A Plumber and A Princess

October 31, 2012
So, I got the brilliant idea for me and my son to dress up together for Halloween this year. I work in an Early Learning Centre with preschool aged children, and so I have the joy -- and the lovely excuse of working with children -- to be able dress up on Halloween.

My brilliant costume idea...well, we're dressing up as Princess Peach and Mario -- the cutest little Mario that you ever did see!

He's not really a fan of the hat, so hopefully he will keep it on while Trick-or-Treating today. I think he left it on for all of 5 minutes during this photo shoot -- which, I guess, is a lot longer than the first time he wore it.

Happy Halloween to you and your family! Don't eat all your candy in one sitting :)


Pumpkins: A Halloween Tradition

October 29, 2012

Yesterday, while my husband was at work, I carved our Halloween pumpkin -- the smell makes him gag. I love carving pumpkins. While I was growing up, my family didn't do much for Halloween except carve pumpkins into delightful Jack-o-Lanterns. It is a tradition that I wanted to continue after no longer being allowed to go Trick-or-Treating, and it is a tradition that I hope to do with my son in the next couple of years. Maybe he will be willing to help me gut the pumpkin next year.

In the meantime, I continue to enjoy carving out sweet little faces that remind me of my little boy. Last year, I carved an adorable little pumpkin that had a toothless grin, and this year I decided to continue the tradition -- again with the traditions -- by giving him a cute little smile with two little Chiclet teeth, and small a button nose.

Do you have any special Halloween traditions that you like to do with your family?


After These Messages...

October 26, 2012
After a short break from blogging -- two days to be exact -- I feel refreshed, and ready to type. I don't know what happened, but, on Sunday night, as I thought about the blog post that I needed to get ready for the next day, I just didn't want to do it. I didn't feel it.

I had my posts all scheduled, and I didn't want to write about what I had planned, and I couldn't think of anything else to write about. Call it writer's block, or a lack of creative inspiration, or just plain lazy, but I feel good about not sitting down and forcing myself to write even though I thought I should.

I am not a journalist, and my blog does not make money. People are not dependent on my writing a blog post. I am not dependent on my writing a blog post. My family is dependent on my spending time with them, and that's what I did instead of writing a blog post for the last two days. It was fantastic.

Enjoy your Friday, and your weekend.

Peace and love to you :)


Show Some Confidence: Marigold Road

October 19, 2012
Seeing as I am only one person, I thought it important to share the thoughts of other women -- and maybe some men -- for the Show Some Confidence series, because, let's face it, even though there are some things that I am unhappy about, I can't keep an entire series going on by myself. I enlisted the help of the beautiful Mindy from the blog Marigold Road to share with you how she shows some confidence.

When LC approached me about doing a guest post for her Show Some Confidence series, I got excited over writing about something I don't normally write about (check out my blog, MarigoldRoad, here). It's a shame, really, because most, if not all, girls and women struggle with body image. So often we view ourselves in an entirely different light than others view us.

For instance, I don't like my teeth. I feel like the incisors go up to high and I need my gums brought down more! And don't get me started on my overbite. I've been self conscious about my teeth for several years, but being the smiling person that I am, I have to go with it and smile loudly anyway. When I start talking about my teeth in that way, my husband and friends roll their eyes in disagreement.
One could discuss in great length the role of media in the perpetuation of women's negative body image. I agree with that argument in full. But I believe there is a way to combat medial influence. In no way will we ever be able to fully remove ourselves from the pervasiveness and frequency of media; it's all around us. But my encouragement there is to "bounce" from any image you see that makes you feel horrible about yourself--simply look away. This is why I don't receive a Glamour subscription anymore. I know the women in the ads are heavily photoshopped but my brain still processes such images as real.

Another thing I've done to feel better about my body is recalling the verse I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psa 139:14). I've heard that verse repeatedly, but lately, it's been driven home that if I am hard on myself, if I do negative self talk, then, in a way, I am directing that negativity back to the One who made me. It's like telling God: you did a horrible job when you made me. How absurd!

