Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Photo Dump

Is it just me or has January been looooooong?  As I started gathering photos for this post, I was shocked that it has only really been about three weeks since Sam's surgery*.  It feels like forever ago.  I guess there is something about the weather and the slow resume to normalcy after the hustle of the holidays that makes this month feel like it drags a little.  Irregardless, it was good.  We got to spend quality time relaxing at home just the three of us, got great time with both families and good friends, saw two snows, and even got in some fun outdoor activities like boating and park playing on some of the freakishly warm days.  Here are the photos to sum it up:


Also...
*Here's a quick update from Sam's tubes & adenoid surgery for those that are interested: Overall, we had a really good experience with the whole thing.  Sam's recovery was quick (at 100% by about day 5) and the results - so far - have been very good.  For the first time in almost a year, our boy is sleeping silently (he was a major snore machine before), and we don't have to keep ten million tissues available at all times.  In fact, he has barely had so much as a drip from his former fountain-nose, which is pretty incredible given how rampant the flu has been lately.  The worst side effect of the whole thing that we experienced was TERRIBLE BREATH for about four days while the scab formed where his adenoid had been removed.  We had been warned that this would happen; but, we were not prepared.  It was pretty awful; but, totally worth it - a small price to pay.  We also noticed a slight increase in stuffiness/runny nose etc. for the first week or so after the surgery, but nothing since.  Thanks for the prayers etc., we are very hopeful that this will be the start of a healthy season for our boy!

And last, if you missed my post about my blog-fast for Lent (and my call for guest posters) earlier today, read it here. :)


I'm Giving Up My Blog for Lent

So, two weeks from yesterday (February 13th) is the start of Lent.

I'll be honest, I don't usually observe Lent in any of the traditional ways like fasting from certain foods or other luxuries.  Growing up in the Baptist church, it just wasn't something we did.  Of course, my sister and I did love "Bread and Broth Day" at our Catholic elementary school; and, in college,  I gave up Diet Coke one year because it seemed like everyone was giving up something; but, other than that... Not so much.  (I'm also pretty sure my high school boyfriend gave me up for Lent one year; apparently he never broke that fast. #forthebest)

Then, this year...

Last Sunday, sitting in church, I felt this strong sense that I needed to give up my blog and other internet/social-networking vices for Lent.  And, well, mostly because of my word for the year, I'm going to do it.  I'm kicking and screaming a little bit inside, but I just know I have to do.  I can't really explain it other than by pointing to my word.  This is the year of surrender.

I will not be reading or writing blogs from February 13th thru March 30th.  I will also be fasting from Facebook and Twitter during this time*.

Truthfully, I'm not really surprised that this is an area God would "ask" me to give up for Him.  While being a part of the blog community is good for me in a lot of ways, it can become an idol sometimes.  It can also foster feelings of jealousy and comparison sometimes.  And, if I'm really being honest, It can be a distraction from my real life - like precious time with Sam who seems to grow up a whole year every four minutes. 

Forty days to focus on my family, my students, my project-list, my reading-list, and - most importantly - my spiritual life.    If you feel so inclined, I'd love to have your prayers for this!

To be clear, this isn't because I'm just "not feeling the blog" or anything like that.  I don't want to take this break; but, I do need it.  It will be good for me.  And, I'm excited to tell you about what I learn and accomplish and experience during that time.  

So... What does this mean?  Well, it will certainly be a little quiet around here; but, I would love to use this time for some of you to "introduce yourselves" to this community in the form of a guest post while I'm gone.


If you are interested in writing a guest post, I will need it completed and in HTML (ready-to-post) format no later than Sunday, Feb. 10th so I have time to get it scheduled before the fast begins.  Email me for more details at e@emyselfandi.com.  

In the meantime, I'll still be going strong until then so stick around - there are plenty more confessions and Bachelor recaps to be shared (and, yes, it breaks.my.heart that I won't be blogging for the final rose ceremony).  

