Thursday, August 25, 2016

My Pageant Experience

A little known fact some people don't know about me is that I competed in the Miss America system during college.  Here is how that works.  You must win a local preliminary to qualify to go to your state pageant...in my case, Miss Georgia.  Then the winner of each state pageant competes in Miss America.  Now the main difference between Miss America and Miss USA is that Miss America has a talent portion to their pageants and there is also a community service expectation, also known as a contestants platform, in which they promote if crowned.


I danced pretty much my whole childhood and through high school so dance was my talent and my platform was promoting Special Olympics Georgia. My mom taught PE for special needs children so this was a platform I had grown up being involved in.  I won two local pageant and held the title of Miss Northeast Georgia and Miss Mall of Georgia in the early 2000's.  I went on to place in the top 10 at Miss Georgia.


While my dreams of being Miss Georgia and competing in Miss America never came to fruition, I did have a wonderful experience and gained so much from my pageant days.  From killer interview skills and great stage presence to self-confidence, a fashion sense and lifelong friends, my time involved in these pageants was something I would never change and helped make me who I am today!  


This was such a huge part of my life during that time, but now I feel so far removed from that world until recently when an old pageant friend contacted me about judging.  She is now the executive director for a local Miss Georgia prelim, Miss Apple Capital in Ellijay, Georgia.  I was both surprised and honored that she would ask me to judge, but I said yes and couldn't wait for the weekend to arrive.

It worked out that Blondie had a sleepover party on the same day and Boo-Boo and the Mr. had made plans so Little Mama got to come with me. I was so happy to be able to spend some one-on-one time with her on our little getaway and I knew she would enjoy the pageant.

We left Saturday morning and had a light lunch before the interviews began.  Here we are in our hotel just before heading to the interviews.


Each contestant has a 10 minute interview with the panel of 5 judges. I was so impressed with the young ladies that were competing.  They were well-spoken, intelligent, and passionate about their platforms.  It was really a lot of fun for me to be on the other side of things and see it from a judges perspective.  I was just as nervous as the girls were!  While the interview were taking place, Little Mama just hung out in the waiting area and read her book.

Next we changed quickly before meeting the other judges and a few of the pageant board members for dinner.  We had a delicious dinner in downtown Ellijay and then made our way to the auditorium for the pageant.


I loved having a reason to get all dressed up and so did Little Mama.  In fact, all night long people kept commenting on how pretty her dress was and beautiful she looked. It was such a great self-esteem booster for her.  Later that evening she told me she hoped she would have another opportunity to wear her dress again before she outgrew it.

The pageant was great.  All of the girls looked amazing and their talents were very entertaining.  Lots of dancing, baton twirling, singing and piano playing.  Little Mama loved seeing all of the talents and the gorgeous evening gowns.  I felt really good about judging and I felt like the right girls won.  There was a Miss and a Teen division so two girls will represent this area for the year.  They both had an amazing interview and seemed very genuine.

The judges with the winners.  

A then and now pictures with some of my old pageant friends that either serve on the board or were judging with me for the night.  
  


Little Mama and I on stage after the pageant. And funny story...these heels were actually the heels I wore for my evening gown competition back in the day.  I had to go digging through a bin of shoes that I NEVER wear to have something to wear for the night.  I should also note that I changed to flip-flops as soon as got back to the car!


On the way back to the hotel, Little Mama and I stopped by and got her a Starbuck's treat and then were excited to change into pajamas and relax.


We watched a movie in bed and fell fast asleep.  She thought it was SO much fun to be in the hotel with me.  It was a typical hotel room, nothing fancy, but she loved it and I loved our time together.  The next morning we grabbed breakfast out and then made our way back home.  She kept saying she wished we could stay longer and I felt the same way!  I would have loved to explore the North Georgia area a little more and spend the day sight-seeing, but unfortunately we had baseball, a birthday party and cheer that afternoon.  It was fun while it lasted and I hope we can have another mother-daughter time together soon.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sleep Easy with The Baby Sleep Site


Today let's talk about sleep. Or for most parents of little ones - the lack there of. 

Way back in the days when being a mommy was just a blissful thought and dream, I thought I pictured life with the most perfect little newborn peacefully sleeping in my arms all days, and dreaming gracefully all night. All night. 

Fast forward a bit, and a after becoming a few years older and wiser, my pregnant self knew when I became a parent that I would no longer be able to sleep in on weekends, and for a few short weeks I might have to get up one, maybe twice, through the night to feed my hungry, cuddly newborn. 

Now fast forward many more years, not to mention many more children, and my current self is laughing at my former naive, albeit well rested, self. 


