Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014: G-Fam Style...

...Christmas Eve we drove back to our house. I was getting AR ready for bed when we heard someone "Ho, ho, ho!" outside her window. AR yelled, "Santa, I have to go to bed!" She went to bed with no problems and on Christmas morning, Santa had left her a baby doll crib!

Here she is taking care of her baby and rockin' her new Elsa socks that Santa left in her stocking.

Santa also bought her a Tinkerbell Doll (that I got for a DEAL!).

We hosted Matt's family at our house for breakfast. Here is AR and her Great Grandmother.

My only Pinterest project-these donuts. We also had sausage, fruit, and I made egg cups that were DELICIOUS!

After breakfast, AR showed off her reindeer glasses.

AR is blessed to have so many awesome aunts! Here she is with Aunt EB.

Four generations of the G-Fam!

AR with her Grandma Star

After breakfast at our house, we took a long nap then headed over to Matt's parents for dinner. Minus AR waking up with a cough, it was a great day! On Friday, I was off work and the weather was GORGEOUS! AR was such a good girl as we ran errands (phone store, license bureau, bank), visited the Old Monkey at the car wash, shared lunch at B-Dubs, and enjoyed the weather outside.

She and Shadow played outside for a LONG time while I brushed and brushed and brushed Emma (and you still couldn't tell!). Then we went inside and these two climbed in the wagon together!

Then we stopped by DQ to use a free cone coupon we had. This is an interesting way to eat an ice cream cone...

#lovemyAR #HappybirthdayJesus!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas 2014: Hfield Style...

...OMG! Christmas was sooo awesome this year! We just had such a great time visiting with our families and AR was so into EVERYTHING!!! On 12/23, we arrived at my dad's house. AR was bummed that her step-uncles weren't there but the neighbor boy from across the street came over with his parents. The two of them played Xbox with AR running from the bedroom to the living room saying, "I'm watching the boy play!" Then he actually let her play some NBA basketball game, what a sweetie!

After a horrible night of sleep for AR, Daddy, and me, AR and I joined my sister on the couch at 5AM and finally at 6, my sis told me to go back to bed so I at least got an hour of sleep! Once I was up, it was busy, busy, busy! We had presents to finish wrapping, dinner to cook, and errands to run.

Our grandma makes the best dirt cake! We didn't eat until 4 and then got on the road shortly there after so I was totally bummed that I only got one helping of dirt cake. :-(

We opened presents, Papa was pretty stoked about his swim trunks! Perfect for their honeymoon to "Canada."

Daddy got a pair of binoculars that AR had to try out.

AR loved opening presents and did a pretty good job waiting her turn to open. She "opened" most of her presents because she would fall on them and the paper would rip-lol!

Grandma TT got her this adorable shirt and Aunt Sha the boots. The shirt was a 4 but fit just perfect so we wore it both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

AR also liked helping other people opening their presents.

I also got my dad this Carthart and he loved it! Butchie got TT this apron. What do you think those things are on the apron? Everyone swore they were hamburgers and I was like, no they're macaroons! Luckily, I have my new smartphone so I asked Siri and proved my point!

Our step-brothers couldn't be there but they left my sis and I a present...

These awesome UnderArmor hoodies!!! Luckily, they follow us on IG so we posted a pic to show them how awesome we look in them.

So a few weeks ago, we found out that my grandma has a spot on her lung that is probably cancerous. It was really hard for our whole family to swallow that fact. So far, she's had 2/3 tests come back benign and one inconclusive so now we just wait. In the meantime, we all have faith and she's going to fight it!

After our indoor pic, we decided to head outside to get a pic on the Polaris. Unfortunately it had started raining so that's what the spots are on the pic, but I absolutely LOVE this. Everyone is looking at the camera, smiling, and I just love, love, LOVE it!!!

Another Christmas in the books and another great family celebration!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Festivities...

...As always, another December has come and almost gone. We are truly blessed to have so much family around us as we got to see all kinds of family this month. I tried to do fun activities and see lots of Santa, which we accomplished. But most of all, we had fun, loved each other, and got to spend time together. Here's a little recap of our month...

Had Christmas with Nanny, her husband and Aunt Jo

Nanny spent 13 days with us and spoiled AR rotten. Photo courtesy of AR.

Another photo courtesy of AR

AR got to visit with her Aunt Kim who was in town all the way from Salt Lake City!

Train ride at the mall!

Santa at the mall

Snow at the mall (I think it probably forbidden so my disclaimer-I was not there, this was during Nanny's watch)

Went to the library and visited with Santa...and played and colored and played!

AR used the library catalog to search for Mommy's book...or just to search for random letters and tell us what they were

I love the great, fun holiday events but a nice slow change of pace will be nice. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Merry Christmas to Me!!!

