Friday, May 22, 2015

FREE Starbucks

Georgia's birthday has come and gone and surprisingly, there were no tears from me. Seeing her so excited and telling everyone we saw "I'm FOUR today" while holding up four little fingers forced me to be happy about my baby getting older.

But it's not over! As every mom of young children knows, the birthday hasn't happened until the party has been thrown. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for us, her birthday party will be in a couple of weeks. Georgia has been asking for a Rainbows and Unicorns party for the last six months, so rainbows and unicorns it shall be! I have some ideas on a Pinterest board, but since we're having it at a party venue, I'm not going to go all out. My friend Meredith designed some invitations that Georgia loves and I'll do a couple of little DIY things for the cake table.

So now -  onto the important topics for the weekend. Like FREE STARBUCKS! What??

I have exclusively used my Starbucks card (aka a gift card that I keep reloading over and over) for years now. I don't actually carry a card anymore, it's all on my Starbucks app. When I get down to a $2 balance, I just click to reload it. This way, for every twelve drinks I buy, I get one free. It doesn't sound like a lot, but I get at least one free drink every month.

I also get emails from time to time to help earn extra stars, to get me a free drink faster. For example, once every six weeks or so, I'll get a one minute survey to fill out for a free star.

This week I got an email letting me know that I have EIGHT referral codes to send to friends for a FREE DRINK. The catch is that it's only good for new users who don't yet have a card (or anyone who wants to set up a new user account, I guess). Click on the code, download the app, put a few $ on a card drink for you!

And listen to this! Since they just came out with the new mini sizes, Starbucks has a program going on for the next few days where you can earn free drinks extra fast. I've earned three this week - maybe I should be ashamed of that. You automatically get FOUR EXTRA stars (that's five starts per drink total) when you buy a mini Smores or Caramel Ribbon Crunch frappuccino. And if you rack up five mini purchases by June 5, you get something like an extra eight stars. So if my math is correct, load a new card using the code, buy 5 minis (around $4 each) and end up with 4 or 5 FREE drinks of your choice. You can't really beat that!

UPDATE: Just got an email and had to post for you. may 23-25 buy two drinks, get the third for free! Take your honey out for a coffee date and get one for the road.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

It's Georgia's Birthday Week!

Can you believe that she is turning FOUR?

You all followed along with my pregnancy and I had so much fun sharing it with you. It was tough, very tough, and I didn't share the bad parts with you. But I would do it all over again just to have this angel here with me.

(I just went through my pregnancy photos and yes, it's possible to be "three weeks pregnant". I've gotten asked that question and due to medical issues I knew I was pregnant before it is possible for most women to find out. I thought I may have had implantation bleeding and had to go to the doctor ASAP. It was confirmed by a blood test but the doctor didn't call it an actual pregnancy at that point. There was just a tiny possible dot on the ultrasound between four and five weeks. We saw a heartbeat and the doctor confirmed pregnancy at around six weeks. Yep. At the doctor three weeks in a row that early. Ultrasounds were never fun for me though.)

I still remember when my water broke. I was actually writing this post about her nursery, and it happened at about 9:30 on a Wednesday night...which was four years ago today. I went to the hospital Thursday morning, was admitted around noon (after begging to be allowed lunch at a restaurant!) and had her at 1:15 Friday. Yes, almost 40 hours of labor but it wasn't awful. It was all back labor and I could handle the pain. As soon as I got what I thought to be a "real" contraction, in the front, I got an epidural within a few minutes. It was about 11 hours before she was born, early in the morning, so fortunately the anesthesiologist was able to come right away when I asked for it.

She had her birthday pictures taken. I haven't gotten the CD yet, but here are a few screen shots for you. She has grown into such a beautiful, sweet, and graceful little girl!

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Monday, April 27, 2015

21 Day Fix DVD Review / Total Body Cardio / Upper Body Fix / Barre Legs

If you haven't seen a million Facebook posts about the 21 Day Fix, you might be living under a rock.

And everyone seems to have amazing results.

But everyone is also a coach, knows a coach or is being given products by a coach, so I wasn't able to find any reviews that I felt were 100% unbiased. 

