Friday, November 30, 2012

I Did It! Go Me!

This calls for a celebration and a glass of wine...or two!

Three things:

1)  It's Friday!!!  That alone is wine-worthy!

2)  This post will conclude my first NaBloPoMo Challenge and although I technically did not "hit publish" once a day for 30 days, I still am ending up with 30 posts for the month, so that's an A+ in my book!


3)  With all of your love and support (and putting up with harassing posts on Twitter and Facebook), I have accomplished my goal of being in the Circle Of Moms Top 25 Family Blogs By Moms of 2012!  It was a close call, because the margins were very tight for awhile, but after a good campaign and convincing myself that I shouldn't give up, I totally surpassed my goal of being #25 and placed in 16th!

Check out my shiny new badge!

I am in Circle of Moms Top 25 Family Blogs by Moms - 2012!
Pretty cool huh?

So with that introduction, I'd like to actually write my post for today.  During this month, I had only used one other blog prompt to write about the last compliment I received.  Today, since it's so applicable, I am going to use the blog prompt for today and that is What Has Been The Hardest Part About Blogging Daily?

Well friends, there have been a few hard parts about blogging daily.

Time-  Where can you find time to blog everyday for 30 days straight? It's especially hard during a month with a big holiday, that includes dinner that you cooked and host it at your house.  It's extra especially hard with a 13 1/2 month old baby who just started walking and you now have to chase all over the house.    Oh and not to mention the difficulty having a husband who still suffers from frequent headaches and foot aches now that it's cold out (from a previous accident).  Even when he gets home there's not much that he can do lately other than give our daughter her nightly bath (along with many other things I appreciate so much) and relax on the couch until it's time for bed.  By the time I am able to sit down with my cup of hot tea and kick my feet up on the recliner, I am beat!  It was all I had some nights to get in a blog post and hit that publish button minutes before midnight.

Content-  What the heck do I write about?  I knew that finding something to write about for 30 days was going to be a challenge, but I didn't exactly realize how much of a challenge it was.  I tried very hard not to use the given blog prompts (mentioned above), and have all of them come from ideas in my head, but it was hard!  There were a few posts that I started to type out, thinking it was going to be a good and fairly lengthy post, but ended up deleting it because it didn't feel right.  I didn't feel passionate enough about one aspect of it and was scattered all over the place with my topic (which I tend to do often).  I accepted this challenge to try to become a better writer, not to repeat my already known mistakes.  Ugh!  So needless to say some posts were mainly of pictures or videos and I'm okay with that.  This is a "Foto Friendly Family" blog anyway.

Motivation-  I signed up for this challenge joined in virtual hands of my friend Sandra over at "Letters of Muse" where she participated in NaBloPoMo with me writing in her other blog "Promptly I Write".  We both have tried to keep up with reading and commenting on each other's daily posts and sending the occasional tweet for motivation, but most days it just didn't happen.  Like most adults do, we have lives.  We have kids.  We can't always be sucked into a computer for hours on end to come up with and write our own stuff...let alone try to be there for your blogging buddies as motivation and inspiration.  It's been very difficult and I feel as though I have let my readers down because I have not been reading or commenting on their blogs.  It's not that I don't enjoy them.  There's just never enough hours in the day.  Luckily Twitter was able to help us stay connected as we were all going through the same "suffering" and we were able to give words of encouragement to keep going and not give up.  As well as a little writing community called Studio 30 Plus where I have met some fellow writers who participated in this challenge and have fought tooth and nail to stay in the game just as I have.  Thank you, friends, for your words of encouragement and motivation!

With all of these reasons why blogging daily was difficult, I will say that this has been very rewarding for me. After falling into a slump of life where I didn't know which way I was going and how I was going to get there, I hadn't been blogging for weeks at a time.  This saddened me because I love blogging!  This is my out, my vent.  This is my little piece of the blogosphere that I can call my own.  This is where I discover myself as a person, as a mother and as a wife, every day.  This is where I meet new friends who are just like me and sometimes even have the same struggles as me.  It's very comforting to know you're not alone.  :)
I am so proud that I did this! It is very self rewarding and definitely boosted my confidence with writing. I think I did an awesome job for my first NaBloPoMo! Would you agree?

Now I'm taking a month off of blogging.....JUST KIDDING!  I'll be back soon!