...Last Friday was a pretty sweet day for me! First off, I was off work so that's always fun. Then I headed down to Cape, but first stop was at my sister's. She gave me my early Christmas present from my entire family-an iPhone!!! Wow, twelve days before 2015 and I finally entered the twenty-first century! Crazy to think 2.5 years ago I didn't even have texting! Well, watch out, world! Now I'm going to be a social media queen (hopefully not! I plan to try to limit myself and not use my G a ton!).

I was supposed to meet my dad at eleven but I was early so I decided to swing by "The Bar" from the movie Gone Girl. Talking to a friend on my way down there, I found out that the place had been vandalized and the windows broken so I guess that's what these guys were doing, not realizing they were being a total buzzkill for my photo. Trying not to look too touristy in my hometown, I snapped a quick pic, the very first on my new phone, not realizing that #crackkills. :-/

My dad and I went to lunch at Dexter BBQ-mmm, delish! Then we headed over to the Toyota dealership where I traded in my Tahoe for this little go-cart, a 2014 Toyota RAV4. The deal was pretty sweet and I couldn't pass it up. Honestly, I hated the Tahoe. It was so wide and I really didn't get any more storage than I did in the Tribute so that's why I decided to downgrade. It drives great, but yeah, the storage is pretty small in it. The hardest thing I'm struggling with is that I've finally decided to turn AR around so she's forward facing. I know, I know, it's time, but it's still hard for this Momma because it means my baby is growing up.

Saturday morning, I headed to the fire station to have AR's carseat installed. Saturday morning hanging out with firefighters, well, don't mind if I do! When I got home, we went for a ride and she kept saying, "I get to ride in the front seat!" and "Thank you, Mommy, for my car. It's so cool!"

Of course, now that I'm in my new ride, I have to protect my seat backs. A huge thank you to Dot Dot Travel for the car seat back protectors. As you can see from this picture, they've already come in handy.

All in all, it was a pretty sweet day!!! Thanks family for the phone and thanks to me for the new RAV!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

AR's Santa Surprise!!!

...SANTA CAME TO OUR HOUSE!!! And AR was sooo excited! I loved it!!! She was sitting in my lap when there was a knock on the door...

She was yelling, "It's Santa, it's Santa!" But it took her a little while to go greet him.

He sat on the couch and she was jabbering away to him about anything and everything.

I asked her to get in his lap for a picture and she said no. So I said Daddy would and then she climbed right up in Daddy's lap.

Then her and Santa went to work on her Frozen puzzle.

This picture pretty much sums up her excitement. FYI-The whole fam jumped in to help out with the puzzle to get it moving along.

We gave him some cookies early and the two were besties.

The whole G-Fam with Santa...including Ms. Monkey!

And of course, the two of them sang Jingle Bells together!

AH! I love Christmas with AR. Her excitement is truly amazing and it made me feel like a good mom to surprise her and see the joy she had. A huge thank you to Santa for making our day!!! See ya on Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Putting Up the Christmas Tree...

...Matt brought the Christmas tree home on Monday. Ever since, AR keeps asking about "the big tree." Matt also brought home a little tree for her room that her and Nanny will decorate next week when she gets here. Tonight was the night though. We finally got to decorate the "big one" and someone was all into it!

While Daddy cooked dinner, AR and I sorted through the boxes. She wanted to try on the stockings...for real.

As I was stringing the garland, she'd hand it to me and tell me, "I'm helping you, Mommy!" Until she found this small strand and started wearing it as a belt, which she thought was hilarious!

Once we got started, the girl was sooo excited! It was adorable. As an adult, you forget about the "magic" of the Christmas spirit.

She thought all of Matt and I's ornaments were cool. She knew exactly who I was in my younger pic, but she thought Matt was Liz's little boy, Dez! She's got my stocking with my name on it in her hand. A candy cane she made at preschool beside her and do you see a Ms. Monkey???

She was just sooo excited! Matt kept telling her to stop getting in the box without him. He's one of those who likes to spend like five minutes reminiscing on each ornament. Oh and always telling me there's a box missing. :-/


Look at the concentration...and the three ornaments all hanging together on the garland!

This is the angel from my tree when I was a small child. I'm pretty sure it's bad, but Matt always insists on putting it at the top of the tree. :-/

The two of them admiring their work...#lovemyAR

It's going to be a fun season!!! And I have the ultimate surprise for her next week, stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Colors of Christmas...

...AR's preschool is at a church. They did a Christmas program called "The Colors of Christmas." We've been listening to the CD in my car for the past month! On Saturday, we had rehearsal! This is at the end of practice and she was pretty stoked because she got fruit snacks.

