Sebastian Six Months Old

Dearest Sebastian,

You are so incredibly sweet. This post is so very late. In fact, you are technically already seven months, but I have a feeling that you are going to be totally fine with it. You have a very laid back, patient personality. You are bashful and charming. Your siblings are pretty sure you hung the moon and I completely agree. You are pushing up and so very close to crawling!

I bet you will have it down by 8 months! (But it’s totally fine if you don’t – take your time!)

I love you to pieces.

Love, Mom

Anindya Rakshit - Beautiful post Kate, and your little Sebastian is so adorable and cute……:)….following your blog for more connect.

How to Prepare Your House When You’re Leaving for a Long Vacation

Disclosure: Consideration has been provided for publishing this article. These are great tips to remember before you head out the door! 

It’s vacation season! Time to pack up the family and enjoy yourself for a while. But before you go, make sure your prepare your home for your absence so you don’t return to bad smells or other problems.

Inside Your Home

No matter how long you are gone, there are steps to take to save money and prevent disaster. Did you know that for every degree you turn your air conditioning up you will save two percent on your electric bill? By turning up the thermostat to 85 degrees your furniture stays fine and energy bill goes down.

Get your HVAC system tuned up before you leave town too. That prevents breakdowns while you are gone and saves money because your unit runs more efficiently. Most hot water heaters have a vacation setting for added cost savings. And for extra safety, turn off the water main so nothing will leak during your vacation.

Prevent Smells and Bacteria Buildup

Image via Flickr by Christina Hendricks

You will probably remember to take out the trash before your leave, but also clean out your refrigerator and pantry. Give away or throw out any food that may go bad. If you want to clean the fridge out completely, you can unplug it and leave the door cracked to air out. Otherwise, keep the refrigerator running but add several filled water bottles to help it run more efficiently.

Another often overlooked spot is the toilet. Without frequent flusing, bacteria collects and causes stains. Pouring a half cup of chlorine bleach into the bowl helps prevent stains, but make sure the bleach goes into the bowl and not the tank. If you are not comfortable using something as harsh as bleach, sprinkle baking soda in the toilet and it will work the same way. Also, shaking baking soda down your drains will prevent the smell of stagnant water.

Keep Up Appearances

To make it look like you are home, keep your lights on a timer or invest in smart lights that you can control with your cell phone. Hire someone to keep your yard mowed and looking nice. An unkempt yard is a signal to burglars you are not at home or you could get fined for blight.

Put your mail and newspaper on hold while you are gone. A stack of newspapers at the door tells others you are away. If you have a pool, keep the pump running to prevent algae and a green pool when you return. If possible, have a neighbor or pool service check the pump a few times to make sure it is running properly while you’re away.

Don’t leave a hidden key around. If you want your neighbors to check on your home, give them a key. If you use a professional security alarm, tell the company you’re going away and let them know when you return.

Vacations involve lots of preparation. Before loading your suitcases into the car, take the time to make sure you secure your home and you take steps to prevent any problems from occurring while you’re gone. Then enjoy.

4 Reasons to Stay at The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch

This conversation is sponsored by The Scottsdale Resort! It is my honor to share information with you from a company that supports women in the community!

When you find friends among the people you work with, that is special. As a blogger and photographer, it is sometimes hard to find people who understand what you do.

Well, a sweet group of blogging friends and I had a working weekend at The Scottsdale Resort. It was an absolute dream. Since I’m still nursing Sebastian, he came with me. The other girls were so understanding. They loved on him and helped me keep him entertained while we had our professional sessions talking about all things blogging.

The Scottsdale Resort was amazing and I put together my reasons you should pay them a visit!

The Landscape

When you drive onto their property, you are greeted by beautiful gardens and stunning fountains. You can wander the paths and find beautiful little nooks tucked away, like you might find in an old European village. It’s perfect to unwind and find inspiration.

The property is steeped in history. It is fascinating to learn that Scottsdale has ties to the Rockefeller family and Cyrus McCormick, the inventor of the mechanical reaper.

From their website: In 1967, the Fowler McCormick’s donated 100 acres of McCormick Ranch to the City of Scottsdale stipulating that it be used as a park for all to enjoy. At that time the land value was $1 million. Their hope was that the gift would encourage others to give as well as to make Scottsdale a better place to live for succeeding generations.

The Pool

This was my first experience with a cabana. It was amazing. The day was a little warm, but the cabana made it perfect. Sebastian and I sat on comfortable lounge seats under a fan in the shade. Our waiter, John, from the Twisted Vine made sure our day was perfect. He gave food suggestions, made sure our beverages were full and refreshing, and surprised us with chocolate shakes at the end that left a huge smile on my face.

