Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Today's the last day!

Don't forget to sign up for the Survival Mode Parent free blog makeover(s) giveaway here!!! Today is the last day!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cowboy take me away



We have a love/hate relationship with the Dallas Cowboys. More specifically, Jack loves them and I hate them.

I didn't hate them before I married Jack (didn't really have any feelings for them whatsoever before I married Jack, actually), but he's pretty much ruined football for me. The way the Cowboys perform on Sunday afternoon or Monday night affects Jack's attitude so deeply that I don't even want to be around him if they're not in the lead. With every fumble, turnover, and penalty, Jack gets grumpier and yells louder, and if, heaven forbid, they actually lose the game, then you can count on the fact that the rest of our day is pretty much shot. He's ticked and he doesn't care who knows it.



Jack's love of the Cowboys was brainwashed into him acquired at a very young age, when he watched the Cowboys games with his dad at their East Texas home.



You can say it. He's adorable.

Now, I'll be honest, he's really cute when he gets all excited about a game. Just like when he was little, he still dresses up for his team, ready to cheer them on.



...even if it's a Sunday morning and he's still wearing the soccer shorts he wears to bed, which most definitely do not match his Romo jersey. Evidently his Romo jersey is "lucky." (Sometimes, I just wish it was a little luckier.)

The Cowboys played tonight, and I learned how quickly Jack can actually get home after work if he really wants to (an hour before he usually gets home, in case you were wondering. Amazing what happens when you don't stick around to chat with the students after class!).

And the first thing Jack did when he got home? Change into his lucky Cowboys jersey, of course.

And so they played. And he yelled. And he apologized to a frightened Maggie for his yelling. And I was glad I got to go to bed after the Cowboys game instead of dealing with his potential grumpiness if they lost. And then they scored. And he cheered. And they won. And he looked like this:



And I decided that I might not hate the Cowboys so much after all.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Not Me Monday!

Well, hello, "Not Me Monday," MckMama's weekly blog carnival. It's nice to see you again. It's been a while, hasn't it?

Last week, I did not finally admit to my friend Jessica that I had indeed blog-stalked her before our first meeting and found out that she has many hug-related pet peeves, which is how I knew not to offer one that day. That's not at all weird.

I did not eat a Wendy's Frosty, cucumbers, pickles, and wine for dinner on Friday night, and I definitely didn't also make my guest eat that kind of eclectic dinner since I didn't have anything else to feed her.

I will not go completely postal on anybody who makes a pregnancy reference because of the "eating weird food" thing from the previous paragraph.

I did not completely fall in love with SiteGrinder (a photoshop plug-in that turns Photoshop files into websites!) last night, try out the demo, and decide to spend the $130 on it, only to be sorely disappointed that they do not send the activation code until a weekday! I am much too patient to be antsy about when I can publish my new landing page for jackandmandy.com.

I did not eat all of the hummus I made (4 cups or so!) with two pounds of carrots almost-all by myself last week. I am not surprised that I have not turned orange yet.

I am not using "Not Me Monday" as an excuse to brag about the fact that I hemmed my Ikea curtains all by myself (and they don't even suck)! That is soooo not a big deal since clearly I'm a pro at using my sewing machine. And since I'm such a pro, I did not try to take the flipping thing apart with a screwdriver when the bobbin ran out because I didn't realize you could just open the little bobbin door. I do not need to read the manual. Or, you know, practice more.

My husband did not set his alarm clock for 10 p.m. instead of 10 a.m. on Saturday night, and so we definitely did not miss church yesterday because nothing woke us up until 10:40.

I did not just find out that one of my very best friends in the world has had a boyfriend for a month without my knowledge. It has not been so long since I talked to her that I'm completely out of touch with her love life.

My co-workers did not tease me mercilessly for attending a Taylor Swift concert, since her primary audience is roughly 8-16 years old. I did not drag my husband said concert despite the fact that he had no interest in going. (He did not end up enjoying it, though!)

I did not have any reason to send this tweet last week.

We do not have have 157 Survival Mode Parent volunteers signed up, and there are not only 3 days left to enter to win lots of blog makeovers from me for supporting Survival Mode Parent!!

[That was not a shameless plug for Survival Mode Parent!]

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A magical way to reinforce a ridiculous girl-crush

We had back-row seats. And by "back-row," I mean "back-to-the-wall" back-row. See?



But we didn't care. We were in the same building as she was. We would actually see her soon. We didn't even care that the entire row in front of us (as well as 80% of the rest of the crowd) was filled exclusively with 12-year-old girls. She would be performing tonight. And we loved her. So we were excited.

And then, like magic, there she was. And she was everything we had ever dreamed she would be.



She had costumes. She had dancers. And, as we excitedly anticipated...



...she did a quick change into a sparkly dress onstage. And I wondered whether she ever worried about forgetting to put the sparkly dress on under the first costume. She was adorable.




And my favorite thing about her, of course, is how sweet she is to her many, many fans. During my favorite song ("Hey Stephen," if you must know), when she showed up in the middle of the audience at the back of the building (in the section right below ours - squee!), it didn't surprise me that she walked down right through the middle of the audience, hugging as many people as she could on her way to this little stage at the back of the arena, where she sang a few songs for the people in the back of the audience. Because she loves every one of us.



...and then, of course, she did it again on her way back to the front stage.



...She acted out my favorite songs just as I pictured them in my head...






And she head-banged that beautiful curly blond hair. A lot. Even while playing the piano.



She banged on trash cans in rhythmic and enthusiastic fashion.



She came back in a Mavs jersey for the encore, and brought back her opening acts to sing with her.



...and she brought a bunch of very excited little kids onstage with her, despite the fact that they had a hard time getting all of them off the stage after the song was over.



And of course, she went out with a bang. Actually, with a splash.




And she was everything we dreamed she would be.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Really, Grey's!? Really??

Spoiler alert: Grey's Anatomy is idiotic. Also, real spoiler alert, I'm going to rant about everything that happened on Grey's tonight. So if you haven't seen it, either don't read this, or do read this and don't bother.

Are you freaking kidding me, Grey's?

Here's a memo to the writers: When your friend dies, you don't laugh at his funeral about the fact that he got hit by a bus. You don't try to have sex every moment in every place every day because you can't cry. What the crap? You don't snap at your wife for not being "seductive" when she misses her dead friend. You don't make fun of the girl who's in the accident with him if she's having a hard time about it, and you don't yell at her, even if the message is good. You don't refuse to call your mom when you get in an accident. You don't you don't you don't!!!

I'd rather watch The Office.

