Monday, August 31, 2009

FREE Hairclip giveaway!

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I am hosting a giveaway on my Little Miss Designs blog! It runs through Friday and YOU could be the winner! There are lots of ways to enter, so make sure to check it out!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hey Moms! You GOTTA see this!

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Okay, okay - so I know that it is rare that I post more than once a day, but I felt my recent find warranted it. I assume you saw my earlier post about the $100 PF Chang gift card giveaway. Well, since finding it (and doing everything in my power to gain more entries!), I had a great time digging a little deeper into this treasure trove of a blog.
Guess what I found?
It's what I consider to be the Mother-Load of all giveaways! The ladies over at 5 Minutes for Mom are hosting a Back to School Giveaway! But HURRY - the giveaways end TOMORROW! They have a LOT of stuff to give away from an Epson printer to Famous Footwear giftcards to LandsEnd backpacks and lunch bags (they are eco friendly, to boot!).

Soooo ... what are you still doing here on my blog? Go! Hurry! Enter! WIN!

Have 5 Minutes?

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I've come across a fun new giveaway blog, tailored to moms, that I just MUST share with you all! The blog is 5 Minutes for Moms - Giveaways and it is so much fun! The stories are adorable and the giveaways are awesome!
I just took a few minutes to enter for a $100 PF Changs giftcard - wouldn't that just be the perfect date night out? It is as though I can taste the yummy lettuce wraps as I write this! I highly suggest heading out the the blog and taking a peek around - you will probably LOVE what you see!
Want more than just giveaways? They have amazing 'sister blogs' - I am sure that one fits the bill for your blog-reading-needs!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm on the hunt ...

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... for another diaper bag, perhaps! With our upcoming beach vacation, and just assuming how much 'stuff' we're going to be packing into our car, I really am not looking forward to stocking at least two diaper bags with stuff for Riley, simply because neither of them hold very much. Don't get me wrong - I L-O-V-E my Coach diaper bag. It is absolutely perfect for our daily trips out to the store or to carry over to Grandma and Grandpa's for a day's stay.

But when it comes to longer trips out - trips for a full day where I'll practically live out of that bag, I need something more. Something with more pockets, more room, and more versatility. So this is where YOU come in. I need help! The two bags that I absolutely love are not available in stores - just online! I am very much a person who has to see and feel anything like this that I buy before buying it - so I hope that someone out there has one of these and can give me a review on it.

1. Vera Bradley - OH BABY! Diaper Bag
  • It's retired as of 2008, thus why I cannot find it in a store.
  • eBay is my only hope, and I have found a few of them, new with tags (NWT)

2. Skip hop Studio Designer Tote

  • All of the reviews are GLOWING - even a mother of triplets commented on all the stuff she gets in there for all three babies - something that really impressed me.
  • Love the color choices - slate, black, chocolate, champagne. Picking a color may be harder than picking the actual bag!!

So there they are. Can anyone weigh in and help me out here?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Riley's Baptism Weekend!

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What a busy, busy weekend it has been! Today was Riley's baptism and if the stress and preparation necessary for today's event is anything in comparison to what I will endure when preparing for her first birthday, I may have to rethink things! Nah ... it was worth every second!

It all began on Friday when we had Riley's professional baptism pictures taken:

All day yesterday was spent with my mom and grandma in the kitchen, preparing food for today's brunch. And I mean ALL day. I literally slept in my clothes last night. But the food was amazing, thanks to my mom's amazing talent for cooking and baking.

This morning was show time! Riley was baptised during the 9:00am service. It was so nice to see all of our family and friends come out to witness this beautiful event! Riley was a champ, too. Her naptime is normally right around 9am, so I was curious as to how this was going to work out. She did fabulously and went right down for her nap when we walked through the door at 10:30! Here are a few pictures from today:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Baptism Weekend!

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Riley's getting baptised on Sunday! I am so excited for this event - it means so much to Kevin and I and to our families. But wow - what an event! I can't even imagine what a planning/stressing/cleaning/decorating machine I'll turn into for her first birthday party after seeing myself right now! I even took off work today and had Kevin's parents still babysit Riley so I could spend the day cleaning, getting the house ready, and shopping.

The minute Kevin walked out the door with Riley this morning, I took off. Here is what I accomplished today - all in eight hours, from 8am to 4pm!

