Mom Upcycles Giveaway Winner

How could anyone forget my friend Stacey and her lovely post she shared with us last Friday? She’s the stay-at-home Mom who manages her blog (Mom Upcycles) and runs a fantastic Etsy store. Stacey was not only nice enough to share a bit of inspiration with us, but she also hosted a giveaway here at Positively Panicked!

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First, I should apologize because I was supposed to select the winner yesterday! I am so off…I have thought all day that today is Monday. Oh well, better late than never! The winner of Stacey’s hand-embroidered hoop is…

Meghan Alonso
April 24, 2014 at 9:00 pm Edit
I tried commenting a minute ago so please ignore if this was already posted…
I’d love this! It would be so perfect on the gallery wall I am trying to create in my house!
I love what Stacey had to say. I follow her on Instagram and have always loved her hoops! I actually have a similar post on my blog (thelifewithpeanut.blogspot.com). We can’t do it all, and we can’t be so hard on ourselves. We are only human! Stacey’s couch looks like my laundry room. I think as I type this, there are 3 loads waiting to be folded…
Thank you!
Congrats Meghan! Just email (positivelypanicked@gmail.com) me your shipping info and I’ll send your info to Stacey. And BTW, you should all check out Meghan’s super cute blog about her little peanut…it’s quite adorable!
And, Stacey, thank you again for being awesome and sharing your life with us! Everyone please visit her at her Facebook, her Etsy story, her Instagram or her blog and see what’s up. I’ll bet your learn something to make your life a little better.
Cheers!

A Quality Photographer Can Make All the Difference

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While in Texas I was lucky enough to have Simone from ST Photography take photos of my little Luna. I do not have her edited photos yet, but I have to share our experience with you. Photographers seem to be a dime a dozen these days. Everyone (myself included) has a fancy camera to play with and half of these fancy camera owners have started their own photography business. In some ways, this is great because we have so many options, locations, prices and people to choose from when having photos taken. However, it’s often hard to know who has not only professional quality, but a professional work-style. Trust me, it’s no fun to pay for crappy pictures.

Here’s how our photos session in Texas went… First of all, Simone asked us to take photos in a field of wildflowers because everything was in bloom and beautiful. She knew exactly where to go and knew I’d love to have baby photos taken. I follow her on Facebook so I know she is always driving around searching for the perfect locations and excited to try new places and ideas, so I trusted her opinion.

the field, so simple yet so perfect
the field, so simple yet so perfect

Of course, as soon as we were all dressed and ready the bottom fell out and we all assumed we would have to cancel the session. Immediately, I received a phone call from Simone. She was not only willing to reschedule for another day (which would have been sometimes this summer), but she was also willing to play it by ear and work with us and the weather. Luckily, it stopped storming after an hour or so. It was almost sunset and I was sure that it was too late and too wet to go through with the photos, but when I called Simone she immediately left her home and her family to drive out and meet us just before the sunset. It was rushed and a little muddy, but she made it work.

All dressed and ready before the rain started.
All dressed and ready before the rain started.

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Luna was a happy smiley baby when we woke her up and dressed her for photos, but almost 2 hours later I was certain she’d turn into a fussy grumpy baby. Not long after lying her down with the flowers she began to whine and was on the verge of tears when Simone instantly picked her up and soothed her. She hugged and loved on her until she was happy again. This happened a few times and we were somehow able to get through the entire session with no tears. I kept waiting for a meltdown, but Simone was like the baby whisperer. I only wish she drove home with us afterwards!

simone photographer flowers blue eyes

She’s not only good with babies, but she can tell adults what to do also! I need someone to give me direction and Simone isn’t afraid to say, “look this way…put your hand here…fix that wild hair…etc”.  Clearly, Simone is a pro and I am so glad I can use her for family photos when we are in Texas. I cannot wait to see how all the pictures turned out, but until then here’s a little spoiler!

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If you live in Southeast Texas and need photos taken for any event I highly recommend Simone from ST Photography.If you do not live near her, then I suggest searching for a photographer with a website and a Facebook page with lots of updates, comments and followers. It will give you the best idea of how they work.

Thanks Simone!

Cheers!

 

 

New Friend Friday: Meet Stacey!