PS - Ellen Pompeo - You suck at fake-crying.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Remembered

I've always loved cemeteries.

I know it's weird. Some would even say it's morbid. But to me, cemeteries aren't a scary place (especially since I don't have anything to fear about death); they're a place of love.

Each grave-marker has a few words about who this person was, words written by loved ones who are trying to sum up their lives in the best way they know how. People come and place flowers on the graves of those they haven't forgotten. Every so often, you'll see somebody standing out there, or picnicking by one of these stones.

They haven't been forgotten.

The fact that somebody would come and place flowers (or, even better, plant flowers) at a place that doesn't mean much physically but signifies this person's place on Earth, is really sweet to me.

I realize it's something people do to grieve or cope, and that it doesn't make a difference to the dead person at all, but to love someone enough to waste your time and money on bringing a flower to their grave, well, that means something to me.

When Will died, I, like many others, was forced to face my own mortality and think about those who would be left behind when I go.

Would my funeral be packed like Will's was? Would they be sure that they would see me again? What stories would they tell about me? What am I leaving behind?

I hope they remember that I was always willing to share my scrapbooking supplies. I hope they remember me as witty and fun to be around. I hope they remember how much I loved the"close your eyes and hold out your hands" game. I hope they remember that I really did care about people. I hope they remember that I loved the ministry in which I worked. And I hope they remember that I loved my husband with every fiber of my being.

I hope I do something worth remembering.

But more importantly, I hope they remember that I loved Jesus Christ, and that for that reason, they will see me again someday if they have the same hope in Christ that I have. I hope they remember what He did for me.

I hope that I live my life so that when they remember me, they remember Him too.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Points for trying

Remember this tweet earlier today? Of course you do. I know you hang on my every tword. Don't pretend your lives don't revolve around me and only me.

Anyway.

Jack saw the tweet and spent his entire lunch break at Target looking for the soundtrack to RENT or RENT the movie.

You can say it.

Awwwwww.


He didn't find it, but I give him points for trying.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In which I copy/paste a large portion of my Facebook profile into a blog post to entertain you and get out of writing a real entry

How is it that I haven't shared my Facebook quotes with you, Mr. Blog?

Well, for those of you who don't have access to my Facebook profile (which is most of you, because as you all know, I'm quite the Facebook snob ), enjoy.

--

"You just... you just... make me a better person!! Ahh I don't know how to explain it." -Jack

"He is all that is man. He killed Chuck Norris and received his double blessing. He added an extra hour to Jack Bauer's 24 hour day. He saved John McClane's life." -Nathan Didlake, about my husband

Richard: "Tivo it!"
Christine: "I can't - it's broken! We're watching this live - like animals!"
-The New Adventures of Old Christine

"Now we can say our country has security Gates." -Shane Crawford, after finding out that Dr. Gates would be the next U.S. Secretary of Defense.

"Well if that clip is how you work stoned maybe we should find you a pusher..." -Daddy

"The ears have walls" -Daddy

"That's the thing about travel - you go different places." -Daddy

Dad: "Do you know how much you have in your college account?"
Me: "Um...no."
Dad: "Ballpark?"
Me: "Nah...not enough to buy a ballpark"
Jack: "See what you raised? You made it hard on all of us."

"We're soulmates. When one hurts, the other hurts." -Jack's dad, talking about Jack's mom.

"You love one way: you love in spite. You love regardless. You love even though. Because you love Christ, you love her." -Chuck Swindoll

"I mostly don't listen when your dad talks." -Mom

"You should keep Jesus in your phone...and in your heart." -Paris


Me: "Who do I have to sleep with around here to get a 3-hole punch?"
Erin: "Me."
Me: [Thinks for a minute] "Yeah, I could do that. I really need a 3-hole punch."
Erin: "Okay, I'll send you a meeting request.


"I'm reversing the feminist movement. I'm going to start wearing two bras." -Me, to my Comm boys

"People think kids say the darndest things, but so would you if you had no education." -Eugene Mirman

"I just need to 'Horn'buckle up!" -Ashlyn (age 5), getting buckled into my car.

"When everyone else praises him for how much money he makes, praise him for his devotion to Jesus, and for how he treats you as a wife." -Kyle Easley, at our wedding

Jack: "If we break up, I want all the presents I gave you back."
Mandy: "What are you going to do with my diamond earings? Give them to your next girlfriend?"
Jack: "Yeah, I'm going to need the box back too."

John Mark (our pastor, giving his sermon one Sunday): "Sometimes you want another set of cards in life, and you wish you had a re-deal."
Jack (leaning over and whispering to me): "I don't want a new hand. I love the one I was delt."

"I'm crazy about you, and I want you to know that if I had the choice between hanging out with anyone in the entire world or sitting at home with you, eating pizza and watching a crappy TV show, I'd choose you every time." -JD, Scrubs

"It feels really cool! Actually... a lot like gas." -Isa, about feeling her baby kick

Erin (at work, at lunch): "Have you ever played the game 'warshers?'"
Everybody else: "WaRshers?" [Lots of laughing and teasing about saying "washers" with an "r"]
Donna: "What do you do with your clothes?"
Erin: "Oh, you keep them on!"

Making her "Jack & Mandy - The Blog" debut...



Miss Allison Leslie Schultz, 6lbs 3oz.
Our new baby cousin (once removed, evidently)

Nice work, Kim and Dutch!! Can't wait to meet her!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Uh oh

Jack [picking up the empty package of cookies]: "Uh oh."

Me: "'Uh oh' what?"

Jack: "There was another cookie in there that I didn't know about."

Me: "Uh oh."

Jack [with his mouth full]: "It's okay, I took care of it."

How to find the best deals on stuff

I get a lot of questions about how I get such great deals on stuff, and I've already explained how I do it with grocery store purchases, but what about all that other stuff?

Here are a few tips that I've found helpful in my experience. Doing just a little more work will make a huge difference in your spending.

Go online

An HDMI cable (the one that makes your HD TV work) is $90 at Best Buy. An even longer cable from an online retailer is $0.83 (which includes shipping!). I don't have to tell you that that is a ridiculous difference. Stores like Best Buy have huge markups on products like these, and by going online, you're getting the same products for a lot less because these retailers have a smaller overhead.

I'm such a big believer in this that after I tried my Alfred Angelo wedding dress on at the store, I went online and bought it from an online retailer. Instead of the $800 the bridal shop would have charged, I paid $300.

Do your research

With the amount of information available online at this point, there's no reason to pay more than the lowest price possible. I like to shop around a little while and do my research on prices before I buy. A simple Google Product Search will tell you a lot about general price ranges before you to commit to buy something.

