Tuesday, November 29, 2011

FabHoliBlogChall #2

Fabulous Holiday Blog Challenge

Today's topic...Favorite Holiday Tradition!

I have lots of holiday traditions. When I was growing up, we always did stockings first, on my mom and dad's bed. Chelsea (my younger sister) and I would unwrap all of our gifts and determine which were put in by Mrs. Claus. I mean obviously, she was in charge of the glittery makeup and Love's Babysoft. ;) Our stockings were always filled with toiletries and of course a new box of 64 crayons with a SHARPENER. Awesome.

Growing up, we also opened our gifts from my aunt and uncle that live in town on Christmas Eve. It was a nice little treat to get a present "so early!"

My favorite tradition now though is just Dave and myself. We wake up early on Christmas morning and spend timing opening gifts, laughing and enjoying each other's company before the craziness begins. I drink coffee, he drinks orange juice and we spend time just with each other. I can't believe this is the 7th Christmas we've spent together and that our 5th wedding anniversary is only a few months away. I really hit the jackpot with Dave. :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

FabHoliBlogChall: Day 1

Fabulous Holiday Blog Challenge

Starting today, I'm linking up with Neely and Amber for the Fabulous Holiday Blog Challenge! These 2 are two of my favorite bloggers (okay, friends) ever. Link up!

Today's topic...best gift ever received

This is tough for me. I've gotten lots of gifts over the years that I have just loved. My Kindle, my Keurig, my DSLR camera...but my favorite is for sure this little baby:

My parents got me my mixer three years ago, maybe. I've wanted one since high school and I just love it! I use it all the time. I love how I can turn it on and let it mix while I do other things without worrying. I'm asking for more attachments this year so anyone who's got a Kitchenaid and wants to recommend some attachments...let me hear it!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Now it's time to deck those halls! Christmas is coming (the goose is getting fat...anyone? anyone? :)) Bye!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from my little turkeys to you!

I sincerely hope your holiday is filled with love, family (biological or otherwise :)) friends, and lots of food! xoxo

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

You asked, I answer.

Last week, I did my first round of You ask, I answer. I'm going to answer some of your questions today! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask! I'm in a blog rut right now and this helps me keep things interesting. :)

First up...Lindsey asked if I didn't run my dance studio, what would I want to do with my life? Along those same lines, Meghan asked about more info on my dance studio. I think I'll dedicate this entire post to those two questions.

In August of 2005, I was packing to go back to Allegheny College to begin my junior year. I just...couldn't do it. I loved my school but I just couldn't force myself to go. Honest to goodness, I walked down the stairs and announced to my parents I wanted to stay home and open a dance studio. My dad said okay, grabbed his keys and put me in the car. He drove me straight to an insurance agent to talk about liability, then we found a building, rented it and called the PA Business Bureau. Within 5 hours, I had a building, a name and a federal tax id number. My dad wrote me a checklist of how to start a business and made me do it myself. I filed all my own paperwork, legal and otherwise. I've done it all since day 1 and I'm a MUCH better business woman from it. I was 20 years old at the time. A baby!

Let's back up. Prior to opening the studio, I was studying theatre at Allegeny College with hopes of moving to New York and becoming a choreographer/director/prop master. For the longest time growing up, I dreamed of being a Rockette. Hardcore dreamed. But I never grew past 5'5 and my "womanly parts" are not exactly Rockette material. (ha!) So I gave that dream up at 17. I then thought I'd be a lawyer. (Can you imagine?!) I spent one semester pre-law at Allegheny and promptly ran as fast as possible straight to the theatre building. I guess if I wasn't a dance teacher, I'd probably be a high school history teacher. I love history. Now I kind of toy with the idea of going back to school slowly but surely and getting my nursing degree. Maybe. Someday.

Now back to the present. My studio is 7 years old. It's named Studio K. Our colors are black and light blue. I firmly believe that every child deserves the opportunity to dance. We do have a competition team, but it's really relaxed as far as competition teams go. We've won some really big awards in the last 2 years, but we do it with love and character building, not yelling and humiliation. This year I have right around 140 students. Small by national standards, but really big for a town of only 4000. :) I teach 24 classes a week. I have a ballet mistress who teaches 4 classes and 4 high school students who each teach one class a week for their community service requirements at school.

