Monday, November 28, 2011

I Want to Win! [Laura Winslow Photography]

When I discovered The TomKat Studio online a couple of years ago, I fell in LOVE with her work. Her parties were amazing and inspiring, as well as all of her work, and it was made even more amazing by the photos of all her parties and ideas. I was thrilled to discover the website of one of her amazing photographer friends and was even more inspired by what I saw on her own website. Laura Winslow is simply amazing. The colors in her photos are so vibrant, fun and energetic and her photo sessions are inspired! I literally get tears in my eyes when I look at a lot of her photo sessions, because I wish I could be so artistic. Her eye for detail, and her ability to bring out the personality and fun in her subjects is, well, dare I say it again -- amazing!

Not only is she an amazing photographer, but the girl knows how to put on a website contest! And this is one that I think any mother, woman, human would love to win! It's here Holiday Bloggie Bash -- 1 winner, $10,000 worth in prizes from many fabulous vendors from all over the internet. The only problem is that this contest ends TODAY, Monday, November 28th, so if you want to enter (and I can't imagine who wouldn't) do it now! There are multiple ways to enter, so DO IT! Click HERE to visit her website and find out how. And while you are there, check out all the amazing photographs...because I know I didn't even do her justice in this blog! Good Luck to all who enter!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Here's to Being Happy!

Bad things sucks. Tonight I worked a couple of hours of overtime and was driving home around 8:00, and started thinking about how crappy things seem to be overtaking my emotions recently. Concern over every day things, and recently about things like the disappearance of Baby Lisa, not all that far from our house, and the untimely and very sad death of IndyCar Series driver Dan Wheldon. On my drive home, I decided I want to be happy...to be grateful for all the great things I had. And when I came home and I opened my mailbox, I found the perfect remedy to my negatives thoughts and feelings.

A postcard to Emily from her kindergarten teacher.


I actually thought it was very sweet of her, and it definitely made me smile. It made Emily happy, too!

So I've decided to post some pictures of things that have made me very happy the last couple of weeks. Like our trip a couple of weeks ago to Carolyn's Country Cousins Pumpkin Patch.




And a few days later, the kids were enjoying the apples dipped in the BEST caramel dip ever...and maybe Brendan was enjoying it too much.

And while he was doing that, Emily was making her own lunch for school the next day.

We've been working really hard on getting Brendan to fall asleep by himself. It's definitely something I wish I would have started earlier, but we have made real progress in the last couple weeks. For the most he will now stay in bed, but there are some nights when he will sneak out. When he looks like this, it's hard to put him back in bed.

But you know it's time to say goodnight when he starts doing this.

I will conclude with a picture of my two superheros...the two most important reasons for me to smile!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

RIP Dan Wheldon

Yesterday was a good day! I spent the morning doing some shopping with the kiddos, and spent a beautiful evening with my family and friends celebrating the wedding of a good friend. Sunday I slept in, finally getting up at about 11:15. It felt nice to sleep in, and I needed it.

Today was going to be a lazy day, with some housecleaning, a little grocery shopping and some meatloaf making the only thing on the schedule. I was about halfway through cleaning the kitchen when I remembered that the final IndyCar race of the season was on. I sat on the floor next and switched the channel, only to see there wasn't any racing on. It was a red flag situation and the drivers were milling around the pits. I saw someone get interviewed -- can't remember which driver anymore -- and he talked about the debris field they drove through on the next lap around and how bad it was. It was then that I realized that this wasn't a typical racing accident. This was bad. Real bad.

I then watched as they announced that they were awaiting news on the condition of Dan Wheldon. I admit I don't follow the IndyCar Series the way that I do NASCAR, and I can probably really only name a handful of Indy drivers. Dan Wheldon was one of those drivers. I know he was a two time Indy champ, a former series champ, and he won at the Kansas Speedway twice. I also know that, from what I have heard of him and from him, he was truly one of the good guys. When I saw replays of the wreck, and read about it on Twitter and Facebook, I had a bad feeling it wasn't going to be good. A yellow tarp had been placed over the car fairly quickly, and the tarp usually isn't a good sign.

I no longer cared about the housework that needed to be done. I just sat watching, and prayed that they would report that Dan Wheldon was awake, alert, and going to be ok. And I waited. And with every minute that passed, every replay that was shown, every interview that was done, and ever shot of drivers in the pits, my heart broke a little bit more.

It had been over an hour after I started watching, when they had called the drivers into a closed door meeting. I prayed it was JUST to decide what to do about the race, but it turned out it was much more than that.