Buy Used

It's no secret that buying used can save you money. Shopping thrift shops will save you a lot of money, especially on things like furniture, but if you're like me, you don't have time to go from thrift store to thrift store to find what you're looking for.

You can still shop used online using sites like eBay, Amazon, and Craig's List, and this way, you get a wider selection on used items. (eBay and Amazon have new items as well, and they're almost always cheaper than retail.)

Use social networking to your advantage

I follow tweeters like @CouponTweet, @CheapTweet, and @PoorMansGuide to get notified about free or cheap deals on various things. I read blogs like Couponing101 and Craving the Savings to read about deals in my area. I subscribe to email newsletters for places like Victoria's Secret and Borders to get free coupons or sale notifications for their products. I use DealWaiter to get notified about things I'm looking for good deals on.

Find out what works for you and take advantage of these kinds of things! (By the way, I have a separate email address for coupons and things so my regular inbox doesn't get flooded.)

Make your own

Making your own stuff is usually cheaper than buying at a store. I love Swoozies, a personalized gifts and stationary store, but their stuff is super-expensive, and I could make almost anything I find there. Buying chicpeas and making my own hummus is much cheaper than buying it pre-made. Using sites like Tip Junkie to find cool re-purposing and DIY ideas has helped me make my own gifts and other things.

Take advantage of rewards websites


By shopping for stuff through sites like Cashbaq, Bing, or Swagbucks, you'll get rewards for things that you were going to buy anyway.

By going to the Swagbucks website first and selecting clicking the VistaPrint link instead of just going straight to VistaPrint, I got rewarded 6 free Swagbucks for buying the Survival Mode Parent business cards from an online retailer that I was going to use anyway. Same thing with Cashbaq.

Create accounts for these websites and use them when you buy things.

Stock up

Usually, buying in bulk will save you money per item. If you have the room for it and the money to invest, buy a lot of something at once to save you money. By buying an entire box of padded envelopes on eBay instead of a few at the store, we paid a lot less for them (and always have some around when we need them!)

ALWAYS check for coupon codes before you buy

Using Retail Me Not, I've saved hundreds of dollars on things I've bought online. Retail Me Not is a database of user-added coupon codes (sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, so it takes some experimentation and strategy to find the right one).

When I bought my HP laptop, I checked Retail Me Not and found a code for $200 off of my laptop purchase. When I bought iStockPhoto credits for my business, I checked Retail Me Not first and found a 20% discount.

These are huge discounts, and all I had to do was check for a code.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Victim

I was about to walk out of the kitchen with my glass of milk when I saw the package of Keebler soft chocolate chip cookies that Jack had left on the counter after his trip to Houston this weekend. I had just eaten dinner and wasn't very hungry, but I decided that one little cookie would be a nice treat. I took out one and only one cookie.

As I walked back into the living room, I took a bite of said cookie and then started to take a sip of my milk. Out of nowhere, a ball of black fur was at my side and jumping up, and I felt my cookie disappear from my hand!

That's right. Maggie jumped up and grabbed my cookie right out of my hand!!!

Jumped! Grabbed! Out of my hand!

Out. Of. My. HAND.

Needless to say, Maggie is sitting outside in the dark right now. Jack's trying to convince me to bring her back inside.

I think it's a nice night for a cookie thief to sleep outside.

Midnight rant in which I say "seriously?" a lot

I have to be up in six hours. But I'm watching wedding shows on TLC. And they're making me mad.

Why do brides think they need $11,000 dresses? You wear it once!! Do you know how much that kind of money can do for so many organizations? Seriously. Ugh.

My dress was beautiful (if I do say so myself) and it was $300. I'm not saying you should only spend $300, but seriously. $11,000. Seriously.

Even worse, why the heck do moms, friends, bridesmaids, etc. think they get any say in what dress these women choose to get married in!? Seriously!! If a bride comes out in a dress and says she loves it, your answer should be "I'm so glad you feel beautiful! That's the one, then!"

Why do people cry at weddings? I realize this one is very common, but seriously. Why are you crying? You're supposed to be happy! (I have no soul.)

Ugh. Seriously. I hate TLC.

You know, except when I love it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Welcome to Fall!

Well, it may not be Fall in the bathroom anymore, but it sure is Fall on the blog!



Check out this awesome brand new digital scrapbook elements by Creations by Rachael! It's her new kit called Autumn Hues. I love it! Plus, there's a free add-on to the kit on her blog! Go check her out. I love her!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Balloon day

Today in council time, Tiffany was telling the kids the story about Saul and his son Jonathan from 1 Samuel 14. Basically, Jonathan ate some honey he didn't know he wasn't supposed to eat, and Saul said that whoever did it would be killed. When it turned out to be his own son, Saul wanted to still go through with it.

Tiffany was at this point in the story when she said that she couldn't believe that Saul would actually murder his child at all, much less for such a stupid reason.

"I'm a parent, and I can't imagine killing my son because he ate some honey!" she explained. I leaned over to Sarah .

"Maybe she would if it wasn't organic," I joked. Sweet Tiffany is my "tree-hugger" friend. Sarah looked back at me and laughed.

"Well, it it wasn't organic, it would kill him anyway," she replied, dryly.

--

Today Sarah and I had a group of girls at the drinking fountain after game time, waiting for the rest of them to finish up, when two of the girls who were finished started playing with my Aggie ring and wedding rings. The one with my wedding ring kind of scratched herself with it, and I told her to be careful because it could hurt her.

She looked at me quizzically and then back down at the ring.

"Wait, is that a real diamond?" she asked, incredulously.

"Well, I really hope so," I replied, laughing "or I'm going to be pretty mad at my husband."

--

My group of girls seems to be multiplying every time I come back, which is wonderful and terrifying all at once. We're up to nine kids! It's not all that bad for handbook time since everyone (mostly) stays seated and Sarah and I tag-team and get everybody who wants to say verses covered, but game time... oh, that's another story.

My first problem with game time is that the kids have a tendency to want to sit down or run around or just be wild in general. When we have one game director and two circles (one boys and one girls), it gets hard to hear all the instructions for each game and then, of course, re-explain said rules to the girls who were too busy spinning around or talking to one another or looking at the ceiling or daydreaming about unicorns to listen.

My second problem is that I've resolved to not lose control of the kids during game time like I did last year. Last year, many would simply refuse to participate, instead sitting down and complaining of imaginary ailments and injuries. Not this year. No way, man. I'm a drill sargent this year.

