Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Midweek Confessions 7/31

HOW in the world is it already the last day of July?!  Seriously, is it just me, or was it the last day of school like, yesterday?!?  Ridiculous!  Anyway, let's do some confessing...

- I'm NOT dreading going back to work in a few weeks.  (I guess this isn't necessarily a confession, since it is generally considered a positive thing when one enjoys his/her job; however, as a mom who gets to spend the whole summer home with her kiddo, there is always a tiny bit of mom guilt that comes with my excitement for a new school year and the routine, adult/teenager interaction, and excuses for why my house is such a mess it brings.)*

- Like a flipping sixteen year old, I put off a major project that I've known about all summer and is due tomorrow.  As a result, I have had some seriously late nights AND A LOT of caffeine and stress-eating this week.  #whenwillilearn?

- I'm pretty sure I worried WAY too much and over-planned WAY too much for Blogher last week.  No one really cared what I was wearing. :)

- I bought a two-piece bathing suit at the beginning of the summer for our beach trip next week; because, at the time, the trip felt far enough away that surely I would have lost some weight by then.  I have not.

- Naturally, I bought two very cute swimsuit cover-ups to remedy the above problem.

- Sam calls himself "Ham," and I LOVE it.  He also says "beach" in a slightly inappropriate way, and I also love (and encourage) that.

- I stepped on my Kindle and completely crushed it.

- I am O-VER the Bachelorette.  (And, I kind-of liked Brooks a million times more when he was breaking up with Dez. What kind of person does that make me?!?!)

What about you? What confession-worthy things have you done lately?  Please link up and share below!!

*I think it goes without saying, but the fact that I love my job and look forward to going back is absolutely NO indication of how much I love and enjoy being home with Sam too.  I'm just really thankful that I get the opportunity to really enjoy BOTH things so so much! #disclaimersonconfessionsarelame

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I'm a Back to School Ambassador for Boys and Girls Club of America

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”


Question: What do peanut butter & jelly, Lucy & Ethel, and Boys and Girls Club & JCPenney have in common?
Answer: They all make great pairs! (Haha! You like how I did that?!)

As you might know if you follow my Instagram account, I've become a big fan of JCPenney recently. They have really great clothes that are perfectly in line with the latest trends (in fact, several of my outfits and accessories at Blogher were from there), and I'm loving the new party line by Martha Stewart and home decor from Jonathan Adler.   Truly, it has become one of my first stops on a shopping excursion.

Even better, this month they have partnered with Boys and Girls Club of America for their "JCPenney Cares Round-Up Campaign." During the month of July, customers have been encouraged to round-up their purchase to the nearest whole dollar when shopping at JCPenney with100% of that money goes  to help support after school programs for Boys & Girls Clubs all over the US.

Really, is there anything better than buying a cute outfit AND supporting a worthwhile organization?!?  I, for one, have been "rounding up" this month.  Anyone else?

In case you aren't familiar with it, Boys & Girls Club is a nonprofit organization committed to providing young people in need with the tools for success - a safe place to learn and grow, ongoing relationships with adults, life-enhancing programs and experiences, and - most of all - HOPE. 

Although I don't have any personal experience with them (aside from donating at JCP), I support their mission because of my passion for teenagers and a strong conviction that we CAN make a difference in their lives.  

I am, truly, so proud and honored to be working with Boys and Girls Club as one of their Back-to-School Ambassadors during July and August!!  

For more information on the BGCA and the JCPenney "round up" campaign - please visit www.greatfutures.org/backtoschool.



**Nothing like a sponsored post after one like this.  I don't love the timing either; but, I DO love JCP and am proud to support such a great organization and initiative.  Back to our regularly scheduled programming (i.e. CONFESSIONS) tomorrow!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Biggest Thing I Learned at Blogher

Hi friends!!  I'm back home after a great trip to Chicago!!!

It was a whirlwind, and it was wonderful, and I'm excited to tell you more about my experience in the next few days; but, tonight I wanted to pop in and share the biggest thing I learned at Blogher...

Yes, I learned a lot about the blogging industry and felt both challenged and inspired by some of the "experts" in the field; but, more than anything else, I realized while I was there that I care a lot more about connecting with YOU than I do about connecting with big brands or big bloggers....

I know absolutely nothing about search engine optimization (and I really have no interest in learning it), I don't have an email newsletter for my blog (nor do I plan on starting one), and I'm pretty much doing Twitter and Facebook totally wrong. 

BUT, despite all that (and maybe partly because of it), we've got a good thing going here.

