If you read none of my other posts, READ THIS ONE.

So, I usually ramble on and on about random things happening in my life. Today, though, I'm dedicating my blog to another cause - one I believe in and am excited about.

Let's start from the beginning. I've known Rich since 7th grade. We were in orchestra together from 7th-11th grade and had some fantastic times. He moved before senior year of high school - which, I'm still mad about, but he grew up SO much after he left high school. We recently started talking again, and I'm excited to be a part of this new project he started a little less than two weeks ago.

The goal is simple: send a love letter. The way he's doing it, though, is what makes it unique: send a 1000-word love letter, one word at a time, on 1000 hand-folded cranes. Rich has always been a hopeless romantic, so the love letter doesn't surprise me. I'm pretty sure he's the manliest hopeless romantic I've ever met, to be quite honest.

As the cranes are sent, he wants people to snap a picture of the crane they receive and e-mail it to him. As the pictures come in, they'll be pieced together across blogs and picture hosting sites...and the entire letter will be revealed on Valentine's Day. Insert the collective "Aaaaaaaaawwwwwwwww" here.

I think this project is so great because he just wants to send love across the world. And yes, this letter was inspired by someone in his life, but he won't tell me who it is - shoot, he wouldn't even let me read the letter [and i'm helping him get this all together!]. So, I'll be anxiously waiting to read the entire thing with the rest of the world.

He's not asking for anything except for you to sign up for a crane, snap a pic and send it back. If you want more information on this amazing project of love, please visit his Tumblr, Facebook page, Twitter and check out the YouTube video that's posted on his Tumblr. If you want to help out and want a crane, send an e-mail here. I'll be posting updates on the project as we get closer to Valentine's Day. Help him out!


Merry Christmas everyone!

I honestly can't believe it's Christmas. I'm still trying to figure out where 2010 has gone. I remember when the year started, I thought it'd last forever - and here we are. December 25. One week left in this year and this decade. I just don't get how time flies faster and faster the older I get.

Anyway. Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas - it was a lively time in our house with me, my mom, my sis and JJ. It wasn't the same this year since my dad and J were gone, but my dad was able to get on Skype and watch us open a majority of our presents, which was awesome. He'll open his presents when he comes home next month - still crossing fingers he actually gets to come home at the end of next month.

JJ was still up at 11:30 last night [weird, since that never happens], so we went ahead and started opening presents. Tradition in our family is to open them at midnight, and we were going to skip that this year - but with my dad able to get on Skype and JJ still up, we went ahead and opened them. JJ got a lot of fantastic stuff from the family, that's for sure. He got a new easel [white board on one side; chalk board on the other], a VTech reader, two new Elmo sound books, an Elmo set that has a growth chart and five books, Dr. Seuss books, two Wii Sesame Street games [that we haven't even opened yet...hm...], a cool light-up car, another drawing thing, two floor puzzles and something else I'm sure I'm forgetting. But the thing he loved the most was this:
I bought him a mini Dyson since he loves helping me and my mom vacuum. I wasn't sure if he'd like it - but he looooooooves it. I need to post video of him "vacuuming" the living room at my parents' place...it's hilarious how accurate he is when it comes to vacuuming. He pays closer attention than I thought! Besides the easel, that's pretty much all he played with all day. And I haven't even put the batteries in it so that it can run and pick up the little pieces that are inside the canister.
Oh. And we haven't even opened the Step 2 play kitchen and work bench he got. Holy moly. I forgot about those. I'm not sure how we'll top this Christmas, but I'm just glad JJ loves what he got and that he's using them all. I'm continuously amazed by how big he's getting. Last year, he got stuff to help him crawl and walk. This year, he got bigger kid stuff. Sigh. 