I started dancing when I was 3 and I've never stopped. I never will either! My favorite type of dance to perform is tap/kickline and my favorite to teach is ballet. I teach students ages 2 through adult. My favorite age group to teach is usually my advanced girls, for their hardwork and dedication or the 2nd/3rd graders for their honest enjoyment of dance.

We've had six recitals thus far: Take Me to Broadway, Life's a Party, Destination Vacation, True Colors, Tribute (a tribute to my dance teacher growing up) and The Great Adventure (all songs based on books.) This year's recital is called Celebrate and is all Disney music. My favorite dance I've ever choreographed was from last year's recital, a six person lyrical dance to "Fix You" by Coldplay, but the Sing Off version from last year. It was done in honor of a wonderful woman at our studio, Brenda, whom has been battling cancer for 11 years. It was haunting, beautiful and sad all at the same time.

The studio is so near and dear to my heart. I've dreamed of being a studio owner my entire life. There's a huge difference between being a studio owner and being a dance teacher. I've had my heart ripped out and stomped on by a few students. I've invested my time, energy and resources in to so many of my students. The pay isn't fantastic, the hours are crappy. But at the end of the day, when a little girl rushes up those stairs to tell me she got an A in spelling or I find a note on my desk from a student, thanking me for teaching her a cartwheel...I'm the richest person in the world.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Guest Post: Neely!

I am in the throes of ordering $20,000 worth of costumes and tights for my dancers right now. Since no one wants to read about how I failed to realize I needed to list each size for each style of costume on a separate line on my biggest costume order (YEAH. That means it needs redone. YEAH. That happened.) I asked my pal, Neely, to guest post for me today! Enjoy! Show her some love! :)

Hey Kate's readers! My name is Neely and for those of you who don't know me well Im fabulous :) haha. Also I blog over at A Complete Waste of Makeup and I twitter like its my job. I am a big drinker of nonfat latte's and wine. I love peanut butter, goldfish crackers, and anything Annies. Im pretty sure the invention of the iPhone both ruined and made my life better. I have the most amazeballs people in my life.

Anywho I am so glad Kate asked me to guest post for her. She is the sweetest ever and even though we are polar opposites aside from our love of Gilmore Girls(you know she named her daughter Rory) and wine I still love her to pieces.

Today I am here to talk to you about pretty things....

I just love pretty things....

Clothes...Shoes...handbags...makeup...decor...ahhhhhh pretty things are the best.

Here are a few pins of my favorite pretty things at the moment:

Cashmere Toms....SWOON

Source: google.com via Neely on Pinterest

This Louis Vuitton Crossbody bag

Source: google.com via Neely on Pinterest

Everything about this

Everything about this but mainly her hair....I wish my hair could cooperate to look messy/perfect at once

This necklace might be the prettiest thing I've ever seen....I have looked all over the internet...I cant find it...HELP

The prettiest frame you'll ever see

OK guys well there are a few of my favorite pretty things. Pretty things just make everyone happy...especially the girliest of girly girls. Hope you come check out my blog...its a good time :)


Gossip Girl...I mean Neely :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ask Me Anything!

I've seen lots of bloggers do this and I thought now would be a great time to join in! I've gained quite a few followers recently. (Hey thanks! :)) I would give credit where credit is due for this post idea, but it seems that everyone has done it. So if you've done it, THANKS. ;)

Here's your chance! Ask me anything you want (within reason, natch) and I'll answer it sometime next week. Want to know where my kids names came from? How Dave and I met? About my dance studio? How awesome my puppy is? Whatever. Ask away! :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Plenty to be THANKful for...Blogoverse.

Manic Mother

Today's topic...thankful for the blogoverse.

Whoa, baby. Am I ever thankful that I am a blogger. I wrote this post last week about this topic, but I wanted to address it again.

My life is a pretty lonely one, as far as girlfriends go. I have a few great friends here in my hometown, but none of them are in the same stage of life as me. In fact, the girl I would consider to be one of my 2 absolute bffs is still in high school and I've known her since she was 4. Having actual "girlfriends" is hard for me right now.

