Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sew-vivor Season 2: AUDITIONS!

The last couple of Wednesdays have been full of details about Sew-vivor, and it has all led up to this day! I am so excited to announce that auditions are officially open! Everything you need to know is included on this post-- it contains info about our prizes/sponsors, judges, timeline, rules, challenges, and how to enter. At the end of this post is where you can audition to be in the competition!
Photobucket 

PRIZES
I'm so excited to present the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place Sew-vivor prizes packages! The grand total here is nearly $700. I have hand-picked each of these sponsors to participate. Each company offers a wonderful selection of fabric or patterns, and I am genuinely impressed with their customer service. I sincerely appreciate their generosity, and for making this entire competition possible.

1st Place:
($450 value)

$150 gift card to The Fat Quarter Shop
$100 gift card to Fashionable Fabrics
$50 gift card to Dharma Trading Co.
$35 gift card to The Fabric Fairy
1 fabric bundle from Sew to Speak
1 goodie bag from BERNINA
6 patterns from Fishsticks Designs
1 pdf pattern from Oliver + S
TBA from Nick of Time Textiles

2nd Place:
($225 value)

$50 gift card to Fabric Worm
$50 gift card to Fashionable Fabrics
$25 gift card to The Ribbon Retreat
$25 gift card to The Fabric Fairy
$25 gift card to Dharma Trading Co.
3 patterns from Fishsticks Designs
1 pdf pattern from Oliver + S

3rd Place:
($140 value)

$50 gift card to Raspberry Creek Fabrics
$25 gift card to Fashionable Fabrics
$25 gift card to The Ribbon Retreat
$15 gift card to The Fabric Fairy
2 patterns from Fishsticks Designs
1 pdf pattern from Oliver + S

*Discount Codes:
Fashionable Fabrics would like to offer you (anyone! you don't have to enter Sew-vivor to use this) a 5% discount off your entire order, valid Feb 27-April 30! Use code: sewvivor5  

*Thank you sponsors! 
Click on their logo to visit their site!

 photo FatQuarterShop-200-2_zpsbc117afc.jpg200 photo FashionableFabrics200x200circle_zpsfafac071.png
  photo mailgooglecom-1.jpg photo 18b953e5-886a-4bc6-b782-c8a83440bd6f_zps1e4f5655.jpg
150 photo 41f92dab-6ba5-49c1-ae15-408a89666c97_zps082f0a21.jpg photo 2413f856-07f5-4ccc-bdcb-d8401b87b768_zpsad8bfe3f.jpg150 photo 21399f8c-1d93-4b15-8800-56679f79009f_zps6b2ab8b0.jpg photo 91a0110a-3e83-49d4-a80b-384801ea3a84_zps89794fc9.jpg photo 18cce02d-13b8-4f27-b77c-8eebd7b68914_zpsfa040fa2.jpg
 




SEW-VIVOR SEASON 2 TIMELINE
Every Wednesday!

February 13: The Buzz Begins!
February 20: Official Rules, Judges, and Challenges revealed
February 27: Prize Packages revealed and Auditions begin!

March 6: Sew-vivor Giveaway
March 13: Top 10 contestants announced
March 20: Round 1
March 27: Round 1 results

April 3: Round 2
April 10: Round 2 results
April 17: Round 3
April 24: Round 3 FINAL results!

JUDGES
Say hello to the judges! Their job is to help me choose the Top 10 contestants who will advance to the competition portion of Sew-vivor. I have had the pleasure of meeting each of these ladies in person. Not only are they extremely talented seamstresses (each with her own style), but they are all incredibly kind, smart, and really fun to get to know. I definitely encourage you to check out their blogs!
Miranda from One Little Minute (last year's Sew-vivor Champion)!
Kirstin from Kojo Designs
Kate from See Kate Sew


ENTRY RULES

--You may audition with ONE sewing project. It can be anything you've ever sewn before, or you can make something special just to enter. It must be made by YOU. It does not have have to be your original idea or tutorial, and it doesn't matter if it was made with or without a pattern. Machine and handsewing count. Crocheting and knitting do not. Be sure it is your best representation of you, your sewing skills, and your creativity!
 
--You MUST have a blog to enter. It doesn't need to be a fancy or popular blog; it can even be your family blog. Please note that you will see increased traffic to your blog by entering this competition. Blogs are free to create on www.blogger.com.

