is that I have. Having only used it for 5-6 months, it’s safe to assume my brown spots might disappear entirely in another 6 months. (I’ll get back to you!)
Bobbi Brown Tinted Moisturizer. Yep, a tinted moisturizer is pretty much all I use these days. As you get older, a little goes a long way. The more makeup you wear, the more it intensifies wrinkles and other facial flaws. I switched from Laura Mercier, having had a better experience with Bobbi Brown’s product. And while I still LOVE Perricone’s No Foundation Foundation, Bobbi Brown’s Tinted Moisturizer gives me similar results at a lower cost.
Diorshow New Look Mascara. I go without makeup a lot on the weekends. But I read a while back that one should never leave home without mascara. I’ve since learned to abide by that rule, but I haven’t found a mascara that I can’t live without. I’m currently using Diorshow and it appears to do the job – it lengthens my lashes and keeps them separated. My only grudge is that I tend to get a black smudge under my eyes if I sweat or take a nap. The hunt for the perfect mascara goes on…

NARS Blush in Orgasm. Who doesn’t have this product in their makeup bag?! It’s become every woman’s staple. Deservingly so.

Nivea Lip Care SPF 10 in A Kiss of Shimmer. Amongst my 30-something tubes/sticks/jars of lip color, this is my go-to product.

Song: The Face   Artist: Kings of Leon

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

roofs with a view

(courtesy of The Woodlands Township CVB)

Getting away from it all sometimes means, well, getting above it all. In The Woodlands, two great rooftop spots are perfect for just that.

Before or after you browse through Market Street, check out the Terrace at Hyatt Market Street, a great rooftop spot for a well-deserved respite. Pour yourself into a comfy couch or resort-style, reclining lounger along side a magnificent zero-grade, black-tiled pool with hip nighttime colors.

For a roof with a different view, visit the terrace and rooftop lounge at the contemporary wine lounge Crush in nearby Waterway Square. Here you’ll unwind in front of panoramic views of The Woodlands Waterway and the Fountains at Waterway Square. Plus, live DJ’s keep the party going every Thursday thru Sunday night.

Song: Such Great Heights   Artist: The Postal Service

Monday, August 13, 2012

my name is 'awesome'

I always wonder about the readers of my blog. Okay, I don’t sit there for hours thinking about it but I occasionally wonder who’s a regular reader and who’s dropping by for the first time. The system tells me that I have 700+ subscribers, but I admit, I probably only know a hand full.

So, if you don’t mind, drop me a Hi! and tell me something special about yourself.

C’mon, don’t be shy. Introduce yourself in the comments and if you have any questions, go ahead and ask. I LOVE comments and would love to hear from you, my fantastic readers. I’d love for this to be a site where there’s more discussion and familiarity with everyone.

I’ll start first. Hi, my name is Mandi and I can write my name with my feet.

Your turn. And…. GO!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

ring my bell

I need to find someone on etsy that will make a pretty sign I can hang by our front door that reads, ”There may be a baby asleep in this house. So, if you are someone selling something, keep walking -- we are broke and you will be too if you ring the doorbell and wake up our baby.” 

I think I want it to say those exact words.

Does anyone know how much it would cost to get a trap door installed on our front porch?

Song: Half Asleep   Artist: School of Seven Bells

Friday, August 10, 2012

a good man

Today, i want to brag on my husband a bit. I’ll be honest. It is very hard for me to be that woman -- the lovey-dovey, touchy-feely, expressively mushy kinda gal. Directly, anyway. On paper is no problem! I tend to get embarrassed, verbally communicating the depths of my heart. You’ve probably read my posts regarding ‘love languages?’ i’m the show-er…do-er…service provider type. While Pete does, well, both -- expressing AND showing love. Even when i don’t deserve it, he fulfills over half his marrital responsibilities, being the most amazing husband he knows how to be.

So, we’ve been sick. Horribly SICK! Baby and me.

Pete is the one who’s held everything together during this time. Amidst early morning feedings with Reef and rubbing my back at night to help me rest, he’s handling dinners and grocery needs and laundry. He’s taxi-ing the big kids to and from their events. He’s preventing the jungle outside from taking over the yard. He’s helping maintain zen in the home while my patience has been low. And he’s doing it all with a smile.

Oh. OH! And let’s not forget, Pete’s been interviewing. And getting his little booty PROMOTED at work. God has blessed us both with promotions lately – and at no better time than the current.

