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Dec 23, 2013

Birthdays and Christmas Fun

I can't believe that another Christmas is nearly here.  Christmas 2012 seems like it was just yesterday with my kids anxiously opening presents and excited for their new toys.  The Holidays go way too damn fast and it's really my favorite time of year, it has always been. 
Even though I spend way too much on presents for my girls and try to have Santa get their entire wishlist, I love seeing the looks on my girls faces when they open their gifts on Christmas morning. I'm more excited about this Christmas because it will be the very first Christmas in our new (beautiful) home. 
As strange as this may sound, I have always wanted a home with a beautiful staircase that I could decorate with lighted garland and the Christmas cards that we receive from family and friends.  While many people have had staircases all their lives, I did not.  I grew up in a "mom and daughter" type house, just like the majority of homes in my city.  My grandparents lived upstairs and my mother and I lived downstairs in the two family house.  The house was rather small, often compared to a "shoebox" by many of my friends, but it was home for 28 years of my life.  Now that we moved into a larger one family house with two floors, I couldn't be happier and feel more accomplished for finding it and fighting for that to be our new home.  I was able to (over) decorate it to how I had always dreamed my home to look for Christmas and can't wait to see our brand new tree sparkling on Christmas morning with all of our presents beneath it.  Just one more day left until I can enjoy that.
Olivia's 6th Birthday was this past weekend and I had the honor of hosting her family party at my home this year.  We invited 13 family members to the party and planned a nice spread of food that we both got catered and cooked ourselves.  I had the best time and was so proud to have such a beautiful and roomy house to have everyone over.  It was really the best feeling in the world for me.  Olivia got some great presents including a Sofia the First Leap Pad, many other Sofia the First toys, some beautiful outfits and a gorgeous easel from her Grandma and Grandpa, which she can't stop playing with.
I can't believe my baby turned 6 on Saturday -- time really does fly when you're having fun raising your children.  I tell this to everyone, including my sister who will soon have her babies, enjoy them while they're little!  It goes way too fast and if you blink you will miss the best and most enjoyable years. 
Happy Belated Birthday to my darling Princess Olivia and enjoy the remainder of the Holiday Season to my readers! 

Dec 18, 2013

A Mommy's Open Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,
I know I'm a 28 year old mom and shouldn't be writing you a personal letter, so I decided to be a grown up and write you an open letter instead.  Who said adults can't have fun and write letters to Santa?  There are just a few things that I want this Christmas, that I know I'm not going to get, but hey; I want to get it off my chest anyway.  As much as us moms say that we don't want anything for Christmas, everyone has something that they want but just don't want to say!  So here is my list.
1. I would like a new pair of Uggs.  Yes, I know that I already have a pair but they're three years old, have been repaired twice and are stained from water and snow.  Of course I had them waterproofed when I bought them, but I'm sure that wore off after a year and I was just way too lazy to get them back to the shop to get them waterproofed again.  I know, I know, it's my own fault.  If you're feeling kind, Santa, I would like this pair of Uggs.  They don't go with everything but they're a bright pop of color when the weather is dreary and snowy, why not be daring?  You may be questioning me since I have so many pairs of Fuugs (Fake that look like Uggs but are not!) but they are not the same.  They're cheaply made, rip after one season and aren't as warm; but I do rock my Fuggs everywhere I go. 
2. A blue iPod Touch would be nice too.  I've been wanting to purchase one for myself and have been, on numerous occasions, close to buying one.  I just can't justify purchasing something I am never ever going to use.  I have an iPhone, I have a computer and a laptop and also have an iPad, but I do not have an iPod Touch and that's the only reason why I want one.  The blue is so pretty and really stands out.  I probably would never use it since all my music is streamed through Rdio and I never actually download music, but whatever.  I can ask, you're Santa.
3. What about a nice North Face jacket to keep me warm?  I purchased a pair of waterproof and fleec-y North Face boots about three years ago and absolutely love them.  They're my go-to winter boots when I need to go out in the snow.  You wouldn't think they're waterproof because the outside is fleece, but they really are.  So why not ask for a jacket that is probably warmer and more awesome than the boots?  Eh, I can dream, right?
4. Just a good ole' gift card.  There are a number of things I want to buy at any given time but aren't interesting or significant enough to really write in this open letter.  Santa, you should know what they are, but I will make it easy for you.  Just leave a gift card under the tree.
5. I would love some time to myself.  Just a day where I can relax, clean my house without it being messed up again within minutes, cook an actual dinner and just can relax on the couch watching mindless TV.  That would probably be my main Christmas wish!  I love my kids and my mother, but they always want my attention or need my help with something.  If I just had one day to relax I'm sure I wouldn't freak out and have nervous breakdowns as much as I actually do. If you can't get me some time to myself, maybe you can throw some magic dust down from our roof on Christmas Eve for my kids to be calm and behave.  It would be nice to have my girls actually listen to things I say and obey me.  I'm so tired of saying:
"Clean your room."  Numerous times a day.
"Do your homework." Again numerous times a day.
"Get up or you're going to be late for school."  About 5 times every morning.
"No, you can't pile 15 stuffed animals on your bed at night, you'll suffocate." 
Why can't they just listen to me? 
So Santa, if you're feeling generous and feel like granting some adults Christmas wishes, please do!  They would be incredibly happy!  I definitely have been a good girl this year.  (Sort of...
DISCLAIMER: I know most of you would take this in humor and good spirits but some others may think I'm a little nuts in the head.  I know that Santa is not real, but just felt like writing a letter since my kids get all the fun of doing that! Trust me, I did have fun.  I felt like a child again.

