Friday, May 31, 2013

Jackie's Belly Dance Bachelorette Party!

Tomorrow, my mom's friend Jackie is getting married! Jackie and my mom are totally the odd couple. Mike's mom giggles whenever Jackie comes up because, seriously, these two could have a reality show! Jackie started working with my mom a few years ago and they've been friends ever since. So, when Jackie got engaged a couple of months ago, everyone asked my mom if she was going to throw a party.

My mom is not much of a party planner so I volunteered to do most of the work because, seriously, a party I don't have to pay for? I'm all over that. After consulting with my mom and one of Jackie's customers who wanted to help, we settled on a Belly Dance Bachelorette Party! Autumn's birthday party was the day before so I got to reuse a lot of the same decorations. I did purple and blue for the Under the Sea party so I just had to add in a little orange. Not too bad!

I love this deco mesh stuff that Cheri and Lainey introduced to me. I found this beautiful blue at Hobby Lobby. I didn't realize it at the time, but in the different lights, it changes colors slightly! I got that and the purple either on sale or with a coupon. I had some moroccan looking fabric scraps from a couple of dresses I made Autumn over the years so I put those down before draping the deco mesh. I wanted a layered look and I'm pretty happy with it. I also just had the orange and blue balls and the blue candlesticks as well as the purple chargers. (ps, I bought the dancing lady art from Digital Decades on Etsy.)

I saw someone wrap their drink jars with burlap and totally stole the idea but with the mesh ribbon. I love how it dressed it up! We only served water, white sangria, and sweet tea at this event. I think I'm going to buy one of these drink spigot things for myself because I borrow Lainey's all the time. One of hers is a good size but this one is just really huge and hard to clean!

Working around to the living room, on the table just inside the door, I put the belly dancing skirts which were the party favors and my Dance with Melissa sign! I had the big signs printed at Costco's photo department to have mercy on my printer.

I got a lot of 12 skirts from Ebay. I did a lot of research on prices but even at the cheapest price, it was tough to make the decision to buy the skirts. I'm really glad I did, though. Everyone seemed really excited to get their skirts and I think having them added an element of fun that made it easier to try the dancing. Well, that and sangria. Which I know is Mexican BUT I make the best sangria and it's Jackie's favorite drink!

The belly dancing class was SO MUCH FUN!! Melissa did a fabulous job and I am so happy to say that just about everyone participated. I cleared out the living room, only leaving the sofa, so that we'd have enough room to dance. We did two songs and I had such a good time that I might go try a zumba class!! I never ever ever thought that's something I'd consider but, while I'd be terrible, it would be so fun to do with a bunch of friends!

My friend Christy did henna tattoos and she did such a fabulous job. When the party first started it was really quiet and I was getting worried that everyone was going to leave and be like "Nema's daughter throws lame parties." The henna was a huge icebreaker. Once I convinced some of them to get started, the laughing and talking and moving from room to room really started. I bought the henna from Henna Caravan and we have so much left over. I moved the love seat and ottoman into Mike's office and set up a little tray for Christy's tattoo items.

I also made some Henna After Care cards for everyone to take home. We thought about just telling people what to do but figured having a sheet would be better. The henna held up really well! Mine lasted a little less than a week but that's because I was in the ocean a lot.

When Christy came over to practice, she did one on Autumn. How cute is this?? Hers lasted a long time, too!

Moving into the dining room, I set up this fantastic glitter frame I found at Hobby Lobby for half off. I plan on using it at every party I can!! I added orange napkins to the purple and blue combination from Autumn's party. I borrowed some cute votive holders from lainey and put LED tealights in some of them and roses from our garden in others. I tried to go with layers and light all around.

These are the food tent cards. I think I might sell this set with the optional belly dancer. I served hummus pita chips and veggies, strawberries, spanakopita from Costco, and baklava. Jackie's friend brought a pretty cake from Costco and I cannot believe I didn't get a photo. I didn't get one of the bar at all!

