Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dear Santa



Santa, I've been a very good boy this year.  
Thank you for the presents.  Enjoy the milk and cookies.


This was his first ever handwritten letter to Santa.  

See that look of pride on his face?  It doesn't even compare to the look I was giving him behind the camera.  <3

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I'm Just Here for the Free Music




I could really relate to this submission to Post Secret.  Although I'm not an atheist, I've yet to find a church that really nails (no pun intended) my beliefs in God.  I won't get into them here (because that's a whole post in and of itself) but I do long to find one (hence the reason behind number 10 on my 30 before 30 list.)

Growing up, I was raised southern baptist.  Although going to church was something I never looked forward to, I always loved the music.  In fact, you never had to beg me to go on a Sunday night, because Sunday nights consisted of about 30 minutes of singing hymn after hymn and then 15 to 20 minutes of a sermon.

I miss church, a lot.  I miss the friendships.  I miss the sense of community.  I miss the volunteering.  And I even miss hearing certain sermons, such as those about love, forgiveness, and kindness.

I really do miss those aspects of being a part of a church.  But the one thing that stands out in my mind the most is how much I miss the music.

 I loved hearing everyone sing, from the great to the not-so-great.  I always got so excited anytime the music director would say, "Now turn your hymnal to page 251," and I would realize that I knew the harmony to that song.  I miss the everyday church music, and I especially miss the CHRISTMAS music.

To hear the choir and the congregation belting out some of my favorite gospel music is an experience I don't get anywhere else.  And I miss it.  I really, really miss it.

So, although I'm not atheist, I can completely relate to the poster of the card above.  Gospel music kept me in church for as long as it did, and is likely to play a large role in the reason behind why a certain temple/church ends up being "the one" that lets me cross off number ten.

Secret Sunday is a series of posts inspired by the weekly submissions to Post Secret.
Click here to visit postsecret.com OR click here to visit other posts by this author in this series.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Candy Wrap" Gift Certificates Using your Wrapping Paper Tube: DIY Tutorial



Let's face it, sometimes things get done a little more last-minute than we'd like.

Tonight I printed off the gift certificates I'd purchased for my mother and sister as Christmas gifts only to realize I hadn't put much thought into how I was planning on wrapping them.

Yes, you heard me right. I wanted to wrap gift certificates. I'm a big kid and I love seeing someone tear open wrapping paper before getting their gift. It's part of the fun!

So, I walked around the house looking for boxes to throw them in. I strongly considered using granola bar boxes, before it hit me...

I could use the wrapping paper tube that was laying in the floor. Then I got excited because I realized if I did that 1) they wouldn't realize they were gift certificates and 2) I could wrap them to look like candy!

So, here's how I did it & how it turned out....





Each tube could be used for three certificates at 8.5 x 11 each.  Since I only used two, I'll be stashing the other piece with my wrapping paper to use again in the future.  

Since we started recycling earlier this year, I've tried my best to reuse materials whenever possible.  So, besides how stinkin' cute these are, I'm also thrilled to be reusing something that would have just been thrown away other wise.  

I will never look at a wrapping-paper tube the same again, ever.  
And I couldn't be happier about it!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

$25 Gift Certificates for $1 through 12/24 at Restaurant.com!



This was a deal too good not to share!

Right now restaurant.com is offering $25 gift certificates for $1!  The only thing you need to do differently is enter the code JOY when you check out.  The code is only good through 12/24/11 so don't wait too long!

Be sure to pay attention to the terms of each certificate before you purchase it.  Some certificates state that they're only available for dine-in only.  Others will state that a minimum purchase is necessary in order to redeem the certificate.  So, just make sure you know what you're buying so there are no surprises when you redeem your certificate.

You should receive your certificate by email within a day or so.  You can also log into restaurant.com and print it from there when you're ready.  Just take the certificate to the restaurant with you when you're ready to redeem.

Also, as a courtesy to your server, tell him that you're using the certificate before he goes to grab your bill.  And, ALWAYS tip on the full amount of your bill--not the discounted amount.

Happy dining!

Monday, December 19, 2011

I Don't Understand Either

I've been a fan of Post Secret for a while now.  In case you don't know, Post Secret is an extremely popular blog that is comprised entirely of the anonymous postcard submissions mailed in by fans each week.  Each week (on Sundays) 10 of the postcards are posted on the blog.

I'm very inspired by Post Secret on many, many levels and have decided to start a regular Secret Sunday here on the blog.  My goal is to take the postcard that stood out to me the most (either because I can relate or because it got me thinking about a specific topic) and giving my perspective on why it was significant to me.