Since this is such a deep, wounding thing for women, change can only start with women embracing their bodies as the healthy powerhouses they are. Start small. Go without foundation to the grocery store. Lead by example, friends. Your daughters are watching. Your friends are listening. Your sons pick up on what to look for in a wife.

Thank God you have the stretchmarks. Some women cannot carry babies.
Thank God you have unruly hair. At least you are not losing it from cancer.
Thank God for your ugly middle toe. At least all its joints are there.
Thank God for your saggy breasts. At least there are miracle bras.
Thank God for pointy teeth. The better to annihilate an ear of corn.

Precious women, you are not alone in your journey toward self-confidence. Send me your thoughts or stories at marigoldroad.blog@gmail.com



The Heartfelt Sentiments of Children

October 17, 2012
My partner at work recently got married in Africa. Just before she left, I asked the children in our preschool room if they had anything special that they would like to say to her for her wedding day. Hilarity ensued.

We all know that children can say the strangest, funniest, most heartfelt things that us adults are incapable of saying. Needless to say, I got a few gems to pass on to my partner, including:

"Maybe a Hello Kitty."

"I'm sorry."

"Thank you. Thank you for presents."


To house these special little sentiments from the children, I found a beautifully carved wooden box at the local Value Village, and took it home to paint it and make the inside a little more presentable.

My partner's wedding colours included a beautiful peacock blue, so I tried to mix a similar colour with which to paint the box. It took about two coats of paint to cover everything, and I used a sponge brush to be able to get into the carved areas a little easier.

After the paint was dry, I had to sand down the edges so that the box could close properly. I also decided to sand down the sides and top of the box a bit as well to give it more of a distressed look. Then I drew out a heart on which to write the sentiments from the children, scanned it, and printed off enough hearts for each child.

Once I had the words written out on each heart, and lined the inside of the box with a lovely, deep blue satin fabric, I wrapped it all up with a ribbon and tied it with a bow. My partner had a lot of fun reading through the well wishes of each child.


Marketing: My Two Cents...Because That's All I've Got

October 15, 2012
So, I've scheduled myself to talk about marketing today. At some point, while writing up my blog schedule for October, I must have thought that I knew something about marketing. Right now, I feel like a complete failure in the marketing department. Let's be honest, some artists are lucky enough to have the left-side of their brain work just as well as the right-side, but mine seems to be a bit under-developed.

Every once in a while, I'll Google "marketing for Facebook" because I really struggle with trying to reach my Facebook audience. Really, it seems to be every audience, but I feel like the people on Facebook are a little more unreachable than anywhere else on the internet. I found a few good ideas on a site called Firepole Marketing, and, after reading through some of the articles, I've started trying my best to think outside the box.

My dog is my CMO.

Not every idea that I use is going to get interest, and just because people don't like it the first time, doesn't mean that I should give up on the idea entirely. I recently had a Birthday Scavenger Hunt on my Facebook Page where I would post a video each day with an item to be found for the scavenger hunt. The only people that participated were my Mom and my sister-in-law. It can be a little discouraging, but I've realised that I reached two people, and maybe next time, I'll reach two more.

Marketing can be so fickle sometimes. It can feel like everyone that just opened up a shop, or started a blog, is already way more popular than you are. This may be true, but there is no magic wand that is waved and these people are better than you. Some people have it all right away, and others have to build themselves up carefully, brick-by-brick. You are no less awesome or creative as the other people that you see on the internet. You are just a scientist that has to experiment and figure out the formula that works best for you.

You will figure out how to market yourself properly; you will teach that left-side of your brain to work just as well -- maybe better -- than the right-side; you will have successful ideas that are going to reach millions of people!

alt summit, business cards

This blog post seems to be more for giving myself a pep-talk than giving you any real marketing advice. So, to make sure that there is more than absolutely no point to me posting this, let me share with you a few things that have worked for me:

1. Advertising on other blogs - I started advertising on blogs around this time last year, and I noticed a huge spike in the attention to my shop. Julie Ann wrote a really good blog post about 3 Tips for Sponsoring Blogs. It's got three really important things to remember when looking at a blog that you are thinking about sponsoring.

