Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My mom calls them "Actibities"

This week, we are headed to Kentucky for the Derby! #derbyweek! Jay was born and raised in Kentucky so we are combining a family vaca.

Coming from a family of "travelers", we have a tradition in this house, Traveling Activities, or as my mother calls them "Actibities".  It's like going to church without candy, you can't travel with out your backpack full of actibities!

Being a mom, this provides a wonderful opportunity to pack all of the necessities needed to take care of my family while we embark on our journey. I have compiled a list of all of the "must-haves" that I always include in my bag. Along with some PHOTOS!!!  (...I know, right?! They're from my phone so don't get too excited...)

For Mom:
1. My Laptop (I have to continue blogging, right?)
2. Real Simple Magazine and People Mag Crossword book
3. Thank You Cards that need to be filled out
4. Light Jacket

For Kids:
1. iPad (loaded with some movie faves like Frozen and Pitch Perfect)
2. iPod touch (loaded with games and music)
3. Nintendo DS
4. Coloring Book
5. Crayons
6. Some sort of craft (This time, we opted for a color-me travel bag that she will then be able to use on our trip! You can find it here.)
7. Doll (or other comfort item)
8. Light Jacket

For the Family:
1. A Blanket (for those much needed plane-naps)
2. Camera
3. Headphones
4. Warm Socks 
5. Moist Wipes (for on-the-spot cleanup)
6. Brush
7. All Charging Cables
8. Chapstick
9. Gum
10. Small (security safe) snacks
11. Hand Sanitizer
12. Ibuprofen
13. Flushable wipes
14. Antacid
15. Tide Stick

Now, you're probably wondering,
"How in the you-know-what does she fit all of that into one backpack?"

Well, I happen to have the answer to that too! Here is the backpack I use:

I bought it from Costco, you can see a similar item here
(I bought mine last season) 

But I would say that any 4-pocket backpack that has a laptop sleeve would work. You could even use one that doesn't have a laptop sleeve if you have a portable one, just be sure that laptop is easy to get out during security! 

I just like to make sure that my backpack has the front pocket that has little pockets inside. This helps to keep all of my small things organized, including all of the small items in the "family" list along with my credit cards and ID, pens, glasses, etc. 

Extra tips: This may be self explanatory (but you'd be surprised with what people try to do when traveling with kids) but I always make sure to travel in something comfortable. Jeans, loose top, loose jewelry (so that its easy to take off at security) and most importantly, ballet flats!

I wear the ballet flats for 2 reasons, #1 they are easy to take off at security. With this method of packing, all I have to do at the security checkpoint is take my laptop out of my bag (bin 1) throw my shoes, jackets, Alayna's doll and jewelry into another bin (bin 2) and lay my backpack on the belt. When I'm done, I just throw on my shoes and be on my way! Luckily, with new TSA regulations, Alayna doesn't have to take her shoes off, she can just walk through.

The second reason I love to wear my ballet flats with traveling with kids is because my feet ALWAYS swell when I fly. Don't get me wrong, when I'm not traveling with my daughter, I almost always will wear heels. However, I will always make sure that my heels can just kick off also. This is where my warm socks come into play. I usually will put my warm socks on during the flight, if not just to keep my tootsies warm, but to have something on my feet to walk to the bathroom in, seeing as how my feet are no longer fitting into my shoes. 

Last extra tip: Order a rum and coke. The flight attendant will usually have little salt-lime packet and POOF! you have yourself a grade-A cocktail!

Posting from Kentucky this week!

And just because its funny....
because who doesn't love n*sync humor?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Birthday Extravaganza!

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I would like to announce that Thursday was my daughter's 9th birthday!!!!

Happy Birthday Alayna!
                         How Exciting!

So today, I thought I would share some crafty things I made for her party! Wanna guess what the problem with that is??

Hi, my name is Shanna, and I have a serious
 problem remembering to take pictures of ANYTHING.

While my daughter's birthday was a great time, I have not a single photo to remember it by. Well, I do have a mouth (well, fingers and a keyboard) so at least I can blab all about it!

We had her actual birthday party on Saturday and it was FAB! All of her little friends from her school came over plus an abundance of family. We had a bounce house, piƱata and plenty of bbq'd food. The cake was gorgeous and I'm pretty sure she got everything she wanted.