This week's post surrounds this submission:


I can completely relate to this poster.  I don't understand either.  

I feel that I'm at a unique age where I'm young enough to be sensitive to the necessity of a certain amount of political correctness in our society but am old enough to remember when everyone just said, "Merry Christmas."  In fact, that doesn't seem like it was too long ago.

Could it have been that 10 years ago there were no atheists?  

Did nobody celebrate Hanukkah?  

Surely not, right?  So what's changed?  

In my opinion, we've crossed a line.  We've gone from being aware of other cultures and belief systems (which, as a pretty liberal individual, I'm ALL about) to being afraid to just say whatever comes natural to us.  

Tell me Joyous Kwanzaa, please.  I'll appreciate the sentiment.  Don't be afraid to offend me.  

If it's more natural for you to say Merry Christmas, then haye... I'll take those well wishes also!  

And of course, if you prefer to say Happy Holidays, have at it!

There's a great difference between being socially aware and being socially inept, yet the line between the two seems to be blurring more over time.  

Don't purposefully offend anyone.  But don't freak out over the thought of accidently saying 'the wrong' blessing to someone during the holiday season.  

When you fumble around searching for the most politically correct phrase, any genuineness in your intent is lost in those few seconds I saw your mind flipping through its pages trying to ascertain what to say.  

Maybe I'm the only one, but it's somewhat more offensive to me when people try so hard not to be offensive.  I find myself thinking, do I come across as someone who would get upset over a 'Happy Hanukkah?' 

We're all trying to be kinder, especially this time of year.  But I don't expect for anyone to 'tiptoe' around my beliefs (or lack of).  And, I think if you took a poll, most people would agree that they would not be offended by you wishing them a blissful holiday season in the terms and expressions that mean the most to you, whether Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah.  

It's more human that way.  It's realer.  It's authentic and personal.  Let's keep that part of the holidays alive.  This generic 'one-size fits all holiday mumbo jumbo' isn't doing any of us any favors--at least not in my mind

I'd ask if I'm alone in this, but ya know... Post Secret made me realize today that there's at least one other who agrees with me.  

Anyone else?

Secret Sunday is a series of posts inspired by the weekly submissions to Post Secret.
Click here to visit postsecret.com OR click here to visit other posts by this author in this series.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Today Only: Select Melissa & Doug Toys 50% OFF on Amazon!

Today only, Amazon has select Melissa & Doug toys on sale for 50% off!  AND, if you your purchase totals $25 you'll get free shipping!

This makes me so excited because I have really been eyeballing this stamp set for my son.  I've seen it on several sites for $20+ and I just purchased it for $10.00 thanks to this deal!  He's learning to read and this will be a great way for us to practicing his spelling in a fun way.



I also purchased this magnetic responsibility chart as well, for only $10!  It comes with 90 magnets depicting behaviors and rewards.  It received great reviews on Amazon and I'll be taking one of the reviewer's ideas by awarding my son 10¢ a week for each completed responsibility task as an incentive!  Love it!




I also picked up some paint brushes for him (for around $5) to go with some paints he'll be receiving for Christmas to make my order almost exactly $25.  I'd much rather spend $5 and get another gift for my child than spend $8 on shipping for not reaching the $25 amount required to receive free shipping.


Happy Shopping!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Beauty & Benefits of Learning to Play the Piano: Both Music to my Ears

My little man, who just turned six, has been taking weekly-piano lessons since the 1st of September.

I've always loved music.  So of course, I've been eager to share this passion with my child since before there were two lines on that pregnancy test!   And the fact that it's beneficial to him to learn to play?  Icing on the cake!

Madd just had his first piano recital, where he played two pieces in front of about 100 people.  

This is his "I'm excited but nervous" face.  
He kinda puffs out his cheeks and tucks in his bottom lip.  
Such a sweetie.



This is more of an actual "smile."


Once we got seated, I realized that no one had ever told me how absolutely NERVOUS I would be for him.  I turned to my mother and asked her, "Were you nervous when I would perform on stage?  I have butterflies in my stomach that I was not prepared for!"  She told me that she always felt the same, which made me feel better (read:  normal). But serious--WHY didn't anyone tell me this?!

Thankfully he performed everything just as practiced.  I've never been more proud of him!  Watching your child have his moment in the spotlight to reap the benefits of his hard work is by far one of the best feelings in the world.

