Thursday, November 20, 2014

What I love…Holiday Card Edition!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “What I love” post but with the holidays quickly approaching I figured now is a great time to start back up!

The holidays are such a busy time of the year. We’re always rushing here and there trying to fit in every possible activity and trying to see our friends and family. Unfortunately, for many of us that’s not only hard but almost impossible. I’m not sure about you but my network of family and many of my best friends are spread all over the US. Heck, some even in Canada and Australia! A great way to spread holiday cheer to these friends and family this year is through beautiful holiday photo cards. I’ve shopped around and noticed you can pretty much order them anywhere. But for me I want something unique. Something that stands out as it hangs in the home of those I love.

This year I found Minted. How I have yet to discover this site up until now is beyond me! Maybe my subconscious knew that I’d have a hard time resisting all the beautiful things they have to offer. I mean, just look at a couple of my favorite card designs they have available from their new collection:
Gorgeous right?! Not only are they beautiful but there are so many ways to customize each card. You can have a flat card, you can get them in a cool shape, you can get ones that open up, you can change the colors, AND they even have these SUPER awesome Mini Book Cards! Wouldn’t these be amazing for the friends and family you don’t get to see as often as you’d like. I mean, this truly turns a holiday card into an actual holiday gift. Just beautiful!
Be sure to check out all the other amazing card designs Minted has available to create one that suits your family perfectly! Now, please excuse me while I spend the next 10 hours 30 min browsing the rest of Minted’s site…did you see they also offer gifts, home d├ęcor AND fabric?! I think I found my new addiction!
{This is a sponsored post by Minted. I was not financially compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.}

Saturday, November 1, 2014

DIY Halloween Mystery Box Game

With this year being the boys first public school year school parties are a new thing for us. I was asked to help with Bub’s Halloween Party and while I was excited I was a little nervous too! I mean, we’re talking about a bunch of 9/10 year olds who are hitting that stage where you never know what’s still cool and what’s super lame and embarrassing. When the lead mom asked if I’d do a game I agreed and immediately hit my favorite place for inspiration…PINTERST! I saw quite a few cool sensory games so I decided to run with that and add my own spin and created this fun, creepy, and gross Halloween Mystery Box Game!

Ashley Mikula Photography

The idea behind the game is that you have each participant slip their hand into the box and try to guess what they are touching. Common food items are used and disguised as gross body parts like eyes, ears, tongues, fingers, teeth and brains. I mean, who doesn’t love a little bit of gooey, slimy, smooshy body parts on Halloween?

Ashley Mikula Photography

Ashley Mikula Photography

What you will need for this project…

~ Box (Make sure it’s big enough and sturdy enough to cut a small hole in the front for the hands to go through and a large opening in the back so you can switch the containers out.)

~ Plastic table cloth or wrapping paper to cover the box. (I used a table cloth on my box and used duct tape to secure it. I did not worry about covering the back of the box and the bottom is completely open.)

~ Felt to cover the opening in front and make teeth (if you want). (For the black felt I cut an X to make it easy for the kids to slip their hands in and out of the box without being able to peek in to see what they were touching.)

~ Creepy letters or stickers to decorate your box.

~ Small food containers to hold your sensory items.

~ Food items to resemble body parts. You can see what I used but get creative…there are a lot of other fun things you could do!

The kids seemed to really enjoy the game. I loved watching their faces as they touched certain items, especially the slimy bananas. I also expected some of the kids to not want to participate but they all loved it…even the girls! (Side note, my two younger boys were more hesitant to play at home and wouldn’t do it until I showed them first that they weren’t really touching real eyes/finger/brains/teeth/ears/tongues.)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Be Perfectly Imperfect

Life is a crazy journey on which we see so many other people at a glance. We see all the prettiness of the outsides of their lives. We see their perfect house that they own, their shiny cars, their well behaved children, their calm demeanor. We see their status updates, tweets and Instagram pictures and feel that twinge of envy wondering how they do it. It’s so easy in the moment to compare ourselves to others especially if we are going through a rough patch. It’s so easy to think, “Why do they have it all together? How can they do it? Maybe I’m doing this all wrong?”