Kitchen West

The second night, we were treated to a peaceful dinner with modern American cuisine at Kitchen West in the resort. It had been a long day, and we wanted to unwind and talk shop a little more. Kimiko, our hostess, helped us change our reservation to an earlier time, which was so thoughtful and understanding! Sebastian was sleeping, so I could eat while my food was still hot. Antonio, our waiter, was fantastic. He provided suggestions for our group and handled the dietary restrictions in our group with grace and kindness. They made the entire dining experience so pleasant.

The food was outstanding. I loved every single thing I tasted! When I told Antonio I needed to stay away from anything spicy since I am still nursing, he was careful to let me know anything I should avoid throughout the evening. We tried every dessert, just for you. I wouldn’t want to give you bad advice, so you can trust me when I tell you that every single dessert is absolutely decadent!

The Staff

People have the power to truly affect any experience. From the moment we arrived, the staff was attentive, joyful, courteous, and helpful. I cannot say enough about how thoughtful they were. Usually I am a very light packer. I am proud of the fact that when I travel, one carry on suitcase is all I need. When I pulled up to the resort with my laptop, my camera bag, my carry on, a case of diapers, a case of water, and toys for Sebastian, I was nervous about how I was going to get everything to my room. The valet calmly helped me set up the stroller that I had brilliantly packed underneath everything else and took everything to the room so that I could meet up with our group. Little touches like that made it where I was able to completely relax and enjoy the weekend.

I hope you are able to sneak off and enjoy The Scottsdale Resort! It was an absolute treat!

Special Rates Just for You!

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The special promo code is “STAYPLAYSP”.

Additionally, as staycations are always a great idea, so if you are an Arizona resident, be sure to click here for your exclusive rate: Arizona Residents Exclusive Rate

Be sure to see what my wonderful lady friends had to say about the resort!

If you stay at the resort, let me know how you like it! I’d love to hear!

Free Green Cleaning Tips from Grove Collaborative

This conversation is sponsored by Grove Collaborative. It is my honor to share news with you from a company that I enjoy and support!

Here’s a common myth I hear a lot: Making the switch to green cleaning products is  too expensive.

I can say from experience that creating a green cleaning kit can be easy and affordable. You don’t need a cabinet stuffed with products — in fact, I now use fewer (and better!) products. I am in the process of changing out my cleaners from what I’ve always used to natural cleaners.

If, like me, you’re trying to reduce your impact and create a healthy home, I can’t recommend Grove enough. 

Here’s how to get your free gift and give Grove a try:

  • Sign up for Grove Collaborative here:  http://influencer-tracking.grove.co/SF1Ym. New customers will receive the following gifts for no charge when you sign up during this time frame: DatesOctober 10, 7:00am PST – October 15, 6:00pm PST
    • Grove Collaborative Cleaning Concentrates (3 Pack)
    • Grove Collaborative Glass Spray Bottle
    • Grove Collaborative Microfiber (3 Pack)
  • To receive this offer, your order needs to be a minimum of $20. Choose the combination of products and scents you love and receive your first box within a few days.
  • You made it! Click Finish & Pay and place your order.

If you are an existing customer, you can redeem free Grove walnut scrubber scours here: http://influencer-tracking.grove.co/SF1Zy

Then come back here for my green cleaning tips:

  • I feel good about using reusable glass bottles for my favorite products, knowing I’m not adding more plastic bottles to landfills. Plus, this colorful Grove spray bottle adds a dose of style to your cleaning routine! I love that they added a silicone sleeve to keep it from slipping out of your hand.
  • Concentrated products create less shipping weight and less waste. Each 1 oz. Grove concentrate creates 16 oz. of product — just dispense it into your spray bottle, add water and start cleaning.
  • All-purpose cleaner can replace a shelf full of products. Grove all-purpose concentrate works on countertops, appliances, sinks, backsplashes and more.
  • Did you know glass cleaner can do more than windows? Use your Grove glass cleaner concentrate to get grime off windowsills, clean dusty light fixtures, and shine up your wedding ring.
  • Choose a bathroom cleaner that does double-duty. I keep a bottle of Grove tub & tile concentrate under my sink, and it’s the only product I need to clean the whole bathroom.
  • Curate your cleaning kit by choosing gorgeous products in complementary scents. These Grove concentrates come in a heavenly orange & rosemary scent that works in any room.
  • I’ve found that purchasing products from Grove Collaborative not only saves me time, it’s also more affordable than picking up products at the grocery store. Grove hand-selects the best natural products and delivers them (carbon offset) right to my doorstep, on my schedule.
  • Bonus tip: Once you’ve submitted your Grove order, you’ll be signed up for the free 60 day VIP trial. For 60 days, you’ll save even more with free shipping, free gifts, price matching, exclusive sales and personal service.