I was really concerned because when we arrived, the director told us to take off our shoes. AR refused and started hanging on me so I thought she wasn't going to go. Luckily, the little boy in front of us helped to coax AR to take off her shoes and she went on stage no problem.

I have no idea who the girl is beside her, but love her! She was helping AR to stand/sit when it was time. They were holding hands part of the time and then the little girl started playing with AR's hair. Adorable!

AND...AR gets to hold a snowflake!!! She even licked it to mark her territory!

She found me!

Aside from being distracted and her back to the audience majority of the show, she did pretty good. Here she is holding her snowflake! I was so happy she was paying attention and held it up at the right time.

And this is what she did majority of the time...shake her booty! Oh, and once she spotted me in the audience, she would point and say, "Hi Mommy!" then turn to the teacher and point me out to her.

After the program, the kids got to have a birthday party for Jesus. Well done, everyone!

Found more pics, had to crop to her and they're adorable!

Dancing almost the whole time!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Santa at the Fire Station!!!

...Today we had a BUSY day! First, we had breakfast with the Brink family. I feel like I haven't seen them in AGES! Emma and AR were so excited to see each other. Then we went to her preschool for practice for her Christmas program tomorrow (another post on that!). After practice, we drove by the fire station and O-M-G! The parking lot was FULL, people were parking on side streets and walking so I told AR we'd come back later. So we went grocery shopping and ran some other errands and we STILL waited almost 40 minutes to see Santa. Last year there was like NO ONE there, this year-MADHOUSE! No worries, AR was entertained with Frosty on the big screen and playing/marching with the other kids. I, on the other hand, graded papers :-/

We also toured the fire truck. This should be no surprise that my daughter LOVED it! #likemotherlikedaughter #weheartfirefighters

She got in the driver's seat and insisted that she hook her seatbelt!

Then we got to see Santa. He was FANTASTIC!!!

The two of them chatted about carrots and baby dolls like they were besties.

And of course, she was super excited to get her candy cane!

Thank you Station #2 for putting this together! It was great and I love how intimate it is, they have a great system set up.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My Third Book Release!!!

..Today is the release of my third book, Everybody's After Love! It is based here in STL and loosely based around Matt and me. Let me know if you read it and what you think!

TITLE: Everybody's After Love
AUTHOR: Lyssa Layne
GENRE: Contemporary Romance 
PUBLICATION DATE: December 3, 2014
COVER DESIGN: Kelly Walker
LENGTH: 60,000+ words
CONTENT WARNING: Some adult content

Jules Rossi’s world is about to be turned upside down when her big brother, Paulie, announces his engagement. Having been raised by her brother after their parents died, she’s used to him being her knight in shining armor and isn’t ready to share him with anyone else.

Throughout all the wedding festivities, Jules’ path continues to cross with Paulie’s future brother-in-law, Bentley Ladner. Bentley soon begins to take on Paulie’s role in Jules’ life, which neither of the Rossi siblings is too sure about. Can Jules cope with the secrets Bentley is keeping? Or will she lose his support when she finally decides to give love a chance?

As much as I wanted to dislike Bentley as much as I did his sister, I just couldn’t. He was easy to talk to, he pushed me to go outside my comfort zone, and he challenged me to let go of my past, something Paulie’s been begging me to do for years. Not to mention, he was easy on the eyes and I still can’t forget the way I felt with his hands on my waist.

Taking my turn in the portable bathroom, I hurry as the stench of the warm, small area is overwhelming. Swinging the door open, I step out quickly. Combined with my natural clumsiness and the couple beers I’d already had, I trip and fall into a broad body that grips my arms.

“Julianna Rossi,” he says. I cringe from his touch, his words, and the alcohol on his breath. “I’ve missed you, babe.”

Kevin tries to pull me in for a kiss, but I firmly plant my hands on his chest and push away. My eyes drift up and down his body and I have to admit, his muscular physique looks good in the too tight red Cardinals shirt he’s wearing.

“Let me go,” I say quietly, trying not to cause a scene.

His grip on my arms gets tighter, making me feel uncomfortable. Suddenly, that fear I had when I was with him last, riding in that tiny elevator, starts to creep back. His fingers curl stronger around my upper arms, pain throbs through my biceps and my body starts to tremble.

Leaning in close to my ear, he whispers, “I don’t think so.”

Frantically, darting my eyes around the party, I am hoping that my brother or one of our friends is close by. As if I willed them to be there, behind me I hear someone calling my name. Kevin and I both twist around to the voice drawing our attention. Just as quickly as I was relieved, I’m shocked when I see who it is.

Walking toward us in jeans, a red t-shirt that isn’t too tight but definitely shows off his bulging biceps, and a camo baseball cap with a STL logo on it is Bentley. His dimple and sideways smile greet me until he sees Kevin’s grip on my arms and probably the fear in my eyes. His stride gets a bit quicker and I feel Kevin’s fingers let go of me as he gets closer.