But not really. Because I've got an army of women on Twitter and the blogosphere who care about me and whom I care about. And this post is meant to recognize several of them. (Please know, I love and value ALL my blog friends and twitter friends. I just want to highlight a few here who I've been familiar with the longest. No offense EVER meant. :)) Also, yeah I'm ripping pics off your FBs and blogs. Get over it. ;)

Kelly...Keeping Up With Kelly and Co.

The very first blogger to ever "befriend" me. (Did you know that?? :)) We bonded long ago over college sports and having husbands who golf a lot. Even though I kinda hate her because she has brown Hunter boots that fit, she's someone really special to me. ;) She's a sweet, sweet person and I'm really glad she's on my blog radar.

Ashley...Ashley's Carnival Ride

Ashley is one of my favorite bloggers because she's honest. She's a Christian but not in your face about it. I admire her spirit, her integrity and her adorable personality. She is just an all around really great person.

Meghan...Perfect Compilation Tape

Shout out to KAPPA! :) Meghan is one of the bloggers whose life I am so jealous of! She lives in Chicago, one of my favorite cities. I love her pursuit of the perfect Starbucks drink and cupcake. She is an interesting, intriguing, educated person and I am grateful to read her take on life each day. She is so classy and fabulous!

Amber...Brunch With Amber

I mean, how can I not love a girl who is going to come paint my right hand nails for me? All the way from Texas? HA! She's a great person, an interesting blogger and a sweet friend. Amber remembers details and asks questions about my life. She makes me feel important to her and that's invaluable, especially on days when I don't even have time to shower or put on mascara. She is a great person and I know things are only going to keep getting better for her!

Neely...A Complete Waste of Makeup

Oh my Neely. She's my favorite Democrat. We really don't have much in common, aside from enjoying wine, Gilmore Girls and Rachel Zoe. (And Starbucks!) But we bonded over the fact that we are polar opposites in so many ways. Neely is there for me. I've got her back and she's got mine, from many many states away. We are friends. And I'm so grateful for her! She encourages me and I need that in my life!

Lindsey...Running Down a Dream

Lindsey is fantastic. She's got a beautiful life and I love the way she allows us all to see pieces of it on her blog. She is a wonderful mom to McKayla, even when it's tough to be a "step" mom. Her attitude about running is contagious and between her and Meghan, I'm totally WORKING on getting hooked on running. ;) She embraces life on her blog and in "real life" and I'm so thankful to call her a friend.

It's 11:00 at night and I've been working since 6:45 this morning. There are so many more wonderful women I could talk about from my corner of the blogosphere...Jess, Lil'Women, Ashleigh, Mama M, Shell, Laura, Melissa and so many more. I'm exhausted but I'm so grateful. Thanks for cheering me up every day and helping me remember that no matter what, I've got girlfriends. :) Now please, all of you. Come to the forest and visit! xoxoxo

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Plenty to be THANKful for...Day 3

Manic Mother

Today's topic? My hometown!

I like in the forest. For real, the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania. My town is tiny, but wonderful. Like all small towns, there's homegrown drama and people with completely misconstrued views on life. But at it's heart, this is a beautiful town.

Kane, PA is the Black Cherry Capital of the World. That's a type of hardwood tree with fruit that you can't eat. We don't have many claims to fame. Amy Rudolph has been in several Olympic games as a long distance runner. Chuck Daly, Coach of the Olympic Basketball Dream Team was born here. Holgate Toys were made here for years! (Mr. Roger's Trolley is Holgate!) And that's pretty much it.

The closest McDonalds is 27 miles away. Wal-Mart 29 miles. Target is an hour and a half away, Starbucks 1 hour and 15 minutes. We have a Subway here and that is our only chain restaurant or store. Even our grocery stores are only located in our town and a couple others. It's comical, actually.

