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Our ghostly encounters in downtown Houston

Do you like a good scare? Although I’m not a fan of scary stuff, especially paranaormal activity like I used to be, its sometimes fun to get a little scared…deliciously scared! Do a little research, and you will find that there are many haunted spots in our very own downtown Houston that are not only some of the most haunted places in H-town, but also make the list for the most haunted places in Texas. I’ve had experiences with two of these places, the spooky Esperson Building and the creepy Spaghetti Warehouse. If you are ever brave enough to go on a chilling adventure with the kids to one of these places, just remember to enter at your own risk, keep the Ghostbusters on speed dial, be aware of your surroundings, and be afraid…be very afraaaaid…Buuuuaaaahaaaahaaaa!

I once worked in the Esperson Building, 808 Travis Street. For those of you who are familiar with downtown, its one of the oldest and most recognizable buildings in Houston. Mellie Esperson had the two buildings constructed for her husband, Niels, an oil tycoon, in 1927 and 1941. It is said that when they died, their ashes were entombed in the cupola at the top of the building and that Mellie still roams the hallways and elevators watching over her buildings. There have been several sightings of her in the hallways and the elevator, which has been known to open on its own and frequently malfunction. While working there, there were certainly places in the building that gave me goosebumps. There were several times when file cabinets mysteriously opened on their own and a frequent sensation that someone was standing behind you. The very old Renaissance inspired hallways are so eerily reminiscent of the hallways in “The Shining”. One time, we had a contractor in the building who was working late one night. As he was leaving, he saw a lady waving at the very end of the hallway…as he waved back, he suddenly noticed that she did not have any feet. She was floating. Needless to say, he never returned to work. The eyes of the people in the paintings on the walls are also said to move, following your every move. The building management offers tours, so if you ever want a good scare or possible ghost encounters, this is the place for you. Try contacting Cameron Management for a tour. http://www.cameronmanagement.com/

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Another well known haunted building is the Spaghetti Warehouse at 901 Commerce. This location became a restaurant in 1974. Prior to its current establishment, the building had a varied life. It was built in the early 1900s as a fruit and vegetable warehouse. It later became a pharmaceutical company before becoming a restaruant. As the story goes, a young pharmacist died after falling down the elevator shaft. His wife was so grief-stricken that she died a year later. The pair of ghosts allegedly have haunted the building ever since. Some people have reported seeing floating objects in the building and employees have reported sightings on the second floor. There is said to be a male spirit in the restroom.

My son and his grandparents went to eat there for the first time yesterday. What they experienced, has them now believing in the paranormal. As they were eating, grandpa kept noticing people go up to the 2nd floor. However, he noticed that nobody ever came back down. So, they assumed there was a party going on up there. When they asked the waiter, the waiter told them that they could go tour the upstairs and take a look for themselves if they wanted. As they climbed to the 2nd floor expecting to see all the people that had gone up there, they were startled to see that it was completely dark and completely empty. There was only 1 person up there, an employee who was eating. Where were all those people they had seen go up there? They spoke briefly to the employee and she said that she hates being alone up there and was glad that they showed up. She said she only eats there because thats where employees have to eat, but that many strange things happen up there. They noticed a closet at the end of the room. My son and his grandma both walked up to it and put their ear against it. What they heard, had them back up in a hurry and want to immediately leave. They both heard a very loud, heavy breathing coming from the other side. It was an annoyed sound, like someone who was disgruntled about having anyone up there. The employee said she was the only one up there, so who was making that sound? As all of that was going on, my son’s grandpa tried to snap a picture. Yet, when he tried to take a picture his phone suddenly and mysterioulsy went dead. He still had plenty of charge left on his battery, so it is quite startling that as soon as he tried to snap a picture, the battery drained and went dead. Thats when they decided to immediately leave the place. They came home telling me the story of their encounter as they were still trying to make sense of what happened. My son said that he really believes in ghosts now and that now he knows that Ghostbusters had to have been based on a true story.

While they weren’t able to get a picture of their visit, here is an image that came from other visitors of the warehouse. Can you spot the ghost in the picture?
Look closely on the right side of the picture.

So, there you have it. While there are many things to do in Houston this summer, if your family ever wants to experience a little paranormal activity then take a chilling adventure to one of these haunted places and have scary stories of your own to tell.