"Get back on your feet, ladies! We're 4th graders! We don't sit down! Sitting down is for 3rd graders! We're better than that! YOU'RE BETTER THAN THAT!!"

Okay, so I'm not that harsh, but I have indeed used the phrase "we don't sit down; we're 4th graders."

Anyway, today was balloon day, and a lot of drama comes with balloon day.

I found out tonight that a single red balloon can simultaneously turn nine sweet little girls into raving lunatics. Between games, I'm holding the balloon like the responsible leader that I am, and over and over I have to deny requests to gain possession of said balloon.

"Can I hold the balloon?" "I must touch the balloon!" "I need the balloon!" "I will actually die right now if I don't have the balloon in my hand in the next five seconds!" "GIMMEE gimmegimmegimmegimme the ballooooooooooon!!!!"

I'm quite sure you will survive without holding the balloon, ladies. Just calm down now.

--

Evidently balloon day entails a lot of leader participation. Namely, blowing up the balloons, popping the balloons, and occasionally demonstrating the games for the kids.

And that's where we run into trouble.

You see, this may come as a surprise to you, but I'm actually not the most graceful person in the world. I'll give you a moment to pick yourself up off the floor, because I'm sure you need some recovery time from that shocking news. Take your time.

So when the game director tells me to blow up a balloon, tie it off, run around the game circle with it, then put it on the floor and pop it with my foot, I'm thinking "oh yeah, I can rock this. I've done this thousands of times in Awana." The girls are chanting my name and "Eye of the Tiger" begins playing in my head.

And then right after I awkwardly fill the balloon with air, I realize that I suck at tying balloons off. My finger is stuck inside the latex loop I've made and I'm trying desperately to pull it out as other leaders whip around me like olympians.

And then there's the part where I finally make it around the game circle, put my balloon on the floor, lift my leg up and bring it down swiftly on what turns out to be the side of the balloon instead of the top, tripping me and almost bringing me down. Smooth. The balloon, in the meantime, floats off toward one of the girls who's foaming at the mouth because oh-my-gosh-she-might-actually-get-to-touch-the-balloon-and-sqeeeeee!!!

And my personal favorite? The game where you put the balloon between your knees and have to hop all the way around the circle with it there as you wonder whether the too-big-in-the-waist jeans you're wearing are going to slip completely off as you jump around the circle like a loon.

Oh, the things we do for the kids.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The second boy I ever kissed

The summer between my freshman and sophomore year in high school, I "went out" with a boy named Will Thompson.

My parents hated that term, especially for a 15-year-old.

"You're going out? Where are you going out to?" they would ask, teasing. I guess they preferred the term "going steady."

Will was a drummer in our marching band, and I played the flute. I had a thing for the drummers. They were the coolest guys - not only were they oh-so-cute, they were completely confident and got into enough trouble to keep them interesting. Will was no exception. Actually, at times he was the extreme of the stereotype. So naturally, when he asked me out, I was happy to accept.

Will and I "dated" for about three months that summer. Since my parents were at work during the day and I had a "no boys in the house alone" rule, Will would walk the half-mile to my house, can of orange soda in hand (he loved orange soda), just to come sit in the front yard with me for a few hours in the heat.

The first time I brought Will home to meet my parents, he was sitting on the couch in the middle of conversation when he began to eye the platform/shelf at the top our wall near our ceiling.

"I'll bet I can climb up there," he said, confidently. We looked at him skeptically.

"You can't climb up there," my mom said, "it's too high." I'm pretty sure she also thought nobody would ever actually try to do such a thing in someone else's house, but Will saw it as a challenge.

"Oh yes, I can," he said, as he rose from his seat. Effortlessly, he jumped up and grabbed the top of the ledge and pulled himself up, swinging his legs up to the platform and landing on his belly on the ledge.

My parents and I stood there in shock.

"See? I told you I could get up here!" he exclaimed, happily, as he crawled around on the ledge. "It's really dirty up here!"

Well of course it was dirty up there! Nobody could reach up there.

"Alright then," my mom said, and went into the kitchen. She emerged a moment later, Dustbuster in hand. She passed it up to Will. "Then since you're up there, you can clean."

And he did.

Needless to say, my parents always remembered Will.

I told that story to Will's mom tonight. Will was killed in a car accident on Saturday night.

I hadn't seen Will in a few years (only once since high school, I think), but from the other stories I heard tonight from his friends, he hadn't changed. He was still a free spirit, still a goofball, still ridiculously wild, and still kindhearted. He loved his friends and family, and they loved him.

Tonight we all gathered at Will's parents' house to tell stories about him. We talked about how he hated wearing shirts and always carried a pillow to school. We listened to his buddies talk about playing bumper cars in the high school parking lot and other dangerous stories that made his parents laugh and cringe. We listened to his brother tell stories about Will giving him cuts and bruises, and we listened to Will's scoutmaster tell stories about his troupe burning down a cabin. We listened to his mom tell us to cherish the time we would have with our kids and let them be who they are.

And we drank orange soda together. Because that's what he would have been doing.

Actually, there's no telling what he would have been doing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The one in which I use the word "douche" for the first time in my life

About the VMAs:

Kanye West is a huge douche bag.

Beyonce is ridiculously classy. And that was a pretty good career move for her too.

Michael Jackson does not deserve the pedestal these people have put him on.

I hate Kanye West.

The Thriller dance/video was, is, and will always be dumb.

Also, Kanye West is a huge douche bag.

(Also, the celeb responses I won't repeat but I loved - Katy Perry's, Pink's, Kellie Pickler's, and Kelly Clarkson's [Thanks Greg!])

It's all about the appearance of having it all together

I'll be honest. I spend most of my time at home on my laptop in front of my TV. Usually I'm blog designing, blogging, or editing my photos. But I need access to a lot more data than I like to keep on said laptop when I work with my photos or blog designs, so I usually have one (or two or three) big ugly external hard drive(s) hanging around my living room, power cords, USB cords, and hard drives strewn about the floor, the couch, and the end tables.

Then, when people come over, I clean it all up and pretend I'm not such a slob.

Well, not anymore!

I decided to take advantage of the space I had under my end table behind the drawer. You know, this space that nobody sees:



By adding one of these (a piece of cheap particle board that I had left over from a craft project, cut to fit in that space):


With wood glue like this:

To make a shelf for this:




I can keep my stuff out of the way like this!

The Fall tour

It seems a little weird to put this video up now, but yesterday I made a video blog of our house all decorated for Fall. I guess it's a good thing I did, since Jack and I destroyed our guest bathroom today, and that's where the majority of the decorations were.


Winter's coming early this year

Jack woke me up in a really weird way this morning.