As the drivers filed out of the room, we were told they would not be commenting until after the IRL made their announcement. But honestly, they didn't need to speak. The looks on their faces said it all. The hugs they got from friends, teammates and loved one told me all I needed to know. Especially seeing a guy like Tony Kanaan wiping tears from his eyes under his dark black sunglasses.

At just 33 years old, Dan Wheldon was gone.


Even though I knew it wasn't going to be good, hearing the actual words from the TV made my heart sink. My mouth still dropped open, and then the tears really started coming. I was heartbroken. He left behind a wife and two very young boys. As a wife and mom, I can't even imagine what she is going through.

As it should be, they made the decision not to restart the race. Instead of race, the drivers strapped back into their cars and ran 5 tribute laps in Wheldon's honor, as all of the team members, officials, friends and family lined up to honor Wheldon.

It's been awhile since I've cried like that. My daughter was very sweet as she tried to comfort me, putting her arm around me and rubbing my back. My son kept asking if I was ok, and gave me hugs.

So tonight my heart breaks for his wife, his two young sons, parents, brothers and sister, team members, fellow IRL drivers, and all of his fans. When my NASCAR boys strap themselves into their cars next weekend, I'm sure Dan Wheldon will be on their minds, just like he will be on mine. While I know that it's still a dangerous sport, I am so proud of the improvements NASCAR has made to the cars, the equipment, and the tracks themselves. I just pray that the IndyCar Series does something to make their series safer. They go so fast, and seem so unprotected. I've heard that the 2012 cars are supposed to be safer, and a lot of that has to do with all of the work Dan Wheldon has done with the new car. I just hope that this is the last death the IndyCar Series sees.

RIP Dan Wheldon. You will be missed, but will not be forgotten. God Bless.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Love New Discoveries!

This morning I have become OBSESSED with a new blog I just discovered, thanks to a Facebook friend’s “Like” of a Facebook page. I can’t wait to get home tonight and investigate it a little more in depth! Kelle Hampton is who I want to be when I grow up. Her blog, “Enjoying the Small Things” is fabulous and what I aspire to be! I think her photography is amazing and I love her writing style. I’ve only spent a little time on this blog and I’m already inspired!

And thanks to Kellie’s blog, I’ve also discovered a singer/songwriter that I have already fallen in love with. Rachel Platten’s music is fun, and light, and bubbly, and inspiring, and simple. All things that seem to be drawing me to music these days. It’s also why I LOVE Meaghan Smith!

I absolutely love discovery new people, new music and new blogs that inspire me! I’m starting to really enjoy the thought of a more simple, refreshing lifestyle, and I have a feeling these two latest obsessions will further and inspire that enjoyment!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

KC Slimdown Challenge - It's On!

Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life! It sounds cliche and it is, but I'm determined to make it so! Tomorrow is the beginning of the KC Slimdown Challenge. It's a 10 week weight loss challenge where teams of 4-6 compete against each other to see which team can lose the largest percentage of weight. The winning team gets to go to Scottsdale Spa and Resort, and the second place gets a pretty sweet Sporting KC package. Do I think my team will win? Well, anything can happen, but I'm not counting on it. But that's not the point.

The point is that a year ago I joined another weight loss challenge. In those 9 weeks, I lost 18.8 pounds. When it was over, I knew it was only a matter of months before I got to my goal weight. A year later, I'm still as far away from my goal weight as I was then. So why is this different? Because I'm determined to make it different.

I've got a great group of ladies I know will inspire me. I've got two little ones who make me want to be better. By this time next year, I want to buy cute dresses and not feel so self conscious. I want to wear a swimsuit in public that doesn't have a little skirt attached. And it's not just that I WANT to, I WILL!

So here is to tomorrow -- the beginning of the rest of my life!

And here is a sample of my new diet!



Yum!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Now that the parties are over and there is nothing to plan, I feel a little lost. What's my purpose? Ok, so not really, but I do wish I had something fun to plan. Instead, I'm planning my spring cleaning to do list.

Our house is so cluttered. Between all of my stuff that I just "need" to save, and all of the toys that the kids have, we are running out of space. There is a tub full of toys in Brendan's room that he doesn't play with and doesn't seem to miss. Some of it I feel guilty about when I think of getting rid of it, because some he's only had since last year, but I guess if he doesn't miss it, there is no reason to keep it. Right?

I'm such a pack rat. I always have been. When we moved from one apartment to the last apartment we lived in -- before kids -- I actually got rid of a LOT of stuff, but I know there is more to do. And I'm not the only one. My husband is a pack rat too. When we've moved the last several times, things get thrown into a box because he doesn't have enough time or energy to go through it.