While JJ was spoiled, Mama was spoiled, too. The goods include a Blu-ray player [that streams Netflix and Pandora!], a KitchenAid hand mixer, new pots, a blender/juicer/food processor, what has become my New Year's shirt and necklace from Ann Taylor, a manicure set [i already used the black sparkle nail polish in the kit and love it], gift cards for Ann Taylor and Victoria's Secret, a new Garmin(!) with lifetime maps(!!), new pajamas, a 16GB SD card, two sets of new boots, and...
I'm still in shock that I own this. And it's mine. And I don't have to give it back. I've been lusting [literally] over one for months now, but I didn't have the money saved up to get one just yet. Well, my amazing parents resolved that issue and got this for me. I can't wait to set it up and use it for the first time. I cried when I opened the package because this was the LAST thing I was expecting. It's so preeeeeeeeeeeeetty. I'm so blessed. Seriously.

AND, we got J's gifts today - it's so cool to get a Christmas delivery [especially when a longtime family friend who happens to be a mailman makes the delivery]. I got a new cookbook, and JJ got two new books and a coloring book. I sent J his Christmas gift earlier this week and thought it wouldn't make it, but it was delivered this afternoon - so he had something to open on Christmas! Even though we were apart, being able to open gifts from one another brought us together.

This year, I don't feel the Christmas blues that I feel most years - probably because I did more to live in the spirit of the holiday than in years past. JJ and I put the tree up at our place this year, and I hung lights. And, thanks to Scentsy, our place smelled holiday fresh all season long. :)

Now, I'm going to focus on finishing the year strong and preparing to ring in 2011. I am so incredibly blessed to have an amazing family who is able to spoil me year after year. I had such a wonderful Christmas and hope you all did, too. Please don't forget the reason for the season. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


WMW: A Motherhood Confession

Phew. I've been off this blog train for a few days. A lot's been going on at the home front, so I'll update tonight [if I can get on the computer after JJ falls asleep]. But for now, I'll post with WMW. :)

Today's prompt that I'm writing on is motherhood confessions. Well, the prompt says confession [without the s], so I'll keep it to just one.

My confession for today: I let my kid watch sports. I know a lot of parents around me who don't let their kids watch TV or, if they do, they watch very little of it. I, however, almost always have some sort of sporting event going on. During college football season, Saturdays that I was at home were bad, because it was on either CBS, ESPN, ESPNU, ESPN2, ESPNews, ABC or FoxSports all.day.long. Now that college football is over [besides the glorious bowl games that i can't wait to watch...i already miss college football, and it's only been 2.5 weeks since my last game], things will slow down on that end.

But then, here comes the second half of NBA season. After the All-Star break, I pretty much try to catch every game possible - the playoff chase is just too exciting to miss out on. So, I watch a lot of TV - but 95 percent of it is sports [the other five percent is cooking shows, ghost hunters, holiday movies or glee]. I know some people think that letting your kids watch TV is bad, but JJ really, really likes sports. We take him to all the Thunder games we go to, he had his own season ticket for OSU football this year, and I plan on taking him to other sporting events as he's growing up [next goal: nfl game since he loves football]. I've gotten the side eye from parents before for letting my kid watch sports, but...I really don't care.

His love of basketball has got him interested in it, and he likes "shooting hoops" with the goal I got him for his birthday. He'll take time out to watch some of the game, then he'll go run around for awhile and come back to the game. My kid is active, healthy and loves sports - and I don't feel guilty for it.

Now, I'm not one of those sports parents that, when my kid randomly shoots a basket, I flip out and dream of NBA aspirations. He's 2. I want him to be healthy and happy, and I achieved both of those growing up by playing sports. I'm hoping that one day, he'll follow in my footsteps and take up sports to have fun, stay healthy and make new friends. But for now, he just likes cheering on OSU and the Thunder. :)



I present to you...our finished Christmas card for 2010! Well, holiday card - since I waited so long to order them, no way I'll get them all out by Christmas. :) Thanks to Shutterfly's 50 free holiday card promotion, I saved an absolute bundle - but I'm seriously considering re-ordering holiday cards next year. So easy to make and order!! You can check out the original version here if you like - but there are soooooo many others that it makes it hard to choose which one to make!

Cheery Year Powder 2010 Christmas 5x7 folded card
Visit Shutterfly.com for classic photo Christmas cards.
View the entire collection of cards.