His first piece:  Up On The Housetop




His second piece:  O Christmas Tree
{Be sure to watch his bow at the end.}




So, now that you've seen my little man play at his Christmas recital, I'd like to share with you the five most prevalent benefits a child receives from learning to play the piano.*

1.     It helps them in school.
  • Children who play an instrument score higher on both standard and spatial cognitive development tests in school. 
  • Children who play the piano score higher in the area of math than children who do not.

2.     It raises self-esteem.
  • Children who play the piano receive increased self-esteem with each song they master due to the dedication and time it takes to learn each new piece.
  • Likewise, recitals give children an opportunity to receive praise for their accomplishments, which also increases the child's self-esteem.
  • Most importantly, to me at least, is that learning to play also teaches children to keep a positive outlook when facing difficult tasks.  It teaches the child that learning is a process which takes patience and practice.  This knowledge helps children approach other tasks with confidence, decreasing the likelihood of frustration and discouragement.  

3.     It increases coordination.
  • Sure it increases hand-eye coordination.  But, it also increases fine motor skills.
  • Unlike any other instrument, playing the piano requires each hand to work independently of the other.  For example, one hand may be playing soft while the other is playing loudly.  Or, one may be playing quickly, while the other is playing slowly.
  • Playing the piano increases dexterity and complex thought process.

4.     It helps improve concentration.
  • Think about all of the focus that is required to play one piece:  the child must interpret each note and rhythm, translate those notes into actual movement on the instrument, and then immediately move forward to the next note and do the same.
  • The child must read and think critically and creatively, which will assist them in many other areas in the future.

5.     It helps the child be more well-rounded.
  • Children are exposed to genres of music they otherwise may never have heard, whether classical or otherwise.  
  • Children may develop an appreciation for composers, such as Mozart or Bach.  
  • The skills and knowledge acquired will aid them in any other musical or instrumental endeavor taken up by the child in the future.

As for my son, over the past three months I have personally noticed that he is notably better at understanding that conquering anything new takes practice and that it's okay not to immediately know how to do something.  He has always been very hard on himself and piano has definitely taught him to have patience with himself.  I've also noticed that he's able to pick out change of tempos in songs on the radio now as well as recognize when a piano is playing in the background, whereas before he didn't seem to pay attention to things.  

Overall, I am VERY glad that he is taking piano lessons.  It has been nothing but beneficial to him.  His next recital is in May and I can't wait to show him these videos six months from now so that he can see all the new progress he'll have made.  

Does your child play an instrument?  If so, let me know how you feel it is personally benefiting your child.  

*The benefits stated above were taken from this site, although the same information is available throughout numerous studies and webpages.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

5 x 4 = 20 Things About Me (That I'm OBVIOUSLY Awesome at Mental Math? That's a freebie.)



{5} Things You Don't Know About Me


{1.}  Sometimes when I'm belting out songs in the car by myself, I pretend I'm on the phone.  Haye, I'd rather a stranger mistake my passion for 80s Love Ballads for an angry business call than to chance being on the next season of Tosh.0.  I have a reputation to uphold here.

{2.}  I've licked The Alamo and a Mammoth's tooth... on purpose.  Why would I want to do that you ask? Who else do you know who can say they've licked both The Alamo and a real Mammoth's tooth?  Hmm?  Nobody?  Exactly.  If you don't think I won't put that on a resume as a conversational piece, think again.  

{3.}  I've played The Stepmother in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella.  What's the opposite of being typecast?  Whatever.

{4.}  When I turned 20, I was so sad about not being a teenager anymore that anytime someone would ask my age I'd tell them I was twenty-teen.  

{5.}  I'm ranked in the top 15% of my law-school class.  (I had to put one "fact" about me in this section that wasn't self-deprecating to please my mother who will undoubtably read this.  Hi mom!)


{5} Things I'm Knowledgeable About


{1.}  Surrogacy:  both the process and the laws governing it.  I researched it for 9 months then wrote a 60-paged paper on it for law review and to satisfy my upper-level writing requirement.  Oh, and I was a surrogate in 2009 too, duh.  Ask away.  ;)

{2.}  Shakespeare and Dr. Seuss:  I have quite a few works by both authors memorized by heart

{3.}  Breastfeeding:  I never planned on breastfeeding my son, but when he was born sick and it was all I could do to help him, I read everything about it I could get my hands on and ended up not weaning him until he was 18 months old.

{4.}  College:  Oh, college.  The "do's" and the "don't you dares!"  From financial aid to organizations, I pretty much know it all.  In fact, I posted about The ABCs of Being a Student back in April!