Dec 17, 2013

My Favorite Present of All Time

Looking back at previous Christmases as a child, I realize now that I took my family's generosity greatly for granted.  I had a great childhood filled with everything I could ever want for Christmas presents.   I used to get American Girl Dolls, My Size Barbies, whatever the hot new toy was that year that I wanted and just about everything else that a kid in the 90's could want.  However, one present really stands out in my mind and that was a present not given to me by my mother or grandmother. 
It was Christmas Eve 1995 and we had already had our traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner and went to church.  We were upstairs in my grandmother's living room and I was anxiously anticipating receiving my one Christmas Eve present.  Usually, it is a present that I have wanted all year and worked hard (homework, grades, behavior) to achieve.  My mother comes over to me with an envelope.  I was a little perplexed since my mother usually gave me an actual gift that I wanted, but I went with it.  (After all, I was 9.  I really didn't have a choice.) 
Inside that envelope was a card and a letter from my aunt and behind that was a photo of a kitten.  Of course, I looked at the photo before I read the card, doesn't every kid try to avoid reading cards?  The card told me that the kitten in the photo was mine and my aunt would be dropping it off the day after Christmas.  I freaked out, I had always wanted a kitten but my requests were always met with a, "No" from my mom.  I immediately called my aunt and told her that she had given me the best gift ever.  Which turned out to be true.
Years later, looking back, that was the best gift that I had ever received.  My cat, Buttons, was the love of my life and one of my best friends.  My mom, who was never a cat lover, even warmed up to my cat and loved her to death.  Buttons gave me years of happiness that I would never trade for any toy in the world.
One day I would love to get another cat just like her, although no one could replace her warmness and loving nature.  She is one pet that I will never forget and the best Christmas present that I had ever received.

Dec 5, 2013

Why I Loved Being a Work at Home Mom

Image borrowed from It's a WAHM Thing

While browsing through my e-mail one day I saw this post and it really made me miss being a work at home mom.  In the post the blogger states the frustrations but also the many (more) advantages of being a work at home mom and I completely agree with both sides.

I was a work at home mom from the moment my daughter was a year old until two years ago and I used to absolutely love to be home with my little girl.  Before choosing to work from home I was hesitant to make that huge change.  The change from going to work every day and being social with my fellow employees to working from home and having no interaction with anyone else I work with or the outside world. (not to be dramatic!)  Though, the more I thought about being able to be home with my daughter and being able to watch her grow up, the more I wanted to make the switch.  I was glad I did.

The main advantages, for me, were as follows:

#1.  Being able to see her grow up.  That was a huge thing for me.  As a first time mom, at that point, I did not want to miss a second of her being a baby.  I had already regretted that I went back to work (outside the home) right after my 6 weeks was up until the time she was a year old.  I know, I was a single mom and that's all I could do at that point, but I feel like I missed a lot of her actual infancy.  I didn't want to miss another minute of any firsts for her.  I'm big on milestones and recorded absolutely everything that she did, so I was very happy that I would get to continue that.  

#2.  Being able to make my own hours was also a huge advantage for me.  For the first few years I worked with two companies that contracted at home workers, but I was still able to choose my own schedule.  I was able to work around my daughter's schedule, take breaks when she needed something and was still able to take care of the house while I had some downtime.  I loved being able to work when I was able to.  

#3.  The challenge to stay motivated was also a huge deal for me.  I love to challenge myself and this was a big one.  The transition from working outside of the home to working at home was definitely more difficult in that aspect.  Why?  When you work outside of the home you have a boss breathing down your neck every minute of the day.  You have a boss to tell you what to do and when to do it...when you work at home it's just you, in your home, with PLENTY of distractions.  So challenging myself not to turn on the TV, pick up a book, chat on my phone or letting the dishes in the sink nag me!  It was hard to stay motivated in the beginning, but once I got a momentum going it was much easier.  I loved it.

Those are the top three reasons I absolutely loved being a work at home mom.  Why did I feel I had to write this post?  Well, today I was offered a promotion at my seasonal job to become Office Manager and I accepted the job.  I'm not feeling sad about it at all, in fact I'm extremely excited to have gotten this promotion.  It's a huge honor and one that I will take on head first and combat my way to success.  However, I wanted to look back and let others know that working from home is completely do-able and a great opportunity if you have young children or are a single mother.  I may be working outside of the home now, but I wouldn't trade my work at home days for anything in the world.

Dec 4, 2013

Two simple words to your younger self.

I read this prompt on a website at one point in time and I wrote it down in my blog binder to eventually write about.  I definitely think that now I know exactly what to write.  The prompt was to basically write two words to your younger self that really said a lot and that would be...

Be Yourself.

As a teenager I wanted to be popular and cool so badly that I made myself into what I thought other people wanted to be.  I tried to do absolutely everything that would make me cool or popular, but it never did.  I don't know why I even continued to try, but I did.  

Having children and getting older really made me realize that I needed to grow up. I had the unconditional love of my children and my family and my extremely close friends, I don't need to be anything else other than what I am.  I also tell my children the same thing, to just be yourself no matter what anyone else wants you to be.  All that matters is you. :)

Nov 29, 2013

Mommy Miscellaneous's Top 6 iPhone Apps

The above photo is that of my beloved iPhone and it's home screen.  My baby is a pink iPhone 5c that I absolutely adore with a multi-color silicone case that I purchased on Amazon.  My phone is my best friend, I never leave home without it. (Screw Amex!)  Since I own my own business and communicate frequently with clients, my iPhone is constantly in my hand or on me in some way.  Some people get angry that I'm always on my phone, but that leads to my livelihood!  

I wanted to share six of my favorite iPhone apps that I absolutely love, maybe they'll help you in some way too!  These are also my six most used apps on my phone.  

1. Tweetbot - I've written about Tweetbot before but I just have to mention this app again.  Tweetbot is the best Twitter app, in my opinion.  I think it has a much nicer user interface and look than the stock Twitter app does and I think it's much more straight forward.  I only have amazing things to say about this app and always will.  It does cost a measly $2.99 but it is well worth it.

2. Evernote -  I've also written about this app before but it goes into my favorite apps.  Evernote is an extension of my brain, more or less.  Evernote is an app that allows you to enter text notes, voice notes, pictures, videos and record just about anything that you want to or need to remember.  I use it to help organize shopping lists, my kids birthday parties, Christmas lists/notes, blog post ideas, etc...  This app is used daily.

3. Cozi - I have two young kids that are now in a lot of activities.  They both have different daily schedules and I'm on my own with dropping them off and picking them up at different places so I need organization.  Cozi offers that organization by allowing you to color code family members and their activities.  You can also set reminders so you don't forget important events.  This app has helped me become so much more organized.

4. FeedlerRSS - I used to use Reeder but for some reason I decided to switch RSS readers.  I now use Feedler with my AOL Reader incorporated into it.  I love it.  It has a clean design, you can mark your posts as read easily, it's easy to read what you want to read...I love it.  It's a great great RSS reader if you're tired of using Reeder. :)

5. Timehop - This is the first app I open every morning.  Timehop allows you to open the app and see what you were Tweeting or Facebooking about a year to five years ago.  I love reading back and seeing how much I've grown, matured and changed since then.  Maybe I'm just easily amused, but I love this app.

