Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Mathilda is 4!

Last week, my baby girl turned four. This blows my mind in so many ways, I cannot even describe it. My baby. Is four. YEARS old. My heart is dropping into the pit of my stomach. I don't think I'm ready for this.

But of course the last four years have been gradually getting me ready for this. Day by day, Mathilda is less baby and more kid. She wants to do everything herself, except if she doesn't want to do it. Then she is suddenly the baby again. "I just a little kid," said with a quizzical look, as if I am nuts for even suggesting she should put her dirty dishes in the sink or put her clean pajamas away in her dresser.

Mathilda's most prominent nickname is Skunk. Because she is a skunk. She likes to keep us on her toes, this one. Translation: my youngest child is moody, persnickety, sometimes surly, and more than a little on the sassy side. She is also as sweet, cuddly, loving, and adorable as they come.

It's only fitting that this week I am thankful for Mathilda. Probably should have been last week's post, but I do what I can.

Vivacious, hot-tempered, and passionate, Mathilda is everything a proper ginger should be. She thinks hard and feels strongly, leading to deep questions, frequent nightmares, and not uncommon emotional outbursts. She worries and gets anxious and has a slight (ahem...) touch of OCD. This gorgeous little moppet has tested my patience and my parenting skills to their very limits. Her strong personality urges me to be a better, calmer mommy. I'm still learning.

Mathilda loves to talk. And talk and talk and talk and talk. The more I try to talk, the louder she talks, in what I can only assume is a valiant effort to dominate all conversation. Those youngests, they have to fight to be heard. I don't blame her, the big kids are pretty loud and she has a lot of competition.

Yes, Mathilda has a lot to say. And talking with her is a great joy and highlight of my day. She is so funny, her sense of humor is contagious. As crazy as she makes me at times, she makes me laugh every single day.

With all the singing that my little skunk does, she seems to be creating the soundtrack of her life. Why talk if you can sing? And when music is playing, she loves to be dancing. I sometimes think it's like as soon as she hears music, an invisible force is lifting her up and thrusting her onto whatever makeshift dance floor she can find.

What does Mathilda love? Purple and ballet and treats, most any kind will do. Preschool, Netflix, swings, drawing, and skirts. Her red patent leather Minnie Mouse shoes, headbands, Dora, hats, and hotels. What she loves, she LOVES. Making her happy is so much fun because her reactions are big and sincere, and her dimples are super cute too.

What do I love about Mathilda? The way she scurries into the kitchen clutching her step-stool and offering to help with whatever cooking I am doing. That she sings to herself and becomes slightly self-conscious when she realizes we can hear her. Her little hands, holding onto mine, silently imploring me to keep her safe. How she gets so excited when she sees anything purple. That she sometimes climbs in bed with me and snuggles up to me just right. The curls at the ends of her hair, which I know will disappear when she gets her first hair cut. Every inch of her perfect four-year old body, from her long red hair to her little bitty piggies.

Being the youngest, Mathilda gets me to herself a lot. She is my errand running buddy, generally content to go where I go. I cherish our time together, quietly cuddling while the big kids are in school, leisurely browsing through Target, stopping for snacks at Starbucks or Tim Horton's.

Getting big happens so fast, too fast. I understand why Mathilda woke up crying on her birthday, telling us she didn't want it to be her birthday, she didn't want to be four. She gets it, somehow. That now that three is over, it's done for good. Three was fun. And soon she will see that four will be even better.

My big girl. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

ENDED Giveaway: Space Warriors Blu-ray Combo

Have you heard of Space Camp, in Huntsville, Alabama? It's this cool camp where kids and adults alike can get a taste of what it would be like to be a real astronaut. Chris went when he was a kid, and I think I can fairly say it was a highlight of his childhood.

This Friday, May 31, tune into the Hallmark Channel to watch Space Warriors, a movie about six teenagers participating in a summer space camp competition. This is a Walden Family Theater film, made for family entertainment and airing exclusively on The Hallmark Channel. Space Warriors stars Thomas Horn, Danny Glover, Josh Lucas, Dermot Mulroney, Mira Sorvino, and Booboo Stewart.

Bonus! Watch the movie Friday night and discover a secret keyword, which could win YOU and your family a trip to Space Camp!

AND...MichiGal is giving away one Space Warriors blu-ray combo pack, a Walmart exclusive which includes blu-ray, DVD, and VUDU digital copies of the movie!

For more information, visit the Space Warriors website, or watch the official trailer.

Have some fun with the Space Warriors app, and then scroll down to the Rafflecopter form to enter!

U.S. only, no P.O. boxes please!

I am working with Walden Family Theater to bring you this giveaway. All opinions are my own.

