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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday Lovies: Shiny Hair

I’m blessed to have a head full of thick, healthy hair. Even though my hair is healthy and pretty naturally shiny, I like to ramp up the shine with products. Shiny hair is gorgeous hair, in my opinion. In red carpet photos, regardless of the hair type or length, the celebrities all have one thing in common: shiny hair.

Before we get started, let me say that the first step to getting shiny hair is to pay attention to the health of your hair. It is possible to have healthy hair and color and/or heat style. Easy ways to improve the health of your hair is to use a deep conditioner one to two times a week, air dry your hair when possible, and use a wide tooth comb on wet hair. My favorite deep conditioners are Loreal Feria, Terax Crema, Ion Effective Care Treatment, and Hask Henna & Placenta.

My #1 secret to shiny hair is TIGI Catwalk Camera Ready Shiner & Defrizzer. I use a few pumps on my hair after I blow dry my hair.

I also love Jonathan Silky Dirt Shine & Define Crème. I use it to add a little control to my hair, but it gives incredible shine.

Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Cream is pricey, but a little goes a long way. When I wear my hair curly, I use this to manage frizz. A little goes a long way, and the 7oz cream lasts forever.

Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum does triple duty: it adds shine, eliminates frizz, and cuts down on your drying time. I haven’t used this one in awhile, but there was a time period when I reached for this every single day.

Last but not least, I use Freeze It! hairspray. This is a fantastic hairspray that really deserves its own post, but it advertises “optical brighteners for enhanced shine.” I love this hairspray!

What products do you use to add shine to your hair?

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I work for a nonprofit agency that provides services & supports to individuals with developmental disabilities and special needs. This includes children in need of early intervention services, those with Mental Retardation, head and spinal cord injuries, and those with Autism. Our agency was hit hard by statewide budget cuts, and services for individuals with disabilities have been cut across the board.

We are having a craft fair, and each department from our agency has put together a gift basket to be raffled off. I am selling raffle tickets for my department's gift basket. We put together a "giving tree" gift basket which contains $180 worth of gift cards to Sonic, Lowes, Walmart, iTunes, Dillard's, Olive Garden, and more.

Raffle tickets are $1 each or 6 tickets for $5. If you are interested in purchasing tickets, please email me for more information. You can PayPal me or send me your money in the mail (cash only, please). I must receive your money no later than Wednesday, October 13th. I will purchase the tickets for you, fill them out with the information you provide, and send you a picture of the completed tickets. If you win, you will be contacted by the event organizer and I will mail you your gift cards.

Email me if you want more information!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thank Goodness for TIVO

I know y'all have heard me profess my love for my boyfriend, Tivo. Tivo is the bomb diggity. He's the one man in my life I can count on to listen to me and do exactly what I ask him to do, when I ask him to do it. Other men (cough Jason cough) like to argue with me about their honey-do list. Not Tivo. He's right there when I need him. Bless his heart, because I have a full roster of shows I want to watch for the fall season. I'm a huge television watcher. Yes, I know there are better things I can do with my time, but whatever. We all have our vices.

What are you watching this fall?

Here's my television line up.
**For some of the shows, the jury is still out. I'm not sure if I'll keep watching some of the new shows.

Sunday:
Amazing Race
Desperate Housewives

Monday:
Dancing with the Stars
How I Met Your Mother
Gossip Girl
Real Housewives of Atlanta
The Event
Hawaii 5 0


Tuesday:
Glee
Dancing with the Stars results show
One Tree Hill
Flipping Out
Teen Mom
No Ordinary Family
Running Wilde

Wednesday:
Survivor: Nicaragua
Hell's Kitchen
Modern Family
Cougar Town
Law & Order: SVU
Better With You
Hellcats


Thursday:
Nikita
Big Bang Theory
Fringe
Grey's Anatomy
Project Runway
My Generation
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

Gleeks, what did you think about last night's Britney/Brittany episode? I was a little disappointed. I had such high expectations after the Madonna episode, and I felt like it didn't live up to them. I felt like the show was just a mish-mash of musical numbers with random dialogue thrown in to make it all fit. I did think that Brittany was a much better singer than I expected, Britney was underused, and the Toxic number was fabulous.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tuesdays at the Table & Top Two Tuesday

I’m linking up to Top Two Tuesday, hosted by The Undomestic Momma. Click on the picture above to link up.

Top Two Favorite Songs

I am crazy obsessed with the music from Glee. I think it is the inner band geek in me, but whatever the reason, I must download the music from every episode and listen to it daily. Glee is my driving around town music, my cleaning music, my exercise (if I exercised) music. I am insanely excited about tomorrow’s Britney/Brittany episode. Who’s with me?!

My favorite Glee songs are the Idina Menzel/Lea Michelle Poker Face duet, Don’t Stop Believing, Faithfully, Like A Virgin…. oh, who am I kidding? I love all the songs.

Are you a Gleek? What’s your favorite Glee number?

I’ve always been a huge Garth Brooks fan, and my favorite song is To Make You Feel My Love. Adele’s version leaves me with goosebumps. Listen here.

All the small stuff Tues at the Table Red Gingham_edited-1

I’m also linking up to Tuesdays at the Table, hosted by Cole of All The Small Stuff. Click on the picture to link up!

IMG_1244Forgive the picture and the insane amount of mashed potatoes – this really is more delicious than it looks.

Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions & Apples

Ingredients:

  • 2 yellow onions, sliced into large chunks
  • 3 granny smith apples, peeled & cored, sliced into fourths
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 4 pork chops (I used boneless)
  • Salt and pepper

Place onions in a layer on the bottom of a casserole dish. Lay the apples on top of the onions. Generous salt & pepper the pork chops, and then lie on top of the apples and onions. Sprinkle the dish with the brown sugar. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in a 325 degree oven for three hours. Do not uncover dish or open oven for three hours! It will dry out the pork chops.