  • Grocery shopped for party on Sunday
  • Bought mulch at nursery
  • Pulled weeds, laid mulch
  • Mixed up cookie dough, to bake later in the day
  • Cleaned bathrooms, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, entire basement
  • Did 3 loads of laundry
  • Target trip
  • Lowes trip
  • Babies R Us trip
  • Christian Bookstore trip
  • Joann Fabrics trip
  • Stopped at post office to ship package
  • Showered

I'm exhausted just from reading that! And to think that yesterday I smiled, thinking about the nice nap I'd take halfway through the day. Yeah right! Now I'm just thankful for my mom and mother-in-law who will be helping with food on Saturday!

I can't wait to post pictures following the event!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Playdate with Addison!

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I feel like a very bad mommy in the sense that I haven't been planning many playdates for Riley. I have several friends within an hour of me with babies right around her age, so there really is no excuse. She sees her young cousins a lot, but I want to make sure she is socializing with babies her own age.

In less than a month we'll be leaving for a week in the Outerbanks with our friends Kelly and Frank and baby Addison (6 weeks younger than Riley - see this post). Riley and Addison haven't seen each other since Riley was about 3 or 4 months old, I believe. Unacceptable, right?! Now, Kelly and I have tried to get together here and there, but something has always seemed to come up. Yesterday was almost hijacked too, due to me waiting for the bee exterminator (see this post). However we perservered and still succeeded at a playdate, albeit a short one.

The girls were hilarious! Riley made some high pitched squeals and sounds that I have never heard before and that she hasn't done since. They appeared to want to attack one another's faces, but it was all in good fun!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What can I say ... I'm a planner!

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I know, I know - mid-August hasn't even arrived yet and I already have Halloween on the brain. What can I say, I'm a planner! It is one holiday that I have never really gotten into. We live on a street that just doesn't attract many trick-or-treaters, which makes me sad. So without trick-or-treaters, I've never wanted to go all out and decorate.

But now that Riley is in our lives, I want to take every opportunity I have to make events such as Halloween rich with tradition, so this year I am taking it much more seriously.

When Riley and I arrived home last night, I quickly stripped her down to her diaper and I threw on a big, warm baby Halloween costume that a co-worker and friend had brought me earlier that day to try. I was prepared for a good fight from Riley, but received just the opposite! She was laughing and playing and loudly sucking on the sleeves. The BEST moment was when daddy arrived home from work. Riley and I were perfectly hidden at the end of the couch furthest from the door. With perfect timing, as Kevin opened the door, Riley walked out from the couch holding on to her walker and taking steps with those adorable, wobbly knees ... all while dressed up like a !!!

** At Kevin's request, we are not saying what she was dressed up as, as we want it to be a surprise should we indeed make this her first ever Halloween costume.

The look on Kevin's face and his laugh made the moment priceless. I cannot WAIT to post pictures!

What are your little ones going to be for Halloween this year? And what do you do for the spooktacular day? I know I'll be posting more on this topic, but why not start today?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Promoting ... ME!

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Ha - I am apparently very easily amused nowadays, because I am laughing at my own post title right now.

I have yet another blog that I want to promote. It's mine. Just another one of mine. You're probably tired of my talk about Little Miss Designs, and yes - this blog is titled just that (find it
here), but wait a second ... it isn't about ME. And it isn't about Little Miss Designs (at least not the majority of the time).

It is about other artists - other fun items that I think my readers would have interest in. It's about FREE tutorials for how to make fun things for your kids. It's about a lot of things, but mostly, it's about FUN. So come have fun with me, okay? Pretty please?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Memorable Moment Mondays

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Which Is More Important?

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I am curious to hear your thoughts on this one:

Which is more important: your pediatrician him/herself or the office/hospital in which your pediatrician practices in?

If you've been following this blog for a while you already know that we have loved Riley's pediatrician - Dr. K- since the first day I interviewed him, when I was just 30 weeks pregnant. He is an amazing doctor - named one of Ohio's top doctors in 2008. Even more important to me is that he is a parent himself, so he can relate to your concerns and questions. He is never quick to just answer us - he always provides background to his medical decisions or my silly questions. I love it. And he loves kids. Done deal.