Thank you so much, as always, for supporting me and walking beside me.  I am blessed by you all.
*At least for now, I'm not including Instagram, Pinterest, or email in my fast.  That might change, but right now I don't feel as convicted about them being a time-suck in my life.  I will, however, be limiting my overall internet time - so don't expect to see as much of me even there.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Midweek Confessions

It's that time again...

- Last week I ran across this "genius" thing in the freezer section of the grocery store.  Little patties of Sweet Potatoes that could easily be taken out and thawed/microwaved individually for a quick and healthy snack/side.  Sam loves sweet potatoes, and I love quick and healthy, so it was a win-win.  I glanced at the nutrition facts as I threw the 99cent Styrofoam, shrink-wrapped tray into my cart, and went home feeling quite proud of my find - they only had 60 calories a patty, which must be the same as a fresh sweet potato, right? .  (I mean, it's basically like homemade baby food, only without the making at home part.)  Anyway, I've been feeding these things to my kid for a week, and tonight was the first time I happened to look at the ingredients... Yams (thank goodness), sugar, cornstarch, buttermilk, salt, natural and articial flavoring, yellow #6, red #40. UGG.  Mommy fail.  The Styrofoam and price tag should have been a dead give away.


- In an attempt to make the most of our weekend and keep out wild toddler at bay, Jeff and I braved an "indoor carnival" at the civic center this past weekend.  It was all the sketchiness of an outdoor carnival, only inside a dimly lit building and with the oldest/ most broken down rides for little kids.  I loved it. :)  Sam was fascinated watching the rides, so we decided to give him a spin on the two safest looking things there - the Carousel and a little school bus ride. And well... here's a little glimpse of how that went:
This totally doesn't do the scene justice.
He cried the whole time on both rides (you'd think we'd learn our lesson after the first one, right?) while, meanwhile, I was just barely squished into the mini-ride, sitting spread-eagle, and I'm pretty sure all the passerbyers could see my butt crack as we "spun" past.  Making memories.

- Because of my work hours, I get dressed every single morning and (at least most of the time) attempt to look cute.  Unfortunately, when I get home, I immediately change into some variation of yoga pants and one of Jeff's flannel shirts for cleaning and playing with Sam.  I leave before Jeff (and Sam) wakes up; so, it occurred to me yesterday that it has been weeks since Jeff has seen me in a real outfit during the week.  Isn't there some sort of mom-blogger support group for this kind of problem?

- For the first time in my whole life I think, I have officially passed the one-month mark and NOT finished my Christmas thank you notes.  This is, seriously, a big deal.  I sent the most "pressing" ones out right away, but I think I'm going to wave the white flag on the rest of them.  Emily, Alex, Mom, Kathryn, Freda, and Jayme - please accept this blog post as a token of my sincere appreciation for your generous gift.

Your turn!!

And, until next time, I'm signing out...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Letters to the Bachelorettes (Week 4 Recap)

Friday I was out of school for snow, yesterday was a two-hour delay for ice, and today I am wearing flip-flops, blogging from my front porch while Sam naps, and meeting friends at the park later.  ...Not that I'm complaining... I've always said I'm a four-seasons girl, it's even better when they all four come in the same week. ;) Weather is weird though.

Anyway, did you watch ole Sean last night?  I'm not kidding, I have a legit crush on him.  I think he is so so sweet - especially on his date with Selma.  He did take a few steps back for me when he fell for Tierra's shenanigans, but I'm willing to look past it for now.  :) What did you think?