The most popular food was this Moroccan Chicken from Costco. I served it over rice that I cooked with chicken broth and I had pita bread and tzaziki on the side. Oh, my goodness, it was amazing. So good that we bought some for ourselves this week. I made sandwiches out of it with naan, tzaziki, lettuce, and tomato.

I did a terrible job photographing this party...I didn't get a full table photo but this is what it looked like before the chafing dishes and bowls. Mike's brother Brad bought me that cloth in China and I use it all the time. I love it.

I made this wreath for Autumn's party and I LOVE IT. The only thing is that it cost a bit more to make than I expected. I had a grapevine wreath I bought a month or two ago when I made our door wreath (I never posted about that, did I? I should...it's a fun wreath) and it took 4 boas to cover this thing. I kind of wish I hung it differently but I still like it. It looked pretty awesome at Autumn's party, too!

Altogether, this was a pretty inexpensive party, although it was cheating a bit to have friends do the henna and dancing and reusing the decorations from Autumn's party and things I just had around the house. I had a great time planning it and I am so glad that everyone had a good time!

Congratulations, Jackie!

Oh, by the way! I made her wedding invitations. She asked for elephants and I ended up doing an Indian style elephant for her. I think that started the belly dancing and henna train of thought!



Skip To My Lou
submitted to made by you monday!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wednesday Gym Adventures: Shoes

Can I just tell you that a few hours after I wrote last week's clothing edition of Wednesday Gym Adventures, I discovered that my shirt was on backwards. Sigh. Cosmic revenge? Could be.

I mentioned our friend Tony last week. He has a Wednesday newsletter and he did a Tony's Q&A. I just had to tell him I loved his commentary on CrossFit the word superciliousness was involved) and I asked him if he remembered Guy the ski instructor lookalike. Turns out, Tony was just telling someone about Guy that same day! Too funny.

On the same clothing theme, a couple of people asked me to post an update on how my Vibram FiveFingers are working out for me these days. I bought them almost a year ago. I still like them a lot and they are my shoes of choice right now, with a few caveats.


Not great for winter--for me.
I am always cold. I am like Linus and I carry a blanket around the house even in the summer. There is no way in the world that I could run in these in the winter, even here in the South. I wore them a few times to walk Autumn to school and my feet were like ice blocks by the time I got back home. I finally broke down bought the socks from REI, one of the only places that sells the kids size Injinji socks. Didn't help much with the cold. Maybe if I had normal grown up sized feet, I could get wool socks and everything would be okay but someone else will have to speak on that. I ended up carrying them in a bag to the gym and just changing shoes before and after workout.

I don't regret buying the socks.
Even with weekly or bi-weekly washings, the inside of my shoes just felt nasty. Like, glurge or, I don't know, slime. Seriously gross and I'm not even a heavy sweater. I asked my friend Matt if his felt icky on the inside and he said yes so at least I know I am not the only one. The socks keep me from creating more gunk and from feeling any that we can't get rid of.

Mine suck at keeping water out.
This isn't as bad in the summer as it is in the winter, but if the streets are even remotely damp, with the style of shoes I have, my feet were going to get wet. Not a huge deal when it's 90 degrees because they dry super fast even with the socks but when it's 22 degrees outside, omg, I WILL PASS.

My bunion is better but my toenails are in bad shape.
I got the VFFs to head off a bunion that was forming. The difference is amazing. I haven't had any toe pain in months and the big toe joint is no longer swollen or red. My pinkie toes, however, don't like being in the VFFs. Not even a little. Even if I keep them short, they fall off on a regular basis. I think it has something to do with the shape of my pinkie toes. They kind of curl over and no amount of being barefoot in martial arts or wearing miniminalist shoes has been able to help it.

I made this smaller so it won't gross people out as much. Ew, feet.