When Riley was born, Dr. K was practicing at Cleveland Clinic. I love their pediatrics department. It is amazingly clean, upbeat, and tailored for kids, as it should be, in my opinion. Heck - if I were a kid, I may just like going to the doctor since I'd get to visit an enormous waiting room with beautiful murals painted on the wall, a gigantic (CLEAN) fish tank, and toys and books galore! (All of which are sanitized by an outside company after anyone as much as touches them, by the way!). And the rooms are sparkling and everything just looks NEW. Plus, maybe it is because of my IT background, but I love that everything is electronic at the clinic. They have this wonderful online feature called "MyChart" that allows me to have all the information from every single one of Riley's doctor visits at my fingertips wherever internet access is available, plus I can request appointments and talk to nurses electronically as well!

So do I have you all sold on moving to take advantage of the Clinic?

So back to the initial question. At the end of June, Dr. K left Cleveland Clinic for another very well respected hospital in the area. We were thrilled to see that he was going to a hospital where our insurance is accepted because the last thing we wanted was to lose Dr. K as Riley's pediatrician.

Today was my first visit to him in his new office (nothing major - Riley has a rash that they just wanted to take a look at). The minute I walked in I was disappointed. Where were the bright colors? And the fun toys? And what about a fish tank? When is the last time this place had a fresh coat of paint? And the rooms themselves - very drab and lacking anything to keep an 8-month old busy while waiting for the doctor. Where the heck is the computer? You're not telling me that they actually keep your child's health record (gasp!!) by hand, are you!? Sure they do.

Of course, a lot of the things I've mentioned are "nice to haves", but some are very important to me. I felt better once Dr. K walked in and gave us the amazing care he always has, but I walked out wondering if he is happy with the choice he has made.

Which should be more important to me - being with the pediatrician we've grown to love or being in a setting that we love and that Riley will enjoy, when not feeling her best?

What do you all think? Which is more important to you?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Very Exciting News!

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Ohhh, I am so excited right now that I just had to post! I am pretty sure that you all know that I sell hairclips and accessories for children on Etsy (if not, check out my store, or click on my Facebook badge to the right to look at my fan page!). About a month ago, Little Miss Designs (the name of my store) became an official LLC. It was just one step in the right direction of making my dream become a reality and maybe - just maybe - starting up my own business one day. Sure, I received a little piece of paper that basically declares me an official Business Owner, but I didn't feel any different. However, having this piece of paper did make me feel official enough to suck up all my fear and anxiety and head out to a local store in my hometown of Marietta, Ohio and pitch my product to them. I so badly wanted to get into a retail store!

The owner (one of three) was amazingly sweet and wonderful to work with and seemed to be overly excited about my items. "We are definitely placing an order!", she said with such excitement as I shook her hand and headed out the door. She had to talk colors and options over with the other two owners of the store, but I left with my head held high. And then I made the mistake I've made before (in different situations, however). I called friends. I texted friends. I made an announcement on my Facebook Fan Page. Little Miss Designs was going to be sold in a retail store!

One ... two ... three weeks later, not a word. How embarrassed was I? I had told people that my dream was coming true, but I hadn't received an official order. I wanted to crawl in a hole when friends would ask me how my business was coming. I sucked up my pride and admitted that it didn't seem to be going anywhere - and I was heartbroken!

But then - today - I received a glorious email! It was an official order from the storeowner. I am in business! WOOHOO!! Their order is a fabulous size - big enough to stock their store with a good variety of what I make, but manageable enough to complete in my '2-week lead time' that I stated in my wholesale terms to them. I cannot wait to get to work this weekend. I can't wait until a few weeks from now when my mom walks in that store and calls me to tell me all about my display!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A ghost story, perhaps?

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Do I believe in ghosts? Does my answer change when I call them 'spirits', instead? If you have a bit of time to spare and want to grab something to eat, I could talk on this topic for quite some time.

My Grandma and Grandpa Nichols had purchased their burial plots long before a hotel was built right next to the cemetary. When my Grandma Nichols was ill with colon cancer, she would joke with us that after she passed she was going to haunt visitors at the hotel. Ever since that day - over 17 years ago - I pledged that I would stay at that hotel and see if my Grandma really did pay me a visit. I never have, but I'd still like to.

But then I had the experience at my first college apartment in Kent, Ohio. I lived in a two-story townhouse with my girlfriends Michelle and Christina. We had cats and you know what they say - supposedly cats have a sixth sense about them and can even sense things we cannot. It was the night that I returned home from a spring break cruise. We had won some cocktail glasses on the cruise and I had just set them on the kitchen counter to hang in the overhead wine glass holder. One of the cats was lying on a stool next to me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the cat jerk its head up to the wine glass holder with an extreme jerk. I looked to see what she was looking at - and then I saw it - along with my boyfriend at the time - two wine glasses that had been untouched, swing in towards one another and 'clang', then return to their original hanging position with minimal swinging. I just remember my boyfriend - "Get upstairs. Go!". We had no idea what had just happened, but it was scary. Never an explanation, but better yet - never another incident. Until I moved.