This way of thinking and comparing can be so destructive. It is a habit that is so easy to get into and one that is also so hard to break. We are all different and just because what we see on the outside looks perfect doesn’t mean that it truly is. With technology today and social media it’s so easy to make things look pretty, perfect and put together. I’ve seen this quote recently and I find myself repeating when I find myself starting on the comparison cycle…


As a women and mothers we need to work on not only being easier on ourselves but also being honest with others. We need to know that it’s ok to fail. If your having a bad day, put it out there. Let other mommas know that you’re normal and that it’s OK to have a bad day. Did you yell at your kids too much today? That’s OK! We all have our moments. We are human after all. Be honest with your momma friends AND your kiddos and use that moment as a teaching moment. Show your kids that you’re not perfect and that  you don’t expect them to be either. That we all make mistakes and when we do we just have to pick ourselves back up and try to better next time. 

Let’s be mentors, not martyrs or fakes. Let’s live our life with our heart on our sleeve. Let’s show other women that perfection isn’t attainable and that imperfection is beautiful and perfect. Let’s live our lives with the goal to lift each other up and help each other through the tough times so we can celebrate the victories together. Let’s be perfectly imperfect.

On November 15 there is a unique conference coming to Pittsburgh called The Mom Con…A conference for moms, by moms, created to inspire, empower and connect moms. Why not join me at the Mom Con? Not only will you have an opportunity to meet some amazing women but I think you will find yourself lifted and encouraged by the speakers that will be presenting that day. Take a day for you. Sometimes us mommas need a little break and that’s OK! We have to be whole and happy ourselves so we can be a complete and content momma for those little ones who depend so much on us. Want to win a pass to The Mom Con? Just enter below for your chance for a free pass to the Saturday session. I hope to see you all there for a wonderful event that I know will leave us all changed for the better. xo

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Friday, October 17, 2014

#RiverRide100 – Raising awareness for arthritis one mile at a time.

Recently I had a story brought to my attention. A story of a group of friends biking 100 miles to raise awareness for a disease very near to my heart…Arthritis.

On Saturday, October 18, five friends will be riding a more than 100-mile stretch of the Great Allegheny Passage from Rockwood, Pa., to the Point in downtown Pittsburgh in one day to raise awareness and money for the Arthritis Foundation.

Last year, a similar group of bike riders traveled from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. over five days and raised more than $6,000 in just two weeks. 


This year, the ride is being sponsored by Krakoff Communications, Inc. and Steelcoast creative, whose founders Jeff Krakoff and Scott Bowlin respectively, are participating in the ride.

Krakoff, 50, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis two decades ago, and fellow rider Pete Chiste, 56, has osteoarthritis in his knee. Both agree that bike riding has really been a boost both physically and also emotionally. The other three riders are also very active people who have their share of injuries, aches and pains, and are candidates for arthritis.


This year’s team includes Jeff Krakoff and Vic Walczak, Upper St. Clair; Scott Bowlin, Mt. Lebanon; Pete Chiste, Peters Township; and Craig Hoffman, Bethel Park. To read more about RiverRide 100 and follow this years journey be sure to like their Facebook page and check out their website,

It warms my heart to see a group of people getting together on their own to raise awareness for arthritis. Being a parent to a child who suffers from Juvenile Arthritis this gives me hope. Not only hope that the funds they raise will help lead to better treatments and possibly a cure but also hope that some day our Monkey will lead others to raise awareness as well.

If you would like to help support this wonderful group of friends you can donate here. I know you may not know these friends personally but know they they are doing this for others suffering from arthritis and the children like our Monkey who will life with JA for the rest of his life. Thank you Jeff, Vic, Scott, Pete and Craig for riding for my Monkey and all the others who suffer from this disease.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is back and headed to CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh November 5-9!



Ringling Bros.® Presents Built To Amaze! a Circus Spectacular Extraordinarily Engineered by The Greatest Show On Earth® comes to CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh November 5-9
PITTSBURGH, PA (August 25, 2014) – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Built To Amaze!, is an extraordinarily engineered circus experience where Children Of All Ages® find out what it takes to build The Greatest Show On Earth®. The foundation is set and the rising anticipation of high-energy, high-jinx and hilarity is ready to be transported by colorful circus machinery and unleashed from shipping crates right before the audience’s eyes from November 5 through 9 at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

Built To Amaze!
opens with the All-Access Pre-show where everyone is invited to join the fun and meet the Built To Amaze! international cast of performers as they prepare for the show. The Ringling Bros.® Ringling Girls and Barnum B-Boys encourage kids to participate in a tug-of- war and kick off what will soon become an insane battle of girl power versus boy power in Built To Amaze! Audiences also can pick up some hip dance moves during the dance party, try on custom designed costumes, learn circus skills like juggling from the famous Ringling Bros. Clown Alley and even have the opportunity to witness and win a one of a kind masterpiece created by Asia, Ringling Bros. very own painting pachyderm!