WMW: 10 Reasons I Looooooove Christmas

Good heavens - is it already Wednesday?! Is it already the 9th of December?! Only 16 days 'til Christmas!

This year, I feel more connected to the holiday spirit. Ever since JJ was born in '08, I've been pretty distant, to be honest. I just haven't been feeling the holidays - my old job kept me too busy to really get into it, and raising JJ by myself really just kept me on my toes and away from the holidays. But this year, things are different. JJ's older, work isn't nearly as stressful, and I'm enjoying the Christmas cheer. I put up lights this year, have a [half-decorated] tree up, and I've actually listened to Christmas music and watched Christmas movies. It's nice to be reconnected with the holiday spirit [even if it is 62 degrees and sunny outside right now].

So, in the spirit of the holiday, I decided to do the WMW prompt that involves Christmas. Here's my list of 10 reasons why I adore the holiday:

1. I just love giving presents. Although Christmas shopping is stressful, I love spending money on other people. I think I actually got some good stuff for my family this year, and I'm so excited about it. Now, if only those gifts would arrive before I head home on the 23rd...

2. It's the only time of the year my mom really bakes. Granted, she hasn't baked anything this year [yet], but this is her time to shine. She makes the best almond cookies, sugar cookies, caramel popcorn balls...it's all so good...nom nom nom.

3. I love holiday movies! A Charlie Brown Christmas [a personal favorite of mine], Elf, The Holiday, It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story...I really haven't found a holiday movie I'm not willing to watch at least once. They're the best.

4. I love Christmas music, too. I try not to go overboard with it, but I do love me some good Christmas tunes. My personal fave: The Carpenters' Christmas Portrait. It will ALWAYS be my favorite - it just puts you in the Christmas spirit. We used to listen to it while decorating the tree...good times.

5. The most special memories are created during the holidays. I got engaged on Thanksgiving 2007. JJ was born exactly three weeks before Christmas. It's the one time of the year we're all together for longer than just a weekend. I love that Christmas brings us all back together - and this year, it'll include J! I didn't think he'd get to come home this year because of his work schedule, but he got permission on Tuesday, and I bought his plane ticket yesterday. I'm so stoked.

6. The lights are just spectacular. There are two major light displays on my way home - one in Chickasha, and another in Lawton. Between that and all the pretty, decorated houses, I just love driving around and looking at them. So awesome.

7. I'm not gonna lie...I get some awesome gifts. As much as I love giving gifts, I also don't mind receiving them, too. Last year, I got a flat screen TV and Kevin Durant jersey. This year, I think I'm getting upgrades for my kitchen appliances [the only thing I really asked for]. I usually get spoiled at Christmas, and I'm looking forward to it. :)

8. I get to relax. For most of the year, I'm going, going, going. Christmas is the one time of the year I get off for more than a day or two [without using any vacation days], and I'm at home with my mom, so she spoils JJ while I catch up on sleep. I always feel super refreshed when I'm at home during that time - and, JJ gets time with Grandma. Bonus.

9. Holiday time = sports! Some of the biggest match-ups in sports happen during the holidays. This year, we're going to a Thunder game on Christmas Day. My beloved Pittsburgh Penguins [and Sidney Crosby, yum] are playing the Caps [and Ovechkin] on New Year's. Bowl games galore, NFL match-ups that'll make or break my fantasy season...it's all one big sports fest. My parents get annoyed because I'm connected to SportsCenter 24/7 during the holidays. Oops.

10. It's the most wonderful time of the year! I mean, come on. How can you NOT be happy during the Christmas season? It's rosy cheeks, cookies for Santa, movie nights in front of the fire and snowflakes [or wishes of snowflakes, if you're like me and live in a state that gets a White Christmas every bazillion years - and, we had one last year, so it'll be another bazillion years]. It is, hands down, my favorite time of the year. I wish it lasted longer, but I'd probably be broke if that was the case.

I know that life is busy and chaotic, but I hope you find some time to enjoy this time of year. I definitely am!


My love for Shutterfly continues.

