Thursday, December 19, 2013

Inspiration from A Young Heart-An Interview with Shawn Johnson

This past Monday I had the pleasure of meeting a beautiful and inspirational young lady…Shawn Johnson. Shawn was in town promoting the upcoming 2014 P&G Gymnastics Championships being held at Consol August 21-24, 2014. (Tickets are already available for those interested in attending!)


In Shawn’s 21 years on this earth she has accomplished so much…multiple Olympic medals and the ultimate trophy on Dancing with the Stars.


What’s amazing is that she still has her whole life ahead of her to reach for all her other dreams. Dreams of getting a degree at Vanderbilt in Sports Psychology and Dietetics and reaching other personal goals she has set for herself. I so enjoyed talking with her and hearing her stories about her experiences. She shared candidly with us about the struggles and challenges that she has experienced.

Shawn started gymnastics at the young age of 3. Not because her parents were convinced that she would someday be an Olympian but because they knew she needed an outlet. Shawn smiled as she told us that she was a very rambunctious child. She said she was always climbing up onto furniture and jumping off with no fear. Her and her parents quickly found that gymnastics was a wonderful outlet for her and the bonus was by the end of the lesson she was exhausted. As a mom I can agree that there’s nothing better than a wiped out 3 year old who willingly goes to bed! The rest is history as they say. She flourished in the sport and moved up quickly to higher levels. She shared with us that at one point even though she asked her parents to let her go to more classes they debated. They didn’t want her life to be all about the gym. They wanted her to be with her friends and have a normal life at school and home.

We asked Shawn about her parents and whether she had any advise for other parents. “I’m not a parent and I can’t speak for them,” she said, “But I can tell you what they taught me.” Shawn shared that her parents never pushed her in her sport. That she knew if she ever wanted to stop or wasn’t having fun they’d be 100% ok if she stopped. She went on to share that her parents were her safe zone. She said that they never pushed her. They let her coach be the one to push and she knew as long as she tried her hardest, followed the rules and put it all out there they were proud of her…no matter what the scores or judges said. If she was struggling or things were tense in the gym she always knew she could come home and put it aside. Shawn said that she knows that her parents were nervous through her entire career but they worked hard to not let it show. They were strong for her and guided her along the way…they were her rock.

Shawn also shared some amazing insight on young children. She said that no one can look at a 4 year old kid and know what they are going to do when they are older….no one. Any child can show talent or ability in a certain area but that doesn’t mean that’s what their destiny is. She said that some kids are gifted with amazing talent for the sport gymnastics but have no interest in the sport at all. Then there are others who may not be as naturally talented but they have the drive…the determination…to dream big. Those are the kids you often see achieving amazing things. She shared that it’s so important to support your child’s interests and teach them drive and work ethic. Let them have fun and let them learn through that fun. “If a kid is where they are supposed to be you don’t need to teach them. They will excel naturally because they love it.” Wise words!

I shared with Shawn about Monkey and his struggle with Juvenile Arthritis. I explained that there where thousands of kids living every day in pain but still dreaming big dreams. I asked her if there were any tips or tricks she would share with those kiddos that she used to work through her injuries and the pain from them. Shawn said that working through her injuries was a frustrating and humbling experience that taught her perseverance. She said that if she could tell JA kids anything it would be that NOTHING is impossible. If you put your mind to something and dedicate yourself to it, giving it your all, you can overcome any obstacle.

Shawn also told us about something that her coach taught her. When she was at a competition he had her close her eyes and visualize her routine, visualize her scores, visualize the outcome. Her coach told her to imagine herself in a bubble and block everything else out. He told her that in a large arena or auditorium it’s easy to let yourself get lost. By putting yourself in that bubble you don’t loose focus and you have the ability to reassure yourself of your abilities. I was so happy she shared this with us. I think it’s something that any person could apply in their own life. It’s so easy to get distracted by the world around us and loose sight of who we are or what we are here to do. I know as a mom I’m easily distracted by the chores that need done, the screaming and fighting from the boys, the blogs I want to write. I’m going to take a little time in those moments to put myself in a bubble and visualize myself completely the things I need to do. Visualize my dreams and see myself working toward them on step at a time.

I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to meet Shawn. She’s a very down to earth and mature young woman. She has so much ahead of her and I know that she’s going to continue to achieve great things. I appreciate the time she took to talk with us and the candid responses she gave. She is a wonderful role model…If I had a daughter I would definitely love for her to look up to Shawn.
Want to learn more about Shawn and follow the projects she’s working on? You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to also check out the 2014 P&G Gymnastics Championships being held at Consol August 21-24, 2014.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Going back to the start….