2. Giveaways - I haven't had too much luck hosting giveaways here on my own blog, but I've done really well, and received a bit more attention from people by donating items for giveaways on other blogs as well as Facebook pages.

3. Business Cards - Business cards say a lot about a person and how they feel about their company. Consider buying business cards instead of printing them off yourself -- unless you are a graphic designer that has an amazing printer or you work with a letterpress -- and don't be afraid to think outside the box. Check out these really cool business cards that Oh, Hello Friend has collected over the years. I like to leave mine in random places for people to find, and I've also started getting brave and mentioning that I have a shop through Etsy if I happen to be talking to someone that shares my love of Etsy.

4. Packaging - Not only are my business cards a way for people to find me, but I've got my shop all over my packaging. If someone doesn't want to give away the business card that I sent with the product, I've got my shop URL on the back of all of my cards, and on my packaging. There are more than a couple of ways to be remembered and make yourself more available.


Sneak Peek: 2012 Holiday Cards

October 12, 2012
Does October seem a bit early to start thinking about Christmas?

I've not only started shopping for Christmas gifts a lot earlier this year -- because I like to purchase items from fellow Etsy shops, and they need time to be made and shipped -- but I've also started getting the shop ready for Christmas early because I know that if I'm already looking for Christmas gifts, then other people are probably doing the same thing.

So, with the spirit of Christmas, I would like to introduce you to a couple of the cards that I have made for Christmas 2012 -- Christmas cards from last year are still available :)

This little fellow came to fruition as I was trying to figure out how to draw Christmas ornaments. I wasn't too good at it, so I drew snowflakes instead. I like how they look a lot better than the ornaments that I was attempting to draw.

I came up with the idea for this little cutie while drawing the snowflake card. An idea for a penguin wearing a Santa hat quickly popped into my head while I was working on the snowflake. I stopped what I was doing on that card, and set to work sketching the penguin. It was too good of an idea to let fly past me...except it's a penguin, and they can't fly. Ha! Get it?


Life Goals: The Dreams of My 20s

October 10, 2012
I have had only a few major goals in my life so far. I'm not one of those people that writes down every little thing that they wish to do in their life with the goal of completing it before they die. When I was a young girl, I had only a few things that I really wanted to do with my life. I called it my 5-Year Plan. 

This plan entailed -- in no particular order -- getting married, owning my own car, and owning my own home -- all to be completed by roughly the age of 25. Somewhere in there, I completely a bachelor degree, went on a few vacations, and bought a second house. My second 5-Year Plan has included only three things so far: having a baby around the age of 26-27, running a 5K -- I have ran two -- and starting a small business.

I think it's important to have goals and dreams in life be it a few goals that you must do a lot of hard work to achieve, or several goals on a list that you try your best to complete before moving on to the other side. Without goals and dreams, we just drift along through life, hoping that something will happen to us, but goals help us take hold of life and squeeze all of the juice out of it -- every, last, drop. Goals don't have to be lofty, and if they don't work out, it's always interesting to see how they can evolve into something completely -- or just slightly -- different than what you initially intended.

I don't know what my next decade will look like because I haven't really started thinking about my next 5-Year Plan. I know that I want to complete the classes that are required for me to keep my job, and I really want to find a job working in a preschool. I guess I've started thinking about it more than I actually realise. That's the nature of goals, and the beauty of how they can evolve.


29 Years Around the Sun

October 08, 2012

I've been having a lot of conversations about age with the girls at work recently. Each one of us has come to the conclusion that we do not feel like our actual age. We all feel younger than we actually are: I feel like I'm 23 or 24, not 29.

I don't know if my job helps or not -- I work with preschoolers -- but I have always felt younger than I actually am. I enjoy things that people would not think appropriate for my age -- I love Disney World, and when I turned 25 we went there for my birthday...I went to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and got made up like a princess. My husband was super embarrassed, and I thought it was so awesome!