I don't just write for myself.  As I've said before (and many of your mentioned again in the comments of last week's post), if I wanted to just write for myself, I would keep a journal.  I also don't just write for free stuff, fame, or money.

I think all of those things are awesome "bonuses" to blogging.  Writing makes me happy and helps me process things in my life.  It's fun to get free stuff or have a stranger say "I read your blog" in the elevator.  And, as little as it may be, it is nice to be recognized and (occasionally) compensated for the time and energy I put in to blogging.

But, FAR beyond any of those things, I blog because of YOU.

You guys - my fellow mommas, teachers, girlfriends, and formerly Type A hot messes - you guys, are my people.

So, thanks.  Thanks for making this fun.  Thanks for genuinely caring about me and the people I love and write about.  Thanks for leaving comments, and sending emails, and just showing up. Thanks for making me feel like my voice is worth being heard, and that I'm not the only one wearing a bathing suit bottom as underwear because I haven't done laundry in a week (oh, maybe that really is just me). 

Thanks for being my people.

P.S. My roommate for Blogher, Heather (from Desperately Seeking Sanity), has been reading my blog for a while.  On Saturday morning, after she had to drag me  out of bed like a teenager for an appointment I was clearly going to be late for, she said (with love and in good humor): "I used to think you really did have it together from reading your blog; now that I've spent time with you, I realize you aren't exaggerating when you say that you DO NOT." I felt kind-of proud. ;)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Me, Myself, and My Spray Tan are Officially in Chicago

** If you are a first time visitor/ new friend from Blogher '13 - WELCOME to my little corner of the internet!! First and foremost, I feel it is only fair to disclose that, in real life, my skin is VERY pale and very freckly.  Pretty much everything else you need to know about me you can learn by scrolling through the About page up there... THANK YOU for stopping by, and I hope you'll leave a comment to let me know you've been here so I can pop in at your place too! **


Ok, first of all, we need to talk about the fact that I am, literally, blogging IN THE AIR right now.  Yes, I paid $5.95 for "inflight wireless" and I should be partying it up on a fireworks cruise right now; but, really, what kind of blogger would I be if I passed up the opportunity to join the social-media nerd's equivalent to the "mile high club"?

So, a little about my day of traveling adventures...

This is me at about 2PM on Wednesday getting ready to walk out the door and head to the airport...

 (I know this picture is terrible - and it totally doesn't do my spray-tan justice - but I was alone... In person, I look exactly like a tanned American Flag.  #represent)

And this is approximately five seconds later when my suitcase rolled down the front steps while I was shutting the door...

(Remember the last time this happened? It wasn't a suitcase that rolled down the stairs while I was closing the door; it was Sam. Oops.)

That suitcase contains six pairs of shoes (and I'm not even a "shoe" person), three "summer scarves," and an extra duffle bag for "swag," but apparently I forgot to pack my BRAIN...

First, I almost missed my flight because, even though I was over an hour early to the terminal of my very small airport, I decided that I needed to use the bathroom right when they started boarding. #whoknewtheywouldboardsofast? I literally came out of the bathroom to my name being called over the loud speaker - again, mind you, in the tiniest airport ever.  #winning

Then, once I was safely seated on the plane, I somehow forgot how to turn off my iphone and had to ask the burly teenage boy sitting next to me.  Cool.

Obviously, the moral of the story is this:  All the planning in the world, can't keep a hot mess from being a hot mess on a travel day... ;)

I napped on the first leg of my flight.  (As a side note:  I used to wonder how people could just get on an airplane and fall asleep before they'd even taken off... How did they get comfortable? Weren't they excited about where they were going? Didn't the noise bother them? Now I know - they must be parents.  ANY time is a good nap time in my book.)

Not to worry, the peace was short lived... When I arrived at the Charlotte airport about an hour later, I was greeted by loud sirens and a massive crowd of chaos in the terminal.  Apparently one of the moving walkways had caught on fire and the entire terminal (that I had just landed in) was closed down.  (I mean, I couldn't make this stuff up!) 

Of course, I had to stand in a line with hundreds of grumpy, sweaty people and wait for a Charlotte city bus to pick me up and drive me to my connecting terminal (which would have been about a five minute walk through the airport under normal circumstances) and, naturally, missed my flight to Chicago by about 15 minutes...

Two hours, one Frappuccino, and forty-five minutes of lightening delays later - I was officially Chicago-bound. :)

Sadly, my messed up flight caused me to miss the Seadogs Fireworks Cruise I had planned to attend; but, otherwise, it really wasn't so bad... And, lucky for you, if I have this much to say before I've even gotten to the conference,we're in for a real treat these next few days!!