"Mandy!" he whispered, as he poked me. "Wake up! I did something cool!"

I groaned and rolled over.

"What?" I asked, not quite awake and not really in the mood to humor him.

"Come see what I did in the bathroom!" he said, excitedly.

"Um. What did you do in the bathroom?" I asked, quite sure that whatever he had done in the bathroom was not something I wanted to see.

"Just get up! I did something cool in the bathroom!" he said.

I slowly got out of bed and followed him down the hall, thinking that nothing "cool" happens in the bathroom.

I walked in the guest bathroom, and Jack held a large piece of wallpaper that he had peeled off the wall up like a trophy.

"Look!" he said, as he pointed at our now half-bare bathroom wall. "I took the wallpaper off!"

"Um... okay...I guess we're not going to church today," I said, as I tried to process the situation. "Why did you peel the wallpaper off our guest bathroom wall?"

"Because we've been wanting to remodel our bathroom, and I saw a piece of wallpaper, and I just wondered if it would be easy to pull off. It was. Look how easy it came off!" he explained happily.

"Yes, I see that. Do you know how to put texture on a wall so we can paint in here?" I asked, knowing that he didn't plan on doing any such work without the guidance of his dad, a professional carpenter, who lives three hours away.

"No, but we can pull off the wallpaper now and then when my dad comes in, he can help us with the wall texture."

His dad has no plans to come in town any time soon.

"So you're saying that you want to remove all the wallpaper in our guest bathroom, then leave it like that for a few months?" I asked.

"Well, yeah! I thought you'd be happy." he said, his smile beginning to fade. "You said this was our winter project."

"It's not winter yet," I said. "It's Fall. Our Fall project is painting the outside of the house."

Nevertheless, half of the wall didn't have wallpaper any more, and I had no choice but to help him finish taking the rest of the wallpaper off.

Fortunately, it did indeed come off easily, and we even took the mirror down to get all the wallpaper off the wall, so now our guest bathroom has bare drywall and no mirror.

Winter's coming early this year, I guess. My apologies to our guests.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Holy cow!

Brad Paisley retweeted me.


Seriously. He did.

It's really a shame I didn't proofread that tweet.

That's two.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Blog design tip - Keeping your widgets when you modify your blog design

See? I told you I'd get around to some of these posts that I mentioned.

Thanks to my friend (who is not my brother, in case you were wondering), Jessica, I was reminded that some people lose their widgets when they redesign their blogs. With this little trick, you'll be able to add your widgets back into your HTML after you've added the new template, thereby avoiding having to add them all back one-by-one!

At the bottom of your HTML code, you'll find some code that looks something like this:
<div id='sidebar-wrapper'>
<b:section class='sidebar' id='sidebar' preferred='yes'>
<b:widget id='HTML1' locked='false' title='My real blog' type='HTML'/>
<b:widget id='BlogArchive1' locked='false' title='Blog Archive' type='BlogArchive'/>
<b:widget id='Label1' locked='false' title='Labels' type='Label'/>
<b:widget id='Profile1' locked='false' title='About Me' type='Profile'/>
</b:section>
</div>

The sections that begin with <b:widget id= are what identify your widgets. There will be <b:widget id= identifiers in every section that you have widgets. For example, if you have widgets in your footer too, be sure and find them in the </div id='footer-wrapper'> section as well.

Take the sections of code that have widgets in them and copy them into a word document so you can save them when you change your code (actually, it's a good idea to copy all of your code into a word document before you start messing with it so you can go back if you screw it up). 

Modify your code as needed, then copy the widgets back into your new code in the same places. Viola! You have your widgets back!

This is also useful information if you want to move a lot of widgets at once, such as moving all the ones on your left sidebar to the right sidebar. Simply copy all the widgets from one side and move them to the other and vice versa. Works like a charm!

Leave any blog design or other questions in the comments and I'll try to answer them in my next blog design tip post!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Sadicurist

I had been looking forward to this for weeks. As evidenced by my extremely chipped toenail polish. I was holding out for this day.

My mother-in-law, Cathy, and I planned a pedicure day while I was in town last weekend, and we were both really excited about it. When we got there, it was the usual rolly-back-but-I-turn-the-poundy-part-off-because-I-don't-like-it massage chair and hot bubbly water for my tootsies.

Ahhhh.

And then she came over. She didn't look like a professional torturer at first glance, but I came to learn that this was no ordinary pedicurist.

It started like they always do. She grabbed a foot and started clipping the nails. Still relaxed. Then she picked up the nail file and it started going terribly, terribly wrong.

Perhaps it was a bet she had with somebody else in the salon; maybe she said "watch this - I'll bet I can get her to kick me because she's in so much pain." Though that seems like it wouldn't be a good bet even if she won. Maybe she was just mad at her husband.

Anyway.

She opted for the "jam the nail file between your toenail and skin and rub hard" route, which was unpleasant but manageable. I got through both feet of filing without screaming out or reacting too much.

Then, she began using her clippy tool to remove parts of my skin that were apparently not ready to be removed, which was even more painful. By the time she got to the metal stick thing with the millions of tiny blades on it, she was putting all her weight into it, shaving away the entire outer layer (and probably a few layers underneath) of my skin.

Then, just when I thought she was done with the metal stick thing, she started over with it. I don't know if she just forgot that she had already done that one or what, but the second time was obviously worse.

Plus, evidently when I said "Ow. Ow. Ow ow ow ow. Owowowowowow! OW!" she heard "I really like that, and having skin on the bottom of my feet has really become a drag. Please keep doing that." My mother-in-law even asked her "is that supposed to hurt?"

And for picking up on hints and context clues, you get a D-.

After she put the torture devices away, however, she did a great job with the nail polish. And after I left, my feet felt pretty good (other than the spot that she literally rubbed raw on my left foot), and my toes are super-sparkly and cute.

I guess sometimes beauty is pain.

Sidenote: Did you see that Jon and Kate might split up? Oh no! I'm so worried about them! I hope they make it!

Hello, old friend. I've missed you.

It's not that I haven't wanted to blog, and it's not even that I don't have stories.

I could tell you about the crazy dreams I've been having lately, like the one two nights ago, where I took a pregnancy test with two girls I have hardly seen since high school (Tiffany Pike and Sara Roberts, if you must know).

Or there's the dream last night where there was a gecko on my bed with teeny tiny flowers in its mouth and I was asking Jack to come catch it. Why the teeny tiny flowers? I don't know. Perhaps he was going on a gecko date.