While I give birth to some awesomely cute, and incredibly laid back babies, sleepers they are not. Cute gave me a run for my money in the sleep department, and at age five he still occasionally decides to partake in an all night party.


L.C. was my dream baby in the sleep department. She slept out the gate, and until this past Spring was a champion sleeper. Then she decided why sleep when your brother down the hall is obviously having an awesome time down the hall at 2a.m.? She also decided napping was for babies and she wasn't about to do anything of the sort. 

"Wait, you want me to sleep? What about all the fun things that happen at 2:45a.m.? I can't be the only one missing out!"
Baby Cute seemed like your typical baby, and surprised me when right around two months she began sleeping through the night. Personally, I considered this a major win considering the other two were still waking up. Right around four months of age she went through the dreaded "4 Month Sleep Regression". Oh my. Right around the time we went on our beach vacation she learned to roll over in her sleep, army crawl, and began teething to the point she stopped sucking her fingers/using a paci. Throw sleeping in a new place for the majority of the summer and it has been the recipe for sleeping disaster. 

This mommy has been worn out. Getting up somewhere between 3-6 times on average a night has taken its toll. I knew something needed to change - and fast - so when I was approached by The Baby Sleep Site, I jumped at the chance to get some expert advice. 

The Baby Sleep Site is the brain child of mother of two, Nicole Johnson. After being up all night with her own children, she created a wonderful resource of information for parents to go to obtain sleep advice. From chats, to parents stories, to e-books, and a plethora of other wonderful resources, The Baby Sleep Site is such a useful tool in helping you learn and get advice on how to get your household back to sleep. 

After looking up some information on the site for myself (including this great article on 4 Month Sleep Regression), I decided to check out some of their advice services. After browsing the different sleep plans available, it was determined that the Custom Express Sleep Plan was my best option. I needed something tailored to my own situation as well as something that gave me the independence to implement on my own. I also love that the option to get more extensive one on one consulting would still be available if I needed it. 


I signed up, and after filling out a detailed sleep assessment, I able to obtain the advice I needed. I customized my plan to Baby Cute since I felt like she was the one most thrown off lately. The assessment took was very thorough on asking questions regarding her sleep situation, lifestyle, and habits, as well as taking into account the others in the household. 


Overall the assessment took less than 10 minutes to fill out. I was able to list both my concerns as well as my goals for her sleep situation, and felt confident the experts were going to give me advice tailored to my sleep needs. My number one short term goal is to get Baby Cute to sleep on her own. 


After completing the sleep assessment, I received a customized sleep plan. Immediately, I went over the suggestions. While some were things I had been trying, other portions of the plan were things I hadn't thought of yet. It is filled with great advice as well as suggestions on schedules - fitting within our lifestyle needs. 


For the last few weeks, I've implemented the advice and tried to adhere as much as possible to the schedule. It's been tough with back to school throwing things off, but we've started to get our routine down.


One of my favorite suggestions for Baby Cute was introducing a lovey blanket to her sleep routine so that she could learn to self soothe more. She is really starting to get attached to it and looks so sweet snuggling it.


Already we've made some good progress, and Baby Cute is able to sleep in her room for naps, and somewhat get herself to sleep on her own at night in our own room. I know its a continuous process, but I am very excited that we seem to be on the right path. 


I've also tried to utilize The Baby Sleep Site for tips and techniques for the rest of the house, and many of the suggestions I've found have been working wonders. The Baby Sleep Site Facebook page has been a great source of help, and a fun way to interact with both experts as well as other parents experiencing some of the same issues.

Sleep deprived and desperate for a restful change, The Baby Sleep Site has become a wonderful source of support. I am looking forward to continuing our sleep plan, and for our house to be resting much easier in the future ahead. 


Our lovely friends at The Baby Sleep Site want you to get back to sleep too. They are giving two lucky readers the chance to win a Baby Sleep Site package. The package includes: 
  • (1) Express Sleep Plan
  • A 2-Month Membership 
To enter simply answer the question in the comment section below. Enter the Rafflecopter for additional entries. Winners will be drawn randomly and announced on Tuesday, August 30th. 

What sleeping tips or tricks do you have for parents of little ones? What areas of sleep do you wish your children would improve in?  


a Rafflecopter giveaway


To learn more about The Baby Sleep Site: 


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**We were given services from The Baby Sleep Site in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are our own. **



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fashion Fix: JORD Wood Watches

Happy Tuesday, friends!  Look at us with two Fashion Fix posts back-to-back.  I hope everyone took advantage of the Lilly Sale yesterday and if not there is still time!  Jen and I had fun doing a little sale shopping and can't wait to share our goodies!