But, despite how young I feel, I am 29 years old today, and it is so strange for me. I can't believe how my life has flown by. That young girl in the first photo had no idea that at 29 she would be happily married to a wonderful man with whom she had a beautiful little boy to cuddle in her arms, and a job that she loves, with a lovely home that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Life takes lots of twists and turns, but as I prepare to enter the 30's -- said in a big booming announcer-type voice -- I know that my life is exactly where I want it to be.


About Bailey: My First Dog

October 06, 2012
I always wanted a dog, but my sister and I were never allowed to have one. Somehow, we convinced our parents that we should get a cat instead. We must have tortured her, or something to that effect, because that cat avoided us at all costs; she was a classic cat. Deep down, I must have known that I was a dog person, because I yearned to play with the cat and hold her in my lap, but she would have none of it.

Many years later, upon entering high school, I was, once again, able to convince my parents to get me another pet. This time, it was a dog. A beautiful, long-haired,  black dog that we adopted from the local SPCA. My mother was the one that went to adopt her during a week day after we had been there one Sunday afternoon to find her. When I got home from school that day, I was so excited to finally have a dog, but I quickly found out that the name we had chosen for her, was not actually the name my mom ended-up bestowing upon her:

When my mom was a little girl, she had a dog named "Lady". Lady was a farm dog, but she was also very special to my mom, and so my mom had decided that she would like to name our new dog "Lady". But, when I got home from school, my mom informed me that this dog was no lady -- she had run away from my mom before she could get her into the car to bring her home -- and that her name was in fact "Bailey". She decided upon "Bailey" because we had recently seen an interview with Scott Wolf from "Party of Five" in which he was asked if people were naming their babies after his character on the show. He told them no, that a lot of people were actually naming their dogs after his character -- and now our dog was one of them.

I loved Bailey so much. She was the first pet we had that would actually play with me, and would let me pet her. I enjoyed taking her for walks, and sharing my ice cream sandwiches with her. But then one day, when I came home from school and went to let Bailey out of her crate, she wasn't leaving her crate like she normally would; she wasn't able to. I didn't understand what was going on, and when I was finally able to coax her out of the crate, she used the wall to support herself while she walked. We later found out that Bailey had had a seizure, and that was only the first of many.

It was after that that Bailey started to get aggressive. While we were out on walks, she would try to bite people that wanted to pet her, and once, while we were playing, she even bit me; she even broke my skin. That was it for my parents. They wanted to know what was going on, and it was soon discovered that Bailey had brain cancer. Soon after the diagnosis, Bailey was put to sleep. Her seizures continued to get worse, and so did her aggression. My parents knew it was time, but it was very difficult for me. She was my very first dog, and I loved her so very much. That summer was a hard one. Bailey will always hold a special place in my heart.

Several years later, I went back to the same local SPCA and picked out a dog of my very own just a few days after my husband and I moved into our very first home. I knew almost immediately that he was the dog for us. He was the perfect little dog, and he even had a perfect little name to match: Ivan. Ivan has been with us for almost six years now, and I have loved every minute with him. I look forward to the day that my son is old enough to play with him, and I often day dream about how they will have those perfect Hollywood moments when Ivan sleeps with my son on his bed, or watches sadly out the window as he goes to school. I hope that my son will have the same love and excitement for Ivan as I did for Bailey.

*Note: This blog post has been posted previously on Kaytee Lauren's blog. I am posting it again here because it is important information to another post that I will be doing later on this month. 


4 Simple Goals (Before 2013)

October 03, 2012
I liked the idea of 4 Simple Goals (before 2013) that Elsie from A Beautiful Mess came up with, but coming up with four simple goals has proven to be a lot harder than I thought. As I am slowly inching closer to the age of 30, I have started thinking more about the goals that I want to set for the next decade of my life. I'm not one of those bucket list kind of people, but everyone must have dreams that they set for themselves and try their darndest to attain.

