Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Favorites - Blog Posts

Happy Friday Everyone!  We made it.  Today I am sharing you with my favorite posts from other bloggers this week.  Every day my Bloglovin' feed is full of great content.  Here are just a few of this weeks' faves:

1.  "28 Things No 20 Something Wants to Hear" by Taylor The Daily Tay.  I mostly liked this post because I was there not so long ago, and remember thinking the exact same things.  The best part?  I'm past (most) of these!  Reading this list made me laugh - and picture the person who said the exact same thing to me.

2.  "Grateful Heart Monday" by Emily at Ember Grey.  Emily wrote a beautiful message about kindness, a tribute to her grandfather.  Also read The Road to Saying Goodbye, about her grandfather.  This was so beautifully written that I had to stop and dry my eyes more than a few times.

3.  "Every Now and Then" by Anne at Love the Here and Now.  Anne reminds us that sometimes, "more is more", and to really enjoy the moments with loved ones.  Plus, she always has a great quote for her posts, and this one did not disappoint.

4.  "Chicken Finger..." by Elisabeth at My Cup of Sparkle.  Want to read about a horrible first date?  Here it is!  This post seriously had me cracking up, but also feeling bad for Elisabeth at the same time, what a charmer!

5.  "Couponing for Dummies" by Amanda at Notes from a Newlywed.  I love saving money and Amanda's tips were spot on!  I've been on the Target kick for awhile now, but learned a few new tricks that I've already started using - like Ibotta and online survey sites that reward you!

I'm linking up with Amanda at Meet at the Barre for Friday Favorites.  Have an awesome weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mean Girls

I wish I were talking about Lindsay Lohan's best movie.  But unfortunately, I am talking about real life mean girls.

via Google Images

Picture this - The girls and I were at a park last week with two of my friends and their children.  E was running around, going down the slides, just being a kid.  Two girls showed up that were probably about 5-6 years old (E is 4).  She began trying to get their attention, playing near them, asking what their names were.  I was so proud of her for going out of her way to play with other girls - she is usually so shy around new people!  So I went back to talking to my friends. 

When I looked back over, maybe one minute later, I see E laying on her stomach with her head down and her hands over her head.  I then see one of the girls keep getting close to her, whispering something in her ear.  Then the two girls would laugh and run away.  This happened about five times - the whole time I was straining to hear what was being said.  When it didn't stop, I casually walked over to ask what they were playing.  (Still trying to look on the bright side, maybe it was a game?!)  When I walked up, I heard the girl say "You are dog poo!"  To my daughter, who is four!!

It took everything in my power to not scream at these girls and scoop up E in to the safety of my arms.  I calmly said "Well that's not very nice, is it?" and asked E if she wanted to play with my daughter's friend, after which she got up and obliged.  Meanwhile, the girls' nannies were sitting on a bench chatting, oblivious to what was happening.

Sadly, it gets worse.  The one girl (clearly the instigator) came up to E ten-ish minutes later and spat on her.  I could hardly believe it!  I lost it.  I sternly told the girls that they needed to be nice and it was not appropriate to treat others that way.  It broke my heart. 

Is this really what is happening in our world?  Five year olds being outright mean to other girls?  I know that bullying happens, but I really wasn't prepared for it to happen this early.  How do I protect her?  How do I teach her that even if this happens, it has nothing to do with how special and loving she is?  And most importantly - for her never to recreate what she has experienced and treat others with kindness, always?

Today I am linking up with Anne from Love the Here and Now and her co-host, Kerri from hey Kerri for Wednesday Wishes.  Today, my wish is this:  For children to be kind to each other.  It seems so simple, but sadly is so complex.

via Google Images
Love the Here and Now

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

That Time I Met a (Small) Celebrity

My sister in law just got back from a bachelorette party in LA.  My first question to her was, "Who did you see?!"  I love hearing about celebrity sightings - it's like finding an amazing item on super sale and then having it be even cheaper at the register - it just doesn't happen very often.  But when it does, it's exhilarating!  She saw Emma Roberts, which is fun.  But the best part?  One of the girls at the party went to school with Prince William and Kate!  I know, right?!  She even knew them and went to the same parties.  Kate once gave her a ride home!  

While she was telling me all of this, all I could think of was "I wish I had stories like that!"  I always feel like I'm hearing about the time one of my friends or family members met someone famous.  Not me!  I like to think they have been around, I just haven't noticed.  There is one time that I remember, however.

