Friday, September 30, 2011

Last Friday of September Randoms



I planned to do this last year, but just put it off & forgot until mid-November: make a month of gratitude calendar or display for the kids to add to each day. (It certainly doesn't have to be as elaborate as this disgustingly-overpriced-as-usual-from Pottery Barn version, but I'm hoping by posting this, I'll get my creative rear in gear. One month and counting...)

I just love this graphic. I added the hearts for our GA homes. :-)

“A stillness before God invites the setting aside of achieving — to allow the simple grace of receiving.” ~Ann Voskamp

“The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.” ~Oswald Chambers

From Ann Voskamp's post when longing to choose joy:
Sara would dance if she could go. Sara would laugh at the grace of going. Sara wouldn’t contort this blessing into a burden.
Why in the world make blessings into burdens? Why choose fear instead of joy?
When I surrender to stress; don’t I advertise the unreliability of God?

Sara told me: “I had to choose fear–or completely trust Him. One cannot exist if the other is true.”

This opinion article that a friend shared reinforces the Montessori philosophy that the younger children learn best from the older: Delay Kindergarten at Your Child’s Peril.

Another opinion article another friend shared that really resonated with me: Stupid voters enable broken government.

Courageous opens in movie theatres across the country today! I never thought in a zillion years we'd end up going to the church that made Fireproof and revitalized our marriage through The Love Dare, much less be in a Sunday School class now with the writer/producer/star! The whole town is really excited for the release, since all their movies are shot right here and use all local people. (Kirk Cameron is the only professional actor they've ever used.) We're going *next* Friday night, b/c...

Tonight is "Parks & Rec Night" at our local high school football game! The kids get to wear their jerseys & cheer uniforms and have their names announced in front of the whole county at game as they walk across the field before welcoming in the LCHS football team. We're excited! :-D

I placed my first eBay bid in...years on these Zumba instructor pants:
Most Zumba pants look like crazy cargos. I don't know if I'll "win" (no "Buy it Now" option; auction ends in 4 days) but even if I don't score them, I have documentation that some kind of discontinued design looks like this! :-D

I did *not* get a pumpkin spice chai latte for the first time in over a year when it's been available in favor of trying the highly touted Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino. Oh.My.Heavenly.Divinity. "Mocha sauce and toffee nut syrup blended with coffee, milk and ice. Topped with sweetened whipped cream, caramel sauce and a mixture of turbinado sugar and sea salt." It sooo lived up to the hype and really does taste different than just a regular caramel frap, (my pre-chai fave; what I was drinking when my water broke & I went into labor with Will at the Mall of Georgia. :-D)

Gelish at Home Update: 2 Weeks In

It's been two weeks since I did my first at-home Gelish application, and I thought I should give y'all an update with photo evidence:
No chips whatsoever - not on the tips, not on the edges. Still super high-gloss shine. Slight half-moons show at my cuticles where my nails have grown out. And I have NOT BEEN EASY on my hands - I cleaned house last Friday (a rare and thus intensive scrubbing event :-P), I've broken down a ton of boxes, and I'm doing lots of crazy hand stuff with cheer & my Zumba licensing. SO PLEASED!!! (The color looks lighter, but I promise it's the same application. This color - Ali Baba's Sim Sala Bam, a new Aurora Gelish EFX special effects polish, purple with tiny holographic microglitter - looks different as the light changes. :-))

[PS - It's really hard to take good, clear pics of your own nails on your phone... :-P]

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Würzburg erleben!

This summer I came across a FB page called "Würzburg erleben" - auf Englisch: "experience Würzburg!" The year I lived in Germany when I was 20 years old was one of the most defining of my life. I am the quintessential "homesick girl" - but my father had passed away the year before, and it made me feel very strongly, "I have to prove to myself I can live on my own, away from everything 'home' and 'comfortable' for a year, just so I'll always have the confidence that I can make it anywhere, no matter what life throws at me in the future." I knew I wanted to get married young and start a family, but I also knew I needed this life experience *first*. I lived there from August 1998 - July 1999.