The moment I’m free of his grasp, I step toward Bentley who pulls me under his arm. It’s only the second time I’ve ever met him, but I feel more comfortable with him by my side than my ex. Glancing up at Bentley, I can see in his eyes that he’s wondering if I’m okay. I give a slight nod to let him know I’m alright. My arm slides around his torso as I try to steady my body from shaking. Adrenaline races through my body because of both the men standing before me, for two totally different reasons.

Lyssa Layne is first, and foremost, the proud momma to her precious daughter, AR. In addition to working full-time and being a mommy to AR, she is also an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, a runner, blogger, and an infertility survivor.

Having watched one too many medical dramas and being inspired by author Rachelle Ayala, who introduced her to the world of indie writing, Lyssa decided to try her hand at writing a romance story. Her attempt turned into the Burning Lovesick series. You can find Lyssa's own interests throughout her stories although all stories are fictional.

The jewelry being offered in this giveaway is from Rosey Johnny.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Butchie Gets Married!!!

...This past weekend, my dad got married! We headed down to Cape on Friday and had a whole wedding weekend. Here I am giving my Daddy a kiss the night before the wedding.

The wedding was real low-key. They had the ceremony in their house and then the reception at the winery outside their subdivision. Here's AR chillin' before the ceremony.

I took all the pics before and during the ceremony BUT I put them all on my Dad's comp instead of saving any for myself. :-/ Here's a pic of them before the reception.

While I played photographer, my sister was in charge of table decorations.

If you haven't picked up on it here or on Facebook, AR is quite a bit of a Mommy's girl. So while I had to take pictures, she wasn't too happy about hanging out with Daddy. :-(

Here's my sister with one of our new step-brother's.

Halfway through the reception, we ditched the tights and fancy shoes for penguin socks and tennis shoes. AR was in love with her penguin socks!

The Mr. G and me... The winery food was great, but the place was small and with lots of people, we were all sweating, hence the ponytail.

First thing Sunday morning, AR woke up and looked at me. "Mommy, I had so much fun at Papa's wedding!" Does that not melt your heart???
So that's all the pics I have right now, hopefully, I'll get some more later and will post then because I think I did a pretty rockin' job despite my lack of photog skills. Anyways, congrats Papa and Granny TT! Best of luck to your marriage!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

ShowerMade Shower Tote...

...Headed to college? Going camping? Got a million and one bath toys (we do!)? Seriously, we have so many bath toys, books, washcloths, bottle of soap, shampoo-it's ridiculous! So, I got myself a ShowerMade Shower Tote. It's perfect for what we need, because it stores all of the toys and you can actually see the floor of our shower now! I love that it's mesh so I don't have to worry about mildew and mold. Definitely a keeper!!!

  • QUICK DRY BREATHABLE FABRIC, so no mold mildew or rust
  • EXTRA LONG HANDLE STRAP to easily hang on faucet
  • STURDY SELF SUPPORTING FABRIC,will not flop over even when empty
  • IDEAL CHRISTMAS STOCKING STUFFER, Thanksgiving or Birthday Present
  • MANY GREAT USES, Perfect BATHTOY STORAGE and Organiser

  • I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

    Tree Lighting Ceremony 2014...

    ...Last week, AR and I went to the Tree Lighting Ceremony. They always have lots of games and there's tons of people. When we first arrived, we rode the train outside and it was FREEZING but AR loved it. Then we headed inside and played games.

    They had Rudolph there which AR happily posed with.

    The Gingerbread Man she wasn't so sure of so she held the helper's hand instead.

    We were on the balcony of the second floor listening to a choir sing. AR looked out in the crowd and turned to me, "Mommy, it's Santa!" I brushed it off because we were waiting on Santa to arrive. Then I looked into the crowd and saw one of the guys that works in the Parks department! Santa did arrive but the line was so long so I talked to Bill and asked if we could get a photo with "Santa in plains clothes."

    I'm sure we'll have lots and lots of other Santas to see before the month is over!

    Saturday, November 22, 2014

    Cakeway to the West: Part 16...

    ...Guess what? We reached 250+!!! We still have two bonus cakes to get, maybe some "unofficially" cakes, and there's rumor there's a couple more not placed. Either way, we've reached 250-woot, woot!!!

    Cake #244 Lincoln Park

    Cake #245 City Museum

    Cake #246 Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing
    This one is definitely kind of scary to get to. My sister parked then I had to walk a little less than half a mile, out of her sight, to get it and it's in downtown. Luckily, I found it and it was a pretty location.

    Cake #247 General Daniel Bissell House

    Cake #248 Old Chain of Rocks Bridge
    Now, this one was pure dedication! The road to the cake was CLOSED due to a water main break so we had no access to it on the Missouri side where it's located. We drove to the Illinois side and isn't this picture amazing???

