The Importance of Being Reese: June 2013

July Ad Special

This month is my birthday. Because I believe sharing is caring, I've decided to run a sale on all ads for the month of July. For the amount of page views I get per month (27,000+) my ads are already dirt cheap, however this month, all ads will be an additional 25% off.

I only offer 7 ad spots and 8 swaps per month giving your ad MAXIMUM EXPOSURE. Ad spots will be rotated. Large ads run for 60 DAYS. Check out my sponsor page for more details.

P.S. If you're not doing so already, be sure to follow me via bloglovin'. Google Reader is going bye-bye July 1st, and I would love to keep you around a little.

Follow on Bloglovin
 



The Charlotte Social Blogger Meetup-The Noda Brewing Company

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet up with some fabulous bloggers in the Charlotte area. It's always fun to be around other bloggers. I feel like I can speak openly and candidly amongst people who all speak the same language as me. It's so refreshing to be able to talk SEO, webmaster tools and social media tactics without people's eyes glazing over (yes James, I'm talking about you).

The group I linked up with is called The Charlotte Social. This group was started by the lovely Bri of Just Bri as an effort to bring bloggers in the Queen City together. Suffice it to say, I think she's succeeded in creating a nice little community of bloggers who are interested in meeting each other and getting out and experiencing new things.

Yesterday we met up at the NoDa Brewery in the North Davidson district. If you're familiar with that area of town, then you know that we affectionately refer to it as NoDa.  There, nestled in the middle of old brick buildings and art galleries, sits the NoDa Brewing company. Having grown up in Germany, I've visited my share of Breweries, however, this was the first one I've gone to in Charlotte.

{Source}
It was a great experience. I was a bit bummed that we didn't get to take the tour, but that was our fault since we showed up so late. The atmosphere was really chill. I loved the fact that people felt so comfortable that they brought their dogs in with them.

The beer was delicious. I only had one because I had to drive myself home and I am a notoriously terrible drinker (seriously guys, alcohol tolerance of a three year old child). I tried the NoDajito; a Belgian Wit mixed with a little lime and mint. Definitely a perfect beer to unwind with after a long summer day.

The Director of Community Optimism (how awesome of a job would that be!) was sweet. He came over and introduced himself to us, which can probably be an incredibly daunting experience--imagine being surrounded by a bunch of giggling ladies who all have the power of the internets at their freshly manicured fingertips. What a brave, brave man.

For dinner, we hit up The Tin Kitchen; a gourmet food truck that rides around Charlotte, dispersing tacoy-goodness. I had the Brooks Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos, and they were yummy. To be honest, I was a bit nervous going in. After all I was born in Philly; a city notorious for their super unhealthy, yet irresistible food trucks. However, the Tin Kitchen surprised me. They have a unique menu that caters to those of  us who are trying to escape the typical overcooked hotdogs and sodium saturated french fries. Definitely a win.


Overall, I'd say this meetup was a raging success. Good beer, good food and  good conversation. Definitely my kind of blogger night out. So if you live in the Charlotte area, be sure to check us out at The Charlotte Social. Every month we'll be getting together and trying out local restaurants, shops and activities and giving them a little social media love.



Find them on Twitter: NoDa Brewing/ @NoDaBrewing & The Tin Kitchen/@TheTINkitchen
Find them on Facebook: NoDa Brewing Company & The Tin Kitchen


5 Easy Tips for Your Next Family Vacation

These 5 simple tips will help ensure your next family vacation is stress-free and relaxing

 Are you thinking about taking a much-needed family vacation, but are worried about the stress of all the planning that goes into it? There's no need to worry too much about every little detail. The following are 5 helpful tips I use and have found immensely helpful when planning vacations for my family.

 1) Are you wanting to make sure your family is well-fed, but are worried about the cost and their overall nutritional intake? Be sure to encourage your family to eat a healthy and hearty breakfast before embarking on your next family adventure. If there is simply not enough time for a full breakfast at home, keep in mind that many Orlando hotels offer a complimentary breakfast available every morning that is included in your room rate.

Farewell my Fair Weather Friends Pt II

Rainy days, loss, comfort, (Read part I here
For a while, things seemed okay. We thought we had gotten through the worst of things. I think that some part of us realized that this was the quiet before the storm. 

After another routine check-up, my doctors discovered I had hyperthyroidism. Although ultimately this was not a threat to me, it was a threat to Jasmine. I was placed on more medication, and told to take it easy. Again. Still, I resumed my bi-weekly three hour trips from Charlotte to go home to see my friends. At this point I had been living in Charlotte for    months, and not one single friend had returned the favor and visited us. 