That's our ONE stop light in the entire town. And if you look at the building on the left hand side of the picture, the tall lighter stone one, beside the blue awnings? That second floor is my studio! :)

I was born here, raised here and happily raising my family here. It's still small town America. My kids will be able to safely play outside, shooting hoops in the street, playing spotlight after dark with the neighborhood kids while I sit on the porch and read. Our schools are top notch, our sports team always do well. People know you by name, remember your birthday and always have a smile to share. We help our own, organizing community holiday meals, gift drives, blood drives, even support RURAL ARTS. (ahem) It's a beautiful place, this town of mine. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

Monday, November 14, 2011

THANKful: Guilty Pleasures

Manic Mother

First day for the Plenty to be THANKful for link up. I'm posting twice in one day. Are you excited? :) Anyways! Today's topic is guilty pleasures. Here goes!

The guilty pleasures I'm thankful for are...

McDonald's Peppermint Mocha

Justin Bieber's Christmas Album. QUIT HATING. It's awesome!

Top Chef Marathons

OPI Nail Polish


Winery at Wilcox Wine

I know these are "guilty" pleasures but they aren't that bad are they. :) Have a wonderful Monday, friends!

Mondays with the Mouse: Movie Secrets

Time to come clean. I have 2 little Disney Movie Secrets (that aren't really secrets) that I need to share with all you moms out there.

#1. The Disney Movie Club.
Yes, this is one of those clubs where you buy 4 movies for like $5 at the start and then have to buy 4 more at the regular price in 2 years or whatever. It's WAY better than that though. Every month or 6 weeks, you get a flyer in the mail for a new movie selection. Usually it's the newest Disney movie being released or a re-release of a classic. If you don't want the movie, you just check "No, Thanks." and send it back. If you want the movie, you don't do anything. They charge you $24.95 for Blu-Rays and it's delivered to your door. For us, this is huge. I usually check no thanks on the weird ones or ones my kids won't want and let the new releases come right to my door. I stock up the ones I think look cute and save them in my Christmas closet. It's super easy, cheaper than Wal-Mart and convenient. Right now, for example, Cars 2 is on the way to my house. It will go right in the Christmas closet and bam. One more present done. :) Today, I sent in a reply card for the Christmas special. I'm getting SIX movies for $40. Can't beat it! You can cancel at any time, of course, once your requirement is fulfilled.

#2. Disney Movie Rewards.
How many times have you bought a movie and disregarded the little paper insert inside the front cover for the Disney Movie Rewards Program? Slap yourself. For real. That's a BIG mistake. (One that I have been making too...until a few weeks ago!) Go over to your DVDs and pull out all the papers that are still in your Disney movies. (The covers are stamped with the red and gold star DMR symbol too.) This paper has a code. Go online to www.disneymovierewards.com, register FOR FREE, enter all your codes. You'll get a bunch of points. These points are redeemable for tons of rewards on the site! Periodically, you'll get the change to take free surveys right on the site for bonus points. Just by entering the codes I could find in our movies (around 20) plus taking 3 surveys, I earned enough points to order both Rory and Trace collapsible toy bins (one Princess, one Cars) and have 1000 points left over. I'm banking them for after Christmas. There's no shipping, no costs at all. It's easy and FREE. Plus, by registering your DVDs, you are eligible for Disc Replacement once a year on each of your movies. The cost is 4.99 for DVD and 7.99 for Blu-Rays (or really close to that...I forget. :)) That's way cheaper than buying a new movie and goodness gracious. I will be doing this if Rory's beloved Princess and the Frog ever gets ruined. :)

Now, what are you waiting for?? Go sign up!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rebuilding who We Are.

I've written a post on Penn State 6 times this week. I've deleted them all as more information came out to the masses and my opinions wavered. This post is not to defend anyone involved in this terrible situation. I agree with the trustee's decision to clean house. Necessary. Cathartic. A gesture of how serious the board is taken these allegations. Hopefully, a step towards closure for the numerous victims and their families. That being said, PLEASE remember that the disgusting men involved in this situation, the ones that truly did wrong and immoral things, (not just a slip up in the procedural process...there's a difference.) are the extreme minority of the Penn State Community. Last night as idiotic enraged undergrads rioted in the streets of State College, many students held a candlelight vigil for child abuse victims and specifically the victims of this horrific decade of events. Please see that as your mental picture when you think of Penn State.