I lived with a host family in northern Germany, in a tiny Dorf called Rahden, for the first month.
It was an adorable, small place to begin, but I. Was. Scared. Lots of Heimweh (homesickness). This was before everyone had a cell phone, before Facebook, before default 24/7 email access, when international calls cost an arm & a leg a minute and "long distance" was truly prohibitive. (WOW, how the world has changed in a decade!!!) I had weekly [or bi-monthly :'(] phone calls with my mom & JB. (JB & I had only been dating for six months. He graduated from our undergrad & went to grad school in Wisconsin when I went to Germany. We figured, if we could make it through a year seven time zones apart, we could make it through anything! :-D) My host family thought it was CRAZY that I wanted to check my email every day, but LUCKILY my host father, Horst, worked for Deutsche Telekom and actually *HAD* daily internet access at their house.

Toward the end of September, I moved to Würzburg (4 hours south, in between Frankfurt & Nürnberg) to do my junior year of college at Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (the University of Würzburg) with Deutsch als Fremdsprache (German as a Foreign Language) as my major. All my classes were regular German university classes with regular German students - no easy "foreign exchange" cake classes. :-P While I was there, I *did* long for home. I missed my family, and especially JB, since we were in the throes of young love. :-D Being away from him, my heart ached daily. [I can't help but think what a different experience going now would be. We didn't have internet access anywhere, except for in the sometimes-open university computer lab. If I could have caught up with my loved ones over text, email, & FB whenever my heart yearned, it would have been a completely different emotional world! As soon as I got on FB when we lived up north a few years ago, even my homesickness for the South was better soothed.]

But even though I battled Heimweh and heartsickness, I LOVED GERMANY AND EUROPE!!! Had my beloveds been there with me, I wouldn't have wanted to leave for years. I am a travel junkie (esp. when I have my nest to come home to ;-)) and I am obsessed with foreign cultures. (There's that sociology minor, again :-P) Liking this Würzburg erleben FB page has been sending me down the Autobahn of nostalgia now on a daily basis! I truly feel like Würzburg is one of "my towns". I get all giddy when they post pictures, and I know exactly how I used to get there from my apartment. Every picture I see that truly captures what *I* remember as *my* Würzburg, I think, "I want to blog that, so people can see another place that holds a part of my heart!" They post at least one photo live every day of what Wü looks like today. :-) I feel so connected lately! (It also helps that I have several native Wü friends who still live there and talk to me auf Deutsch on FB, too. I have to look up 60% of my vocabulary words now to respond, but I can still understand everything they write. :-))

So because it holds such a deep place in my heart, here are some images of *my* Würzburg:

Ariel view showing the famous palace [die Residenz] that I used to live behind, just separated by that ring of trees [der Ringpark], and my old apartment at the purple arrow:
[Click to see these bigger!]

Looking into the city from the fortress/castle [Festung Marienberg] on the hill:
I used to live behind that ring of trees in the city on the right.

Looking back up at the Festung Marienberg [fortress/castle] on the hill:
On the hill at the base of the Festung: all that green = grapes for wine. Würzburg is famous for their wine and is completely surrounded by vineyards.

The famous palace [die Residenz] that I used to live behind. From the front:
And from the back:

The old city hall [das alte Rathaus] & fountain:
(Every time I see a pic of this fountain, I try to see the arms of the cherubs that decorate it. I may or may not know of a rock climber from New York who thought it would be cool to scale the fountain late one night...and BROKE HISTORY by knocking off an arm! He wasn't even under the influence of the local Wein!)

The Christmas Market [Weihnachtsmarkt] in December:

These are the ones that just struck me today, looking through the FB page. They make my heart happy. :-) I absolutely DREAM of JB & me taking the kids back to visit one day!!!