I still couldn't eat much. By this point I'd realized that I was being forced into vegetarianism. If I tasted anything that had even the smallest hint of meat in it, I'd get sick. I still wasn't gaining weight the way the doctors wanted me to. 

James was my rock during those times. We would lay in bed for hours late at night talking about our future. We wondered how our daughter would look. Would she have my curly hair? Or James' blue-green eyes? We fought over her name. Eventually we settled on Jasmine Isabella. 

Finally as the semester began to wind down, I got even more bad news, the doctors feared that I had developed Preeclampsia. After quite a few test, it was confirmed. Luckily, the day I found out was my last day of class for the semester. Despite all the craziness going on, I had gone to class every single day. 

Much later a former professor pulled me aside and told me how he had to deal with students who had complained relentlessly about coming to class every day while I was struggling with everything in my life and had still managed to come to class and maintain my grades. He told me that it wasn't often that he met a student like me. Months later, when I started struggling to maintain my grades and my role as a mommy, I remembered what he told me and dug a bit deeper and pushed a little harder. I owe him a lot.

I had a doctors appointment on my final day of the semester. Because I had Preeclampsia, the doctor's wanted to induce me. James hated the idea. He knew most inducements ended in a c-section. Because of my low platelet count (which at this point was severely low) the doctors wanted to avoid cutting me in fear that I would bleed out. I was so scared at this point that I had decided to write a few letter to my daughter. Just in case. 

For the next few days everything seemed to pass in slow motion. Still, not a friend in sight. Just a bleak outlook and a lot of sleepless nights. When it finally came time to report to the hospital I was barely holding up. James made one last ditch attempt to convince the doctors not to induce me. I was so tired and beaten I didn't put up much of a fight. In the end, it was decided that the best way to ensure the safety of me and Jasmine was to induce me. 

And so they did. I don't remember much after this. My midwife gave me medication to help me sleep that night. She could tell how afraid I was.  It wasn't until nearly a year later that James confessed that he was terrified that he was going to lose me and Jasmine that night.

They hooked me up to an IV and flooded my system with steroids in a last ditch attempt to increase my platelet count. Then they gave me the pitocin to induce labor. I think I slept most of the night. James never left my side. Even though he had finals to study for, he held my hand and kept a watchful eye over me. I think someway, even in my sleep, I knew he was there.

By the time the next day had arrived my midwife came in with bad news. The pitocin was causing Jasmine's heart rate to drop. Our worst fears had come true. The only option left was a c-section. I remember being wheeled down the hallway with James gripping my hand. I remember staring up at the white lights above shining into my face. I even remember the blue sheets that were placed over the lower half of my body. I remember feeling a slight tug near my stomach as the doctors pulled Jasmine from my womb. I thought "am I suppose to feel this? I thought I wasn't suppose to be able to feel anything? Something is wrong." That's the last coherent thought I had.

Hours later, minutes later, maybe seconds, I don't know how long had passed, I came to in another room and James was standing there holding this little bundle in his arms. She was so beautiful. I immediately reached for her. He placed her in my arms and I held my daughter for the first time. I finally felt whole. I no longer yearned for the friends who had left me. I know longer wondered if I would be lonely for the rest of my life. Right then I realized that I would never be alone again. I would never feel another moment of saddness over my past. This little girl was my everything.

That's the funny thing about becoming a parent. It puts things into perspective. It forces you to let go of your past and focus on your future. I knew my future was the little girl resting in my arms.

As a true believer of the statement "when one door closes another one opens," I choose to see the silver lining in all the friendships I've lost in the past few years. I think about all the wonderful friends I've gained in the process. I've become so close with some of James's friends that I've come to think of them as family. I may not have the same amount of friends, but I now realize that the ones I have now are the kind that will always be there for me and my family. Everyone else will be a fond memory that I reflect upon occasionally.

So maybe it's difficult to remember. Maybe it's sad sometimes to think about, but this story does have a happy ending. Her name is Jasmine Isabella, and she is my everything.



Photo cred: Briannedogdu


A Toddler Walks Into the Room With a Permanent Marker

Silence is golden. Unless you have children, in which case it's just frightening. Case in point:


And because me daughter is such an overachiever...

Naturally, this latest "incident" deserved to be showcased on my blog. And because I'm a big believer in passing along the knowledge that comes with parenting a toddler, I've decided to turn my misfortune into a learning experience for you all. And so this post was born. 