***Be sure to check out Shareaholic's blog post for today.  One of their writers, Ginny, had reached out to me and has been in contact with me over the last couple of weeks and asked me to be featured in this post.  Of course I said yes!

Until next time NaBloPoMo... a LONG time from now ;)

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Feeling The Love For Votes

As you may know, in addition to trying to catch up on NaBloPoMo for this month, I have also been campaigning for votes to be in the top 25 of Family Blogs by Moms of 2012 through Circle Of Moms.

I was nominated earlier this month by a very sweet anonymous person (again, whoever you are, THANK YOU!).

As my second to last post for the month, I am using this post to promote votes for my blog!  Please go to this site and click vote.  I would really love to win this award and have a sparkly new badge for my blog to display.

You can also click this badge to see what place I'm currently in!  Voting ends tonight at 4pm PST!

Thank you to all of my family, friends, and blogging buddies for all of your daily votes and for recruiting more votes, as this means so much to me coming up on my one year Blogger-versary!

Love to you all!

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Technically Not A First Christmas

Our First Christmas as a Family's Ornaments

Technically it's not Annaliese's first Christmas.

She was a young 2 1/2 month old when Christmas came around last year.  Justin and I had intentions of decorating the house and putting up a tree because we were excited for Christmas as a new family of three.  But sadly, as you know, because of my father in law passing away on December 15th, we no longer had the Christmas spirit left in us to do any bit of decorating or wrapping, or singing or baking.  We just wanted to sit and cry together as a family.  There were no pictures taken other than Annaliese in her Christmas PJs on that Christmas day.

Annaliese in her Christmas PJs on Christmas Day
THIS YEAR is a whole new world for Annaliese.  Justin and I are excited about Christmas this year.  We've already begun playing Christmas music, we have put up our Christmas tree and decorated it with loving ornaments from Justin and I's childhood, we've hung our stockings, we've watched Christmas classics like Charlie Brown Christmas and Muppets Christmas Carol, and soon, I'll be whipping up some yummy cookies to hand out to the family.

Justin and I's First Christmas ornaments

Very intrigued by the lights

"Our First Christmas" ornament from 2010

Sammie enjoying the Christmas tree

Annaliese's first Christmas ornament next to one of daddy's guitar ornaments

I can't wait to take many many pictures and videos of this "First" Christmas with our (will be) 14 1/2 month old.  She will be so spoiled by her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles that we may need a bigger toy box after this ;)

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cassie, The Independent Consultant?

Hello everyone!  Please take a seat.  

My name is Cassie and I am your independent consultant for today.

Thank you for having me in your beautiful home with delicious snacks and beverages to indulge in while I share with you the reasons you should buy the products I represent.

Does this sound like me?  It could, I guess.  Lately, it's been weighing on my mind heavily whether or not it is me.

After Annaliese's birthday party in October, Justin and I decided that if we wanted to stay on track to buy a house next year, that it would be best if I went back to work.  *Boooooooooo!*
Buying a home is a huge deal and it's been a goal of Justin and I's since we got married.  Little did we know that it was in God's plan for us to have a baby before buying a house...which we're okay with.  ;)
I know, I know...  Going back to work is not the worst thing in the world.  I guess I just didn't see myself going back to work until after we were done having kids and possibly even after I finished school.  But as you know every household is more financially stable with 2 incomes, so a mommy has to do what a mommy has to do.

So with that being said, I have been on the hunt keeping in mind our 2 options.  I could go back to work part time in the evenings and weekends and make a couple hundred dollars a month extra, still stay at home with Annaliese during the day, and lose our family evening and weekend time OR I could go back to work full time Monday - Friday making a decent amount of money, take Annaliese to a babysitter, and pay a small fortune for daycare while trusting someone else to help discipline and raise my child while mommy and daddy are at work.  UGH!  Both options sound hard to swallow, especially after being a stay at home mom for almost 14 months.  I have applied for a few part time evening jobs prior to Black Friday and played phone tag with people for weeks.  Then I started applying to my old employer hoping to get a full time job there, but so far no luck.