4th of July Summer Art Tutorial

We’re back with summer art tutorial #2! This 4th of July activity is a special one. We want you to create a card with your artwork as the cover. On the inside, write a letter to a soldier to thank them for their service. We celebrate 4th of July because it stands for freedom. It is freedom we would not have without the brave men and women who fought for that right. They have sacrificed so much for us. So, this is just a small gesture of appreciation that we think will go a long way in the hearts of our heroes. Help us honor them and thank them! If you want to draw something different for the cover, feel free to! There are many symbols that represent our great country besides the Statue of Liberty, like the bald eagle, our flag, the liberty bell, Uncle Sam, etc. So take your pick, create your card, and have a family member mail your card to the A Million Thanks Organization (address below). They will ensure your card gets to one of our heroes.

A Million Thanks
17853 Santiago Blvd. #107-355
Villa Park, CA 92861

Visit their website at www.amillionthanks.org

Thank you for participating! God bless you! God bless our troops, and God bless the United States of America!

20 Best Romantic Movies of My Time

With all the hard work that we do on the daily, we sometimes need and deserve a break. I’m a big movie buff and love watching a good movie any chance I get. In my teen years, I worked at Blockbuster Video, which by the way I truly miss the concept of video stores. I used to walk the aisles after my shift and pick out rom coms and watch them sometimes through the night. I’m a sucker for fairytale endings. Life is much different now. I have a household full of boys so I usually am outnumbered with what we watch. It’s mostly animated, action, or superhero movies, which are perfectly fine. I usually enjoy them, too. HOWEVER, many times I am in desparate need of a good chick flick. So in the rare occurance I have some time to myself, I will watch one of my favorites. I am a hopeless romantic. I LOVE a good love story and if its a great one, I really get carried away by it. Romantic comedies are my favorite genre, but there are just so many good love stories out there that I can watch over and over and over again.

I want to share with you my list of the 20 best romantic movies of my time. I am pretty picky about my movies. I have to be thoroughly entertained and really vested in the characters and story, so if a movie made my list, then its one that swept me off my feet and made me want to live happily ever after with my prince charming.

Please note that I left out true classics like Dirty Dancing and Pretty Woman. I love those movies dearly, but I’m going under the assumption that you’ve already seen those (because who hasn’t) many times over.

So, if you get any free time, mamas, and in need of a good movie to watch, this list is for you.

In no particular order:

1. The Longest Ride
2015

Holy cowboy, ladies. This is one heck of a movie, y’all! Not only do you get 2 beautiful love stories in one movie, but the eye candy is just off the charts. The movie is based off of the book written by none other than Nicholas Sparks. Same author of The Notebook, so you know its going to be a doozy. The cowboy in this very entertaining movie is played by Scott Eastwood, the son of Clint Eastwood who is the ultimate cowboy. The movie is about two very different lives that come together in strange circumstances and fight all odds to be together. It has a very Tale of Two Cities feel to it. So, go ahead ladies, let Mr. Eastwood, make your day.

2. P.S. I Love You
2007

Well this one has all the feels. An emoitonal rollercoaster portrayed beautifully by Hillary Swank. The men in this movie are perfect, Gerard Butler, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Harry Connick, Jr. give stellar performances and are super easy on the eyes. Although the love story is a sad one, I love the unique concept of conveying a love everlasting despite tragic circumstances. It gives you hope in love and that it transcends all barriers and obstacles, even in death. I love this movie, and if nothing else, just for Gerard Butler’s delicious Irish accent.

3. The Holiday
2006

This is the cutest of all the movies on the list. This is another one that has two love stories in one, so you get a double whammy. Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet are thwarted in their respective relationships. They set out on a quest to find themselves and in the process meet people that forever change their lives and their outlook on life. The stories are cute and the characters loveable, including Jack Black and Jude Law and three very precious little girls. This is one of my very favorites to watch every Christmas, but you can enjoy it just the same any time of the year.

4. Safe Haven
2013

This romantic drama has a good mix of suspense, drama, and romance. The movie is based off of another Nicholas Sparks book. Katie, played by Julianne Hough, escapes her past to find safe haven in a small remote town, where she meets Alex, played by Josh Duhamel, and his kids. This movie is about second chances and starting over. She’s been running from her past, but when her past comes looking for her, Alex helps her face it head on. Now, I will say, that I’m a pretty good guesser of movie endings. Most of them, while enjoyable, are predictable. This movie has a plot twist that had me completely surprised. I love when a movie pulls the rug from under me and gives me a good gasp.

5. The Wedding Date
2004

This one is kind of a Pretty Woman-esque movie, but this time the man is the escort instead of the woman. Kat, played by Debra Messing, pays for an escort to accompany her to her sister’s wedding as her boyfriend to make an ex-boyfriend jealous. Her plan backfires as she starts to have feelings for her male escort, played by a very charming Dermot Mulroney.

6. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
2003

I love the dynamic between Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey so much so that it had me wishing they were together in real life. So, this movie is quite cheesy, but I loved it anyway and have watched it numerous times. I love the storyline and how these 2 met under false pretenses only to find something more real in the process. Kate Hudson is purposely annoying in the movie and it makes it more endearing. Matthew is just great on all levels and he plays the perfect male lead. Insert swoon here.

7. The Wedding Planner
2001

I hate to admit it, but I’m a sucker for J-Lo movies. I’m also a sucker for Matthew McConaughey as you can probably tell by now. This is a very cute movie about two people who can’t fall in love because of their circumstances, but still do. Their chemistry is off the charts and they can’t run away from it although they try. Another cheeseball movie, that I highly recommend.

8. Maid in Manhattan
2002

Yep! Another J-Lo movie…hee hee. I love a good cinderella story and this is one of them. Only this one has a unique way of portraying the fairytale. The characters are loveable, especially her cute son who plays a big part in her finding her prince charming. I love the mom and son dynamic in this movie, too.

9. Love Actually
2003

Several intertwined stories examine the complexities of the one emotion that connects us all: LOVE. Among the characters are David (Hugh Grant), the handsome newly elected British prime minister who falls for a young junior staffer (Martine McCutcheon), Sarah (Laura Linney), a graphic designer whose devotion to her mentally ill brother complicates her love life, and Harry (Alan Rickman), a married man tempted by his attractive new secretary. Perhaps the most endearing love story is of a very young boy who falls in love with a young girl and goes to extreme lengths to let her know.

10. Something’s Gotta Give
2003
When an old womanizer Harry Sanborn played by Jack Nicholson, and his young girlfriend, Marin, Amanda Peet, arrive at her family’s beach house in the Hamptons, they find that her mother, author and playwright Erica Barry, Diane Keaton, also plans to stay for the weekend. Erica is scandalized by the relationship and Harry’s sexist ways. But when Harry has a heart attack, and a doctor, Keanu Reeves, prescribes bed rest at the Barry home, he finds himself falling for Erica — who, for once, may be out of his league. I love Diane Keaton! I love how the relationship between her and Harry plays out and when she takes us through the realistic emotions of a break up, its not only sad but very funny.

11. A Walk to Remember
2002
A Walk to Remember is a movie to remember. Such a sweet love story between 2 teens who are very different, but discover that they have more in common than they realized. Its a movie that inspires and gives you hope in God and the healing power of love. It has a plot twist that changes everything and changes their lives forever.

12. Failure to Launch
2006
This one is a very quirky movie and the storyline is interesting, although very peculiar. It has its fair share of slapstick comedy and cheesiness, but I enjoyed it. Sometimes you have to take movies for what they are, and this one is a corny, funny, and likeable love story portrayed by one of my faves, Sarah Jessica Parker, and one of my main men, Matthew McConaughey.

13. A Fault in our Stars
2014
Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley), a 16-year-old cancer patient, meets and falls in love with Gus Waters (Ansel Elgort), a similarly afflicted teen from her cancer support group. Hazel feels that Gus really understands her. They both share the same wit and a love of books, especially Grace’s touchstone, “An Imperial Affliction” by Peter Van Houten. When Gus scores an invitation to meet the reclusive author, he and Hazel embark on the adventure of their brief lives.

14. The Vow
2012
Paige, played by one of my faves, Rachel McAdamsm and Leo, played by Channing Tatum, are happily married newlyweds, but their beautiful life together is shattered when a car accident leaves her in a coma. When Paige awakes, she has severe memory loss and doesn’t know Leo. She also has a confusing relationship with her parents and still harbors feelings for a former fiance. Despite these difficult obstacles, Leo is determined to renew their bond and rebuild their marriage. I love how true this is to the saying that if you love someone, you have to let them go. What’s meant to be will be.

15. The Notebook
2004
What can I say about this love story. It’s just beautifully written and the characters played by Rachel McAdams and Ryan Goseling are simply perfect. Everyone wants someone to grow old with and this movie fights for that. Through all the struggles and obstacles and all of the heartache endured, love conquers all.

16. The Family Stone
2005
This is another one I love watching at Christmas, but its such a beautiful story and has many different love stories. The relationships between family, siblings, boyfriends, fiances, lovers….it just has so many stories to fall in love with. The heart of the movie ends up being a heartbreaking one, but one that brings them all together despite the oh so many conflicts. My favorite actresses are also in the movie, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Sarah Jessica Parker. Grab your tissues for this one, moms.