Holly Park Apartments. My second college apartment. I lived there with my girlfriend Kate. My closet was your typical closet - bi-fold doors and a wire shelf overhead. I had some Rubbermaid organizing bins on the wire shelf holding extra clothes and what not. For this story, you must understand that the bins weren't too big for the shelf, meaning that they did not overhang, giving them the potential to be top heavy and fall. The depth of the shelf an the depth of the bins was practically the same.

I was sitting in my bedroom one night studying, alone at my apartment. All of a sudden, I heard this big crash in my closet and it caused one of the bi-fold doors to jut out. I walked over the closet, opened the doors, and found one of those bins spilled on to the floor. At the time I didn't think much of it, other than thinking that maybe I hadn't pushed the bin all the way back onto the shelf after its last use and that if got top heavy and tumbled forward. I put everything back in it, put it back up on the shelf, and made a conscious effort to push on each bin to make sure they all were pushed all the way back on the shelf. I shut the doors.

About 30 minutes later, my studying silence was interrupted once again. CRASH. I remember the paralyzing jolt of fear that spread across me. I could see that the door was jutted out again. I knew what had happened. But I had no idea how it had happened. I knew that those boxes were tight and secure on the shelf. What in the world? I remember walking - no running - backwards out of my room so I could keep an eye on the closet. Running down my hallway. Running out the door. Running over to my neighbor's, Chuck. Thank goodness he was home. I had him come over and stand with me as I gathered up my stuff, replaced it in the closet as I did the first time, and then had Chuck double check everything to make sure I wasn't losing my mind. Studying could do that to you. The bins were secure. There is no way they could fall off on their own.

We went out to the living room and watched some TV. I was too nervous for him to leave just yet and I needed to get my mind on something else. About 45 minutes later - CRASH. Chuck got to see if with his own eyes. No explanation. I slept on the couch that night.

This continued to happen with the bins from time to time, but sadly I started to get used to it and even tried to talk to whomever it was. Was it my Grandma or Grandpa? I told myself it was, just to make me more comfortable. A friend brought me a book on spirits. I couldn't read it all, as it scared me too much, but one explanation for what could be happening was bookmarked by him - spirits have no spatial understanding and therefore they can simply knock and tumble things over by running in to them. Even stranger? During this same exact time period, very odd things were happening to my mom at her house. You see, my mom and I always seem to experience things at the same time. We both catch the flu, we both have a backache, etc etc. So it was only fitting that we both assumed we had a ghost.

Ever see "The Sixth Sense"? Remember the scene that was so simple, yet bone chilling when the mother walks into the kitchen and all cupboards and drawers are open? That happened to my Mom. Or the night that she was lying in bed with their dog. Her door was cracked and she could see the glow of the nightlight in the hallway. My dad was working a midnight shift at the time, and she saw the shadow of someone or something walk past her door. SCARY. She bravely searched the house and turned every single light on, only to find absolutely nothing.

I lived in two apartments after Holly Park - none of which gave me any experiences as the first two. It was over and the spirit(s) had no use for my new locales.

Fast-forward to my final apartment before getting married. (Yes, I moved a LOT prior to getting married). Tamarac. Bins would fall, lights would be on after I'd turned them off, bathroom fans would turn on. At this point Kevin and I were engaged and I was thankful that he was there to rationalize each experience. But I still knew something was odd.

Now our current house. This used to be Kevin's grandmother's house. In fact, his grandfather passed away in the house - a fact I didn't realize until the past year sometime. We've had our share of odd experiences here. "Grandma liked the house very warm", Kevin tells me. Could this explain the time we came home to find the heater turned up to EIGHTY degrees? Clearly something neither of us would ever do. But that's just about been it. Until a couple days ago.

LeapFrog Music Table has played on its own a few times. It isn't one of those that is supposed to randomly play on its own, either. I noticed a pattern the times it has happened. We're always in the kitchen - away from the living room. It never happens when we are sitting in the same room or when Riley is anywhere near it. Maybe this should be comforting?

So I don't know - my personal experiences have been great enough to convince me that something is here. Grandma or Grandpa? I'll never know - but I sure hope it is.