Andre McClain, Ringmaster and America’s favorite cowboy takes the Ringling Bros. reins and accompanied by his horse Comanche, leads his Built To Amaze! funny and mischievous super circus supervisors, to construct The Greatest Show On Earth. A fantastic design with more than 110 of the world’s best performers representing 17 countries along with 95 exotic and domestic animals will be assembled, creating never-before-seen heart pounding performances. Ringling Bros. is thrilled to introduce nine-time international award winning comedic animal presenting duo Alex and Irina Emelin of Russia. Also new to Ringling Bros. is the Tower Tumblers, a troupe of competitive aerial athletes from the Ukraine who launch themselves from trampolines to scale, repel and pass through a three-story high translucent tower. Ringling Bros. brings a spirited and fiery competition of basketball with the next generation of whirling unicyclists, the legendary King Charles Troupe hailing from New York City!

You can only experience this design of excitement at Ringling Bros. Built To Amaze! Get your tickets for super circus fun today!

For more information, go to and visit us at
Performance Schedule:

  • Wednesday, November 5: 7:00 p.m.

  • Thursday, November 6: 7:00 p.m.

  • Friday, November 7: 7:00 p.m.

  • Saturday, November 8: 11:00 a.m., 3:00 and 7:00 p.m.

  • Sunday, November 9: 1:00 and 5:00 p.m.

Tickets for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey PRESENTS Built To Amaze start at just $30. All seats are reserved, and tickets are available online at, by phone at 1-800-745-3000, or in person at the CONSOL Energy Center Box Office. For group rates and information, call 412-804-7904.
If you haven’t made it to a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show you do NOT want to miss this chance!! This show is entertaining for the whole family and will leave you with amazing memories for years to come! I have a family four pack of ticket vouchers for one lucky reader as well! These vouchers are good for either the Wednesday, November 5 or Thursday, November 6 show. Good luck and I hope to see you there!

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# # #
Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that lift the human spirit and create indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment’s productions have appeared in more than 70 countries and on six continents to date and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, Nuclear Cowboyz®, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice, Disney Live! and Marvel Universe LIVE! More information on Feld Entertainment is available online at

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Old Fashioned Family Fun at the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival!

If your looking for something fun and memorable to do with your family then look no further! The Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival and Artisan’s Marketplace is an amusement park offering affordable fun for everyone, fantasy and adventure. The Festival also features combat jousting, games of skill, authentically costumed performers providing continuous entertainment, food and drink fit for a King, and over 100 master artisans exhibiting fine arts and crafts. The Festival is located in the Laurel Highlands area, just southeast of Pittsburgh off I-70, Exit 51A, Route 31 East.

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We all had so much fun visiting the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival and cannot wait to go back! Here are some pictures from our day…

Ashley Mikula Photography
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Ashley Mikula Photography
For more information or to order tickets, call 724-872-1670 or visit

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Going down a new path…life with a new diagnosis of ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Well hello there…I know it’s been awhile but here I am. Life has been interesting in this house the past few months and I think we are just now starting to make sense of things. You see, the road we walk in life is never straight or smooth and it rarely goes in the direction we expect it. Not that it won’t still take us to the same goal but often times we need to take a different path in order to learn and grow. Recently we had a whole new path set before us. The path of ADHD and Autism.

I’ve been wanting to post about this for a long time but just wasn’t sure how to put my thoughts and feelings down. You see when Monkey was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis I guess it was easy for me share my fear and concern because I wanted people to know about JA and the struggles that kids like Monkey go through. JA is not something many people know about and while it has no clear cause or cure it’s easier to explain medically to others. Monkey has an auto-immune disorder and his joints often have too much fluid causing him pain. Not necessarily simple but most people can understand that. This though, this is different. Everyone knows about ADHD and Autism and unfortunately many people have preconceived thoughts and opinions about these diagnoses. Thoughts and opinions they aren’t afraid to voice.