Growing up in Iowa, the shopping wasn't ideal.  When it came time for my sister's prom, my Mom packed us up and we headed to the Mall of America outside of Minneapolis.  In the hotel, my friend and I were taking the elevator down to the pool when Alex Mack walked in!  I know that this isn't as exciting as Prince William or Kate, but to a 6th grader that grew up with The Secret World of Alex Mack, this was huge.

She was also in 10 Things I Hate About You, and recently made an appearance in Pretty Little Liars - all grown up.

10 Things I Hate About You
Pretty Little Liars
 I was 12 at the time, so speaking to her or getting my picture taken wasn't on my mind. (Apparently I met the Oak Ridge Boys and Raffi when I was younger, I've seen the pictures but don't remember at all!)

My dad had drinks with Charles Barkley, my sister has a picture of her shaking Obama's hand, my aunt is friends with Bill Clinton, and I'm still waiting for my big moment.  It's on my 101 in 1001 list after all - "take a picture with a celebrity".  I'll get there!

Who have you met?  Any good stories - I love hearing these!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Favorites, Pinterest Style

We all love Pinterest, right friends?  I have a confession to make - back when Pinterest was "new", and you needed an invite to use it, I was obsessed.  Like, ended up with over 6,000 pins and 67 boards obsessed.  My best friend at work (before she left me, sob) and I would spend hours pinning - it didn't help that we shared an office and would just send pins back and forth.  I still love to find new favorites.  Here are some of my faves from this week:

Organizing Tip: This is one of those "why didn't I think of that?" moments.  Baskets in the pantry - of course!  My pantry easily becomes cluttered and I always buy things that we actually already had, I just couldn't find it!

from Interior Fun

Quote: My best friend from high school, also the person I went to Vegas with, sent me this quote.  It sums up our relationship perfectly.

Decor: I am going through a decluttering phase, which in turn made me throw out our bathroom shelves.  I am loving this bathroom decor and am hoping to incorporate some pictures in to ours as well.

from 320 Sycamore

Necklace: No description necessary.  I need this.

Wedding Date! from MyBelovedandCo

Kids Activity: Now that E is out of preschool for the summer, I have been looking at fun activities to keep her entertained.  I love this easy craft.  Toilet paper rolls, peanut butter and bird seed.  Voila!

There you have it - my favorite things this week.  What are you loving?  Let me know your Pinterest name so I can check out your boards too.  Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When Happy Happens

Today I just have an overwhelming sense of happy.  It's so easy to focus on the negative, but I'm all about finding the good when things aren't going the way I'd imagined them.  But today, I don't have to find anything... I am just happy.

I wish I had a beach to jump on!

It could have been the Chipotle I had for lunch yesterday.  (With a diet coke - oops, it just tasted so, so good!)

Or maybe it is the beautiful weather we are finally having in Chicago.  80's and sunny?  Yes - I've missed you!

Perhaps it was picking up E from preschool for the last time this year.  She's grown up so much and my heart couldn't have felt more proud.

It could be the night I spent with my amazing friends Sunday, celebrating a very special 30th birthday.  Dinners with my girlfriends are the best!

Maybe it is the plans I've been making.  Trips with family, trips with friends, home improvements, summer fun.

Whatever it is, it's a great feeling.  I feel like I could accomplish anything, and have the desire to do so much.  Last week for Wednesday Wishes, all of my wishes were for strength for various people in my life.  I'm happy to report back this week that strength was found.  We are still battling some tough things, but I firmly believe that "attitude is everything", and the strength and determination that has be shown could get anyone through any situation.

This week, my wish is simple.  I wish for happiness.  Happiness can be found in the simplest of things.  Take a moment and find something happy today - it could shift your soul and change a lot of things.  When happy happens, so do good things.

I'm linking up with Anne from Love the Here and Now and her co-host, Rachael from Lumuhand.  What are you wishing for? 

Love the Here and Now

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

When we first moved in to our 3 bedroom house, it was just my husband and I.  Then we had E, and three years later A.  We have quickly outgrown our house.  We were this close to putting it on the market this Spring, but decided to squirrel away lots of savings and make the big move next Spring.  With that decision, I just couldn't handle the crowded closets anymore - so I decided to have a garage sale.

Growing up, my Mom would often do garage sales but I never had one of my own.  Going through the process by myself provided some useful information that I wanted to share with others thinking of doing the same thing.

1.  If you can, collaborate with your neighbors.  People like to park and walk to multiple sales.  Being able to advertise as a "Neighborhood Sale" drives people to your street.

2.  Ask your friends if they have anything they'd like to sell.  Having someone else there is helpful, and you can advertise as a "multi-family" sale.  Added bonus - spending the entire day with friends!  If you do this, you can easily keep a notebook to track how much each person has made, and settle at the end of the day.