Edited to add: After posting this, I have gone into German-overdrive! I spent the whole drive to pick up Annelise at Montessori Kindy talking to myself in German - no English allowed - and I came up with the words auf Deutsch for almost every thought I had! It's a pretty big revelation that I remember a LOT more than I think I do. It's all still in my head; I just get Lampenfieber (stage fright) when it has to come out of my mouth in front of native speakers. I'm too much of a Perfektionistin!

Leo & Blue with Coupons

I had a $5 credit left from a local coupon deal at an embroidery shop here, so I took Annelise's classic black dance leotard in to be monogrammed. (I am a dancewear purist - no crazy designs or (heaven forbid!) cartoon characters; but two other girls had appliqués of their first initials on their leos - SO CUTE, and it got my wheels turning.) The only décor I could could imagine still looking clean & classic - her monogram in ballet-tight pink:
We both squealed with delight when we picked it up!!! :-D She was SO proud & excited to wear it to tap Wednesday!

After dance, I told the kids we would get a special treat (since they went nonstop with dance, football & cheer Monday & Tuesday) using another local coupon deal I had gotten:
There are not words for how disgusting Maggie Moo's vibrant-stain-everything-dark-turquoise cotton candy ice cream is. *shudder* (And I usually can't find anything too sweet for me!) Gag. At least it was with a major coupon... I can't imagine truly paying for that! :-O :-P I love how cute the kids are here, but looking at this again seriously makes me want to go find a salt lick! One of my German friends from when I lived in Würzburg, Germany said the German word for this gross, blue ice cream is Schlumpf-Eis. Translation: "smurf ice cream" - that sums it up pretty perfectly!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fig & Honey Clafoutis

"Fig & Honey Clafoutis" How dreamy does THAT sound?! Clafoutis (pronounced "klah-foo-TEE") is a traditional French fruit pudding that sounds super fancy, but is SO EASY to make. I saw a high fat (heavy cream) recipe that got me obsessing, especially after getting such amazing honey at Savannah Bee Company! I researched lighter clafoutis recipes and developed my own slimmed-down version for this one:

•fresh figs, halved (Mine were small, so I used 12.)
•3 eggs
•1/3 cup honey
•1 cup low-fat milk (I used skim.)
•1 tsp vanilla extract
•Pinch of salt
•2/3 cup white whole wheat flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Arrange the halved figs, face up, in the bottom of the pie plate. Set aside to make the custard.

Combine the rest of the ingredients, except flour, in the blender and whizz for about 15 seconds. Add flour and blend another 15 seconds or so, until the mixture is completely smooth.

Slowly and gently pour the custard over the figs.

Bake for ~45 minutes, or until top is lightly browned and custard is set.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Not a fig fan? This recipe is so versatile: plums, cherries, be creative! But, me - I love figs. They make me think of my Grandmommy. She has had a fig tree beside her house for longer than I've been alive. It's right on the side of the house where you park & get out or where you hug & wave good-bye, so figs just invoke "Grandmommy greetings" for me. I always think, too, of the constant battle she waged against the birds to preserve our harvest by wrapping the whole thing in netting, just as the figs showed the very first signs of ripening. :-) Food is best when it invokes happy memories!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Zumba Certification

This Sunday I completed the Zumba certification course to become a licensed Zumba instructor! This is a BIG deal for me!

I was nervous & slightly intimidated before I actually showed up, (without a fun training buddy doing this with me.) How many people in the long-sold-out training would be professional fitness instructors? Already teaching other classes? Would I have the endurance to make it all day? We had to be at training by 8:15 AM...and it was non-stop until 6 PM. Yeeeeah.

