November 26, 2013

Bon Voyage Kayla!

Yesterday, I had say farewell to my little baby sister Kayla who will be stationed in Italy for four years, eight months. (Okay, not so much baby...) She is one lucky bum and I have to thank her for commitment to the United States Navy. I will miss her soooooooooo terribly much! I hope she is able to come home and visit at least once! I also hope to rummage up some pennies to visit her too. (I might be dreaming but maybe not...)

My sister Shantori, Cousin T Stone, Kayla, Miss A and I all spent the early afternoon together. Here are our parting pictures! We spent our time playing at the mall and Chuck E Cheese. We also visited Santa Claus! Fun times! =)

Me, Kayla, Shantori-- We try.
"Miss A" and "Cousin T Stone" climbing on the breakfast sausage links.
Egg Time!
Miss A and Auntie Kayla in a bowl of shredded wheat
Cousin T Stone chilling on some bacon!
Cousin T Stone about to give Miss A a big hug on a buttered waffle!
Not sure what happened here... Me & Kayla
Miss A & Cousin T Stone taking a speedy cruise
Miss A driving
We visited Santa Claus before Thanksgiving... Normally, I force myself to wait to put up the Christmas tree until after Thanksgiving Dinner. I guess there is no harm in mixing up the order a bit! Miss A did not want to sit on Santa's lap but she did tell him she wanted My Little Pony toys for Christmas. Cousin T Stone wanted a monster truck and a saw! Haha! 

Santa Claus Visit 2013
Miss A loved the Barney ride at Chuck E Cheese! 
Pony Time! 
Miss A rode this over and over and had a picture of the side of her head taken about 15 times!
This jeep lifted Miss A up so high that she cried, forcing me to pull her off it mid-ride! Scared her to death!

That was the fun we had with our teensy bit of time left together before Kayla's departure! We had a good time and then I cried all the way home. :( Not really but the tears could have flowed if I let them! My lil sister is going to have such a good experience! I love her and wish her the best!!
>> Bon Voyage Kayla!<<

November 22, 2013

Pregnancy Belly Button Video

I apologize in advance for both creating and posting this video of my belly button!
I am 33 weeks 5 days pregnant and could not resist showing you what my belly button looks like at this stage of my pregnancy! It's not really thhaaatt disturbing but maybe you will think so!! HAHA! =D

Do enjoy.

November 21, 2013

Rough 2 Week Transition to New Babysitter

My job is project based work that gives me about four months of work a year. Usually, Miss A gets to stay at my mom's house when I go back to work. She has done that her entire two years of life! This last project was different though. My mom wanted some extra cash and landed a decent paying, full time job working as Christmas help. That meant I no longer had a babysitter! I freaked out for a couple of weeks thinking that I could not afford a sitter and that I didn't want to leave Miss A some place new and scary to her! I had to regain self control and figure out a plan. I ended up posting on my Facebook wall to see if anyone I knew was interested in babysitting for me. Luckily, I ended up finding someone with a three year old son who enjoyed babysitting. (I don't enjoy babysitting so it's hard for me to understand people who genuinely like it... !! Am I terrible or what??) Anyways, here is Miss A's response to the new sitter...

Me: Do you want to go play with a new friend and play with new toys?
Miss A: Yeah! I want to play with a new friend!! OOOH NEW TOYS!!

I took her over to the babysitter's house for a quick visit the day before I was going back to work. She seemed happy to see the girl and meet the three year old boy.

Day 1 while dropping her off....

Me: Okay, Mommy has to go to work. You get to stay here and play with your new friend! And you get to play with a new doggy and kitty toooo! 
Miss A: WAHHH!! NO MAMA! I don't want to stay! WAHHHHHH!! *Biggest crocodile tears ever*
Me: It's okay. Mommy pick you up later when I'm all done with work.
Miss A: *squeezing my legs for dear life* Wahhhhhh!! No! Noo!! *saddest crocodile tears pouring down*
Me: It's okay. I'll see you soon. I have to work and I will be right back to bring you home. I love you! Hugs and kisses! 
Miss A: Noooo! Wahhhhh!
Me: I love you baby girl. Mommy will see you later. *The door shuts* 

I was instantly reminded me of horrific scenes in WWII movies of Jewish children being ripped away from their families...