Alright, I better go now... The girl sitting next to me is beginning to wonder about the selfie I just uploaded for above (of myself in the exact same outfit I'm currently wearing, keep in mind), and I seem to have misplaced one of my shoes... But, onelastthing:

I'll be trying really hard to keep up (in a healthy way) with the social media mavens throughout the conference this week/weekend.  If you care at all, I would LOVE if you'd follow my adventures (and I'm sure there will be plenty) via Twitter (@justemyselfandi) and Instagram (@emyselfandi).  And, if you are at Blogher this weekend, please come say hi - I'll be the bronzed beauty awkwardly sipping diet coke in the corner!

P.S. Thanks for being the best readers and friends EVER.  Your words of wisdom and encouragement on this post meant SO much to me.  YOU are why I blog.  :)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Men Tell All Superlatives


Did you think I'd forgotten about Dez and her men telling all? Oh no, friends.  Even in the midst of some mad Blogher packing and prep (I'm actually sitting in the airport now), I made time for Dez. #prioritiespeople

So, let's do this...

I thought the episode was generally good - by this point, my expectations are fairly low.  Bringing back the three (out of, like, 600) Bachelor/Bachelorette success stories to join Dez in surprising fans was a nice touch. Of course, I missed a good bit of this because I was so distracted by the fact that Dez was wearing a white blouse with a denim blouse OVER it.  Is this some kind of fashion trend I've totally missed?  WEIRD! If Dez and Brooks end up together in the end, they will totally co-write a book titled 100 Ways to Wear a Denim Shirt. #Iwouldprobablybuyit. (Of course, we all know he is going to "break her heart" and leave next week.)

Anyway, how adorable were Molly and Jason Mesnick?!?  Also, how intense was Ashley's screaming, and how hot is JP?

OK...  Then we had the second awkward pool party of people pretending to be girlfriends because the producers said so... Emily looked 100% like a Stepford wife (which, isn't all bad), and Ali was WAY too spray tanned (not that I'm judging, I am currently sporting the over-bronzed beauty look myself!) I'm so glad these girls have each other for moral support. ;)

Alright, FINALLY, we actually started the Men Tell All  and Chris Harrison was in all his juicy-gossip glory.  I was glad to see Zak there looking good and recovered (albeit, a bit orange), and I didn't recognize about 80% of the rest of the guys  - no joke...

I'm not going to recap everything for you because, honestly, it is just too boring; but, instead, I'm going back to an old favorite from Sean's season ---




Most Likely to be on Bachelor Pad: James (which, yes, I watch #notproudbutrue)

Most Likely to Have a Fan Club Even Though He's a Jerk: Ben (I mean, he has me with his dimples.)

Most Awkward Decision on the Part of the Producers: Including random scenes with the guy in the armor.  

Worst Hair: MICHAEL G.

Most Surprising Favorite: Juan Pablo (he talked at least 5 million times more on this episode than on all the episodes he was in on the show) 

Guy I Most WANT to Like: Mikey T.

Most Ridiculous Attempt to Steal the Spotlight: The random with nice teeth that claimed Ben's ex-wife tracked him down in Vegas.

Best Accent: Juan Pablo (duh)

Career Path with the Most Tools: Lawyer

Best Apology: Jonathan (aka: fantasy suite creeper)

Biggest Wild Card: Zak (One minute I love him, the next minute he's shirtless and/or singing.)

Worst Dressed: #Kasey (I like the guy; I really do, but what in the world?)

Most Likely to Become a Stalker: Brandon

Most Likely to Pop a Button Off His Dress Shirt: James

Most Likely to be the Next Bachelor: Juan Pablo (I actually thought I was on to something here; but, apparently, he's the front runner. WOO HOO)  *I'd be perfectly happy with Zak too, but I don't think its as likely.

Source

Most Likely be a MAJOR Let-Down: the "shocking two-part season finale"


P.S. Sure hope I see Mikey and James in Chicago this weekend! (Ha!)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Trying to Keep Up... And Failing

Remember my word for the year?  (It was surrender in case you don't feel like re-reading.)  A funny thing (ha ha ha): I think somehow (totally unconsciously) I told myself that once I completed my 40 day social media fast (which felt like a pretty big deal) I was done - I had accomplished my goal and achieved surrender.  Isn't that funny?!?  I'm a darn fool. ;)

Let me back up a little bit and admit that my priorities have been all kinds of messed up lately... I'm ashamed to admit how much time I have spent doing things like reading blogs, online shopping, and scrolling Facebook and Twitter in the name of "Blogher prep" the last couple of weeks.  I haven't had a choice really; party invites go up on Twitter and are filled in under a minute.  I'm not even kidding.  Plus, everyone on the #Blogher13 chat seems to be best friends with each other, and I know a whopping TWO people that will be in Chicago, so I've had a lot of catching up to do.  And, since I'm being honest here, my 350 Twitter followers aren't exactly going to impress many of the big brands.