{5.}  How Much I Still Have to Learn:  That's right.  I know that I have a TON of learning left to do!  I know everyday I learn more.  I know that every person I meet has a lesson to teach and a special talent or skill to share.  I know that learning doesn't come from a book.  It comes from listening, sometimes with your eyes closed and your ear up against the wall, but other times just with your heart.  


{5} Things I Know Nothing About


{1.}  Technology:  Sure, I know how to work a Mac (well, I was going to use an analogy here but the only one I can think of is "like a stripper works a pole," and that doesn't sound very appropriate so I just won't use one.)  But if you told me to guess what's inside this thing, I'd tell you that I guess whatever it is doesn't need to see in order to work because it's probably dark in there... I mean, duh.

{2.}  THIS!!
I mean... is it magic?  HOW do people do that?!  Obviously *looks at category* I do not know!!

{3.}  Cows:  That's right.  I said it.  COWS.  Sure, there's black ones and brown ones and some are white with black spots.  But like for example, do the cows that give the milk ALWAYS have milk?  Are they born producing milk?  Or, are they like humans and only produce milk after giving birth?  And why are there black and white boy cows?  To me--ALL black and white cows are girl, milk cows.  All black cows are boy cows.  At least, that's how it should be.  Color coat those suckers.  Well what about brown cows you ask?  Well, I was going to say they just shouldn't exist at all but "How Now Black and White Cow" just doesn't have the same ring to it, now does it?  So, we'll just have to consider them as the "mule" of the mommy cow, who is white with black spots, and the daddy cow, who is solid black.  And apparently they have like 38.16 stomaches?  Whatever.  I'm over it.  Moving on.  Or should I say, Moooooving on!

{4.}  Hair:  Some hair on our body will grow indefinitely.  It will grow until we cut it or until we die.  Got it.  But other hair KNOWS to stop at a certain length.  How does it know that?  Like, if I trimmed my eyebrows with scissors to half their normal length, the hairs would be like, "Alright guys, lunch break's over.  We're down an 1/8th of an inch.  Looks like we're putting in overtime tonight."  HOW DOES IT KNOW?!

{5.}  The alphabet:  Sure I can say it, but I have no clue why the letters are in the order they are.  At first glance you might think it's in the order in which they're most frequently used.  (We obviously use 'A' way more than 'Z' but upon closer inspection, this is not the case.)  So who picked this order?  And why?  Someone had to have done that.  I need answers. And while I'm complaining about the alphabet, allow me to share this thought as well.  It should be a RULE that if you can SPELL OUT a letter, it CANNOT be a letter.  For example:  'A' is very short.  But then there's 'W.'  Clearly it does not belong:  DOUBLE U?!  Really?!  It's NOT a letter.  'W' is a blatant alphabetic impostor if you ask me.  


{5} Things I Believe


{1.}  I believe that being able to be a mother by far makes up for all the other crap we have to put up with as women--from being seen as inferior in the workforce to being forced to work in sheen pantyhose.  It makes up for it all.

{2.}  I believe that for many, myself included, independence is spelled e-d-u-c-a-t-i-o-n.

{3.}  I believe that the ability to genuinely laugh at how absolutely ridiculous you are or have been gives you one of only a few golden tickets that exist in this life which can alter your situation and circumstances in far greater capacities than Charlie Bucket's golden ticket altered his.

{4.}  I believe that we, as humans, only have the ability to truly and intimately know a dozen or two people at any given stage in our lives and that what we think we know about all others really isn't knowledge at all--it's our perception of their actions completely removed from their life's story.  I believe that if we would stay conscience of this limited perception the world would be a lot kinder place.

{5.}  I believe that there's a cosmic symmetry to life, a balance, always teetering to find its center.  And therefore, in whatever ways it is that you are blessed, it is your responsibility to bless others to the best of your ability.  Because if you don't do your part to level the balance, it will find a way of doing it itself.  It's not karma in the one-dimensional sense some make it out to be.  It runs deeper.


This post idea came from Mama Kat's Writing Workshop.  Be sure to stop by there for creative inspiration!

The Birthday Boy (And Some Apparently Angry Birds)

Okay, so yet again I have super sucked at blogging lately.  I didn't realize it had been over a month since I'd posted until just looking back at the dates.  WOW, November flew by!

Okay--catch up post.  Where to start, where to start....

OH, What was it that The King said in Alice in Wonderland? 

"Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end:  then stop."

Yes, I suppose that's what I'll do.  And the beginning (of where we left off) would be Madd's birthday!  I still can't believe that yet another birthday party is in the books and that my little man is now a six year old.  [sigh]

His actual birthday was on a school day, so we started out with surprise birthday chocolate-chip pancakes (complete with birthday candle, of course)!

