5 Awesome Ways to Bring the Beach to Your Backyard + Giveaway

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bestway. All opinions are 100% mine.

We probably won’t make it to the beach this summer and I gotta tell you – I’m super sad about that! I love the beach so much. In fact, there’s a part of me that feels like I was meant to live near a beach. The sand in my toes any time I wish would be amazing. But, that’s just not to be.

What do you do when you can’t go to the beach? You bring the beach TO YOU! I’ve been thinking about our summer bucket list and realized there is so much fun we can have right in our own backyard! Wanna bring the beach to your backyard? Here’s some great ideas to get you started.

Looking for some summer fun with the kids? Bring the beach to the backyard with these five tips! #H2OGO! #ad

1. Build Sandcastles

Now I know what you’re thinking. How are the kids supposed to build sandcastles with no sand?! And I’ll tell you – a sandbox. They have very reasonably priced sandboxes at the store or you could build one from free plans you can find on pinterest like my neighbors did (it’s super awesome, by the way). Your kids will LOVE it and it will keep them busy. Will they get dirty? Of course. But hey, that’s what summer is all about, right?

2. Buy the Beachwear

Lounge chair, beach towels, flip-flops, striped umbrella. If you wish you were on the beach just PRETEND YOU ARE. Your neighbors will think you’ve gone crazy. So what. In fact, buy one of those tacky little signs that says, “Gone to the Beach” and put it on your front door. Then tell your family you’re having a pretend beach day in the backyard. I promise – your kids will think you’re the coolest.

3. Make Waves

If you’re not lucky enough to have a pool in your backyard there are other awesome ways to provide a day of water fun! When we took the boys to the beach for the first time in 2013, they loved boogie boarding. Obviously that’s not an option when all you’ve got is grass! So the H2OGO! Water Slide is where it’s at. It comes in a single, double or triple slide and has a Speed Ramp™ to provide a safe landing. This is the next best thing I can give them! And hey, you know we’re buying the double, right? You can buy it at Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Target.com and Toys R’ Us. 

undefined

4. Sound it Out

One of the best things about the beach are the sounds all around you. Seagulls calling, waves splashing, a ship’s horn in the distance. Buy a CD or download something and make sure to play it loud. You’ve got to have the sounds to really capture the essence of the ocean!

5. Put an Umbrella in Your Drink

Why is it they only do this in Mexico or the Caribbean. I say, a fruity drink with a little umbrella in it is necessary no matter where you live! Mix up a virgin daquiri sure to cool everyone off on a hot day. Put an umbrella in it and your kids will really get a kick out of this special frozen drink you made for them!

_______________________________

Now I’m really ready for summer, aren’t you? To kick things off one lucky reader will win an H2O GO! Water Slide so they can turn their backyard into a beachy dream! All you have to do is comment and tell me what your favorite beach is and I’ll choose a winner at random.

undefined

Please Note:

  • H2OGO! is not for adult use, and is not for children over 12 or under 5 years of age.
  • This product is not for use by anyone over 5 feet tall or weighing more than 110 pounds.

Visit Sponsors Site

FacebookTwitterGoogle+StumbleUponPinterestReddit<-- SHARE THIS POST

If my kids learn anything from me – let it be this

A year ago today I was in a very dark place. I had just been let go from my job and I thought my newborn daughter was going to die. It didn’t matter that the thought was unfounded. My brain told me every second of every day to prepare myself. She would die from an unknown illness. Postpartum anxiety can go to hell.

I was alone. I was unhealthy. I was unmedicated. And let’s just be honest, my relationship with my husband wasn’t real swell either. Dealing with the likes of me for 13 years? Yeah, God bless that man.

He pulled away from me during this time. I don’t blame him. I pulled away first.

Truthfully, I just wanted to die. I thought I was strong enough to manage a stressful, high-profile job right after I had my third child. I interviewed at six days postpartum with swollen breasts, cracked nipples while still cramping and bleeding. I started a new job three weeks after I had her.

Why, you might ask, would I be crazy enough to do this?