17. Serendipity
2001
I am a believer in fate and destiny, which is why I love this movie. On a magical night, Jonathan (John Cusack) meets Sara (Kate Beckinsale). He finds it was love at first sight, but Sara believes in destiny. After 10 years the two, with 3,000 miles between them, must decide if fate wants them to be together again. When love feels like magic, it is called destiny; when destiny has a sense of humor, it is serendipity.

18. Sleepless in Seattle
1993

A classic. The dynamic of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks is one of my favorites of all time. After the death of his wife, Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) moves to Seattle with his son, Jonah. When Jonah calls in to a talk-radio program to find a new wife for his father, Sam grudgingly gets on the line to discuss his feelings. Annie Reed (Meg Ryan), a reporter in Baltimore, hears Sam speak and falls for him, even though she is engaged. Unsure where it will lead, she writes Sam a letter asking him to meet her at the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.

19. You’ve Got Mail
1998

A modern day remake of Sleepless in Seattle. I love the remake and just as cute as the original. I love the characters and again Meg and Tom’s dynamic is the best. Struggling boutique bookseller Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) hates Joe Fox (Tom Hanks), the owner of a corporate Foxbooks chain store that just moved in across the street. When they meet online, however, they begin an intense and anonymous Internet romance, oblivious of each other’s true identity. Eventually Joe learns that the enchanting woman he’s involved with is actually his business rival. He must now struggle to reconcile his real-life dislike for her with the cyber love he’s come to feel.

20. When Harry Met Sally
1989

An oldie, but a goodie. In 1977, college graduates Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) share a contentious car ride from Chicago to New York, during which they argue about whether men and women can ever truly be strictly platonic friends. Ten years later, Harry and Sally meet again at a bookstore, and in the company of their respective best friends, attempt to stay friends without sex becoming an issue between them.

I know there are many, MANY missing from this list, but I’ll leave at it these for now. Watch them, fall in love, and get swept off your feet as I did. What are some of your favorites? Comment below!

The Perfect Makeup Tutorial for the Busy Mom

After over 20 years of doing my makeup, you would think I would have it down by now.  There are always new products and new techniques to use.  If you’ve seen any of the thousands of online makeup tutorials these days, you’ll notice that there are far too many steps and way too much makeup.  What happened to less is more? I’m excited to have found a well known artist in my area that will help us busy mamas achieve that natural look in very few steps, minimal makeup, in under 5 minutes.

Please watch and enjoy and I hope that this helps you in your daily routine, as it has for me.  Special thanks to my featured guest who really has an eye for beauty.  I truly appreciate his artistry.

What did you think of the tutorial?  Please comment below and if you try this at home, we’d love to see your before and after pictures.  Email them to me to be featured on the blog! workinglikeamotha@gmail.com

Summer Art Activity for Kids


Moms, summertime has arrived!  As such, I’m sure you need ways to keep the kiddos entertained.  As an elementary Art Teacher, I know of so many fun and easy art projects you can do at home with your kids or just have them watch the tutorial and let their creative imaginations go! Many of the activities require things that you probably already have at home, so no need to go out and buy much, if anything. My son and I will be doing a series of art project tutorials throughout the summer, so subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

The first one in the series is called Reflections. You don’t need much for it and you probably already have these in your home.  Play the video tutorial for the steps and below is what you’ll need:

1. White paper – Most kinds of paper will work. We are using regular copy paper in the video.
2. Crayola markers or any kind of washable markers. Just make sure none of them are permanent markers (like Sharpies)
3. Paper towels
4. Spray bottle with water; if you don’t have a spray bottle you can just use a wet rag or sponge.

You can create almost anything with these reflections, so be creative and like I always tell my students……TRY YOUR BEST! Enjoy and happy summer!

Must watch make-up tutorial for the busy mom

This really made me lol!  Usually when watching a makeup tutorial, I feel just like this mother. Who has time for all those steps?  And I have no clue about all the different tools and terminology featured in many of these online makeup videos.  Am I the only that has no clue what the heck BB cream and CC cream are for?  Contour this and contour that, conceal this and conceal that.  When it’s all said and done you transform into a totally different person.  Maybe that’s the point, but its a little scary how different you look after the 20 steps of makeup in all these online videos. I appreciate the honest and hilarious perspective of this particular tutorial. This mama can relate!