I felt OK, though, as soon as I got into the studio room. There was a really encouraging vibe from the start, and I just jumped right in. Our "education specialist" Erick Santana began with an hour-long master class. I wanted to pace myself, but it's hard for a self-proclaimed show-off to not want to impress. :-P (Esp. in a situation like this where EVERYONE is *good*, I knew I had to work.) About 45 minutes in, Erick said he was going to preview a rhythm from the next level's training...and pulled ME up onstage with another instructor to demonstrate. I guess he saw I wasn't afraid to shake my hips, b/c it was a belly dance routine! :-P That sealed the deal on my confidence level. :-D

The rest of the day looked like this:
Warm Up Drill w/ Music
Basic Steps for Merengue
Lunch
Zumba Instructor Network info
Basic Steps for Salsa
Cueing
Basic Steps for Cumbia
Basic Steps for Reggaeton

I really felt awesome, b/c Erick pulled me aside to say what an "amazing, engaging personality I have" [just while dancing; we never spoke otherwise] and that I will be "such an incredible, dynamic instructor." Wow. Wow. Wow.

This is a major "personal best" for me, and I am SO THANKFUL God calmed my nerves *AND* my itchy, ant-bitten feet! [I was so scared to wear socks & shoes and have the friction make the itch even worse. Thankfully, I wasn't bothered by them until we walked in the house last night! PRAISE!] Now I'm giving finding the perfect classes for me to teach up to Him, too. I talked with the owner of Sissy's dance studio today, and I need to follow up with church. There's a lot of demand, but we'll see if I can fill classes during the hours *I* want to teach, (while the kids are in school. I don't want this to take my time away from them, and I still have [& want] to be our primary activity chauffeur. :-D The military base here just posted a want ad in the paper today for a Zumba instructor, but the hours are 6-7 PM Mondays & Wednesdays = impossible for me with football/cheer/t-ball at those times. Praying for God to provide & work out some sessions b/t 9 AM & 2 PM for me! :-))

So I'm excited to see what God does with me through this! Now to bed...b/c I am feeling muscles I did not even know existed...and they're aching more & more with each passing hour. :-P

[Erick Santana, Zumba Education Specialist and *ME*, Licensed Zumba Instructor :-D]

Kids in Savannah

We took a short family vacay back to Savannah (for the 2nd time in a month & in my life) this weekend for me to attend my Zumba certification conference (all day Sunday.) On Saturday, we introduced the kids to French frozen hot chocolates at The Paris Market & the wonders of Savannah Bee Company right off the bat. Annelise said Savannah Bee was the highlight of her whole trip!
Apple, raw honeycomb, & white cheddar = pure heaven!!! (See all the fresh honeycomb over Will's shoulder? Mmmmmm...) They also had a ball playing inside the kids' bee hive play area. :-)

They loved seeing all the huge ships on the river and cool monuments along the way...

We took them to Saturday night dinner at our beloved The Olde Pink House and to brunch at Rocks on the River Modern Grill earrrrrly at 7 AM on Sunday, (so I could get to Zumba.) Why go back to places we'd already been with so many culinary options in town? Since we only had one dinner and one breakfast there, I wanted to be *SURE* they would be stellar! Plus, I have literally been dreaming of the fried green tomatoes with sweet corn cream & topped with applewood smoked bacon and sweet & sour purple cabbage, as well as the chicken & waffle sliders with Boursin cheese, pepper jam, baby arugula, stone-ground Dijon mustard, & lightly dusted with powdered sugar. Next time we'll branch out...no, really -  we will! ;-)

While I was in my licensing course, Daddy took the kids back to the hotel to swim before checkout. (Kids always think hotels are pure magic! :-D We stayed at the Savannah Riverfront Marriott, since JB had the points built up from all that business travel he used to do. YAY!!!) Afterwards, they went to the Roundhouse Railroad Museum. (We warned the kids it was a museum, not an amusement park like Tweetsie, but they were still slightly underwhelmed by the super short train ride. :-P)
This screams: "I don't need no stinking history, just run the train!" HA!!!

They slept like rocks the whole ride home and were totally ready for school Monday morning. I'm so excited that we got so much mileage (no pun intended!) out of this trip! :-D

Friday, September 23, 2011

*THE* Easy Healthy Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Muffins & Fall Favor

The first day of fall = perfect time to bake our first batch of the famed healthy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins this season! (Apparently extra good timing, as Sis pointed out we forgot to make Babe a bday cake last month, so she can have these to celebrate! :-))

Reciplease? CRAZY EASY:
1 box spice cake mix
1 15 oz. can 100% pure pumpkin
1 cup chocolate chips
Mix it all together and bake at 350°
Mini muffins ~12 min
Regular muffins ~17 min
(This recipe usually makes ~36 minis & 6 regulars for me.)