Because our finances were in the shitter again. And I felt bad for my husband who was working so much to try to give us the life I thought we had to have.

I never even really wanted the job I lost. Now that I look back it was the wrong decision for everyone involved. It was unfair to my family, unfair to the organization. But most of all it was unfair to ME.

A year ago I laid in my closet, my fingers clutching the clothes I had bought that we couldn’t afford. I cried – no – SOBBED is more like it. I couldn’t catch my breath. I thought I would die right then and there.

I thought of my kids, my husband, my extended family. I had let everyone down AGAIN. I just couldn’t take it anymore.

I stayed like that for maybe an hour before I was able to pull myself up. I looked at the mascara dried on my tear-stained cheeks. Well, this is just embarrassing, I thought. You’re better than this.

Very suddenly, almost as if lightning had struck in that exact spot, I had an answer. Of course it didn’t work out. OF COURSE! This is not what you were made to do. You were made to write. You were made to tell stories. And this?

This chapter needs to be edited with a big fat red marker.

I knew then what I had to do. I had to find a new job. I had to write.

And two months later I landed a dream job. I write stories about amazing people every day. I listen while other people tell me their story and then I try to tell it for them.

Yes, that’s what I do. It’s amazing and I’m good at it. I’m succeeding when, at this time last year, I never thought I could.

A year ago today – I lost my job. I lost my mind. But that’s not what really matters, is it?

If my kids learn anything from me . . . let it be this:

You only get one chance is BULLSHIT. No really, it’s a lie that will make you feel like failure is not an option.

Hey, kids. Let me clear something up for you. FAILURE IS INEVITABLE.

If you are passionate about something, which I hope you are, people are going to shit on you. They are going to knock you down. There will be times in your life when you will lay on the floor and sob and have snot coming out of your nose. It will be sad and gross.

BUT YOU WILL EVENTUALLY GET UP.

It may be a little early to let you in on this little secret. At age 6, 5 and 16 months, you’ve got some growing up to do before you ever face the kind of pain and uncertainty adults have to face.

I will love you for whoever you choose to become. If you rock it on the first try at something? Awesome! That’s very admirable.

But if you miss a goal, miss a note, miss a beat? Awesome! That’s very admirable too.

Chances are you’ll try harder the next time. I know I have.

I’m not 100% yet. Let’s just put this out there right now – I never will be. But I know this much is true – I’m better for having crumbled under the pressure.

I am often exhausted from all the trying, the striving, the pushing and the pulling. The monotony and utter chaos of balancing everything that matters to me. It’s good and hard and sad and happy all at once.

But man, if there’s one thing I’ve learned through this amazing roller coaster that is my life

The crumbling of a dream is not what matters. It’s the comeback that counts.

Be the comeback kid. Yes, the view is lovely from the top. But the ride up from the valley is even better.

“This is my fight song”

When You Can’t Find Your Rose-Colored Glasses

As someone with a mental illness, I was so happy to hear that May is now officially National Mental Health Awareness Month. So it seems like the perfect time to address some things.

I recently learned I was unfriended on Facebook by some people who thought I could be “too dark” at times. Well, I just want to say – I’m sorry. But I can’t always find my rose-colored glasses. I wish I could spend my time making sure other people are comfortable with every word that comes out of my mouth. But I can’t. And I also don’t want to.

Depression is REAL. Anxiety is REAL. Bipolar disorder is REAL. Mental illness is REAL.

Every year, about 42.5 million American adults (or 1 in 5 people) suffers from some form of mental illness. That’s 1 in 5, guys. You know what that means? Even if YOU have never had to live with a mental illness, chances are pretty fucking good that someone you know and love has.

They may not talk about it. Hell, I don’t even like to talk about it. But I do. Because MORE PEOPLE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT THIS!

Over the years, I have lost a lot of things because of my illness. Love interests, jobs, my keys and/or my phone, memories, whole years. But the one that hurts the most is losing friendships.