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to someone I have known since I was very young. In fact, she was actually close friends with my older sister. Nowadays, the two of us keep up through Facebook and one anothers’ blogs. This productive and creative friend of mine is a stay-at-home Mom of 3 who blogs and runs her own (Mom Upcycles) Etsy shop. She is super thrifty and crafty and blogs about how to turn the crap you would have thrown away into a holiday wreath or a new sweater. I’m getting ahead of myself. I should just let her tell you everything! Oh and she’s giving away one of her beautiful hand-embroidered hoops to one of you, don’t miss your chance to enter!

Meet Stacey:

I’m so excited to have been asked to contribute to Hilarie’s amazing blog! Thank you!

I am often asked, “how do you manage it all?” The blog (which has been on my back burner as I work on my new shop, with only once-a-week posts), Facebook and Instagram social networking, my new Etsy shop, cooking, cleaning, a marriage, 2 babies under 3 and a teenager, not to mention our monthly 4 hour round-trips in to see family. (Whew, that was a lot to type!)

Well, a hint is that I’m typing this in the notepad app on my iphone.

In my yoga pants.

With a baby in my arms.

The answer is that I don’t manage it all. I do the best I can, in the best way I know how, and have made peace with that.  This post is to reassure all the moms out there who may feel like they are failing if they can’t do everything that they are NOT a failure, and that it’s okay to do what you can, when you can.

I dream of leisurely days, where I can awaken, have a hot cup of coffee, shower, get dressed in real clothes, put on a bit of makeup, fix my hair, clean up the house, and then get to my other pursuits–my blog, shop, and social marketing and networking.  That’s all a day like that is, though–a nice dream.

The reality of my day goes like this:

Awaken to a baby crying, nurse her, give her something to play with so that I can put on a T-shirt and yoga pants or jeans if they are handy. Run a brush through my hair. Change the baby, set her in her bouncer, make coffee. Catch up on social media while I finish half of my coffee. At this point, my 2 year-old cries and I get him out of bed, to the potty, and his breakfast made. Finish my now-cold coffee. Run up to brush my teeth, run back down to tend to my usually needing-to-be changed baby. The toddler demands his last few bite of oatmeal be fed to him (please, let this stage pass soon), and then he’s off to play. This usually consists of him pulling out every toy he owns and littering it around the house. I start a load of laundry at this point, and throw whatever is in the dryer on my sofa to be folded later…much later.

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example of my chaos

I recently signed my toddler up for ABC Mouse online, so I do a lesson with him at this point and my next activity depends on if he is playing independently or not and if the baby is content. If both are true, I usually try to work on stitching an outstanding order. More often than not, though, my stitching waits for naps.  I’ll do some social marketing and networking during lulls in the day, usually. Also, while rocking the baby, I work online (like now). My Etsy shop requires daily maintenance, and my husband and I are even working on my very own store front as an alternate way people can shop for things he and I make, so that adds more online work.

Around 5:30, my teenage son comes downstairs to sit with the babies while I cook dinner.  I do enjoy cooking, and making my family home-cooked meals is important to me, so I rely on simple meals, many of which you can find in my blog. My slow cooker is my best friend. I also love “cook once, eat twice” meals. If all else fails, grilled cheese and tomato soup are a standard fall-back for dinner. I manage dinner by meal planning each week. I know exactly which meals I’m making, and shop for them, so there is no guesswork at dinner time.

The day goes on in much the same fashion, until bed time. My kids are big night owls, so this is usually around 8:30-9:30. Finally, ME time!

This is when I take my bath, package up orders that need to go out, work on things that require the desktop upstairs (a laptop is on my wish list), sew, and/or stitch as needed.  I go to sleep at around midnight every night.

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stitching up an order

The bottom line? No, I can’t be Super Girl. I can’t do it all. Things that are sacrificed in my life are housework and sleep.

My house generally looks like a train wreck and is in desperate need of a deep clean, and my laundry will never be caught up (did I mention that until recently, I cloth diapered two babies and now cloth diaper one?) but I refuse to worry too much about it.

My husband is incredibly supportive and helps me clean on the weekends, and my teenage son is a great help to me during the week, doing small chores like dishes, and picking up items on the floor, most nights.  It’s a team effort in my house, and I’m really lucky to have an understanding partner.  He doesn’t get angry about the mess and always makes me feel like I’m doing important work.