Now. My real post.

If you say the words "we are" and then pause for even a second around my 2 year old daughter, she immediately responds Penn State. Even if you are stumbling for the words "going to the store" or "out of bread" she will call out before you finish your thought, PENN STATE. She knows.

We are Penn State. We are the people who are sickened by this terrible chain of events, cover ups and deplorable behavior by people who were in positions to protect children. We are the fans, who for years have stood behind Joe Paterno and his methods. We are the fans who are broken hearted to see the grandfather of collegiate football be forced out but understand why it is necessary and good. We are the alumni, the families, the community that wants all who could have stopped this long ago to get what is due to them. We are Penn State. We are the majority who sat at home last night and cried tears of anguish and disappointment, watching the current students riot and destroy our beloved Happy Valley. Images of Old Main, the Lion Shrine, Beaver Stadium flashed through our minds as the news chose only to show the negative, awful images Penn State students are showing to the world right now. We are Penn State, the people who prayed for the victims the minute the news broke, immediately denounced Sandusky regardless of what he "contributed" to our football program. No contributions could ever out weight the immense harm he has caused. We are Penn State.

We have always been Penn State. We have a rich history, rife with pageantry and pomp. We have traditions and values that other universities envy. We have been the standard by which others have been measured for years. We hail the Nittany Lion, regal, true and swift. Our colors are bold, navy and white. Regal navy and pure white. We are intellectuals, financiers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, artists, musicians. We are known around the world for our contributions to society. When a job candidate presents a degree from Penn State, it means something. We are volleyball champions, elite gymnasts, golf professionals, soccer stars. We dominate the field in so many sports. We are so much more than football. Our buildings stand tall and proud, our campus sprawling and growing. We are aged, tried and true. We are beautiful. We are Penn State.

Now we are hurting. We are cut to our very core. We are Penn State, but we are vulnerable. But we will make an example of our selves. We will show the world that we will cut off the poison branches and grow strong, healthy branches in return. We are strong in our broken places. We are on our way to become a better, more pure version of Penn State. We are moving swiftly, making strides and attempting to right any wrongs we can. We know we did wrong. As a strong, upstanding community, we will do the honorable thing and fix this to the best of our ability. As Oprah says, when you know better, you do better. We know better now and we will come back.

We are Penn State. Like a phoenix, we will rise. We will redefine what it means to be Penn State. We will stand up for honesty, integrity and the good in this world. We will start anew and being a new era. A stronger era, a better era, an era of which we can be proud. We are standing on the precipice of history. We will chose what comes next and by God, we will chose the right path.

Stand up, Penn State. Stand up and let the world know that the real Penn State, the Nittany Lions from coast to coast and around the world, who believe in the good that remains in our dear old PSU. Stand up, Penn State and shout at the top of your lungs. WE ARE PENN STATE. We are sorry. We are forever sorry that these things occurred and we are going to right this wrong to the best of our abilities. Yell. Scream. Refute the nastiness that is circulating. Show the world that Penn State Pride is so much more than what it's being portrayed to be. Stand up, Penn State. Stand up and be counted.

This is our time, Penn State. This is our time to redefine what it means to be Penn State. What we are from now on is our own responsibility. We have a clean slate to write upon our own future. We must take this opportunity for all it is worth and become the absolute best version of ourselves. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard. We owe it to the poor children whose innocence was ripped away. We owe it to the families, we owe it to the world. We need to seize this moment and make it matter. We only have once chance to get this right. This is it. This is our time. This is our hour. Make it one to be proud of.

We are Penn State. The true Penn State. The real, the heart of Penn State. And we will always be.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's Okay...again.

Its Ok Thursdays

Linking up with my girls, Neely and Amber, for It's Okay Thursday! LINK UP.

It's Okay, yo.

...to take the equivalent of a personal day today. Trace has an allergist appointment 2 hours away so he and I are having a date day.

....to be really excited for my first holiday cup of the year from Starbucks today!

...to have alternated between rage and tears all week over Penn State. I'm planning to blog about it next week.

...to have quoted Legally Blonde to people all week...Law is reason free from emotion.