Here is my 9 Step Approach to Removing Permanent marker From Your Child. Be sure to take good notes.

Step 1: Take photos to document this incident for future blackmail

Step 2: Go to Walgreens with permanent color covered child in tow and smile at horrified onlookers

Step 3: Purchase makeup remover

Step 4: Go home and take more photos

Step 5: Wrestle with child while attempting to wipe them down

Step 6: Take a short break to rehydrate with a glass of wine

Step 7: Continue reenacting scenes from WrestleMania with child while attempting to remove permanent marker

Step 8: Briefly entertain the thought of taking an impromptu trip to visit the grandparents and then making a break for it once they have their grandchild in their arms.

Step 7: Tweet about the latest incident (although this can be done intermittently throughout the process)

Step 8: Indulge in another glass of wine while writing a post with instructions on how to remove permanent marker from a child

Step 9: Tuck child into bed, turn off lights, and cherish the sound of her soft little giggles as she pretends to be asleep. Come back when she's fast asleep, peer down at her, and thank your lucky stars you were blessed with such a precious gift.


$50 Shabby Apple Giveaway

If you spend any time at all in the blogosphere, then odds are you've heard Shabby Apple. If not, then please allow me to introduce you to your soon to be new found obsession. Shabby Apple is an online boutique that specializes in  retro and vintage styled dresses. They offer everything from playful cotton skirts to knockout cocktail dresses that are sure to make you the belle of every ball.

Their site is bursting full of beautiful retro blouses and high-waisted skirts just looking for a good home. Ready for the best part ::drumroll please::  As a special summer treat, Shabby Apple has graciously offered up a $50 gift certificate to one of my lovely readers. Starting today, one of you lucky ladies, or men (hey, I don't judge ;) will have the opportunity to win a $50 Shabby Apple certificate.

Want to take a quick peek at some of their clothing? Check out some of the dresses from their Ferris Wheel line.

And my personal favorite, the Color Pop line.


Still not convinced? Take a look at some of their sassy swimwear.


Fabulous right?

This giveaway will be open until Sunday, June 30th. Please be sure to follow all the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below.  Sorry, this contest is only open to US residents.

Good luck all!

*Note: This giveaway was sponsored by Shabby Apple. However, this post accurately reflects my thoughts and feelings towards their store and merchandise.


10 Kid Friendly 4th of July DIY Crafts

Since my last post on fun patriotic crafts for Memorial Day was such a hit, I decided to put together another list of 10 family friendly 4th of July crafts your kids will go crazy for. The best thing about these crafts is that they're all age friendly-- kids of ALL ages can join in the fun.

4th of July, Crafts, Kids, Fun

Celebrate Independence Day this year with your children making some (or all) of these 10 super fun patriotic crafts.


Cup Cake Liner Fireworks, 4th of July, Crafts
Created by Allison @NoFlashCards


4th of July, Easy, Crafts
Created by Ginger @GingerSnapCraft




Created by Cristin of SER.EN.DIP.I.TY


Created by Ness @1perfectdayblog



 Created by Cathy @nurtuerstore


 Created by Kimberly @LearnCreateLove.com


 Created by Allison @NoFlashCards



Created by @Multiplesnmore


Created by Angela @UntrainedHW

As always, if you decide to do one of these projects, be sure to come back and link it up so that I can show off your kiddos awesomeness. Have a happy and safe 4th of July. 

Welcome to My New Home

So what do you all think of the new design? I've been tweeting up a storm about wanting a new look for my blog, so I figured I might as well make good with all my promises.

Truthfully, I was a bit sad to see the last design go, especially since it was my first time designing a layout. I think I just outgrew the bright yellow and turquoise chevron print. It was a bit much. I would wake up at 6:00 a.m. bleary eyed and ready to blog the day away--only to turn on my computer and be greeted with a layout that could rival the brightness of the sun. Yes, it was a bit much.

I like my new space. It's a lot more contemporary and simplistic. It's very fitting for how I've evolved as a blogger. Hopefully this one will stick around for a while.

I have a lot planned for you all this week on the blog. First I have an AMAZING giveaway that I know you  will love. Then I have a fabulous guest poster who will be giving you guys some great travel tips so you can kick your summer season off right.

Definitely stay tuned. This week will be a doozy.



Puppy Love

I hold a special place in my heart for animals. Especially dogs. I admire their grace, beauty and friendly nature (for the most part). I also grew up with dogs so I suppose that's to be expected.

Since Jasmine is getting older, I decided to begin the hunt early for the most lovable dogs so that my little girl will have her own furry play pal for the years to come.