Seriously, I DON'T KNOW HOW THESE PEOPLE DO IT -- they tweet all day long, have 10K followers, and never miss a thing!! 

So, here's the thing... I've been trying to keep up.  I've been trying really hard to build my Twitter following, get invited to private parties, create an impressive media kit, and find the perfect wardrobe all while still managing my family, my house, and two online summer jobs... And, I've failed.

I can't keep up.

I'm really really excited about my time in Chicago (in case you haven't been able to tell), but I've also been convicted that as much I want to be a good blogger, I really want to be a good mom/wife/teacher/friend/etc. more.  In my heart and mind, I KNOW that, but it is just so easy to forget...

One of the things that I both love and hate about God is that he has a way of always bringing me back to earth when this sort of thing happens -- First, it was the mistake I made in my online class that had me calling a parent to apologize and doing extra work to get back on track.  It really wasn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it was a major reminder that I was dangerously close to entering the "I'm doing too much and not doing anything well" place I find myself in a couple of times a year.  

That incident led to a couple of other things which led me to actually call up two girlfriends who were planning to visit me last week and cancel on them.  I knew it was the right thing to do (and they were, of course, wonderful about it it), but I felt SO bad.  I had been looking forward to my time with them, and again, I was slapped in the face with the reminder that I had let things spin out of control a little bit in my life...

So yesterday, finally, I made some changes.  I unplugged my internet and took Sam out for donuts and an early morning park date instead.  I did a project around the house I've been procrastinating for some time now, and I prayed - a lot.

I can't keep up, and that's OK because my value is found in Him and not in the number of people liking my status or reading my blog.

A good reminder and the perfect timing.

P.S. Don't worry, I'm not going to be serious forever... I'll see you tomorrow to discuss THE MEN TELL ALL (totally making time for that)!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Blog Gems 7/20

I've been slacking on the blog gems recently, but this week the blogosphere was booming! Plus, I've got this cute little banner I've been wanting to show off.  So, without further adieu, here are some of my favorite reads from the last seven days...



"Blogging 201: Learn from My Mistakes" from Living in Yellow

"An Open Letter to New Teachers" from M*Print
(By the way, I get a lot of traffic on my blog from people looking for secondary teaching resources; if that's you, Megan's your girl!  Seriously, you've got to check her out!)

"For When Being a Mom is Just Hard" on Allume

"Some Thoughts for New Mamas" from Casey Wiegand

"How to Raise a Kid Who Isn't Whiney and Annoying" by Lyz Lenz on Huff Post

"The Day I Stopped Saying 'Hurry Up'" on Hands Free Mama (I might have spent way too much timing reading just about everything she's ever written - so good.)



***And a Fun Bonus***
These two little tips just "showed up" in my online life this week and totally have the potential to be life changing, so I thought I'd share...

1.) Layer your trash bags in the can so that when you take one bag out, there is already another one ready to go --  Redhead Baby Mama on Facebook (Am I the only one who always seems to have a bagless trash can when I just finished with raw chicken or something else equally gross?)

2.) When filling re-usable containers with something that stains (like my blasted spaghetti sauce every.single.time) spray the container with cooking spray before you fill it to keep it stain-free -- Abby at "Life at It's Finest"

I feel so domestic just thinking about these things!

Have a good Saturday friends!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Five on Friday: Preparing for Blogher

This Five on Friday linky party has been quite the hit in the blog world lately. Always the trend follower, I thought I'd join in today with a special "Preparing for Blogher" edition since I leave in just FIVE short days...

 1. Business Cards
Front
Back

Thanks to The Fairy Blogmother for the design & Got Print for printing.

2. Bag
Dalia bag in Cuban Sand & Neon Yellow from Sole Society
I first spotted this beauty at Lily's Style and immedilately fell in love with it.  It is from Sole Society and it fits all of my criteria for the perfect Blogher bag (i.e. adorable, stylish, large enough for laptop, smaller clutch inside). I tweeted how much I was obsessed with it and - like a dream come true - the amazing ladies at Sole Society offered to send me one FOR FREE!!! Now I'll be toting in style at the conference (and, hopefully, easy to spot in a crowd - haha). :)

It will be filled with: my laptop & iPhone, an array of chargers, a cute new pad-folio from Target (because I'm a total nerd), my planner, business cards, a small wallet, and - of course - plenty of my favorite pens.