This makes your house smell amazing, and it is delicious to boot. The apples sort of bake down into a sauce, the onions caramelize, and the pork chops soak up the juice. Yum! Serve over a bed of mashed potatoes.

Have you entered my $30 Amazon gift card giveaway?

Friend Makin’ Monday: weekend highlights

Today I’m participating in Friend Makin’ Monday, hosted by Kenz at All The Weigh. Click on the picture to link up and join in!

friend makin monday for post

FMM: What’s your favorite weekend moment?

My parents came to visit this weekend, so Cooper got lots of quality time with his grandparents! My nephew is playing travel ball this fall, and his baseball team was competing here in Charleston. We spent Saturday cheering him on at his game. Saturday night, the boys watched the game (USC vs. Auburn) while the girls hit up the mall. I’ve been feeling super stressed, so my mom took Cooper on a walk around the mall while I tried on some clothes. I now have a new fall wardrobe, and some cute suede boots. Thanks Mom! It is amazing what a little retail therapy can do for your attitude!

On Sunday we headed back to the ball field for the championship game. Cooper loves his cousin, Lauren. We took him to the playground while everyone else watched the game, and he got to go down the slide for the first time!

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Sunday night was spent making more vegetable baby food for Cooper. I was sure we had made enough earlier this summer to last for several months, but apparently my boy eats a lot. Someone takes after his Mama.

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Delurking Giveaway! $30.00 Amazon gift card

Today I'm giving away a $30 Amazon e-gift card! Read on to find out how to win.

Let's have a serious discussion, shall we? I want to talk about commenting. Specifically, why don't you comment?

I used to be a commenting fool. When I first started blogging, I would go to someone's blog and click on their favorite blogs, reading and commenting at each blog. I became a SITS girl. I had a policy that if you commented on my blog, I would read your blog and comment. It's the polite thing to do, in my opinion. If someone goes out of their way to visit you, the polite thing to do is to return the favor.

Then life got in the way. I got pregnant and took a blog hiatus. When I returned after having a baby, I was lucky if I had time to write a post, much less read and comment on other blogs. If you commented on my blog during that time, I am sorry. I appreciate your comments, and your readership means so much to me. I am doing my best to slowly but surely get back in the swing of things.

I've noticed that since I started blogging (semi) regularly again, my comments have been less and less. I don't think this is happening just to me. I've talked to other bloggers about this subject, and they have said the same thing. Please don't misunderstand - I'm not complaining, and I'm not begging you to comment in an attempt for gratification. I really just want to understand, and I want to know if there is something specifically I'm doing that I could do better as a blogger.

I really want my blog to be interactive. I love my readers, and I like getting to know you better. I can only do that when you comment and leave a link to your blog. I want my blog to be a place you like to visit, and that you come back to every time there is a new post. I worry that maybe you don't like the things I'm blogging about. Maybe you do like my posts but I'm writing them in a way that doesn't encourage discussion. Is it me? If I smelled, I'd want you to tell me. If I'm a bad blogger, I want you to tell me as well.

I'll be honest: I'm not the best commenter. I'm no hypocrite so I'll just go ahead and admit I lurk on a great number of blogs. I have 200 blogs in my Google Reader, and of that, I comment on about 30 of those blogs. There are many reasons for this:
  • If a "big" blogger already has tons of comments (like more than 50) I sort of figure "what's the point?" I am guilty of thinking my comment doesn't matter to them.
  • I have a limited amount of time to read blogs. There are about 150 posts a day in my reader... I just don't have time to make it to all those blogs.
  • Some posts I just have nothing to say about. I hate commenting just to comment. "Hey!" or "Have a great day!" are just things I won't say. If I don't have something encouraging or productive to say, I skip the comment.
  • Some people make it to dang hard to comment. I HATE word verification. I still will comment if you have it, but I don't like it.
Please give me your thoughts on this subject.

Do you comment?
If no, why not?
What makes you want to comment on a blog?
What about my blog specifically makes you want to comment or not want to comment?
Is there something I could do to make my blogger better for you as a reader?

If you comment and leave me some constructive feedback, you will be entered to win a $30 Amazon gift card. You will only be entered to win if you comment specifically about this topic. I'll announce the winner next Friday, October 1st.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday Lovies: Sally’s Edition

I’ve been puttering around with the idea of starting a themed post on Thursdays. Quite a few people have commented that they want to see more skincare, beauty, makeup, or hair related posts. Thursday Lovies would be dedicated to sharing products, tips, or tricks I love with you. It could be a new hair product I’m loving, a makeup tutorial, a skincare recommendation, an Etsy shop, or steals and deals I find at various stores. It won’t solely be about beauty – I’ll also be including baby gear, organization, house ware, kitchen gear, etc. What do you think? Does it sound interesting? Is there a specific topic you’d like to see me address?

*A huge thanks to Sarah for helping me with the name! Thanks girl!

At this point, all products reviewed will be purchased by me, myself, and I. All the products, tips, tricks will be things I’ve tried myself and that work for me. Please remember that just because I love something doesn’t mean you will love it as well. If it is a skincare product, it could make you break out. If it is a hair product, it could weigh down your hair or make it oily. I am not an expert in any of these areas by any means.

Let’s get started! This week I’m sharing some awesome products you can find at Sally’s Beauty Supply.

Argan Oil - $9.49

I talked about my love of Moroccanoil on Tuesday. If you’d like to try that but don’t like this price, this product is for you! Moroccanoil contains argan oil, and I find this product to be a pretty great dupe for the pricier product. It is *slightly* heavier than the Moroccanoil, so use it with a light hand.