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared Monkey’s story and seeing how I have a lot of new readers I thought today would be a good day to go back to where it all began. I wrote this post on August 22, 2013. Hard to believe it’s been almost two years now since Monkey was diagnosed. We’ve come a long way since then.
Juvenile Arthritis…What it Means to Us.
Back in January we noticed that Monkey was limping a little. We thought that maybe it was because of how he usually sits on the floor…legs to the side like a M..we thought maybe his leg or foot was falling asleep. We started making him sit in his little chair and watched him carefully to make sure he sat with his feet out to see if it helped. Oddly the limping got worse. Soon he was complaining it hurt and would barely walk. We took him in to our pediatrician on January 24. He sent us right away for x-rays saying that often times kids his age can fracture their leg and not show any signs (bruising/swelling). After getting x-rays we were told they didn’t see any breaks or fracture of any kind. Once I got the confirmation back from the doctor he referred us to the pediatric orthopedist.

On February 2 we met with the orthopedist and they were using words like “rheumatoid arthritis” and “MRI”. This is when I started worrying. An MRI for a two-year-old meant sedation. The word rheumatoid brought images of my poor baby not being able to move at age 5 and never being able to live a ‘normal’ life. Needless to say I was scared and confused. Ed talked me down from the ledge though, he reminded me that we needed to take things one step at a time…not jump to conclusions.

I called to schedule his MRI and they told me it would be almost six weeks until they could get him in. This was not ok. Monkey’s pain had gotten worse and at this point his right knee was visibly swollen. He would sit in the chair and cry, “Momma, my leg hurt. I go to doctor.” It broke my heart. I called and called every morning asking if there were any cancellations. Finally, one morning I just broke down with the poor girl on the phone. She was so sweet and kind and even though they didn’t keep a waiting list she took my name and number. She called me the next morning saying there was an open spot that Sunday. I thanked her over and over for her kindness and thanked God that He made a way.

We were to go in on February 5 for his MRI.  What a scary thing. I know that there are children and parents out there that are dealing with much worse but for us this was new and to me a little terrifying. To watch the nurses put an IV in your 2 year old and see him shake because of the medication and watch his eyes roll back as it finally put him under…not really something I thought I’d have to experience as a parent. I sat in a rocker while they took the images and I prayed. I prayed that he would be ok. I prayed that they would find something that was easily treatable, something fixable. I watched him closely to make sure his chest was moving so I knew that he was ok. They finished the MRI and put us in a waiting room where I cradled him in my arms as he slowly woke up. All things considered he did very well. He was a little groggy and unsteady the rest of the day but we made it through with out any complications.

Later that week, after many tearful calls to the office, I finally got the results of the scan. He had severe inflammation around his knee. We were then referred to a rheumatologist at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Again I had to call and call to get an appointment that wouldn’t be two months away. I was so shocked that 1) there were pediatric rheumatologists and 2) that they were so busy! We finally got him in on February 17. Monkey was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. We were told that they would start him on Naproxen and see how he responded to that. I know they told me other things and handed me a bunch of papers but honestly it’s all just a blur.

We started him on the Naproxen and after a few days he still wasn’t doing any better and now he was having severe stomach pain from the Naproxen. I called his doctors and they decided to start him on an oral steroid as well as prevacid to help his stomach. I was starting to feel like a pharmacist giving my 2 year old three different medications every day that he despised. The steroid worked quickly to take down the swelling some but it was so bad that we decided with the direction of his doctors that he needed to have an injection directly into the knee rather than to continue having the steroid course through his whole system. On April 6 (Good Friday) we traveled back to the hospital and he was once again sedated (this time with gas) so he could receive an injection in his right knee and left ankle.

The effects of the injection were immediate. We noticed a huge difference within days and we were very relieved. The doctors told us that the effects could last up to six months or longer…this is of course what I prayed for. Unfortunately, a month or so later his right ankle and left knee started to look swollen. We noticed that after playing for a bit he would get what we call Zombie foot…his right foot would start to turn out to the side and he’d start dragging his leg when he’d walk. We went back to the doctors who said that there was definitely a bit of swelling but to treat it with Motrin and see how he does. In addition to the Motrin we started limiting his amount of play…how sad is that? A two year old should be able to run and jump and play as long as his little heart wants too.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Simple Sunday–The Polar Express

The boys were blessed with a wonderful Christmas gift this year from Ed’s cousin…tickets to The Polar Express event at the Carnegie Science Center! This event included a hot breakfast, the movie in the IMAX and admission to the Science Center. Needless to say they were pretty pumped!