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The Mystery of Being a Sister

Maybe I should have titled this "The Mystery of Being a Sibling" because that's really what I'm talking about, I suppose. Growing up, I was alone. I mean, I often had people around me, cousins and grandparents and whatnot. But my nuclear family unit consisted of my mom and me. I was the only child of a single mother.

At the salon the other day, I overheard a conversation at the next chair over. I'm not sure if it was client or stylist speaking, but the woman said she was the baby of the family, by close to 20 years. So by the time she was born, her siblings were grown up and moving out, and she got to live like an only child, which she proclaimed was so ideal that she wouldn't change a thing about it. I hear this sort of thing a lot. People who are onlys, going on about how much they loved being the singular child. And I think to myself, "really?" Because I'm not sure I thought it was so great.

I moved a lot, as a kid. Which meant repeatedly going through the exhausting process of meeting new friends. I adapted and it's just what I did, but coming home to a sibling at the end of the day, someone who knew me before and I didn't have to work so hard for, well maybe that would have been nice. Maybe that would have helped me be more confident and less lonely. Because yes, I was lonely. I always made friends, and for most of my childhood we weren't far from our extended family, but at home it was usually just me.

As an adult, I'm still lonely...surrounded though I am, almost 24/7. I've come to think of life as a lonely state of being, as a general rule. We are each in this thing alone, no matter how many friends or children or sisters we have. Perhaps that sounds somber or melancholy. I just think it's the truth. Maybe I found this truth sooner because of my upbringing.

I grew up with quiet and privacy and solitude; craving chaos and noise and people. And now that I have very little quiet, privacy, and solitude, and plenty of chaos and noise and people, I find that I need to be alone, in silence, to think straight. If you're thinking, given the circumstances of my life, I must never think straight, well you wouldn't be far off. (Weak laughter. Because it's true.) Is this a detriment, to be blamed on only childhood? Or would I still be a person who needs quiet to think, even if I had grown up under noisier circumstances? Hard to say, but I think I am who I am.

After 30 years of being an only child, my world turned on its axis and the sun shone on a part of my life that I didn't know existed. I met my father and learned that I have four (half) siblings. I was a sister.

Something like this is hard to process, if I'm being honest. And the thing is, I don't know how to be a sister. It's not the kind of thing you learn, as far as I can tell. It's more something you're thrust into and is a part of what defines your being. But I was 30, and my being was already more or less defined. Wasn't it?

They have each other, and their shared memories and upbringing. I have my own memories, worlds apart from theirs. We share a parent, but is that enough to make us siblings? This is the new world order of siblinghood, undefined and unrefined. It's been eight years and I still don't know how to do it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Florida Spring Break Edition - Sea World Orlando

This post has been moved to MichiGal Travels. Just click the link below to read it now.

A Day in the D: Visit Detroit

Photo: @VisitDetroit
I love random emails that come bearing good news.

Several weeks ago I received such an email, inviting me to spend a "Day in the D" with the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau. It vaguely mentioned a few cool sounding tours and sneak peaks, but left me curious and excited to spend a day in my home town.

A few things made my quick, affirmative reply a no-brainer. Number one, I love Detroit. Number two, I love meeting and networking with fellow local bloggers. Number three, there was a little line toward the end of the email that read:
Transportation, tours, and meals will be covered by the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.
...and, I love free. Thus, I said, "YES!" before knowing the details, and before fully considering the myriad hoops I'd have to jump through and coordinate in order to attend this event.

My breath caught when I saw the actual itinerary weeks later. Because it was a fabulous itinerary, but also because I realized my Day in the D would begin at 7:45 a.m. and end somewhere in the neighborhood of 9:00 p.m. This meant getting up way early, arranging for someone to drive the kids to school, switching car seats, making sure the kids all had rides home from school, getting someone to babysit while Chris was at work, and making sure Bethany had a ride to and from dance. Several phone calls and texts later, and I had everything figured out, with lots of help from family and friends.

I was good to go. Except that last week Mathilda barely slept. It was a nightmare. The night before the event was the worst, and I only got in a few short hours of sleep, some of it while sitting up on the couch and holding my little munchkin on my lap. So I woke up Thursday morning exhausted, yet determined to have a great day. Determination can go a long way, because the entire day was perfect. I only wish I had been a little more energetic.

What did I do throughout my Day in the D? The original itinerary looked something like this:

  1. Meet downtown & load onto a bus
  2. Detroit Zoo tour
  3. Detroit Historical Museum tour
  4. Buddy's Pizza for lunch
  5. Segways2U tour of downtown
  6. Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Tour
  7. Dinner at Brizola inside Greektown Casino-Hotel
  8. Return to vehicle
Sounds amazing, right? The only hiccup was that it started raining and clearly wasn't going to let up, so we had to substitute the Motown Museum and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History for the Segway tour. The Segway tour sounded like fun, and hopefully I can do that another time, but both of the museums were exceptional and I'm glad we had the opportunity to visit them.