As I stated before, I use the oil in lots of different ways. I use it before heat styling to protect my hair and add shine. I slather on before I go to sleep or clean as a deep conditioner. I add a little to my hair color to protect my hair while I’m coloring. I would not recommend this product for fine haired girls, however. You may find it leaves you with oily hair.

Loreal Feria Color Moisturizer Treatment - $8.49

If there is one hair conditioner I cannot live without, it is this. I have used it for years, and I keep coming back to it. It’s the stuff you find in the Feria hair color kits, only packaged for multiple uses. I actually use it as a daily conditioner for my super thick hair. It is a great dupe for Terax Crema conditioner. Love!

Ion Effective Care Treatment - $0.99

This is another wonderful deep conditioner. I like to use it before and after I color. It leaves my hair conditioned and shiny. I get about two applications out of each sample pack.

Beyond The Zone Super Sexy Styling Sauce - $5.99

This is a lightweight styling pomade for hair. I think it is a dialed down version of Jonathan Silky Dirt. I use it when I straighten my hair but want it to have a little wave and movement.

Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask – $3.69

Sally’s carries big huge tubs of my beloved Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask. I’ve talked about it before, but I’ll say it again: this is the mask I use over and over again. It cleans out my pores, dries out blemishes, and leaves me with soft and smooth skin. Try the Queen Helene Mint Julep Natural Face Scrub as well!

GiGi Mini Pro Waxing Kit - $69.99

I do my own facial waxing at home, and I own a Gigi wax pot. I use the honey wax and muslin strips. Facial waxing is not hard if you have a steady hand! If you can put on liquid eyeliner, you can wax your own brows.

 Mr. Pumice Pumi Bar - $1.69

Every time I go to Sally’s, I pick up a few of these pumice bars. I love them because they don’t fall apart or crumble like some bars. They are so cheap that I can throw them away when they start to get grungy.

That’s all for today, folks! I hope you enjoyed Thursday Lovies – give me some feedback in the comments. I may just pick one commenter and send them a Sally’s surprise in the mail!

Do you shop at Sally’s? What do you buy?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Daycare Woes

Cooper started a new daycare in August. Yes, that makes three daycares/providers in 8 months. (Also, he’s 8 months and I haven’t gotten around to a Dear Cooper post… add that to the to-do list.)

IMG_0517

He started off at The Sunshine House, a big daycare, when he was 3 months old. I really wasn’t happy with him there. I didn’t feel like he got the one on one attention he needed, and he was sick all the time. They propped the babies up with bottles, which is actually against DHEC regulations. They did that right in front of me, so what were they doing when I wasn’t around? I just felt like Cooper was likely sitting in a bouncy all day, only getting picked up to eat or be changed.

I started searching for an in-home provider, and someone contacted me about a fellow Navy wife who wanted to start keeping one or two kids in her home. Jason and I interviewed her and Cooper started in July. There were some major concerns (like her taking him somewhere in her car without telling me/asking me first) but Cooper loved her children and seemed very happy there. Then, in August, Jason went to drop Cooper off and she told him she couldn’t keep him anymore because she was divorcing her husband and moving back to her hometown. This was Monday, and we left Wednesday for vacation. I had ONE day to find him somewhere new.

I contacted several people through Sitter City about in-home daycares. The responses were ridiculous. One person wanted $500 a week, and another wanted $375 a week. Let me tell you… if I had $2000 to spend on daycare every month, I wouldn’t choose to work. I’m a social worker who works for a non-profit…. that’s about what a take home each month. Um, no thank you.

We toured several daycares and settled on a small, family owned daycare. They just happened to have an opening because one of the babies was moving up to the toddler room. There are 5 babies total, and Cooper is the youngest. When I was on bed rest, my mom and Jason actually toured this daycare and loved it but they had no openings at the time. It’s clean, affordable, and I feel like Cooper is safe and well attended to there.

Cooper’s been going there since late August, and things are going so well. He gets so excited when I drop him off in the morning, and they lavish him with kisses and hugs when I pick him up. He just seems so happy every day, and that’s the most I can hope for when I’m away from him. The transition has been a little rough. He was taking a morning and afternoon nap, and the daycare has one long afternoon nap, so he is super tired and cranky when I pick him up in the afternoons.

I envy you SAHMs so much. I’m thankful to have a job because we rely on my income, but in a perfect world I would be able to stay at home with my baby.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Top Two Tuesday - Hair Products

Top Two Favorite Hair Products

I am a complete hair product junkie. My hair is one of the things I love most about myself, because it is super thick and shiny. (Loved, past tense. I decided to chop off my hair earlier this summer and it is a super bad look for me. I'm enduring an unfortunate growing out stage.) Unfortunately, pregnancy did a number on my hair. My formerly shiny tresses, post-baby, turned limp & dull. My hair also started falling out in clumps. Lovely. Here are two products that have saved my hair:


I love the entire Moroccanoil line. The last time I got my hair cut, my stylist told me she could see a huge difference in my hair. It's soft, shiny, and healthy. I use the shampoo, conditioner, and treatment oil. I use a small dab of the treatment oil daily before I apply other products. It helps to product my hair from heat styling and adds shine. I also use it as a deep conditioner. I slather it on during my cleaning sprees and shower it out later. If you color at home, you can add a cap full to your hair color before mixing and it will help to protect your hair. This product is NOT for fine haired girls. It is very heavy and is deep for those with thick or coarse hair.

Yes, the name is rather unfortunate. Please be reassured it does not contain actual placenta. This is a fab, cheap deep conditioner that can be found at Sally's or Walmart. It contains protein, which your hair needs if it is damaged. Protein will add strength and shine back to your hair. I once got a terrible dye job - so bad that afterward I couldn't comb my hair for fear of my hair breaking off. I used this a couple of times, and it completely restored my hair.