--Big Tip: Take good pictures! Besides your sewing skills and creativity, presentation will play a big role in a competition like this. Large, clear pictures are appealing to the eye, and it is easier for the judges and audience to see and appreciate detail.

--This IS open internationally! I love and value my international friends, and encourage to you participate! :)

--Entries will be accepted in the form of a link party, (see here for an example of a link party). There will be directions on how to enter next week.

--The Top 10 will be chosen by the Sew-vivor judges, and will advance to compete in the 3 rounds of Sew-vivor competition. (Judges will email me their Top 15 picks, and I will tally up and average everything to choose the Top 10). I am considered a judge this year, and my vote will count, in a fair and balanced manner, in all aspects of the competition.

--If you enter Sew-vivor, I encourage you to proudly post a Sew-vivor button on your sidebar! If you make it into the competition round, you'll need to have the button on your sidebar for as long as you are in the competition. (Button codes will be available next week).

--To enter, you MUST be a Family Ever After follower-- take your pick. :)
Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, RSS, Instagram, GFC
(Yahoo, now we're friends)!


WEEKLY CHALLENGES
The following weekly challenges will only pertain to the Top 10 who are chosen to compete in the actual competition. I wanted to put them out there so you would know what the competition will entail so you can decide if entering Sew-vivor is right for you or not. 

COMPETITION RULES
The following weekly challenges will only pertain to the Top 10 who are chosen to compete in the actual competition. I wanted to put them out there so you would know what the competition will entail so you can decide if entering Sew-vivor is right for you or not.

--If you think that you've got a chance of making it into the Top 10, you are welcome get a head start working on projects for the following themes for the 3 weeks of challenges at your own risk! I am not responsible if you make a project but do not make it to the Top 10! All projects submitted for the 3 weeks of competition cannot have been made any sooner than February 20, 2013. Do not reveal them on your blog until they are revealed on Sew-vivor.
 
--Contestants may use patterns and online tutorials for projects. When you post your projects on your blog, you'll need to cite your sources. If you create your own pattern, we'd love to see a tutorial in pictures! Full tutorials will be featured on YOUR blog (giving you all the traffic).

--Projects will be revealed on Wednesday mornings 7am EST. Voting will be occur Wednesday at 7am-Friday at midnight PST. Advancing contestants will be notified via email the following Saturday morning. They will not be announced on this blog until the following Wednesday at 7am. This gives 10 days to work on projects.

--This means that contestants.... every project will need to be emailed to me by 7pm PST Tuesday night. You may submit 5 captioned pictures + 1 paragraph describing your project. Pictures should be 500 pixels or smaller and paragraphs must be 300 words or less. You are welcome to send the HTML.

--You will be allowed to post the full tutorial on your blog, the day it is revealed on Sew-vivor. Hopefully, this will help you get lots of fun traffic to your own blog!

--Voting: Every week, there will be 2 guest judges. Their job may entail choosing their favorite project to get "immunity." (It's like that on Survivor! That means that even if that project receives the lowest number of votes, they cannot be voted off). The audience (readers) will also vote via an online poll. Contestants are allowed to rally votes from their family, friends, blog readers, etc. Each device is allowed 1 vote. The guest judge vote + the public vote will each counts as 50% of the entire vote.

--Elimination Process: 
  Round 1- Top 10 
  Round 2- Top 5
  Round 3- Top 3
 
BUTTON
If you plan to audition, please add this button to your blog's sidebar or post. If you plan to simply follow along, you're also welcome to grab a button!


TO ENTER
From your blog, click on the title of the post that contains a picture of the project you want to enter. Then find the URL address of your post, highlight it and copy it. Then come here, click on the blue "Add your link" button, paste it, title it, and leave your email. You'll be taken to a page to choose the picture you'd like represented. Click "select," and then you're done. No flickr, instagram, facebook or Google+. Only enter one project!

IMPORTANT NOTES
--Make sure you have read everything above and below before entering. 

--All entries must be family friendly, and will be deleted if they are not. 

--I reserve the right to make any changes along the way as necessary! I commit to being fair and honest throughout this entire competition.

--You must be a follower of Family Ever After before entering. (You won't want to miss the behind-the-scenes action)!