Each stop was fun, interesting, and thoroughly enjoyable. The bus was comfortable, the food was delicious, and the company was lovely. I'm going to tell you all about my Day in the D, but there's way too much to squeeze into one little post. Over the coming days I'm going to highlight one or two stops at a time and share all the details and some pictures too. I hope I will inspire you to get out and explore the city of Detroit, or even to come and visit us here in the Motor City if you live outside of the Metro Detroit area.

Disclosure: As mentioned above, all my expenses were covered by the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

ENDED Giveaway: The Addams Family at the Fox Theatre in Detroit

When I was a kid, there were so many fun family-friendly television shows, and one that I loved was The Addams Family. If you ever saw this show, you are probably singing the theme song and at least mentally snapping your fingers right about now. Yes it was dark and morbid, but funny and harmless at the same time!

I get a kick out of my kids watching shows that I watched at their ages, and becoming familiar with characters that I knew so well as a child. Now they can take that familiarity to a new level when they see The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy live on stage at the Fox Theatre! This is a really interesting choice of television show to set to music and adapt to the stage, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the creative forces that be can do with it.

Just in case you have never seen The Addams Family, I'll give you a very brief synopsis. The show is about a creepy extended family, all living together in a big old house, with each member of the family having all sorts of strange obsessions and interests.  They dapple in magic and deadpan some really macabre subject matter, like playing with objects of torture and plotting the murder of pesky friends.  But however grim that might sound, it is all in good fun, and the family is actually a good example of loyalty and unconditional love and acceptance.

Whether or not you are a fan of the 1960s television series, the 1990s movies, or any other incarnation of The Addams Family, the musical comedy version sounds like a great family outing!

The Addams Family will be at the Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit for three shows, as follows:

  • Friday, June 14, 2013 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 2:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 8:00 p.m.
Tickets start at $30 each. For more information, and to purchase tickets, please click HERE to visit Olympia Entertainment's website.

I have 4 tickets to the Friday, June 14 show to give away to one lucky winner!

Just use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Please note, the prize is for the Detroit production of The Addams Family at the Fox Theatre ONLY, so please only enter if you are local to the metro Detroit area or willing to travel for the show.

Thanks for entering, and good luck!

I am receiving tickets to this event in exchange for writing this post. All opinions are my own.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

The Fairy Hobmother Came Calling!

A fairy paid me a visit. Lucy keeps trying to tell me that fairies are real and I suppose now I have no recourse. She is right. Fairies are real.

The fairy I'm referring to is the Fairy Hobmother, known in blogging circles for his spontaneous visits and sprinkling of fairy the form of Amazon gift cards.

Here's how it works. The Fairy Hobmother emails a blogger, the blogger writes a blog post, mentioning this very special fairy, and then other bloggers are invited to comment, in the hopes that the Fairy Hobmother will visit them next.

So, just like magic, I am going to publish this post and be rewarded with an Amazon gift card! Since I have a bit of an Amazon "problem", I am going to have some fun with this gift! I still don't have a case for my new phone, so maybe I'll pick one out. Or maybe I'll get a few of the books I have saved in my shopping cart. Or maybe...I don't know, but whatever it is, I'm going to love it!

Thank you, Fairy Hobmother!

If you are a blogger and would love a visit from the Fairy Hobmother so you can get a $50 Amazon gift card too, leave a comment below with a link to your blog! You never know, he might come see you next!

Follow the Fairy Hobmther on Twitter!

I am being compensated in the form of an Amazon gift card in exchange for writing this post. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

ENDED Giveaway: 50th Annual Birmingham Village Fair

There is nothing quite like a fair. Carnival rides, sinfully delicious foods, games, lights, the hustle and bustle of excited families...the combined effect is FUN! Some of my favorite childhood memories involve going to fairs. Now that I have a family of my own, my kids love going to fairs too. Spring is officially (we HOPE!) here to stay in Michigan, which means carnival season is underway!

The weekend of May 30-June 2 marks a momentous occasion: the 50th Annual Birmingham Village Fair!

The Birmingham Village Fair will be held in downtown Birmingham on the surrounding streets of Shain Park. The hours are as follows:
Thursday, May 30 - 12 to 10:00 p.m.
Friday, May 31 - 12-11:00 p.m. 
Saturday, June 1 - 11 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. 
Sunday, June 2 - 12-9:00 p.m.
Wristbands will be available for purchase at the fair for $20. Discount wristbands are available until May 29 at the following locations for $15!

  • Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber - 725 S. Adams Rd, Suite 13, Birmingham. Office hours 9-5 Monday-Friday.
  • Birmingham Bloomfield Credit Union - 576 E. Lincoln, Birmingham. Office hours 9-5 Monday-Thursday & 9-6 Friday.
  • Bank of Birmingham - 33583 Woodward Ave., Birmingham. Office hours 9-5 Monday-Friday.
**Please note** These discounted wristbands are valid for the following days & times:
  • Thursday, May 30, 12-10 p.m.
  • Friday, May 31, 12-6 p.m.
  • Sunday, June 2, 12-9 p.m.
The Birmingham Village Fair is sponsored by AT&T U-Verse, Bank of Birmingham, Lakeshore Express Aviation, and WOW! Internet Cable Phone.

For more information and to stay in the loop, head over and like the Village Fair Facebook page!

Happy news! I am giving away 2 wristbands for the Birmingham Village Fair to one lucky reader! To be clear, these are the discounted wristbands that can be use at the restricted times noted above. They will come in the form of a voucher, which the winner will then take to a ticket window at the fair to exchange for wristbands.

Just use the Rafflecopter form to enter! Good luck, and maybe I'll see you there!

I have received free tickets to this event, tickets to give away and compensation for this sponsored post through This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. 

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful that my family worked together to give our living room a deep cleaning and mini makeover on Mother's Day. The kids really worked hard and Chris was completely game when I told him that's how I wanted to spend my day.

I am thankful for being spoiled for Mother's Day.

I am thankful for the wonderful opportunities that have come my way thanks to this blog.

I am thankful for opportunities to step out of my comfort zone and grow.

I am thankful that I get to spend some one on one time with Connor at Boy Scout camp this weekend.

I am thankful for a fabulous year of 3s preschool for Mathilda, which is coming to an end next week! Already!

I am thankful that I have been able to be a stay-at-home mom all these years.

I am thankful that I was able to chaperon Connor's field trip this week.

I am thankful for beautiful weather that warms my soul and makes my days a little more joyful.

I am thankful that we are about to begin couch shopping for the family room. I can barely contain my excitement on that one!

I am thankful for a fun night out seeing Jillian Michaels with my good friend last week, and for making a new friend too.

I am thankful that my allergies have calmed down a little bit.

I am thankful for lots of help from my mom and my in-laws, which makes many things possible that otherwise might not be possible. Like going to Boy Scout camp when Chris has to work all weekend. And going downtown to see Jillian Michaels on a Thursday night (again Chris was working).

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

ENDED Giveaway: Bon Jovi Tickets! July 18 at Ford Field in Detroit

Summer is just around the corner, which means it's time to start making some fun plans! Concerts are a staple of summertime Bon Jovi and The J. Geils Band, coming to Detroit's Ford Field on July 18, 2013.

When I posted about this concert a few weeks ago and mentioned that The J. Geils Band would be opening, I learned that Detroit has a special bond with this particular band. All the more reason to get your tickets! Plus I know plenty of women who are still swooning over Jon Bon Jovi, decades after he first arrived on the music scene. Maybe even hoping to get close enough to the stage to be christened with a few drops of his sweat.

Have you ordered your tickets yet? Click HERE to get more info & order today!

If you'd like to WIN 2 FREE tickets to see Bon Jovi and The J. Geils Band at Ford Field on July 18, you are in luck! Because I'm giving them away! I want you all to know how generous I am, because these tickets could have been mine, but I am unavailable on that date. So instead I'm hosting this giveaway so that one of my wonderful readers will have the opportunity to attend in my place!

Just to be clear, these tickets are for the July 18, 2013 concert at Ford Field in Detroit. So please only enter if you live in the Detroit area or plan on visiting (or giving them to someone who lives get the idea!). Use the Rafflecopter form to enter, and Good Luck!!!

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So What Wednesday

So What Wednesday

Oh it's REALLY a So What week around here.

So what if our family room is totally torn apart? We completely re-arranged our living room on Mother's Day:  moved the piano from the living room to the family room, swapped chairs, brought cabinets out of the family room & into the living room and hallway. And now our family room is looking pretty dang, well...let's just say I wouldn't invite you into that room if you were to drop in for a visit.

So what if I chose to spend my Mother's Day cleaning and re-arranging furniture. Once in awhile I just get this itch for a CHANGE and that was the day. So now our living room looks totally different. We still need a few things to complete it, but I am really happy with the changes.

So what if my darling daughter has completely peeled the leather off the seat of one our dining room tiny little bits. And she's working on a second chair. New chair covers have been ordered, which should solve the problem for the time being. Since our dining room is adjacent to our living room, the new covers will go along with our living room transformation.