6. Afterlight - This is an amazing app to edit your photos.  You can add filters, adjust the saturation, contrast, brightness, etc...  and just make your photos look beautiful.  I've been suggesting this app to fellow bloggers for a few weeks now and I'll keep suggesting it.  I love it!

What are some of your most used apps?

Nov 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Tag Post

I know this is a Vlog tag and I will be making one of those as well and linking up below.  However, if you are unable to watch the video, I have also answered the questions below.  :)

1. What is your favorite Thanksgiving side dish? Ever since I was born my Grandma Alfreda has always made her family famous stuffing.  I would devour that stuffing in seconds and as I grew older, I always asked my Grandma to make me a pan of stuffing just for me.  My Grandma passed away five years ago but ever since, I have been making her stuffing with the recipe that she left me.  I keep my Grandma's memory alive through her recipes that I make.  

2. What is your favorite Thanksgiving dessert?  My Grandma Pauline makes the most amazing cheesecake that anyone has ever tasted in their entire lives.  (And I'm not kidding.  Other people have said the same thing.)  Her cheesecake is so creamy and delicious, there usually aren't any leftovers of this at all.  It's definitely my favorite desert and she brings it every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

3. What does your ideal Thanksgiving outfit look like?  For Thanksgiving I usually wear comfortable clothes because my mom and I are usually cooking and serving.  This year I am wearing a cozy oversized brown sweater with  my denim leggings and uggs.  Comfortable, fashionable, warm and cozy for the holiday!  Not to mention the leggings give plenty of room for my bloated stomach after I stuff myself crazy!

4. What is your best Thanksgiving memory?  When I was 17 we had a cat named Buttons.  Buttons loved to be a trouble maker and jump on counters while we were cooking because she constantly wanted attention.  Well, my mom was cooking something on the stove and Buttons was eating her food on the counter when I hear my mom scream, "Buttons is on fire!"  I run into the kitchen to find out that my cat's tail went by the stove and the tip caught on fire.  Thankfully, she wasn't hurt and wasn't phased at all by this happening.  I was horrified and so angry at my mom when it happened, but now we look back and laugh at that Thanksgiving memory.

5. Least favorite Thanksgiving dish. I hate apple pie or any pie with crust on top.  Give me pecan pie or pumpkin pie and I will be a happy camper.

6. Do you have any quirky Thanksgiving traditions?  We don't, maybe we aren't a quirky family?  We are starting the Elf on the Shelf tradition on Thanksgiving this year, maybe that can be our quirky tradition. :)

7. Where do you and your family usually celebrate Thanksgiving?  Every single year we have Thanksgiving over at our house.  I think we've only strayed from that tradition once and had Thanksgiving at my Grandmother's house a few years back.

8. What do you love most about Thanksgiving? I absolutely love the food and being with my family and friends.  Not to mention that after Thanksgiving dinner is Black Friday shopping -- another one of my favorite things!

9. What do you think has changed most since the first Thanksgiving?   Well, there are no Indians and Pilgrims anymore!  ;)  Seriously though, I think people get caught up in partying, being with family, cooking and thinking about what they're going to buy on Black Friday and forget that on Thanksgiving we are to reflect on what we are thankful for. 

10. What are you thankful for? See the prior post for what I am thankful for. :)

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Happy Turkey Day to all of my amazing readers!  I hope everyone has a day filled with family, fun and tons of Turkey.  I can't wait to have my first Thanksgiving in my new home with the people that I love.  It's going to be a great day, I just know it!  My mom and I have been cooking since yesterday and we can't wait to devour the great food that we made.  I also hope that I can make it out tonight for some Black Friday shopping fun!  

What am I thankful for on this Thanksgiving?

  • My children who mean the world to me.  They're my life and I would never exchange them for anything in the world 
  • My new home that I am absolutely in love with.  I'm so glad that I found this beautiful place to be in for the Holidays and love that we have a lot more room for our family.  All of my anxiety about moving was just silly!
  • My family who is so supportive and helpful, I don't know what I would have done without them in the past year.  They've helped me emotionally, financially and in every way in between.
  • My friends who have been there for me through absolutely every hardship and great memory I've had in the time that I have known them.  Some friends have come and gone but my true friends will always be by my side...I'm thankful for that.   
Once again, I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.  

Nov 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: A kid and her Build-A-Bear

She looks so adorable with her Build-A-Bear, who's name is Olivia-Bear! (Creative, right?)

Trends that completely annoy me!

Disclaimer: This is solely my opinion and how I feel.  I in no way am criticizing anyone who likes any of the following or who does any of the following.  I am just stating my opinion of what trends I (personally) cannot stand.  Do not take this post to be critical of anyone in any way shape or form.  Thank you.

The Mustache Trend
No hate to any men with mustaches (and if men are reading my blog...hey!) but I can't stand seeing mustaches everywhere.  On T-Shirts, Jewelry, Notebooks, Clothing, Purses, Decor -- they are everywhere!  I will admit that I may have purchased a few things with mustaches on them when the trend first started, but now it's just getting annoying.  I honestly hope this trend dies pretty 

Food Porn
I like food just as much as the next person does, maybe more!  However, we don't need to see what you are eating every hour of every day.  Sure, I take photos of my food to blog, tweet or facebook at times, but that would be when I am proud of something I made or saw/had something absolutely amazing.  I don't randomly take pictures of my apple I'm chomping on or my chips that I am munching on. 

The Acronym "YOLO"
Even though I'm 28 and not an obnoxious teenager (not all teenagers are obnoxious, just saying!) I know what YOLO means/stands for and I like the phrase "You Only Live Once", however I hate YOLO.  It sounds stupid, it looks stupid and in my opinion; it's stupid.  Is it too much work to actually say, "You Only Live Once"

Cryptic Tweets/Facebook Posts (For attention)
I've seen this even on my own feed, it's quite annoying.  If you say something like, "FML" or "I hate everything, I just want to die!" without explaining why, I'm not going to feel bad for you or give you the time of day.  If you cry poverty and two days later post about your brand new iPad Air, I'm going to unfriend/unfollow you and classify you in my "attention whore" category.  If you're going to post an extremely cryptic message, explain why so maybe people can have a chance to care!   

