Back and More Delicious Than Ever- The 2015 Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival!

It’s back! It’s finally back! The Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival kicked off on Friday, and I got the privilege to sample some of their new offerings, and favorites from the past 2 years. I can’t get enough. I’m not even kidding.

This year, Busch Gardens has expanded their offerings of delicious foods and drinks from all over the world to two new experiences- the amazingly themed Asia kiosk, and the French Quarter, along with all of the favorites of the past two years. There is so much to eat that not even I could fit it all in my belly!

If you don’t believe the above two statements- allow me to take you on my journey pigging out around the world via pictures!

Our first stop was a brand new experience this year in Scotland- a scotch tasting, of course! Three 15 year old sing malt scotches straight from Scotland (say that three times fast!)
Let me just say, I’m not a scotch girl, but it made me feel pretty fancy to be learning about, sniffing, and sipping fancy scotches!





HAHA! Now that we were nice and warm, we made our way over to the brand new Asia kiosk to sample their offerings. Let me just tell you- one of my children ate these dishes and said “I never knew vegetables could taste SO good!”
Pretty sure we need to put that on a plaque and plaster it on the outside of the kiosk.

First up- the Lettuce wrap (favorite of my 7 year old): Vegetables & tofu wrapped in tender butter lettuce with toasted almonds and sweet chili dipping sauce-

Next- the Bahn Mi- a Vietnamese-style sandwich of marinated pork & pickled vegetables on crispy bread with lime & huoc mam slaw (YUM!)

Third was my personal favorite of the kiosk- the Mushi-Gyoza- Japanese style steamed chicken dumplings with citrus ponzu sauce. That ponzu sauce… I’d marry it if I could!
After that, we sipped on Thai Tea (SO good) and were served an amazingly refreshing Ginger-Lemongrass Custard that was so yummy I accidentally ate it before I remembered to photograph it. Oops! Trust me, you are going to want to make an extended stop at this new kiosk. And every kiosk. Basically, you’re going to want to move in.

From there, we were on our own to explore and taste and enjoy-and oh man, did we! My waistline might not agree, but my tummy sure does!
Here are some of my favorites from the rest of our day:

One stop we absolutely HAD to make was at the Caribbean kiosk for the Gamba Fritters(Caribbean fried shrimp dumplings with Pickapeppa dip). I could live off of these things. Seriously. Just bring in a wheelbarrow and prepare to roll me out.

From there, it was off to the brand new French Quarter! I think I gained 20 pounds from this kiosk alone. We ordered the Chicken & Andouille Gumbo (Creole spiced stew with shredded chicken and spicy sausage over rice) and the decadent Bananas Foster Cheesecake. We will definitely be stopping there again!





Now that we were sufficiently stuffed- it’s important to note that the food is NOT the only thing to check out! They also have some pretty amazing displays called “The Art of Food”- the boys’ favorite was the sea-themed exhibit, made out of jellybeans and rice krispies. Amazing!




To end our fabulous day sampling tasty treats from all over the world, we hopped aboard a boat for the Wine on the Rhine river tour- where we ate fruits, cheeses, and chocolates, and sipped on beers and wines while floating down the Rhine river and listening to on-board live music (they had juice for the little ones!)





So, what’s my verdict? GET TO BUSCH GARDENS AND EAT YOUR HEART OUT! Heck, you’ll probably see me there! There is SO much to do (wine tastings, cheese samplings, and more!), you have to keep going back!
The Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival is every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5/22 to June 28th!

Posted on May 24, 2015 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

Warner Bros & DC Kids Mystery Gift Basket Giveaway! FIVE winners!

Who’s ready for a giveaway? My kids are OBSESSED (no, seriously, I’m losing my mind) with Scooby Doo, so when I scoobheard about this fun mystery gift basket giveaway from Warner Bros, including Batman Unlimited, DC Super Friends and Scooby-Doo, I knew it was the perfect one to share with y’all! Maybe Scooby Doo is like tag, and once we tag you, you’re it, and I’m FREEEEEE! But seriously- enter to win! They are giving away 5 mystery baskets, each worth at LEAST $50!