And now... I bring you my first installment of...
 Dear 110 Pound Selma,
     I'm going to start by just saying that I think you are beautiful.  You must have been holding back in the last episodes, because I hadn't really paid much attention to you - but you definitely shined this week.  That said, I'm confused - first of all - about your outfit choice for your date with Sean.  Perhaps if I weighed 110 pounds (60 of which was boobs) and had legs like yours, I too would wear spandex pants and tank tops all the time.  But, really, was that the best you could do?  Please tell me that someone told you you'd be hiking/rock climbing when you "got dressed" for your date.  (And, if they did, why didn't the same person tell AshLee last week not to wear heels when she went to an amusement park? Just wondering.) (P.S. I absolutely LOVED it when you got off the plane and started talking about hating the heat and getting puffy - totally reminded me of my sister.  Amazingly, I never once saw a drop of sweat on you during the hike or rock climb; but, whatever.)
     Second, I respect you for your religion and your standards - I really do.  But, just as other girls have played it in the past, the whole "I'm not going to kiss you, but I will come so darn close that you almost die" game is kind-of annoying and over-done.  If you aren't going to kiss him, fine.  But, really, give the poor guy a break and at least wear a high-neck blouse and sit on separate chairs on something. And, just so you know, Sean is "gentleman enough" to "wait" for you, but that isn't going to keep him from kissing all twelve other girls.  Just FYI.
     Overall, I think you have a decent shot at this thing. Sean obviously is into you (I about melted when he said "I'm crazy about you" at the end of the date), and we know enough about his values and morality to think he probably appreciates yours.  I am interested to see how your families and your religions will play into this as we progress - I'm sure the producers had a field day with that!  
With love,
E
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Dear Leslie H.,
     I don't really know what to say to you.  To be honest, I've been wondering how you made it this far for a while.  My biggest word of advice is to please - for the love - stop saying things like "Holy Moly" and "Holy Batman."  I can't say for certain, but I'm pretty sure that is why you got sent home.  That, and the fact that you (basically) kept referring to yourself as a prostitute and tried on some of the ugliest dresses I've ever seen (that pink one? Barf!).  I will give it to you that this date was awkward in concept.  I love shopping as much (or more) than the next girl, but I HATE shopping with Jeff.  Sean really should have just given you the credit card and met you at dinner. Anyway, I'm sorry about your fate.  Perhaps if you trade in that white lace thing you wore a few episodes ago for the new Badgley Mishka dress that you got to take home, you'll have better luck from here on out.  
With love,
E
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*Bonus*
Dear Neil Lane, 
     We all know who you are already, your cameo really was unnecessary this early in the season.  And, for the record, I would NEVER have put such a big gawdy necklace with a bedazzled neck-line like that.  Bad call.  
E

Dear Amanda,
     Besides the fact that your rose ceremony get-up was part goth - part flapper (and you could really stand to run a brush through that mane once in a while), I was still surprised to see you go.  You are one strange cat, but it is a pretty low blow to send the one girl who had to go to the hospital home.  Sorry about that.  (Also, how is Daniella still on this show?)
With love,
E
Dear Robyn,
     I loved your dress at the rose ceremony.  I HATED your pick-up line... Like, I threw up a little in my mouth.  
With love,
E

Dear Lesley M.,
     From one I-can't-put-on-make-up-to-save-my-life girl to another, I really think you should stick with the natural look.
With love,
E

Dear Tierra,
     Clearly you were tricked into going on this show.  You don't like drama, you don't like other women, and you didn't know that "it would be this hard."  News Flash: every.single.season is like this.  Also, I'm pretty sure you shouldn't wear those mini-shorts anymore, especially if the camera guys keep going at you from that highly unflattering angle like they did in the shots on your on the white bench at the fireplace.  And, with that, I'm not going to say much else because, frankly, I'm very very afraid of you.
With love,
E
*Bonus*
Dear Makers of Ankle Boots,
Why?
E
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Haha, maybe I'll make this a weekly thing.  See you tomorrow for some confessions.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Books Written by Bloggers

Is it just me, or is every blogger and their mother publishing a book lately? If you are like me, this makes you a strong combination of jealous (of them), excited (for all the good reading), and overwhelmed (about all the reading I have to do now).

Since I am a list maker at my core, I thought I'd put together a little round-up today, and then - hopefully - we can all offer up reviews, etc.  Sound fun?