    So we found the bridge and discovered we could walk across it...a mile there and a mile back. Too bad we weren't in my car because we didn't have the stroller. So my sis, me, AR, and Champ (her dog) took off across the bridge. AR was pretty good the first half mile, me carrying her and her walking some. Once we hit the half-mile mark, she wanted me to hold her the entire time. I had to pee and my back was killing me but I did it  because that's what mommas do, right? We were almost over the bridge and I couldn't handle it any more so my sis took her. Here she is crying because I wasn't holding her!

    FINALLY! Got the cake...then walked a mile back across the bridge!

    Cake #249 Columbia Bottoms

    Cake #250 Fort Belle Fontaine
    WOOHOO!!! Two-hundred and fifty cakes, baby!

    Cake #251 Green Center

    After this cake, we went to Jilly's for lunch and cupcakes of course!!! The hunt's not over...

    Friday, November 21, 2014

    Baby Rockstar Lullaby Renditions of FROZEN!!! Sunday night around 11PM, AR wakes up yelling, "Mommy! Come get me, please!" The house was silent, it was just her and me, so I walked into her room to see what was going on. When I get into her room, our conversation went like this:

    Me: What's wrong, baby?
    AR: The monkey touched my back. (not crying, but obviously upset)
    Me: What monkey? You mean Ms. Monkey? (she has a lovey sock monkey)
    AR: No, the old monkey.
    We moved all her pillows and quilt and couldn't find a monkey. I brought her to bed with me and all day Monday, she talked about this monkey. I finally realized that it was the black gorilla that the local carwashes have standing outside, waving at people trying to draw them in. Recently, she's become very aware of them.

    Anyway, long story short, that next night, she did not want to go to sleep because of this monkey (didn't help we saw him on the way home that night either!). Luckily, the Baby Rockstar Lullaby Renditions of Frozen CD was sitting in our mailbox.
    AR was so excited about this! She got in her crib, started talking about the monkey, and then pointed to her CD player and said, "I want my Frozen CD, Mommy!" Happily, I turned it on, gave her a kiss, and walked out of the room. No tears, nothing!!! I highly recommend this CD for any little Frozen fan that needs help winding down at nap/bedtime.

    I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014

    Santa Season has begun!!!

    ...So Santa season has officially started! I have to say I'm really more excited about it this year than years past simply because AR "gets it" this year. This past Sunday, we went to Bass Pro Shop to see Santa. As soon as we got inside, she started yelling, "Christmas tree! Look, Mommy, Christmas tree!" It was just pure excitement and joy that only a child has. It gives me chills and makes me want to cry! I'm going to soak it all in and try to enjoy the holiday season as much as her this year.

    We usually always go while Matt is gone hunting. It gives us something to do and it's usually early enough in the season that there's no line. WRONG! This year we had to wait in line for like 20 minutes. I know that's not that bad but when you're with a 2.5 yo, it's an eternity! Luckily, there was a dog behind us in line so that entertained her. Plus we're working on colors and counting so there were endless things for us to count. Anyways, we finally got to the front of the line and she was so excited! The dress she is wearing is an 18 months and she barely fit, I'm shocked we got it buttoned. She was such a big girl, told him her name, what she'd like for Christmas, and that she'd been a good girl. I was so proud of her!

    Afterward, we played some games, did a craft, and I wrote a letter to Santa for her while she worked on her penmanship. We asked Santa to bring Mommy lots of patience and she hoped Daddy wouldn't eat Santa's cookies.

    It was snowing when we drove home. I saw this sitting on our front porch...yeah, probably time I throw that away, huh?

    And then we got home and that innocent excitement and joy came back as she stood at the fence and jumped up and down because it was snowing. Melt my heart...

    Want to start a poll on how many Santas we'll see this year???

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

    My First Author Signing!!!

    ...So remember I told you all I wrote a book? Well, I've actually written four and all will be published by 12/31/14. There's also another book already finished that I'll be releasing in March 2015, plus at least two more in the Burning Lovesick series, one more that I'm currently working on, and possibly a short, sports novella that will be in a boxed set releasing next summer. So yeah...just like everything else I do, I've kinda jumped in head first and am fully submerged!

    There's definitely a learning curve, but luckily, there are tons of resources, fellow authors, and reviewers that are willing to support me and help me out, which I need lots of that! It's an expensive process and I have yet to break even, but the way I'm looking at it is like this: I enjoy writing. It's a hobby. Hobbies cost money. If I wasn't writing, I'd be spending money doing something else. If I end up breaking even, that's just a bonus. I won't be quitting my day job for this and I highly doubt I'll be going on "tour" any time soon either. ;-) It's just fun, I enjoy it so it is what it is!