Check out these cute potential furry editions to our little family.

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And of course, here's the family pet that James has in mind for us...


*Sigh* I've decided to just go with it. For now...

Anyhow, are you a dog owner? If so, what kind of dog do you own? Do you have any suggestions for  a new furry addition to our family?


Farewell My Fair Weather Friends Pt. I

This is quite possibly one of the toughest posts I've ever written. Partly because I'm acutely aware that quite a number of my friends read this, and may take great offense to it. And partly because this topic is so very personal. However, after a bit of advice from a "friend" I've decided that in order for me to truly move on, I've got to get this off my chest.

I've come to the realization that amongst other things, becoming a parent can change a friendship. For some, it strengthens the bonds of friendship, making it nearly indestructible. And for others, it leaves it in tatters until no amount of past history can do a thing to repair it.

In my weight-loss journey post a while back, I revealed a bit of info about my pregnancy. That was only the tip of the ice-burg. In order for you to truly understand my post, you're going to need to know more about my pregnancy.

My pregnancy was hands down the most difficult period in my life. There are really no words to describe how depressed I was. Not only did Jasmine come as a complete surprise, but at the time, I had just moved into a new apartment with three roommates and had just begun my junior year of college. James was also living in Charlotte three hours away.

One of my roommates was horrible. She was the typical "college roommate horror story" type that you occasionally look back and reflect upon once you've moved on. She ate what little food I could eat without throwing up. Which at this point wasn't much. She and her boyfriend would invite their friends over almost every night and they would smoke "illegal substances" in the apartment. Not too many people will argue that weed smells disgusting, however, for a pregnant woman, it's about 20 times worse.

Along with a very fragile emotional state, medically, I was falling apart. It was one thing after another. The first trimester, was pure hell. I vomited every. single. day. So much that my doctors grew concerned because I kept losing weight, and couldn't keep a thing down. They eventually had to put me on Zofran, which is a common medication prescribed to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. At this point I was going to school everyday; sitting next to students complaining about how tired they were because they had stayed up all night partying.

A few weeks after that, my blood work came back with some troubling results. Apparently my blood platelet levels were abnormally low. Somehow, I had developed something called Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. To this day we're still not certain what exactly caused it. The doctors speculated that I was just one of the unlucky 7% of women who randomly develop it during pregnancy. Because there was reason for concern, they prescribed steroids, which I was required to take three times a day, and scheduled me for weekly visits to have my blood drawn and monitored.

Still, I went to class every day. Then went straight to work afterwards. And then I went home to my tiny little apartment and curled up into a ball and cried. Every. Single. Night. I honestly can't recall one night in that apartment when I didn't cry myself to sleep. I was beyond depressed. It was so bad that one of my professors pulled me aside one day to ask if everything was okay. 

Now years later, I have to wonder why is it that none of my friends (with the exception of one of my dearest friends) came over to check on me. How did they not notice that I lost almost 14 lbs in two months? These same friends I had comforted as they had gone through their trials. These same friends that I had listed to complain about their relationships, jobs, and life. These same friends that I would have all but walked over hot coals barefoot for. They suddenly seemed to have lost my number.

That apartment became my own little self-imposed prison. I didn't go out an mingle at night. I didn't eat in the cafeteria with friends. I never even had guests over. I went to class, came home. Went straight into my bedroom and closed the door and stayed there until it was time to work. Sometimes I would eat. Most of the time I didn't. 

I began driving home frequently to visit my friends and family. Every time I was in town, I would always go out of my way to make sure that I spent time with everyone. I started noticing that suddenly they had things to do and couldn't meet with me. They had homework to catch up on. Or plans with the family. Except I would get on facebook and see that they were at the movies with friends. 

By my second trimester, I had moved to Charlotte with James. Things had simmered down a bit, and it finally seemed as though we were through the worst of the storm. Boy were we wrong. 

To Be Continued...
READ PART II HERE


Photo cred) Tumbler 

A Lovely Blog Hop

Welcome to A Lovely Blog Hopwhere each Thursday we have the grand opportunity to meet and connect with lovely new bloggers, such as myself! Now you have something to do and somewhere to go on Thursdays!
 Enjoy!

Rules (Not really rules but a guide):
1. Follow your host and any co-hosts (if it applies).
I am Rekita @ Her&Nicole and I am the first linky. 
Leave me a comment so I will know who to follow back.