Vlogs By Pre-Teens
Most recently I saw a beauty vlog from a 10 year old girl who had a huge makeup collection and was telling her audience how her dad bought her a camera and allows her to do this.  First of all, my daughter isn't allowed to wear makeup in public until she's 14/15 and second of all, I would never allow her to post on YouTube at age 10.  I'm not trying to criticize any parental methods, but it's just something that personally irks me.  At 10 years of age, how much beauty knowledge do you have?  Don't you want to play with your doll house or video games instead of painting on your face?  At age 10, you're still a kid! 

 Smart Cars
They're cute but they can't be safe and have absolutely no room!  I'm sure they're great on gas, but that's because they're less than half a regular car! (And cost equal or more to a full size vehicle!)  I also see the biggest possible people in the teeny tiny smart cars, maybe they find it a challenge to try to fit themselves into the car, I don't know!

Current Music & Boy Bands
I come from the generation of Hanson, *N Sync, Backstreet Boys, LFO, 98 Degrees, etc...  I absolutely love the boy bands of the 90's and early 2000's.  After all, that's what I grew up listening to and I love it.  However, a lot of the music in this generation is just plain annoying to me.  I don't like Lady Gaga, I don't like Ke$ha, I don't like Justin Bieber (No offense to anyone who does!) and I feel like my mom when I tell my daughter to turn the music down.  I now understand how my mom felt when I would listen to artists that got on her nerves.

What current trends annoy you to death?

Writing Prompt Courtesy of Mama Kat's
Mama’s Losin’ It

Nov 23, 2013

Do you clash with your kids because you're too much alike?

She is one of my best friends that I also have the honor of calling my daughter.  Alayna Danielle, or Laynie as we call her, is my mini-me.  Sometimes we argue and most of the time we are never on the same page but I think that's because we are so much alike we sometimes clash with each other. (My mother said that and that's actually why I was inspired to write this post!)

She's blonde, I'm brunette...She's skinny, I'm definitely not...She's awesome at Math & very smart, I wasn't either of those...but we are extremely alike in other ways.  We are both tall, we are both silly, we both have the same sarcastic sense of humor and we both love art, music and Broadway musicals.

Even though she looks a lot like her dad's side of the family, everyone says that they can tell she is my daughter by her mannerisms.  Apparently we have the same good heart, funny quirks, bad habits and silly faces.

We both absolutely love shopping for clothes and she is the person I bounce ideas off of when I want to buy a new purse.  She will honestly tell me what looks great and what looks terrible and she's usually right.  She may be 8 years old, but she's definitely fashion savvy and has an awesome sense of style.

I don't think we look anything alike, though some other people say we do, but she does remind me of myself at her age by some things she does and says.  It's actually scary sometimes but I think that's what makes us as close as we are.  

Are you a carbon copy of any of your children?

Nov 22, 2013

Ten Reasons I Love the Holiday Season (2013)

1. Thanksgiving and my Grandma's Stuffing

Thanksgiving, for us, is a time when we get our family together to celebrate the Holiday Season.  This year is even more exciting since we get to host Thankgiving at our new home.  We are able to decorate more, relax more and invite more family since we have more room and I can't wait!  I'm also excited for my Grandma's fresh homemade stuffing.  Even though my Grandma is no longer with us, her stuffing recipe lives on!

2. Black Friday Shopping
I started my tradition of Black Friday shopping when my daughter was just a year old. As I was trying to figure out how to save money as a single mom, I realized that shopping on Black Friday was worth the waiting, lines and frustration.  The first Black Friday that I took part in, I remember saving about $300 at Toys R Us alone!  Now I have my own tradition of going to Toys R Us, Walmart, Target and some other various stores on Black Friday to get most of my Christmas shopping done in one day.  I always leave at 10PM and get home at 6AM from my adventures.  I've also found it to be a lot of fun for me.  

3. Letters to Santa
Every year I pick those dollar templates up from Michaels or the grocery store for my girls to write letters to Santa.  One night, before Thanksgiving, we sit down with the Christmas toy books and write our letters to Santa.  We have a tradition of making hot cocoa and some sugar cookies to munch on while we write the letters.  We then wait for our town Christmas tree and decorations to be up and then go and mail them in Santa's mailbox!  

4. Christmas Decorations
 I love Christmas decorations.  It really makes it feel warm, comforting, homey and gets you in the mood for the Holiday.  I love decorating my home for Christmas and especially can't wait to decorate my new home this year.  It's going to be so exciting to put up garland, the lights and all of the Christmas decorations.  I was actually thinking of putting them up early this year!  Maybe soon!  I'm planning on going all out this year, since our new home is amazing and has so much decorating potential!
5. Putting Up the Tree
After my Black Friday shopping, the day after Christmas is reserved for us to put up the Christmas tree.  To us, that's when the Holiday season officially starts.  My mom and I always put up the tree and the girls help us decorate while listening to Christmas music.  We still don't exactly know where the tree is going to go in our new house, but we'll figure it out soon enough! Thanksgiving is coming up quickly and our Christmas Tree decorating day will be here before we know it!
6. Our Elf on the Shelf Antics
This is a new tradition for us, but we are starting the tradition of the Elf on the Shelf.  Elfie and Sofia, our two elves, are going to be coming on the day after Thanksgiving to start their adventure in our new home.  My girls have already met their elves and know that Elfie and Sofia are already reporting to Santa on their behavior.  We have everything ready for them to start to make their appearances and start their antics in our home! Alayna and Olivia can't wait until the two trouble making elves appear to start their game of Hide and Seek and to see what the two elves are doing on any given day!
7. Baking Christmas Treats
I L-O-V-E- the smell of freshly baked Holiday treats!  My girls and I make cookies every single year and this year we are planning on doing more baking than usual!  Our new kitchen is roomy, homey and just perfect for baking all kinds of Holiday treats!  The fact that we are having more people than usual over for the Holidays (and for Olivia's Birthday) means that we have even more baking to do!
8. Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha
I used to be obsessed with the Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks but last year I was introduced to the Salted Caramel Mocha by a coworker and I couldn't be more thrilled with it.  This is my favorite Holiday drink, it tastes a bit like hot chocolate with a caramel and salt kick to it.  It's an acquired taste, a lot of people I know don't like it, but it's one of my favorites.  I indulge once or twice a week.  Yummmm.
9. Christmas Scents
Everyone who knows me knows that I am a candle hoarder candle-a-holic.  I stock up on them when Bath and Body Works has their semi-annual sale, 2 for $24 sale or when Yankee Candle has their awesome high-value coupons.  I especially love when November hits and I can burn my favorite Holiday candles.  My favorites is, Fresh Balsam (or any Christmas Tree scent), Apple Cinnamon, Cinnamon, Home for the Holidays, Peppermint, Yankee Candle's Butter cream and a bunch of others.  Of course, my favorite one for this season is the Fresh Balsam from Bath and Body Works.
10. Christmas Eve & Morning