So rewinding…my hubby is so good at being a family man. I certainly don’t know how we'd fair without him. He showers me with affections – yes, even 3.5 years later. But even when i’m snotty and coughing up a lung every 60 seconds, he still tells me i’m beautiful…in my sans-make up, odor, knackered state. He makes passes, flirts, keeps us “us”. Sings to me. Makes me laugh. Pulls me close, burying his head in my neck, and so passionately tells me, “gah, i just love you so much.” He’s seen me at my best and at my worst, and loves me in spite of it all. And most importantly, he TRIES. Pete puts forth a daily effort towards being a better husband, better father, better man. He says meeting me changed him for the better, but i can’t see how i could’ve had anything to do with him being this fantastic.

Like a lot of young teenage girls, all i knew about love at a young age was romantic fairy tales and rescued princesses. Real life, shockingly, can be a bit hard after that – disappointment after disappointment. When i turned 30 was when i met Peter, and i was finally in the right place in my head to fall in love properly. And here we are, still…blushing and getting weak in the knees when we look at each other sometimes.

I try to teach our daughter, Bailey, to be strong, independent and in control of her life. But i also tell her to expect to kiss a lot of frogs (maybe even marry one ) before she finds her prince. Nay…king.

Thank you, Panky, for loving us. For loving me.

Song: Thank You   Artist: Dido


Monday, August 6, 2012

reef musings: 12 months

New milestones:
  • Off the bottle and onto a sippy cup, which he likes to slam back 180 degrees.
  • Loves whole milk like a fat kid loves cake. This is sewious infatuation.
  • Sleeps on a kinder mat at his new preschool; prison bars no longer necessary.
  • Endured his first cold and first ear infection like a trooper.
  • We’re walking faster these days, but we haven’t quite made it past 5 steps.
  • HATES shoes! On his feet. But likes them well enough to wear on his hands – go figure.
  • The kid is Mr Clean -- puts toys away in their baskets, closes doors, and eats food that he finds on the floor from previous meals. (Ew, I know!)

Song: Kids   Artist: MGMT

Sunday, August 5, 2012

sunday evening blues

I always grieve for my weekends a bit on Sunday night. I have a little mini anxiety attack over the fact that I don’t own the next day. I love the freedom of the weekend. The possibilities that lie in wait on Friday afternoons -- TWO whole days to fill with whatever activities we wish. And then later, Monday always feels a bit like a looming storm cloud by the time the sun sets on Sunday evenings. Do you get those too? The Sunday evening blues?

Song: Sunday Afternoon   Artist: Rachael Yamagata


Thursday, August 2, 2012


Do you ever sit back and find yourself going through a transformation? I think I’m in a bit of one. I say “a bit,” because I am taking things slowly, instead of speeding full throttle into change. Still, I can’t deny that certain situations and people have been put in my life at a time when I am ready to be different, and while it is good — I know this — it’s unsettling too.

You may ask how I know I’m undergoing a fundamental shift, and I can tell you it’s how you know when you are hungry or cold or breathing. It’s biological almost. Something budding in the core of yourself. And while you’re aware it’s there, you’re unsure how it took root.

But it’s happening — right now — and I’m grateful for it.

Who surrounds you? Supportive, loving, constructive people? Or passive aggressive sorts? Gossipers? Status-seekers? Maybe you just don’t feel “right” with your old friends and/or acquaintances anymore. If you’re starting to see that you’re not feeling a synergistic connection with those you spend the most time with, you might be ready to move on and allow more positive people in your life. The length of time you’ve known someone doesn’t justify keeping them close to heart when they’re plainly not healthy for you. And it’s not about who you think are great people, but it’s about surrounding yourself with people who mirror your best self.

Over the past few years, I’ve had people either come into my life, or otherwise return back into my life, who I knew right off were there to teach me something, make me better, challenge me to rise up. People who are interested in achieving great things, unbound by thoughts of insecurity and “can’t.” I’m realizing what I am capable of achieving. Shedding old belief systems and labels, and meeting more people who don’t buy into either – I’m definitely smack dab in the middle of a soul pattern shift.

I feel like I’m making different decisions. Saying yes more, saying no more, not saying anything at all. Where I was once loud, I’m now quiet. I speak up where my silence used to rule. Questioning old habits and thought processes.

I’m more open than usual -- open-minded, open-hearted, open-ended. I finally understand and ACCEPT! that I don’t have all the answers. I’m relaxed with not knowing.

Little things that used to matter…don’t…anymore. You ask “what?” First and foremost? What other people think. You proceed knowing you need to be right with YOU and your family. You learn the difference between opinion and judgment. You consult your higher self. You know you know. You’ve just gotta trust what you know.

Scared. No, not so much. What scares me more is staying the same.

Song: Changes  Artist: David Bowie


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

wordless wednesday

Song: Over the Rainbow  Artist: israel kamakawiwo
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