Today though I'm so excited to share my new watch with y'all.  A few weeks ago the awesome people at JORD wood watches asked if we would be interested in checking out there unique watches.  I jumped at the chance because I have a friend that has a wood watch and I always notice it when she has it on.  There is something so unique about it that just stands out and is really different in a really good way.


After checking out their website I saw so many different styles that I really liked, but ultimately decided on the zebrawood and turquoise style from the Cora series.  Turquoise is one of my favorite colors and I wear a lot of it so I knew this watch would match so much of my wardrobe.  Also, the zebrawood had such a unique look to the wood with the contrasting colors of the grain.


I couldn't wait for my new watch to arrive and I was immediately impressed.  It arrived in a wooden box and when I opened it and saw the gorgeous zebrawood and cool turquoise I was in love!


After looking at it close up I thought it was so neat to be able to see the moving parts of the watch through the little peep hole on the face and on the back of the watch there is a glass window where you can see the mechanisms and the rocking pendulum that keeps the watch going.  That's right...there is no battery and it simply stays wound with the natural movement of your body. 

While the movements and the mechanism are pretty impressive, what I'm most impressed with is the look and feel of this watch. It goes great with pretty much all of my summer clothes and I know it will transition well into fall, too.  As soon as it cools off I picture wearing it with jeans, booties, cute tops, and turquoise accessories.  For now though the heat is still here in the south and shorts and tank tops are in order.


It's no secret that Jen and I love leopard print and I love how the colors of the zebrawood on my watch compliment my leopard belt so well.  I wear this belt ALL of the time, no matter what the season, so I know my new watch will be worn just as much!


The other really surprising thing I found about my watch was how lightweight it is.  I guess I just figured that because it was made of wood that it would feel heavy, but instead it feels much lighter than my gold and silver watches.  It's also a really fun addition to my little arm party.  I always wear a few bracelets stacked with a my watches and I love how my turquoise and gold bracelets really bring out the colors of this watch.  


Have you browsed JORD's site yet?  Fallen in love with a cool watch for yourself or are you thinking about someone that might love a unique watch as a gift?  You know it is never too early to start Christmas shopping!!!  If so, y'all are in luck because we've partnered with JORD for a giveaway!


**Contest Details**
All you have to do is click HERE to sign up for a chance to win.  The winner will receive a $75 coupon code to be put towards a watch of their choice.  And if you don't win, you will still receive a $20 coupon code just for entering!  The contest ends August 31st so be sure to click and sign up today for your chance to win!  

To learn more, you can check out JORD on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
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This post contains an affiliate link. 

This post was sponsored by JORD wood watches.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  I really do LOVE this watch!  


Wooden Watch Review

Monday, August 22, 2016

Fashion Fix: After Party Sale


Happy Monday! For Lilly lovers this might be one of the few Monday's we are excited to get up and at 'em early. :) 


Who is ready for the Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale? 


As always, we are so pumped! 

The sale is especially fun this year because they are going to be releasing some new items as the sale continues rather than all at once first thing this morning. We love everything LP, but here are just a few of our favorites from the sale. Some of these we own (see here) and some we are coveting. We will share our favorite finds later in the week.

(Click the pics for details)

Note: The Dahlia Sleeveless Pleated Floral Top runs a little big (top right). It's much longer and roomier on us than pictured here, and absolutely one of our favorite purchases this year!

Note: Rompers are our absolute favorite! They are comfy and easy outfits to wear. We've both sized up to give ourselves a little more room, more length, and a little blousier look up top.




Shorts are always our favorite and they usually go so fast!


For the Minnie's! And we love these swimsuits!!! Matching ones are on the top of our wish list this year!


Be quick because the sale pieces usually move fast! 

What's on your After Party Sale wish list? 

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Time to Connect: Dinner with Ellio's Pizza!

Thank you Ellio’s Pizza for sponsoring this post. Visit your local retailer to pick up your own Ellio’s Pizza for a pizza night in!


Dinnertime is my absolute favorite time of the day - especially during the school year. I love having family meals sitting around our kitchen table.  Between work, school, after school activities, homework, and the hustle and bustle of life in general, it’s usually the only time during the day that we can really sit and focus on each other. 

Dinner is the one moment in our day we can listen to the kids giggle over whatever silly thing has caught their eye, catch up on whatever events happened to one another throughout our day and simply enjoy our time together as a family. 