--For anyone who would like to sew along, I have started a Sew-vivor Flickr group or you can post on Instagram with hashtag #sewvivor! (The themes are: emerald, buttons, and quilted)!

--Email or leave a comment if you have any questions!
 
--Auditions close on March 11 at midnight EST.
Top 10 will be announced on March 13 at 6am 10am EST.


Now the question is....
  Who will Sew-vive?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Printers + Marriages...



Troy and I got married nearly ten years ago.
That is the same age as our first printer.

We try to give 100% every day to our marriage.
But sadly our little printer is ready to give up.

A deep-rooted marriage will stand the test of time.
A printer will soon grow outdated and need replacing.

The more you give to a marriage, the stronger it gets.
The more you use a printer, the more worn it gets.

It's love, trust, understanding, friendship, happiness that go into a marriage.
Our printer only has one function. It prints.

Ten years of marriage is something I would never trade for the world.
Our sad little printer is something I would love to get rid of.

Welp, apparently, marriage and printers have....
 nothing in common.
Which is why it was time to say goodbye to our old printer and HELLO to this baby!!!

HP® Officejet Pro 8600 e-All-in-One Printer
Here's a picture of the old printer, on the right hand corner of our desk... RIP.


How very 2003 of us to wait until now to have a printer that does more than print-- it can scan, copy, and fax too! And it's wireless! It's got all the bells and whistles! I can not tell you how many times I have wished for a machine like this, it is wonderful! I have taken way too many trips to the public library and dug in my wallet for spare change to do these simple tasks. We received this printer from Staples (did you know that you can find printers at Staples)? I'm as happy about it as I was on our wedding day ;)

And, not surprisingly, it has strengthened our marriage. When you have a guy like this, who is willing to set up the new printer, how can you not fall in love with him all over again?
 hee.hee.hee.

(please ignore random horse in background. k thanks)

I really love our new printer. I LOVE that I can print from my laptop, while I am sitting on the couch. I print things all the time for my church job, and this printer has been a lifesaver. I am very happy with the quality. There are a few things I haven't tried yet, like sending a fax, but I am super happy that I now have the option of doing that from home! It is pretty large, but considering all it can do, that's not a complaint. I suppose I will need to dust quite often since this printer is black and dust shows up quickly. Other than that, I can't think of anything negative to say about it. This HP Officejet Pro All-In-One-Printer was rated really well on Staples.com. I am so excited about this new machine in our home, and would highly recommend it!


Full disclosure: Staples provided me with this all-in-one printer. Troy provides me the wedded bliss I always imagined. The words, marriage advice, and opinions expressed in this review are strictly my own. No one else would ever be so clever. To see the full line of printers, visit Staples.com. To read more about our love, go here. If you haven't had enough cheese from this post, go check your fridge where there's bound to be more. :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sew-vivor Season 2: Judges, Challenges, and Rules

Hi friends!
I am "sew" excited to reveal the Sew-vivor Judges, Challenges, and all the Rules today. I am giving you the Sew-vivor information bit by bit, so that you have time to digest it and decide if you'd like to enter! Auditions begin next week! At that time, I will reveal to you what all the prizes are! Be sure to check out the entire Season 2 timeline on this post.
Photobucket

JUDGES
Say hello to the judges! Their job is to help me choose the Top 10 contestants who will advance to the competition portion of Sew-vivor. I have had the pleasure of meeting each of these ladies in person. Not only are they extremely talented seamstresses (each with her own style), but they are all incredibly kind, smart, and really fun to get to know. I definitely encourage you to check out their blogs!
Miranda from One Little Minute (last year's Sew-vivor Champion)!
Kirstin from Kojo Designs
Kate from See Kate Sew


ENTRY RULES
If you'd like to audition for Sew-vivor, here's everything you'll need to know in advance!
Auditions begin Wednesday February 27, 2013.

--You may audition with ONE sewing project. It can be anything you've ever sewn before, or you can make something special just to enter. It must be made by YOU. It does not have have to be your original idea or tutorial, and it doesn't matter if it was made with or without a pattern. Machine and handsewing count. Crocheting and knitting do not. Be sure it is your best representation of you, your sewing skills, and your creativity!
 
--You MUST have a blog to enter. It doesn't need to be a fancy or popular blog; it can even be your family blog. Please note that you will see increased traffic to your blog by entering this competition. Blogs are free to create on www.blogger.com.