When we arrived they gave us tickets that looked similar to the tickets in the movie and each of the boys got a bag from Lionel Trains with some great goodies What kiddo doesn’t love a swag bag?! They had some beautiful train displays set up in the main lobby to view. My favorite was the one around the huge tree…

1(Please excuse the blurry pic…I forgot I had my camera set to “no flash”…fail!)

By 9 we were seated and ready for breakfast. It was so cute to see the boys so excited and enjoying their breakfast. Of course there was a good amount of silly faces being made too.

After breakfast and a few Christmas songs we headed into the IMAX theater for the show. Neither the boys or I have been to see a movie in the IMAX so it was a new experience all around. Zim was a little leery because of how high our seats were and how dark the theater was. The other two though didn’t seem to be phased by it at all.

 Before the movie started we got a special treat. Mr. McFeely (from Mr. Roger’s) came out to read the book The Polar Express! Before he read the book he introduced a couple of his friends from the old show….Daniel Striped Tiger and Donkey Hodie! I know that my boys didn’t really get the significance of all of that but I’ll tell you right now I sure loved it! I loved watching Mr. Rogers growing up so seeing Mr. McFeely and the actual Daniel Striped Tiger puppet was way cool!

Seeing this Christmas classic in IMAX was amazing. All the boys loved it. They sat so still through the whole thing! It’s definitely one of my favorite Christmas movies so seeing it this way with the boys was a wonderful treat.

After the movie we walked over to the model train display and got to meet Mr. McFeely in person. He’s such a sweet man.

I’m so thankful for Sam and Sandy who gave this gift to the boys. A gift that created memories that will last so much longer than any toy or game. xo

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Elf On a Shelf–Ideas and Inspirations

I’m sure everyone knows about the wildly popular holiday tradition of Elf on a shelf. I’m not sure who came up with it but honestly they were a genius! Definitely one of those “I wish I’d come up with that!” ideas.


Our own elf has only been with us for two years and the boys adore him. They named him Cookie and every year around Thanksgiving they start talking about when he is going to make his appearance. This year Cookie came a little later than normal and the boys were waiting with great concern. They knew a couple of our family friends had elves who’d already arrived…Where was Cookie!?  You see, I’ll be honest with you here…I was being a lazy elf momma. I just wasn’t quite ready for the responsibility this year of moving him every night. See, most nights before Christmas this is me:


Thankfully my hubs has been the mastermind behind some great ideas here at our house and has saved me many times from the scenario pictured above.

Here are some photos (with permission) of some of the things my friends elves have been up to. I hope they inspire you to come up with some of your own great ideas. If not, feel free to ‘steal’ these for the next 12 days of elf magic. ;) Need or want more inspiration…check out my whole board named Cookie the Elf on Pinterest.



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Shopping the Miche Way With a Twist

The shopping crunch is now upon us and I’m sure many of you are still searching for the PERFECT gift. Last week I shared with you some beautiful living locket options from Origami Owl by Kelly. This week I have something else for the ladies in your life. Miche bags!

Most women carry a purse…I know, not ALL women, but MOST do. Some ladies even own multiple purses. This can often get expensive and take up a lot of room in the closet. Miche bags has the perfect solution! Haven’t heard of Miche yet? Let me share with you a little about them from consultant Marsha Krantz’s website:
The Original Interchangeable Miche Bag

Miche offers you the ultimate combination of style, convenience and affordability. Owning a Miche bag means never having to switch handbags again—it’s a beautiful thing! Our unique magnetic interchangeable exterior Shells allow you to change the look of your bag anytime you want without the bother of moving your things to a new purse—often in 3 seconds or less; it’s a real time saver! Affordability gives you the freedom to enjoy the latest trends without the guilt. With four sizes to choose from, there’s a gorgeous interchangeable bag for every occasion and need; with dozens of ever-changing styles, handles and other exciting accessories, it’s easy to create a look that’s uniquely yours. And it’s all the same bag!