I could also tell you about how this morning, when I dropped the dog off at my parents' house, as I backed out of their driveway, I hit their recycle bin so hard that I spun it around. And then I laughed and twittered about it. [Insert joke about how women are bad drivers here.]

Or maybe you'd like to hear about how last night I told Jack that I had "computer meat" thawed, and by "computer meat," I clearly meant "hamburger."

I can tell you about how Survival Mode Parent has 107 volunteers, and that one of the last people to sign up just lost her own little baby girl to stillbirth less than a month ago, and I was blown away by her generosity in the midst of her grief.

I can tell you how the blog orders keep on rolling in, despite the fact that I haven't had a chance to work on them the past week or so.

I could tell you that I got wonderful cards in the mail from my sweet friends Sarah and Paris ofr no reason other than that they're nice, and I can also confess that I still haven't re-sent my sweet friend Angela's birthday gift (it's in my trunk now, which is closer that it was when it was on the pool table. Baby steps).

I could tell you that I'm getting a lot of great projects at work, and I'm loving and hating building videos all at once (but mostly loving it).

I could tell you that Jack and I had a lovely holiday weekend and every time he's happy he makes more chatter noise than anyone I've ever known. I could also tell you that evidently IKEA turns him into a master carpenter, since he opted not to buy anything in the place, but rather, to head over to Lowes, buy wood, and build everything from scratch. 500% more work for about 10% less cost? Alright, honey. Go for it.

I could tell you that my laptop came last night, and she's beautiful. I've named her Connie and she and I will be friends for a long time. (In case you were wondering, my last laptop was Eugene, my desktop's name is Katrina, and I plan to name my next desktop Mitch. Angela knows why. And according to Chris Talbott, you will too if you Google those four names.)

The list goes on and on like this.

A story about a sadist pedicurist. A commentary on Ellen joining American Idol's judging team (yay!). The long-awaited Slanket blog entry. A tour of my Fall-decorated house. A tutorial on keeping your widgets when you change your blog design. Another tutorial on using Bulk Rename to organize your digital photographs. The one in which I officially declare my love for Guy Fieri.

No, it's not that I don't have stories. It's that I don't have time.

For now you'll just have to take my word for it when I say I am busy. I am tired. I am happy.

We are happy.

Creepiest. Conversation. Ever.

Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything

It was quiet.

We sat on the front porch of Jack's parents' little country house in East Texas, sitting in the cool shade and enjoying the trees. The dog was sunning himself in the yard, and Jack, his parents, and myself occasionally struck up a conversation about nothing in particular. The grill heated up and flies buzzed around us, evidently triggering an urge in Jack to practice his "Karate Kid" moves.

A fly would land on Jack's leg. He would slowly lift his hand up behind the fly, then launch his hand at the fly suddenly in an attempt to catch it.

Miss.

Another would land on me. Jack would try and fail at catching it once more, this time slapping me in the process.

"You're not going to catch one, Jack," I told him.

"I am! I am going to catch one!" Then, with renewed motivation to show me that he could, he would try again.

Another miss.

"What are you going to do if you catch one?" I asked.

"I'm going to shake it up and pop it in my mouth," he joked, with animated pantomime, then he went back to trying to catch flies.

Miss. Miss. Miss.

It went on like this for a while. A very long while.

Another landed on his knee. Like all the other times, Jack raised his hand and readied himself for the attack. 

Swipe! 

Jack closed his hand into a loose fist and looked up at me with wide eyes and a big smile.

"I caught one!!" he said, excitedly.

"Did you really catch one?" I asked, skeptically, as I took his picture with my phone.

"I did! Watch!" he said, as he slowly opened his hand. A fly crawled out of his hand and flew away.

He did it. My husband caught a fly with his hand.

What a freak.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

99 Volunteers!

Update: Congratulations to Frank from Pittsburgh! He was the 100th volunteer to sign up. We're now at 102 volunteers. Tell your friends! Thanks, everyone!

There are 99 volunteers signed up for Survival Mode Parent! I'm so excited!

The 100th person to sign up gets a free blog button (or if you already have a blog button, I'll help you with anything else you want changed on your blog)! I'll announce the winner tomorrow, assuming, you know, somebody else signs up.

Go sign up now!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What worked for us

My lovely friend Lindsey became a Mrs. today, and I'm so excited for her! I know how long she's been waiting for this and I hope it was everything she dreamed it would be.

Of course, it wasn't, at least not entirely. Something always goes wrong or gets overlooked at a wedding, and you just have to hope that the thing that goes wrong is either minor or you have a sense of humor about it.

That thing at our wedding? I lost our marriage license. And no, we didn't find it until the next day. So technically we weren't really married on our wedding night.

Sinners.

Anyway, there were a couple things we did at our wedding and in our marriage that, though unconventional, worked beautifully for us.

And so, internet, in honor of Lindsey's day, I will share my vast wisdom with you.

You're welcome, internet. You are welcome.

#1. Taking pictures before the wedding

I know there's that whole "it's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding" thing most people care so much about, but I don't believe in luck, so we decided to go ahead and take our pictures before the wedding.

Best decision ever.

For one thing, there's only so much time you get the reception hall, so why waste that time taking pictures? Enjoy your party, I say!

Plus, having been guests at weddings where you have to wait for an hour after the wedding to eat dinner because the couple has to take their pictures, we thought it would be far less annoying to our guests to be able to eat right away.

Also, it made the hours of waiting for the wedding to start much more enjoyable; we were relaxed, we played, we took lots of pictures, and we got to enjoy each others' company all day long. I waved at guests and made faces at Jack through the window of the little house. It made it fun.

#2. Waiting a week to go on the honeymoon

I can't imagine having to leave right away after that wedding and travel for any amount of time, much less to Hawaii like we did. We chose to spend the night in a nice Dallas hotel, then go back to work for a week before our honeymoon. It turned out to be a brilliant decision, since we were completely exhausted after the wedding and needed the entire week to recuperate before leaving for the honeymoon. Plus, we got to visit, open gifts, and eat lunch with our family and friends who were still in town.

#3. Letting go of some of the responsibilities

The week before our wedding, we found out that the sparklers we had bought for our departure weren't able to be used since there was a burn ban in town. Instead, my neighbors went and bought a bunch of those stupid little bubbles for people to blow when we left. My neighbors, a few bridesmaids, and Greg Potter also took it upon themselves to tie pretty little purple ribbons around each one. They looked really nice, and I didn't have to worry about them at all. It was so nice to have things like that just happen for me on my wedding day. It's nice to have friend like that that are willing to help. Let them.