I'm going to start alternating shoes.
Sorry about the foot photo. I happened to have it because I wanted to show Tamara my first attempt at nail art, haha! See how weird my toe is? And that pinkie toe nail? It doesn't actually exist. I painted a pretend one on there. My pinkie toes have been hurting from the pressure of doing fitness kickboxing in the VFFs in addition to the pain of having the nails fall off. I know a lot of runners lose their nails but I didn't have any trouble wearing them for weight lifting or what little running I do, but the lateral motion is just too much for those little toes against the plastic or rubber or whatever it is on the toes of the shoes. I'm thinking about getting a different pair of minimalist shoes, most likely Merrells, as long at they will actually fit.

As a side note
I bought a pair of Merrell Wonder Gloves and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. Seriously, if I could replace all my shoes with these, I would so do it. Comfortable, flexible, and cute. Can it get any better?? I went out on a limb and bought the yellow ones and I wear them all the time.

All that to say, I still like the FiveFingers but I'm open to trying new things for the sake of my cold, cold feet in the winter and my poor, sore pinky toes. :)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Thanks for participating!!

We had such a blast with the Brighten Your Day Giveaway! Rafflecopter chose a winner and we're waiting to hear back. If we haven't gotten a response by noon tomorrow we'll pick a new winner.

It was kind of interesting blogging all week without mentioning what we were doing.
This. We were doing this.

We went to the beach! I am so glad we got to take a bit of a break. We left Thursday and came back yesterday. I have so many photos to sort through it isn't even funny! I also need to post about our weekend of parties...the belly dance bachelorette party and Autumn's under the sea treasure hunt. Fun! Here's a preview:


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Brighten Your Day Giveaway: Best Video Ever



My mom is from the Philippines. My dad was caucasian and grew up here in Memphis. Whether or not I look Asian seems to be in the eye of the beholder. Our friend whose mother is from Japan calls it being a person of indeterminate origin. I've had people come up to me and talk to me in Tagalog, which I don't speak although I can recognize it. Incidentally, Autumn and I have been learning Tagalog using Mango software available through the local library! People thanked me in Chinese when I worked in a pharmacy owned by a first generation American. Occasionally, salespeople will talk to me really loudly: "HE-LLO. DO *YOU* (point) NEED *HELP* (gestures to racks) FROM *ME* (points to self)." A student once insisted I was the image of his aunt from Japan and there was NO WAY I wasn't Japanese.

My favorite conversation actually goes similarly to the video!

Person, usually in a situation where I need to be polite: Where are you from?
Me: Memphis
Person: But where are you from originally?
Me: Memphis
Person: Have you ever lived anywhere else?
Me: Texas
Person: Really? What's your nationality?
Me: SIGH. I am American. My mom was born in the Philippines.
Person: Ohhhhh. Do you speak Filipino?
Me: It's Tagalog. And no.

Occasionally someone will argue with me and tell me that it's Tag Along. I'm like, really? Number one, that's a girl scout cookie. And, two, you're really going to tell me I don't know what language my mom speaks?

Another strange thing is the assumption that I either know every person who is from the Philippines or that I would love anyone they know who is of filipino descent. I know it isn't malicious. But I've had friends call me because they met someone from Bacolod and we might be related. There are half a million people in Bacolod. That's like calling someone from Kansas City and telling them they met someone from Kansas City and OMG YOU MIGHT BE RELATED.  I mean, it's cool and random but the might be related thing is a little weird.

I've joked with a couple of friends that I met a white person and they MUST meet them because they are the same race. They usually have the same blank look as the dude in the video but I generally only do it to the ones who are like, "SHARAZE, I met this filipino doctor/housekeeper/mechanic/dog whisperer and you have to meet them because you are half-filipino!"

Ahh, I could go one. Like chopsticks. I had to learn how to use them, much to many people's shock. I always ate with a fork or with my hands growing up. Or something weird my mom does. People like to chalk it up to "cultural differences." Please. My mom is just crazy (insert required southern "bless her heart"). She left the Philippines when she was 19. She's 53. She's been here longer than she was there!

So, yeah. I LOVE THIS VIDEO. All my friends who don't look "American" or who have children adopted internationally or who immigrated here from other countries but consider themselves American are passing it around. I've watched it like 5 times. Be sure to watch all the way to the end! And don't read the YouTube comments. Let's maintain our faith in humanity this Sunday morning. :P

This is the LAST DAY to enter our Brighten Your Day Giveaway! You have until 11:59pm CST to enter to win a 3 month subscription to Birchbox or Birchbox Man!