    Last Thursday, I attended my first "signing event" at the local library. I was all set up with the first two books in the Burning Lovesick series, Love is a Fire and Burst Into Flame and I even had copies of my book The Right Pitch that won't be released on it's own until the end of December. I felt like I'd officially made it! I was the real deal...however, it was a little odd to introduce myself by my pen name!

    While I didn't end up selling any books, I still had a great time. I met fellow, local authors and exchanged ideas with them. The lady beside me and I agreed to share our secret with each other if we even figured out how to make it big. I met the library staff that's been so supportive whether it's through stocking my book on their shelves, retweeting my tweets, and hosting this awesome event. I also met some readers in the community and handed out some business cards. Hopefully, over the next year, I'll get some more local readers that will come see me next year.

    Oh! And I had a pretty awesome assistant with me for the evening!

    In case you're looking for a great, personalized Christmas present or just want to purchase the ebook, here are the links to my books (if you want an autographed copy, contact me and we'll work it out!):
    Burning Lovesick Series
    Everybody's After Love-This book is based here in STL and the main characters are loosely based around Matt and me. This book is available for pre-order and will release 12/3.
    The Right Pitch-This book is available for pre-order and release 12/31. HOWEVER, it is a part of a boxed set that will release 12/8 which will include stories from ten other authors and only be 99 cents. I will update with the pre-order link when it's available.

    Friday, November 7, 2014

    Harlem Globetrotters Coming to STL!!!

    Don't Miss The Harlem Globetrotters Coming to St Louis on Jan. 2. Save $7 Off Select Tickets to any Harlem Globetrotter Game with promo code FAMGUIDE now on sale! The iconic Harlem Globetrotters are coming to an arena near you with their unrivaled family show, featuring some of the greatest athletes on the planet. With incredible ball handling wizardry, amazing rim-rattling dunks and trick shots, side-splitting comedy and unequaled on-court fan interaction, this must-see event is guaranteed to entertain the whole family creating memories that will last a lifetime. The Globetrotters will face a great challenge this year against the Washington Generals who were the last team to beat the Globetrotters in 1971, and are now coached by a former member of that team. They are on a mission and will do whatever it takes to win, with a new strategy that is sure to give the Globetrotters a run for their money. My Readers save $7 Off select tickets to any Globetrotter Game this season at Use promo code FAMGUIDE


    I have always loved the Harlem Globetrotters! I know we'll be getting tickets to take AR to her first game. Hope to see you there!

    Sunday, November 2, 2014

    Four for Four...

    ...So last Friday, I spent ten hours at the hospital. Hubs has been having bladder/kidney issues/infections since last November when we ran the Turkey Trot. When AR and I got back from Florida beginning of October, hubs said he wasn't feeling well (this was Monday). After work Wednesday, he asked me if I thought he felt warm. Then Thursday right before I was about to teach, he calls me and tells me that he's going to his specialist that afternoon (don't mind I'd been telling him to go since last November!). The doc did an ultrasound and found that he had four stones in his bladder that would require surgery.

    So on Halloween, I dropped AR off at the sitter at normal time (6:30AM), went to work to help set-up a special event from 7-8:30AM, went home and got hubs then headed to the hospital where we arrived at 9:20AM. Now I'm not a hypochondriac but as I saw in the waiting room listening to coughs, aches, and woes, I start to get paranoid! The waiting room was full and then we were moved to another waiting area that was nicer but WAY small. In the first hour, I moved seats three times so that we could arrange for everyone and their couples. I want to add that while we waited, Matt yelled at me about our gas bill, his dislike for pizza, and how my car leaks oil. :-/

    Finally, they called Matt back and said I'd get to see him again before his surgery. About forty-five minutes later, the nurse came and got me. When I walked into his area, neither of us said anything and the nurse looked at both of us and asked, "Um...this is Matt, right?" We both agreed, and she said she was nervous since neither of us said anything! We chatted with her, the nurse, the anesthesiologist who all asked him: who's your doc, what kind of surgery are you having done, how big are the stones, and do you have ebola (okay, maybe not in so many words but that's what they were getting at).

    I gave him a kiss, told him I loved him, and headed back out to the waiting room. I pulled out my peanut butter M&Ms, my laptop, logged into Wifi and was all set up to do some massive reading and work for the day. Then my in-laws showed up and that plan went out the window (well, all the M&Ms got ate!). Right as they arrived, I missed a call and when I called back, it was the hospital. I panicked something was wrong before they even started but they were just calling to let me know they'd started. This was about 12:45pm.