Well, it's that time of the year again - time to send Christmas cards.  Well, I'm considering sending holiday cards to cover everything, but anyway.  I usually buy boxed cards and send them out, but I wanted to buy personalized cards this year - I want to make it a tradition to get a nice picture taken during Thanksgiving and use it for our holiday cards.  While we didn't get a nice picture snapped during the holiday, JJ's birthday is tomorrow(!), and we'll all be spiffied up, so we'll get one snapped then.

Anyway, I've recently discovered the awesome holiday cards that Shutterfly offers.  I already use them for calendars [my mom made and ordered our 2011 calendars earlier this week, and they look SO great - can't wait to get my copy!] and plan on using them for JJ's birthday invitations next year [if I'd stop be lazy about taking pictures, I could've made birthday invitations this year] and baby shower invitations [for showers I throw...I'm not pregnant again yet].  I hadn't realized until recently the wide selection of holiday cards they have; they're so awesome!

As I've flipped through the hundreds of cards Shutterfly offers, I can't decide what I want. I do like these though:

I realize this one is a Christmas card, but I just love it.

I love the blue! This card is so cute. I'm really leaning towards this one if I really do decide to do a holiday card instead of a Christmas card.

I just think this card is SUPER cute. And clever. And different.

Oh my gosh! I love this one! Love the script, the monogram...I love it all.

I need to stop looking at the cards before I make one of each of them and send them to everyone and their mom.  If you haven't checked out their holiday card collection yet, you need to - it's such a great selection.  I haven't decided which design to use yet [obviously], but I'm going to use one of them for our holiday cards.  Even if we can't get a family picture snapped since J isn't home, if I can just get a rockin' shot of JJ, that'll work out awesome.

As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, Shutterfly has been an amazing company to work with.  I've ordered dozens of pictures from them [ordered 154 tonight, actually...ha], and they've always looked great.  I can even upload my iPhone photos to a Shutterfly app for printing...and those prints look like I took them with a regular camera!  They don't distort the picture like some other photo printing people do. My last non-picture order was a photo book I made of J's BMT graduation weekend, and it came out amazing.  I think even J was surprised at how good it came out.  I have another free book offer that needs to be used by Monday, and I hope to get all the pictures from JJ's birthday uploaded so I can make another photo book.  I've had friends who have made wedding and family albums out of their books, and they always come out looking amazing.  I appreciate the ease of use and the many options for personalization; I feel like I really made that book based on my wants and needs, not just premade templates.

I hope that you all take the opportunity to check out their site if you haven't already.  I don't think you'll be disappointed - but if you are, they also have great customer service.  What is there to lose?!  NOTHING!  As another mention, they're currently offering a promotion for bloggers - 50 free holiday cards!  For more information, go here.

So, in short - go check it out.  Now.  What are you waiting for?!


A series of unfortunate events.

Today has literally been a Monday times four for me.  I thought Fridays weren't supposed to be like this?!

For one thing, I woke up late this morning.  I've been doing that all week - falling asleep [with the TV and lamps on in the living room...I need to stop doing that], waking up at 4am, going back to sleep and waking up past my alarm.  Ugh.  To top it off, JJ woke up when I woke up [which was 30 minutes before his wake-up time], so I had to do everything with my little man following in my footsteps [poor guy].

I got us both ready, got the car loaded up, started it, and...the car started revving up on his own.  I thought the gas pedal was stuck, but nope - it wasn't. And, my check engine light was on.  So, I called the local Ford dealer [who told me to tow it in and not drive it, because if a valve or something was stuck, there was a good possibility the car wouldn't stop], called USAA to see if they'd have my car towed [they did - so glad we're paying for that in our insurance], and waited almost 1.5 hours for the tow truck to arrive.  Sigh.

Got the car off, then walked to the bus stop to drop JJ off at daycare.  This AMAZING woman drove by, saw me with three bags and a toddler, and offered to drive me to his daycare.  I wish I could find her and give her a big plate of cookies and a hug.  Dropped JJ off, did a speed walk/run to the bus waiting up the way, then rode the bus to work.  Got to work at 10:20 this morning - awesome.