3.  Advertise!  I posted on Garage Sale Finder, Yard Sales, Next Door and Craigs List.  Also, check Facebook for a local "for sale" group and post there.  On Facebook, because you are posting with your personal account, just use the nearest intersection instead of your address.  (Better to be safe, yes?) All of these options are free.

4.  Along with advertising, purchase sale signs at an office supply store.  These should be placed at the nearest busy intersection near your home.  We purchased these:
Set of 3, with pricing stickers
These do not come with stakes.  One sign with a stake was $9, so I opted for 3 signs and stickers for $8, and made my own "stakes":

So easy, and cheaper!

 5.  Be ready to negotiate, and know how low you'll go on your bigger items.  I'd say 75% of people asked for a lower price.

6.  Make sure you have change!  We started with $40, in 5's, singles, and quarters.  We kept the money box in the garage (all items were in the driveway), out of sight.

7.  Afterwards, pack up your car right away and drive to Goodwill (or your favorite donation location) so the stuff doesnt end up back in your house!

We had a great day - I made over $300 and got rid of so much.  The people watching was amazing - including the guy that bought two women's dresses... for himself.  Of course I am assuming this, but the fact that he only looked at women's clothing/shoes, then held these up to himself before buying them makes me believe they were for him.  I wish I could have heard his life story!

Do you have garage sales?  What are some other tricks?  I'm sort of hooked now!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Subscription Sunday - Ipsy

I'm not the best at doing my makeup.  Most days I do something really natural and quick.  Quick is key as I don't normally have a lot of time to myself during the day.  Every once and awhile I like to spice it up, but don't have a lot of time to shop for new products.  Ipsy is the perfect solution!  They ship products to try, based on your profile, each month for $10. 

Pacifica Eyeshadow Duo:  These are great colors for me.  Something I would pick out myself - and I love the hint of shimmer it provides.

Avene Spring Water: I would never buy this myself, but it instantly takes me back to vacation at the Ritz Carlton in St. Thomas, where someone would walk around and spritz the sunbathers with Evian water.  Take me back NOW!

Hey Honey! Peel Off Mask: I tried this last night.  My skin felt really smooth after and it was easy to peel.

Jersey Shore Sun Sunscreen: I was kind of bummed to get this.  I use sunscreen every day anyway, so this won't be used much.  I might throw it in the diaper bag for when I'm out and about and can feel my nose/ears getting too much sun.

Pur-lisse Moisterizer: Another item for the diaper bag/purse.  It's the perfect size to carry with me in the winter.

This is my second Ipsy bag and I'm still loving it!  Overall I wish I had gotten more makeup, instead of products, but still love this bag.  Can't wait for next month!

What subscription boxes do you get?  Let me know and give me your referral code - I love finding new ones!

*Clicking on the links and signing up will give me referral points.  Thank you :)

Friday, May 16, 2014

To Share or Not to Share

I saw a special on Dateline one night about a "family" that was catfishing an entire online community.  Their children were sick, the mother was pregnant, and sadly passed away in a car accident.  People all over the country were wearing support bracelets, posting on their behalf, praying for them and genuinally cared for this family that did not exist.  Red flags started sprouting up, and a simple google image search led one supporter to the real blog - a mommy blog in South Africa!  This catfisher stole her photos and led thousands of people to believe that it was her family - turns out she was a teenager in the Midwest (Indiana, Ohio maybe?).  How would you feel if you were that blogger in South Africa?  Betrayal, violated, scared, among many, many more.

When I started this blog, my husband and I decided that I shouldn't post any pictures of the girls, or really use their names, because "what if bad people get ahold of their information?" Isn't that every parents worse nightmare?

I blog to share my stories, connect with others and have a history of my own saved somewhere.  A huge part of my life are my children.  What kind of story am I sharing if you don't know their names or have faces to the stories? 

Who wants to see this when reading a story about my family?  No one, thats who.

It's not just my babies.  If I want to post pictures of my friends or family - do I need to tell them first?  What if they say they don't want to be online?

Social media has changed the way we share information.  I post pictures to personal Facebook and  Instagram accounts - both of which are private.  But I know some people that won't have pictures of their children anywhere, and I can see that side of it as well.  I am having this internal struggle between "share it all!" and "why are you even writing about them?" and I cannot figure out which way to go. 

For my readers that are also bloggers, how do you handle this?  Did you have this struggle?  What was the ultimate deciding factor?  I'm guessing that I am thinking too much about this, but I can't help but to feel a little protective of my family and friends.  For my readers that aren't bloggers - I'd love your perspective as well.  Help me out!  (It's ok to also tell me that I am looking too far in to this... nothing new there!)