How about you - what are your favorite hair products?

Friday, September 17, 2010

To Blog Or Not To Blog… That Is The Question

Today is the last day of SITSBack to Blogging Event. SITS stands for The Secret is in the Sauce and consists of a SITSahood of thousands of woman bloggers who come together to offer support and friendship through commenting. I’ve found so many of my favorite bloggers through SITS. If you’re new to blogging, or if you are simply searching for a way to connect with other bloggers, SITS is the place for you.

Today’s topic: Why do you blog?

Picture 095 This picture was taken around the time I first started blogging, in 2007.

I started blogging to document my life. Jason and I were stationed in Washington state, 3000 miles from our family. I only saw my family once a year, at the holidays, and I thought blogging would be a great way to connect and share what was happening in our lives. Unfortunately, blogging for this reason alone was unsuccessful for me. I had very few readers and quickly got discouraged and bored.

I started actively blogging again in October of 2008. Using Stumble Upon, I found some great blogs that inspired me. I decided to stop using my blog as a diary and use it as more of a social media tool. I wanted to share my interests, make friends, and get to know others.

Blogging, for me, accomplishes many things:

  • It serves as an outlet for my thoughts and feelings.
  • It inspires me to be creative.
  • It spurs me to try new things.
  • It gives me a sense of accomplishment.
  • It has resulted in deep, lasting friendship with wonderful, phenomenal women I never would have met otherwise.

I feel so lucky and honored that 391+ of you (that I know of, through Google Friend Connect) want to read my blog. Even if you don’t comment, I’m humbled that you read. I hope that I have touched your life in some way – made you laugh, made you think, inspired you, helped you through a hard time, become your friend. That, my friends, is truly the blessing of blogging. If I’ve done those things to just one of you, my blog is important and worthwhile.

Why do you blog?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You Inspire Me

See what I mean about being unable to write witty, clever titles? I’ve been sitting at the computer for an hour and this is the best I can come up with. Sigh.

This week I’m participating in SITSBack to Blogging Event. SITS stands for The Secret is in the Sauce and consists of a SITSahood of thousands of woman bloggers who come together to offer support and friendship through commenting. I’ve found so many of my favorite bloggers through SITS. If you’re new to blogging, or if you are simply searching for a way to connect with other bloggers, SITS is the place for you.

Today’s topic is to share a post about a woman who inspires you.

All of you inspire me. Jenn and Sarah inspire me to be creative. Jennifer has made me expand my reading repertoire and in the process, I’ve found some amazing new authors. Becca and Shawn inspire me to be a better mother through their amazing relationships with their children. Laura and Lis have navigated the path of pregnancy and motherhood with me. Cole encourages me to try new things in the kitchen. I could seriously go on and on. You will never know how much I appreciate you all giving me a glimpse into your world.

One of the most inspiring bloggers – the blogger who has impacted me tremendously in the past few months – is Megan from In This Wonderful Life. Megan delivered her sweet, beautiful baby boy, Cohen, in June. Cohen was diagnosed with several heart defects while in utero. I started reading Megan’s blog while she was still pregnant, and I will forever be grateful that she allowed all of us to journey with her through her pregnancy, Cohen’s time on Earth, and his passing into Heaven.

I’m not sure why Megan’s story impacted me as much as it did (it still does). Cohen is, and will always be, such a blessing to all those who knew of him. He was faced with insurmountable odds, even before he was born, and he was the true definition of a fighter. Megan and her husband, Brent, are the epitome of faithfulness and grace. I’ve truly seen God (and drawn closer to Him) through the way they have handled their son’s passing.

Megan, thank you for sharing your story. I pray God will rain blessings upon your family.

Who inspires you?

***SITS is giving away an Electrolux turquoise sky washer and dryer, courtesy of Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen & Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances. Click here for information on how to enter.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

{Insert snazzy, clever title here}

This week I’m participating in SITSBack to Blogging Event. SITS stands for The Secret is in the Sauce and consists of a SITSahood of thousands of woman bloggers who come together to offer support and friendship through commenting. I’ve found so many of my favorite bloggers through SITS. If you’re new to blogging, or if you are simply searching for a way to connect with other bloggers, SITS is the place for you.

Today’s task is to share a post that has a title you are particularly proud of and share why you feel that way.

Lord have mercy. Y’all, I am just not a witty person. I’m one of those people who, when you insult me, will sit for hours trying to think of a come back. Then I’ll approach you hours later and say “Hey! You remember that thing you said to me early? Well, eat poop, you stupid head!'” Sigh. I’m such a 5 year old girl.

This one is hard! Andrea’s Guide to Labor & Delivery: What Childbirth Classes Don’t Prepare You For & Your Girlfriends Won’t Tell You Because They Want You To Have Kids, Too is about as witty as I get. Still, I dug deep and came up with Why Romance Novels & The Notebook Have Ruined My Life.

Yes, you read that right. I know this movie is ages old, but today I'm pondering the media and its darn influence on our lives. Why must the heroes in books in movies be so dashing and romantic? Let's face it, ladies, men in real life rarely stand up to such scrutiny.

I started reading romance novels when I was in the 6th grade. My reading comprehension was higher than my peers, and young adult novels just weren't cutting it. My mother was and is a voracious Harlequin reader, and I used to steal her books. Yep, steal, because what mother wants her 6th grader reading about throbbing members? Right.

Anyway, I'm convinced that this greatly influenced my romantic life. I was not the girl who flitted around from boy to boy, dating just to date. No, I was waiting for THE ONE. The one that took my breath away, that made my heart beat faster, the one that I would look at and just KNOW - you know, like in romance novels, when the hero and heroine look at each other and are instantly soul mates? Only there is some catastrophe they must solve before they can be together?