So what if I'm playing store with Mathilda while writing this. She has half of my attention. Give or take.

So what if Mathilda's preferred hairstyle of late is a headband worn hippie style.

So what if we skipped preschool yesterday because I didn't feel like doing bike day. No one tell Mathilda. If she catches wind of this at school tomorrow she is not going to be a happy camper.

So what if Mathilda is now arguing with me about wearing her nightgown to play outside. Yes we've moved on from playing store. This kid never wants to take her nightgown off.

So what if the blog has been relocated to the backseat of my life these past couple weeks. Maybe longer. I'm still here, and I usually post on the Facebook page pretty regularly. But I'm definitely a bit behind in my blogging responsibilities.

So what if it's sounding like I'm going to be missing Mattie's end of the year school picnic to attend a blogger event. I am sure I can find someone to step in for me and take her so she won't miss out.

So what if I brought my (uninvited) kids to a wedding last weekend. Just the church, don't worry. I'm not rude enough to bring them to the reception and demand extra plates. Just rude enough to walk into church (late) with four uninvited guests.

So what if I'm going to take this opportunity to plug a giveaway I have going on that's ending in 2 days. So go on and enter to win 4 personal training sessions from Swift Results Personal Training. Thank you!

So what if I'd like to promise you that I'll have more giveaways going live later today (I have about 6 I need to post!) but I'm just not sure I'll be that with it. I'm battling a headache and a child who is itching to get outside and play.

What are you saying so what to today?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Book Review: The Love Wars By L. Alison Heller

To make it at Bacon Payne, Manhattan's foremost law firm, associates have to take dedication to a whole new level. The incentives are impressive, but the price is high. All-nighters, dinners at the office, lack of a social life...those are just the tip of the iceberg. Playing the game is required to succeed, and that comes with an understanding that the firm comes first.

Molly Grant, matrimonial attorney at Bacon Payne, has her reasons for sticking around. But how long can she continue to burn the candle at both ends while simultaneously ignoring the nagging voice in her head telling her that the choices she is making in the name of career advancement do not align with her personal beliefs and character? When she starts listening to her heart, everything starts to change. An old flame is reignited, but who at Bacon Payne really has time to invest in relationships? And perhaps it is best to leave the past in the past. A colleague becomes a mentor and confidante, but could he possibly become more?

As Molly secretly attempts to retain a sense of self she can comfortably live with, the reader is left turning each page in stressful anticipation of what will happen next. Can Molly pull it off, or will her double life catch up with her? There were literally times I had to take a deep breath and put the book down because I couldn't stand the suspense. But I couldn't stay away for long, because I had to find out what happened next!

L. Alison Heller's novel, The Love Wars, is a book about lawyers behind the scenes, without focusing too much on courtroom drama. It's a romance, but it's also a book about staying true to yourself, and having the courage to recognize when it might be time to re-evaluate what you thought were your dreams and goals in life. I'm sure many can commiserate with Molly, as they trudge through life trying to please parents and bosses, and struggling to chase after dreams that are no longer relevant.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of The Love Wars in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thankful Thursday

In the spirit of Teacher Appreciation Week, I am going to take this opportunity to carry on about how thankful I am for the teachers involved in my children's educational journey this year. I'm feeling blessed that my kids are being well cared for by incredibly giving teachers while they are away from me for many hours each week.

My love of our chosen preschool for Mathilda (and all of our children) is no secret. I drive 10.5 miles each way, passing several other preschools along the way, to send my baby girl to the school that I know is the best choice for her. The teachers are what make her school so special. I am so thankful to my friend who first introduced me to the school, and for these two wonderful teachers who have introduced all of my children into the world of being students.

Today I had the pleasure of being a guest at preschool for Mother's Day tea, just one example of Mathilda's teachers going far and above the call of duty to make this first experience with school as special and magical as possible. The kids sang, danced, made us beautiful gifts, and served us lunch that they helped to prepare. If you follow me on Instagram, you can see some pictures. Unfortunately I remain technically challenged and do not know how to get photos from Instagram onto Blogger.

I have been so blessed this year because Connor and Lucy both have teachers who are perfectly suited to their personalities. Lucy is like a delicate, fragile little flower who needs someone gentle and sweet. She has a wonderful teacher who just gets her and treats her exactly as she needs to be treated. Connor tends to get a little frazzled and sets really high standards for himself. His awesome teacher is mellow and kind and helps keep him grounded when he starts to get wound up a little too tight. They are both dedicated ladies and I'm so grateful that my kids were assigned to their classrooms.