#4. Root beer floats instead of beer; lemonade instead of champagne

We decided not to have alcohol at our wedding, but most of the fun of alcoholic beverages is how diverse they are. There are colors, cherries, flavors, textures... you have to admit, even without the alcohol, grown-up drinks are fun. That's why I wanted to make sure we would have fun non-alcoholic drinks there.

We got a champagne fountain and filled it with lemonade, and served root beer floats in specially-made float glasses with our name and wedding date on them for our guests to take home. It was one of my favorite touches at the wedding.

#5. The shoe game

This was kind of a surprise to us. And we loved it. A lot. There's no other way to describe this one than this video. It was awesome.



#6. Premarital counseling

Going into premarital counseling, we didn't really think we would have all that much to learn. We had been together for four years, and we never had drama or fights to speak of. We learned more than I ever thought we could about each other and how to communicate. Plus, because we used a one-on-one counselor instead of a group, we have a good Christian counselor to go back to if we ever want to.

#7. Assigning chores

It's rough living with a boy sometimes, but really, the boy I live with isn't so bad. Because Jack and I know what we're basically responsible for at our house, we don't have to argue over who's going to do what. I cook; Jack does dishes. I vacuum; Jack mows the lawn. I clean the bathrooms; Jack does the towel-type laundry. Obviously, sometimes we do each others' chores, but for the most part, if we stick with what we know, we don't have to worry about who's supposed to do what.

#8. Having some separate money

For some reason, this is a pretty touchy subject for a lot of people. When I told my mom about Jack and I having separate checking accounts, she said "that's not a husband; that's a roommate!" The other day, my friend Eric was completely appalled that not all of our money was "our" money.

I have a hard time taking any arguments against separate accounts seriously (for us), though, since money is a huge source of conflict in most marriages and Jack and I have yet to have a single fight about money. Period.

Here's how we do it: We have three checking accounts. Technically all three are joint accounts (meaning either one of us can access the others' at any time), but one is "mine," one is "his," and one is "the bill account." Each pay period, we put the money we need for bills into the bill account, and what's left over is ours to do with what we want. It's not a lot, but it's enough to be a little independent with our money sometimes.

There are a few things we love about having separate accounts. For one, I never have to worry about Jack making a big purchase at the same time I do and accidentally over-drafting. I know what's in my account; he knows what's in his. We're responsible for our own money.

Secondly, we don't have to explain every little purchase to one another. If I want to get a pedicure, I can if I've budgeted my money to have a little extra. If he wants to buy a new phone, he can. But it comes out of our own money, and we have to budget the amount we have accordingly.

Finally, and my favorite reason, is that the gifts we give each other are truly gifts. If all our money was lumped together, Jack giving me a CD he thought I'd like wouldn't be anything special; it would just be "us" buying another thing. Instead, this is a sacrifice on his part to actually give me a gift. I feel like that makes it more authentic.

If you're still not convinced, Jack's parents have had separate accounts for more than 30 years and haven't gotten divorced yet. :)

#9. Saving and only buying things a little at a time

While we're on budgeting and money, I figure I'd mention the fact that we are vigilant about not buying anything until we have the money for it. I realize this sounds like a no-brainer, but I'm shocked by the number of people who have credit card debt in this country. We don't do debt.

We have been renovating our house for the last 2 years, and although it's a slow process, we really enjoy the fact that we don't have to go into debt to pay for our wood floors, paint, tile, etc.

We save a specific amount every month for house renovations, as well as medical needs, travel, insurance, taxes, and even an account we call "toys" (which is something we decide we want together, such as a new TV, camera, or furniture). By saving for specific purposes, we know how much we have to spend on things like toys and house, and always have enough money when we need money for things like medical needs and taxes.

Like I said, this is basic stuff, but by being vigilant about saving and sticking to our budget, we have avoided 100% of financial conflict in our marriage.

#10. Never seeing each other

Alright, so maybe I don't recommend this one for everyone, but the fact that Jack and I work almost opposite work schedules means that we don't see each other more than a couple hours a day, if that. It gives us time to miss each other, and that has actually been kind of nice for us. We tend not to get sick of each other that way, and enjoy our weekends together that much more.

In addition, Jack having time alone during the day and me having time alone during the evenings after work is really nice for getting things done, such as housework, hobbies, or starting worldwide non-profit ministries.

Sweet

Burt died an unfortunate and untimely death when his new owner decided that texting while driving would be a good idea.

It wasn't.

Jack and I have some good friends who happen to be the daughter and son-in-law of my former band director, Mr. G.

One day, we were at lunch with their whole family after church, when we started talking about poor Burt and the idiotic way he died.

"Yeah, the kid was texting and driving and ran into the back of the car in front of him," I said.

They laughed and gave each other knowing looks, while I went into a Mandy-rant.

"I mean, how dumb do you have to be to text while driving! You might as well be drunk!"

"Yeah," Christelle said glancing at her dad, "you're right."

"I just don't understand why anybody does it. These idiots should be arrested," I continued.

Mr. G gave me a sheepish look as his daughters and wife started laughing harder and harder with each passionate and harsh word in my oblivious rant.

"Yeah, I really should stop doing that," he admitted.

And then I realized why they were laughing. I just called my former band director an idiot who should be arrested.

Gulp.

Open mouth. Insert foot.

But you know what? As much as they teased me about giving Mr. G trouble about texting and driving, I stand by what I said. It's stupid. It's irresponsible. It's dangerous. It's not okay.

So why my cousin tweeted today that a truck was going 30 mph on the highway, I tweeted back with a "DON'T TEXT AND DRIVE YOU IDIOT!"

Then, she tweeted AGAIN on the highway! So I twelled (that's twitter yelled) at her again about it. A while later, she tweeted that not to worry, she was texting from home now. This is what followed (read bottom to top):


Somebody's got to be the immature ones.

----

If you missed it before, please visit Survival Mode Parent and sign up to be a volunteer. Also, visit this post to see how you can get a free blog makeover!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A gecko prayer

Now I lay me down to rest
But Lord, could I just get this off my chest?
Every night I get ready for bed
but something's messing with my head.
I think I see one behind my back!
Is it a gecko, ready to attack?
I check the shower and the toilet
before I use them, lest a gecko spoil it.
I'm becoming OCD;
super-crazy, just like Brittany.
I guess I'll just try to go to sleep...
wait... what's that crawling on my feet?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Just breathe

Today has been unreal.

I'm not going to lie, it's pretty cool to see a lot of people get excited about something you were hoping was as exciting to others as it was to you. It's pretty cool to see influential bloggers pour their heart out to promote your cause, or incredible authors and professional scrapbookers tweet about you.