I've always loved Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning but since having kids, it means even more to me than normal.  We have our Christmas Eve tradition of having Wigilia (pronounced Vi-gill-ia) which is a traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner that we have when the first star appears in the sky.  We then go to Church for the Christmas Eve service in our Christmas best and come home to bake cookies for Santa.  I always buy the girls the same Christmas nightgowns from the Disney Store (every year) and we get ready to hang our stockings and put cookies out for Santa! (Although, he prefers some coffee half of a splenda and a splash of cream!)  

Christmas Morning we race downstairs to see what Santa has left for us and rip open all of our presents.  Then the girls play with a few of their toys while my mom and I cook for our company.  It's always a magical day on Christmas and I love to see my kids happy about their presents. :)  

What are your favorite things about the Holiday Season?

Nov 21, 2013

Who and What Am I? Why is Art My Life?

Hi, my name is Kristin and I am an Artist.
According to my mom, I have had artistic talent all of my life.  In fact, a few years back she dug out pictures that I drew from ages 3 all the way to when I was an adult.  She may be biased because I'm her daughter, but I think that my drawings were pretty damn good all of my life.  

I started art classes when I was 6 years old with a local artist in my town and took those classes until I was in High School.  I was in talented art classes from 5th to 8th grade, in which you had to submit a portfolio to be able to be chosen for that specific class in school.  During my elementary school days I was also in quite a bit of local art shows, showcasing my talent and being proud of myself and my work.

My Freshman year of High School I was one of the few girls chosen to showcase their work at the Newark, NJ Museum and had the great experience of spending two days there showing others my work.  I was so proud of myself for that accomplishment and loved mingling with other artists and receiving compliments from those viewing my pieces.  

Graduating High School I knew I wanted to go to art school and applied to one school in particular, Moore College of Art and Design.  Moore is an all girls art school in the heart of Philadelphia, right in the museum district.  When I got an acceptance letter telling me that I also received a full ride scholarship due to my portfolio and art ability, I was ecstatic.  I loved it.   I was finally with girls who understood me and used the creative side of their brain, I had friends who thought and saw things creatively just like I did and I finally felt like I fit in somewhere.  I had tons of friends and absolutely loved the independence.  Art school felt like home to me.

Now that I am out of school, I still pursue art.  I have donated various pieces to different local charity auctions and paint, sketch or draw whenever I possibly can.  Art, to me, is a passion and an emotional outlet for me to express myself.  It's something that calms me and soothes me when I feel anxious, upset or angry.  I am also proud to say that my two beautiful girls also inherited my artistic talent, I hope they continue to pursue their talent just as I did.  I feel it is very important for them.

This post was inspired by a prompt from Mama Kat's Writing Workshop.

Nov 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: My Girls Talk to Santa

My little babies talking to Santa on 11/17/2013

Nov 19, 2013

Thankful Tuesday: My Two Lovely Little Ladies

Ok, so Thankful Tuesday isn't really a thing...whatever! I just couldn't think of a good title, so that's what my brain thought of first.  Maybe it could become a thing, we'll see!  I'm sure there is already a Thankful Tuesday thing somewhere -- but I digress...

Before I had kids I was a very selfish teenager who wasted money on shit I didn't need. (Hey, I'm being very frank...)  I would literally get everything I wanted without even thinking twice about it, wasting a hard earned paycheck before I even saw the money.  In fact, when I was 18 I made the mistake of getting a credit card and blowing the $5,000 credit limit rather quickly.  I still regret that decision, realizing it was the beginning of my debt snowball. 

I remember going to college in Philadelphia and shopping with my friends on South Street & at King of Prussia mall almost everyday.  We bought clothes, purses, DVDs, CDs, concert tickets, makeup and everything else we didn't need because we were independent and had no parents to tell us "no".  I never felt any guilt because I was replacing something that was missing in my life with these material things.  I never set a limit for myself, but what teenager does.

At age 19 I got pregnant with my oldest daughter and everything changed.  The second I found out I was pregnant, after freaking out, I decided that I had to grow up and not spend so much money on myself.  I realized that I would have to care for another human life aside from my own and spend my money on raising this child.  I always say it was an overnight transformation, and it really was.  Once the realization hit that I was having a child, I changed my ways and grew up.  I opened a savings account and started to save money for when she came, I applied for a credit card and used that towards furniture and necessities for her, I got a job and did everything I could to divvy up my money properly and felt amazing for doing that.

Once she was born I devoted myself to Alayna and made sure she had everything that she needed.  When I would go shopping I would look at things I loved and wanted, but then I would put them back. Knowing that I had other responsibilities made me feel great that I was able to do that.  

Now that I am 28 years old and a mother of 2 beautiful little girls, I splurge occasionally on myself  but buy my kids everything they need first and foremost.  I am a little more lenient with myself and spending however if my girls need something I will put my own wants aside and spend the extra money on them.  My girls are my life and I am extremely thankful to them and for them.  If I didn't have my babies I probably would be in much more debt than I am in now due to irresponsibility.  Because of them I know how to sacrifice in order to make them happy and have them well cared for.

I love you, girls!

Nov 18, 2013

Christmas Came Slightly Early!

I am the first to admit that I am extremely lazy and hate standing on lines or waiting for anything.  I am definitely an instant gratification kind of girl, so when I saw Santa was coming this past weekend to the mall I jumped on it. I figured that if we went to the mall early in November to see Santa, I wouldn't have to stand on a three hour line later in the season.  I was so right.  We got to the mall, went right in by Santa and got to see Santa after just a five minute wait.  