*Get it here!
  
3. Clothes
This is totally the area that I have stressed the most over even though I promised myself I wouldn't. (In fact, since I made the above graphic earlier this week, I'm already second guessing both outfits!) I really want to be comfortable and look like myself, but still stand out a little bit... Plus, it's always fun to have a reason to wear cute clothes and get dressed up!  What do you think? Be honest.  How do you feel about the scarf in the summer look?

4. Schedule

When I first decided to go to Blogher, I imagined it to be like the teaching conferences I've been to in the past -- a few large group speakers and an array of break-out sessions to choose from for filling my day.  Then (silly me), I actually thought I'd have time to relax, blog, and maybe even sightsee in the evenings. Ha!  While there will be AWESOME sessions to attend, there is SO much more going on while I'm in Chicago.  Truth be told, it's a little overwhelming...

This weekend, one of my goals is to sit down and really sketch out my time.  From the (millions) of advice posts I've read, I know "not to overbook" myself; but, there is just so much I want to do!!  Here are a few things (outside of the regular conference agenda) that are definitely on my agenda:

(1.) SeaDogs Fireworks Cruise on Wednesday night with Madame Deals.
(2.) Pathfinder Day - My Blog as a Book Proposal on Thursday.
(3.) Save Babies Blogger Baby Shower with The Baby Ladies on Thursday afternoon.
(4.) Fresh & Clean SocialLuxe Lounge on Thursday evening.
(5.) The Big Toy Book's Sweet Suite on Thursday night.
(6.) Newbie Breakfast on Friday morning.
(7.) Voices of the Year on Friday evening.
(8.) Hasbro Coktail Party on Friday night.
(9.) Disney's Delivery Man screening on Saturday night (hoping for a Vince Vaughn appearance)

See why I'm so excited?!?!

5. Intentions & Expectations

And last, but definitely not least, I'm trying to stay focused on the reasons I'm going to Blogher and have realistic expectations about the whole thing.  I have to admit that my preparation for this has had me on a roller coaster of feeling really excited and motivated to insecure and discouraged.  I, like most normal people, can get caught up in all the invitations and opportunities a big conference like this presents.  I can let myself daydream about "making it big" and developing really awesome brand partnerships from this conference; but, the reality is -- I'm going to be a little fish in a big sea.  I know I'm going to be overwhelmed.  I know there are going to be LOTS of bloggers that are WAY bigger than me.  I know I won't be the funniest, cutest, or most talented person there (by a long shot).  So, I keep reminding myself WHY I signed up in the first place --- to learn from more experienced bloggers about how to grow my blog AND stay true to my voice and values, to meet new friends, and to stretch myself by doing something "out of my comfort zone" that is "just for me". 


If you are going to be at Blogher, PLEASE email me so we can make plans to meet up!  And, for those of you not going, will you answer a question for me?  How much do you want to know about my experience there?  Should I plan to blog about it during/after the conference or - be honest - are you kind-of over it already?!?

(Join the 5 on Friday linky party here, here, here, and here! - All of their blogs are SO cute, I just started following all four!)


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Midweek Confessions


- I might have cried a little bit while watching The Bachelorette this week. (Can you guess when?)

-  I told myself I was going to get rid of Sam's pacifier after his second birthday.  I totally lied to myself.  Maybe two and a half?!? (Also, I fully intend to lie to his doctor today when we go for his well visit.)

- This week we ran out of Diaper Genie refills so, like any normal person, I have simply placed all of Sam's dirty diapers in a small pile in the corner. #atleastonelyoneroomstinksalittle

- Addy and I are in a desperate need of a diet.  We both have been "about to start" for approximately two years.

- I have a million things to do right now (like take out the dirty diapers) but, instead, I've spent an insane amount of time online shopping for clothes I can't afford and making color-coded schedules and packing lists for Blogher.

- Sam's feet STINK; but, I cannot bring myself to allow him to wear socks with crocs.  I'm sorry, but I have to draw the line somewhere. #crocsalonearebadenough

Now it's your turn! Grab my little button and link below (if you'd like).




Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bachelorette: Dez Episode 8

For a while there, I wasn't sure we would ever make it this far; but (finally) we made it HOMETOWN DATES!!  I'm spicing things up a little today and sharing some very personal letters I've written to the "cast" and crew.  Enjoy!