It has been less than 24 hours since I launched Survival Mode Parent, and it already has more than 1,000 hits. Even better, almost 60 people have signed up to be volunteers. When I put the locations of all the volunteers who signed up today into Google Maps, the final product took my breath away a little bit.

And since I took this screen shot, I've had eight more sign-ups. No joke.

There are people from everywhere signing up to help others. There are people from everywhere hearing about this website, signing up, and telling their friends about it.

There are people from everywhere expecting me to match them with people from everywhere who need help. There are people from everywhere expecting this website to function as it should.

That's a lot of pressure.

But, you know, the good kind of pressure, like the kind that makes diamonds. Or something like that.

Diamonds or not, every time I think about the scope of this project, I hyperventilate a little bit.

I'm going to need somebody for every city in the whole US! Do you know how many cities that is, Mandy? And, really, I need way more than one person for big cities! What if I can't keep up with all the needs?

And oh my gosh what about a background check? How do I do that? How much does that cost? Who will pay for that? Am I going to get sued if something happens between the two parties?


And then I got an e-mail a few minutes ago from a lovely woman, asking if I had any plans on expanding the service to Canada as well.

A whole 'nother country? Um... sure! Go ahead and sign up! We can match in Canada too!

It's an interesting feeling, riding a wave of uncertainty and trusting God to provide. And judging by today's results?

He is. Um, a lot.

I needed support, and there was Ellyn. I needed a way to get the word out, and there was Facebook, Twitter, the MckForum, the Tip Junkie giveaway directory, and so many bloggers who were happy to help. I needed a way to bring people in and there was my silly little business where I could give away something that was pretty much free to me.

Oh my, what a coincidence. Oh my, how well that just happened to work out.

So the next part? The part where I lay awake at night wondering how I'm going to be able to continue to get this many volunteers every day so that there's actually a chance that Survival Mode Parent will be able to provide names of people who can help to parents?

Well, I doubt I'll have to worry too much about that part.

He seems to have it pretty well covered.

[Sign up to be a SMP Volunteer! Please! And thank you.]

Survival Mode Parent

Survival Mode Parent


So it's officially September 1, and I'm so excited to reveal the big surprise I've been waiting to reveal!

It started back in August 2004. (You were hoping for a story, right?) Jack's college roommate, Ryan, and his wife, Wendy had their first beautiful baby boy, Colin.

Colin was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and lived his entire 8 months of life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Through their website updates, I got my first glimpse of what parents' lives look like when they have a very sick child. It's a roller coaster.

And even though I was all the way across the country, I wished I could do something. To bring them a meal. Something.

How could I have helped?

My second big glimpse into the world of NICU and PICU was one most of us in the blog world are familiar with: MckMama's account of Stellan's battle with SVT. She was in the hospital with Stellan both in Minnesota and Boston on the same roller coaster Ryan and Wendy had been on, and we all asked the same thing:

How can we help?

While in the hospital, Jennifer wrote this blog entry about being in what she called "survival mode," and that's when I almost understood what it was like. You try to remember to eat. You try to sleep (but probably can't). You may or may not be wearing clean clothes. You're just trying to get your child well.

Nothing else matters.

Then, when she mentioned a stranger in Boston washing her laundry for her and taking her to Old Navy to buy a few more shirts, it clicked for me.

I could do that.

I couldn't do it for Jennifer, and fortunately she didn't need the help, since so many had that on their minds, but I can do it for someone else.

Why don't I do that for someone else?

This world of blogging has given us the opportunity to support each other in so many ways. There's prayer, words of encouragement, and financial gifts, but the list pretty much ends there.

Rarely do we have the opportunity to physically do what we would do for a friend in the hospital - bring a meal, do their laundry, let their dog out... just meet their basic needs while they're in survival mode.

This is mostly because a lot of the people whose blogs we read live in other parts of the country, and we can't actually do anything for them.

I'm hoping to change that.

I created a website called Survival Mode Parent. The premise of this website is simple: match people who can help with simple basic needs (like laundry or meals) with parents who have kids in the NICU or PICU and need help.

My goal is to get volunteers from all over the country to sign up to help someone in need. Basically, when you sign up, you're simply "on call" in case there's a request in your city.

On the other end, parents in with kids in the NICU or PICU can request to be matched with a volunteer, and if somebody has signed up from their city, I can match them up and the relationship between the parent and the volunteer can begin from there.

How can you help?

I'm glad you asked! I need an enormous amount of help for this project.

Since Survival Mode Parent is so reliant on volunteers from all over the country, I need you first and most importantly, to sign up to be a volunteer. I realize that if you get matched, there's a time commitment. I realize you may even have to buy a little extra laundry detergent, gas, or food for this person. And so I realize it's a sacrifice. But I hope you do it anyway.

The other thing I desperately need for this project to work is for you to spread the word. Tell your friends. Blog about it. Put the button on your sidebar. Tweet. Facebook. Text. Anything and everything to get the word out to build that database of volunteeers from all over the country, ready to help a parent in need.

My greatest fear for this project is to have to tell a parent who needs help "sorry, but there's nobody signed up in your area."

So that's it! That's the project! I hope you're as excited about it as I am. Please take a look around the website and e-mail me with any questions or comments you have about it.

--

You didn't think I'd do a super-exciting announcement and website launch without a giveaway, did you?

No way! Not me!

If you're new here, you should know that I design blogs. And to celebrate the launch of Survival Mode Parent and get the word out about it, I am doing a super-ginormous-ridiculous blog makeover giveaway.

Actually, I'm giving away more than one.

Are you excited yet?

Here's the deal:

Blog makeover giveaway #1:

This one is for spreading the word about Survival Mode Parent. I'll be giving away a full blog makeover with any add-ons you want - blog button, signature, you name it.

You get one entry every time you:
Be sure to leave a comment here for every entry. I'll have random.org choose a winner on September 30. Thanks for spreading the word!

--

Blog makeover giveaway #2:

Next, I'm giving away the biggest blog makeover package I've ever given away. I'm very excited about this one!

If you sign up to be a Survival Mode Parent volunteer, I'll enter you for a chance to win not one, not two, not three, but FOUR blog makeovers, one for every season!

I love having a new design for every season, but if you don't have the time or know-how to design a new one for Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer, try for a chance to win all of them!

I'll have random.org choose a winner from all the volunteers in the database on September 30.

--

I can't thank you enough for your support!

Oh yes, and special thank you to my dear sweet wonderful friend Ellyn wrote about her experiences in the NICU with her kids and wrote about Survival Mode Parent today. She has a powerful story. Please go read it!!