Simple, healthy, (no butter or oil! extra vitamin A!) and so moist, they almost melt in your mouth like truffles! :-D

Speaking of the first day of fall - y'all, I don't have enough words for how happy I am *NOT* to dread fall this year. It was always my favorite season, growing up - pumpkins! football! - but the last five years up north turned my love into melancholy ennui. For me up there, it heralded the coming snow (it SNOWED on Oct. 13th that 1st fall - you can understand my freaking!) and ushered in a spiral of depression that lasted until the flowers bloomed (...the end of April, which also depressed me, b/c at home they bloom first of March.) I was too cold to enjoy hayrides, etc. up there. My body physically could not acclimate to the colder weather, and all fall became to me was the death knell of my comfort. But NOW?!?! I am thrilled to pieces to be back in Southern fall!!! From now through Thanksgiving: the flavors of pumpkin spice mingling with warm sunshine, where you can enjoy a hayride out to the pumpkin patch w/o wearing 5 layers of clothes or huddling for warmth in the wind, where you use a bonfire just for s'mores & not b/c you would freeze to death w/o it, where you can wear long-sleeved t-shirts w/o your winter coat & still get to look super cute at football games, where you can take your kids to the high school game on Friday night w/o their snowsuits, where you don't have to worry about ice or snow messing up your Thanksgiving travel plans, and where you can actually see what kids are for Halloween b/c you don't have to put turtlenecks under and scarves & snowsuits over your kids' Halloween costumes! :-D I'm so excited that people will be able to see what clothes I have on from October-April, instead of only seeing me in my formerly-omnipresent grey coat that I was always too cold to take off, even in restaurants. :-P Seriously, everyone loves & has personal pride in their home areas :-), and bless you, if the cold doesn't bother you; but PRAISE GOD that He has seen fit to send me & my family back to my home climate! :-D

Random Act of Camaraderie

I saw a piece of paper under my wiper as I approached the van. Dread. Someone hit me & left their info? I couldn't think of anything good it could be... but then *this*. (I have a Redskins cling sticker on my rear windshield.) ABSOLUTELY MADE MY DAY! :-D ♫♪Hail to the Redskins!!! Hail victory!!!♫♪

Thursday, September 22, 2011

ReFRESHed

I have spent the last three days while the kids were at school at the ReFRESH conference at church.

[In the last few months, we seem to have finally ended up back at Sherwood. I absolutely LOVE my new Sunday School class, and even though I don't love Will having to sit in "big church" with me the whole time & I don't see me singing with their Praise Team at this point, I am getting SO MUCH out of some really in-depth Bible study. Yes, this is the Fireproof and now Courageous (coming out next week!) church...which is really cool!!! But even cooler, they don't wallow in that. I would have thought they would have had a whole Courageous-esque sermon series leading up to the release next week; nope. We've been talking about Habakkuk & God's control. Alex Kendrick (*the* movie man :-P) is in my Sunday School class, but there's no special focus or attention whatsoever. (Side bar: I 100% admit, I'm still a little starstruck when I see him. The Love Dare reinvigorated our marriage a couple years ago when we were all the way up in Chicago; who would have ever guessed in a zillion years I'd end up in Sunday School with the man responsible for that? THAT *IS* still HUGE to me!) We're not even having a special congregational Courageous screening. The fact that this church does such huge things on a national scale like this but stays grounded & humble is...welcoming. :-)]

Anyway, back to ReFRESH... another huge event this church can put on with speakers from all over the country; since it was in my own backyard with daytime sessions, why wouldn't I go? Here's their description:
ReFRESH is a conference for those who thirst for revival. It’s not about church growth or the latest worship fads. It’s a time for you to come apart from the distractions and chaos of life and seek the face of God. We invite you to join us to experience times of refreshing in the presence of the Lord. ReFRESH is specially designed to give you ample time for private reflection and relaxation.