I cried a few dozen tears and had a terrible first day back at work. I don't know who had the worst experience but when I picked her back up, she was happily playing. She ran to the door to meet me and gave me a big hug and kiss. "My mommy's here! My mommy's here!" I instantly felt better.

I brought her home and then the real transition began. She refused to sleep in her bed from that point on. I left her with a stranger and she was so traumatized that she insisted upon sleeping in the same room as us. We laid her into her own bed (like normal) but instead of her peacefully going to sleep, she woke up a solid 12 times that night. She came running into our bedroom, wanting to lay next to our bed. We brought her back to her own room each of those 12 times until finally caving in a couple hours before our alarm went off. It was exhausting.

Miss A and her make shift bed next to our bed
The following days played out the same way. Miss A crying and sobbing when I dropped her off, while I tried to maintain my own composure. And then at night, constantly returning her to her own bed to sleep. I decided, that being in my third trimester of pregnancy, I couldn't handle that much sleep interruption combined with a full work day so we allowed her to sleep in the rocking chair or the couch as she requested. She still ended up waking up numerous times and running to our room... and us bringing her back to the chair or couch. After about four days of sleep deprivation and fear of the real sleep deprivation coming our way with a newborn baby, we just made her a bed on the floor next to ours. I worried about how we would get her back to sleeping in her own bed again but decided it was best not to care about that quite yet. We didn't want her to feel unloved or scared so we gave up.

Miss A sleeping on her chair
After about two weeks of terrible mornings and her refusing to sleep in her own bedroom, she became comfortable and back to her normal self again. She wasn't happy leaving me at the new babysitter's house but she was no longer terrified. We ended up parting in peace, without tears, and only a small whimper. BIG BEAR HUG SQUEEZES and DOZENS OF KISSES. But that's nothing to complain about. What is needed is needed. I appreciated it, for sure.

Now that I am back to not working again, Miss A snuggles into my bed early morning after my husband leaves for work. She is my little angel.

Miss A: Do you know what the angel says? The angel says, "I LOVE YOU!" 

Miss A peacefully sleeping in our bed

November 19, 2013

Miss A Loves to Build Towers!

Miss A has two favorite activities.
1. Coloring with crayons, pencils, markers, chalk, anything!
2. Building towers with her ABC blocks! (One of the best gifts she received in the hospital at birth!)

Take a look at her masterpieces. She loves to show off each and every tower and get her picture taken. If only she had more than 26 blocks...

November 18, 2013

How to Redo a Bookshelf

I finally learned how to redo a bookshelf! I have to give a big thanks to the hundreds of pinners on Pinterest and bloggers out there for inspiration. Here are the steps I used to put some life back into my old bookshelf.

1. Sand bookshelf. Before I sanded the shelf, I removed the thin piece of plywood on the back. I used a cheap, but efficient hand orbital sander with 40 grit sandpaper. I only removed the paint from the top shelf because it is way too time consuming to remove paint with a sander. I sanded the rest of the bookshelf so that only a smooth surface remained. Then I wiped down the shelves to prepare it for painting.

2. Spray paint bookshelf. You could also hand paint it but it was cheaper to use spray paint with a primer  included. I used 1.5 cans of a Winter Gray spray paint for this bookshelf. It's one of my new favorite colors.

3. Staple fabric to the plywood board. I measured the plywood board and made sure to buy a couple extra inches for the length and width of the fabric. I ironed the fabric to rid creases. Then, I neatly laid the fabric out on the plywood board, securing it with duct tape. (It's important to maintain some of my redneck family traits.) Finally, I used a staple gun and stapled the fabric and plywood board all into place at once.

I removed the duct tape and that's all I did! It was very simple and only took a few hours, minus time to dry the paint.

November 10, 2013

Rimmel London Scandeleyes: My Retro Look

I can look into your soul with my new Rimmel London Scandeleyes Retro Glam Mascara... 

The secret lies within the hour glass wand shape.
One application coats your lashes entirely.
Three layers for effective "build-ability".
No clumping.
And you get your beautiful Retro Glam look... as if you glued on a fake set of lashes!