Setting four simple goals for yourself to do before the end of the year is really more like sitting down and saying, "Okay, here's what I'd like to do before this year is up. I've wanted to do these things for a while now, and I'm going to sit myself down and get them done!"

Here are my four simple goals:

1. Make a master bedroom I will be happy to sleep in: I have been wanting to decorate my master bedroom for a long time, and I just haven't done it. I have so many ideas and they keep getting pushed to the back of the line. Not anymore! I'm hoping that this goal will help me to enjoy my bedroom and be able to relax and have an excellent sleep -- child willing.

2. Create a new painting: It has been a long time since I have sat down with a canvas and actually painted whatever came to mind. First, I do a lot of drawing right now with the shop, and second, I don't really have and ideas floating around for a painting. By setting this goal, I want to make my self sit down in front of a canvas and make myself paint whatever is on my mind that day. I'm not going to wait for a big idea.

3.Say at least one positive thing to someone everyday: You and I both know that I'm not the best at giving people compliments when they first pop into my head, and then the moment is gone and the comment is no longer relevant -- or just feels downright awkward. My goal is to stop and actually say the comment when I should.

4. Cook something new: I am an incredibly picky eater -- and so is my husband. I would like to expand my pallet and try something new -- food-wise. I hope that this goal will teach me that it's okay to try new foods, and to be brave.

Now it's your turn!

1. Choose simple goals that will make your life richer and happier on a daily basis. Choose things you may not otherwise get done, but that are not difficult to accomplish. 

2. Do not choose result oriented goals, choose activity oriented goals. For example, instead of "lose 10 pounds," choose something like "eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day." Get what I'm saying? Positive actions instead of just the end result! 

3. Choose goals that are personal that you believe will truly make your life richer just by doing them! They can be daily, weekly or one time experiences. 

4. Choose a reward for each goal as it is accomplished! It can be a small or large reward -- it's up to you. 

5. Blog about your goals -- each one as you achieve it, and a big post when they are all finished before the new year! I'll be doing this too! Link back to Elsie's post if you want to, and leave links to your goal blogs in the comments of that (or any) post for a chance to be featured on A Beautiful Mess before the new year. They will be sharing some of their favorite reader goals with links to your blogs!

p.s. My birthday is next week, and I'm celebrating with a Birthday Scavenger Hunt over on my Facebook Page. Everyday, for five days, I'm revealing an item for you to find and take a photo of to post on my page. Check it out :)


Welcome to Toddlerhood

October 01, 2012
As of today, my Little Boy is officially a toddler. He has been getting ready to move into the toddler room at daycare for a couple of weeks now, and today is the day that he finally takes the leap. It is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. I am so unbelievably happy to see all of the new things that he will be learning while he is in that room, but it's also the end of a year and a half of seeing him grow into the Little Boy that he is today.

I was watching some videos of him when he was a lot smaller that I had posted on Facebook for the family to see. There were a couple that made me really happy to see that, although he had grown so much, his personality hadn't really changed. His giggle still sounds the same as when he was four months old, and he still loves music as much as when he was nine months old.

Clearly, he has changed a lot, and he will continue to change throughout his life, but it's good to know that the foundations are there. That the little things that I love most about him are there -- hopefully -- to stay.

What has happened to Little Boy in the last couple of months?

- He refers to anything that is round as a ball: a balloon is "ball," and, most recently, the moon is "ball."

- He loves airplanes. We live near a small airport and he is always so excited when the planes fly over our house. He calls them "a-yeh."

- He doesn't know what he wants anymore, and so we are trying to teach him that he doesn't always get to listen to the song that he wants, or watch the show that he wants. If he doesn't want to listen or watch, he is more than welcome to walk away.

- He is about to get smacked in the face with the evil sharing bug. He had his first taste of sharing last Thursday and he did not like it at all.

- He learned how to drink out of a garden hose :)

- He made his very first painting on a canvas. Until last Sunday, he had only been using crayons here at home.

- He has learned how to climb onto the table to grab chocolate bars, and the like.

- He finally pushed out his first-year molars, and his eye teeth.

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