Dear Zak's Sister & Brother,
You are pretty hot and, obviously, very concerned about your older brother who is in his mid thirties and still has resorted to looking for love on prime time television. #waytotakeonefortheteam  (BTW, I really love Zak - but the song? Not.a.fan.)

Dear Dez,
Why do you frown when you are happy? It is so confusing.

Dear Drew,
You need to stand in front of a fan or something after you gel your hair - it just isn't right.  BUT, you did seem pretty genuine on this date.  Your winning me over a little bit.

Dear Dez,
OH NO YOU DIDN'T draw pictures for Chris when Zak just did that for you last week. #lowblow

Dear Chris's sister (in law?) with the make-up & bangs,
Please get a make-under.

Dear Chris,
I am willing to excuse the fact that your father (and you) thought it was ok to "adjust" Dez on national TV.  I am absolutely NOT ok with whatever it was you had him do to your nose.


Dear Brooks' brother Dave (thanks name tag!), 
Please unbutton your top button.

Dear Brooks,
Let's try something new when you talk from now on -- open.your.mouth.

Dear Dez,
What is it, really, about Brooks?

Dear Producers,
I'm thinking Dez's brother for the next Bachelor.  No? (P.S. We all know he is an actor.)

Dear Dez's brother,
I totally understand that you are only a creeper because you want what is best for your sis.

Dear Dez,
This was a better week for you.  Not only did you wear some decent clothes; but, you also seemed like a real person.  (P.S. Brooks doesn't love you back and he's kind-of a dud.)

Dear Chris Harrison,
I can't speak for the rest of America; but, I'm pretty sure we can all tell just by watching when there is only one rose remaining...

Dear Zak,
You just weren't ridiculous enough for this show #consideritacompliment  (Um... I love you, but you were a little weird in the limo.)

Dear Drew,
You aren't going to win; but, you are a shoe-in for the next Bachelor.


Dear Producers,
I'm would consider loaning out Jeff for a few weeks if you want and then magically appear at the hometown dates and reveal that I am his wife and he has a son and a whole life in Virginia.  Now, that would be quality TV.  #thinkaboutit


And now, a little bonus for you - my favorite tweet of the night:
from The Possessionista - y'all, she cracks me up!

 Ha! What did you think this week?

P.S. Get your confessions ready! Link-up live tomorrow at 10AM!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Nursery: 2 Years Later

Today, one of my favorite design bloggers - Emily A. Clark - is hosting a 'Kid's Spaces Link-up', so I thought it would be a great time to give you a glimpse into Sam's Gray and Yellow Elephant Nursery two years later...

First, see the original photos here.

Honestly, I was surprised at how very little the room has changed in two years.  The biggest things involve just making the space more practical, which is good.  Obviously, a toddler has different needs from an infant (like, for example, you'll notice the lack of bumper or cute bed skirt now); but, for the most part, I still really love the room and feel like it has suited Sam well over all the different stages of the past two years.  I have (of course) started thinking about ways we will update/change the room to make it more "big boy" soon; but, for now, I am trying to appreciate the time I have left in this sweet room designed with love for my baby.

And, now, for a quick tour:

Bye Bye Bumper, Hello Grandmother's handmade quilt in matching/retro-ish color.
The only stuffed animal Sam has ever really taken to - My bear from growing up.
New curtains from Windows by Melissa (that I WON)
The outfit Sam wore home from the hospital (left) & the outfit he wore on his first birthday (right) hanging for decoration.
Cardboard castle/club house in the closet.  He loves it!
A busy little closet/playroom
There you have it!

How has your little one's space changed since he/she was born? Did you make a whole new "big kid" room or simply update the nursery? 

Be sure to stop by Emily A. Clark to check out all the other amazing kid spaces in her link-up & enter to win a $500 Pottery Barn kids shopping spree! #yesplease

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sam's "Kick It" Birthday Party

Sam and I are suffering from a bit of a birthday-party hangover today  (too much sugar and fun), and I'm on a crunch to get this house whipped back into shape before heading out of town in a few hours; but, I wanted to pop in and show you some of the pictures from his fun party last night.

First, the disclaimers:

 - I had the brilliant idea a few weeks ago to host this party at the playground our neighborhood kids frequent because I didn't want to clean my house it worked so well with our "theme"in order; but, of course, yesterday was off and an with rain all day so the party was moved inside our house.  Just try to imagine this in a park instead, k?

- I kind-of forgot to take pictures; or, rather, I told Jeff to take pictures with his phone as our guest were arriving.  Only later did he tell me that he thought it was awkward to take pictures of our decorations when people were there (which, he's probably right) so he only took a couple.  Shoot.  You get the idea.