**Note, I made the pancakes myself.  If you're thinking, "Um SO?" well.... then first of all you can kiss it (and I think we all know what that "it" is) and second of all, it's obvious that you've never read this post.  Judge me if you must.**

Where was I?  Oh yes, I made pancakes.  At 6am.  Because that's just what I do I only have one kid and I guess I can sacrifice a little sleep to burn prevail in the perpetration of pancake perfection!

So rub those eyes and wake up birthday boy....



"Maddy, smile for mommy."
He smiled, but those eyes still weren't ready to open.



The day after his birthday was his party.  It was honestly the least stressful birthday party we've ever thrown for him.  For once, I felt like I got to enjoy the party too.  Usually I'm running from one end of a room to another, so it was nice to sit back and soak it all in.  

Here's a few snapshots from his special day, including a few pictures of his cake I promised I'd share.

Here's daddy with his birthday boy on the water inflatable.
He helped all the kids across (and okay, threw a few off too!)



After about two hours of swimming, we headed upstairs.

Something tells me this was the last birthday 
we'll have to read his birthday cards to him.

[Another sigh.]



And here's the cake and party favor table.



[Sorry about the poor quality of the cake close-ups.  
I took them at the house before the party in a hurry.]





Photo-op while waiting on mommy to light the candles.
I can't help but wonder what he wished for.... 
Oh, how I hope all his wishes come true!



But for now, a more serious question.
Who gets to eat which Angry Bird/Green Pig?



As you can tell by that half exhausted, but ear-to-ear grin, 
my little man had a wonderful time.
And with six birthday parties under my belt, 
I'm beginning to feel like an old pro!


Again, thank you to everyone for sticking with me through my bloggy-blahs, which I'm slowly trying to escape from.  

And a special thank you to my newest readers who found my blog by happening upon my DIY Angry Birds Invitations post and have taken me up on my offer to email me and ask for the Invitation PDF.  It makes me so unbelievably giddy to know that someone is actually taking the time to read a little bit about what's going on in our lives.  

So again, thank you so much.
And yes, if you're reading this right now I'm talking about YOU!
So quit being modest because you really rock my world.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Angry Birds Birthday Cakes

As I mentioned in my previous post, my son is having an Angry Birds birthday party.  Of course, this means I've been on the prowl for the perfect Angry Birds birthday cake.  And OH, have I found some cute ones!!

Here are some of my favs!  I emailed the ones pictured below to the bakery in charge of whipping up our delicious cake and can't wait to see how it turns out!






And.... CHECK this out!  How awesome?!


Oooooh, I can't WAIT to see how my son's turns out!  I'll be sure to post pics!  ;)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

DIY Angry Birds Birthday Invitations

Hello friends!

I've been absent from blogging for far too long (TWO months... YIKES!) and I think the best way to jump back in is to share this ADORABLE little craft with you!

My son turns six soon and he wants an Angry Birds birthday party.  Well, although Angry Birds merchandise is popping up everywhere, the brand hasn't officially started marketing birthday party paraphernalia.

But, with the help of my good friend Google, I was able to steal find an awesome idea, which made for great invitations!

Meet helmet pig:

Did you just fall in love?  I did!  And I knew I had to make him mine!  It's actually pretty simple, although if you plan on making 30 like I did, be prepared to spend some time.  

Supplies:  
  1. Green, black, grey, white, and brown card stock
  2. 1/2 inch circle punch for eyes
  3. 5/8 inch circle punch for the nose holes
  4. A "large circle" punch for the eyes (about 2 inches in diameter)
  5. A "large oval" punch for the lip
  6. Glue sticks
  7. Blue ink pad
  8. Green ink pad
  9. Sponge
  10. Foam adhesive stickers 
We purchased all of our supplies at Michael's.  