Connor's teacher is hosting a Mother's Day Poetry Cafe tomorrow afternoon, where all of us moms and special loved ones will get to hear our kids recite poetry that they've written themselves, and enjoy some light refreshments. Again, I know this kind of thing takes effort and time far beyond the hours spent in the classroom.

Now that Bethany is in middle school, I don't have as much interaction with her teachers as I did when she was in elementary school. But I have found all of her teachers as a whole to be very organized, helpful, and responsive. They have each helped to make Bethany's transition into middle school a very smooth one. They all keep careful track of student grades online on the Parent Portal, so it's easy to see how Bethany is doing in her classes at any given time. I realize this takes a lot of time outside of the classroom, and I'm so thankful that they take the time to do it. Bethany is the type to email  her teachers if she has any issues with homework or anything else, and they have been really good about getting back with her and addressing her concerns. One teacher even sends out frequent email updates to parents, which I absolutely love. He takes the time to let us know when big tests are coming up, when he's going to be out of the classroom, and to remind us it's time to turn in fundraiser money. As our kids get older, being involved in their education is still important. Thankfully our middle school teachers seem to understand that!

Teachers give so much of themselves to their students. They work long hours, and wear many hats throughout the school day...educator, counselor, mediator, and many more. They also spend a lot of their own money to make their classrooms inspiring learning environments. Today I'm feeling thankful for all my kids' teachers do for them.

What are you thankful for today?

Do you love your child's teacher(s)?

Are your kids doing any special Mother's Day things for you at school?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

So What Wednesday

So What Wednesday

My allergies are worse than they've been in a LONG time. Ohmygosh, I am miserable. I'm about to go take my third allergy pill of the day and go to bed, before 11:00.

I think I've already mentioned this, but I have started the Couch25K program over again. I completed it in December and ran my first 5K race, and I even ran a 5K at the gym a week or two ago. My friend tried telling me I should skip ahead to week 4 on the app, but I'm not gonna do it. Baby steps. Some day I'm NOT going to feel like I'm about to drop dead when I'm running.

I'm so tired and it is messing with my basic brain functioning. If there is something important that I was supposed to do for you, please kindly remind me.

This week we are having the weather I've been dreaming about for months. Perfect. Beautiful. Warm.

Sunshine really helps to improve my moods & I'm so happy we've had plenty lately. That said, I dread when I'm getting ready to drive somewhere and  I look outside and see nothing but blue skies. My eyes are super duper sensitive to light AND I broke my only pair of sunglasses.

Last weekend Chris and I finally removed an old rose bush that has been taunting me since we moved in. We took down the whole flower bed and put down grass seed. It was not a nice rose bush, don't feel sorry for it.

Now I have to transplant all my tulip bulbs. Hoping they take!

I got bangs last week. I'm still getting used to them, but I think it's all good.

Today was one of the warmest days we've had so far this year, and here's me in jeans and running shoes all day.

I painted my toe nails in my van yesterday. Specifically, while parked outside of Lucy & Connor's school, getting ready to go inside to work on book fair stuff. The smell of nail polish gives Chris a headache, and I was wearing open toe shoes. Had to be done.

What are you saying So What to this week?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Shaklee 180™ End of Month 2 Video Update

Once again, I present my monthly Shaklee 180™ video update!

(Please excuse my utter lack of screen presence. Obviously I am not a natural in front of the camera!!)

As a Shaklee 180 blogger, the Shaklee Corporation has provided me with free products, online support, and incentives for participating. My opinions are my own. People following the weight loss portion of the program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Book Review: Jade and the Tooth Fairy by Jacinta Zechariah

Lucy has been obsessed with fairies lately. She is so absolutely certain she is going to lure one into her bedroom and convince her to stay and live with us forever. Her bait is fairy food (Cheerios), hand drawn pictures of fairies, and little blankets made out of paper. She has a wiggly tooth and is confident that once the tooth comes out, her wished-for fairy friend is a sure thing. Hence, Jade and the Tooth Fairy by Jacinta Zechariah was a timely bedtime story this week.

In this charmingly illustrated children's book, a little girl named Jade is anxious to meet the tooth fairy and visit fairy land. The prose is poetic and sweet, and Mathilda and Lucy both liked the story. Although the book is about 30 pages cover to cover, there are not many words and it takes only a few minutes to read, making it a perfect bedtime story.

Although the story was cute, what really struck me were the whimsical illustrations. They are quite lovely and a little bit vintage looking, reminding me of another era. The details, bits of sparkle, and old-fashioned qualities set them apart from other children's books illustrations. I read an e-version of the book, and I bet the pictures are even more beautiful to see in a real paper book. Jade and the Tooth Fairy would make a cute little tooth fairy gift, left in lieu of money for a little girl who has just lost a tooth.