Advice: For best results, do not let the mascara dry on your lashes in between coats.

Check out my Instagram video below to see how this new mascara really is buildable. 

If you have been amazed, this product hits stores November 2013! ;)

November 9, 2013

The Rose VoxBox 2013

I found this Rose VoxBox in my mailbox this past week and I was thrilled!!! This is my first time receiving products from Influenster so the anticipation was just killing me! Anyone can sign up and become an Influenster member for a chance to sample products. However, you must maintain a certain status by reviewing products and taking short surveys to qualify. For more information on Influenster, visit Anyways, back to my excitement-- Take a look at what I got!!

The Rose Voxbox 2013 contains the following products:

  • belVita crunch Breakfast Biscuits 
  • Dr. Scholl's For Her Cozy Cushions
  • Kiss Gradation Polishes
  • Rimmel London Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara
  • VitaBath Hydrating Lotion
  • Lindt LINDOR Milk Chocolate Truffles

What an excellent surprise!

Here is what I have discovered digging into this package. 
  • Well, I have already purchased the belVita crunch breakfast biscuits in the past. They are delicious and make for an easy breakfast containing 18g of whole grain, energy releasing B vitamins and fiber without the corn syrup or artifical flavors and sweeteners. I have personally tried all five flavors (Blueberry, Apple Cinnamon, Cinnamon Brown Sugar, Chocolate, and Golden Oat) and they taste equally delicious. I recommend buying them, however, I only buy them on sale as they are a little pricey. It was a real treat to have another sample!
  • I was very excited to see the Dr. Scholl's For Her Cozy Cushions in my Rose Voxbox. I have never tried any Dr.Scholl's products before but have been curious about them. Unfortunately, my casual flats that I wanted to put them in did not work with these cushions. They made the shoe too tight for my foot. They do make an excellent addition to my black shoes below though. These shoes have zero support in them. I like that the cushions add support and warmth to my shoes. How perfect for the cold weather that has finally arrived!
  • I painted my nails tonight using the Kiss Gradation Polishes. I thought that I would fail altogether and end up using the three nail polishes separately but it actually turned out nice! The process was very easy and there is plenty of room for error while still finishing with a professional look. 

Kiss Gradation Polishes
  • My favorite product in this box is the Rimmel London Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara by far! I love this mascara for its hour glass shaped wand and thick black coat it does in one application. The hour glass shape allows you to coat all your eyelashes in one stroke without missing the inner and outer sections of your lashes. I doubt I will go back to the straight wand again. 

Rimmel London Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara
  • I like the VitaBath hydrating lotion enough to use the whole bottle. I received the "relaxing green tea" and "soul cleansing power of sage" scented lotion, which is pleasant and light. It is an excellent product in that it is free of parabens, propylene glycol, phthalates, sulfates, petrolatum, mineral oil, and synthetic color. It is also filled with an antioxidant rich superfruit blend of acai, goji, coffee, noni, pomegranate, green tea, and manosteen. 
  • No one can go wrong purchasing Lindt LINDOR Milk Chocolate Truffles. This company makes some of the best chocolates ever due to the smooth, rich, and creamy texture. I have previously tried the white chocolate truffles but never the milk chocolate until now. They are both delicious and I can say with 100% certainty that all of their other flavors are just as delectable! And this is coming from someone who does not label themselves as a chocolate lover. 

I received all products complimentary from Influenster.

    November 2, 2013

    Babymoon Road Trip through South Appalachia

    We went on an actual babymoon this pregnancy!

    I really wanted to take a vacation before our first child was born but since we were wedding and honeymoon planning, a babymoon was not top priority. So now after having experienced life with a newborn and truly understanding sleep deprivation, a babymoon was essential this time around!