It was like a revival, but not in the way *I* think of the traditional Southern Baptist "revivals" I grew up (skipping.) This was not about dragging as many people as possible in to get saved. I went to seven sessions this week, and there was not one real altar call. (Of course there were pastors around to speak to, if you wanted to talk about it, but "getting saved" was not the focus.) This was about each person's own personal growth in Christ. Plain & simple. I went to the 10:30 sessions in the main sanctuary and then the following lunch sessions at 11:45 in the fellowship hall; I had two friends to sit with, which was really lovely, (but it felt comforting knowing I'd still show up & be OK even on my own. :-))

They posted a pic of us at one of the lunch sessions in the fellowship hall on FB:
[I'm so easy to find - longest hair, yellow table, bottom center. :-P] During this pic, one of the best violinists in the country was playing an absolutely amazing hymn. Music so often speaks to my soul even more deeply than any spoken teaching...

But the teaching was great. Sermon notes I want to remember:

* The moment we put our fingerprints on anything, God takes His hand off it. (Trust His plans completely; don't waste your life trying to work it all out on your own.)

* It takes a steady hand to carry a full cup [of life], to not spill and stain the floor, to not become self-righteous thinking we filled it ourselves, instead of God.

* Don't ever take credit for what God has done - the pride of self-sufficiency, the snare of success. I is the central letter of pride. What once was useful can be cast aside; don't risk God setting you aside - 2 Chron 26Matthew 23:12

* Be used for the purpose for which you were created. We're not created to be an expensive showplace for what we have.

* Talk honestly about what God is doing in your life! Malachi 3:16

* Pray for our kids to encounter God in a significant way to keep them connected to Him. (You can't shove & force them into relationship with God. Pray for God to make it happen.)

* Re: wrestling with God: He never gets angry at honesty, (at your honest questions and coming before Him saying how you honestly feel.) He will graciously correct us. But He will judge hypocrisy.

* What does God need to refine or remove before His power can manifest in you? In our church?

* Focus on Him! No master plan, just the Master. The call, the vision comes from God alone - not a committee, a think tank, or a majority vote.

* GOD IS NOT IMPRESSED BY THE INTELLIGENCE OF THE PERSON IN YOUR SEAT.

* Wait on the Holy Spirit - Acts 1:8 - our gift to guide and direct us.

* We are warriors for God.

* Re: patience: think about how long God has waited on *us* to come around to Him.

* We will be threshed until all we want is Him. The threshing floor: where things are laid open to be trampled for better future use; it's a high place with nowhere to hide; the wind (breath of God) separates the good from worthless chaff; the good stuff is then broken down even further; it's a personal private place of grieving (Genesis 50:10); also of new beginnings that always cost us something; a place of obedience, faithfulness, & waiting; and of warning & destruction for those who do not take God (the thresher) seriously

* NOTHING should hold us back after the victories God has given us!

* Many of us still tremble at the thought of giving God our all, but when we do, God will step in & the Holy Spirit will comfort us.

* What do we have? Acts 3:1-8 - the greatest thing the lame man at the Beautiful gate thinks he can get is money. The people (the worshippers) also thought the greatest they could give him was money. So shallow!!! When you start handing out the lesser, people will come & only expect that.

* We have: a calling to be & believe, the name of Jesus, power in the Holy Spirit, the protection & accompaniment of God Himself, grace - God's riches at Christ's expense, love, peace, the way, the truth, the life, and the Good News!

* If we feel burdened by the message we have to share or by walking the walk, it's OK & right to tell God; ask Him to take the feeling of burden away.

* Crucible analogy: Proverbs 17:3 Testing shows what the substance is made of. Fire cleanses and destroys what is unfit. Painfully slow but perfectly pure. God sits as the Moderator of the heat in our firing. Malachi 3:3 says He *SITS* as a refiner & purifier - he doesn't pace.