...to be really excited for some time with your husband this weekend. I love him more every day.

...to think your Nail Polish Swap Partner and THANKful Swap Partner are already awesome. :)

...to wish you had more time to respond to blog comments. I do my best, I promise!

...to have almost cried when a dance mom told you it was perfectly okay that you didn't remember if she had paid her tuition yet or not. She understood, for real, and didn't just pacify me.

...to be so ready to have family home for Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tried and true, the white and blue...WE ARE PSU!

Please remember the disgusting, heartbreaking actions of one man and the morally reprehensible reaction of several others do NOT represent the Penn State fans, alumni and vast majority of the staff. I am emotionally invested in this entire situation for 2 very personal reasons which I won't go in to on this blog. (No, I was never abused.) But just know...there's always SO MUCH MORE to a story than the public knows. Pray for the victims, their families and all involved. And remember...we are PENN STATE.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Thanksgiving is three weeks from Thursday, people. THREE WEEKS. That's crazy soon! I'm excited! I thought in honor of Thanksgiving, I'd write a few Thankful posts this month.

Today, I'm thankful for my blog and twitter friends.

I have a strange life. I am home until 2 pm each day then I go to work. On the weekends, I'm with 2 toddlers 99% of the time. It doesn't leave me a whole lot of time or the right schedule to meet up with most of my friends. I've grown distant from most of them, unfortunately. And it's just as much my fault as their's!
That is...until I made some serious blog friends.
My blog girls encourage me, inspire me, educate me, include me. Being a full time working-full time stay at home mom can be lonely and isolating. It's not nearly as hard now, I just pop on over to blogspot and check out what Kelly and her husband were up to this weekend, find out what shenanigans Neely has gotten in to, the latest adventures of Meghan in Chicago or check out more cute moments in McKayla's life from Lindsey. Melissa's weight loss journey inspires me and my sister in law Laura constantly disciples me.

Need someone to talk to? Jess is always a tweet away! And Celia, Camille and Tara crack me up with their tweets all the time. My blog friends are always on twitter. That's how I found out that Amber has family in Dave's hometown! Besides, without Twitter, how would I know that I have some serious Klout? ;) Speaking of which, a current Klout perk is a $20 Macy's gift card! GET ON THAT!

I guess what I'm saying is this...I'm so thankful to have an entire virtual support system. When someone remembers to ask about Trace or wonders what Rory is up to lately, it warms my heart. When a blogger adds me on FB, it's like the most exciting part of my day. (Shout out to ASHLEY. :)) I enjoy knowing these women, reading about their lives and interacting with them all (and so many more!) on a daily basis. I've learned so much, especially about hair, makeup and fashion. My weight loss is going so much better this time (and healthier!) because I'm inspired by all the runners. I just can't believe I went so many years without connecting with the wonderful women in this corner of blogosphere.

Thank you friends. For the emails, the tweets, the texts, the comments. For being your wonderful self on your blogs each day. For giving me something to look forward and women to call my friends. You are such blessings to me! xoxo

Monday, November 7, 2011


I have started running.

I'll give you a minute to let that soak in.

Yes, me. I've started running with the Couch to 5k program. I did my first workout on Sunday, did yoga yesterday and will do my second workout tonight on my mom's treadmill.

Here's the biggest shocker. I LIKED IT. Now, keep in mind I was running 60 seconds, walking briskly 90 seconds for 20 minutes. Not a whole lot of actual running but still. I liked it. I liked the feeling of moving quickly, my feet hitting the pavement rapidly and pushing the running stroller. I just...enjoyed it. My ultimate goal at this point is to run a 5k this spring. If you knew me in real life, you'd know how huge this is for me. Typically, I hate running. But I've made it a goal to learn to enjoy the one type of exercise you can do ANYWHERE. Vacation, home, anywhere. You can run. I want to go on runs at Disney World this June in the morning before everyone else wakes up. I just want to be a runner.

And that my friends is 90% of my battle.