 

It’s a Runderful Life: How to Run Like a Motha’

I have a love/hate relationship with running.  On one hand, or should I say foot, it takes everything out of me. It drains me in a way that not many other things can. It leaves me breathless and with my heart racing so fast that I think it might run right out of my chest. It leaves me at the brink of exhaustion and sweating so much I feel like I am literally melting. On the other foot, I realize that the reasons I hate it are actually the same reasons I love it.  Running will reach right down to your “sole” and in the long run will help keep your mind, body, and health on track. Ha! Don’t mind my runderful run puns.

In all seriousness, there is no worse feeling than the struggle of running, fighting at every step to keep your pace and feeling completely out of breath and almost to your breaking point, only to be met with occasional shin splints and side cramps along your way.  There’s no worse feeling than seeing how far you still have to go when you’ve already reached and exceeded your energy limit. Yet as much as much as I hate that feeling, I equally love the feeling once I finish.  It is a literal high that it is very addicting.  The feeling of accomplishment and pride in finishing such a depleting task is so gratifying.  The rush of endorphins flowing through your body is worth all the work it takes to feel it. It is physically rewarding, but even more so mentally rewarding.  There is such a great sense of victory being able to mentally overcome a challenge that you didn’t know you could; to push yourself over your limit and come out swinging like the fighter you are or training yourself to be; to break down any preconceptions that you weren’t strong enough to do it; to not listen to your body when it was tired but to let your mind carry you through.  Yes, moms, these are the reasons to run.  These victories on the track only prepare you for life’s big run.  Its not only incredibly beneficial to your heart and health, but it builds up the mental strength to overcome life’s obstacles and in turn helps you be a better parent.  It teaches us resilience and endurance, things that our children will see and model after us.  So run.  Run like Ryan Gosling is waiting for you at the finish line if you must, but just run.

I will be posting frequently about running, as it is a passion of mine and one I think you will find incredibly rewarding.  The best things in life don’t come easy, but that’s what makes them so great, right?  The sweet ain’t as sweet without the bitter.  The best thing of all is that you don’t need a whole lot to get started.  Mostly you need the will to do it.  Other than that, some good running shoes, a good music playlist, and a jogging stroller for the children who will eventually become your extra source of energy on the track, your motivation, and your reason to succeed each time.  Whenever you feel like giving up, just remember who’s watching.

I’ve compiled a short list that will help you get started.  So read then go run. I want you running like a motha’!

  1.  Find a good running shoe.  Shoes make all the difference.  Invest in a good pair of kicks.  Do your research on the best type for your foot.  My article on Running Shoes for the Sole will discuss this in more detail.  This is a must in order to have the best running experience possible.
  2. Decide the best time to run.  Planning your runs ahead of time will help you get into routine.  If you wait until you just find time to run, its never going to happen.  So decide if early morning or afternoons work best with your schedule.  At the beginning of the week, decide what days you will run and stick to them.
  3. Download an app.  There are hundreds of running apps to download on your phone that will help you track your progress, from how many miles you’ve ran to how many calories you’ve burned.  This will also help push you to go a little further each time.  You will see your endurance change within the first week.  Don’t get discouraged and remember its a marathon, not a sprint.  Allow yourself time to build up to your goals.
  4. Invest in a jogging stroller.  If you are taking kids along with you on your runs, it is important to have the right kind of stroller.  You can’t use a regular stroller to run.  Do some research and find one suitable for you. You don’t need an expensive stroller.  You can find many that are reasonably priced and do the job just fine. You can also search for lightly used ones in good condition to help with the cost, as well.
  5. Download a good music playlist.  I can’t tell you how many times music has gotten me through a run. Music can make a big difference in your running.  A good song can be enough to help you catch your second wind and get you to the finish.  So make yourself a good playlist that you love or download an online radio station that plays the genre of music that pumps you up.
  6. Be safe! As you run, remember to take safety precautions.  Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water before and after your run.  Stretch before-hand and do a light warm up, such as power walking, before starting your run.  Be aware of your surroundings. I recommend running in a well lit area where there are plenty of people around.  For extra safety, I carry mase with me.
  7. Sign up for a 5K.  You don’t have to immediately do this, but many 5K runs are scheduled months in advance.  So sign up for one even if it is 3 or 4 months away.  It will push you to stay on track and motivate you to reach your running goals.  Once you conquer your first 5K, it will motivate you to sign up for a 10K, then a half-marathon, and someday maybe even a full marathon.  I have conquered all except the full marathon, but its on my bucket list.

Use these tips and get started and remember that no matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone else on the couch.  You have to start somewhere and it all starts with you.  So get on your mark, get set, RUN!