However lately I have been wondering about becoming an independent consultant.  You know, those people (usually women) who sell Avon, Pampered Chef, Longaberger, Tastefully Simple, Mary Kay, Thirty-One, Scentsy, Tupperware, Lia Sophia ...just to name a few.  Ahem.  The sad part is, I know someone who sells each and every one of the brands I just mentioned.  My sister in law, Jenn, just began selling Thirty-One.  Click here to check out her website and contact her with any questions you may have about their fun and stylish products.  AND while I'm here, my mother,Teena, sells Lia Sophia Jewelry (which I LOVE).  Click here to go to her website and see if any of their stuff catches your eye.  Both Thirty-One and Lia Sophia always have awesome monthly specials!  I own a lot of both!  What girl doesn't love bags and jewelry?!

So why turn to sales?  Well I have never considered myself to be a sales person before.  In fact, I am not good at all at pushing a product down someone's throat and convincing them to pay top dollar for my product because it's the best.  Well then again I have never tried to.  I have been considering it because I know there are so many 'women' out there who sell this stuff and make a good living from it.  I know it's hard work, I know a lot of it is networking (which I'm becoming better at), but I am passionate about some of these brands and have used them for years and I believe that I could learn to be a good sales person.  Plus I would get to make my own schedule!

I think it would also benefit me by allowing me to work on my public speaking skills.  I have always had stage freight, but did really well in speech class (finished with an "A", thank you very much) probably more so because I HAD to in order to graduate.  This also applies to me when my friends like to write down a song to sing at Karaoke Night, and to my surprise when my name is announced, I can't possibly back down now, so I sing, and I do really well.  I guess it's that initial believing in yourself that I have an issue with...

Being a direct seller/independent consultant isn't your typical "work from home" job, because with the title, comes a lot of travel (depending).  I think that it would be a great thing for me to get out of the house more (other than my weekly trip to Target) and meet new people.  I love meeting new people!  I have always been very friendly and always had many friends and acquaintances so I think a job like this would allow me to take advantage of being physically social again.

Anyway, my head has been spinning about this for weeks now.  I have chatted with some friends that sell products, had conversations with "strangers" on Twitter about it, and even met with some over coffee to talk about it.  I think I have made my decision, but I want to ask you first.

Have you (or someone you know) ever sold a product as an independent consultant?  If so, how did you fair?  Did you enjoy it and all of the benefits?  Or did you not feel that the squeeze was worth the juice?

Still pondering...

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

I Could Have Been Blogging...

Over the last 5 days...

I could have been blogging but instead I was cooking a dinner for 7 people.

I could have been blogging but instead I was spending time with family all under one roof.

I could have been blogging but instead I was cleaning the house preparing for company.

I could have been blogging but instead I was visiting with family that drove 4 hours to see us for the weekend.

I could have been blogging but instead Justin and I took out the Christmas decorations.

I could have been blogging but instead we put up the tree and decorated it while the little one napped

I could have been blogging but instead I snapped pictures as Annaliese gazed up at all the lights on the tree.

I could have been blogging but instead I played with Annaliese and made her belly laugh so hard!

I have been trying my best to keep up with NaBloPoMo for the month, but it has been very challenging to actually write a post every day.  I think maybe I would've done better in March or something, when nothing else is going on.  November has so much going on and it's hard to write every day (but I assume that's why it's this month, so we have something to write about).  :)

But like a blogger friend once told me, you have to live your life in order to have something to blog about.  I will never forget those words, because they are so true.

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Friendly Photo Dump

This week's Monday Listicles is 10 Photos in Your Phone.  Yes I am taking this opportunity to have a "free day" in doing NaBloPoMo and will be sharing with you 10 pictures from my phone.  I am also considering this my "Friendly Photo Dump" too! :)

1. Annaliese and Daddy at a skating rink birthday party

2. Tippy Toes

3.  Annaliese checking out the doctors office when Mommy was sick

4.  Annaliese doing her baby yoga - "Downward Puppy"  

5.  Annaliese and a walk on a warm fall day

6. "You're a Winner in The Game Of Life" - game night

7.  My iPhone case from Shutterfly
8.  Big Pretty eyes

9.  Annaliese and Mommy at a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party

10.  Daddy reading a bedtime story to Annaliese

You can also find all of these pictures and more by following me on Instagram.

What random pictures do you find on your phone?

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Hard Part About Holidays

Holidays are typically classified as "The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year", and I agree.

I love the holidays!  It makes me feel like a kid again!  I love the Christmas lights!  I love wrapping presents!  I love baking cookies!  Most of all I love spending the whole day listening to holiday music and spending time with my family.