I found a set of the DVDs on Amazon for super cheap (the exact listing doesn't seem to be available anymore) and thought what the heck. If nothing else, there will be a completely unbiased review of the 21 Day Fix program out there in case anyone else wants to know what it's all about.

So far, I've tried three of the seven-ish DVDs I bought, and I plan on reviewing them all for you.

Total Body Cardio Fix Review

Cardio is my weak point, so I started out with this one. This is also the DVD that the booklet suggests starting with, so that gave me a kick in the rear for it. I was expecting this to hit the cardio pretty hard, and I was dreading it. 

Although this workout left me a sweaty mess, there wasn't too much traditional cardio. Instead, it's a bunch of compound strength moves that work both upper and lower body at the same time, which keeps your heart rate up. For example: squat with a twist, then lift your weight overhead in the opposite direction while you raise out of the squat. 

There is a timer at the bottom of the screen that tells you how long you have until the video is over, as well as how long you have remaining during each individual exercise. I think that is the part that saved me and kept me going. Every other video trainer seems to want to trick me into more and more reps, and I end up getting irritated and hating them. Autumn also gives very good cues, lots of tips on form, and demonstrates each exercise first.

I did the workout with no weights, since I wasn't sure how difficult it would be. I think a complete beginner could do it with 2-3 lb. weights and still keep up. I also modified a lot of the moves since I haven't been working out - and if I'm honest, I'm pretty out of shape.

I like this DVD and I will definitely do it again without dreading it. It's easy enough that I could add it onto a treadmill cardio day, or do another easier video on the same day.

Barre Legs Fix Review

Speaking of doing two videos in one day...since Total Body Cardio didn't kill me, later that evening I decided to do Barre Legs. I did barre class regularly for a few months and I recently took an instructional class, so I wanted to try out the tips I learned and to see how this workout compared.

The workout used most of the basic barre moves for legs and by the end of it my entire lower body was jello. For the rest of the day and all of the next, I couldn't really bend down or walk without making a loud caveman-like sound.

I really like the progression of each exercise: 30 seconds of full movement, 30 seconds of pulse, then holding position for 30 seconds. It's the last 30 seconds that really get'cha!

I do have one tip from my instructional class that I believe makes a huge difference in how much of a workout you get. Pulses should really only move your leg (or whatever you're working) by an inch or so. Two inches is too much. You want to focus on contracting the muscle internally rather than actually making a movement. I used this technique and wowza!

I am really happy with this workout and I will return to it again and again. It's one that I'll be able to do without working up a sweat, but I'll finish knowing that I've done some serious toning.

Upper Body Fix Review

This is a basic weighted upper body workout that combines standing and floor work, plus quite a bit of ab work considering there are other DVDs devoted to abs. I was sweaty afterwards, but I didn't feel like I'd done a hard workout - but that's usually the case after I finish upper body in the gym, too. I do think this is another workout that I can combine with a second on days when I have time.

I used five pound weights for two reasons: I wanted to make sure I could do the workout with good form and finish strong, and I didn't want to be sore the next day. I just finished it so jury is still out on whether I'll be sore tomorrow.

When I increase my weights to 8 or 10 lbs I know it will be pretty difficult to finish, and the little timer on the screen will again save me. 

So far I'm pretty happy with my purchase and I can't wait to try the rest of the workouts.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

MIA / Much On Plate

Wow - I didn't mean to go completely AWOL on this blog gig. I remember having to take a day off to clean the house before my mom got here, then Georgia got sick and it took forever to get in the groove of regular life. Then, then, much.

Seriously. This was my calendar last week. The boxes at the bottom are what I had planned for dinner. Everything else lists places I had to be. Not things to do, but be present, perky and accounted for.

I was asked to be next year's Junior League Secretary! Complete surprise because I loved my placement as Raffle Co-Chair on Sugar Plum Market and was ready to beat the amount we raised last year. And surprising because I usually get asked to do accounting or numbers stuff....and I have no desire to be the treasurer of anything.

This kicked off a series of email inundation and wow. I feel like I have so much to catch up on and learn! And meetings, meetings, meetings. I love meetings and I love buying new dresses for meetings. But shopping + meetings took up a lot of time. And no, shopping isn't listed as a required appointment on my calendar! I just had to work it in.