If you want to keep costs down, here's what I recommend:  
  1. Skip the expensive card stock for the whites and blacks and buy one poster board in each color.  The use is so minimal on the finished project that no one will notice it's not card stock.  
  2. Skip the foam adhesive stickers.  (We purchased these, but ended up deciding we liked the way the pigs looked without them.)
  3. Borrow or steal the punch holes!  They're pretty freaking pricey (between $4 to $15 each)!  Ouch!  We choked down the cost and justified it by saying, "Well, at least we'll have them for future projects."  (Yea right.)  But if you know someone who will lend you theirs, do it!  Or, if you have some laying around that aren't the exact sizes I have listed above, don't sweat it.  No one is going to notice if the black circles are 1/2 inch rather than 5/8 inch, trust me.  
  4. Gotta sponge in the garage?  Got a Dollar General down the road?  Great, you've just saved at least $4.  Michael's sells theirs for about $5 each.  It's a freaking sponge people.  Ridiculous.  
  5. Don't have a sponge?  Don't care to buy one?  Great, skip the ink all together.  No one will miss these minute details.  
  6. Instead of making a card that opens up with details on the inside, put the details on the helmet!  You'll use half the green card stock this way!
Okay, so now that we're past all that... let's get down to business!  I promise this is ridiculously easy.  All it takes is time!

Click here to get the pattern.  That's right... there's a pattern!  BUT it will cost you about $5 to download IF you're not already a contributing member to Scribd.  Contribute something, and you can download it and save it to your computer for free.  OR, if you know someone SUPER AWESOME (ahem... ME) who already has the PDF downloaded, you can email HER through the email address conveniently located at the top of her blog and ask her if she'll email you the PDF.  Something tells me that she'll gladly do that.  But just for you, because she likes you.  A lot.  

Now here's all that's left:
  1. Get to cutting!  You'll use the pattern to cut out the helmet, straps, head, and nose.  (If you choose to make a card that opens, you'll want to fold your card stock in half before cutting on the pattern.)
  2. Get to punching!  (Notice: the eyes, nose holes, and lip are NOT to size on the pattern.  You'll use the punches for those.  Easy peasy.)
  3. Get to inking!  If you choose to do this step, you'll lightly ink the outer rim of the pig's head, nose, and lip in green.  You'll lightly ink the rim of the white eyes in blue.  (You can also ink the helmet in white as shown above, but we tweaked ours a little so we skipped this step.)  
  4. Get to gluing!  Everything is glued down with regular glue except for the helmet and the nose.  Those are glued with the foam stickers to make them stick up, if you choose to use those.  
  5. Admire your awesome work.  
Here's how ours turned out:

{The helmet looks crazy because I erased the address and date of the party, 
as well as my phone number using photoshop in about 20 seconds.}

Rather than going by the pattern exactly and making invitations that opened up, I decided to put the details of the party on the helmet.  (This also insures that when the invitations get displayed on the fridge, it's the front of the pig that's showing, rather than the inside.  Haye, I didn't do all this hard work for nothin'!)

Ours obviously aren't as amazing as the one we modeled them from, but considering that 30 of them were made, I'm pretty impressed with myself.  And, of course, I'm using this as one of my DIY projects on My 30 Before 30 List!  Woohoohoo! (<--in my best Angry Birds impression)

Oh, and one more thing.... we purchased 6 x 9 envelopes from Walmart (about $3 for a pack of 25) to mail our invitations in.  The pigs are about 6 x 6 when complete, which makes for a snug fit.  My advice is to keep an envelope in front of you as you're gluing the helmet to the pig so that you can do a quick sight check to make sure you're not putting the helmet up so high that it won't fit into your envelopes.  ;)

The party is quickly approaching, but I hope to have time to for one more Angry Birds project before then.  If I get a chance to make it, I'll be sure to share!  And of course I must say, thank you to all of my followers and readers who have stayed with me during my bloggy break.  I really appreciate you all!  

{Note:  If you need some Angry Birds cake inspiration click here.  Or, you can also see how my son's party and cake turned out by clicking here.}

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Take Your 'Toy' & Shove It!

Remember when you were a little kid and your mom would pull up to the drive-thru?  It was always such a treat to see this...


And why was it such a treat?  Well, sure the chicken nuggets rocked!  But that wasn't why!  It was for the toy.  

Ah.... the toy.

It was always something you could play with... ya know, actually enjoy.  

"I wonder which one I'll get this time, mom!"

A barbie?  

A Hot Wheels Car?

Maybe Batman?  

Or, possibly even The Lion King himself!

What has happened?!  I mean, I know that the quality of the toys are never going to be as awesome as when we were kids, but even WITH lowered standards I find myself thinking.... what is THIS crap?!

I mean, my son actually got THIS as his kids meal toy a few days ago.  



WHAT.IS.THIS?!

What can he do with THIS?!

My husband had to put it together (and did so only out of pure amusement).  And of course my son had absolutely no interest in it.  

The thing is made out of paper!!  I've had paper CUTS that were more amusing to my child.

He doesn't even ask what toy he's going to get in his kids meals on the rare occasions we eat fast food.  He doesn't care.  There's ZERO expectation that it will be anything of interest to him.  