Be sure to give it a minute to load! There are lots of ways to earn entries and you can tweet about the giveaway or share the link on Facebook for daily entries.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Brighten Your Day Giveaway: The Scents of Home

I hear a number of my friends talk about how much they hate living in Memphis. Or, when they move away, there's a lot of bad mouthing and reminiscing about how much they hated Memphis. I've been guilty of it myself but maybe not so much lately.

We've had two chances to move away and we didn't take either of them. The first time, we had just gotten married and we decided to stay rather than try to relocate in North Carolina because we had such a great community of friends and family. And the second time, we considered Colorado and stayed for the same reason. Right after we chose to stay, we bought our current house. Although many of our friends rolled their eyes at us when we decided to stay put, I haven't regretted it. I can imagine that our experience with Garrett would have been different surrounded by strangers and without the medical care of one of the best high risk doctors in the country.
If you need flowers that survive in this area, I highly recommend coreopsis and salvia. Also, phlox and verbena which aren't in the photo.

I don't know why but this year I am hyper aware of the strangest thing...the way this area smells. The honeysuckles, trees, roses, just everything that comes together to make the scent of late spring and early summer in the bluff city. It smells like nostalgia. Or like a book about the Old South with its warm nights on the front porch with lemonade and fireflies.
I had to prune the heck out of the rose bushes and they seemed to survive it just fine!

Maybe it's because, for the first time, I'm really growing things? I have herbs, flowers, and fruit that survived the winter and my complete lack of growing talent. The strawberries are exploding and the roses I pruned smell divine. I harvested the first herbs this week and froze them for later.


Autumn doesn't love wind in her face or the noise of it so she's spent a good chunk of our drive times irritated with me. I put the windows down every chance I get to breathe in the cut grass and honeysuckle. I know it'll only be days before we're all laying around, praying for a break in the humidity. But for now, we experience spring with all of our senses.
I love this house but, boy, learning landscaping has been tough!! Especially since it was neglected so long before we bought it.

Don't forget to enter our giveaway! You have until tomorrow, Sunday, May 26, 11:59pm CST to enter to win a 3 month subscription to Birchbox or Birchbox Man!


Be sure to give it a minute to load! There are lots of ways to earn entries and you can tweet about the giveaway or share the link on Facebook for daily entries.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Brighten Your Day Giveaway: A Who This Time!

I meant to post this yesterday but it was a super crazy day! I thought I'd show you someone who brightens my day:

And yesterday was her last day of school! I CANNOT BELIEVE IT. I didn't get any good photos of her yesterday but she graduated from Kindergarten on Tuesday and I got a few then. Sigh.

Weeks like this are always super bittersweet. I guess milestones make me think of the ones I won't experience with Garrett and now I won't experience with Grant Jaden (Kingston? I need to ask our social worker what he is now called). Grant Jaden has been on my mind a lot this week because I know someone will get to do all of these things with him and I hope that they know how blessed they are that they get to raise him.

Since this is a Brighten Your Day post, I won't linger on the bitter but on the sweet. Autumn has been an amazing blessing. I read posts sometimes about how many parents hate the idea of "seize the day" or "enjoy even the bad times." And I can respect that. I do get it, but without being all Mary Sue, I choose to revel in the gift of my family. I think some of it is personality. Sometimes I really want to just be gloomy and sit in a corner but that doesn't usually last long. I'm terrible at sulking.

Some of it is also the luxury of being able to be all Carpe Diem. I don't live in a war zone. We're pretty comfortably settled. I have a great spouse. I'm not battling a life threatening illness (anymore) and neither are Mike or Autumn. I appreciate those things and more, even on the harder days.