And then, because I love Sugar Plum Market so much, next year's President asked me to be the Board Liaison. It is super fun getting a behind the scenes look at the year-long planning that goes into a two-day event. I am getting to be involved in every last detail.

And then, I somehow remembered that I was the Chair for the Child Advocates Spring Gala VIP Party. So - on the ball with that. I went last week to see the gorgeous mansion where the VIP Party will be held, and wow. I live in a little suburb of around 90,000. I can't believe that such amazing houses are just a few miles away from our humble abode. The husband was just sitting at their outdoor bar (which rivals that of nicer restaurants) while we led the photographer around for press photos. What a life, huh?!?

Oh yeah, I'm coordinating volunteers from 9-5 the day of the actual Gala. Then running home to change into a formal dress so I can go back and have fun.

This weekend was our annual Spring Fling. I only stayed a couple of hours because I had to go pick up the leftover clothes that didn't sell at an annual consignment sale. Bad planning on my part, but I had to wear my sequins and heels to haul it all out to the car. 

I was a little bummed that I didn't stay around to watch all of the BIG live bidding action. I bid a few hundred dollars on a couple of items on the bid boards. I like to get things kicked off, but I think these items probably went way above my price range. Last year Shaquille O'Neal came and people were bidding thousands for him to sign a basketball. It goes 100% to local charities, but eeeks! A little out of my range. And what would I do with a basketball anyway?

So in the middle of all of this I must have gone crazy. I got a job. Rather, two of them. 

I had been thinking for awhile that I wanted to do something professional, but a bit outside my norm, not in finance. I made a list of requirements and ideas - definitely part time, working from home as much as possible, with a possibility of moving to full time when Georgia is in school full time (after this coming year, where did the time go?!?).

Two opportunities that were just too good to pass up really fell into my lap. I jokingly made a post on Facebook about needing a gig to fund my summer travel and my friend Marianne immediately texted about an Executive Director position in a non profit that she is Vice President of. It really sounds perfect for me and I've already gotten to do a tiny bit of work on it.

The other I can't say a whole lot about. I'll be doing various...things. I know the huge list of possibilities that I could be asked to do, but I have a training call tomorrow to talk about specifics and what I will be starting off on. 

It's all just about 10 hours a week (15 would be a busy week) and I'm extremely excited about conference and Skype calls. Wearing a business shirt and makeup with my PJs. I started setting up my office this week. Mainly moving our desktop up here and buying some pretty office supplies. Because that's what it's all about, right?

It sounds a little overwhelming on paper, but I am the type of person who, the more I have on my plate, the more focused I am on everything going on in my life. I've felt so incredibly lazy since the holidays ended. Until then I was busy with Sugar Plum Market, decorating, shopping and all of the holiday stresses. Now I feel a little aimless. 

I know that having a packed schedule will have me up and out of bed early to focus on work and blogging. Meetings and errands the two mornings Georgia is at school. My time with Georgia will be dedicated and full rather than the somewhat distracted playmate I felt I've been lately. All in all, this is going to be a great change.

I can't wait to share all of the upcoming craziness with you all!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Prayers and God's Love

I am writing today's post with such a heavy heart.

I had drafted an update on us, all happy stuff, and planned on sharing our Easter photos.

Then I posted a Facebook status pertaining to Easter and then felt compelled to share it, instead.

I sat down for a quick glance at Facebook before folding laundry to see my friend Ali asking for everyone who knows her to please pray for her six week old son and to "please pray and don't stop praying".

I said a five second prayer and in those five seconds, she updated that Shepard had just passed away.

I don't know God's reasoning and since I know I never will, I won't even waste time trying to understand this. I only know that He works in strange ways sometimes and there has to be a why for this somewhere out there. I pray that He is using Shepard's tiny little life to somehow work in the lives of others.

As for my Facebook post, for some strange reason, I'm feeling like there is an odd reason why it's almost 4 pm and I hadn't yet written this blog post.