I realize I’m not always a fun person to be around. I understand there are some people who, for whatever reason, need to walk away from being friends with me. And that’s okay. There’s nothing to forgive. I know I don’t always say the right thing, do the right thing or make the right choice.

But you know what? That shit still hurts. Even if they weren’t really that great of friends before? It still hurts. Because it reinforces that I am flawed. I am imperfect. There is something inherently wrong with me.

I have always had a hard time seeing through rose-colored glasses. Maybe that’s my illness talking or maybe not. I’ll never know for sure.

Maybe my glasses are extra thick because of what my brain does to me, which by the way, is not my choice. I didn’t choose this, ya know?

Maybe my glasses have smudges on them making it more difficult to see the blessings in my life.

But every once in awhile, when I work really hard at being my best self, I’m able to take those thick, smudgy glasses off. I look around and see an amazing husband who accepts me for exactly who I am. He lovingly says he “loves my crazy” and it means the world to me that he will stick by me when I can’t even find any type of glasses anymore.

Shalz-52

Then I see my kids. My three beautiful children who hug me and kiss me and tell me they love me all the time. It may not be fair to use them as medication. But oh, they are the best balm to my soul that I will ever know. No medicine on the face of this earth could replace their warmth, their smiles or the way they make me belly laugh every single day.

mothersday15

And my family – my mom and dad, my three beautiful, wonderful sisters. I don’t write about them here very often. But through thick and thin, they have always had my back. Even when we were screaming at each other and fighting – I know we would do anything for each other.

Or my friends – I may not have a ton of them, but the ones who have stuck around? They are worth more than gold to me. And I hope someday we are old ladies together, laughing about the hard years and the good years.

_________

I’m not trying to guilt anyone into feeling remorse for walking away from me. The truth is, I don’t really want to be your friend if you don’t really want to be mine. I know I’ve hurt people. I’ve know I’ve made mistakes. I’m not a perfect person.

But I am A PERSON.

A living, breathing, feeling human being who has an illness that sometimes makes it difficult to function like a living, breathing, feeling human being. All I know is the best kind of people in my life are the ones who stay and say . . .

I don’t know where your rose-colored glasses are but let me help you look.

From dull to deck-tacular | our deck makeover

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Char-Broil. All opinions are 100% mine.

I have big plans for our backyard this summer. Oh yes. Big, big plans. I know I say this about different rooms of our house a lot. But I would really like to enjoy our outdoor space much more than we have in the past.

We have a great deck off the back of our house but there are definitely some problems that need solutions.

This is our “before” photo, which was actually taken before we moved in four years ago.

deck and back of house

I created a deck makeover mood board to help turn our deck from dull to deck-tacular!

From Dull to Deck-tacular! Check out this mood board for a deck or outdoor space makeover. Click to the blog for a source list! #KettlemanKicksAsh #ad | adayinmollywood.com

(Psssst, source list is at the bottom so keep reading!)

Okay, onto the problems!

#1. There is absolutely no shade.

Our deck faces the south and it’s sun, sun, sun all day. Since it’s a new neighborhood there are no mature trees to block the sun and there is nothing overhead. I’m what they call vampire-pale, so I burn within about five minutes of going outside. I would love to write outside on the deck or watch the kiddos play or eat dinner al fresco! We need a big, colorful umbrella to protect us from that blazing summer sun. A pergola is in the future plans!

#2. We need somewhere to sit.

Right now we are rocking a broken bistro set I borrowed from my parents. We used to have chairs and a table but a bad storm took it down! It’s pretty pathetic, actually. We have a five-person family and nowhere to sit outside! I would love a beautiful table with benches for the kiddos. I want to bring in bright pops of color with an outdoor rug and pillows.

#3. It’s really dark out there at night!

We have one teeny little light on our back deck. And the person who planned our neighborhood apparently forgot about street lamps! So when we’re out there it feels . . . kinda creepy. I have already purchased some of those cute outdoor string lights and have a plan to drape them above the deck. It’s going to feel so bright and inviting when the lights are up! Party at our house, everyone!