It's sad honestly, and it's a little pathetic.  

If companies aren't going to put a toy into the kids meal that will at least give the child some sort of entertainment, if only for 10 minutes then just don't put them in there!  SPARE ME!  I'm sick of picking the crap up out of the floorboard of my car because it's been immediately dismissed by my kid.  Keep the "toy" and lower your prices.  

AND SPARE THE ENVIRONMENT!  I mean good GRIEF, everyone keeps blabbing about Green THIS and Green THAT and fast-food places are throwing cardboard "toys" into the millions of kids meals they pump out a day.  

They're honestly more likely to make a kid of the 21st century happy by placing a tiny little message on the chicken-nugget box that says, "In lieu of giving you a piece of junk cardboard monstrosity and labeling it a "toy" we've donated 25 cents toward saving the rain forest!"

Until then, they can just take their TOYS and shove 'em!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Life with Maddox


"Um, mom... I accidently spilled something.... on the ceiling."


"Girls, girls, you're both beautiful." 
[Talking to my sister and me as we were having a disagreement.]


Maddox:  "You're racing me [at Mario Kart.]
Me:  No, because if I beat you, you'll get mad."
Maddox:  "No, when I beat YOU, I'll laugh."
[He beat me.]

Monday, August 15, 2011

How Can This Be?!

This little boy started kindergarten today.  





My little man is growing up.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

OUR SUPER FANTASTIC ANNOUNCEMENT!! :)

Two months ago, I posted about the baby maybes.  In that post I mentioned that I have health problems and that it's one of the reasons my husband and I haven't had a baby.  But, I didn't mention the cause of those health problems or the severity of them.  {Toward the end of this post, I'll give you the link to where you can find this information.}

So due to my health, needless to say, although my husband and I want a little one, we've decided (after speaking with specialist after specialist) that it's just not worth the risk that I carry.  INSTEAD.... we've decided that we're going to adopt!!

Yes, THAT'S the big announcement.  We're adopting!!  YAY!!  I am so, so excited!!  We're going to have a baby!!  :)  Our goal is to begin our home study during the month of September.  I cannot wait to begin the process.

Our problem now is finding creative ways to finance our adoption.  Everyone knows that adoption isn't cheap, and we're estimating that our adoption will cost between $20,000 to $30,000 (OUCH) and while I finish school my husband (who's an active-duty military member) is our sole-income provider.  But I will not let that big scary number stop us from having a baby!!

We'll be doing fund raisers, raffles, rummage sales, and tons of other stuff along the way to help us come up with the money we need to fund the adoption.  We're also accepting donations.

Donations are being collected through our WePay site.  (Hopefully within the next month, we'll be holding raffles there as well.)  This WePay site I just set up tells our story and why we're choosing adoption, as well as allows individuals to donate.  I hope that you'll consider visiting it to learn more about us.

So, this is where I need your help.  In addition to visiting it yourself, PLEASE pass our WePay site along to others.  Send it out through your email, post it on FB, "Like it," anything to get the word out about us.  We need all the exposure we can get to make this dream come true.

I've also started another site, choosing-adoption.com.  This will allow me to network with other adoptive moms and insure that my personal blog isn't all about adoption from here on out (and let's face it, it would be otherwise!)  I will still be making "big announcements" regarding adoption here as well... duh!  But, check out Choosing Adoption and pass it along as well!  :)

Thank you SO MUCH for all of the past support you've shown me.  It means the WORLD to me.  I wouldn't be the woman, blogger, or mommy I am without all of the amazing people who continuously support me and cheer me on.  So.... Operation Bring Home Baby begins NOW!!

{Whew, SO glad I could share that with all of you.  I am not good at keeping my own secrets!  Oh, and yay for babies!!}

--Update 01.25.2012:  Unfortunately, right as we started searching for agencies something very personal happened which made us rethink whether pursing adoption at that time was best under the circumstances.  It was upsetting to admit that our plans had to be put on hold, but that's life.  We haven't abandoned our dream of adopting, and still hope that 2012 will be our year!--

Monday, August 8, 2011

AHH!! Where Have I Been?!

I haven't blogged in like, 10 days.  YIKES!!

There is a big reason why, but I can't share that with you just yet.  :)  The other reason is... well, I don't know why!  I guess I've been in a bloggy funk.

So, I asked my son what I should write about.  He said, "Well... just write about something funny.  Maybe make a funny video or something that will crack them up... oh, and talk in an alien voice."