In alphabetical order:

Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond/ The Pioneer Woman (Isn't it about time for this movie to come out?!)












That's a lot of writing going on! And these are just the ones from my blog reader that have come out in the last year or so, not to mention the ones that are being written/published now (like hers and theirs). What did I forget? 

So far, I have read Black Heels, Bloom and YHL.  I loved all three for (obvious) different reasons.  Pretty much all the other ones are on my "list."  (You know, the one that keeps growing and never gets check marks.)

If you've read any of these, I'd love for you to leave some feedback in the comments here.  Is it worth a read?  Is it a must-buy or a library kinda book?  Go ahead, be honest.  I can pretty much guarantee none of those big-time bloggers are going to find us here. :)


P.S. Have I mentioned that I really want to write a book?  I do.  Looking at that list makes me feel both inspired/motivated by their success and discouraged/stressed that I "don't have a story to tell" or "all my stories have already been written."  I gotta get over that.  Any tips? How about ideas for what to write about?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Blog Gems This Week

Well, for the second Friday in a row, we were out of school yesterday because of snow.  This was kind-of a funny one because not a single flake had fallen when the county called it; but, the weather men were pretty much right on (imagine that) and the snow came in before noon, so it turned out to be a good decision.

After the last little snow storm, Sam and I got a bit of cabin fever, so when the snow started I did what any good mother would do - put on my Hunter boots, dusted off the car, and headed to Chickfila.  Look, before you judge me for braving the weather, consider this: There is a play area, delicious chicken nuggets, free-flowing Diet Dr. Pepper, and a Starbucks across the street.  Do you really blame me for wanting to get stranded there?  :)  

Luckily, my dad came and got us in his SUV when we were sufficiently stuffed (Sam ate TEN grilled chicken nuggets), and we were home cozied up by nap time. It's looking like today is going to be more of the same.  I'm not complaining.

ANYWAY... On to the matter at hand, here are some gems found around the blogosphere this week.  Grab a second coffee and enjoy!



How I'll Know When to Stop Writing about My Daughter by Erin Loechner for Babble.  I'm starting to think about this topic a lot, and I really like what she has to say.

And this one, Adult Children of Mom Blogger Support Group by Momma Be Thy Name is a hilarious follow-up to Erin's above post.  This will probably be Sam one day. ;)

On Raising a Three Year Old and the Beauty in Failure on Dear Baby.  This is a new (to me) blog that I found this week, and this post really hit home with me.  So, so true and wise.  I am definitely guilty of many of these things - especially #1 and #6.

10 Parenting Ideals that Got Thrown Out the Window This Year by Lauren Hartmann for Babble. It's sad how true this is... I was such an ignorant, judgmental moron before having kids. :)

The Burden of Hope from Something Beautiful.  You probably remember my sweet friend Erika's post on infertility earlier this year.  I love how raw and real she is; but, that her every day blog is still so full of laughter and joy.  Really, I just love her.  (P.S. Erika, did you know that this post was included on The Stirrup Queen's round-up this week? Go girl!)


The God Who Sees I'm a Hot Mess and Loves Me Anyway by Marie Osborne.  You know I love a good hot mess redemption story. :)

Brave Moms Raise Brave Kids by Jen Hatmaker.  I like Jen Hatmaker, and I like what she says here a lot.  I hope I can be a brave mom.

Have a good Saturday!


Friday, January 25, 2013

Eighteen Months WHAT?!?!

There is no denying it anymore.  My tiny bundle of baldness and coos, has officially been replaced with a wild and silly fuzzy-headed toddler... How on earth did this happen? (Cue the tears and ovarian butterflies here.)


We had Sam's eighteen month well-visit appointment with his pediatrician on Wednesday.  At 27 pounds and 31.5 inches, he is - as I suspected - a perfectly growing little sprout. (Also, as I suspected would happen one day, his height has dropped to the 25th percentile, while his weight remains steady in the 50th.  Sorry bud! It's in your genes.) 