Now, just as an aside, I'm not meaning for anyone to apply this to their lives and feel bad. I'm just up early and thinking about how lucky I am. Even with all the heartache, I've got a great family (extended and honorary), great friends, a house where people can visit me, and a story of hope. I wouldn't mind having another little one to share all this with and I miss Garrett so much it hurts, but I can be content.

SO, all that to say, these guys brighten my day:

Don't forget to enter our giveaway! You have until Sunday, May 26, 11:59pm CST to enter to win a 3 month subscription to Birchbox or Birchbox Man!


Be sure to give it a minute to load! There are lots of ways to earn entries and you can tweet about the giveaway or share the link on Facebook for daily entries.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Brighten Your Day Giveaway: Wednesday Gym Adventures Bad Clothing Edition!

I know this is going to sound insane but there is nothing that tickles me more than inappropriately dressed people at the gym. This one isn't limited to just workouts because, really, I have seen some hysterical people in all my years of training. I'm not the only one who has noticed all the crazy clothing. I can't find the actual photo they used, but in my AFAA lectures, there was a YES and NO photo of appropriate instructor dress. Basically there was PLEASE DON'T:
From this site.
And the GO FOR IT:
From this site.

Makes sense to me. But, really, I don't see all that many instructors who make me go, "whoa, there." I see a LOT of gym people, though. Like, there's this one lady who comes in full tv pastor's wife makeup, hair teased like a lion's mane, and teeeeeeny tiny hot pants. I crack up every time she minces delicately into the room. I tell you what, though, I won't be standing behind her!

I wasn't so lucky a few years ago. Back when we were in the basement of another school, I took Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes from time to time. Boy, that was like being in a Rocky movie or something. There was no ventilation. Everything was concrete. By the end of the night, there was so much sweating and overheated body temps that condensation would collects on the walls and roll down into little puddles of sweat humidity all over the floors. I, ah, don't really miss those days.

I do miss a lot of the people and just the time--I made many of my closest friends there! I also have some of my best stories. A lot of bouncers were in those classes and, a lot of times, their stripper girlfriends would come to class. One time I had to run behind a lady wearing shorts so short that all I could see were her butt cheeks hanging out and bouncing. I have no idea how the guys survived. I guess they didn't because not too long after that, I walked in on the instructor talking to her about covering up a little more. She was crying so I turned around and marched right back out!

Some time later, after we changed locations, I was in another class and the girl that Tamara and I dubbed, "the naked chick" joined us. She seemed nice enough but, omg. She was, er, WELL ENDOWED. Like, really well endowed. Everywhere. But she would wear deep cut tank tops and, again, hot pants. IN A CLASS WITH GRAPPLING.

AWKWARD.

The first time it happened, the teacher asked, "Um, are you okay grappling in that outfit?" She said, "oh, absolutely." And he kind of paused. And thought. And pursed his lips. And THEN HE SAW ME. And we got paired up. And OF COURSE, that day's starting position? Head in your partner's chest. IT CANNOT BE UNSEEN. /shudder. Grappling will probably be a Wednesday Gym Adventure someday.

It's odd to me how many women do martial arts only partially clothed. The very first person I ever saw do it was a lady in my class when I was in high school. She wasn't very, ah, voluptuous and that class had no grappling so it wasn't quite the retina destroying experience but it was still pretty weird to see someone go through animal stances wearing hot pants (STOP MAKING THEM PLEASE) and a sports bra. 0.0



I didn't do Wushu but you get the idea. It's funny, my friend Andi and I ran into this lady many years later. She looked exactly the same, so crazy! We went into this yoga studio and found her contorted into an inexplicable position, in the same hot pants and sports bra, and she had candles and incense and New Age music. It's nice to know that some things never change.

To be fair, I tried to think of some guys who had on terrible clothing but usually they just look like a character from a bad movie. You know, sweat bands, socks to their knees, sport glasses for a minimally strenuous class? Also, there are some guys who REALLY need to consider how their shorts fit during situps. Seriously. Think on that if you're a guy who does ANYTHING involving lying down.

This guy.