But, I'm pretty sure that none of you want to see what I look like right now (at almost one in the morning) and I'm certain I can't do an "alien voice" (despite Maddox's attempts to teach me how) so I'll pass on the video idea.

Instead, I'll ask a question.... Do any of you ever get in a bloggy funk?  Maybe you can't think of anything to write about?  Or, maybe you're just not interested in blogging that week?

I hope my spark for blogging will come back soon!  After all, my poor blog has never been so neglected.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Back AWAY From the McFlurry aka One Small #Fail for Man; One Giant #Fail for Mankind

So, I posted last Tuesday about this ridiculous diet that I was going to attempt.  

I lasted five whole days (which I happen to be very proud of, thank you very much) before I gorged on popcorn while watching a movie about this boy named Harry Potter.  You've probably never heard of it so I'll move on....

That #dietfail aside, I did manage to redeem myself and have done well.  I've even lost 6 pounds.  Holla!!  

However, today.... I did something really bad.  

But it's not totally my fault.  In fact, I write this post as a warning.  This is no joke people.  You have every right to be alarmed.  In fact, if you're not alarmed yet you better check your batteries because your no-freaking-way detector is obviously not working.

Now hold on to your love handles because you are in for a surprise.  

You see, several months ago McDonald's did something amazing horrible.  It combined two of my greatest weaknesses into one delicious disastrous temptation.  

It took this...



and then it added a little of this....



to create THIS masterpiece


Isn't she beautiful?  Yea, I thought so too.  

I should have known from the start there was a catch, that it was too good to be true.  But alas, love is blind.  So I ignored the signs that were right in front of my face all along.  

I loved her like I've never loved before, even if only from a distance as I chugged my low-fat fresh fruit smoothies.  But they could never be her.  No, this had to stop!  I had to have her... to make her my own!

So tonight I told my diet, "Diet, I need some space... some time to reflect on us.  Don't worry, I'm not going to do anything crazy.  I'm just gonna go hang out with my friends, I promise.  You can trust me."

And being the amazing Diet that he is, he let me go.  Deep down, I think he knew I wouldn't be faithful, but what could he say?  He had to let me try things my own stubborn way.

So I left, and I grabbed the McFlurry.  It was everything I'd been craving this past week.  I was so happy.   

That is, until I learned her deep, dark secret.  One so shocking and heinous that I can never look at her the same again.  

She contains almost 700 calories for a regular size!! SEVEN hundred!! 



This is an actual photograph taken of ME at the exact moment I found out.  
[Caution:  Image may be disturbing to younger viewers.]


Okay, so maybe that's not the actual photo of me, but it's a pretty dang accurate depiction of how it all went down.  Such a tragedy....

After the shock wore off I returned home to Diet.  Needless to say he's upset that I cheated, but he forgives me and we're going to try to work things out.  I'm going to try to be more faithful from now on and hopefully, over time, things will get easier.  

Until then, well.... I'll always have the memory of her, at least for the next 3 months while I try to sweat her off at the gym.  And, if I can save just one person from herself and the tasty, diet-destroying wrath of the Rolo McFlurry, then my job here is done.


**While you're here enter my current giveaway
for a chance to win $30 to spend on Frigidaire accessories!**

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Foldable Flats for $8!! YAY!!

I love a good deal and I try to share the ones that really make me happy when I get a chance.  In fact, in May I shared my favorite sites to snag a deal.  Eversave isn't listed in that post because I rarely use them, but today they are having a great online deal that I couldn't pass up.

FYI:  This deal is good through Friday, July 22nd.

For $10 (or $8 if you use the code I'm about to give you) you'll get $20 to put toward a purchase of Clouds.

So, what are Clouds?  Taken from their website, "Clouds are portable ballet flats that fold and fit in a small pouch.  You can carry this pouch in your purse and have easy access to a comfortable and stylish solution when your feat hurt from wearing high heals."

I've heard of these but never owned a pair.  But, I start a new clerkship next month and the walk from the parking lot downtown to the office will be about one block.  It will be so nice to wear my Clouds during that walk everyday!  (And of course, they'll be great to wear during the 30 minute commute as well.)

Here's the pair I've got my eye on, but they have several styles/colors...




Prices range from about $19 to $25.  Shipping is only $3!  So this deal will cover all (or almost all) of your purchase.

If you decide to purchase this deal, enter the code SHARE at checkout and you'll save an extra $2, meaning you'll get $20 toward Clouds for only $8.  Holla!



**While you're here enter my current giveaway
for a chance to win $30 to spend on Frigidaire accessories!**