Check out some of the amazing new videos from DCKids & Warner Bros’ new Youtube channels – included are favorites such as Batman Unlimited, DC Super Friends and Scooby-Doo! There will be many more updates over the next year, so don’t forget to subscribe to their channels! Then use the widget at the end of this blog to enter to win one of the mystery baskets!
DCKids Channel: Subscribe here
WBKids Channel: Subscribe here

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted on May 21, 2015 by Holdin' Holden 20 Comments

Hey, Kids. I Fucked Up.

Today, I had to come clean. I had to sit down and tell my children that I messed up. I made a big mistake that guiltrequired me to humble myself, apologize, and fix to the best of my ability. It was not fun, I feel like crap about it, but I had to tell them.

Well, I didn’t so much HAVE to tell them, as I WANTED to tell them.

Whaaaaaat? Why would I EVER do something like that? Don’t I want my kids to think Mommy is always right? Won’t telling them that I fucked up something undermine my authority when I tell them to stop fucking up?

It has been a LONG time since I have “gotten in trouble”- so to speak. I’ve been my own boss for so long that I almost  forgot what making a huge mistake feels like. If I screw something up at home, the only person who can get mad at me is me- and I don’t waste time being mad at myself for forgetting to take the trash out. That’s stupid. There are Legos to curse at that are far more deserving of my wrath than me.  No, my mistakes these days really only ever involve me, and who gives a shit? I can’t really feel the kind of guilt that is caused by fucking something up that involves someone else. Someone who doesn’t live in this house and immediately forgive me because I’m the one who feeds them so it’s wise for them not to hold a grudge.

I could have lived without EVER experiencing a mistake that affected someone else ever again, but no one is immune. Today, I revisited the world of fuckupery, and it was awful. My household wasn’t strict growing up, but mistakes were most definitely frowned upon in a big way, and I often heard my full legal name shouted through the house in anger. Mistakes were bad. Mistakes were scary. Do not make mistakes! My mom was also a MASTER of the guilt trip. Seriously. I bow to her ultimate guilting powers. My brother once left a tiny bit of milk in a cup on the counter (a BIG no-no) instead of rinsing it and blamed it on me. My ass got sent to my room until I admitted I did it and apologized, all the while my mom guilted the shit out of me, telling me how bad I was for lying. How bad I was for just not telling the truth. How bad I was for blaming it on my brother. Bad bad bad. For something I didn’t even do! The mistake wasn’t even mine! The mistake was really that I didn’t just say that I did it to get my ass out of time out. Guilted if I did, guilted if I didn’t. Guilt everywhere! Guiltception! The guilt was so deep that I never drank milk again! Obviously, I’m exaggerating, but it was bad. I was in that room for a long time.
All the while- that woman NEVER admitted to being wrong. Ever! (Do I ever wonder where I got my stubbornness from? Um. No.)

Since then, guilt has been a terrible, and large part of my life. The tiniest mistakes I end up fretting about and thinking about constantly. Even years later. I feel bad about shit most people would get over in 5 minutes. I stress and worry over things I think I did or said wrong that I probably didn’t. All because I learned from a young age to feel constantly guilty.

I spent all day feeling terrible and absolutely wracked with guilt- and the situation that put me in that state? Turned out fine. It’s over. It was NOTHING to feel guilty about, an honest mistake, but I still felt like crap. It is the worst feeling ever. I did NOT miss it! After I did my best to rectify the situation, the first thing I did was tell my kids. It had nothing to do with them, but I told them.

No one WANTS to make mistakes, and we certainly don’t want our kids to be walking screw-ups, but mistakes are absolutely inevitable, and when they are made (and I KNOW they will be), I don’t want my kids to feel how I felt today. How I felt through a lot of my childhood, adulthood, lifehood. Through my experiences, and being honest with them, I don’t just want them to learn FROM my mistakes, but learn that making mistakes is just a part of life- and they DON’T need to beat themselves up as much as I do.

Kids- Mistakes are OKAY! You’re gonna make them! You ARE going to fuck up, no matter how hard you try not to. No matter how good of a person you are. No one’s perfect, especially not me. Try not to feel too guilty, too awful, too upset- an adequate amount- not enough to crap all over your life. It’s not the end of the world, but please, do us all a favor and rinse out your damn cups.