Oh, man. Now that I think about it, there was this one guy. His name was Guy, I think. Mike and I did a fitness boot camp for a long time. We love Tony! Back in the day, we'd work out at the University of Memphis at like 5am. I don't know what we were thinking. But it was a blast. Especially that time there was a squirrel running across everyone except it wasn't a squirrel it was a RAT. Blech. Anyway, Guy cracked us up so much. He would wear the sweat bands and everything but the weirdest thing? He dressed like an 80's ski instructor! Skin tight, usually purple patterned, spandex pants. Oh yes. Spandex.

If the pants were tighter, this could be him.

Good times. See what I mean? This is some entertaining stuff. It's a nice distraction when I'm hurting from whatever horribleness the instructor is putting me through!!

Don't forget to enter our giveaway! You have until Sunday, May 26, 11:59pm CST to enter to win a 3 month subscription to Birchbox or Birchbox Man!


Be sure to give it a minute to load! There are lots of ways to earn entries and you can tweet about the giveaway or share the link on Facebook for daily entries.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Brighten Your Day Giveaway: Lights Out Edition



A few of my Facebook friends posted the above video today. It's probably the best news story I've seen come out of Oklahoma since I first walked into Lindsay's house with Autumn and saw the rubble on the tv. It was yet another Bad Thing Autumn and I had to talk about. But, she prayed for all the children and families and has been asking questions but not in an upset way. I'm sure it'll come up again but for now she seems okay. It'd be kind of cool if I could explain some good news sometime soon!

We're getting a little bit of that storm system right now. Or some storm system. The thunder rumbled all over today as we got ready for aikido. Autumn was all, "I don't think we should go to aikido." I told her that I kind of had to go because I am the teacher! I had a full house and one new potential student so I'm glad we did.

It rained and rained and hailed and thundered all through class. Between the music from the ballet dancers and the rain on the metal roof, I seriously had to raise my voice and lot and do some majorly exaggerated demonstration...that part might not have been a bad thing, though! However, right as we were getting lined up to bow out, the lights went out.

I knew Autumn was going to FREAK OUT so I called out, "nobody move!!" Then Julie, she and her husband Tom own CAA, called that there is a generator and it would kick in soon. When the low lights popped on, I saw Callie holding Autumn but other than that, no one had moved! And then Autumn leapt onto me and stuck like a barnacle. She wailed, "I TOLD YOU WE SHOULDN'T GO TO AIKIDO!!"


After I peeled her off, she got her things together and put on her rain jacket like we were leaving but there was no way in all that rain. I heard later that most of the streets were flooded and when I finally did leave an hour later, the power was out along one of the main roads. I took the picture with my flash. The generator lights were pretty low and where Callie and Autumn sat was really dark. But, Callie sat and told Autumn stories and made her laugh until the power came back.

The three of us sat there while we waited on the rain to stop and two of my teen students actually made it. One was so wet I gave him one of Stephan's old uniforms to wear. The other said it took her mom an hour to get there! It's usually about a 15 or 20 minute drive. Callie and her brothers stayed with Autumn while I taught the class. The weather calmed down a lot but it was so sweet of them and their grandmother to spend time with her when she was obviously nervous about the rain and thunder.

:) And that's what brightened my day today. Don't forget to enter our giveaway! You have until Sunday, May 26, 11:59pm CST to enter to win a 3 month subscription to Birchbox or Birchbox Man!


Be sure to give it a minute to load! There are lots of ways to earn entries and you can tweet about the giveaway or share the link on Facebook for daily entries.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Brighten Your Day Giveaway!!

It's GIVEAWAY DAY!! It seems like most of my friends have had a rough first half of 2013! Well, hopefully a week from today we can bring a smile to someone's face!! My friend Tamara of Candid Tamara and I are officially opening the Brighten Your Day Giveaway!

One lucky winner will get their choice of a 3 month Birchbox or Birchbox Man Subscription! The contest will run today through Sunday, May 26, at 11:59pm, Central Time. We'll announce the winner on Memorial Day, May 27. Because Birchbox's shipping is limited, this giveaway will be limited to those in the US, US territories, and anyone with an APO address.