Santa was great this year.  Since there weren't any other kids on line he talked to my girls for a good 5 minutes before sitting them down to take a photo.  He joked about getting their names mixed up, asked what they wanted for Christmas, told them some Christmas jokes and then sat them down to take a picture. (Which came out great might I add!)  Olivia, my youngest, was so excited that she got to talk to Santa that's all she could talk about for hours after.  

After seeing Santa we saw that Red Robin had just opened in the mall, so we decided to take a walk over to have some burgers.  It was pretty good and Alayna was excited that they had chips and French Onion dip on the appetizer menu, that's her most favorite snack.  We had a great lunch and decided to walk around the mall for a few minutes.  

We saw that the mall had up their huge Christmas tree and Christmas scenery, so we decided to take pictures by that as well.  (Trying to get a good Christmas Card photo this year!)  As we were standing by the tree ready to take a photo these three children in back of us started to literally fight each other.  One child had the other child in a headlock on the floor, this boy pushed the little girl down and was punching her in the stomach then they were running around and fighting some more.  Meanwhile, the two parents were standing there oblivious to any of this talking to each other.  I was in absolute disbelief.  I tried to ignore it but this one kid got pushed into me and I almost dropped my camera while the other child decided to put his ass in my picture purposely.  That's when I turned around to the two moms talking and asked them to please tame their children because I was trying to take a picture.  She looked at me like she didn't understand me and continued speaking in whatever language she was speaking -- excuse me?  I know you speak English, you were just talking in English earlier.  So I said it louder and they finally walked away.  If you can't control your kids, don't take them to a mall or any public place for that matter!  Have some respect.

As I was taking the photo this woman said to me, "What kind of mother are you? You have your kids in tank tops while you have a sweater on."  So of course, I defend myself and start an argument with her.  Her closing argument was, "You young mothers have no idea how to take care of your children."  I followed that up with a few not so nice names for her and she walked away.  Firstly, I had them in their Christmas dresses which were sleeveless but I had sweaters for them in my rather large purse.  Secondly, don't judge me and stereotype all young mothers because you're closed minded and judgmental.  The end.  I hate people who are like that.  

After all was said and done, we had a great day together.  They were super happy to meet Santa and I was happy I got some great pictures of them together.  That rarely happens!

When are you guys going to see Santa this year?

How My Name Meaning Relates to My Personality

Greek Meaning: The name Kristin is a Greek baby name.  In Greek the meaning of the name Kristin is: The annointed. 

People with this name have a deep inner desire to serve humanity and to give to others by sharing money, knowledge and experience or creative and artistic ability. 

They also tend to initiate events and be leaders rather than followers, with powerful personalities.  They tend to be focused on specific goals, experience a wealth of creative new ideas, and have the ability to implement these ideas with efficiency and determination.  They tend to be courageous and sometimes aggressive.  As unique, creative individuals, they tend to resent authority and are sometimes stubborn, proud and impatient.

When I saw this writing prompt I really felt like I had to take this one on.  I have always known what my name meant but I wanted to dig a little deeper to see if my name really had anything to do with my personality.  When I found the above information I was actually shocked at how my name signified who I was as a person.  Strange, right?

As most of you know, I am a very creative individual and I have always wanted to teach children or teenagers to be artistic as well.  Ever since I was a child, I wanted to assist or run art classes and give back to others.  I am also a very kind person -- maybe too kind -- I constantly want to help others and let friends borrow money, belongings, etc... to make them happier.  That's just the kind of person I am, someone with a good heart.  Of course, that has got me in trouble in the past.  I've lost belongings and money that individuals never planned on giving back and also got my heart broken in the process.  I'm more cautious now, but I am still a very giving person. 

I'm a very headstrong and stubborn person, knowing what I want and not stopping until I get there.  I've had so many ups and downs with my life and my business but I still stay strong on the path to accomplishing one of my many goals.  I set them high so getting there is challenging -- I think that's the most fun part of the journey. :)  

Courageous -- Not quite me except for the fact that I have overcome a lot of challenges with a smile and a very optimistic attitude.  Maybe that does count as corageous, I don't know.  I honestly think that I'm a big chicken shit most of the time, but that's just me!  Now, aggressive is definitely me.  Growing up I was a very shy child and would never speak up for myself.  Since becoming an adult (or a mother) I have become very defensive.  I will tell someone off without even thinking about it and will definitely speak my mind.  Sometimes I get myself in trouble by opening my mouth, but it makes me feel better! :) 

Go ahead, look up the deeper meaning of your name and see how similar the meaning is to who you really are.  You'll be shocked, just as I was!

Nov 17, 2013

You Know You're a Single Mom When...

When I saw Mama Kat's writing prompt this week about..."You Know You're A Mom When"... I knew I had to use it.  I constantly make my own lists for this and I would love to share them!  I altered it to be, "You Know You're a Single Mom When", because I'm a single mom and have that experience to share.  :)  If you have any ideas for any other ones, please post them in the comments! 

10. When you feel accomplished when you actually have taken a shower, brushed your teeth and shaved your legs all in one session.  This is a rare occurrence, maybe once a week if you're a lucky single mom!  When I accomplish all of this while taking a shower without any little visitors calling me "mom", I feel like I deserve a medal for that feat.
9. When "it's at his/her dads house" is an automatic response.  You have no idea how many times we leave something at daddys house.  I would love to blame it on someone else, but I should remember what my kids left with too.  #mommybrain ;)

8. When you can go for days without washing your hair, doing your makeup or dressing in anything other than sweatpants and a t shirt. And why would you want to?  The kids aren't going to judge you!  There's no dress code for dropping the kids off or picking them up, so why get all dolled up?  Save that for the rare girls night out or date!  (HA! What are those?)

7. You turn into the worlds best handy woman.  Fixing the overflowing toilet, fixing the leak in your sink, climbing to change light bulbs, assembling furniture and landscaping has become second nature to you.
6. Sleep is a hobby that you wish you had more time for. If you can even remember what sleep is!

5. You've become a pro at asking for favors. You get used to bribing neighbors, friends or family members to babysit, it's become second nature to you!  Even if it's for 10 minutes to take a short child-less run to Target.

4. Mothers Day is a huge celebration and Fathers Day is just another day!

3. You're used to piling the kids into the car to run and get the bread you forgot the day before. (And getting home and finding random things in your bags that you did not remember purchasing.  Why do these random items jump in the cart and why are they always things the kids would want?  Damn lollipops with legs.)

