Time for Sam to Take Over

Every parent knows the day will come. The day our children can think for themselves, have their own ambitions, long to make a name for themselves. I just never thought it would happen at eight years old.

Introducing the newest member of my press-driven, review focused family – Sam (and his sidekick Andrew)


He has decided to take over his page, launch his own youtube channel and strive to be a personality in his own right – and I welcome it. So stay tuned for great new things from Sam and his friends as they review new products, apps, movies, television, travel, video games and more.

Today, Sam reviewed his first app on YouTube. I think he did great for his first time! He reviewed for MomSelect the #PeterandTheWolfApp and really enjoyed the process. See his first review here:


Expect much more to come soon as we head to Washington DC (for site seeing) and New York City (for Heroes and Villains Conference) in the next month.

Hurry Up, Fall!

I just read a Facebook post where someone was upset about all the memes picturing excited moms over their kids going back to school. Well, I’m excited about my kids going back to school but not for the reasons she may think. There is no napping or bon bons in my future (as I assume is what most people picture when they think of SAHMs at home without their kids). 

First of all, I look forward to back to school because I (and my kids) enjoy (crave) structure….something we’ve had little of all summer. I like routine. I like dropping my sons off at school knowing I have a couple of hours of house organizing before my work day starts (around 11:00am since I work in a Pacific Time business yet live on the East Coast). Then I work for a few hours while simultaneously caring for my handicap mother (who lives with me), my active duty military husband who’s hours are unpredictable and lately comes home for lunch and fulfilling my responsibilities at church, school and the community (yes, I’m a Type A mom all the way). 

I pick up both my sons at school, prepare them an after-school snack,  spend time with them while they unwind and start making plans for dinner….which, I’m not going to lie to you, usually consists of figuring out what take out menu is calling out to me the most. After dinner comes family time, then bedtime routines….then after kids go to bed, it’s time for my DVR’d prime time shows like Flash and Arrow, Criminal Minds and Jane the Virgin. I watch a lot of TV but as a TV critic, it’s all part of my work. 

You see, I miss Fall because it gives me routine. I miss having a predictable schedule. And believe it our not but my kids miss it too. Maybe if I was better at creating schedules and routines in my home it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I suck at it so back to school time to me means back to the familiar…..and no matter how much I loved the summer, everyone loves what’s familiar.      


Toys! Toys! Toys!

Around the Vest home if there’s something we have a lot of it’s toys! Call it a perk of the job but we seem to be getting packages full of toys daily for us to try out and review. It’s a responsibility we take seriously. There’s only one kind of toy we struggle to review – girl toys. With two sons and a mom who enjoys playing with Tonka trucks more than Barbies, we stare at the incoming girl toys with a sense of confusion and worry. Until now!

Meet our friend, Sophia. She’s a princess, soccer player, karate student who believes in fairy tales and loves pretty things. She is now officially on Team Vest for toys with girl-power! 

This week she reviewed Puppet on a Stick Rainbow Prancers by Educational Insights.  Honestly, what Princess can be seen without her colorful unicorns? These fueled her imagination and made the perfect companions for a rainy day in Rhode Island. 

 Next, Sophia was able to try out Design & Drill Flower Power Studio (also by Educational Insights). This allowed for creative play on the go. Using the colorful bolts to make fun designs, all pieces, drill and all, fit nicely into the carrying case to take on your next adventure or to keep little hands busy next time you’re waiting at the doctors office. It was definitely a hit with Sophia! 
All of the Educational Insights toys have great multipurpose – fun and learning. Imagination, manual dexterity, pretend play and creativity are all lessons within these toys which gives them our seal of approval! 

For more information on the Educational Insights line of toys, visit www.EducationalInsights.com

**Toys were provided by brand for review purposes. We abide by all journalism standards of ethics and no monetary compensation is ever accepted for our reviews. All our opinions are our own.**


Live Action Peter Pan Film Premieres October 9th

October 9, 2015 can not come soon enough. It might be because I’m the biggest Greg Berlanti fan in the world, but I can’t wait to see ‘Pan’, Warner Brother’s new live action Peter Pan film.  If I get to pre-screen this one, I’ll let you know what I think! 

Here’s the synopsis:

Peter (Levi Miller) is a mischievous 12-year-old boy with an irrepressible rebellious streak, but in the bleak London orphanage where he has lived his whole life those qualities do not exactly fly. Then one incredible night, Peter is whisked away from the orphanage and spirited off to a fantastical world of pirates, warriors and fairies called Neverland. There, he finds amazing adventures and fights life-or-death battles while trying to uncover the secret of his mother, who left him at the orphanage so long ago, and his rightful place in this magical land. Teamed with the warrior Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and a new friend named James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), Peter must defeat the ruthless pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) to save Neverland and discover his true destiny—to become the hero who will forever be known as Peter Pan.


Blogging Week in New York

The advantage if moving to New England is our proximity to New York. That’s why when it was announced this year that multiple blogging conferences and events were taking place the same week in July, it was, of course, too good to pass up. 

BlogHer, Blogger Bash, Getting Gorgeous, My Printly, KidzVuz, and more all took place in one week – and boy, was it a busy week!!

I, unfortunately, missed KidzVuz which I’m heartbroken about but everything else was great fun and extremely fruitful. 

Even though I don’t think I will return to Blogher in the future, if I attended this year just to meet Carson Kressley, it would have been well worth it. Stars don’t impress me much but I love Carson and where else will you see him promoting Depends?!  

Blogger Bash was by far the highlight of the week. I had never attended this event before but it was fun and the networking was amazing. Not only did I meet new bloggers, new friends, but the sponsors and contacts we met were some of the most important in the blogging world. The Sweet Suite, their signature event, was an amazing representation of all of the toy brands and companies eager to work with bloggers. 