Now, I don’t know about you but this really appeals to me. I would change purses more often if it weren’t for the fact that I’d have to empty one out completely and transfer everything to another purse. I mean, I’m a mom, there is SO much stuff in my purse! With the Miche bag you simply remove one shell and pick another to pop on! How cool?!

BaseBagMiche also offers four different sizes to choose from: petite, classic, demi and prima. I personally prefer a smaller purse so when I was shopping around on Marsha’s page I knew the petite bag was perfect for me. Now the hard part…picking a shell for the petite bag. There were SO many to choose from but one really stood out to me. Once I read more about it my decision was made.


The Hope (red) Shell for Petites has an edgy vibe while delivering an undeniable message of determination in the face of adversity. Faith, hope and love are beautifully defined in black and white on a smooth, red faux leather background. It's not just a Shell—it's a work of art. Catch the Spirit of Hope—a portion of every purchase of a Hope Shell goes directly to cancer research.
How pretty (and stylish) is this shell? Looks alone drew me to this one but of course I have other reasons. As most of you know my dear friend Kate is currently fighting for her life against Stage IV Breast Cancer. I cannot wait to sport this stylish new purse while knowing that it also helps the greater good of cancer research.

If you’re looking for a great gift for the ladies in your life I encourage you to check out all that Miche has to offer. I know that a gift from Miche will make any woman smile and they will look forward to choosing more shells for their new purse.

Marsha is also spreading some Christmas spirit with us this season. A portion of the purchases made through Melanie’s JA Party will be donated to the Juvenile Arthritis Association. I am so grateful to her for this! She knows how important JA is to myself and Melanie and wants to help our kiddos out. (Melanie is Megan’s momma…the sweet girl I featured a few weeks ago here on the blog.)

{The Petite Purse and HOPE shell were provided by Marsha Krantz who is an Independent Senior Director for Miche. I was not financially compensated for this post. All thoughts, opinions, and ideas are my own. Thank you, Marsha, for partnering with me.}

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Spirit of Christmas

Someone shared a video this morning that brought me to tears. It’s beautiful to see a group of people doing something so selfless for complete strangers. Sure some would say this is an amazing marketing scheme but my heart says that this is an true example of Christmas spirit.

An airline in Canada called WestJet set up a clever Christmas surprise. Not only did the passengers of two flights get to have a live video chat with Santa but there was more waiting for them upon their arrival. They found a way to #BeAmazing.

Here’s a little excerpt from the article by Sun News.
“In a touching parody of The Night before Christmas, WestJet may have left a few holiday travellers believing in miracles.
While waiting in the boarding area for two Calgary-bound flights from the Toronto and Hamilton airports, passengers were invited to scan their boarding pass and talk with Santa via a video conference.
During the light-hearted conversations, Santa asked the passengers what they wanted for Christmas. Answers ranged from cell phones, to choo-choo trains, to big screen TVs, to socks and underwear.
Then the magic happened.”

Want to see the magic…watch this video and I dare you not to cry… 

I don’t know about you but in this crazy world we live in full of selfish companies and selfish people it’s so wonderful to see this happen. What’s even better is that it was most likely an inspiration to others to pay it forward. I hope this inspired you to find a way to be the Christmas spirit in someone’s life this year. Grab an angel off a donation tree at the store, find a family to adopt, send some coats and mittens to the local shelter. You’ll never regret the feeling you’ll have knowing that you made those people smile. #BeAmazing this Christmas.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Simple Sunday…Be Amazing

This week my dear friend Kate shared something so simple yet so profound.

#BeAmazing. No matter who you are, how much money you have, what your current emotional or physical state may be; just be amazing. In the past week I have completed 4 random acts of kindness. Not because I want a thank you (they were selfless acts to make someone smile) I just wanted to be amazing me. We were all born to be amazing, you just have to stop making excuses and start being amazing.”

My family has been very blessed this week. God has answered prayers that were only in our hearts…never spoken…right down to some specific details. He’s been amazing to us. I want to be amazing for Him.

This week find some ways to #BeAmazing. Know that even the smallest gesture makes such an impact because you never know what the other person is going through in life. Ask God to lead you to those who need to be blessed and in return you will feel blessed as well.

So remember this as you go about your day….


Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Favorites–SPECIAL Edition Origami Owl

With Christmas quickly approaching I wanted to share with you a special Friday Favorite. I’m sure many of you are searching not only for the perfect gift but one that is meaningful as well. I have a wonderful solution for you….Origami Owl by Kelly!