Besides the FOUR shots he had to get, this was actually kind-of an enjoyable visit because so much of it was just talking to the doctor about Sam - his development, his milestones, and his personality.  From what I can tell, two things happen around this age:  1. Your baby stops being a baby and begins to really grow into his own little self - full of habits, moods, quirks, and spunk.  And, 2. You stop being just the provider-of-all-life-sustaining-things (although he will still need much of that for a while too) and start to grow into the actual role of parent.  Although it often feels like the "hard part" is behind me now, I have the deep sense that the real work of parenting is only just beginning...


Don't get me wrong - the carrying a baby in my belly, not sleeping for a year, and that whole breastfeeding thing is not for the weak; but, this - this kind of parenting - is about more than just growing... It is about shaping.  Not only is it time to start teaching my boy how to count and say his ABCs, and use the potty, or teach him self-control over the understandably-strong urge to eat dog food when Mommy says "No." But, SO much more than that, this is the part where I get to teach him how to work hard, how to learn from mistakes, how to honor Jesus, how to share joy, and how to really love people well. I am a teacher by my very nature, but this is the kind-of teaching they really can't prepare you for in college. This part of teaching, I'm being honest, scares the heck out of me.  Give me thesis statements and modifiers any day - this is BIG STUFF.

But, along with those responsibilities, I suspect that this is also the part where the real rewards begin.  I've loved Sam from the moment I saw his little heart fluttering on the ultrasound machine more than two years ago, but I loved him then because he was mine.  Now, I love him because he is him

I love EVERYTHING about my little toddler-boy.  I love the parts of him that are so easy to love, like his big blue eyes, the way he sleeps with his feet under his body in a little ball, and the fact that he can't help himself but to start dancing and bobbing his head when music comes on.  And, I also love that he has spunk, and is feisty, and gets into everything.  I love his belly laughs, the way he sings in the car, how he sits in the chair in his room and "reads," climbs all over Addy, and flirts with women everywhere we go.  I even love that he is stubborn and refuses to talk - even though I know he understands everything I say - and that he can't eat a meal without being absolutely covered in food because "help" is not an option.


As if all that wasn't enough to make my heart absolutely explode, I LOVE this season of watching Jeff fall more and more into his role as a dad.  We had friends over a few nights ago (none of which have kids yet) and one of the guys said to me - "You know, this is the age we picture when we imagine having a son... We forget about the baby stage and the work it takes to get here, and we just picture chasing our boy around the house and throwing a ball for him."  Yep.  I get it.  I never knew how much I would LOVE being a toddler mom, but this part of Jeff has been there all along.  Oh how it warms my heart to see my boys being boys, and to think of all the ways his daddy will teach Sam how to be a man.


To my sweet Sam,
How much growing you have done in the last year and a half!  And, with each of your milestones and markers, how much growing I have done as your mama.  Oh, we've had our share of growing-pains, but I wouldn't change a bit of it.  I love every.single.thing about the you you have become, and - in a way I worried would never come - I love the mother you have taught me to be... Whether it is the way you snuggle your head into my chest when I wrap you tightly in your bath towel, or the scrunched-nose smile you give when I come in to get you from your nap each day - nothing is proof that I'm doing this mom-thing right like you are.  Keep growing boy!  I love you.  ~Mom



P.S. Here's a little photo-book I made from Shutterfly for the grandmas at Christmas that I realized I never shared here. The above photos (and most of the ones in the book) are by our friend Howard.  They were taken about a month ago on a "guys only" hiking trip that turned into more of a walk/photo-shoot.  In a small way, flipping through these pages captures the changes that have happened right before my eyes in the last year and a half.  I can barely even look at it without getting chills. Hope you enjoy! (And, yes, I did put the wrong date on page 3. I have had many sleepless nights because of it.) 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Did You Name Your Baby Before First Sight?

Ok, clearly Jeff is out of town and I'm spending way too much time watching TV and playing on the computer... But, did anyone else catch Kristen Bell on Ellen this afternoon?