    I sat and watched patients be called back, have their procedures, and leave with their loved ones. I read, I ate M&Ms, I texted updates, chatted with my MIL and then around 2pm, Matt's doc came out. I might mention that this doctor has worked on Matt since he was five so he knows the family very well. He actually came to our wedding and sat on the front row with our family. So when he came up, he took a seat beside me, my MIL to the right of me, and then he spoke directly to her. He told us that they'd been drilling on one stone for almost two hours and making no progress, even with the laser on the highest setting. He was thinking that the stones were calcium (probably from him drinking a whole gallon of milk in one night!) and that's why they were having such a hard time. The goal was to not cut him open but at this point, there was no other option unless we wanted this to turn into a ten hour surgery.

    He headed back into the operating room and I started texting out updates. My mom started texting my MIL asking how I was doing, ugh-mothers! I know, I'll probably do the same with AR. A couple more hours passed and we were the last ones in the waiting room, everyone who had come before and after us were gone and home. Finally at 5pm the doc came out, said they'd gotten it all out and showed us a pic of the four stones. HOLY MOLY! Those suckers were BIG!!!

    At 5:30pm, the nurse came out and said we could go see him. I know how Matt is when he wakes up in the morning so I hung back while his mom went and talked to him. About a minute later, he asked for me and I was like, ahh...he asked for me! He was complaining that his arms hurt from being strapped down for four hours. We gathered up all his belongings and they moved him into a room he could stay in overnight (this is actually where my dad had surgery back in August so I was somewhat familiar with the place).

    Once in his room, he asked for me again and then for his best friend who arrived a little later. We called and he talked to AR before Aunt Liz took her trick or treating (thanks EB!). The boys got ready to play cards but not before Matt puked in a bucket I held for him. :-/ Then I asked if I could go home for the night and he got all kinds of confused about what was going on. I had to explain everything to him, reminding him he'd talked to his doctor, that I wasn't spending the night, and that he was staying in that room.

    Knowing he was in good hands, I headed home a little after seven, stopping for a large ice cold water because I was so thirsty and hadn't eaten/drank anything more than M&Ms and a bottle of water all day. When I got home, my little mermaid drank it all! We handed out some candy and then headed to bed, momma was exhausted. I think I was the only parent that didn't post pics of her kid on Halloween. :-/

    Saturday morning, we deposited Daddy's check (after driving 20 minutes to find his bank!) and then headed to the hospital. I think it was just him and one other patient there. He was doing good, back to his 'ole attitude and ready to eat. After visiting for about an hour, AR and I went to get lunch for everyone. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and we ordered way too much food or dropped it (approximately 30 seconds after I handed AR her sandwich, she dropped it on the floor :-/ ). Once lunch was over, AR found herself a little spot to play on the the closet!

    Finally a little after noon his doc came by and said we could take him home. He was a very happy camper about this! I have to admit, I think my hubs looks pretty cute in this pic!

    I had a throbbing headache, was walking on eggshells for him, and dealing with an impatient 2 yo with little to do at the hospital so needless to say, I was on edge. Hubs got mad at me for getting on to her a few times (like when we were in the bathroom and she wanted to pull the cord for help and I firmly said no, he said I was too mean). Anyways, when we came home, she fell asleep in the car. Once I got Matt settled, I tried to get her to lay down with dice. Luckily, she went in the living room with Matt who turned on Daniel Tiger while I napped. All in all, it was a good team effort and later I took her to the park to give Daddy a break from Daniel Tiger and AR a chance to run off some energy!
    So long story short, four hours for four bladders stones and hopefully he's on the way to recovery. No lifting for him for 2-3 weeks, including AR, so looks like I'm a "single mom" on drop-off/pick-up duty and everything in between! So if you see me and I look exhausted, I probably am, but that just means the main man at our house is getting better! Prayers would be greatly appreciated and a big thank you to everyone who texted, tweeted, FBed, emailed on Friday to check in on him. Friends and family are AWESOME!

    Saturday, November 1, 2014

    AR the Mermaid!!!

    ...My girl was a mermaid for Halloween. Luckily we did lots of things leading up to Halloween because I didn't get to take her trick or treating (more on that later and thank you Aunt Liz for taking her). Anyways, she did this hilarious mermaid thing that made me laugh every time she did it. So for your viewing pleasure...AR the Mermaid!

    Thursday, October 30, 2014

    Trunk or Treat...

    ...Sunday night the church where AR goes to preschool had Trunk or Treat. I'd never been to one before and the cars were all really decorated awesome! We've been to quite a few Halloween events and this was actually one of my favorites. My wild child that was singing Frozen in the dressing room at Kohl's earlier in the day was so quiet and soft spoken at Trunk or Treat, it was crazy! Even with her own teacher she was quiet and shy!

    Finally! I got to meet her friends from school, they're triplets! We see pictures every week and I think she's been calling the boys by the wrong names but hey, at least she's got friends.