--Big Tip: Take good pictures! Besides your sewing skills and creativity, presentation will play a big role in a competition like this. Large, clear pictures are appealing to the eye, and it is easier for the judges and audience to see and appreciate detail.

--This IS open internationally! I love and value my international friends, and encourage to you participate! :)

--Entries will be accepted in the form of a link party, (see here for an example of a link party). There will be directions on how to enter next week.

--The Top 10 will be chosen by the Sew-vivor judges, and will advance to compete in the 3 rounds of Sew-vivor competition. (Judges will email me their Top 15 picks, and I will tally up and average everything to choose the Top 10). I am considered a judge this year, and my vote will count, in a fair and balanced manner, in all aspects of the competition.

--If you enter Sew-vivor, I encourage you to proudly post a Sew-vivor button on your sidebar! If you make it into the competition round, you'll need to have the button on your sidebar for as long as you are in the competition. (Button codes will be available next week).

--To enter, you MUST be a Family Ever After follower on Facebook and Pinterest.
(Yahoo, now we're friends)!


WEEKLY CHALLENGES
The following weekly challenges will only pertain to the Top 10 who are chosen to compete in the actual competition. I wanted to put them out there so you would know what the competition will entail so you can decide if entering Sew-vivor is right for you or not. 

COMPETITION RULES
The following weekly challenges will only pertain to the Top 10 who are chosen to compete in the actual competition. I wanted to put them out there so you would know what the competition will entail so you can decide if entering Sew-vivor is right for you or not.

--If you think that you've got a chance of making it into the Top 10, you are welcome get a head start working on projects for the following themes for the 3 weeks of challenges at your own risk! I am not responsible if you make a project but do not make it to the Top 10! All projects submitted for the 3 weeks of competition cannot have been made any sooner than February 20, 2013. Do not reveal them on your blog until they are revealed on Sew-vivor.
 
--Contestants may use patterns and online tutorials for projects. When you post your projects on your blog, you'll need to cite your sources. If you create your own pattern, we'd love to see a tutorial in pictures! Full tutorials will be featured on YOUR blog (giving you all the traffic).

--Projects will be revealed on Wednesday mornings 6am EST. Voting will be occur Wednesday at 5am-Friday at midnight PST. Advancing contestants will be notified via email the following Saturday morning. They will not be announced on this blog until the following Wednesday at 7am. This gives 10 days to work on projects.

--This means that contestants.... every project will need to be emailed to me by 6pm PST Tuesday night. You may submit 3 pictures + 1 paragraph describing your project. Pictures should be 500 pixels or smaller and paragraphs must be 300 words or less. You are welcome to send the HTML.

--You will be allowed to post the full tutorial on your blog, the day it is revealed on Sew-vivor. Hopefully, this will help you get lots of fun traffic to your own blog!

--Voting: Every week, there will be 2 guest judges. Their job may entail choosing their favorite project to get "immunity." (It's like that on Survivor! That means that even if that project receives the lowest number of votes, they cannot be voted off). The audience (readers) will also vote via an online poll. Contestants are allowed to rally votes from their family, friends, blog readers, etc. Each device is allowed 1 vote. The guest judge vote + the public vote will each counts as 50% of the entire vote.
--Elimination Process: 
  Round 1- Top 10 
  Round 2- Top 5
  Round 3- Top 3


--I RESERVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE ANY CHANGES ALONG THE WAY AS NECESSARY! I commit to being fair and honest throughout this entire competition.


Be sure to stop by next week! You'll find out what the prizes are, with a recap of all the details, and your chance to audition!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Sew-vivor" Season 2 Premiere... the fun begins!

Hey friends! It's that time of year again... "Sew-vivor" is back, and today we're kicking off Season 2!!!
I waited until tonight to begin all the fun, since the real show "Survivor" premiered tonight.

Here is what my logo looks like:
Photobucket

...patterned closely after the reality show's logo.

If you haven't heard of "Sew-vivor," first of all welcome! I hope you stick around the next couple of months to see what it is all about. It is a sewing competition I created last year, with actual contestants who sew projects that follow specific challenges (which will be unveiled next week). Their projects are submitted and subject to the public vote... and the last one standing claims the "Sew-vivor" title + some amazing prizes!!!