I've known since I was little what Easter is all about. But this year, I FELT it. As Georgia gets older, we only become closer. I cannot IMAGINE how it would feel to give her up, to watch people torture her, to watch her die in agony. There's just no way. I would put myself into danger before I let her, my nieces and nephews, my friends' kids...probably just any kid I saw, get hurt. God did all of that for US. We will never know, we can't know, just how much He gave for us - there's no way I can even fathom it because it's something I couldn't do. He gave his only child, the biggest sacrifice I can think of, for us, people who can never fully appreciate it, so that WE can live in peace forever.

I think of sweet Ali and what she must be going through and feeling right now, less than an hour after her life was turned upside down. I can't even begin to imagine it or put my place in her shoes. But I know that she is a Christian and I know that God will eventually cover her in peace and strength to get through this and hopefully give her an inkling, even a fleeting feeling, of the why. I know she's asking it right now because I am.

If you are a believer, please lift them up to God. Pray that they will just be able to give it all to God.

If you haven't yet experienced God's love, peace and sacrifice, and you are curious, unsure or would like to know more, please email me or get in touch with someone you are comfortable with. I can't answer all questions, but I can share what I know and how God reached out to me to show me that he is REAL.


Monday, March 16, 2015

A Choose Your Own Adventure Outing

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You've heard of neighborhood pub crawls, right? Well, how about taking your kiddo on a (much kid-friendlier) crawl of their own?

Friday night when David asked Georgia what she wanted to do the next day, of course she said "Get ice cream!" We live within biking distance (walking if you're brave) from both an Old McDonald's (her name for McDonald's) and Dairy Queen. And of course she couldn't decide which she wanted.

It might have been me who yelled "Ice Cream Crawl!" even thought I knew I couldn't go. (I had already committed to a barre class and lunch with my friend Veronika.) The next morning before I left, David had drawn a map and Georgia was already plotting their course. I'm so happy David took pictures so I could follow along their route.

Here she is, ready to ride!

First stop: McDonald's. She had to show some other kids how to get to the cave.

Now it's off to the park to burn off some calories, have a snack, and let her babies get some sun.

To Dairy Queen for a Heath Blizzard - my personal fave - and a re-route.


Bahama Bucks just opened last week and I haven't been. It was apparently a really big deal that one opened, so it must be good.


They stopped on the way home to fly a kite. I just love this picture!

And this was about 7:30. She was OUT for the rest of the night....even though her calories for the day consisted 100% of sugar and milk.

I'm trying to think of my own crawl for next weekend. Maybe nachos or queso?

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Fave Finds Friday

ABC Mouse App

ABC Mouse is getting a post all of its own soon. We just love it that much. I don't let Georgia have a lot of screen time, but I'm A-OK with letting her play on this more than she should. Without going into too many details, it has little learning activities and games in all subjects, and kids progress through them on their own "learning path". If you have a little age 2-ish through kindergarten, definitely try their 30 day trial.

A Discount Every Time I Visit Starbucks

Someone thought it would be really nice for me to have my very own permanent Starbucks cup ($6), and it is! The first time I brought it with me, the barista told me I get ten cents off every time I use it. It doesn't sound like much, but if you grab a misto as often as I do, it adds up fast!

Naked 2 Palette

I know I'm three years late to the party on this one, but I only recently got interested in eyeshadow. Naked 2 has pretty much every shade I've needed for the past six months. I do a thick line of Half Baked when running out the door in the morning, and there are plenty of shades left over for me to experiment with. I have the Naked Flushed blush/bronzer/highlighter set on its way to me and I have high expectations for it.

Super Cheap Hunter Wellies
I got some bright pink Wellies for Christmas and Santa was lucky enough to get a great deal on them. The elves compared sizing charts and figured out that my size 7.5 foot could wear size 5 in kids. They're half the price of adult sizes! I like them better because they're not as heavy and are a couple inches shorter. They are still really roomy on my calves but if you have wide calves this option might not work for you.

Julep Ali

Even though our weather is nowhere near spring, I've had Ali on my toes for awhile. It makes me think of clouds and the beach, and makes it that much harder to wait for summer!

Linking up with Friday Favorites / Five on Friday / Life in Leggings

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