My first kiss was not the stuff romance novels are made of. In fact, it was disgusting. Gross. Too much slobber and darting tongues and... well, it was bad. I've pretty much blocked it out, and I've chosen to say that my first kiss (which was more like my 8th kiss) was with my first love, at night, in the church parking lot. It was raining and it was perfect - definitely a movie moment.

Read the full post here.

Sad, huh? In my defense… well, there just is no defense. I’m just not one of those clever, creative people who can churn out witty titles and captions in mere minutes. Oh well… you still like me, right?

How about you – do you consider yourself witty? Are you the type to title your posts with clever captions, or do you literally title the post with the subject of the post itself?

***SITS is giving away an Electrolux turquoise sky washer and dryer, courtesy of Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen & Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances. Click here for information on how to enter.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

and Repeat…

This week I’m participating in SITSBack to Blogging Event. SITS stands for The Secret is in the Sauce and consists of a SITSahood of thousands of woman bloggers who come together to offer support and friendship through commenting. I’ve found so many of my favorite bloggers through SITS. If you’re new to blogging, or if you are simply searching for a way to connect with other bloggers, SITS is the place for you.

Today’s task is to share a post that you wish more people had read, and share why that post is important to you.

It took me awhile to get into a blogging groove, and it took me even longer to figure out who I was as a blogger. I’m very much a “tell it like it is” kind of girl, and one of my chief complaints about blogging is that it makes it very easy to present yourself and/or your life as being bright, shiny, and perfect at all times. Well, readers, bright and shiny I most certainly am not. I’m not perfect by any means and I don’t want to give the impression that my life is all roses and sunshine. I try my best to keep my blog upbeat and positive, but I refuse to lie about who I am or what I’m experiencing. Thus, my blog philosophy was born: keepin’ it real. If I’m going to talk about it, I’m going to talk about it honestly. The post where I truly feel like I 100% embraced that philosophy is Andrea’s Guide to Pregnancy.

One thing I learned pretty quickly after finding out I was pregnant: mommies and moms-to-be love to talk about their experiences. There really isn’t anything you could ask a mom or mom-to-be that would shock her. If something awful or gross happen to her during her pregnancy – trust me, she wants to share.

Me? I’m no different. I’m very much a “keepin’ it real” kind of girl. I’m also pretty open and honest – if you ask me something, unless it is completely none of your business, I’ll answer you.

I really wasn’t prepared for all the funky stuff that happens to you when you’re pregnant. Here’s a secret for those of you who have not experienced pregnancy: it ain’t pretty. Your body does some weird, terrible things. You loose control over certain bodily functions. Things that used to embarrass you? Not anymore.

Luckily for you all, you have me. I’m not afraid to embarrass myself or share my secrets in the name of keepin’ it real. Grab a coffee, ladies, and settle in for:

Andrea’s Guide to Pregnancy: The Things The Books Don’t Tell You But Your Girlfriends Will

“Morning” Sickness

Morning sickness my butt. I’d like to find the person who named this and slap them silly. My morning sickness started the moment I opened my eyes until the time I fell asleep. My sister-in-law used to wake up in the middle of the night and get sick. Moral of the story: it can happen at any time.

I can clearly remember at week 6 telling the husband “I feel great! Maybe I will be one of those women who never get sick.” Y’all, I could reach back in time and stab myself in the vocal cords. I think the so-called “morning sickness” (hereafter referred to as The Beast) started the next day.

I was sick from week 7 until week 18. Weeks 7-9 were tolerable – I was sick about three times a day. Weeks 9-11 were terrible; I’ve seriously blocked out the hideousness. Everything I put in my mouth came back up. I was sick at least 12-15 times a day. It calmed down around week 12, and from week 12-17 I went back to being sick “just” a few times a day. I still get sick but since it is no longer every day I manage it just fine. The truly ironic thing? I took prescription medication (Zofran) and was still that sick. How bad would it have been had I not taken meds?

Read the full post here.

While you’re reading, settle in for part 2 of Andrea’s Guide to Pregnancy: The Things the Books Don’t Tell You but Your Girlfriends Will.

Don’t miss the finale of the series: Andrea’s Guide to Labor & Delivery: What Childbirth Classes Don’t Prepare You For & Your Girlfriends Don’t Tell You Because They Want You To Have Kids, Too.

I am really proud of these posts. I’m proud because I set out to be honest about my pregnancy, and honesty means sharing that it wasn’t smooth sailing the way some books and movies can present it to be.

Is there a post you’ve written that you’re really proud of? Link up in the comments!

***SITS is giving away an Electrolux turquoise sky washer and dryer, courtesy of Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen & Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances. Click here for information on how to enter.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Friend Makin’ Monday!

Hello friends! Happy Monday. I was super productive this weekend, and instead of cleaning, doing laundry, or making healthy dinners for my family, I wrote a week’s worth of blog posts! Who needs clean underwear anyway?

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Today I’m participating in Friend Makin’ Monday, hosted by Kenz at All The Weigh.

Five Little Questions

What was the most enjoyable part of your weekend? Jason left on Friday night to drive to Columbia for the USC vs. GA game. He was gone until late Saturday night. I really enjoyed having some time to myself! Friday night I made myself a drink, wrote some blog posts for the week, and caught up on some television. It was bliss!

List two or three material possessions you cannot live without. I cannot live without my TIVO, my Kindle, or my iPod. What did I do before I had the ability to fast forward through commercials?

Which day are you looking forward to most in the coming week? TGIF! Friday means it is the last day of the work week, and I have three days off to look forward to.

Share one of your most embarrassing stories. When I was in college, I was on my way to take a final when I tripped and fell into a massive mud puddle. I didn’t have time to change – I had to go to class with dripping wet hair, a brown (formally white t-shirt), and wet jeans. NICE.