I am so proud of the little girl she has become! I can already tell how "grown-up" she is, just since she turned 9.

So let's get to the serious issue here. I really need to get into some sort of photography class, like A-SAP. I promise... as time goes on, I am going to get on my picture game. 

Well, till next time!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Rose from the Ashes

For myself, today has been a very thought provoking day. It has all been based around the question:

"What happy feeling can I pull out of moments of sadness or anxiety?"

I consider myself to be a pretty emotional person (I mean, I am a woman), and today was extraordinary. I was put in a position today where I was with a large group of people I don't know, and was there to make friends. 

Now, I tend to be pretty quiet in that sort of scenario, and today was no different. It gave me a very anxious feeling, but when the night was over and I left, that all changed. 

I felt proud.

I took myself out of my comfort zone, into a totally new world (wait a sec... this sounds familiar) and I did GREAT! I can remember at least 6 different peoples names and I had a really good time. When I got there, I was sure that I was going to leave upset with myself for not talking enough or not "just putting myself out there". I am happy to say that for the second day in a row, I DID IT

So what lesson did I learn from all of this? It goes back to the question of the day... What happy feeling can I pull out of moments of anxiety? It wasn't until I was driving home that I realized just how much fun I had! I may have had a moment of sadness thinking that I wasn't making friends with these other ladies, but I did well! And that, my friends, is my happy feeling for today. I accomplished something that I didn't think could be accomplished in the first encounter.

"Good for you Shanna!" "Oh! Thanks, Shanna! I'm pretty happy for myself!"

In honor of this, for the next few days, I will devote myself to the friendship that I have to offer. There is so much love in my heart for everyone (friends, family, blog readers...) that I just want to spread it around!

What type of things do you feel sad or anxious about but then realize the great feeling it left you with? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! You never know who you will inspire today!

No more fun stuff for today, just some insights. Thank you for stopping by my blog! Don't forget to follow me!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Welcome Friends!

(oh my gosh... how exciting?! My FIRST POST!!!)


Welcome to Happy Choices
 ...and our daily doings!

I am Shanna and I am here to blog about all the things in life that put a smile on my face and happiness in my heart!

For my very first post, I'd like to talk about the small things. Don't you find it interesting how its always "the little things" in life that really keep you going? And I really find it inspiring when that little burst of happiness comes from a fellow human being. It's a win-win! You get all mushy inside and truly appreciate another person while that person really feels pride in themselves for making a noticeable change in someone's day.

Like the old man at Costco today, who took 2 seconds out of his day to thank me for putting my cart back at the front of the store. I felt amazing for doing something that I really thought he would appreciate and him acknowledging my efforts was just the icing on the cake. Now I can't speak for him, but I would hope that seeing the smile he put on my face when I said, "you're welcome" would make him smile too.

Another small thing I am happy for today is the fact that dinner is only going to take me 6 minutes to make! 

That's right peeps! Once in a when-I-feel-like-it, I will take a Saturday and devote it to freezer meals. So tonight I am taking out my trusty Stir Fry.

Want to know how you can have dinner in 6 minutes?
Well you just so happen to be in luck, recipes make me happy too!

Steak Stir-Fry

For 4 Servings, you will need:

1lb flank steak, cut into 1" strips (remember, against the grain!)
3 cups stir-fry vegetables (any mix from the grocery will do)
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp stir-fry sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 peanuts
1 packet Udon or Ramen noodles

So, here's what you do:

1. Combine all of the ingredients down to the ginger in a gallon size freezer bag. Now, this is where you decide if you are going to make this now, or put it in the freezer for later. If you are going to make it now, place the bag in the refrigerator for 1 hour. If you are going to freeze it, it will keep in the freezer for up to 5 months. 
(If you make it now, process takes about 15 minutes... sorry for the convenience)

2. Place entire contents of bag into a large skillet or wok. Saute' on medium high for 6 minutes. Meanwhile, boil your noodles for 4 minutes, drain.

3. Place your noodles in a bowl, top with peanuts and cilantro.

4. Enjoy those noodles covered in that sauce and awesomeness!

BOOM! Amazing and it sorta looks like I know what I'm doing!

Well, that's me for today! 
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'Til next time!