* God didn't beat us into salvation; He loved us into salvation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Coat of Many Colors

Annelise made a "coat of many colors" (Genesis 37:3) at Sunday School this week:
This just made my heart so full! My Grandmommy used to tell my brother & me that Bible story over & over & over at bedtime. My memories are especially strong of having her tell it when we were all piled together in her bed on vacay at the beach, (along with Br'er Rabbit & the Tar Baby! Our FAVORITE!!! :-))

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Football Opening Day

Today was Opening Day of our FIRST youth tackle football season! We started with Opening Ceremonies at 9 AM...
...and bless our hearts, it was FREEZING! [My dear Liz in PA asked, "okay seriously...what is 'freezing' in GA? :)" Valid query! :-P But it was truly in the low 60's before the sun came out! With wind & no sleeves, it was so cold Annelise's arms began to break out a little (:-O), so I gave her my jacket. This was at 9 AM, though, so by 11:15 when our game started, we were all fine & well over 70°. WHEW! No more morning games now, either - the rest will be at 6:15 PM on weeknights, and I got Sis a cute hoodie that I'm getting monogrammed (of course!) :-D] After everyone's name was announced, the invocation (LOVE being back where they pray before games!!!), & the Star-Spangled Banner, we all split to our respective fields.

Will's pre-game warm-ups:

I don't have any pics of my squad cheering today, b/c I was coaching the whole time, but it *was* picture day, so courtesy of Daddy:
Annelise & the girls did a FANTASTIC job! I was so proud of them, and it felt *GREAT* to have all the parents be visibly satisfied & pleased. :-)

Will's team pics were during the game we cheered, so again, from Daddy:

This is how Annelise spent a lot of Will's game:

Will is #2 on the 7&8-year-old Falcons. He played right tight end and left defensive end today:
Even though his Falcons lost, Will turned into a defensive machine after the 1st quarter! He made many tackles, caused three fumbles & recovered two, and he made an open-field tackle to save a break-away touchdown!

This is one of my absolute BIGGEST mommy-dreams come true!!! :-D

Friday, September 16, 2011

Gelish Joy - At Home!

Bursting with excitement: my do-it-at-home Gelish kit arrived this week!


Gelish is a UV- or LED-cured nail polish that lasts for WEEKS, like fake gel nails, but won't damage your natural nail beds at all. My nails grow SO long & strong with it on, and it doesn't chip for 3 weeks! It's another brand like OPI's Axxium that I've been raving about since last November, but Gelish is easier to apply & has waaay more colors. My BFF Ashley in TX posted on FB that she bought the light & stuff to do hers at home. Why didn't I think of that?!?! (It's $30-$50 a pop in salons; mine here is $30, and I cannot bring myself to pay that more than every few months - yes, I am a Queen of Frugality. :-P) I figured, if I bought a kit to do it at home, it would pay for itself in less than 3 applications! Plus, I wouldn't try to make my gel manis last over a month (when they *do* start to chip) anymore, just b/c I'm too cheap to pay, again. :-D

Another bonus: I could [try to] do Annelise's nails! [My beautiful princess is a grossy gross double-finger sucker. (Index & middle together, left hand.) I *hate* it. It was cute at 2 months, but at 5 years, the novelty is gone. She LOVES everything super girly - esp. getting nails done - but she literally sucks the polish off those two fingers right away, (gag) so I won't do her nails, anymore. There should be no way she can suck this stuff off, though...] Finally, I like my glittery polishes to look like a glitter bomb went off on my nails, and at the salon, it's like pulling teeth to get them to do more than 2 layers. At home, I can make the glitter as heavy as I want! ;-)

The mini light in my kit is an LED instead of a UV - quicker and safer for your skin! I got three polish colors: Bronzed - a gold glitter, Light Elegant - a solid pink shimmer, and Ali Baba's Sim Sala Bam - a new Aurora Gelish EFX special effects polish, purple with tiny holographic microglitter = could there be anything more *me*? ;-)

I dove into my first application (with the Sim Sala Bam) today, without letting myself consider messing them up. ;-) [I absolutely recommed this at-home system!!! But I would go in and have a salon application one time first, if you've never tried it, just so you can understand how the layers go on, without the pressure of figuring out by yourself. I, myself, am a VERY HEAVY polisher, so it was important for me to understand how thin these layers need to go on to cure properly.]