But as you know, sometimes the holidays aren't so happy.  Actually I'm almost certain that most all of us wish that we could share the holidays with someone who isn't here anymore.  Maybe it's someone who lives far away.  Maybe it's someone who is now in Heaven.  Maybe it's someone who lives close by, but you no longer talk to them.  This makes the holidays, in a sense...dreary.

It's hard to keep a happy face when you want just one room full of the tens of hundreds of people who were/are in your life to be under one roof, where you can kiss and hug them all.  Like for example, our wedding day.  I will always remember how I felt that day.  Almost 100 of our closest friends and family members came to share in our celebration and it meant the world to me.  Having family and friends travel from the scattered states New Jersey, Illinois, Tennessee, Florida and Colorado meant so, so much to me.  I had never been so touched and felt so loved in all my life.  If I could go back to that day, I would give my Yiayia and my father-in-law, Ron, just one more hug.

The holidays will never be the same without them here.  I know that death is a part of life and that they are in heaven which is the utmost majestic and gorgeous place to be, but it's only natural that we want them here...with us.

Last year I felt so robbed of the happiness of having a newborn with losing 2 close family members within the first 2 months of Annaliese's life.  This year, although they will be terribly missed, we do have things to look forward to like Annaliese being able to (maybe) unwrap her own gifts.  She will be interactive with us by walking around and playing with her new toys.  I cannot wait for this to happen and I am so excited this year for Christmas!

...but there's still that part of me that is down...and knows that this year will be especially hard for my mother in law and for Justin and his brother.

The best we can do is carry on and keep the deceased's memory alive.  That is, after all, what they would want us to do.  And for the people who are still here on earth and can't be with you for the holidays, give them a call, tell them how much you love and miss them.  Holidays are and always were about family, about love.

Happy Holidays! 

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Shades of Black Friday

[This may seem weird that my posts are coming through “late” with a date that has already taken place days ago, but this is my attempt at still participating in NaBloPoMo and having 30 posts for the 30 days of the month!]


Black Friday.  I have participated in the-day-after-Thanksgiving-chaos many times in the past and had fun doing so, but this year, I was almost insulted.  I’ll explain.

2 years ago I believe was my last time out.  Ate a huge Thanksgiving dinner, took a nap for a few hours and by midnight I was at the outlets with a friend.  We joined hundreds of other crazies, all in lines waiting for the stores to open the flood gates so we can all pour in.  I think we shopped till 7 or 8am.  I drove home with my bags of marked down items and was on a natural high for a week!  I had gotten most of my Christmas shopping done all in one day and only spent $XXX this amount is disguised as my husband is STILL trying to find out how much I spent (hehehe-just kidding).  Made it home and slept for the day...well most of it.

For years I have found that opening up at midnight was perfect.  It was "technically" Black Friday, if you ate Thanksgiving dinner by 3, or even 5 or 6 you could still get in a good nap before heading out to the shopping madness, you could still sit at the table and listen to Aunt Ethel listen to her childhood stories and watch the late football game.  You could even have dessert!  MMMMM, pie!

This year, many stores opened ON Thanksgiving.  Some stores at 6, 7, 8pm!  What happened to the Holiday?  What happened to spending nice quiet (sometimes not so quiet) quality time with family?  What happened to eating dessert!?  I have a hard time believing that all of those people finished their meal with dessert before they were out the door and ready to stand in line for hours!  Pfffft!  

In my opinion, I believe Thanksgiving is for family gatherings and expressing what you are thankful for and Black Friday is for shopping.  Period.  Keeping the two separate is what we need to keep society grounded, keep family values in play.  Suddenly holidays are more about shopping shopping, shopping and less about family, friends and love.  How will our children ever learn the real meaning of Thanksgiving and of Christmas when media and advertisements are being shoved down their throats?

Then I came across this quote and it just hit the nail right on the head!

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Many Thanks

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all that you are thankful for in your life.

I am thankful for my husband who supports me, talks with me, laughs with me and cries with me.

I am thankful for my daughter who reminds me everyday how strong love is and that life is short.

I am thankful for my mom, who has taught me how to take care of myself and not rely on others.

I am thankful for my dad, for bringing out the "kid at heart" in me and always being philosophical when needed.

I am thankful for my step mom, for always listening to me vent and being there for me.

I am thankful for my brother, for being my best friend (and punching bag) growing up.  We're always each other's biggest fan.

I am thankful for my mother in law who is one of the kindest and most giving people I have ever met and I am blessed to have her as a mother in law.