Here goes nothing...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thanksgiving Crafts

I love Thanksgiving. I love this time of year. Food, family, cool temperatures, sweaters and boots...I mean, come on. My favorite time of year! Here are some of the crafts I'm hoping to do with the kids this year. Rory is very in to "projects" lately and I figure some Turkeys would be right up her alley. :) (All images via Pinterest. Come on. Where else do we find projects anymore?? :))

I'll keep you posted on the results! :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday, Saturday.

Me and my Fizzy. <3

Happy Saturday!

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Way Back to Then

Just feeling a little small lately.
A Way Back to Then from [title of show]

You're that little girl with her wings unfurled, flying again
Back in the backyard dancing...find my way back to then.

As thankful as I am for my husband, kids, business, beautiful life...part of me always wonders what I would be doing right now if I had finished school and pursued my choreography career. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy and content. But at night, sometimes, when I've had a long day and the crying never seemed to stop, there are dishes to be done, laundry piled a mile high, a teething baby, a cranky toddler and a day set to repeat itself the minute my eyelids flutter open the next morning...I find myself dancing back to the recesses of my mind. Curiously wondering. Would I be in New York? Would I have chased my crazy dream of choreography Disney parades? Would I have failed? Maybe. But at least I would have tried.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's Okay Thursday

Its Ok Thursdays

Linking up, as always, with my faves Neely and Amber for It's Okay Thursday.

It's Okay...

...to not understand the Pumpkin craze. I just can't stand the taste of pumpkin anything. Blah! Sorry pals.

...to be really annoyed with your dog's constant itching and licking at her flee bites. I know. It's not her fault the medicine didn't work but AH. Annoying.

...to really think your kids are the cutest, most intelligent, awesome kids ever. No like seriously believe it. :)

...to firmly believe the STEELERS are headed to the Super Bowl again this year. Haters gonna hate, but you better realize. Steelers and Packers rematch this year! Stairway to SEVEN!!

...to eat dinner at 9:30 at night. Normally, it's not okay. But it is okay when it's just a Lean Cuisine and milk. :)

...to be beyond excited for the Top Chef premiere tonight. Does anyone else love that show as much as me?!?

...to plan a spa day for Saturday morning because darn it, you deserve a break.

...to really want the Justin Beiber Christmas album!

What's okay with you??

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review: Melissa and Doug Toys

Note: I was not compensated in any way for this review. Melissa and Doug did not send me anything or pay me to write this. I just really love their toys!

With Christmas coming up, I thought I'd take a few days on this old blog and review some of my favorite kids' toy companies. I'm rather picky about toys for my kids. I want things that will last, won't break super easily and can stand two toddlers beating them up. I also like educational toys and toys that encourage creative, independent play. I'll be talking about some of my favorite children's book authors, television shows and musicians as well.
First up, my all time favorite kids' toy company!

Melissa and Doug!

From the M&D website...
Over 23 years ago we started our company in the garage of the home where Doug grew up — we had to be careful not to disturb Doug's parents who were still living there! Thanks to your support, we've been able to move into a real office down the road, a building that actually has separate ladies and men's bathrooms! Our philosophy has remained the same over the years–to make each and every customer a happy and permanent member of the Melissa & Doug family, while offering products with tremendous value, quality and design. Our line offers something for everyone with over 1,000 innovative products for children of all ages! We've always welcomed customer suggestions, and we continually strive to make improvements to our products. We're honored by the faith you place in us and view it as our responsibility to continue to earn your trust in the years to come!

Melissa and Doug offer all sorts of toys, educational and colorful. Some of my favorites include...
Band in a Box

Colorful Stacking Blocks

Magnet Dress Up Dolls (Adorable!)

Tina Ballerina Puppet (We use her every week at the studio!)

Big, Chunky Puzzles (Perfect for little fingers!)