Add to all the fun (and work) the fact that it was hosted in the greatest city on earth and it made for a fantastic week!! 

New York, New York

While I spent the week having blogger adventures, the Boys took in the sites in New York with their Dad, my Aunt Bilma and cousin Claudia. Central Park is always a favorite but the Statue of Liberty is now a close second. 

It’s been a summer of adventure. First Hersey, PA, then Martha’s Vineyard, MA, Six Flags New England, then New York….AND we are only halfway through our Summer! 

I might complain about my rambunctious kids but they are AMAZING travelers. It’s almost like they’ve been doing it since birth! ;)

It’s Time to Share My Family’s Story.

“Your son was born without fear. Literally, without fear or inhibition”

“What?” I could hear the doctor giving me details but all I heard was the sentence above.

“It’s an extreme form of ADHD. In addition to the hyperactivity and attention deficit, your son seems (according to testing) to be almost incapable of feeling fear or heeding to inhibition the way a normal child would.”

Normal. That’s the only word that stood out at the time. My son wasn’t normal.

And like that, my whole world changed. The doctor proceeded to tell me that the reason it was important for me to understand the extremity of my sons condition was so that I could understand that although it is rare to have to medicate a child at his age (5 years old), we would be medically (legally) required to do so with Sam as he could be a danger himself without intending to be.

This started a roller-coaster ride of a journey that only parents of special needs children would understand. We tried 9 medications before finding one that wouldn’t make him sick. Before finding one that would ‘work’ and even then it took a combination of medicines to finally give my son a sense of normalcy that would never actually be normal.

Born 17 months apart, my youngest son often entertained himself while mom was preoccupied with his older brother’s journey. He never once complained, but then of course he couldn’t complain. He was four years old and still not really speaking. I found out shortly there-after that this would start a second emotional and medical journey for my family – one that would place my son on the Autism Spectrum.

“The good news is that he is on the high functioning side of the spectrum” said his doctor. Good news? Good news? None of it seemed like good news. The unexpected, unprovoked tantrums, the hyper sensitivity to sound, the difficulty explaining his needs or wants – going out to dinner or a movie in my home was almost a dare. We never knew what to expect.

The one thing no doctor tells you when they hand you these unexpected diagnoses for your children is that you’re personal journey as their parent is about to be immediately engulfed in the five stages of grief. You mourn the ‘normal’ children you thought you’d have. You mourn the things you assume your kids will miss out on – slumber parties, church camping trips, team sports, etc. I got stuck in the ‘anger’ and ‘depression’ stage of my grief – over and over….and over…and truthfully, I’m not sure I’m out of it yet. My sons are now 6 & 7 years old and every day is hard. Every day. And every day I feel more inadequate as a mother. Every day I feel more guilt. Did I do something wrong? Was it something I ate while pregnant? Was it my forgetting to take my vitamins? I literally spend at least an hour a day (I wish I was kidding) feeling a guilt that I can’t put into words. I spend that time beating myself up inside asking God what I did wrong. The other 23 hours of the day…well, every day is different. Some days are good. Some days are very, very hard. Some days are as close to perfect as we can hope for. But one thing is for sure – every day is different.

Why tell you this? Because for too long I kept this to myself. For too long, I’ve been sad and lonely and felt that I couldn’t tell anyone why. For too long I have felt ashamed, and I don’t any more. I feel overwhelmed but not ashamed.

Sam has ADHD but with his condition comes the inability to lie, comes a passion for the truth, comes an intensity for the things that interest him and a certainty that once he makes up his mind on a topic, NO ONE will sway him. He has an extremely high IQ and excels in just about everything. He’s a miniature adult who in his brief childhood has had to overcome more things than most adults but he makes overcoming those things seem easy – when I know they must be extremely hard.  He’s strong and mature but every now and then he melts in my arms and reminds me that he’s my little boy – the one that made me a mom.

Andy has High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. He loves routine and excels when rules are clearly stated and will not deviate from them. He has an incredible ability to memorize and learn new things. He inherited my father’s charm and charisma. Everyone that meets Andy loves him instantly. He has a smile that lights up any room he’s in. He loves all things Disney and says he’s going to be John Lasseter (Creative Director of Disney/Pixar) when he grows up. Andy believes in magic and fairy tales, he loves make-believe and believes in wishes. Andy also believes that you should set aside time each day for snuggles with those you love and he’s an expert at being cuddly.  He has the best sense of humor and hearing him laugh is the best part of my day – every day.

My faith reminds me that the Lord never gives us more than we can bear. I trust that. I believe in that. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard – very hard. But in so many ways we are incredibly blessed. I just sometimes need to be reminded of that.


Name Change, New Look, New Outlook

Our blog is going through a re-branding and overall overhaul. Please be patient as there will be some exciting things to come! :)

One of my favorite people to interview….


Actor Sean Astin was my guest this week on my podcast “Erica Presents…” One of my favorite stars to interview, he’s such a great guy! We always have a blast chatting. You can listen here:

Erica Presents…Sean Astin 10/25 by Erica Presents for ENMNetwork | Entertainment Podcasts


Sam’s First Race

Today was terrifying. Sam’s first school race for charity. What was terrifying about it was that parents had to run too and my husband was not available! I psyched myself up, prayed for rain and headed to school!

Luckily for me, none of the other parents wanted to run so once we got there we all decided to be cheerleaders instead (huge sigh of relief!).

I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with Sam. He was fast! He ran 1.5 miles and came in second place in his class (actually in all of kinder). He was awarded a medal.

During the whole morning, Andy made himself at home in the class. He fit right in.

And he also finished the race. He ran all 1.5 miles just like his brother!

I have to admit, it was a wonderful day! It’s a memory I won’t soon forget.