Posted on May 20, 2015 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

To the Man Who “Can’t Afford His Wife”–


It’s something that’s gone around the internet and in mom circles for years- just how hard we work at this whole mom thing. We do the job of about a bajillion professions and for free!
We are therapists and cooks, maids, daycare workers, nurses, organizers, chauffeurs, and a myriad of other things. We do it all! I have even written a blog about just how much of a JOB motherhood really is. It ain’t easy, that’s for sure!

This subject is currently on my mind because of an article recently written by a husband going on and on about how he can’t afford his wife as a stay at home mom. Everyone and their mother shared it, far and wide, and around the internet it went. I was tagged in it more times than I can even count, I guess because I’m a stay at home mom and people thought I would be the article’s biggest cheerleader. FINALLY! SOMEONE ACKNOWLEDGES THE MASS AMOUNT OF WORK WE DO!
But….. that is not the reaction I had.
I mean, it’s sweet and all- I truly love that he gets and seems to appreciate how hard moms work every day (really!), enough to say that he can’t afford his wife as a stay at home mom if he had to pay her for all the jobs that she does, but I’m going to be balls-out honest right now…
The dude could probably afford me.

If this whole “mom” thing were an actual job that I had to be on time to, with an employer, rules, tasks that needed to be done efficiently and quickly- my ass would have been fired FOR. EVER. ago. FIRED! Out on my ass. Given the boot. The pink slip. Axed. Dunzo.

I’m not saying I’m lazy- I am absolutely NOT lazy (most of the time), and I am not at ALL trying to diminish just how much we all do, or how hard we work. There is a lot of shit that goes into being a stay at home mom (and a mom in general) that has nothing to do with browsing Pinterest, “forgetting” to take out something for dinner, and watching soaps. There are things to pick up, put away, wipe down, take out, prep, prepare, scrub, sweep, and a ridiculous number of other things. If I REALLY tried, and I mean REALLY- no…. Nope. I’m gonna be realistic.

There are probably some stay at home moms who never sit down all day because they’re busy scrubbing baseboards, crafting, and making sure their house is picture perfect, everything is in its place, and all is right with the world. If we’re being HONEST- most of us are NOT that mom. Don’t fucking lie. I’m DEFINITELY not that mom. I don’t know anyone who IS that mom. I know plenty of amazingly awesome moms with kick-ass clean houses where there aren’t seventeen pounds of Legos strewn all over the goddamn living room like its Times Square on New Years Eve- but if you ask them, they still never get EVERYTHING done.

I’ll say it right now. I have NEVER gotten everything done. I start tasks, and try to finish them, but usually I don’t. I’m happy with just STARTING them. Yeah I started the fucking laundry! NO I didn’t put it in the damn dryer yet. I had to wipe someone’s ass, and then make lunch, and then let the dogs out, and then dry their damn paws because they decided it would be an AMAZING idea to play in the fucking mud, and then I have to bitch at my kid for an hour to take a nap, and by the time I’m done doing that, it’s time to go pick up the OTHER kid at school, and then I have to make some stupid ass snacks that are just going to get half eaten and left out and I’ll have to clean them up just because it’s WHAT I DO, so FUCK THE LAUNDRY AND FUCK YOU.

Ahem… I’m not going to apologize- it’s tough, and it’s frustrating, and it’s busy, and while I believe we DEFINITELY deserve credit where credit is due, to walk around saying that we deserve the pay of however many other professions combined when I can’t even manage to move to laundry from the washer to the dryer most days makes me feel like a crap-ass mom- and I know for a fact that I’m not.

HEAVEN FORBID I ever had to get everything done by the end of a work day.

Is the floor clean and vacuumed, surfaces wiped down, dust dusted, beds made, toilets scrubbed? Uhhhhhhh, try 2/7 most days. If I were a maid? FIRED!
Has dinner been cooked and put on the table promptly at 6pm every night? Hahahahaha! You know what we had last night? Left overs from the night before, when I flat out forgot to take anything out for dinner until it was too late to thaw any meat out, so my husband had to pick up take out on his way home. Chef failure. Fired.
Did I heal the sick? Tend to the wounded? Kiss all the booboos? I ain’t kissin’ no nasty ass bloody knee. I’m gonna try to clean that mofo with some peroxide while not gak-ing and call it a win. Don’t think I’d be winning any awards for nurse of the year, there.