- I reused a lot of the decorations from last year since the color scheme was the same.  I prefer to think of it as being "thrifty," not "lazy." ;)

Alright, so... Sam's "Kick It" Birthday Party:

You've already seen the invitation, but I thought it was worth posting it again just to have everything all in one place.  I actually designed these myself using a photo our friend Howard took, a clip-art kickball, and the free version of PicMonkey.com.  Then, I just ordered prints from Walmart for a total of about $8.00 for 15.

I knew I wanted to have a "red ball" party, but the actual inspiration came from these cute t-shirts I found on sale in the little boy's section at Target:
Aren't they adorable?  I snagged five (one for each of our "little guests" + Sam) and delivered them with the invitation... This was seriously my favorite part of the whole party - seeing all the little ones dressed alike!  (I highly recommend this as a party-planning strategy... It is EASY and people think you are "so creative."  You'll notice there are several other styles on sale now too - so go get em!)

The gang - minus Jack.
Take 2
I promised myself, and Jeff, that this party would be low-key.  I think I accomplished that as much as possible with 20 adults and five toddlers running all around.  (It was WILD.) The best decision I made? We ordered large pizzas and used all paper products.  Other than the pizzas, I ordered cake "balls" and my mom brought a big bowl of watermelon balls, and that was it food wise.  I admit that I got a little worried about thirty minutes before people arrived that it wouldn't be enough, but it turned out to be perfect!

Here are a few other little details --


- Each little guest got a big red ball to play with at the party and take home when they left.  (Also, as you can see, Sam totally racked up on gifts thanks to overly generous family and friends.)


- I also brought back the Birthday Book from last year and asked guests to sign and date it again.  (For details on that see Sam's first birthday post.)  I think it will be fun for him to look at this as he gets a little older and remember who was at his party, etc.


- I made paper table cloths to fit the theme with a roll of brown craft paper, red paint, and a round sponge.  This literally took five minutes and could be rolled up and thrown out at the end of the night. Best.thing.ever.

- We had soda and adult beverages for the big people and lemonade and water (in cute little cups I found at Kroger and labeled with a chalk marker) for the littles.  (The kids also got to take their cups home at the end of the party.)


- And, although we had cake balls for everyone else, we got a little cupcake to put a candle on for Sam.  He totally ate up this part (literally).  It was the best!  (P.S. I told him he couldn't have his cupcake unless he wore his hat.  #momoftheyear)


Man, I can't believe my baby is TWO (well, tomorrow).  We had so much fun and are so grateful for all the people that love our wild and fun little guy!!
What a difference a year makes....

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bachelorette Recap: Dez Episode 7 (I think?)

I have to be honest with you all, for some reason, writing these posts has become really hard for me... I don't know what it is, but for two weeks now I have just stared at my computer screen after watching the episode, and I have nothing witty to say.

This season is boring right?  I have to hand it to Dez, she's done a good job of narrowing down her choices.  Most weeks, she has gotten rid of exactly who I wanted her to, and I appreciate that she doesn't mess around the "drama" some of the guys like James, Mikey, and Ben brought to the show. To tell you the truth, I would be fine with any of the remaining four guys winning this thing. They are all cute and "there for the right reasons."  They all have little quirks that I don't love, but I'm not that crazy about Dez, so I really don't care.  Am I awful?  I just don't feel invested in this season at all. (#shedoesntevenwearcuteclothes)

It has left me wondering if the life of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette might be dwindling. It seems the producers have exhausted most of their tricks (we've even stooped so low as to play up Drew's handicapped sister - which I think is just too low), and everything feels predictable and overdone.  What do you think?  One can only hope that next week's hometown dates (which are, clearly, the very best) can restore my faith in the roses. ;)


Now that I'm, like, the biggest party pooper in Bachelor Nation, I'll attempt to recap last night's show:
 
First, the "girlfriends" pool party made me very confident of two things: 1.) Dez is terrible at acting natural; is it me or does she always seem a bit like she is reading off of cue cards? and 2.) Lesley really should have been the Bachelorette.  (Why don't the producers consult with me on this stuff?!?)

Anyway, how awkward were the girls? That's just what I would want to do - hang out with the five guys I'm dating, two girls that tried to steal my last boyfriend, and one that succeeded. #badidea Clearly, Tierra and Ashlee turned down their invites; otherwise, I can't for the life of me figure out how Jackie made it back no one even knew she was on the last season.  (Oh wait, she was invited so she could wear a bikini... of course.)  Either way, I don't blame Dez one bit for making them stay so far away that they had to use binoculars to see them.