With us both being so bad, I'm actually surprised Emily is as good as she is. There have been several times when we have cleaned her room and I've asked her about certain things and fully expected her to say "I NEED TO KEEP THAT" but surprisingly, she's allowed me to get rid of several things.

So I think I need to plan three days off some week soon. I can't really clean -- especially the kids' rooms -- when they are there. To many people in a small space, and too much opportunity for them to cry for something they don't need. So I need at least a day for their rooms and a day for my room. I can probably do the garage on a weekend while they are there.

What's the third day for you might be asking? Me!

Between sick kids and snow, it seems like FOREVER since I took a full day off just for me. The last planned day off (not sick kids or snow days) was December 9th, and that was for Emily's birthday. So I want a day off just for me.

Last year I took a day, took the kids to daycare, came back and slept in a little bit, did some things around the house, had lunch by myself, went to a movie by myself, and did a little shopping before picking up the kids. This time I might do roughly the same thing; however, I'd prefer to not sleep in so I can get as much fun stuff done as possible.

It's been about 18 years since I've had my one and only pedicure, and at least 6 since I've had a manicure. I kind of enjoyed the fake nails, but when I had kids I didn't want to have them because I was afraid I'd be poking my poor babies all the time. But now that they are older, I'm contemplating getting them again. The one thing holding me back is texting. I already have a hard enough time texting when my nails start getting longer...how will I manage? Maybe I should just get a regular mani-pedi and forget about the fake nails. When you take them off it takes forever for the nails to grow out anyway.

Before I take a "Me Day" off, I want to make sure I have it all planned out so I don't miss anything. I think the day would definitely have to include a cupcake!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Balloon Wreath

One of the items from Brendan's birthday party that I forgot to put on his party entry was my balloon wreath! I saw it months ago on one of my favorite sites, HowDoesShe.com and thought it would be perfect for all birthday parties. It wasn't until I decided to makes Brendan's party a balloon party that I knew I had to make it now. It's a time consuming process, but in the end I think it's really worth it.



You can find the tutorial at HowDoesShe.com.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Brendan's 2nd Birthday!

This weekend concluded the birthday season. After Emily's "Fashion Fairytale" fifth birthday party in February, this weekend was Brendan's balloon party second birthday.

Even though he is two and I could have had any party theme I wanted, I wanted to make it something he liked. Right now, he loves Thomas the Train and Sponge Bob, but I didn't really want to make it commercialized party. Like most kids, Brendan LOVES balloons, so I decided to make it a balloon party.

The decor was simple. Lots of balloons. All over the floor, tied to the bannisters, and on the desert table. We invited family and some of our closest friends, but unfortunately, due to a poor weather forcast (that didn't even end up materializing), my brother, sister-in-law, and their four kids didn't make it. So we had my mom, friend and babysitter Delisa, friends Stacy and Shawn and their daughters, Melissa and her daughters, and Mary Lou and Emma.

I made cupcakes, chocolate and vanilla, with almond and vanilla frosting. I also made balloon and "2" shaped cookies, the 2's serving as cupcake toppers.




Brendan opened all of his presents and seemed very grateful for everything!


All in all, I think a good time was had by everyone. And now that birthday's are done for another nine months, I'll have to find another reason to have a party. Anyone want to hire me to decorate their next party? :)


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Snow Day...and sick of them!

I wanted to go to work Friday. I wanted to be brave and just do it. Unfortunately, I couldn't get my scaredy-cat butt out the door. Thursday started with rain, then sleet, then snow. I drove home on Thursday because Kevin wasn't feeling so great, and even though the roads weren't great at all, I did it! That gave me the courage to try on Friday morning, until I turned on the news. All I saw was "SLICK," "TERRIBLE," "STAY HOME IF YOU CAN!" At first I thought I'd just sit out the rush hour and wait until closer to noon. However, the roads didn't seem to get much better, and by about 11:30 I decided to stop lying to myself. I wasn't going to go in. So I emailed work and told them I was staying home.

The last several "snow days" I wasn't very productive and spent most of the time watching TV or on the computer. I wanted this one to be different, and it was.

It started with me and Emily making cookie dough -- chocolate chip and butterscotch chip.

Then, while Brendan and Kevin were napping, Emily and I went out and played in the snow.

My "Ballerina" snowman

The best I could do was a mini snowman with no face, but it worked for Emily!



And then we came in and finished up our cookies.



After the cookies, we had BBQ chicken pizza (cheese for Emily), and had family movie night.



It was mine and Kevin's first time watching it and it was really cute and pretty funny.