Growing up we always had family dinners - even during the busiest of our school days. My mom always made sure we sat down and dined together. I might not have always appreciated this as I became a teenager (sorry mom!), but as I’ve gotten older and now have a family of my own, I’ve come to thrive on this special time of day.  

Leading up to dinnertime though is usually a marathon. With school now in full swing, our days have switched from poolside lounging to full on jam packed moments of learning and practices. While we love being able to enjoy dinner with our family, making that dinner can sometimes seem daunting after a day filled with a million and one activities and tasks. Some evenings I want to just prepare a quick wholesome meal that I know the kids will enjoy. Less fuss over dinner equals more time that we are able to spend together, so the more convenient the meal, the better. 

Recently I introduced our family to Ellio’s Pizza, a brand that's been a Northeastern staple for the past 5 decades and is now available in our neck of the woods, too. My kids absolutely love pizza and would eat it every night if I let them - so I knew Ellio’s cheese pizza would be a huge hit. I partner it with a yummy salad and some fruit for a well balanced meal and dinner is ready in just minutes. Not only are my kids happy, but I can enjoy no stress prep and savor those precious moments we have together even more. 




The kids even enjoy Ellio’s as a quick afternoon snack. They are usually starving after school and instantly try to hit the pantry the moment they come home. I usually try to steer them towards something a little more wholesome - Ellio's is made with 100% real cheese and no artificial flavors - rather than eating a ton of snacks. 



Funny enough, their newest favorite after school activity is watching re-runs of games from their beloved hometown baseball team while snacking on their favorite cheesy pizza. While this summer we opted out of our usual season tickets, we did manage to take them to a few games. They quickly have become baseball obsessed, and I am more than happy to indulge them with a little afternoon pizza snack and some rowdy team chanting.  




Cute also informed me that it’s perfect baseball watching pizza because it’s square and doesn’t have any crust on it - just the way he and Carrie Beth’s Boo-Boo like it. 


From afternoon snacks to family centered dinners, I am thankful to have a quick and convenient meal available so that I can savor these sweet moments that truly matter.  

What mealtime moments do you savor? 

Check out the store locator at the top of the Ellio's homepage to see where you can find Ellio's Pizza near you. Learn more about Ellio’s on FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram.





This is a sponsored post on behalf of Dr. Oetker USA LLC. I received compensation for this post, however all opinions stated are my own.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Photo Gallery Wall

A few weeks ago when I posted about the Mini Boden fall clothes I kept going back to this picture of my sweet little Boo-Boo and our pup Walker.


All three of my kids have a very different bond with him, but since Boo-Boo doesn't have a brother I think the two of these have a brotherly bond if that makes any sense at all.  They wrestle, play tug-of-war, chase each other, and just genuinely love one another.I loved that this picture captured such a sweet moment between the two of them that I decided it needed to go on my photo wall so I made it black and white and added it to the wall. 

 


When we moved in our house a few years ago I started on this project because I had wanted to do it for years.  I collected lots of different black frames to add to some that I already had and then went through old photos to select the ones I wanted to print.

To get an idea of how things would look I spread out all of the pictures out on the floor and then moved them around until I had them the way I wanted it positioned.  Then I just sort of went for it and we started hanging.  There was really no rhyme or reason to it...I just tried to mix it up and I LOVED the outcome.  It's one of my favorite things to look at and I often catch the kids looking at the pictures, too.  It's like a walk down memory lane.


It's on the wall leading from our mudroom to the kitchen/foyer area (and directly across from my desk area), so I see it all the time!



A few notes if you want to do a similar project:

*I started with the center and worked my way out.  I really didn't stress too much about placement or measuring, I just held it up and did what I thought looked right and because it isn't all in straight lines it really doesn't show any imperfections in my hanging skills.  I tend to take more of a "that looks good enough" mentality when it comes to hanging these.

*I only started with about half of the pictures that I have up now. I purposefully left plenty of room so that I could add to it as I had new pictures I loved and wanted to display.

*I have frames from everywhere!  Target, Wal-Mart, HomeGoods, TJMax, Tuesday Morning, Michaels, and pretty much everywhere else.  When I find black frames on sale I'll pick them up and save them until I have more pictures to add to my wall.  Because none of the frames match, I'm able to keep adding to this wall.

*Some of these pictures are professional ones (taken by the one and only Jen during her photographer days) and others are just pictures I took.  I convert the ones I take to black and white using iPhoto on my computer and print.  I haven noticed that sometimes when I get them printed they look more blue or green than black/white. Jen suggests trying to print from Costco for the best quality in black/white and I could tell a big difference on this last picture I had printed.  I did one at a drugstore, but it turned out so green that I re-printed it at Costco.

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