I received a complimentary ebook version of this book for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Shaklee 180™ April Update

Month two of the Shaklee 180™ blogger program has officially come to an end. I know I promised an update a couple weeks ago, but I just cannot seem to stay on top of anything lately. So. Here we go.

Way back when I first started the Shaklee Turnaround program, I was so excited because I lost 4.5 pounds in just one week. Then I stopped losing weight and got discouraged and kind of went "eh." I don't think I've weighed myself once since we were in Florida, although I will be getting on the scale first thing tomorrow morning.

In the beginning, I was counting calories religiously. It was fun, I was doing great. And then life got really busy and it became a bit much to enter every morsel of food into an app to see how many calories I was consuming. I felt like I had a pretty good grasp on how much I could eat based on those first weeks counting calories. My diet doesn't vary all that much, after all. 

We went to Florida at the end of March/beginning of April, and like I said in my video last month, I took my Shaklee stuff with me and felt like I did pretty well sticking with the plan while traveling. I didn't get much solid exercise in, but we were pretty much going full speed ahead every day, walking for hours and hours. 

And then the rest of April happened. 

I was finding that with the tea and the metabolic boost tablets and my daily cup of coffee, my body was just not handling the caffeine very well at all. So I'm now only drinking coffee a couple times a week and taking the metabolic boost tablets three or four days a week. Most days I do still have the tea. My caffeine O.D. symptoms have mostly disappeared. 

I've been doing decently well with the working out. Okay, I'm not being as good as I should be, but I'm not being a total slacker either. I've re-started the Couch25K program to get myself back into the habit of running. I'm on day 6 of a squat challenge, which started with 50 squats and increases by 5 per day. I'm going to be scheduling some sessions with a personal trainer and really trying to do better in the fitness area.

As far as diet...I can remember a day here or there in April when I skipped a smoothie because we were out of fruit or milk, or out of the house all day. I didn't think I skipped that much, truly it didn't seem like it. But the other day I got my May shipment of Shaklee 180 products and realized that I still have a lot of smoothie mix left. My meal bars and snack bars are gone, but I don't get how I have so much of the mix left. Obviously I skipped more than I thought. Yikes! It was a REALLY busy month, but I could have and should have done better!

It's a new month and I'm going to try harder! Tomorrow I'll be weighing in and taking measurements, and then I'll be posting a video later in the day discussing how my month of sort of slacking off affected my progress, and how I'm going to get back on track! 

This is a sponsored post as part of the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. I have received free products, online support and incentives for participating in the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. My opinions are my own.

People following the weight-loss portion of the Shaklee 180™ Program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week. 


Family Fun Day: Scooby Doo Live! Musical Mysteries

www.michigalmom.comA couple weeks ago we went downtown Detroit for a family day to see Scooby Doo Live! the musical, at the Fox Theatre. Scooby Doo was one of my favorite television shows as a kid, and now, decades later, my kids are fans. I like that it is loved by different age groups; it is one of the few shows all four kids can all watch with nobody complaining.

I was really interested to see how the writers and producers were going to make Scooby come alive on stage, with a musical score to go along with it. I have seen many kids stage shows over the years and  the creativity involved in transforming a beloved character- whether from television or books - into a stage presence can be really awe-inspiring.

Like I said, I've seen many children's shows...Sesame Street, Dora, Barbie, Dragon Tales, The Jungle Book, Charlotte's Web, and lots more. I had kind of high expectations. Obviously my kids have also seen these shows because umm, I would not be going without them! They are not super hard to please, but I guess they do expect a certain minimal base level of entertainment. So how did Scooby Doo Live! measure up?

First, the good.

The show was fun, with dynamic actors. I loved the Mystery Machine and the totally authentic hair and clothing. It's always neat to see what can be done in terms of scenery and costumes, and there were some pretty cool aspects of the production in that department. Mathilda loved it, and was singing and bopping along the whole time. She is still talking about it and asking when we can see Scooby on stage again!

Now for the not so good.

The show seemed to be geared to the five and under crowd, with lots of flash and singing to keep them interested. This is not necessarily bad if your kids fall into this age group - like I said, Mathilda really dug it. The other kids, however were a little bored. This was disappointing because they are all Scooby fans, yet the story just didn't hold their interest. I can't say that I blame them. The story was not the greatest and pretty confusing to follow. Truth is, Chris and I had no idea what was going on.

In short, this was not my favorite children's production. But going to kids' shows is always a good time, with the commotion and the excitement in the air, and no one caring if your kid is loud or jumping out of her seat. Plus I love going downtown, and I particularly adore the opulent beauty of the historic Fox Theatre. Parking is easy, the theatre is easy to find, and there are uniformed doormen holding the doors. Children's shows make great family days!