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Honestly, I couldn't tell you one single movie or TV show she is in; but, I might have just developed a new celebrity-girl crush.  She is adorable and hilarious and her baby-daddy/fiance is Dax Shepherd (who I love from Parenthood; and, before today, I had never thought of him as having any other life outside of Jasmine, Jabar, and the Braverman fam).  What more could you ask for in a person?

Anyway, in her conversation with Ellen, Bell told her that they had to wait until they saw the baby to give it a name; to which Ellen responded, "Oh, it's not going to look like that all its life, don't name it 'Wrinkly Thing' or something." I couldn't agree more, Ellen.  Does a baby really pop out looking like a Fred or a Bethany?  Seriously.  I want to know.

Bell eventually conceded by saying, "They do look like earth worms when they are born, don't they?"  Why didn't I think of that comparison? It is perfect - adorable, loveable, lay-on-your-chest earthworms.  Luckily, they only get cuter with time (and a bath and, sometimes, some blue lights). :)

Anyway,  you should watch the clip.  Here it is:


And, tell me, did you name your baby before you actually met him/her?  Or, if you waited, how exactly did you know?

P.S. There was a lot of talk about Bell's obsession with sloths too, so I had to do some research.  This video from the last time she was on Ellen is AWESOME.  You must watch, you know, in case you need to procrastinate doing laundry or making dinner too.  (And, pay attention, isn't that totally Crosby talking in the background?  Love.it.)

Modifier Mad Libs (Printable Activity for Teachers or Grammar Nerds)

I've never done this before - mainly because I'm not that creative so I get most of my ideas from other people - but I had a fun idea for teaching/practicing grammar that actually worked out pretty well (which doesn't always happen) and produced a fun (and, I think, effective) activity in my class today; so, I thought I'd share it here...

I realize I've already lost more than half of you by using the words fun and grammar in the same sentence; but for those of you still sticking around (I'm assuming you are a teacher, home-schooler, or one of the rare breeds of grammar lovers in the world), I present to you: Modifier Mad Libs.*


Here's the basic gist:  

For part one, I provided students with a basic story in traditional Mad Lib form.  Then, in pairs, they worked to complete it by having one student blindly provide specific types of modifiers/modifier phrases while the other filled them in to the story. The finished product was - as I suspected it would be - outlandish and funny, and the students loved sharing them with the class.


Crazy, right?

For part two, I distributed index cards to each pair of students and asked them to write a simple sentence (Subject + Verb + Direct Object).  Then, I provided space on the hand-out for them to write different modifiers and modifier phrases that could potentially be added to their sentence to give details.  When everyone was finished, I collected the index cards and re-distributed the simple sentences.  The students' challenge was to write a new sentence combining the sentence they were given and the modifier/phrases they had written.  This was mainly designed to help them practice placing modifiers correctly in a sentence.


If you think you might like to try this with your class, here is the Google Docs link to the Word version of the hand-out I created with instructions and space for students to write.  Feel free to save, print, or modify (haha, I crack myself up) it. :)

A few other things...

- I used this as part of a "Grammar Crash Course" I'm doing with my ninth graders after a review of modifiers.  The activity provided here is geared towards that age-group (roughly) and unit of study; however, it could easily be adapted for any grade level.  (I've heard of lots of people using Mad Libs to teach parts-of-speech specifically.)

- You may want to give your students a warning that all material should be "classroom appropriate."  I trust my students, but sometimes 9th graders are unpredictable. :) Better to be safe than sorry - especially since you won't necessarily read everything before they share it with the class.

- Sorry if this is totally lame.


