Thursday, October 20, 2016

Taking a Good Thing Further

Sundae Spa is one of those places that fills the dreams of many little girls. Sparkle and makeup. Colorful glitter and delicious scents. Nails and hair and glamour.

My girls got to experience this for the first time, and they were enraptured for their entire visit. A glitter tattoo. A colorful hair extension. A sparkly glow-in-the-dark manicure. A chance to create their own, one of a kind product. They learned about the science behind making products (all of Sundae Spas products are made onsite) and felt beautiful. And after all this, it was topped off by an ice cream sundae. The staff chatted with them about favorite colors and toys and music and movies and princesses, making it a perfect spa experience for them. They are itching to return and tell everyone they talk to how much they loved it.

Two days later, I returned to Sundae Spa to observe another group of kids experiencing the spa - this group from the CT Make-A-Wish foundation. Eleven kids with life threatening illnesses and conditions were treated to an afternoon of dress up and glamour and pampering.

As this group came in, they were shy. Maybe they were uncertain, or maybe they were overwhelmed, but the party room wasn't full of squeals like the room next door. They stayed close to parents and spoke very quietly. They pointed out little things here and there, but carefully, and cautiously.

Within two hours, this group was unrecognizable - not only from their eye kandy and manicures and dress up, but personalities had burst forth into a room now filled with pure joy. Just as my girls were, they were immersed in a place where sparkle and glitter were lighting up everyone around them. They chatted with the staff about favorite movies and music and colors and TV shows. They talked about birthdays and Halloween and what they loved. After enjoying their ice cream, boys and girls left with dress up clothes and fairy and superhero doors, all at no charge. It was a magical afternoon that I felt privileged to witness. From tiny two year olds to near teenagers, the transformation was truly nothing short of magical.

This gala event is kicking off something big. Kim Swan, the owner, is launching a campaign to take Sundae Spa on the road with a mobile spa that will come to kids who aren't well enough to visit on their own. This mobile spa will have all the amenities of the permanent location, as well as the ability to come to those who might need a pick me up after a rough bout of treatment but aren't well enough to make it to the two locations in CT.

Once the crowdfunding is completed, Wish Upon a Sundae Spa Mobile will travel to four east coast locations - Hartford, Boston, Philadelphia and New York City. In each location they'll host fifteen children from the charity for a magical party of glitz and glamour, as well as auctioning off a party with all proceeds benefiting the national charity.

In addition, Sundae Spa is hosting a Mommy and Me Princess tea party on November 6, with all proceeds going toward the project and Make-A-Wish. This event includes tea time with plenty of treats, a meet and greet with five princesses, Eye Kandy makeup and a princess body glitter tattoo. Attendees can also be crowned by their favorite princess, and plenty of drawings for gift cards, 18" doll accessories, and retired Shopkins will be a part of the day. Limited tickets are still available, but they're going fast!

I was honored to be included in the kick off of this event. Every time I look at the pictures of my girls and these kids enjoying this experience, I'm reminded of how lucky I am, and how important it is to make sure that every kid can feel taken care of in every way - no matter what.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Building a Habit

Breaking a habit is hard. It takes focus, determination, and a conscious effort to change a learned behavior. Even when something isn't necessarily "addictive", breaking a habit can still feel like overcoming something.

Turns out that building a habit is just as hard.

I'm trying so hard to build a few habits right now, and let me tell you, it is much harder than breaking bad ones. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I can so easily think "eh, it's not THAT important" because I've lived fine without it. But I also know that I really want that behavior to come naturally.

Making my bed daily. Oil pulling at night. Writing in my journal. Finishing the kitchen clean up. It's hard to force those habits. I'm trying to make them as routine as brushing my teeth - and it's working - but they aren't quite there yet. Cleaning, planning, carving out time for good mental and physical help. It's important.

What helps me power through is that I have done this with the girls so I know it works.

I've done it with behavior in public. We often get compliments on how the girls act in restaurants. They stay in their seats. They order with good manners. They might have normal kid moments - dipping under the table to retrieve a roll away crayon - but generally speaking, they are nowhere near the horror stories some parents write about.