I just *LOVELOVELOVE* this finished product! It looks SO MUCH BETTER - smoother, shinier - than regular manis, and the biggest bonus: it's instantly 100% dry by the last step. NO NICKS!!! I *always* nick my nails after a regular mani, like 3 hours later. It makes me feel like I totally wasted my time and/or money. Not with this! I'm also apparently very tough on my nails - I've NEVER had a regular mani not chip at all by day 3. EVER. No worries with that now!


The only drawback to Gelish (or any UV/LED-cured polish - Axxium, Shellac, etc.) is that it takes a lot longer to apply: there's a foundation layer, then 2-3 polish layers, and a top layer - all which have to cure 1-3 min per layer. When you do it yourself, you can only do one hand at a time and then your thumbs together last. That's 3 times you have to go through the application process (each hand & then thumbs) but it's still worth it! It took me about an hour & a half (first time, going sloooow) but they are 100% perfect; and had I polished them regularly, I *still* wouldn't have trusted them to be unnickably dry in that time.


[Disclaimer: Gelish is not compensating me in ANY way (unfortunately!!!) for this glowing review. I just genuinely ADORE this product!]

Friday Randoms


* Will lost his 5th tooth yesterday at school while eating his apple for snack. His sweet teacher even sent home a "Dear Tooth Fairy" note for Will to put under his pillow explaining that he swallowed it. :-D (I never swallowed a baby tooth when I was little. Did y'all?) The tooth fairy came during a Project Runway commercial break. ;-) She took the note and sprinkled blue glitter on the quarters in her (super frugal) wake. [I've heard of kids now getting $5-$20 per tooth. Will gets 50¢. He says his tooth fairy is "very reasonable." :-D]

* I was invited in to observe Annelise in her Montessori Kindergarten for a few minutes first thing today before I went to Zumba:
Here she is doing "movable alphabet" work; she was verbally told this sentence, picked out the letters, and spelled it on her own. I don't think I could do that until 2nd grade! Bursting with pride over here!!! She just blows me away. Will is sooooo good at math, but I agonize over his spelling. It just kind of makes me sigh with some relief that I'm obviously not going to have the same concerns with her. (Not to say we won't have different ones, but...) I just feel so blessed that both of our kids LOVE school and WANT to do well! :-D

* It was actually kind of nice to walk out of Zumba this morning and NOT get hit by a wall of steamy air hotter than I already was. Maybe I am ready for fall? (And by that I mean SOUTH GA FALL - like 70's. *NOT* northern fall with frost & snow suits. :-P) I can't even tell you the joy I have over NOT dreading fall for the first time in 5 years! It can be my favorite season, again. :-)

* Excited for my nails!!!

* Crushed to bits over the surprise closing this week of our favorite local pizzeria. :'( Will actually burst into hysterical tears for about 10 minutes; it was close to the sound he makes when our time is up with LaLa. I am 100% sure that the NASTY new Pizza Hut was the final nail in their coffin. Not that I would ever eat there in the first place, (PH is my least fave pizza on earth!) but I am super boycotting it now. SHOP LOCAL, PEOPLE!!!

* Sleeping with our windows open now is dreamy!

* Ann Voskamp offered this wonderfulness: "The bravest love is wildly faithful and it falls hard again every morning... It’s grace and fresh gratitude that can make us strong enough to marvel in the seeming monotony of anything. And the happily married have eyes that look long enough to make the familiar new." ♥ ♥ ♥