*Obviously, I'm not the first teacher ever to think of using Mad Libs in the grammar classroom.  I'm just calling this my own because I created the worksheet and thought up the instructions and process myself.  FYI.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Confession Time


As you know, I took a little break from confessions to remind myself that I'm not always a train wreck. Ha!  Honestly, it kind-of worked.  I've had a really good couple of weeks and felt pretty good about my productivity, priorities, etc.  BUT, of course, I still have had plenty of anti-"mom of the year" moments too. Anyway, my ultimate goal is to be able to focus on the good things, while still laughing at the embarrassing ones.  So, with that in mind, here are my Midweek Confessions:


- I hosted a dinner party on Sunday night with several of our friends from high school that still live in town.  Since it had been a long time since I had done anything like that, I had a really good time prepping the meal, setting the table, and making other little preparations.  Besides Sam eating an entire block of cheese and rubbing salad dressing all over my new black pants during the "appetizer hour," everything was going swimmingly; and, I have to admit, I was feeling pretty darn smug - look-at-me-I-have-a-toddler-and-I-throw-dinner-parties.  And then... we went to sit down to eat and realized that I had only set EIGHT places at the table, and we had TEN total people.  The table was already jam-packed, and I didn't even have two extra clean plates or glasses. It was awesome. Luckily, our friends totally took it in stride, and I served myself an extra slice of humble pie with my meal. :)  

- Jeff plays cards with his friends every Monday night, so this season, I offered to host the girls at our house that night to watch The Bachelor.  It is a perfect set-up because we both get to spend time relaxing and being with our friends without interrupting Sam's schedule since we can put him to bed at regular time. The problem?  The Bachelor comes on at 8.  Sam usually goes to bed between 8:30 and 9; and, obviously, I don't want to miss any of the show. So, for the last two weeks, my eighteen month old has stayed up until 10:00 sitting on my lap and watching The Bachelor with us. I'm using it as a teaching opportunity and discussing "good girls," "modesty," and "how to treat ladies" as we watch. ;) Send your judgemental emails to e@emyselfandi.com.

- I wore a shirt with a stain on it on Monday.  I knew the shirt had the stain, but I chose to "pretend" that I didn't notice it until it was "too late," because I couldn't decide on anything else to wear.

- I have never made Sam a single "sensory" activity.  BUT, I do allow him to play in the dog food and/or water bowl occasionally for much longer than I should.

- I still haven't started my New Year's diet and exercise plan.  (This really isn't funny.  I need Jillian Michael's to cuss in my face pronto!)

- After seeing one photo on Instagram of a shot in Richmond and reading a few other comments about it, I watched The Following - a new show on Fox about a seriel killer English professor - last night, and I really liked it.  I'm pretty sure it's all the literary allusions that have me hooked. (Not)

- There are a multitude of things that I do/happen to me throughout the week that I'm still too embarrassed to blog about.  Scary, huh?

Ok... I'm starting to feel bad about myself again.  Just kidding.  But really, that's all for today.  What can you confess?  Please share!

P.S. Have you seen this great website for Starbuck's gift baskets.  What a great resource for quick gifts!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fashion Dos & Don'ts from the Inauguration and The Bachelor

One can only handle so much exciting television in one day...

So, since it may have been just too much for you to take in, I thought I'd wrap-up a few fashion Dos & Don'ts learned from the Presidential Inauguration and The Bachelor yesterday.  Ha! Enjoy!

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DO wear purple
DO invest in a tailored coat
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DON'T wear a mini dress when standing in a "kissing" position for extended time in front of an audience (no matter how cute it is)
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DO mix different shades of the same color
DO coordinate with family/ people you will be photographed with - but not too much.
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DO add small pops of color with gloves, tights, etc. (even in "professional" settings) 
DO cut bangs to look younger and hipper
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DO take risks with mixing prints and fabrics, knotting your belt, and adding patterned tights
DO accessorize classic in black and white with a fun accessory
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DON'T wear neon mesh dresses.
DON'T wear tight jean shorts rolled or cut-off with the pockets showing (really, just don't wear jean shorts)
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DO dress appropriately for the occasion
DO add a simple cardigan
Source

DON'T wear six-inch heels to an amusement park

DO wear bright colors in simple styles
DO choose clothing that accentuates your best features (like Michelle's arms - duh!)
Source

DON'T wear neoprene scuba-suits as dresses.  (Sorry Kacie, but I'm not sure what happened to you this season.  Not. cute.  Were y'all surprised to see her go so soon?)