Origami Owl specializes in Living Lockets. What is a living locket you ask? It’s a locket that can be completely personalized with a variety of beautiful charms, chains, dangles and tags. The possibilities are truly endless!

Do you know a new mom or some one with a baby on the way? Why not surprise them with a sweet locket like this that they will treasure for the rest of their life. Who knows, maybe one day they will pass it down to their daughter. (There are adorable boy charms as well!)


Do you have a breast cancer survivor or warrior in your life? A locket like this one would be a perfect gift. Or, make one similar to wear yourself in honor of them to show your love and support.


Want to create something custom on your own? It’s EASY! Just follow these simple steps on Kelly’s site:

Need a little more inspiration? Check out the custom locket I put together for myself:


So what are you waiting for?! Hurry on over to Kelly’s page and start working on those custom Christmas gifts! Kelly is even offering a wonderful deal for those who order through her directly as a result of this post. Email or call Kelly with your order and you will receive 30% off an item of their choice. You can contact her via Facebook, by phone at 412-997-0539 or by email at Make sure to place your order by December 15th to get your items in time for Christmas!
That Friday Blog HopFridayFavorites copy

{My locket and charms were provided by Kelly who is an Independent Designer for Origami Owl. I was not financially compensated for this post. All thoughts, opinions, and ideas are my own. Thank you to Kelly for partnering with me.}

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Early morning car rides and appointments.

Today we had a goal…fit as much into our Children’s Hospital visit as possible! Why not right? We started our morning at 7. I know that doesn’t sound early to some of you but to us it is. We were on the road by 8:15 which his normally when we roll out of bed. Our hope was to have plenty of time to get through traffic and still get to the hospital by 9:30. Traffic wasn’t too bad thankfully. There’s only so much you can do to avoid sitting in a little bumper to bumper on 51 during rush hour. We made it though…even a little early…and found a close parking spot in the parking garage. Score!

By 9:30 I was checking Bub and Zim in at the Sibling Center and headed up to check Monkey in for his appointments. Our first for the day…the dental office. A few weeks ago I took all the boys in to the pediatric dentist. What an experience that was! (I’ll save that story for another post.) I wanted to get a second opinion on the work being recommended for Monkey. The pediatric dentist we’d gone to was telling me that he’d need to be sedated in order to put venire caps on his two front teeth. Unfortunately, I think from him being on Methotrexate, he had developed awful decay between is top front teeth. Seeing how they were recommending sedation I knew the only place I’d get that done was at Children’s Hospital.

Monkey wasn’t crazy about having to get into the dental chair. Some trips down he does great and is a real trooper. Other days, like today, are more of a struggle. This is where bribes often come into play. After promising that he could pick a snack from our bag he finally agreed to sit in the chair. The dentist was very quick and agreed that the caps were the way to go. What made me happy was to hear her say that there were no other cavities in his mouth. What made me even happier was when she told me that she’s pretty sure she could do the procedure with just a little relaxing medication (that he’d take on the morning of) and some happy gas. That means that he wouldn’t have to be completely sedated and that made this momma very happy. Monkey hopped up after his exam, picked a snack, two stickers and we were on our way to our next appointment. Rheumatology.

Right now we are on an every three month schedule. I was so excited that going into this appointment we were pain and symptom free….well, up until this past weekend. Go figure, right? The past five or six days Monkey has been limping and complaining that his leg was hurting again. Not cool. I’ve been keeping an eye on it and noticed it was a little swollen but nothing terrible so we’ve been treating it with Motrin, warm baths and his warm rice bag. After his exam with his doctor she agreed that there was some fluid there. She advised that I keep an eye on it and let her know if nothing has changed in a week. What then?

~If the pain persists and the swelling stays we will most likely talk about having another joint injection in that knee.

~No change of medications or dosage at this point since there is only one joint having an issue right now.

~If the problem persists after in injection or more joints flare we will discuss adding Enbrel or Humira along with the MTX.

It was nice that she discussed all the options with me and clarified why we’d go certain routes. I wasn’t overwhelmed or confused because thankfully I knew what was possibly ahead for Monkey’s treatment. It’s so important to educate yourself and talk with other families who have experienced the same illnesses if you can. Having a realistic understanding of your child’s illness/disease is vital. Knowing that things can change in a moment and knowing what may be next in their treatment helps you make calm and educated decisions.