So, to get the buzz going, I am releasing the entire schedule tonight.
All the prizes, judges, and challenges will be revealed this month.
Everything "Sew-vivor" related takes place on this blog every WEDNESDAY.

So take a look, follow along, and take a moment to ponder...
Do you think you've what it takes to Sew-vive?
Stay tuned!

Sew-vivor Season 2 Timeline

February 13: The Buzz Begins!
February 20: Official Rules, Judges, and Challenges revealed
February 27: Prize Packages revealed and Auditions begin!

March 6: Auditions continue
March 13: Top 10 contestants announced
March 20: Round 1
March 27: Round 1 results

April 3: Round 2
April 10: Round 2 results
April 17: Round 3
April 24: Round 3 FINAL results!

*The main differences between this season and last season are:
-There will be 3 rounds instead of 4. (Making this a more realistic timeline and workload for contestants).
-Contestants will have 10 days to complete their projects (last year they only had 6 days. Voting will open on Wednesday and close on Friday night. The contestants who advance will be notified that night so they can get to work on the next round. The official results will be posted to the public the following Wednesday, thus keeping all Sew-vivor posts occuring on Wednesdays).  

................................................................

If you have any questions, please leave a comment, where they will all be answered!
Keep in mind that all the rules will be posted next Wednesday (which might answer a lot of your questions).

Please feel free to check out last year's competition... the contestants were so incredibly talented!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Needle Felting Tutorial: Wool Flower + Tools Giveaway

Today was the perfect "crafternoon." I love trying new art forms, and today I experienced needle felting for my first time. I loved it! I'm a super duper beginner, but I thought it would be fun to share my experience with you. 

My two favorite things about needle felting are...
-it's a fun and easy project to do with kids; my 5 year old daughter had a blast helping me!
-the roving reminds me of the lambswool I used to wrap my toes in when I danced en pointe, my fingers loved handling the soft fibers!


If you have no idea what needle felting is, basically you are adding roving to wool felt, using needles, to add texture and color.

I was inspired by the tutorial for "Passion Poppies" in the book, Fabric Flowers by Indygo Junction. I am honored to be helping them kick off their brand new awesome book! You can check out the entire lineup of flowers + amazing bloggers who are demo-ing a new flower on the Indygo Junction blog.

Supplies:
You will need the items in the following two pictures. Everything you see in this first picture is up for grabs as a giveaway at the end of this post!
-needle felting tool
-needle felting mat
-roving (the loose, stringy wool)
-wool felt, 8" square, main color
-wool felt, 1" x 4", accent color
-pom pom or center embellishment
-pin back (or a headband)
-needle and thread
-hot glue gun + flue (opt.)
-template from Indygo Junction's book (or freehand your own)

 Directions:

1. The book has great templates in the back. To create my pattern, I traced it onto some medical paper.
 

2. Then I cut out my felt pieces.

3. Then, I cut 9 pieces of the roving, and 2" long and 1/2" wide.

 4. Here's where the fun began. After carefully placing the roving, I let my daughter use the tool to felt the wool into place. It probably takes about 10-30 stabs to work the fibers in.

5. Continue working all the way around the flower. If there are empty spots, you can fill them in later.

6. Take out your needle and thread, and figure out where to make the pleats. I didn't use chalk to mark the fold lines, I just eyeballed where to fold and sew. (I love Madeira thread).

7. Sew all the way around.

 8. Once your pleats are finished, you can add more roving in the bare spots.

 9. Cut slits into your 1"x4" piece of wool. Create a running stitch, and pull the thread, securing a knot at the end.

10. Hand stitch that to your flower.

 11. Hand stitch your center pom poms or other embellishment.

12. Attach the felt circle backing, and the pin. I hot glued these both, but you could certainly stitch them as well.

 Clip your flower to a jacket, purse, headband.... whatever makes you happy!

 I loved this new art form, and I can't wait to learn more!
If you know if any good sites or books that teach needle felting techniques, I would love to know about them.
I was going for a "feathered" look on this flower, but the more I look at it, the more I'm not sure my color choices work well together.... hmmm, just sayin'.

Giveaway closed.
**And the winner is #5, Lady Dragon!