Haha!  This was fun.  What would you add?  To watch you both?


And, just so you know... 
Political viewpoints aside, I have the utmost respect for our President and the historical significance of this day.  I am proud to be an American and will be supporting and praying for the Obamas for the next four years.  I cannot say the same for The Bachelor. ;)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Easy Pantry Organization

Well, we got the snow I was hoping for.  It wasn't tons - about 3 inches and it melted quickly, but it was beautiful and enough to give me a snow day making today my fourth day off in a row (thanks to MLK Jr.). And, while I'm certainly not known for my productivity ever on snow days, this time I defied the odds and actually used my time off to wisely tackle some organization projects that have been sitting on my list for a long time...

First up was my pantry.  I could hit myself now for not thinking to take a "before," photo; but, trust me when I say it was a disaster. (Come to think of it, I could probably make a mean gift basket with some of my "discard" items.  Hmm...) Now that Sam is eating the same things we are, and I'm learning (slowly but surely) how to cut coupons and shop like a pro, the pantry is officially over-stocked.  Which, I realize, is a good problem to have; but mama likes her things organized. :)


There were a few criteria I had going in to this project.  One, was that it needed to be easy to do.  I usually have about one hour with a project (tops) before Sam is in dire need of my attention.  I don't have time for making crafty little labels or painting walls.

Second, the project needed to be inexpensive.  Sure, I love the idea of having beautiful, matching mason jars for all of my dry-goods; but those things aren't cheap.  Maybe someone would make the splurge; but, personally, I prefer to spend "splurge money" (if there is such a thing) on new clothes or fun furniture - not containers.  So, I worked with about a $20.00 budget.

And, finally, Jeff was pretty adamant that I make this something that would be easy to maintain.  Although I disagreed with him at first, in the end I think he was right in saying that we wouldn't want to empty our cereal/chips/crackers/etc. into containers every single time we came home from the grocery store.  Our pantry needs to be neat (and cute, of course), but first and foremost - functional.

Anyway, with those three goals in mind and armed with a few supplies I'd been rounding up for a few weeks, Friday morning I set out to make my pantry dreams a reality...  And, by golly, I think it worked! :)

I'll keep this short and sweet because it really isn't rocket science...

- I had a few of the white Rubbermaid containers already, and the green buckets came from the Dollar Store for - you guessed it - one dollar each.  I like using these to hold different categories of food in their original packaging, which makes it (again) easy to maintain, but also nice for those of us who need a reminder every.single.time how much water to use for rice or how long to cook the pasta.
- The little labels came from World Market when I went to visit my sis back in December.  I picked up a pack of twelve of the pre-made labels and a six-pack of chalkboard labels, since I knew there would be some I would want to customize.  (Do you like that even Addy has a label.  Haha!)

- And, the chevron paper (which I think adds a lot) is leftover from my classroom decor and was originally purchased at TJ Maxx. I REALLY wish they had more so I could do all the shelves; but, for now, this will do.

As for organizing, I started by setting out all my materials and then taking every.single.thing out of the pantry for a good clean.  This was stressful, I'm not going to lie.  I didn't throw away much, but I did consolidate and check expiration dates as I went.  Then, I simply started filling bins.  Easy peasy.
I tried to be smart about the way I placed things based on how often we use certain items, etc.  For example, the spices and seasonings that we use most often are down lower than the lesser-used seasonings like "majoram."  What even is that? Also, I put baking items like flour and sugar (as well as boxed cookie mixes etc.) in place for easy reach, and I hid-away items like corn-starch and pumpkin (which we only use once in a while) up top.  Genius, I know. ;)

 

So... I've only used this new set-up for a few days; but, I think we are going to like it.  Now, here's hoping I can keep it organized!


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