Tamara introduced me to Birchbox, and this kind of subscription service in general, on my birthday last year. I love it. It is so fun getting a box in the mail every month. So fun, in fact, that I've gotten Birchbox, Ipsy, and Glossybox subscriptions as birthday and Christmas gifts for all my friends and family! I use the makeup and skin and haircare products every day. I'm actually wearing nail polish, face primer and lip gloss from one of my Birchboxes right now!
Photo from Birchbox's Facebook page.

I know a number of men read this blog and I didn't want to leave you out! Luckily, Birchbox Man is here to save the day. I bought my brother and one of my brothers in law Birchbox Man subscriptions and they are LOVING it! My brother is even totally for the idea of getting Birchbox for Christmas, too! The Man boxes actually sound really awesome--socks, belts, boxers, AND grooming supplies. Too fun!
Photo from Birchbox Man's Facebook page.

If you want to check out a couple of videos with more information on what comes in the boxes, here are some YouTube Sneek Peek videos!


We're using Rafflecopter to run this giveaway and there are a LOT of ways to get entries! Let the Rafflecopter widget load and you can see all the different ways to enter and how many entries each one is worth. And, even better? You can tweet or share the giveaway for an entry daily, if you want! And, by the way, I just joined twitter so I have hardly any tweets and no followers yet!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's the fine print: 
No purchase necessary. Open to Residents of the United States, its territories, and those with APO Boxes. Must be over 18. Giveaway will end Sunday, May 26th at 11:59 PM CST. One winner will be selected at random using Rafflecopter and we will announce the winner on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. The winner will be emailed and he or she will have 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be selected. All information provided is solely for the purpose of contacting the winner. Birchbox, Facebook, Twitter and Google are not associated with this giveaway.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Playing Catch-up Again...

It's been SUCH a crazy week that I forgot to post yesterday's Wednesday Gym Adventures! Boo, me! I'll have it next week, though. ALSO NEXT WEEK! My friend Tamara and I are planning an extra special Holy Cow This Year Has Been Rough So Let's Do a Happy Giveaway giveaway. It should go live on Monday so stay tuned!!

We're getting ready for Autumn's birthday party this week. It's going to be pretty small, just family and two of her friends but I'm making all the fancy printables so I can sell them on my Etsy shop. Here's the invitation:


And, on Sunday, I'm helping my mom give her best friend a bachelorette party. It won't be anything too crazy but a friend of ours is going to do a belly dancing lesson! The funniest thing about that? When I first texted my mom with the idea, she mentioned it to the ladies in her salon. They got all excited but...not for the reason I expected. They thought I was going to hire a fat man stripper. I...wow...what? No. One of her coworkers was like, "hey, I know this man with a huge belly who could do it!" No word so far on whether or not they are as excited about BELLY DANCING as they were about Santa coming to dance.

My friend Christy who is an artist is going to do henna tattoos, too! She came over to practice and that's going to be super awesome! I can't wait. I'm also doing this one up with the printables so I can sell the set. Oddly, this background I made over at colourlovers.com has been really popular, getting liked and pinned. Who knew?


And for a complete turnaround, I meant to post this last week. My teacher Stephan linked this TED talk on Violence and Silence. It's a really fantastic talk. Straight up honest? I rarely actually listen to these when people post them because I'm, um, kind of lazy. I'd rather just read the transcript. But, because of Stephan posted this in the aftermath of Heather's funeral, I listened. Seriously, this needs to be spread around more. Watch and listen! Let me know if you do and what you thought.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Six years already??

I've been thinking about what to write today but I'm rather at a loss for words on this special day. Autumn is now a big girl of six years old. She graduates from kindergarten in a week. She has camps planned for the summer. She weighs herself many mornings hoping to break the 40 pound mark. She loves cats. She's a sensitive heart. She's a warrior and a princess. She's a fabulous helper. I'm thankful for her. And, I am so happy to say, so are many other people. It is a blessing beyond blessings to have a child who brings joy wherever she goes.