It's not that we have fabulous kids (I mean, we do, but they're still kids). It's that we've worked a long time to build a habit. When the girls were little, we'd talk to them before we went in.

We're going to go in and sit down. There are lots of people at tables and a lot of restaurant workers moving around, so we need to make sure we treat them nicely. We stay in our seats. If you feel like you need to get up, ask Mommy or Daddy for a break.

We choose our food, and then our waitress will ask us what we'd like. We need to speak in a big voice so she can hear us and use our best manners.

It helped that we went out often when the girls were toddlers in a very forgiving environment, where the wait staff got to know us and know the girls. Now, they know just how to behave, and honestly, the only time you'll find them misbehaving is when we're with other kids who don't have the same rules, because, well, monkey see...

Anyway, during this time period we had that discussion every time. EVERY TIME.

It's OBNOXIOUS at first. Not just the doing something that you don't necessarily want to do (let's be honest, toddlers like their freedom), but the process to MAKE it a habit. By the time Madison was three, she was reciting this along with me.

But it made it a habit.

We did it in parking lots too, once I had two and especially once I had two who were walking. The constant spiel is crazily annoying...but now it's habit.

Guess it's time to build myself a pep talk!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Non DIYer's guide to DIY

Ok, I'm not a DIY girl. I actually wrote a big post a few years ago about how I'm not crafty and I hate investing time to make something that look like a four year old did. I would rather buy a finished product from someone with a gift and passion for crafting. Win win, right?

But here are some things I DO DIY - cleaners! DIY cleaner is more like chemistry than crafting (I don't actually have a chemistry talent or passion, but I can read rules!) You mix stuff with other stuff and have a place to put your mixture. It doesn't need to look cute, you don't need to set up an Etsy shop, and you can still save some money and feel accomplished.

Bug spray - to keep spiders away from areas I frequent in the basement, I use a mixture of peppermint oil and water and spray around the areas where I really don't want to see them. I also spray doors and windows. It won't kill them - I know spiders are important to life - but they also won't cross the barrier and stay outside where they belong. You can also use tea tree or clove oil to make a spray for your home OR yourself! Non toxic, effective, and smells great!

Stain remover - Blue dawn and hydrogen peroxide are the magic ingredients that can pretty much get stains off of EVERYTHING. Cheaper and easier than bottles and bottles of stain treatments for different stains that probably won't work.

Armor All wipes - I tried using regular old wipes in the car and found out that a) they don't really work and b) they can actually damage the interior. I found a recipe for DIY Armor All wipes and I was in LOVE by how cheap and easy it is to make them!

Still not a DIYer. But I can read a recipe, I can mix, and I can teach my kids that chemistry DOES actually have an place in their daily life!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

When You've Taken On Too Much

I can finally admit it. Homeschooling is kicking my butt right now.

I'm not sure why I thought homeschooling wouldn't change my day to day life all that much. Now that we're over two years in, I have to give in and admit that it's not growing pains. It's not circumstantial. It's not an adjustment period. It is a BIG job, and I'm not that mom who can manage her house, the schooling, the activities, the meals AND keep her own stuff going. I make lists and my lists laugh at me at the end of the day.

After nights where I stayed up until after midnight, trying to get things clean and organized, I realized it was time to start working smarter instead of longer. I am starting making use of ALL my time - sometimes in a relaxing way, sometimes in a productive way, but I'm actually making the minutes count.

When I go to the gym, I can read and respond to emails while on the exercise bike. I can use that for my "social media" time (if I know I'll check it there, it saves me the periodic checking during the day). I can research homeschool stuff and go on pinning sprees. And heck, I can play Candy Crush.

In the car, I've rediscovered my love for audiobooks. I don't really have time to read as much as I'd like - either I need to be productive or I'm too tired to focus - but audiobooks let me hear someone with a gift for speaking tell me a story while I drive. This is also where I do the bulk of my calling. I schedule appointments and catch up with friends - hands free! It reminds me of my days of long commutes, when my car time had to count.