Next we were of to Monkey’s least favorite parts of our visits…the lab. I try very hard to distract him so he doesn’t realize what’s going on. Thankfully today there was a volunteer with a beautiful therapy dog. Monkey loved petting Jackson the golden retriever. He sat next to him and rubbed his belly along with four other patients and really enjoyed watching Jackson do tricks. Soon they called us back and that’s when he knew what was coming. He tried to convince me that we didn’t need to go and that we could go home. Sorry, buddy. As soon as we walked into the room he burst into tears. I felt so bad for him. He always cries but today was worse…he screamed. I don’t know if the person taking his blood today wasn’t as good as the ones we’ve had in the past but he was NOT happy. I mean, the poor kid was crying, screaming, drooling and shaking. Yeah, not so fun. I hate so much that he has to do this but I know it’s necessary to make sure that the medications are harming him in ways we can’t see.

Thankfully Jackson the therapy dog was still out in the waiting area when we were finished. A few snuggles and kisses later and we were good to go. Of course on our way out we had to stop in the gift stop for his treat. We’ve pretty much eliminated almost all candy out of the boys’ diet since our last dental visit so the fact that he got to pick some Mike & Ikes today was a big deal. It’s nice that a little candy can make him feel a bit better about all that he went through today.

Now we are home and he’s happily playing Lego Batman on the XBox like nothing happened. For now we’ll just keep an eye on him and hope that his limp goes away and he’s feeling better so we don’t have to go back until March for his next routine check up. We never truly know what to expect when we go on these visit but one thing I do know is that he is getting the best care possible. Something we are so very thankful for!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Congratulations Teri Hatcher…Winner of Chopped Holiday Bash!

Last night was a BIG night in the world of Juvenile Arthritis. Celebrity Teri Hatcher competed on The Food Network’s special, Chopped’s Holiday Bash to win $10,000 for her charity of choice. What charity did she choose out of the millions out there? The Juvenile Arthritis Association!

As I watched I was moved to tears when she talked about why she chose the JAA for her charity. To hear her say that she was competing for the kids with Juvenile Arthritis because no child should have to live in so much pain went straight to this momma’s heart. Millions of people heard her speak those words. Millions of people who have possibly never heard of JA. Millions of people who never knew the severity of the disease. Now they are all a little more informed. Who knows, maybe some of them even went to their computers and searched to find out more about JA and the Juvenile Arthritis Association. What a huge boost for awareness!

Even more exciting is that SHE WON! Not only do millions of people now know about JA but Teri won $10,000 for the Juvenile Arthritis Association!


Congratulations, Teri! It was so awesome to watch you work so hard and pull out the win! Thank you for choosing the JAA as your charity and for helping raise awareness for our kiddos!

Kim, author of Living with Juvenile Arthritis, also posted about Teri’s win today and included some great info about Teri and all her hard work! Be sure to check it out!


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas is coming! Scripture Advent Calendar DIY

Thanksgiving is over so the Christmas talk (and blog posts) can officially begin! This year I’m going to work hard to make sure we focus on the true meaning of Christmas as much, or more than, we focus on all the ‘sparkley’ parts of Christmas. I love Santa and we have an Elf too, I just want to make sure that the boys know that there is a deeper, more amazing reason for this holiday.

Today I’m going to share with you an advent calendar that I made. I combined two craft ideas from Pinterest to create this scripture advent calendar.


I found an idea for a Christmas tree made from pallet wood and decided to also do a miniature version for my advent calendar. I know most advent calendars have treats inside but after our recent visit to the dentist I opted to do without the sugar. Each day there is a card and on the back of each card is a scripture related to Christmas. I found these printable cards on and resized them to fit my mini tree.


Instead of little envelopes I glued the cards to thick scrapbook paper. To attach them to the tree I dipped mini clothes pins into modge podge and then into glitter. Once they were dry I just hot glued them to my tree. (To get the spacing right I set everything out to fit first.

The boys are really excited to start counting down to Christmas. I’m glad they will have this way to learn a little more about the true reason for the season…the birth of our Lord Jesus.

From ABC's to ACT's

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Small Business Saturday

Black Friday is over (as well as Black Thursday evening…what????) and every one got their crazy deals from all the BIG companies. But today is another great day to shop. This time…shop LOCAL!

Today is Small Business Saturday. The day to buy from local businesses or work at home individuals and support what they do. It’s a great way to get unique gifts that will mean something special to the one you gift to. Some of these small businesses sell homemade items (like me!) and some of them sell direct sale items. Either way you are supporting and individual directly and helping them grow their business and helping them provide for their family.