    So we really did it! We took our first road trip together and spent five days exploring some of the larger cities in the Southern Appalachia region. We stopped so frequently and got plenty of walking exercise so there was no problems for my third trimester pregnant self!! =) This was our last getaway before our son arrives sometime around January 6, 2014. We chose the following cities to explore because we also are thinking of relocating next Spring. [Read Thoughts on Relocating Family Out of State]

    [Cities in order of road trip visit]
    • Lexington, Kentucky
    • Knoxville, Tennessee
    • Asheville, North Carolina
    • Charlotte, North Carolina
    • Charleston, West Virginia
    • Ashland, Kentucky

    We started our trip around 6:00pm after my husband got out of work. Our goal was to drive the longest stretch of the trip that night, so we could officially start touring the next morning. It was a nightmare driving through Indiana because there was so much construction and we could only drive 55mph. My husband was forced into work two hours early (4:00am) so we were really happy to finally reach Kentucky. That's when the speed limit kicked into gear and we felt like we could actually reach our first destination! We ended up stopping at a nicely remodeled Motel 6 north of Lexington.

    I drove first so obviously I needed my picture taken! ;)

    I never took any pictures downtown Lexington, Kentucky for some reason... I simply forgot. But we started our first morning off by taking a good hour walk around town. It was a fairly nice city. We wanted to eat at a local cafe for breakfast but ended up not finding one so we headed to the nearest Waffle House. We passed so many Waffle Houses on the way and had never tried it before so it all worked out. I ordered waffles and hashbrowns, country style with sausage gravy! Yum. My favorite thing about the southern states is that the hotels serve biscuits and gravy! I don't know why that doesn't catch on in Michigan. It's so delicious. After walking downtown, we stopped at Fayette Mall in Nicholasville, Kentucky on our way out of the city. I bought a scarf... which is super cozy and visible in most of my pictures throughout the trip. Then we headed to Knoxville. On our way, we visited Fort Boonesborough and Cumberland Falls. 

    Our first room at Motel 6 outside of Lexington, Kentucky
    I thought this was going to be a cool picture so I had to take it. Plus it shows a Kentucky license plate. =)
    So many colorful cows!! That white gate on the right is open... Cows could have easily walked out. 
    Fort Boonesborough, Kentucky

    Daniel Boone settled here from 1775-1780. Each cabin had people in costume assuming roles of various positions in the settlement. It was very intriguing to see how the people actually lived back then. And of course, it's always great to catch up on a little history. For more information about this location, visit the Kentucky State Park website here.

    Fort Boonesborough State Park 
    Inside Fort Boonesborough in Kentucky
    Inside Fort Boonesborough, Kentucky
    Entrance to Fort Boonesborough
    Cumberland Falls, Kentucky

    Looking down at Cumberland Falls
    Mist from Cumberland Falls
    Lower view of Cumberland Falls
    Proof we were here!

    Knoxville, Tennessee

    This was my absolute favorite city from the entire trip. The whole road trip, I kept wanting to go back to this wonderful city. The atmosphere was so welcoming and people were very friendly. A random guy (aged 30-45) told us both "Congratulations" as he passed us in the street. I smiled and thanked him. At first I didn't realize why he said it... Then duh-- I am obviously pregnant and he was congratulating us on our baby. HOW NICE! We visited the Knoxville Visitor Center and they offered us free parking for two hours and extended it so we could stay to watch a free concert hosted by the local radio station. A police officer even said, "Howdy" to me! (Yes I realize only northerners would be excited about such things!)

    The State Theatre of Tennessee
    The State Theatre of Tennessee
    Tennessee River
    Interesting art near Knoxville Market Square
    Knoxville Radio Station WDVX 89.9 FM Hosts Free Concert
    Year of October playing live on air WDVX 89.9 FM at the Knoxville Visitor Center
    Black Cadillacs played next at the Knoxville Visitor Center
    We ate lunch at Bella Luna restaurant in Market Square. Cheap, delicious Italian food in a fancy setting!
    Leaving Knoxville, Tennessee. (I never wanted to leave!)  Asheville, North Carolina bound.
    Beautiful scenery on our way out of Tennessee
     More beautiful scenery on our way out of Tennessee
    Tunnel through the Mountain
    Welcome to North Carolina!