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday Wishes - Strength

My friend Anne over at Love the Here and Now asked if I was interested in co-hosting her Wednesday Wishes link up this week.  This is a new link up where you can share your wishes for the day, week, month, year, however long you feel and about whatever you are wishing for!  I jumped at the chance because I love the idea of this.  Your wishes can be serious, funny, simple or complex.  You can really take this link up anywhere you'd like! 

Last week I wished for a great trip to Indianapolis, quality time with family, time to read Gone Girl, and a good day for the mothers in my life.  I'm happy to report that all of these wishes came true.  There is one other thing I wished for, and that was for strength and courage for some events going on in my loved ones' lives.  This wish is ongoing and is the only thing I need this week.  I usually like to keep this blog upbeat and a fun place to be, but today I need to be true to myself and wish for some serious things:

- Strength, courage and quick healing for a good friend who is kicking cancer's ass right now.  I wish I could take it away, but I cant, so instead I wish for her to stay strong and positive.  (You got this!)

- Good results for loved ones going through IVF.  It just has to work, and I wish so badly for it to turn in to some beautiful babies for us to love on.

- Strength and healing for another person that was just diagnosed with cancer.  Treatment plans haven't been made yet, but I wish for something quick and effective, and for her to be strong.

Love this verse.

I am all about finding the good in each situation, so I need to focus on some positives.  There is a lot to be joyful about as well - such as new babies, time with family, weddings and engagements.  For these I wish a lifetime of happiness and health.

What are you wishing for this week?  Grab the button, link up with us and share!  Don't forget to check out other wishers while you are at it!

An InLinkz Link-up

Love the Here and Now

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Rollercoaster of a New Blogger

Blogging is sometimes hard.  Really hard.  And sometimes it's fun and carefree.  Just like with anything in life, there are ups and downs.  As a self proclaimed newbie, I am still learning the ins and outs of this crazy blogging world. The "rules", the lingo, what to do and what not to do.  With all of that comes highs and lows. And because I love lists, here are just a few that run through my mind on any given day:

  • What if no one comments on this?
  • That moment when you leave a comment on a "bigger" blog and don't get a response
  • Really?  Only that many pageviews?
  • Reading passive aggressive tweets and wondering who they were meant for... and "Shit, I hope they didnt mean me?"
  • How in the world am I supposed to "market" this thing? And why does that matter?
  • Wondering if your real life friends are judging you for what you are putting on the internet
  • The fine line of "sharing too much" and not being personable enough
  • Wondering how you will stand out in a world of over 152 million blogs.

  • Getting a new follower on any social media outlet
  • Having your tweet favorited or, even better, retweeted
  • Hearing from someone thanking you for writing what you did
  • Comments!
  • Connecting with other bloggers that you have a lot in common with
  • Sharing your story - the good, bad and ugly
  • Reading posts that change your outlook on life
  • Writing what you want, when you want
  • Social media shoutouts from other bloggers - that weren't paid for.

What have I missed?  What are your biggest highs and lows?  I'd love to hear them!

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Little Love

Happy Monday everyone!  I hope you were able to celebrate the mom's, grandma's and other special women in your lives yesterday.  My Mother's Day was pretty great - now that E is a little older, she sort of understands it.  Yesterday was full of "I love you", "Happy Mother's Day", and "You are a great mom!".  Melted my heart.  She, along with A, gave me this:

Yep, I cried a little!

In honor of the little love that made me a mom, today I am sharing E's Birthday Interview.  {source -}.  I have been waiting for her to be old enough to actually answer the questions.  My plan is to do this each year - I think it will be so fun to watch how her answers change.  I'll also do this with A once she is old enough - I'm sure their answers will be so, so different!

What is your favorite color?

What's your favorite television show?
Team Umizoomi

What sport do you like the best?
I don't like any sports

Who is your best friend?
Momma, and Teagan, and Kaytlyn

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A puppy (we might need to rethink that)

What is your favorite book?
Dora at the Beach

What are you really good at?
Sports (hmmm I thought she didn't like any sports?)

Where do you wish you could go on vacation?
McDonald's (dream bigger sweetheart!)

What is your best memory?
Playing games with Daddy

What would you buy if you had $1000?
Toys for Charlie (girl loves her pup!)

What vegetable do you dislike the most?
Green ones

If you could have a wish, what would it be?
Lots of bubbles

Who is your biggest hero?

Today I'm linking up with Emily from Ember Grey for Grateful Heart Monday.  Today (and everyday) I'm grateful for my babies that made my day so special yesterday.  They have taught me how to fully love, how to be patient, and to live each day with a happy heart.