Giveaway Time!!!
 Do you want to try your hand at needle felting? Cool! 
Enter for a chance to win the following items...
-a copy of Indygo Junction's Fabric Flowers
-needle felting mat
-needle felting tool
-roving

To Enter:
1. Follow my blog via: Facebook or Pinterest
2. Leave a comment on this post, telling me how you follow and leaving an email.
write it like this: familyeverafter at gmail
*Giveaway ends Feb. 21
*US residents, ages 18 or older.

Discount Code:
FFBK7
This code will give you 20% off your next order from IndygoJunction.com
 (expires 5-1-13)

 
Check out all these other bloggers who are introducing new fabric flowers! You can also have 25 more chances to win! Check the entire blog tour schedule below to get in on winning! Each of these blogs are giving away a book and different supplies. 

2/2/13 - Indygo Junction Kick Off Post
2/4/13 - Kollabora
2/5/13 - CraftFoxes 
2/6/13 - Sewing Secrets 
2/7/13 - Princess Lasertron 
2/8/13 - Dollar Store Crafts 
2/11/13 - Tatertots & Jello 
2/12/13 - Family Ever After 
2/13/13 - This Mama Makes Stuff 
2/14/13 - Amy’s Creative Side 
2/15/13 - Today’s Creative Blog 
2/18/13 - Lazy Girl Designs
2/19/13 - Skip to My Lou
2/20/13 - The Sewing Loft
2/21/13 - The Crafty Cupboard
2/22/13 - Fishsticks Designs
2/25/13 - Taradara
2/26/13 - Diary of a Quilter
2/27/13 - Craft Gossip
2/28/13 - How Joyful
3/1/13 - Lindsay Sews
3/4/13 - Flamingo Toes
3/5/13 - In Color Order
3/6/13 - See Kate Sew
3/7/13 - Handmade Charlotte
3/8/13 - Sew Caroline
3/9/13 - Indygo Junction Wrap Up Post, Bonus Giveaway & Free Project

Monday, February 11, 2013

Once Upon a Weekend... My Trip to Texas and more rambling

Have you ever played that game where you choose 2 people, like yourself and someone famous, and you try to think of random connections that eventually link the two of you together? Ya know, like you ate at a sandwich shop, and the owner is the cousin of the taxi driver of that famous person? BAM. Instant connection. Haha.

My new Monday posts are going to be something like that game-- each paragraph somehow related to the next-- in a very random type of way. Or maybe they won't be related at all, haha. Sometimes I just feel like I have so many thoughts in my head that it could burst, (some frivilous, and some that actually matter), and I'm excited to have a place to get it all out. I'm calling these Monday posts, Once Upon a Weekend (formerly my link party). So please feel free to join me on my adventures in rambling, talking about what we did over the week/weekend, WIPS (works in progress), sharing music videos, maybe a little talk about fashion, vacations pictures... anyway I'm excited to see where these Mondays might lead!

One of my favorite bloggers writes letters to her blog, and I find it so entertaining. So I'm going to take a stab at it today. Let's begin.


Dear Last Weekend,
I found myself in Texas. My parents flew me there as an early birthday present. 
My sister and I were planning a fun sisters weekend in San Antonio. 
We were also there to attend a surprise party for Dr. Hardaway, the choir director from the Texas Children's Choir and Broadway Troupe, that we were members of when we lived in Ft. Hood, TX as kids from 1989-1992.
(The choir is still going strong, after 33 years, and is still led by Dr. Hardaway).
The surprise party was a huge hit, there were around 250 people there... many former "alumni" and current choir members. It was fun to reunite with so many people from our childhood days. The best and most unforgettable part was Dr. Hardaway's reaction. I don't think I've ever seen someone in shock like he was. All I can say, is that he is a man worth honoring and celebrating. He touched our lives in so many ways, and I've always loved music because of him.

Here is a video clip of the surprise. His current choir surprised him first, then the curtain opened, and the alumni surprised him again. Many of us had flown in from all over the U.S. It was truly special to be 'in' on such a cool occasion! And it was SUCH a treat to be with my sister, rehearsing and singing the songs that meant so much to us. It was like we were reliving our childhood. So special.
 