While Madison works - I work. Obviously plenty of homeschooling is inherently interactive - you're the teacher after all, but there's plenty of time that she works independently. Workbooks, videos, websites don't need a hovering adult. We've started a great routine a few days a week where she packs up her backpack, I pack up my bag, and we go to Starbucks together. I have my laptop, she has her things, and she sees me working right alongside her. She asks me about what I'm writing, and she knows that I'm not just her taskmaster.

During the girls activities can be total dead time for me. I have one glorious forty five minute segment where they are both occupied. It's not enough time for me to leave, there is no WiFi so I can't really work...but I can get things done. I took one of my 31 totes and made it my to do bag. It lives in my car and houses my coupons, my bills, my paperwork, my planner...all that "stuff" that needs to get done. During that break, I can sit and get caught up on meal planning, bill paying, coupon organizing and list making.

Because, let's face it, list making isn't going away.

Monday, September 26, 2016

It's Not Always About Me

Ever had one of those totally oversensitive days where you feel like the whole world is just judging you?

I'd taken about a month off from getting my nails done. I wanted them to get a chance to grow, strengthen, and breathe. I went back the other day to get my standard, light colored manicure done. I was happily enjoying the calm atmosphere when my manicurist said "lip wax too?"


I've already written about the hard sell you get at the gym when you sign up. I avoided the "warrior" push initially and thought I was good. But as I got off the bike the other day, I ran into that particular trainer. She recognized me and said hello, asked if I'd signed up for any challenges or training. I said no, that I'd gotten into a pretty good routine that I was maintaining. She looked at me and said "well, when you realize that isn't cutting it, let me know!"


The hair stylist who assumed that I'd want color too since "pretty soon you'll have to worry about roots!"

Not gray yet, but thanks for the reminder that I'm getting old. Want to team up with the makeup women at Sephora who suggest that my face is also old?

The guy vacuuming out my car who suggested that "there was only so much he could do" and suggested detailing.


I get it. These people are all business people who need to upsell. Bonuses, incentives, tips - my insecurity means a bigger payday for them. They aren't calling me unkempt or fat or unattractive, but the suggestion that I need an upsell - not that I might want it, but that I need it - isn't fun.

Deep breaths.

It's not about me.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Too Many Decisions!

Want to know my secret dream?

I hate being the one to make decisions. I agonize. I stress. I second and third and fourth guess myself. I have buyer's remorse. I research and pin and feel paralyzed when it's time to make the final call.

So my secret dream is that someone just makes the stinking decisions for me. 

That sounds really wrong. Like I want to live in a dictatorship or something. But really, it's more that I want to live in a place where the Property Brothers come with their amazing vision and just fix and decorate my house for me without making me agonize over paint colors or style of door, knowing that if I choose wrong, I'm going to be staring that mistake in the face every single day for years. But I've yet to hate one of their finished products.

As you may have guessed, Adam and I are planning some work at our house. Some of it is boring. Our house is over twenty years old now and we're going to need a roof soon. Besides price shopping, I don't really have any decisions to make there. But we're also planning to get new floors downstairs, paint the entire interior, get new doors and windows, get new family room furniture and a new family TV. That is a lot of expensive decisions. 

Everywhere I go I'm faced with too many choices. Even if you hire a decorator or a contractor, you still have to make the decisions. You're just telling your choices to someone else, but you're still doing the choosing.

What colors do we want? Do we want the kitchen and family room to stay the same color? If we don't, where do we want the break? Should we keep the same break for the flooring? Tile kitchen? Laminate? Do we want to keep carpet in the family room or do hardwood? What kind of furniture? What kind of TV? Do we want to mount the TV to the wall? Does that impact what kind we get?

I can't do it. I seriously want to rip a few pages out of HGTV magazine, hand a check to someone, and say "I'm going on vacation for a week. It'll all be finished when I get back, right?"

And then I come back, and it's done. And I'll be happy with it because it's done.

Same thing with car shopping. I need a new car. I'm lusting after a minivan. But beyond that, I'm overwhelmed by the choices. Color? Features? Cloth or leather? I DON'T KNOW. Please, please, kind car company, just pick one. I'll be happy, I promise. I just can't stand here, paralyzed by indecision, making the decision to do nothing at all.

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