And my number one fave: the Trunki! This little suitcase on wheels is awesome. It's designed for kids to ride on through the airport (in our case) and still have their lovies and "to do" bags close at hand. It also fits the size requirements for a carryon. The kids can ride RIGHT ON TO THE PLANE. I'm not sure if you've ever tried to wrangle littles on to a plane, but you have to gate check your stroller. It's so hectic and awful. You're carrying babies and strollers and diaper bags and carry ons and something is bound to drop. We will be investing in a blueTrunki and a purple Trunki, I'm sure! Sidebar. I will not be putting the kids names on the outside of their Trunkis (or any luggage for that matter.) Kate Gosselin made a good point years ago on Jon and Kate plus 8, before they were famous. No need to let strangers know your kid's name and give them potential to lure them away. Shudder. We travel in non-named clothes, thank you very much. ANYWAYS. Bottom line? Trunkis are awesome! I've got a 20% off coupon if anyone wants to order one! :)

We really do love Melissa and Doug in this house. Reasonably priced, well made and educational. Total win!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rory the Explorer!

I hope everyone had a delightful Halloween and Trick or Treating! We did, we really did.
Since August, I've been planning the kids' costumes. I showed Rory tons of options and let her tell me which she liked best. No surprise to anyone, she chose Princess Tiana. Nice choice, Ror. We have that dress! (We bought it in Disney World last spring.) I found Trace an adorable, warm fleece frog outfit on Amazon for $19. Add in some light up shoes for Rory from the Disney Store at $12...and I barely spent a thing on Halloween this year. Win!
Trick or treat here in the forest was last night (Monday) from 6 until 8. No way was I taking Trace out in the freezing cold darkness to visit people. I arranged to make a few stops with Rory and Trace on Sunday afternoon, when it was going to be about 20 degrees warmer and still light out. We visited our Aunt and Uncle, the family of dancers and my mom. We were supposed to make it to one more dancer...but the kids melted down. They had a great time until the meltdown and got some treats at all the houses.

Halloween, 2011

I figured that would be the end of our Halloween festivities. I thought the kids would wear their monster shirts, hand out some candy to the trick or treaters, watch a Halloween episode of Dora or Jake and the Neverland Pirates and call it good last night.

Boy was I wrong.

My mother in law, Ann, watched the kids for me yesterday while I went Christmas shopping. (Not kidding.) And fyi, Ann is awesome.The kids were so excited to see Grandma and it's so nice to be able to drop them off to her and not worry about a thing. Anyways. I picked them up after naps and as soon as we got in the car, Kids Place Live (the kids' station on SiriusXM) started talking about Trick or Treating.

All bets were off. Rory is so darn smart. SHE KNEW it was last night. Okay, fine I said. She could wear her Princess costume, we'll leave Trace home with Dave, no biggie. Hit a few houses, maybe she'll get some Reese's I can steal. Except the dreaded words came out of her mouth...

I hate Princess Tiana. She hurts me.

WHAT. She's worn that dress 10 times and never complained before.

Okay, I say. What do you want to be? A ballerina? Princess Ariel? I go through a list of costumes we already have or can piece together quickly. Nothing appeases the queen mother. She wants to be DORA. DORA?! Where am I supposed to find orange shorts at the end of October in my tiny town!? I immediately began calling my dancers, hoping someone had some. No one did, of course.

We get home at 3:15. I throw the kids to Dave, grab my cousin Kaarina and off we go, hunting for a mysterious costume. First stop, Goodwill. We find not one but TWO pairs of orange shorts. $1.98 later, we head out with orange shorts. Next to the tshirt shop. No bright pink shirts to be found, but a light pink one will have to do. We rush home, 2 hours until trick or treat and no one's eater dinner yet. I send Kaarina digging through toy boxes to find Backpack, Boots, Map and anything else Dora she can find.

5:00. Dinner time. I make dinner for everyone then start getting Kaarina ready in her 1/2 devil, 1/2 angel costume. Rory needs her hair and makeup done too, of course.

5:45, we're waiting on the porch, flashlights, treat bags, umbrellas and gloves. The bells toll 6:00 and we're off!

After two falls in as many minutes, Rory and I scoot back home and grab our wagon. Much smarter. We're off again...

6:35, Rory declares she doesn't need any more candy and we go home. She's happy, excited to show Daddy her treats and ready for jammies.

7:22. Olivia is over and both kids are in bed. I crash on the couch. That was a 4 hour marathon. But in the end? Who wouldn't do the same for their kids? That's what makes moms moms. I'd do it again today if Rory wanted something so badly, so innocently, so earnestly. She's my favorite daughter. And the best Dora there has ever been!