What are you grateful for today?

Ember Grey

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wishing Well

To kiss and tell... (if you can sing the next line we will be bff!)

I love lists.  I love making a list for anything and everything - "to do" at home, "to do" at work, gift ideas, packing lists, on and on and on.  I sometimes add things to my "to do" lists that I've already done, just so I can cross them off.  I also color-coordinate them - each member of the family has their own color (including the dog!).  When I joined Pinterest my heart sang - I see my boards as lists of things to do.

When Anne from Love the Here and Now contacted me about her new link up, Wednesday Wishes, my heart sang again - I could make another list of things that I wish for my week, weekend, or life in general.  I'm sure that some weeks I will have one wish, others I might have a lot.  Some might be serious, some will be light-hearted, but all will be things that I can hopefully have happen.  Afterall, isn't that the point in wishing?

Love the Here and Now

This week, I am wishing for:
  • A smooth trip to Indianapolis this weekend.  I always get nervous taking the littles for a road trip.  What if they don't sleep?  Get cranky?  Don't have fun?  Will the dog be ok in the car?
  • Some quality time with family.  We are going to Indy to see Tim's cousin and wife.  I love that his family is so close.
  • More time to read my new book.  I know I am so far behind on this, but I just started reading Gone Girl and am hooked. (no spoilers please!!)
  • Strength and courage for some major events going on in my friends' lives. 
  • The most happiest of days for my mom, step-mom and mother in law on Sunday.  (And wishing and hoping that the presents I ordered get there in time!)
Check back next week for the updates as well as new wishes!  What are you wishing for this week?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Who Needs Sleep?

Apparently when I go away on a girls trip, I decide to live it up and forget about things like sleeping, eating well and exercising.  I had a blast in Vegas this past weekend but am really paying for it now.  I think I slept a total of 12 hours in 3 days and today I am feeling like a walking zombie.  But, it was very much worth it and I would do it again!

We spent a lot of time at the pool (it was 90+ degrees and SUNNY!), eating/drinking, and then of course there was the Britney Spears concert!  Britney was fun, but she definitely was not giving it her all.  We know she doesn't sing live, but I really thought her performance would be better.  You could tell that she was thinking "this is my third performance this week and I'm so not in to this", and it showed.  She did a lot of older songs, which was fun, and I still managed to lose my voice screaming singing along. 

Thursday night I was up for 24 hrs, Saturday night I slept 3 hours - so I think it's safe to say I made the best of my time away!  Now back to reality - I missed my little family so much! 

Today I am also linking up with Ember Grey for Grateful Heart Monday.  My weekend trip made me realize that I have a lot to be grateful for:

- A husband that encourages me to get away and have time to myself.  He's a great daddy and had some fun daddy-daughter time without me!

- The friend I went with has been there for me for 17 years.  We've been through a lot together and knowing that we've been friends for that long makes my heart happy.

- She invited two other friends - who are now my friends.  I love meeting new people and now have two girls in Texas that I'm happy to call new friends.  (This also had me cross something off my 101 in 1001 list!)

Ember Grey
What was your best "time away"?  Who did you go with and where?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Vegas with a side of Guilt

If you read my post yesterday or follow me on Twitter, you've seen that I am going to Vegas today.  This trip came about while I was home for Christmas and having lunch with one of my oldest and dearest friends.  We started talking about how we were both going to the JT concert (she in Minneapolis, me in Chicago) and that Britney would be amazing to see.  Then... it just happened!  We booked hotel, tickets, flights and began the countdown.

I'm all about girls trips.  I love getting away, having "me" time, catching up with friends.  I get so excited about them and how I'll be able to sleep in, eat what I want, etc.  Then a few days before it's time to go, major guilt sets in.  How could I leave my babies?  My husband?  What about the puppy that only cuddles with me and seriously gets depressed when I'm gone?  I feel like I'm the worst mother ever.  I fear that they will feel abandoned, and then speak of the weekend "mommy went away" years from now in therapy.  I mean, really, can't I just take some time to myself without feeling bad about it?

The answer is YES.  It's so important for women to take time to themselves.  Too often we become embedded in to our "roles" as wife, mother, daughter, friend, that we neglect ourselves.  It's ok to enjoy time away.  It's ok to need weekends for yourself.  Our babies and husbands will be ok.  I have an amazing husband that sees the value in these weekends as well.  His role is reversed as he becomes the primary caretaker, and his wife comes back refreshed.  Everyone is happy (even if my babies ignore me for the first few hours).  They will be ok, and more importantly, I will be ok.