FROM RECOLLECTIONS OF 1957 | Flying Backwards

{April 2016, Riley, Dad, and Mary Alice}

Ever so often, my dad sits down and shares a story from his childhood. With his permission, he allows me to post them here. Enjoy!

It was to be the last airplane ride for Mrs. McGillicutty. She was evidently someone special, as a youngster, I observed the bright red firetruck proceeding with its lights flashing and siren screaming and the ambulance close behind carrying Mrs. McGillicutty.

This was the beginning of about the first airshow for a new group at Mercedes, the CAF or as they called themselves the Confederate Air Force. Their mission was evidently to save as many WWII aircraft as possible as the United States Government was chopping up and destroying many of aircraft that these former pilots held in highest regard. Plus these pilots were having a bit of fun flying these old Jennys and a couple of hot rod WWII planes. Here in 1957 was Lefty Gardner’s P-38 White Lightning, Dick Disney’s North American P-51D Mustang, and later a couple of F8F Bearcats and a Republic P-47 Thunderbolt (that we called ol’ Jug) that had been purchased by the group from the Nicaraguan Air Force. My older brother and I as kids had carried the spare parts of this WWII plane off the old barge when it arrived from Honduras into Port Isabel. Today, this plane is stationed at the Lone Star Flight Museum near Galveston and is known as the TarHeel Hal.

This first day, on the runway was a yellow Piper J-4 SuperCub, all fueled up and ready to go. And with all the folks watching intently and standing to applause, Mrs. McGillicutty, with her long white hair, high topped shoes, old cane, and a long Sunday dress, was placed carefully in the passenger seat by a Colonel. (All members of the CAF were Colonels so that no one could pull rank on another.) The pilot, I believe it may have been Colonel Dick Disney, reached in and activated the ignition circuit, and moved to the front of the plane to pull the prop through and start the engine.

But surprisingly, the engine fired up nearly wide open, and the old J-4 Cub took off without the pilot! The crowd was screaming and hollering for Mrs. McGillicutty to pull the throttle back as Dick chased the nearly, airborne Cub down the runway. Wow!!!

Now, in actuality, this Ol’ Mrs. McGillicutty skit was brought by my father, Forrest Arnold Thompson Sr. He had seen this at an airshow in Nebraska as a kid. And Mrs. McGillicutty was actually my Dad all dressed up in a wig and outfit. But the report on the loud speaker was Mrs. McGillicutty did not know how to land the plane and was in grave danger. So in a WWII Army Green Jeep, they chased the old Cub up and down the runway trying to get the “Book of Instructions” on a long stick to Mrs. McGillicutty so she could land. Just great, great fun.

All was going well until one of those South Texas “cold fronts” came through moments later with a tremendous wind, and the last we saw of Mrs. McGillicutty and the J-4 Cub was she appeared to be flying backwards, unable to return to the field as the wind blew the plane south for Mexico.

I know now my Dad was able to land the plane on the old RioGrande River Road on the US side with the wind diverted by the tall willow trees that lined the river. I do recall being a bit concerned, but with all my school friends with which to play and other planes flying, we knew Mrs. McGillicutty would return directly. Return, if necessary . . .
Flying Backwards.

The hummingbird is known as a messenger of time. It is also a symbol of love, joy, and beauty. The hummingbird is able to fly backwards, teaching us that we can look back on our past. But, this small bird may also teach that we must not dwell on our past; we need to move forward. When the hummingbird hovers over flowers while drinking nectar, we learn that we should savor each moment and to appreciate the things God has provided.

 

The hummingbird is a symbol of Christ’s resurrection. They seem to die on cold nights, but they come back to life again in the morning.   With hummingbird awareness, we learn the truth of beauty. Our life becomes a wonderland of delights in flowers, aromas and tastes. We laugh and enjoy His Creation; we appreciate the magic of being alive. 

Hummingbirds teach us fierce independence and courage; however, they teach us to fight in a way where no one gets hurt.

Some Hummingbirds are known to wing their way as far as a thousand miles to reach their destination. This quality reminds us to be persistent in the pursuit of our dreams and to adopt the tenacity of the Hummingbird in our everyday lives. 

We have found the Hummingbirds are seemingly tireless; actively seeking the sweetest nectar, they remind us to seek out the good and the beauty in each day.   (Portions from A Light in The Darkness; by Matthew James.)  Flying at times backwards, I remain alway, John Kenton Thompson.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, And all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33