No, I don’t consider myself a maid, a nanny, a chef, a therapist, a nurse, or any of those other things.

No, I don’t do ANY of those things as well or as thorough as someone who holds each one of those positions as their career.

I don’t, and I can’t pretend that I do, or that I’m deserving of the salary of all of those positions combined, but I do enough of everything, every day, all day, to keep my family healthy and (most of the time) happy- and I believe that’s more than enough. But, hey, I’m appraising myself at a bargain rate here, so if you wanna pay me- super sweet over-appreciative husband, I’d be more than happy to take it! Maybe I’ll use it to hire a REAL maid and give myself a frickin’ break.

Posted on May 15, 2015 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

The “I Don’t Want To!” Blues- Teaching Kids WANT Vs. NEED

When it comes to the fine art of raising children, I find that I walk a fine line between wanting to let them just be tightkids, and not wanting them to be dicks. Most of these days, it feels like a tightrope balancing act. The damn line isn’t just fine, it’s fuzzy. Sometimes I’d swear it’s even invisible. This line is a bitch, but it’s one that most of us parents dare to cross on a daily basis. I do my best not to OVER-parent them. I absolutely want them to learn some things for themselves, to test certain boundaries, and to understand that sometimes rules have to be followed to a T, and sometimes they can be bent or broken- but damn if it isn’t the most INFURIATING thing to try to do.  I want them to be independent, but not SO much so that they refuse to ever ask for help because they think asking for help is “wrong”. I want them to ask for help, but never so often that it makes them completely helpless. Like I said- a frickin’ tightrope!

Over years of annoyance, the word “NO!” when being screeched from a child’s mouth has become less like nails on a chalkboard, and more of a bad joke. A failed punchline. I never thought I’d see the day where the 500th NO didn’t make me want to scream, but it appears I’ve finally reached the next level of parenthood. As if NO is going to work on me, kids. You gotta do better than that!

For as smart as he is, Holden never figured that out, but Parker…. Parker was always the observer. He spent the time that would usually be spent as a toddler jibber-jabbering me to death, watching and learning. I’d come to believe that he was simply being a stubborn shit, but he was just sitting there, plotting. While Holden was still using the “NO!” approach (and failing miserably), Parker only tried it a few times before realizing it was never going to work, and switching tactics. That was when we entered a whole new realm of childhood obnoxiousness. One I had not yet prepared myself for, because I’d unwisely gotten used to just hearing “NO”. I get the feeling this was all part of Parker’s sneaky observant little plan.

Ringing through my house like a chorus of assholes, all day every day, all I hear is “I don’t WANT to!” It’s not like I’m asking the kid to perform brain surgery or help dispel the dogs anal gland. It’s over stupid menial shit that he HAS to do, like brushing his teeth, or flushing the mother badword toilet. Things he did before without complaint, he now responds to with “I don’t WANT to”. As if his want is more important than the fact that these things need to be done? As if him not WANTING to brush his teeth is going to make me throw up my hands and say “Oh, fine! We’ll just let your teeth rot out of your head!”
Does he ACTUALLY think he will get that kind of result, or does he just think he can annoy me enough with something new that I will give in?

Of course I don’t want to riddle and overcomplicate his life with responsibility and work when he should be spending much of his days learning, exploring, and playing- but if he doesn’t learn that WANT does not trump NEED and just because he doesn’t WANT to do something doesn’t mean he doesn’t NEED to, he’s likely to turn into a spoiled little…. well, dick. I’d be falling off the tightrope if I just caved and never made him do things he doesn’t want to do. Unfortunately, even when we’re kids, it’s not all about fun- but doing the NEEDS doesn’t have to feel like a need. It’s a part of life. It’s not even important enough to be wasting time arguing with him about how he doesn’t want to do it. I guess we also need to have a lesson on choosing his battles wisely.

The moral of the story is….. I don’t know. I really don’t. Life’s a bitch? You are not the sun, the world doesn’t revolve around you? Life’s tough, get a helmet? Needs are more important than wants? The grass is always….. no… that’s not right.

Wait! I’ve got it- Kids- you can have all the fun in the world, AFTER you’ve brushed your teeth. It’s that simple!

Posted on May 12, 2015 by Holdin' Holden 1 Comment