I am thankful for my brother in law, who is a great brother to Justin and always helps us with handy work around the house.

I am thankful for my sister in law, because we are close in age and personality and have also become friends over the years.

I am thankful for my friends, old and newer, who have stuck by me and been there for me through my good times and bad.

I am thankful for my blog for allowing me to grow as a person and  rediscover my love for writing.

I am thankful for my health and my endurance to still be smoke free.

I am thankful for sleep and my warm bed that I am able to rest in every night.

I am thankful for the food that nourishes our bodies especially on days like today.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!  Be thankful.

What are you thankful for on this day of giving thanks?

Please don't forget to click the CircleOfMoms badge below and vote for me for your Top 25 Family Blogs by Moms. :)  I'll be MOST thankful!

Circle of Moms Top 25 Family Blogs by Moms - 2012 - Vote for me!

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Something Is Missing...

I can't help but have this feeling that something is missing.

Someone is missing.

This Thanksgiving will be hard for our family because it is the first Thanksgiving without my father in law, Ron.  For the past 6 years of my life, he was there...

It already doesn't feel like it's been almost a year since we have not had his jokes, his words, his presence around us.  I remember a year ago on Thanksgiving, we had dinner over at Justin's aunt and uncle's house.  Ron was very weak and didn't feel well.  We, of course, had Annaliese with us and because she was still pretty new, everyone in the family wanted to hold her.  Ron was nervous to hold his granddaughter, but Justin's cousin Angie, placed her in his arms as if almost forcing him to hold her.  He stared down at her for about a minute as she slept peacefully, despite being passed around between family members.

That was the last time he was able to hold his one and only grandchild.

I wish this wasn't the case.  I wish we could have him back here, on earth to join us for Thanksgiving dinner once again.  I know he's in the best place there is to be, heaven.  He will be missed, as he is every single day.

We are thankful for the years that we had with him, and the few precious moments that we were able to see him enjoy his grand baby.  Those moments are the ones we will tell Annaliese about.  About how Ron was so weak and frail that he didn't want to hold her in fear of hurting her by not supporting her body well enough with the little strength he had.  But he was brave and welcomed her with opened arms to take in the few small moments he had with her.  She was his peace.

This Thanksgiving we are all so thankful of so much.  Especially the little things...the small precious moments.  The moments of pure joy and love.  That is what Thanksgiving is all about.  Being thankful for the love of family and of friends and the enormous strength you have when you come together and bond.

Being thankful comes easy to those who realize their blessings everyday.

Be thankful.

Be blessed.

Picture taken and edited by my sister in law, Jenn

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Annaliese And Her Two Feet

I can't even begin to tell you how I feel right now!

I woke up yesterday morning, to a funny girl reading her book in her crib.  Just an ordinary day.  Nothing new...
(I gave her the book...she doesn't normally sleep with a book)

Then by around 3pm in the afternoon, she's walking!  Just.  Like.  That.  Walking!  And she's been walking around the house like a pro, ever since!  Cutting corners, pivots, everything!  And everywhere too!

(Video was taken after dinner and a bath)

It's truly amazing how in literally just a blink of an eye, everything changed and another milestone was met.  Justin and I are SO proud of our growing girl!  Her aunts, uncles, and grandparents are all so very proud too!  Thanksgiving will be really fun now, with a good game of tag after dinner ;)

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lessons of 2012

I know, I know, it's been a long while since I have linked up with Stasha and joined her Monday Listicles.  I am ashamed I've gone this long without linking up, but sometimes there just isn't enough time for everything I want to do. (Okay, more than just sometimes) But today is a new day!

Today's topic is Lesson's I've Learned in 2012.

There are way more than 10 lessons I have learned in this past year, but for your sake, I'll limit my list to only 10.

1.  Setting a limit of eating out is a MUST
2.  Teaching a young'n the meaning of the word "no" is harder than I thought
3.  Blogging is good for me.  Good for my soul.
4.  How to make stuffed grape leaves (thanks, dad!)
5.  Beginner HTML code (that's right, future geek alert- thanks, hubby)
6.  How to balance a feeding baby in one hand and feed myself with the other
7.  How to smile through tough times because life is short
8.  The Gangnum Style Dance
9.  Sticking to a diet and exercise plan is HARD work
10.  My allergies have somehow gotten worse since I got pregnant

NaBloPoMo November 2012

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