#4. We need to upgrade our grill!

An outdoor space is worth nothing if you’re not grilling some fabulous foods, am I right? We love to grill out throughout the warmer months. Whether it be burgers, chicken, fish, veggies or even desserts (banana boats, anyone?), we think food just tastes better straight off the grill. Problem is, we’re not so hot on our current grill, pun intended. We’ve been doing our research and the husband thinks we should buy a new charcoal grill this time around. We’ve decided on the new Char-Broil Kettleman Grill.

undefined

For this busy and hungry family of five – our grill choice is all about convenience. This grill is on wheels so it’s easy to move around, it has a removable ash bowl and a no fall-through grate. It also has a hinged lid, which means you don’t have to remove it and set it down completely. We grilled out last night and it works like a charm. Our chicken was delicious and clean up was a breeze. Watch the video to learn more about the Kettleman grill.

Here’s the full deck makeover source list in case you spy something you’d like for your own outdoor space:

1. Globe string lights – Target

2. Striped umbrella – Walmart

3. Outdoor toss pillows – Target

4. Outdoor patio mat – Walmart

5. Patio table & chairs – Ikea

6. Char-Broil charcoal grill – Lowe’s

I love the pops of black, blue and red! So festive, don’t you think? I’m ready for a glass of wine and a steak on our new deck!

 

Visit Sponsors Site

Give Your Community an #Ultrahug

Never in a million years did I think I would be living in the same town where I grew up. You see, I had bigger dreams than to stay in the same suburb where I was raised. I was *supposed* to move to New York City and write for a fashion magazine. That was the plan.

But sometimes plans change. Sometimes you fall in love with a small-town boy and decide to stick around to see if he might just be The One. And sometimes he totally turns out to be The One. Suddenly it’s not about your career anymore, although your dreams of being a writer still mean a great deal to you. But now you picture yourself buying a house, settling down, starting a family – and you want to do it all in the same place where you experienced a wonderful childhood.

Huggies Snug & Dry Ultra - #UltraHug | adayinmollywood.com

No, my hometown is not where I imagined I would live for the rest of my life. But I know this is right where I’m supposed to be. It happens to be a great place to raise a family. It has wonderful schools and goodness, we really couldn’t have picked a better subdivision. The kids on our street are becoming fast friends! And playing in the backyard is certainly a favorite for our new little explorer!

Huggies Snug & Dry Ultra - #Ultrahug | adayinmollywood.com

But there is one thing my hometown really needs – a more vibrant downtown. Since 2011, our city has been trying to accomplish this by incorporating a non-profit to spread awareness and raise funds for the mission at hand:

Our Vision is a healthy, vibrant downtown, creating a great city in which to live, work, shop and play for the benefit of all residents and businesses in our town.

I can still remember going to the drugstore and having an old-fashioned float. It’s important to me to make sure memories like this can continue for my children and generations to come. I think it’s important to protect and restore our history – not just knock things down and put up something shiny and new. There is a story there – let’s tell it!

Right now, Huggies Snug & Dry Ultra Hugs wants to help someone do just that! Right now they are running the #UltraHug Selfie Contest and will award 10 lucky winners with a $2,000 grant from Huggies for their nominated community initiative. I know an extra $2,000 would help move my city’s downtown dreams forward!

From April 20th until June 25th, Huggies will be accepting all selfies of you and your baby with the hashtag #UltraHug, and featuring them in a collage on the campaign landing page. On July 6th, voting will begin to narrow down the 20 finalists to 10 winners who will win a $2,000 grant from Huggies for their nominated community initiative.

How to Enter the #UltraHug Selfie Contest

• First, take a selfie of you and your baby and upload that selfie to Twitter or Instagram. Make sure to use the hashtag #UltraHug
• In your same post, make sure to include a text nomination (approximately 100 – 120 characters) including a name and/or identifying description of a community project in the US, which you would like to nominate.

I encourage you to think of a community project that is near and dear to your heart, just like mine is to me, and get those #Ultrahug selfies posted!