    Beautiful Forest Covered Mountains in Fall at North Carolina Welcome Center
    At Rest Area/North Carolina Welcome Center
    Forest Covered Mountains in Fall
    Asheville, North Carolina

    Before walking through Asheville, I had expected to absolutely love this city. I was certain that I wanted to relocate our family here because it was a larger city in the mountains that attracts a lot of tourists. The housing prices are out of our ideal price range but we figured it was worth checking out anyways. We were lucky enough to get a taste of the Friday night atmosphere to see how weekends could be downtown. There were a lot of college students and older people wearing the craziest outfits ever! I wanted to take pictures of the people but that would have been inappropriate! Now I can't judge a city based on clothing... That is just silly. But the city seemed to be filled with overpowering inscents and hippies of all ages! Many of the shops were tailored to that lifestyle. It did not appear ideal for raising kids... and therefore an inappropriate choice for our family. -- Normally I am very liberal, open minded, and such, but this place reminded me of my visit to Amsterdam, which was quite creepy. (I should have taken more pictures of the street shops but I think I was in too much of a shock from my previous expectations of Asheville!) The city was very compact with narrow roads, which also reminded me of being in Europe.

    Band from Washington playing Downtown Asheville, NC
    Outdoor Chess Tables
    Double D's Coffee & Dessert shop in Bus
    Random Cat Statues
    We debated about staying the night in Asheville but after viewing the city, I wanted to eat dinner and sleep outside of it! I think my feelings were affected by the fact that I am large and in my third trimester. The hustle and bustle of pot smoking, inscent burning, and dreadlock headed people was just too much to take in at the time. I feel horrible for feeling this way about a possibly great city but it is important to remember that we only stopped by for a short visit! We didn't really have time to give the city a chance.

    We ate dinner outside of Charlotte at Binion's Roadhouse in Hendersonville, North Carolina. The waitress was extremely nice and the food tasted great!

    Binion's Roadhouse in Hendersonville, North Carolina
    We spent the night on the west side of Charlotte in Gastonia at the Budget Inn. We probably should have continued driving to a better area but we were too tired to continue. I did not feel safe here. The area was filled with run down buildings. I felt certain that the lady standing in heels, smoking a cigarette outside of her room at midnight was a prostitute! I could have been wrong... But the fear was there because my husband tells me little bits about the prostitution and drug related emergency calls from cheap motels in Grand Rapid. Yeah...

    So, no I do not recommend staying at The Budget Inn. It was run by a kid behind a glass window. We did not get our discount from the coupon book (given at rest stops). They told us they stopped serving breakfast entirely, which was partially why we wanted to go there in the first place. The rooms were filled with excess decorations; couch, metal decorative table and chair set, lots of random curtains, paintings, and several large mirrors. I had to look behind the mirrors to make sure they weren't two way mirrors or covering holes in the wall! (I've seen way too many horror movies...!) It was odd because everything else was so awful that it seemed like they could have spent their money better. There was a static filled TV that did not turn off once we turned it on. I had to unplug it entirely. The coffee pot came with cups, spoons, sugar and creamer. Everything but the coffee! BUT HEY-- It was cheap and we saved money! =)

    Budget-Inn Gastonia, North Carolina
    Charlotte, North Carolina

    We only stayed a couple hours here Saturday morning. Their major employers are within the banking industry and the shopping area was closed on weekends. I found the downtown area to be very well kept up  and clean. We had a quick snack at a delicious creperie located inside a hotel before heading north towards Charleston. Overall, I really liked the atmosphere in Charlotte. It was quite lovely. The northern suburban areas were very nice too. We gassed up in Middleville, North Carolina and all the buildings looked brand new and well spaced out. It seemed like a very nice place to live. Just no mountains of course. 

    Welcome to Charlotte!
    Downtown Charlotte, North Carolina
    New park downtown Charlotte, North Carolina

    Look how tall this Bank of America building is! 
    Cool decorative statue thing in front of Bank of America... looks like it would fall!
    Mirror Art in Charlotte... We need something shiny like this in Grand Rapids!

    Fish fountain in park area middle of downtown Charlotte 
    Post of all other cities named Charlotte around the United States!
    These poems were scattered throughout the park area.
    Statue of Books
    Hazelnuts Creperie

    We drove through Virginia to get to Charleston, West Virginia and found a nice little town up in the mountains called Fancy Gap. It was a great scenic detour with amazing views and a delicious restaurant at the top.