List three of your “must read” blogs and tell us why we should read them, too. Check on JC’s Favorite Blogs – a list of blogs you simply must read!

To participate in Friend Makin’ Monday, simply click on the FMM icon above and link up your post!

My Very First Time

Leading title, huh? {shakes finger at those with dirty minds} I’m talking about my first time blogging, y’all.

This week I’m participating in SITSBack to Blogging Event. SITS stands for The Secret is in the Sauce and consists of a SITSahood of thousands of woman bloggers who come together to offer support and friendship through commenting. I’ve found so many of my favorite bloggers through SITS. If you’re new to blogging, or if you are simply searching for a way to connect with other bloggers, SITS is the place for you.

Today’s writing prompt is to re-load the first post you ever wrote as a blogger. I started blogging on another (now defunct) platform, and one of my first posts was written days after my 4th wedding anniversary.

As of July 26th, 2007, I've been married for four years. Good grief! Where does the time go?

Here's what I've learned in those 4 years:

1. Marriage is not a fairy tale. Once you get engaged, you do not float off into your future on a white cloud, only to encounter rainbows and fluffy bunnies in your future. Rarely do you live "happily ever after." There will always be bumps in the road... but how you handle them dictates whether your marriage will grow stronger or crumble.

2. Your boy will never be as nice or romantic as he was when you were dating. He has you now. He no longer needs to put forth such effort.

3. Your wedding isn't the most important day of your life. It's just one day. The rest of your days together is what matters. Remember that when you freak out about bridesmaid dresses or the catering. Bridezilla is never an attractive look on any female.

4. Most men will only give flowers one special occasions or to say "I'm sorry." If you have a man who does it just because, count your blessings.

5. For that matter, count your blessings if you have a man who says "I'm sorry."

6. Having someone to come home to each night (well, most nights for us Navy gals) is really the most comforting thing about being married.

7. Just when you think your head will explode from anger, your husband will say something stupid or funny, and suddenly you aren't mad anymore.

8. My husband is never as romantic or as free about his feelings as he is when he is 10,000 leagues under the sea. I have the letters as proof! You did say that!

9. To some extent, personal hygiene goes out the window once you are married. I'm no longer concerned about wearing cute, sexy outfits to bed. Don't like my ratty t-shirts? Well, I don't like those pajama pants you've been wearing for the past month. Deal with it.

10. My husband really does know me better than I think he does. I always nag him about how he doesn't know what I like (case in point -- the salt and pepper shakers he got me for my 25th birthday), but then he comes home with the Friends box set, and I realize he was listening to me after all. Of course, a detailed list always helps.

11. Funnily enough, Jason was very independent before we got married. He managed to pay bills, buy groceries, and make appointments on his own. However, he seems to have regressed since our wedding. Oddly enough, he no longer knows where the grocery store is or how to load the dishwasher. Hmmmmm........

A few years back, Oprah had a couple on her show that had been married for 70 years. When she asked them what was the secret to a happy marriage, the husband answered "We were never out of love at the same time." I think that's very true, and it's amazing advice. Love is a verb; it is an action; it is something you do. It's a choice you make every day. You can choose to love and be committed to your spouse. You can choose to stick through the hard times, and the times where you just don't feel "in love" anymore. The feeling of falling "in love" may fade but the action of love, if you chose, does not.

In closing, I'm very happy and very lucky to have found such a wonderful husband. Here's to many more years of marriage!

It is very interesting to read this post three years later! I still think all my lessons are true, and I still to this day count that Oprah story as some of the best advice I’ve ever heard about marriage.

Something to talk about: what have you learned in your years of marriage? Single gals, what do you look forward to most about marriage?

***SITS is giving away an Electrolux turquoise sky washer and dryer, courtesy of Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen & Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances. Click here for information on how to enter.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How You Doin’?

Awhile back, Christine commented:

I love all of your posts. You should post another one about YOU....how are YOU doing lately?

At first I was all like “I love being a mom! My life is great! Wonderful! Puppies and bright shiny skittles all day long!” (in the voice of Tenley from Bachelor Pad). But then I slowly came to realize… I’m lying to myself a little. Don’t get me wrong – being a mom is wonderful. It is bright and shiny and the skittles are scrum-dee-li-umptous.

On a serious note, I love my son so very very much. It’s more than I can put into words. In fact, when I try to think about how to voice my love for my child, I cry. Because there is no words for the deep, abiding love my parent has for their child. It just is. It’s big and huge and overwhelming, and it is the most wonderful feeling in the world. He is mine.

At the same time, being a mom is so much more than I ever thought it would be. When I was pregnant, I imagined myself as a perfect mommy. Don’t we all? I thought I’d have it all together. I’d be the moms I saw in Target, walking around with their babies with perfect hair, painted nails, makeup, and cute outfits. I’d have a look of perpetual bliss on my face and would never raise my voice. My son would be such an angel that perfect strangers would stop me in stores and praise his beauty.

Hahahahahaha.

I’m no perfect mommy, y’all. First of all, I don’t go to Target alone with Cooper because it is a fair bet that he will decide the most fun game on Earth is to screech like a demented parrot all throughout the store. People don’t commend me for his beauty, the peek around the aisles to locate the sound that is making their ears bleed. I now apply my makeup at stop lights and in parking lots, and my hair is a perpetual mess because I don’t have time to blow dry it. Cute outfits? Hah. Spit up and snot are not cute accessories.

Sigh.

I can deal with those things, though. It’s all part and parcel of the mommy gig, in my opinion. What I truly wasn’t prepared for is hard utterly hard it is to find time for myself.