Zimm has always been a spitfire little boy. Even before he could walk we knew he was going to be our challenge. I mean, this little guy would just look at us and laugh when we’d tell him “NO” as he’d crawl toward the TV and touch all the electronics. As he grew he couldn’t stand or sit still…this is how he earned the nickname Zimm. He reminded hubs of a third base coach giving signals to his players. We figured it was just a phase. In the past 7-8 months though things changed and made us start to wonder if there was something else going on. That his behaviors weren’t just little quirks.

The process was long and taxing. It frustrated us to no end especially when we were struggling with extreme behavior issues. It strained our relationships here at home. I felt like we were in a revolving door just going around and around and not getting any closer to any answers or solutions. When we decided to seek a neuropsychological evaluation I was shocked when I was told that the earliest appointment was over SIX months away. That wasn’t good enough for me and if you know me you know that’s when my fight came out. My little man needed help and he needed it soon…not six or more months from now!

I called friends and they gave me names of people who might be able to help. I called those people who gave me more names. I left messages and told our story to at least 10 different people pleading with them to help me find him an appointment. Finally I found a practice with an opening that was only two months away. Still a wait but better than waiting until August. His initial appointment was set for the end of April. After meeting with the doctor we scheduled his evaluation for June 5. Finally, we had a date. Even though we still had more waiting to do having a date was such a relief.

Within a couple weeks of the evaluation we had Zimm’s diagnosis. ADHD combined type and Autism Spectrum Disorder Level 1. It took a while for the words to sink in. On one hand I was thankful that we finally knew what was going on. We could some what understand Zimm’s behavior now. On the other hand it was overwhelming. I knew some about these disorders but here were were again with a new diagnosis and unsure of where to go.

We are still in the process of figuring things out and processing the information. Thankfully we have been blessed to have friends who have children with similar diagnoses. I have messaged them and sat with them and cried to them. They have told me that while we may have a long road ahead it is one that with many resources. They have encouraged me that we are doing everything we need to do right now so that he gets all the help he needs and deserves. I still find myself so intimidated.

I worry that this “label” will change how people see him. That they will only see his diagnosis and not his beautiful personality. I’m worried that people won’t take it seriously. He is VERY high functioning. I’ve already gotten so many “Wow, really?! I’d never guess that in a million years!” comments. I’m worried about making the right choices for him. Do we continue with cyber school or send him to public school? How will he handle that transition? How will he do around other kids? How will he act toward his teacher? The school worry is my biggest worry right now. He so desperately wants to be like his big brother and we want to provide every sense of normalcy to him.

This is where my head has been the past few months. I’m sorry that I’ve been away and haven’t shared but I just wasn’t sure how. But, here it all is and I hope to share more as the days go by. Blogging has always been a therapy for me…a way to share and process my thoughts and feelings. I hope that just as my posts on JA have reached parents who needed support that my posts on ADHD and Autism reach those who are going down a similar path. Thank you all for your support and love through this. It means so much to know that we are not alone. <3

Sunday, July 20, 2014

What I wouldn’t give for a pair of ruby slippers…

Here I sit…staring at a blank page wanting to blog but waiting for the words to flow out of my fingers. The words are swirling inside my head like they are caught in the twister from Wizard of Oz. Where is that good witch and her pretty pink bubble when you need her?


Maybe if I had some little munchkins around me singing and pointing me toward the yellow brick blogging road I’d have an easier time. Wait, who am I kidding…I have three little munchkins here and they’re the ones who brought the winds to power the storm! They are pretty cute though.

Maybe a sweet pair of ruby slippers would take my mind back to a state of clarity and organized thoughts. Ah, who am I kidding? I don’t think that ever existed in this mind of mine. The shoes WOULD be nice though.

Soon I’ll get these thoughts in line….soon I’ll be back to pouring out my thoughts and sharing with you from my heart. I hope that you’ll stick around and wait…

Monday, June 23, 2014

Walking with Dinosaurs the Arena Spectacular is coming to Pittsburgh July 30–August 3!

For 200 million years the Dinosaurs ruled the earth…

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This July they will be returning for a live arena spectacular at Consol Energy Center for only eight performances July 30 – August 3.

Dinosaurs once again roam the earth when the spectacular production, WALKING WITH DINOSAURS THE ARENA SPECTACULAR, based on the award-winning BBC Television Series, returns to North America this summer.