    Not very flattering outfit that shows my third trimester body pretty well. Oh well! #LOVEVA
    Virginia is for Lovers!
    Interesting Creature
    Fancy Gap, Virginia
    Off main road atop a mountain in Fancy Gap, Virginia
    Rolling Hill Pasture atop a mountain in Fancy Gap, Virginia
    Lake View Motel Restaurant in Fancy Gap, VA (Seriously one of the best places we ate at- Cheap, Friendly, Delicious!)
    We traveled on the Blue Star Memorial Highway through Virginia.
    Driving through the mountains
    Driving through more mountains
    West Virginia

    The mountains were really fun to drive through in this state. They lasted forever! However, the housing alongside the highway consisted of rundown trailers, junk cars, and refrigerators in the lawns. As we got closer to Charleston, it got a little better though.

    Bridge in Mountains
    Mountain Drive in West Virginia
    Mountain Drive in West Virginia
    Charleston, West Virginia

    We arrived in Charleston on the Saturday night before Halloween so the streets were filled with zombies. It was definitely cool to see, even though it was creepy because we were unfamiliar with the city! We ended up getting super lucky and getting an excellent deal at the Holiday Inn Express downtown Charleston. We were willing to spend a little bit more after the previous night's hotel experience. It was also the last night of our road trip. The hotel receptionists were very friendly and told us a little bit about what to see and where to eat in the city. We ended up ordering in though because we were exhausted. The next morning we toured the city and viewed the beautiful Kanawha River. Charleston felt really foreign to me because it is a very long city packed in between the mountains and runs along the river. All the surrounding cities were packed together near the river too. The mountains were on both sides and towered over us. It was sort of mystical at night.

    Holiday Inn Express located downtown Charleston, West Virginia
    Downtown Charleston, West Virginia
    Kanawha River, Capitol building in the distance
    At the Daniel Boone Park in Charleston, WV looking at the Kanawha River
    Charleston Capitol Building
    Leaving Charleston, West Virginia
    On the way home

    I wanted to stop at one smaller city called Ashland located in Kentucky. It ran along the southern banks of the Ohio River and ended up being more industrial looking than I had anticipated. I thought it would be further into the mountains but it rested in the smaller foothills. We just drove through it quick and then headed home. I didn't capture any pictures of the area other than the state welcome signs.

    Welcome (Back) to Kentucky!
    Welcome to Ohio!

    I have never liked the state of Ohio... mainly because I am from Michigan and Ohio just seems lame, except for Cedar Point. Plus, I am strongly against Ohio State University's football team. I AM A MICHIGAN STATE FAN!! Go green! Anyways, I truly loved everything I saw in Ohio. The suburban areas and farmlands were all very comforting and nice. Nothing from the highway looked run down. It appears to be a thriving state. However, we did not stop anywhere but a gas station and simply drove through the entire state. I was surprised that southern Ohio residents have a southern-like accent. (Northern Michiganders have an accent too so it looks like lower Michigan is the only people without an accent! HA. :P) 

    Ohio's Appalachian Gateway
    Colombus, Ohio
    Farmland in Ohio
    My husband said we have to beware of "JUMPING DEER"... like we don't have a billion of these signs throughout MI!
    More farmland in Ohio... I actually find farmlands quite comforting and enjoy the scenery.
    I love our Pure Michigan sign!
    To be fair to my state, I stopped at our welcome center for a picture!
    Sunset in Michigan sky 
    And that was the end of our trip! We had a blast touring these parts of the United States! I had never been to North Carolina, Virginia, or West Virginia before so it was awesome seeing parts of those states. We were also very excited to get back home and break from driving so much. We rushed to grandma's house and picked up our daughter that we missed so so dearly! (I have never missed her so much!!)

    I hope I didn't offend any readers who live in the states I briefly reviewed. We were only there for a very small amount of time and those were my first impressions! Everyone in all the cities was really nice to us. I would like to revisit Asheville one day and look around a bit more. But as for new cities to move to, we will probably focus more around Knoxville and other big cities in Tennessee. We both liked that part of our trip the best. I can't wait to start applying for jobs outside of Michigan! But first things first, I gotta birth a healthy son and let him plump up a bit! =)

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