My typical day exists of stumbling out of bed 20 minutes after the alarm goes off because I am completely exhausted. I hear Cooper stirring but decide to leave him in his crib until I get out of the shower. I take the world’s fastest shower, scrunch gel in my hair so it can air dry, and throw my makeup bag in my purse for later. I am forced to wear jeans in the 110 degree heat because I didn’t have time to shave. I grab Cooper, get him ready for the day, and fix him breakfast and lunch for daycare. I drive him to daycare, putting on my makeup at stop lights, and suffer through the quickest pass off in history because I’m already 10 minutes late for work. After working 10 hours, I come home to play with Cooper for 20 minutes before his dinner time. I feed him dinner, cleaning the kitchen and prepping his daycare bag while he enjoys his finger foods. After his dinner we start his bedtime routine: bath, lotion and pjs, bottle, and bed. Once he’s asleep, I fix dinner, eat, clean up, watch some mindless television, and hit the sack.

It’s hard, y’all. Really hard. I’m not whining because I’m certainly grateful to have a job in this economy, and I do love being a mom. I just wish I could find some balance in my life. Jason is wonderful – he absolutely is my partner in every way and he contributes just as much as I do. I just wish I could find some balance!

How do you do it? How do you find balance in your life?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tuesdays at the Table & Top 2 Tuesday

Today I’m participating in Tuesdays at the Table, hosted by Cole of All The Small Stuff. Click on the picture to participate!

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Caprese Salad

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Ingredients:

  • Salad blend
  • Mozzarella (I used balls, cut up into large chunks)
  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Basil, shredded
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Oil

Just toss to combine. This couldn’t be easily, and it is so healthy and good for you. I could seriously eat the whole bowl myself. And I may have.

I’m also participating in Top 2 Tuesday, hosted by The Undomestic Momma. Click on the picture to participate!

Top 2 Favorite Things About Fall:

Cooler weather. Man, I hate to sweat. Seriously. I also love that cooler weather means I can wear more clothes. Keepin’ it real – more clothes means more layers to hide my fat. Holla!

Fall also means that Starbucks is rolling out their holiday drinks. Pumpkin spice lattes, peppermint white chocolate mochas, cinnamon dolce lattes, eggnog lattes…. hello, get in my belly right now. I have on a chunky sweater, no one will notice.

What do you love about fall?

P.S. My favorite blog designer and BBF (best bloggy friend) The Design Girl is having a ton of giveaways to celebrate her upcoming birthday! Go here to sign up for a free pre-made template and go here to sign up for a custom blog makeover! Better yet, just become a follower to be the first to know about all her fantastic giveaways! Good luck!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

8 Questions

I was tagged by Tiffany at Memoirs of a Munchkin Mommy to complete a meme. I get to answer eight questions from Tiffany, and then I’ll tag eight people with eight questions of my own.

What is your favorite book?

I talked about this in yesterday’s post, but my current favorite book is The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. The series includes The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. These are considered young adult fiction, but the subject matter has blown my mind. These aren’t romance novels, although there is a little romance. This would be a great book to read with your older children – I plan t o read it with Cooper one day. If you’ve read the series, let me know in the comments. I’m dying to discuss my reaction to Mockingjay!

DSC00144Jason after one too many martinis… 

What is your favorite alcoholic beverage? Nonalcoholic?

I love Riesling wine. I also like chocolate martinis, screwdrivers, and fuzzy navels. I like pretty much any drink that you would consume at a college frat party. For nonalcoholic beverages, I enjoy sweet tea, Dr. Pepper, and water.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

I have so many wonderful memories of my childhood babysitter, Mrs. Claudia. My mom went back to work when I was 6 months old and I stayed with Mrs. Claudia until I was old enough to stay on my own. She treated me like a daughter, and her family was my extended family. She was truly a second mother to me, and I have such great memories of our time together. Mrs. Claudia passed away when I was in college of lung cancer. She’s been on my mind a lot lately since having a child and dealing with my own daycare drama. I wish everyone had a Mrs. Claudia.

If you could have dinner with any three people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

I’d have dinner with loved ones who have passed away: Mrs. Claudia, my grandfather, my two uncles, and my cousin. I know that is more than three people, but I wish Cooper could meet the people I’ve loved and lost. I’m a better person for having them in my life… I wish he had the opportunity to know them.

Garter

If you aren't married, what is your dream wedding? If you are married, was your wedding your dream wedding? If not, tell us why and describe your dream wedding?

I’m probably going to have an unpopular opinion but I think a wedding is just a day. Yes, we all want our wedding days to be romantic, fantastic, the stuff of our dreams… but in the end it is the start of your life with the person you love. I see so many people, myself included, stress so much about the wedding details that they lose sight of what comes after “I do.” We stress so much about the little details – food, dress, venue, cake, etc. – that we give little to no thought to the most important part of the wedding… our vows!

I can’t say my wedding was my dream wedding. There were little details I wish could have been done differently. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. It was perfect and beautiful, and in the end, I was married to the man I love. I’ve been married for seven years. I hope to be married for 70 more.

What are your favorite names for a boy and a girl?

I’ve always thought people were silly for refusing to share their names, but now that I’m a mom I get it. No mom wants to hear that people don’t like her chosen name. If we have a girl in the future, I’ve chosen a name that combines part of my name and part of my grandmother’s name. If we have another boy, who knows what his name will be. It was a battle to settle on Cooper.

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What types of animals do have, if you have any? What are their names?

I have two chihuahuas, JC and George.

If you could pick any one store to serve as your own personal closet, what store would it be? What is your ideal outfit from this store?