Here are a few ‘local’ businesses I think you should check out…

First is my own storenvy shop where you can find beautiful jewelry and hair accessories. I make all my items by hand and with love and promise that they will put a smile on your face. You can shop my storenvy shop here or click on “SHOP” in the tabs on the top of my blog.


Etsy is a great place to find fun items as well…anything from clip art to clothing to web design!

Check out a couple shops I love…

Designed Lovely

So on this Small Business Saturday I hope you take a moment to shop some local, home based businesses online or stroll your neighborhood for those adorable local shops and support them today!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Favorites–4th Edition

Good morning and happy day after Thanksgiving! I’m not a black Friday shopper so to me this is just a wonderful Friday to sit in my pjs all day and do a whole lot of nothing! :)

Here are a few of my favorites this week….enjoy!

This bit by Jimmy Fallon has now become one of my favorites! 

Untitled-1 1. Fun exchange being hosted by my friend Rebecca over at XOXORebecca! It’s like a gift exchange but with nail polish…fun right?! Want in on the fun…sign up here! 2. Looking for a chic and unique gift for the fashionista in your life? Look at these beautiful handbags from Initials Inc. Jennifer Jones is even having a Black Friday sale right now! She’s offering  15% off ALL Signature Collection Bags and 10% off ALL Get a Grip & Get a Big Grips. Contact Jenn directly with your black Friday order by emailing her at sassypurseparty AT yahoo DOT com. 3. Look at this ADORABLE Scentsy warmer! Not only is it perfect for the holidays but it’s also a great way for the kids to count down till the big day! There are also so many scents to choose from…one of my favorites right now is Honey Pear Cider. Makes the whole house smell SO yummy! Want to order one for yourself or a friend? Check out Nicole’s site for all the great deals for the holidays!
That Friday Blog HopFridayFavorites copy

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Traditions

Growing up I’m sure you (like I) learned the ‘basics’ about Thanksgiving…but here are some things you might not have known.

  • The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days. (Sounds good to me! Maybe we should change how we do things now…move to a three day feast!)
  • Mashed potatoes, pumpkin pies, popcorn, milk, corn on the cob, and cranberries were not foods present on the first Thanksgiving's feast table. (No potatoes or pumpkin pie?!)
  • Lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese are thought to have made up the first Thanksgiving feast. (Maybe we should change our menu! Lobster?! YUM!)
  • The pilgrims didn't use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers. (Please don’t tell my boys this…they will insist on eating with their fingers.)  

    Since that first Thanksgiving each family has developed their own traditions for this day of thanks. Growing up we had a small family. Just my mom, my brother and me. I remember a few Thanksgivings spent at the homes of my mom’s friends. (Unfortunately our family lived too far away for visiting.) We didn’t really have any big traditions other than those related to food. Turkey, of course, and my mom’s yummo corn casserole were a must as well as the standard mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. YUM! 

    Since I’ve been married we’ve gone to my mom-in-laws for dinner. I will never forget my first Thanksgiving with them. I was SO pumped for turkey and the usual side dishes! As we sat down to eat I looked around…where was the turkey? Hmmm. Maybe it was finishing up in the oven. Maybe it was in the kitchen waiting to be carved. Soon the whole clan was gathered at the table and my mom-in-law finally sat down…the universal sign for “everything is out and ready…time to eat!” But guess what….still no turkey. Instead where the turkey would be shining in all it’s buttery, brown glory there was an imposter! A ham! What had happened? Surely this was Thanksgiving not Christmas! I must have been easy to read because the next Thanksgiving (and all the ones thereafter) there has been turkey for me. Even though they had their own tradition of ham on turkey day (I guess no one liked turkey) they were willing to change it just a bit to accommodate their ‘new’ family. I love them for that.
    Now, 12 years later (wow…twelve!?) there are more that enjoy turkey than just me (my boys love it) but we still have ham too. I also always make sure to bring my beloved green been casserole as well. I really should make that corn casserole my mom always made…maybe we’ll have that for Christmas dinner. 

  • Point is, no matter what your traditions are or how you celebrate it’s all good. As long as you feel blessed by those around you and are thankful and thoughtful of your blessings then you’ve had a wonderful Thanksgiving day. And remember, don’t just count your blessings tomorrow, but count them every day. For each day is a blessing.
    Give Thanks