And today, Emily was invited to her friend Lauren's birthday party, which was taking place at Crown Center and Science City. The party was at 9:30 am and thanks to the lovely weather, the news was reporting slick streets, dangerous driving conditions, etc. So I struggled with to go or not to go, and ultimetly decided not to go. Lucky for us, the party included a 12:00 "Mad Scientist" presentation and a run of Science City, so we were able to get there by noon and enjoy part of the party. Emily had a lot of fun, so I'm glad mom got brave and drove out there!

After we got home and hung around for awhile, the whole family went for dinner at Granite City and to Target...where we ended up buying a Wii. I'm excited about it because I'm hoping it will get the family moving a little and get us hanging out a little more.

So tomorrow is church and no other plans, except for maybe setting up the Wii and seeing what we can do with it. Sounds good to me!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Expanding My Horizons -- Starting With A Purse!

I'm normally the black purse/brown purse kind of girl.

It has to be able to match with anything.

It can't stand out.

It can't be noticeable.

Well. On Tuesday, that all changed!

Last week I saw a purse at Target that immediately caught my eye. It was totally NOT my usually style, which is why I liked it. On Tuesday, while running around shopping with my daughter, I decided to bite the bullet and buy it. And I'm glad I did.


I'm trying to step out of my comfort zone in some things, and while it seems small to many, this purse purchase is a start! I love it!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Fashion Fairytale Birthday Party!

My new year’s resolution for 2011 was to blog more. So much for that…I’ve already blown it by not posting until now, but I have a good reason. I’ve been preparing for Emily’s big 5th birthday party! She decided months ago that she wanted a “Barbie A Fashion Fairytale” themed birthday party. Her birthday is in early December, so with all the Christmas craziness, we decided to hold off on her friend party until now. That’s a good thing. I have been reading so many party blogs over the last year, with The TomKat Studio being my number one source of inspiration, and I’ve had all of these ideas building up in my head.

My number one priority was to make sure it was special for her. As far as the d├ęcor, etc., I didn’t want to do a typical generic Barbie party using just Barbie decorations. I wanted to make it a little more special and personalized. I used some of the things in the movie as my inspiration for table decorations, etc. The basic story of the movie is that Barbie is an actress, gets fired from her movie, Ken calls and breaks up with her, and she’s splashed on the tabloids. She decides to take a break and fly to Paris to hang out with her aunt at her fashion house. When she gets there, she finds out that her aunt is going out of business, and it’s up to her, the assistant, and the magical “Flairies” to save the fashion house. So when figuring out decorations, my three must haves were the Eifel Tower, fashion, and glitter! The colors were pink, black and silver.

I started out with custom-made party circles from The TomKat Studio, my first purchase from a woman who has been a HUGE inspiration to me over the last 1 1/2 years.! The circles, which included the Eifel Tower, “Emily,” “5,” and the title of the movie's theme song, “Get Your Sparkle On," were used as cupcake toppers for a little personalization.



So obviously I now needed cupcakes. Instead of making them from scratch, which I usually love to do, I kind of cheated a little. I had so much to do and so little time, so I ended up using a doctored-up cake mix (adding pudding and sour cream along with the called for ingredients) that I found on one of my favorite blogs, Hello My Name Is Heather (by the super creative and talented designer Heather Bailey) for the chocolate, and a similiar recipe I found somewhere else (I can't remember) for the vanilla. May I just say, wow they were good! I did make my own butter cream frosting using bright pink food coloring!



Along with the cupcakes, we had pink and silver gumballs, pink chocolate covered marshmallows, and delicious, beautiful cookies made by my wonderful boss, Diana. I was so overwhelmed by how detailed and perfect they were for the party!



After all the stress of planning, and shopping, and decorating, I was very excited about the way the whole thing turned out.







And of course, the most important part of the whole party was my beautiful little girl! She had such a great time with all of her friends at her first friend’s birthday party, and this is one of the best pictures from the entire day! And before we end, let’s talk about the dress…


I had all but given up on finding a fancy dress for her to wear, but decided to make one last stop at Dillards. And what do to you know? I found it! THE PERFECT dress! At first I couldn’t find her size, then as if it were meant to be, the size 6 I needed was on the mannequin. It really is THE PERFECT dress! The color, the style, the drawing scenes of Paris…I was almost more giddy about the dress than anything else about the party. So once I found the dress, I found the headband in the same department, then went to Charming Charlie’s for the pearl necklace and bracelet. All of that, along with the black tights and sparkly shoes, completed the perfect party look!!

I had so much fun planning and pulling off this party, I can’t wait for the next one! In fact, I’m getting ready to plan Brendan’s 2nd birthday party which will happen next month. Poor Kevin!