Dear Childhood,
You were good, so good. 
One of my favorite parts of my childhood was when my sis and I traveled all over central TX with our performing group. We sang and danced at Sea World, colleges, churches, it was awesome. 
These were during the days of Desert Storm, when our dad was deployed in the middle east. 
It was not an easy time, which is why I am so grateful to have had such sweet experiences and opportunities to help pass the time. 
It was a huge part of our lives, for 3 years.
My sister and I were the first tappers/cloggers in the group. 
Jazz hands! (;


Dear Mom, 
Thank you for making all of this possible, then and now. 
We love you.



Dear Kidney Stones,
You ruined our fun sister's weekend. Thankfully you held off until the surprise party was over, but you got the best of my poor sister, and sent her to the hospital for 3 days, with complications. She is doing ok now, but it was pretty devastating!
I have had kidney stones before, twice. They are awful!!! I guess they run in the family...
At least that gave us more time to visit with Dr. Hardaway, who came to see her in the hospital. That was very special.


Dear Flaneur-ing,
When I was 19, I studied abroad in Paris. One of our assignments was to be a flaneur for a day. We were to walk the streets of Paris, alone, and record our observations/thoughts/feelings/adventures. 
It sounded fun, and um.... scary!
American tourist, alone, young and vulnerable, no cell phone back then.
Yeah, no thanks.
I'm so glad I had the good sense to refuse to do this assignment.
My BFF Allison and I decided to do the assignment together, so we flaneured about Paris together, thankyouverymuch.
(PS- have you ever seen Taken)?
Anyway...
whilst in San Antonio,
while my sister was having surgery,
in a place that speaks my language + I had a cell phone,
I decided to embrace my 'inner flaneur.'
I wandered all over San Antonio on foot.
I stuck mostly on the Riverwalk (on a mad search for the stage where my sis and I clogged as kids).
I walked miles and miles, ate Mexican food, 2 scoops of ice cream, attended mass in San Fernando's Cathedral, and visited the Alamo.
All of it without my sister.
I COULD STILL CRY!


Dear Mou Chuk,
Never have I ever imagined myself wearing a white belt and karate outfit (what is the real name)? 
My sister, and her husband, and her kids do mou chuk together. They rock.
I had so much fun pretending that I could beat my big sister up.


Dear Texas,
Country music sounds ten times better when listened to while driving down one of your highways. 
Your Mexican food and BBQ never tasted better. 
(Seriously, if you're ever in Texas, go eat at Rudy's).
I could have stayed another week. I love Texas!


Dear Real Life,
Oh yeah, I have 3 kids back at home! Who was taking care of them while I was in Texas?
This sister!
I can never thank her enough!
And I still can't stop laughing that we were wearing the same sweater when I picked her up at the airport.


Dear My Kids,
When I came home, I embraced your happy bubbly faces and listened to your stories and laughter.
But...
 all I could really hear were your lisps!
Really, all 3 of my kids have lisps.
I've always known that, but I think I've just been "waiting" for them to grow out of lisping.
But it was all I could hear when I got back. Isn't that strange?
So, dear readers,
Do any of your kids have a lisp? And if so, have you done anything to help?
I really feel like I need to consult a speech pathologist and get some help!


Dear Monday-Friday,
I will not eat sugar.
I will not eat sugar.
Except Monday night.
And Friday night. 
Oh dear.


Dear SNAP,
After looking at the cost of air travel and stressing about child care,
I've decided not to go this year. SAD!
I now have a ticket for sale.
I'm selling it for $225 (purchased at $250).
If YOU 
or anyone you know
is looking for a ticket to SNAP, please let me know!
familyeverafter at gmail dot com

Dear Taylor,
Hey girl... huge fan. 
I still remember the day I discovered you, at home in South Dakota during Thanksgiving Break. My little sis predicted you would make it huge. I'd say fame found you very quickly.
So last weekend, I had a few hours on my hands... I watched this and this.
I liked you even more. You seem so 'real' and I love your songs.
But can we talk about last night, at the Grammys?
Did you really fake an English accent and dis' your former bf?
You are becoming too much of a drama queen... it was clever the first few times, but let's stop with the man hating songs now, please? 
I'm sure last night is bringing you lots of headlines, but keep up your dissing, and no guy is ever going to have the guts to date you!
On another note, this is my all time favorite Taylor performance, like ever.
I'm obsessed with her hair, her dress, the banjo, the song, the set, and she sounds awesome.


And that's a wrap.
Have a Happy Week!