This is a hard one! Can I pick more than one? I’d pick Forever 21 for fun, cheap jewelry and accessories. I’d go with Nordstrom for shoes and purses. I have no idea for clothes because it is hard to shop for plus size clothing! There are so few places that carry cute clothes, and most of the stores that do are restricted to online only. Oh well… I can accessorize anything, right? I’d pair some dark wash jeans with a simple tank and cardigan. Then I’d get some Tory Burch flats, a Chanel purse, a funky headband, and a chunky necklace. Someone else is paying, right?!

I tag:

Here are your questions:

  1. What do you miss most about your pre-children life, if anything?
  2. What advice would you give moms-to-be or those thinking about becoming moms?
  3. If you won $8 million in the lottery, how would you spend the money?
  4. If you had the talent and training for any profession, what would your chosen profession be?
  5. If you could compete in any reality show, what would it be?
  6. If you could pick any celebrity to be your BFF, who would it be?
  7. Let’s say you got invited to the Academy Awards. You get to choose any designer to dress you. Who would it be and why?
  8. What have you gained by blogging?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Friend Makin’ Mondays…. on Wednesday

Y’all, let’s keep it real. Ok? You know, if you’ve been reading my blog for some time, that I am a notorious procrastinator. If I say I’m going to do something, what I really mean is I’m going to do something… eventually. Most probably at the last possible minute that it could ever get done. So if I say I’ve got a post coming up next week, what I really mean is that I have a post coming up sometime. In the foreseeable future. Or in the not so foreseeable future. Really, it’s just on my to-do list. Which also includes “make plans for New Years Eve 2004”.

It would be funny if I wasn’t kidding.

So, my friends, that is why I’m linking up to Friend Makin’ Monday, hosted by Kenz at All The Weigh, on Wednesday. Cause that’s how I roll.

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I like Halloween. I was never particularly fond of this holiday growing up, but as an adult I find it awesome. Dress up my husband? Sweet. Dress up my dogs? Even better. Now that I have a little person to dress, it is on like donkey kong. Expect all kinds of outrageousness. Seriously. I dress up my dogs on a Thursday, y’all. What might I do on a organized holiday? You just wait.

I don't like word verification on blogs. I understand the purpose, but I don’t use it and have never had an issue with spam. Plus, when so many bloggers are short on time and aren’t commenting as much, I guarantee that you are loosing comments if you use word verification. It’s an extra step, and that extra step turns away a lot of people. Just keepin’ it real.

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I love that face. Best thing that has ever happened to me. I’ve honestly never been happier in my life.

I dream of winning the lottery. Someone I follow on Twitter has a cousin that recently won 8 million dollars! Crazy.

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I wonder what my dogs are thinking. Probably “please make my mom stop dressing me in these stupid clothes and costumes. Also, please take this grabby baby back where you got him from.”

I know, without a doubt, that God is at work. In my life, in others, all around me. Even when the outcome of his work isn’t what we all wish for, His plan is perfect.

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I went to the beach last week. It was not as relaxing and blissful as I had hoped. I’m starting to realize vacation with a child is totally different than vacationing, pre-Cooper. Cooper around water and sand  = not so relaxing.

I have good intentions. (This was Kenz’s response and it is completely true of me.)

I think that Real Housewives of New Jersey is trash tv at its finest. And I love it. (Did you see the reunion? OH MY GAH!)

I plan to spend more time blogging. I hope you’ll keep me accountable when I disappear for stretches of time.

I regret not as much as I used to. I used to spend my life questioning my decisions and actions. Now that I’m a little older, I accept the consequences of my actions and  choose to learn from them so that I don’t make the same mistakes twice.

I do not work out. Although I desperately need to. I’m the only person in the history of pregnancy to gain back some of the weight lost after having a baby. Lifting cookies is not a workout.

Copy of martini

I drink girly drinks. Riesling is my wine of choice. I love screwdrivers and chocolate martinis.

I wish my friend Lauren’s baby, Jax, would heal. Please pray. He was born last week, full term, with the lungs of a premature baby. He is in the NICU with serious problems and this family really needs you to lift them up in prayers.

I am really sad that The Hunger Games series is complete. I get so sad when a series releases its final book. If you haven’t read The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, or Mockingjay, please do. It is amazing. Dare I say it? It’s better than Harry Potter.

I am not ready for my son to start crawling. He’s so close! It’s exciting but sad at the same time. It is another milestone that means he’s getting older and bigger… and one day he will no longer be my baby boy, he’ll be my toddler. Tear! Also, I’m not ready to chase him around 24/7 pulling him out of everything.

I need more time in the day! I feel like I no longer have any time for myself anymore, which is a big reason my blog has went on the back burner. I really don’t know how to juggle all my responsibilities with the things that bring me joy.

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I hope that when my son is grown, he can say that I was a good mother.

I want to meet Paula Deen. I’d be such a teenage girl. “OH MY GAH, y’all, it’s PAULA DEEN! PAAAAAAAAULA! Can I get a picture? I’m your biggest FAAAAAAAAAN!”

I sometimes (all the time) leave clothes in the dryer to avoid folding them. I also sometimes have to run the washer more than once because I wash something and forget about it. Oopsie.

I always wash my face and brush my teeth before bed. I will wake up in the middle of the night, feeling disgusting, if i don’t. My husband wakes up in the middle of the night to weigh himself. We’re a family of freaks.

I can harmonize really well, but I don’t have the voice of a soloist. In other words, I could be a backup singer, but I’m no Mariah.

I work with the special needs population, primarily adults with Mental Retardation.

I cannot wait until fall television comes back. I can’t wait for Glee… so excited for the Britney/Brittany episode!

I avoid Target and the mall on weekends. The crowds stress me out. I prefer to do all my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving, although I will brave the crowds on Black Friday.

I will eagerly await your answers! If you’d like to participate, go to All The Weigh to link up! Let me know you did in the comments!



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