2. When your kids are at their fathers house and you make a to do list only to realize there aren't enough hours in the day! I make a to-do list, take a significantly long and much needed nap and when I wake up I realize I cant finish my other tasks.  Oh well, sleep was the most important any way...check!

1. When you have to ask another family member to take your child to a father/daughter dance. This one actually breaks my heart because I've had to do this in the past, but it's how you know you're a single mom.  Every aspect of parenting has it's down side..

Nov 12, 2013

Meet Elfie: Our Elf on the Shelf

This is Elfie, she is our new Elf on the Shelf for this Holiday Season.  Prior to this I never really got into the whole Elf on the Shelf trend and tradition with my kids mostly because my cheap ass thought that it was too expensive. ($29.99 for a small un-poseable elf...WHAAAAAT?)  My mom and I were browsing at Target the other day and she brought up the fact that she thought it would be a good idea to use this tradition to keep my (occasionally) unruly kids in check during the Holiday.  After a lot a bit of complaining about how expensive it was, she agreed to go halfsies with me on the elf -- I agreed.  

Jun 27, 2013

Yes, I have kids and No, I don't know what it's like to go into labor. Why?

While talking to a pregnant friend the other day the topic of labor came up.  I was asked, "What is it like to be in labor?"  to which I answered, "I don't know."  If we were talking in person, I'm sure I would have gotten a strange look from that comment but instead I just got a, "???"...  Yes, I do have two kids but honestly, I don't know.  I would never be able to differentiate between real labor and false labor if I were ever to have another child.  That's because I was induced for both of my girls.  I never went into labor naturally and was put on an epidural before I ever felt any real pain during labor...

My oldest, Alayna, was induced due to me being pre-eclampsic.  I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia during the 20th week of my pregnancy, same time I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, so I was watched very closely.  I was also in the hospital quite a few times due to different issues so my pregnancy with her was very high risk as it was.  I went into the hospital when I was 33/34 weeks pregnant and wasn't given a choice.  I was having irregular contractions but I was leaking amniotic fluid and my blood pressure was fatally high.  They said if I waited any longer I would have had a seizure.  So they transferred me to labor and delivery and told me that I was having the baby that night.  (Well, 14.5 hours later.)  So my tall, skinny, beautiful and extremely smart 7.5 year old was a 8lb preemie -- yes, she was the largest baby for the one month she was in the NICU. (Yep, they said if I carried her to full term she would have been 12lbs, probably due to my gestational diabetes.)

My pregnancy with my youngest was such a stark difference from my oldest, I had no issues at all and only gained 20lbs.  However my OB/GYN was pregnant at the same time I was and she was due the day after I was due -- Dec. 26th.  She had a scheduled induction for the 23rd of Dec. so she scheduled me for the 21st for two reasons...

1.  So I would be home with Alayna and Olivia on Christmas2.  So she would be able to deliver my baby.

Olivia's labor was only 7 hours and she was here...also 8lbs, nearly full term and no issues.

So no, I don't know what it is like to go into labor naturally but I do hope that I experience that one day.  I've been through inductions twice and I'm not really a fan of them,  I would rather nature take it's course.  One day I'll actually get to know what real labor is like, but that's one day in the far far future.

Jun 2, 2013

Social Media Pet Peeves from a Social Media Consulant

Wow, that title made me sound so much more important than I am.  I work with Social Media every day, both in my day job, business and daily personal life so I see quite a few things that just get me going.  Did you know that America spends over 100 billion hours on Social Media every single month?  There are 140 million Twitter users -- with those stats, I'm sure everyone has a ton of pet peeves!  

These are in no particular order but the order they popped into my head.

Automated Direct Messages - No one cares if you have your own webdesign business, I didn't ask you.  No, I don't want your services or your unwanted direct message.  All it's doing is giving me another notification flag on my home screen, which I don't like!  Please, don't set up automated direct messages, they are horribly annoying.  If you post and engage correctly, you will get hits and clients without having to spam peoples' direct message inbox.

Do not set your Twitter to automatically post to Facebook -- This annoys me so much.  If I'm on your Twitter and Facebook, I don't need my timeline to be spammed with posts I already saw on your Twitter.  Alternatively, if I'm not on your Twitter but on your Facebook; there's a reason.  Please stop posting all your status updates to Facebook, it spams other people's timelines, makes them mad and just looks desperate for attention.

Stop Sending Game Requests -- I don't have time to play Facebook games (other than songpop) and if you actually read my Facebook you would see that between working a day job, working freelance at night and having two I don't have any time to sit there and play games.  If you see that I am not playing a specific game, there's a reason.

Do not over tweet - Yeah...don't send 50 tweets in an hour.  I will unfollow you because 99% of the time, those tweets are completely useless.  I don't care about you having to pee, or your dog snoring, or you spilling soda on yourself...Unless you're someone special like Bruno Mars, Bradley Cooper or someone who I adore.

Do not over promote yourself -- Twitter and Facebook are fine for promotional uses, hell I use the platforms everyday for that reason.  Just don't over promote.  You have to engage your followers in order to get them to pay any attention to you or your business in the first place so post normal every day things with some promotion sprinkled in.  Customers or clients want to know that there is a person behind the computer screen that you see.

Foursquare or Check Ins - I don't care if you stopped at Target for a bag of Twizzlers, you don't have to check into that location just for that.  Well, if you do this every once in a while it's ok, but when you do this every single day and check into every place you visit, it gets annoying.  Please stop.

When people reply with one word:  Oh yeah, this really gets my blood boiling.  It's like -- If I spent the time to write and perfect that Twitter post, why don't you actually say something worth listening to.  Don't say:
  • "LOL"
  • "Yes/No"
  • "Ok"
And so on, spend time writing back to me.  

All Sponsored or All Automated Posts -- I do sponsored posts and automate my Tweets, Facebook posts when I know I"m going to be away from Social Media for an extended period of time but I don't do it everyday.  If you don't have time to post and have to automate everything, why don't you hire someone who can do it for you? (Business/Blogger wise!)  If you are just too lazy to tweet or post -- why are you on social media in the first place? 