    Here's my mermaid in the "Red C"

    My sis and H came with us. Here's H as the Queen of Hearts in front of a castle.

    This trunk had a ring toss and did I mention that all the booths had some great candy???
    Hello Reeses!

    The trunk had their two black labs dressed up. They were sitting perfectly still that I almost thought they were fake. The kids loved petting them.

    They also had a hayride which AR LOVED!!!

    The mermaid and the Queen of Hearts

    We came home with a bag full of candy and two happy girls! It was warm enough that I just put her gymnastics leotard underneath her "shell bra" and all was good. Excellent event and I'm glad I got to talk to her teachers since I hadn't seen them since open house in August!

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    Girls' Day Out: Big Joel's and Pumpkin Galore

    ...Last Friday, AR and I had a Girls' Day out. I feel like I've been slacking in the mom department so as much as AR enjoyed the outing, as a momma, I just needed it. Life has been super busy so we haven't had time to do as many fun things that we normally do, but don't worry, I cram a lot into my Friday afternoon off: Big Joel's Safari, Pumpkins Galore, and H's Fall Festival at school!

    First stop: Big Joel's! Thank you Stacey and Addison for this awesome birthday gift. Here's AR as a deer.

    I kept telling AR we were going to see camels so that was our first stop. Look at these things, they were HUGE!

    She even fed one, poor miniature horse to the left didn't stand a chance to get any food. :-(

    This is an emu and I was shocked that AR wanted to feed him/her because it like pecked at the spoon.

    OMG! This zedonk was cray cray!!! I thought he was going to knock the fence over.

    And then we found the goats and she kept saying. "Feed that one, Mommy!" because they climb up the fence and head butt each other! I kept saying, "Be nice! Share!" So of course, AR then began yelling at them, "BE NICE!"

    Here's both Momma and Daughter racoons

    Then my diva climbed up on this tree stump and said, "Take my picture!"

    Cheeseburger!!! Great time and so glad we went on a Friday because there wasn't a big crowd. OH, I forgot! When you walk in there are macaws and other birds and snakes. The macaw started squawking and made AR cry because "he scared me!" It was funny and sad at the same time.

    When we left, we stopped at Pumpkin Galores which is right down the road. They had two giant swimming pools filled with corn kernals. AR built "castles" for a long time. FYI-Corn doesn't hold in a castle form very well.

    They have a great swingset which AR loved this horse.

    And this roller slide which is REALLY high up! I was worried about her climbing up but she did it no problem.

    The barrel train wasn't running since it was Friday but she enjoyed pretending (and got to ride on one later that night). Also going to say that I'm loving this pic!

    And I'm lovin' this one too! Riding the John Deere!

    She wanted to ride these pedal tractors but could only go backwards. She yelled at me for help and when I did, she'd say, "NO! I pedal myself!" Yeah...

    One last Momma/AR pic and someone was not happy to leave!

    I'm so glad we got to spend the day together. Hopefully things will slow down for us after Halloween and I can get back to doing all kinds of fun stuff with my baby girl!

    Sunday, October 26, 2014

    Cakeway to the West 15.2...

    ...Same trip continued!

    Cake #232 Jersey County Courthouse

    Cake #233 Calhoun County Community Foundation

    Cake #234 Pere Marquette Lodge & Conference Center
    Awkward! Walked inside and saw people holding trumpets so I walked out and BAM-there was the cake!

    Cake #235 Aeries Riverview Winery

    Cake #236 Piasa Bird
    Very cool! Ate lunch at Fast Eddie's after this one...mmm, burgers, fries, Elwood on a Stick, and shrimp!!! Oh and did I mention for both of us, it was less than $15!?

    Cake #237 Alton Visitor Center

    Cake #238 Alton City Hall

    Cake #239 Lincoln-Douglas Square and Franklin House

    Cake #240 Robert Wadlow Statue
    We had way too much fun at this one!


    #olympiadhandstandcontest #overachiever #almostpeedmypantslaughing

    Cake #241 National Great Rivers Museum

    Cake #242 Our Lady of the Rivers at Portage des Sioux

    Cake #243 Castlewood
    This wasn't on the same trip but one more cake found!

    Our convo on the way home:
    Sha: Today wasn't so bad. We didn't kill each other.
    Me: I know, we're ready for the Amazing Race.
    Sha: What?!
    Me: We found twenty cakes, ran a marathon, ate ten shrimp, did handstands, and covered a ton of miles. I think we're ready.
    Sha: I think we'd definitely be picked when they saw how we reacted when we got angry.
    Me: Yeah, we'd never get picked. They'd have to bleep out every other word.
    Maybe if we clean up our language, we'll be on the next Amazing Race? And we'll have the #cakewaytothewest to thank for it!