Moving on...

Brooks looked like he hadn't slept since Week 1, right? I want to like him, I really do, but he just doesn't impress me.  He seems "too cool," and I'm not a big fan of men in denim shirts and cardigans - although I do give him credit for (clearly) not giving in to the American Apparel bandwagon that is the rest of the show.


My prediction is that something big is going to happen with him in the next few weeks.  I've been watching these shows for a while, and I don't think I've heard a Bachelor or Bachelorette say she's in love with one of them so early on.  They are totally going to play up the fact that she loves him and he just isn't "there yet."  Dez is going to get her heartbroken.  (Shock!) And Chris Harrison is going to rub more salt in the wounds with questions like "has he said he loves you"?  Just in case America missed something.

I go back and forth with Chris.  I think he is really cute; but, he wears a lot of thin shirts with no undershirts and shorty shorts.  Also, if they write any more AWFUL poetry together, I might just throw up.  Uggg.  Message in a bottle? Really?  All that said, I think he is a good fit for Dez.  They both are hot dorks - a good fit for each other - and he seems genuine.  We'll see.

Good riddance Michael G. and your gelled hair.  That's really all I have to say about that.

I REALLY like Zak.  He would never have been on my radar at the beginning of the show, but his personality is so fun and cute.  He seems like a real guy, don't you think? Also, of all the guys, he seems to be the most grown-up and "ready to be married."  I felt genuinely sorry for him when Drew swooped in and used his sister to get the rose on their group date.  Also, did you notice, Dez said the winner of the race got something special and ALL he got was to go first in their alone time.  LAME. 

(P.S. How funny was their "romantic picnic" in the center of a race track or sitting on old tires?)

Drew surprises me.  I really can't believe he has made it this far.  As my sister-in-law noted last night, he looks like he stepped straight out of an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog.  True! I guess that would be considered a good thing, but I don't trust Abercrombie models or anyone with hair as perfect as Drew's.

So... What did you think this week? Are you into this any more than I am?  If so, please share your secrets!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Three Fun (but kind-of stressful) Things

I woke up this morning feeling a mix of excitement and stress.  I can't believe how fast this summer is going... How can it already be almost mid July?  Really, this has already been one of the best summers I can remember.  I LOVE this age with Sam, and I feel like we have really soaked up every single week.  We've traveled a lot, played a lot, relaxed a lot... Really, I couldn't ask for anything more.  Well, except more time.  

This week, even more so than others, I have a lot going on.  They are fun things, but they still make for busy days, late nights, and maybe a 5-hour energy drink (or two).  You know the kind.

Anyway, forgive me for my lack of creativity, but here are three fun (but kind-of stressful) things I have on my mind right now:

1. Sam's Birthday!!
Geez Louise, my boy is going to be 2 on Saturday.  I'll be writing and reflecting on that more in the next few days; but, today, I'm thinking about his PARTY on Thursday evening!  I promised myself it would be "low key" this year; and, truly, that's my intention.  I'm hosting it (weather permitting) at a neighborhood playground and serving pizza and cake only.  But, "low key" isn't really my forte when it comes to parties... I've got several little projects up my sleeve, so we'll see if they actually get executed. For now, here's a sneak peek at the invitation...
2. Decorating.
As a surprise anniversary gift to me, Jeff brought in painters this weekend to re-do our guest room and master bedroom.  I've been thinking about these two rooms and gathering items for months now; but, since Jeff told me Friday evening that they were coming Saturday at 8AM, I did have to make some fast decisions.  I settled on Valspar's Tempered Gray for the walls, and I LOVE how they turned out; both rooms look bright and fresh and clean (and, currently, like a total train wreck).  I'm SO excited to finally get in there and start decorating... Fast.  We have house guests for Thursday night and early next week; so, I've got my work cut out for me.  :)  Here are some "inspiration photos" I'm currently loving:
Source
Source

3. What to wear.
We will be attending a wedding for a dear family friend this coming weekend in Knoxville, TN with lots of people I don't get to see often.  I bought this dress from JCrew Factory a few months ago with the intention of wearing it to this event.

Of course, at the time, I had lofty plans of losing 15 pounds and becoming miraculously tan and toned by then, which... did not happen.  Now I'm not really sure how to "style" it so that it looks fun and stylish despite its conservative cut.  What do you think?  A belt? A statement necklace? Just fun earrings? What colors? Please advise.

As you might have guessed, it's going to be a busy (but very fun) week here.  Expect to see updates on all three things soon...

Friday, July 5, 2013


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