Your Co-Hosts:
Quana (sponsor) | The Accidental Military Wife

Lauren | Fizz & Frosting



2. Link it!
Link up your blog or anything else you find lovely. Share your family, fashion, food, crafts, or anything that you love this week. Please, please, please, share the love and include a link back to this blog hop.

3. Spread it!
This is a blog hop after all, so hop around! Visit other blogs and say Hi!

4. Grab it! 
Grab the button and place it somewhere in your blog or add just the link. Preferably in your blog post. 
This is to help us promote this blog hop, believe me, the more the merrier! Or post the link somewhere in your blog. 



5. Tweet it!
Please help me to promote this blog hop by sharing it to others. 
So tweet it to show everyone where you link up on Thursdays!

6. The most important rule of them all, HAVE FUN BLOG HOPPING!

On the Cheerios Commercial Fallout

Last week a few of you asked me how I felt about the Cheerios commercial fallout. To tell you the truth I had an angry response drafted and ready to post by Tuesday morning.

It's still sitting there.

I decided to do something a bit different. Today, I decided I'm not going to give "them" the response they so desperately need in order to validate their argument. I'm not going to paint a target sign on my blog and subject my family to the insane antics of the infamous anonymous Youtube commenters. I am certainly not going to tarnish my blog or my reputation by publishing a seething post in retaliation.

I am better than that.

Instead, I'm going to acknowledge that it happened.  I've written a few posts about some of the issues James and I have encountered in public-- the sideways glances, the angry glares and hushed whispering--these things actually do happen. So often that we've become somewhat immune to it.

So today I'm not troubled by this outrageous display of pure and undiluted racism, I'm saddened that so many people are shocked. Today my heart is heavy for the future generations that just might have the unfortunate experience of encountering this type of behavior.

Still, I remain hopeful that I will live to see Dr. Martin Luther King's beautiful dream of brotherhood and acceptance become our reality.

Until then, my family and I will continue to serve as a reminder that love knows no color.

Cheerios commercial fallout, interracial relationships, families


P.S. As far as I'm concerned my family and I have become Cheerios biggest supporters. Seriously, we are going to live, breathe and eat cheerios non stop for the foreseeable future. Other companies, please take notes on how to be this awesome.

P.S.S. In case you haven't yet seen the commercial, check it out...




10 Awesomely Cheap and Easy Father's Day Crafts

With Father's Day right around the corner, wives and children all over the country are scrambling to find the best gift for their dad. Today, however, I'm going to give you 10 awesome reasons not to spend hours in the store in search of that perfect gift. Check out this awesome list of insanely cheap and awesome Father's Day crafts that both you and the kids can make for the special guy in your lives.

Father's day, gifts, diy


The first four projects are aimed at adults,but have no fear, your kiddos can still join in the fun. Just be sure to keep an eye on them as most of these crafts involve glass, chemicals and scissors.

I've been in love with these since the day I first spotted them on Pinterest. They are super easy to make and look fantastic on a nightstand or mantel.


This project is a great way to display your favorite photos of the guy in your life. Who knew an old empty soup can could be so useful?


I also found this little gem a while back on Pinterest. How awesome is this? Word of advice, don't wait until the day before Father's Day to attempt to make this gift. You're going to need a bit of time to drink the Whiskey so you'll have an empty bottle. Not a bit drinker? Call over a few friends and have a ladies poker night.


This shaving cream is a great gift for that special guy in your life. It's super easy to make, smells wonderful and is great for sensitive skin. 

Here's one for both you and the kiddos to do together. This project is a bit more difficult than the rest, so be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to finish.


Is this not adorable? Imagine how great this will look in a frame on your mantel? Don't feel obligated to stick to this pose or phrase. Get creative with it! Personalize it and make it yours. 


Another super simple yet completely adorable project. All your kiddos will need are their hands, colorful construction paper, scissors and tape.


Everyone loves a puzzle. Now your guy can enjoy a puzzle along with some of his favorite memories.



Here's another messy project for your kiddos to enjoy. Instead of the typical handprint card, let them switch it up a bit and get playful. Your guy will appreciate the humor.



10. Daddy Tool Frame
This is almost too adorable for words. Once the kiddos are done putting this together, just pop in one of their favorite photos of them and daddy, and voila, perfection.
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The best gifts are the ones that come from the heart, and these heartfelt gifts are sure to put a smile on any Dad's face. As always, if you try out one of these crafts, come back and leave a link to your project so I can show you off. Have another awesome idea for a homemade Father's Day gift, leave the link here or shoot me an email at tasutton22@gmail.com.

Happy Crafting