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As for the sleep? Well, I have 2 children under 3, that I’ve exclusively breast-fed. I wasn’t sleeping much anyway, haha! I am also a night-owl and the night time had ways been my favorite time.

I make it work; we make it work.  Some months we may not get to make the drive in to see family, and hopefully they’ll make the drive our way, or we’ll catch them the next month. Some nights are spent frantically picking up debris around the house, because I can’t take another second of clutter. Some evenings we have deli pizza or takeout.

My best advice for moms who are trying to maintain a household and a business, crafting, blog, strict fitness regimen, etc, is to not feel like you need to do and be everything. Let some things slide. You are human and your happiness matters.  A creative or physical outlet can be the difference in a happy mom and wife and a miserable one.  Surround yourself with people who understand this, and live your life doing the things you need to do to be happy.

I’ll end this with my very favorite poem, which is on my “to be stitched” list:

Song for a Fifth Child by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, oh mother, come shake out your cloth!

Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,

Hang out the washing and butter the bread,

Sew on a button and make up a bed.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?

She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking!

 

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue

(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby, loo).

Dishes are waiting and bills are past due

(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew

And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo

But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.

Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?

(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.)

Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,

But children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.

So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.

I’m rocking my baby. Babies don’t keep.

 

Thank you Stacey! AND thank you for offering this giveaway…

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Stacey will send one of you this beautiful embroidered hoop and all you have to do to enter is:

1. Follow Positively Panicked and Mom Upcycles blogs.

2. Follow Positively Panicked and Mom Upcycles on Facebook.

3. Comment below and tell me where you’d like to hang this embroidered hoop. (I’d personally like this one in my entryway!)

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I’ll select the winner on Monday, April 28th. Good luck to everyone and don’t forget to check out Mom Upcycle’s Etsy store for more hand embroidered items.

Thank you Stacey for your wise words…I’m always learning from you!

Cheers!

It’s Been a While

Since my last post A LOT has happened…I came back to NYC, an amazing friend has stayed with us the last 4 days, we had a spontaneous trip to D.C., got “kidnapped”, and so much more. I hated to miss writing to you, but between running from city to city and figuring out some major life choices I just couldn’t do it. I am thrilled to be back tonight, and plan on sharing all my crazy adventures, secrets and hosting a few giveaways in the next couple of weeks!

But first, meet my very fun friend Sara.

Strolling the High Line.
Strolling the High Line.

Sara and I met while working together in Albania. She taught first grade, I taught second grade and we both kept each other from going insane while working for some not-so-nice people at a brand new international school. I cannot even begin to describe the wild and crazy times we had while living in the Balkans… there were road trips to Croatia, ski trips in Kosovo, hitch-hiking across the borders, late night dance parties, costume making, party planning and top-secret bunker painting adventures.

It’s been almost two years since I’ve seen her and I couldn’t have been more excited to have her stay with us the past weekend. It’s been a while since she’s been to NYC so we wanted to give her the grand tour.

We went to Time Square at 1am and found it to be virtually empty. I guess tourists go to bed early on Easter Sunday.

Time Sqaure
Time Square

We spent hours exploring Central Park, which has yet to bloom. Belle was desperately trying to be included in every photo.

Central Park
Central Park

If you are ever in the city and want to see the Statue of Liberty, but avoid spending $25, then take the FREE Staten Island Ferry. You get a great view of the Manhattan skyline and of Lady Liberty.

Staten Island Ferry
a Staten Island Ferry

We have habit of taking all of our guest on the top of a hotel roof to get a view of the city. This is probably (definitely) not allowed in most hotels, but it’s just so darn easy!

Illegal roof-top gazing
Illegal roof-top gazing

We shopped, ate and drank WAY too much this weekend, but how often do you get to live it up with your friends from Albania in New York?! Besides, Sara did all the shopping, I just got to live vicariously through her purchases.

FAO Schwarz shopping
FAO Schwarz shopping

The weather has yet to improve here, but we toughed out the wind, rain, and cold weather every single day.

Sight-seeing in the rain while looking like Russian babushka's.
Sight-seeing in the rain while looking like Russian babushka’s.

Even though we haven’t seen each other in years we didn’t skip a beat. We even managed a road trip to see another Albanian-friend in D.C. during her short stay! That story will have to wait for another day. Looking forward to getting back in touch with all of you!

Cheers!