THEN, I realized at 2:30 that I only had two of the bags I left with this morning...and panicked.  I called the bus station - no bag.  Called the daycare - they put me on hold for awhile, so I thought they were digging around for it.  Called back, and hallelujah!  I left it in his room!  That bag had his shoes, toys and socks in it...so if I'd lost it, I would've had a breakdown.

It's now almost 4pm, and no phone call from the dealer.  I called at lunch today to check on it, and they didn't know what was wrong and suggested I rent a car for the weekend.  Called at 2 to see what time they close so I can get JJ's car seat, and still no word.  I'm so, so nervous.  I don't want to fork over a ton of money to fix the transmission [if that's the problem] - it was running fine yesterday!  And, I'd just stay in town this weekend and wait it out, but - alas.  My precious little guy turns 2 tomorrow, and there's no way we're not celebrating with family.  So now, I get to figure out how to get my car back whenever it's done - risking the fact that it might not be done by Monday.

I'm trying to take it all in stride, but this is just the icing on the cake of a very, very long year.  I don't have $2500 to drop on a new transmission, if it comes to that.  If they can't figure out what's wrong with it, then what am I supposed to do?  Sigh.  I'm going to try and put it aside for the weekend and make JJ's birthday weekend the best ever.  But...if you could send good car juju my way, that would be great.


WMW: How do you do it?

So, since there wasn't really a prompt for WMW, I had to think of something to write about...wasn't sure if I'd come up with something, but it came to me while I was polishing off a bag of gummy bears [my second today...blasted Walgreens had them on sale]. Sugar does wonders for a fried brain.

Ever since I became a [pretty much single] mom, people ask me how I do it. "How do you raise JJ by yourself?" "How do you function off of four hours of sleep every day?!" "How do you do it?"

The answer is quite simple: I do it because I love it. I have a child who's depending on me to provide for him and be the best mother I possibly can be for him. I'm by no means perfect - I'm pretty far from it - but I try my best to provide the best for my little boy. And, when you have someone else depending on you for his well-being...you just do it.

How do I raise JJ by myself? I'm not completely alone. I have A LOT of help - my mom and sister are amazing and have been there for me whenever I need them. My sister's driven the hour north to watch JJ when I've been sick or had to work late or on a weekend. My mom's kept JJ for random weekends so I can catch my breath [and catch up on sleep]. During the week, it's just the two of us because I hate imposing on people and really don't need to do anything after work that doesn't involve him. I take him grocery shopping, can work out at home after he goes to sleep...he's pretty much attached to my hip after I pick him up, and I like it that way. But, I'm forever grateful for great family nearby who are willing to watch JJ when I need it.

It's not that hard raising a toddler. You keep an eye on him, keep as organized as possible, never leave for grocery shopping without a list, clean when he sleeps and enjoy the time you have with him. Yeah, it gets a little overwhelming to be alone when I'm trying to make dinner and he's trying to climb into the dryer, or I'm putting up dishes and he's digging in the fridge for yogurt. But I love the time we have alone, so I embrace it. We play, we color, we crawl around and run circles in the living room - it's the best time of my day. Always.

How do I live off of so little sleep? Um, hello. I've only been out of college 2.5 years - and you don't want to know the number of all-nighters I pulled. It's an insane number, trust me. Going from college to motherhood was a breeze in the sleep department because I was used to staying up late, catching cat naps and waking up early. And, I catch up on weekends when my mom gets up with JJ - I love her for doing that.

Do I miss being able to go hang out with friends or go to night meetings or sleep for 12 hours at a time? Sometimes, yeah - but JJ is completely worth it. I've never been a party animal, don't need a crowd to be entertained, and I like quiet/alone time...so I don't feel like I'm missing much. I'd much rather be at home with him anyway.

Now that I've gotten this out, I won't dwell on it as much. I think the more people ask me about it, the more I try to justify that it's a hard job. But in reality...it's not, because I enjoy it.

Now, will I be super excited when J and I are under the same roof and can raise JJ together? Absolutely. I'm counting the days. Until then...it's just me and JJ, and I'll enjoy every moment of it.