#Hashtags that don't have anything to do with your post --  If you're posting about your dinner, why are you tagging #Kmart or #iPads?  (Random thought! lol)  No one wants to search for a particular tag and see your completely unrelated tweet.  If you're doing this for promotional reasons, trust me it won't work.  People will just skip right over your post.

#Hashtags on Facebook -- I'm going to piggy back off the Hashtag posts and say this,  if you're writing a post on Facebook, don't #hashtag unless it's an inside joke! (I know I have hashtag jokes! lol)  No one is going to search Facebook with "tags" and find your post -- Hashtags are for twitter.

There is such a thing as Facebook and Twitter etiquette and there are so many people who need to learn it.  I go through my Twitter feed every single day and if I see someone post something useless, I check their page.  If every post is like that, I delete them off of Twitter.  I don't have time to browse through posts that are just going to get me angry! :)

What are your Social Media pet peeves?

Jun 1, 2013

Deception, Lies and a Two Faced Boss - Why I Quit My Last Job

Writing Prompt Courtesy of Mama Kat's Writers Workshop
Tell us about a job you quit...why did you do it?
In March of 2013 I lost a job that I loved so very much, it was a huge heartbreak for me and really sent me into a depression that I wanted to get out of.  After sending in resume after resume and feeling very let down, I got a phone call from a company local to my town looking for a Social Media Manager/Strategist.  I was incredibly excited because I didn't think my town was technologically advanced enough to even know what Social Media was. (I may be slightly exaggerating, but I doubt it.)  I went in for the interview, loved that this place was local, it was a small company, seemed great.  The pay was low, but hey - I needed a job.  I was desperate and I think that's what they saw, they saw my vulnerability.

The Monday after my birthday I got a phone call that they wanted to hire me and wanted me to start the next day.  I jumped at the chance, accepted the offer and was majorly excited that I actually found a job in my field locally, since I had been driving almost an hour each way every day for work.

When I first started it seemed great, the manager wanted to hear my ideas, we bounced ideas off each other, I got a blogging list prepared, an editorial calendar, scheduled some social media posts, etc...  The third week I felt like everything went to hell.  My manager started to say that Social Media wasn't working for him, he wanted to nix his plan for that, he wanted me to completely re-design their website (for the $10/hour I was getting paid), he wanted me to make cold calls to local businesses, etc...  Immediately I got frustrated, this was not in my job description.  I am a social media manager, consultant and strategist not an entry level intern working for minimum wage -- no offense to anyone!  Besides, completely re-designing a website for $10 an hour?  I have done that for companies before and gotten much much more than $10 an hour.  After this the manager turned incredibly rude to me, ordered me around, constantly wanted to start arguments about how Social Media is worthless, etc...  So one Friday I left and never returned.  I e-mailed them telling them that I had it with busting my ass for $10 an hour, being disrespected and doing things that were on a lower level than what I wanted to do.  I felt like I was misled at first, I felt like this was their plan all along and I was not going to stay somewhere I didn't feel welcome.  I was done.

Two weeks later I came to find out, they decided they were not going to pay me for the hours I worked the two weeks prior.  Why?  Because I left them hanging.  After a long argument on the phone with my manager and his superior I contacted the New Jersey labor board and within two weeks after that, they sent me a check in the mail.

Moral of my story? My mom warned me before I started there.  She told me that the company I was going to be working for was a "re-start" of a company that went bankrupt a few years back.  She told me they had a horrible reputation for shitty customer service, cheating customers, unreliability, etc...  I dismissed her concerns -- I should have listened to her.  That was a month of my life I'll never get back, I could have been looking for better jobs and settled for that.

May 31, 2013

Adoption is Another Word for Love - My Siblings and I

Prompt courtesy of Mama Kat's Writing Workshop
Share a story about a sibling that still makes you smile.
 I was adopted when I was a month old and I grew up as an only child.  People ask me if I remember when my mom told me I was adopted -- I don't.  For some reason I can't pinpoint the exact age at which she told me, I just know that I've always known.  My mom was never secretive or closed about my adoption, she always passed along any information that she knew.  I was always allowed to ask questions and as soon as I became a teenager, my mom told me that if I ever wanted to find my biological family she would be in full support of me.

Right before my 18th birthday I became nosy and snuck into my mom's room when she was at work.  I was on a mission to find my adoption papers to see if there was anything she had not told me.  You know, as a teenager you think your parents are always being deceptive.  Well, I found the non identifying information that my mom had and I found out some information that my mom had not shared because I never asked.  Seeing the information right in front of me in black and white gave me this strong desire to find out who I was and where I came from.  

I don't remember how I brought up the topic of wanting to find my biological family, but my mom was in full support of me.  To make a very long and drawn out story short, in June of 2003 I met my biological mother, grandmother, sister, brother and two nieces; it definitely wasn't the fairy-tale reunion that I had always dreamed of, but it was part of who I was.  There was just one thing missing, my biological mother had another daughter two years before me who she also placed for adoption -- the social worker at the adoption agency was having a very hard time finding her.  I felt almost complete, but had to find her as well. 

I was in college when my oldest sister and I decided to hire a private detective who specialized in adoption reunions to find her.  Surprisingly, it took just a day or two for that woman to find her, and she called us with all of her information.  She asked if we wanted her (PI) to contact our sister first, or if we wanted to be the first call.  I'm not sure if my sister or I decided, but we said that we wanted to be the first call to her, I guess because we didn't want her to run away if the PI called her first.  

Sitting in my dorm room, I remember calling her and not knowing what to say.  The first thing I said when she answered the phone was, "I think I'm your sister."  The worst part?  She had no idea that she was adopted.  Her parents never told her, I don't know why they never told her, but I was the one who told her she was adopted.  I felt horrible.  After she talked to her mother about it she called me back and I remember talking to her for hours.  We really got to know each other and found out that we had something else in common -- both of our adopted names were KRISTIN -- spelled the same way. 

Now, 10 years later; Kristin, Shirley and I have a great relationship.  We are definitely making up for the missed time we didn't have each other to depend on.  Kristin and I get together for lunch, dinner, shopping or movies at least once a week (or so) and Shirley and I get together once every two weeks for lunch, since we work near each other.  I never want to take for granted having my siblings in my life because I didn't have them for the longest time.  We now have to catch up on 18 years, and that's hard to do.  My sisters are incredibly important to me and any time I spend with them makes me smile.