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS THE ARENA SPECTACULAR will be performed at CONSOL Energy Center from a limited 8 performance engagement from July 30 to August 3.  Tickets are available online now as well as in person at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Box Office at CONSOL Energy Center.

The show that critics have called ‘awesome’, ‘spectacular’ and ‘breathtaking’ will stop in Pittsburgh from July 30 – August 30, 2014.  This updated production will showcase changes to the dinosaurs based on the latest scientific research including the likely feathering of some species. Worldwide, more than eight million people have seen this show in 243 cities and over 2,000 performances.

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS THE ARENA SPECTACULAR is produced by Global Creatures headed by CEO Carmen Pavlovic.  Pavlovic said, “I am thrilled that WALKING WITH DINOSAURS THE ARENA SPECTACULAR is coming back to the US in July - its first visit to North America since its inaugural 2007 sell-out tour. A new generation is ready to experience these life–size beasts in this awe-inspiring spectacle, which has still not been matched in terms of scale and quality. Many of our creatures have “evolved” since the last tour, now featuring distinctive display feathers, head crests and tail fans, reflecting recent discoveries about the physical nature of these massive creatures. This show remains a must-see for audiences of all ages.”

The show depicts the dinosaurs’ evolution with almost cinematic realism. WALKING WITH DINOSAURS THE ARENA SPECTACULAR has scenes of the interactions between dinosaurs, how carnivorous dinosaurs evolved to walk on two legs, and how the herbivores fended off their more agile predators. 

Ten species are represented from the entire 200 million year reign of the dinosaurs.  The show includes the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the terror of the ancient terrain, as well as the Plateosaurus and Liliensternus from the Triassic period, the Stegosaurus and Allosaurus from the Jurassic period and Torosaurus and Utahraptor from the awesome Cretaceous period.  The largest of them, the Brachiosaurus is 36 feet tall, and 56 feet from nose to tail.  It took a team of 50 – including engineers, fabricators, skin makers, artists and painters, and animatronic experts – a year to build the production.

The history of the world is played out with the splitting of the earth’s continents, and the transition from the arid desert of the Triassic period is given over to the lush green prairies and forces of the later Jurassic.  Oceans form, volcanoes erupt, a forest catches fire -- all leading to the impact of the massive comet, which struck the earth, and forced the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The show originated in Australia, where after years of planning, WALKING WITH DINOSAURS THE ARENA SPECTACULAR came to life at Sydney’s Acer Arena in January 2007. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Family Fun Awaits in Columbus, Ohio! #ExperienceColumbus #PghMomBloggers

We had such a WONDERFUL weekend in Columbus, Ohio on their Roar and Explore Getaway! I want to take a moment to send a huge thanks to Experience Columbus for the wonderful family vacation and to the other amazing blog mommas (and families) we spent the weekend with…Nadine (The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog), Kelly (Pgh Momtourage), Nicole (Champagne to Crayons) and Becky (‘lil Burghers)!

We had way too much fun this weekend to fit it all in one post so keep an eye out for a week full of Columbus on the blog. Trust me, if you haven’t made it to Columbus yet with your family you are going to want to plan your trip soon! So many wonderful things to do that are great for any family!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

2014 Walk to Cure Arthritis - Southside Works, Pittsburgh, PA

This years walk was amazing yet again. We were so blessed to have even more family and friends join our Monkey MoSean team this year. I just loved looking around and seeing my family and friends around in blue Monkey MoSean shirts! This year I had a table set up for the blog as well as my photography (Ashley Mikula Photography). This really allowed me to share our story with even more people and meet some of the families that have been following my blog. Thank you to those who stopped by to say hello and introduce yourselves and to those who shared their story with me. I’d really love to do more feature posts on the local kids so if you’d like to share your story please shoot me an email! (mommaonamission AT comcast DOT net)
Now for the picture heavy part of the post…enjoy!! xo
(All three of the kiddos pictured above have JA like Monkey.)

Mariah (JA warrior) with Dr. Poff.                                    Silly Zimm!

Monkey with his rheumatologist Dr. Kietz.      Nonna (my mom) with the boys.

Silly Pirate Parrot!

Most of our team with the Pirate Parrot.
(We had such a hard time getting a photo of the entire team all together! lol)

The Parrot flirting with my mom-in-law, Pat.

Zimm once again!                                       Cousins!

Another team picture but we're missing Mary, Jen and Ethan.

I've been talking with this momma for months and it was so awesome to FINALLY meet in person.