Would I go again? Yes, but I would probably just take Mathilda and a friend her own age, since the big kids didn't care much for it.
Hard to believe that THIS is how they used to make movie theaters!

Thankful Thursday

After school on Wednesday, Lucy handed me her folder and said she wanted me to see what was in it. I'm assuming it was a pre-Mother's Day activity at school, a handout with "Mom's Gazette: World's Best Mom!" printed across the top. On the side it says, "My mother is:" and there's a list of adjectives, with a notation to "check all that apply." Lucy checked all 21 boxes, from Awesome to Wise. I'm not so sure they all describe me (Am I Brave, Brilliant, and Cheerful? Hmmm...), but Lucy thinks they do, so they do.

Then there's a fill in the blank section.
My mom rocks! She is cool.
When she hugs me, it makes me happy. 
I love doing things with her, especially playing
She is so good at blogging
There are days, so many days, when I feel like there is not one damn thing I'm doing right in this whole parenthood/motherhood/raising children gig. And then one of my kids does something so thoughtful and sweet and loving, and I'm beyond thankful that these little people I'm attempting to raise look beyond my many faults and mistakes and just love me.

I am thankful that Connor was completely understanding when he found out Chris has to work and can't go to Boy Scout camp, so I'll be taking him instead. He had the heart to act like he's not disappointed at all, even though I know he was looking forward to the time with his dad.

Mathilda likes to play that she is the mom and I'm her kid. She creates the funniest little stories. Many of them have to do with visiting the mayor. "Come on honey, we have to visit the mayor today." Yesterday it was, "Tomorrow is a big day, we're going to Disney World!" Then she says the sweetest things to, "you are just the best kid I ever took care of". Melts my heart. And fills me with gratitude and gives me hope that maybe I'm modeling something positive along with my bursts of temper and less than proud moments.

Wednesday, Bethany had fundraiser money due at school. I had haphazardly left the cash sitting out in the family room without a second thought about it. When I woke up in the morning, I went to get it, and it wasn't there. I couldn't believe I had been so careless. Mathilda could have taken it and hid it anywhere, or ripped it up...who knows? Or it could have fallen into the dark recesses of Under the Couch, never to be seen again. But then Bethany came downstairs and I found out that she already had the money ready to take to school. Sometimes she has a presence of mind and level of capability that surprises me, for an 11-year old. I can count on her to take care of business.

Sunday we had a movie night, the kids and I. I had read Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to Bethany and Connor over the past couple weeks, so when I finished the book I got the movie from the library. It's an old-fashioned book with old-fashioned language that isn't always easy to understand, being a British book that was written in the 1960s. Every night I read to them, they sat so quietly with me and seemed to appreciate the time together. They didn't complain or act bored, even though I often had to stop and explain what a certain word or phrase meant, and even though it was kind of hokey. All four of the kids watched the movie on Sunday, which was two and half hours long. Several times I thought they would lose interest, what with the singing and the hokey factor and all. But they all watched the entire movie, from beginning to end. I am thankful that they enjoy our time together, and that they can sit nicely to appreciate books and movies, even when they're not the modern entertainment that they are accustomed to.

My kids are a living example of love, acceptance, and forgiveness. I'm not trying to say they're perfect, or that they don't sometimes antagonize one another or disrespect their parents. I'm just saying that we could all learn a thing or two from our kids, and that I'm thankful for the perspective that mine give me.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

ENDED Giveaway: Swift Results Personal Training Sessions

I am really excited to be partnering with a Detroit area local business, Swift Results Personal Training!

I go to the gym but I'm too self-conscious to schedule a session with a personal trainer while there are lots of other people around to witness my clumsiness. Plus I've heard from my friend that the trainers at our gym practice hard sell tactics, which I'm not real interested in experiencing for myself. But I need a professional to tell me what I should be doing! Looking at pictures online or reading about exercises just does not sink into my brain as well as a real person showing me what to do AND correcting me if I'm doing it wrong. There are certain areas of my body I'd like to work on in particular (upper arms, baby gut, back fat) and I need some guidance!

Mark is the man behind Swift Results, and he has been an ISSA certified personal trainer for over nine years. I love this line from his website:
...if you are sweating, I am doing my job and if it doesn't burn it won't firm.
Amen! I never feel like I had a good workout unless I am sweating profusely, and the burn is my clue that I'm doing something right! Although I will admit I am a little scared to go for my own sessions!

I've been doing the Shaklee 180™ program for two months now, and I'm ready to step up my workouts for some more dramatic results!

Swift Results has two locations, a home gym in Clinton Township and a studio in Troy. They also offer in-home training sessions. Visit the website,, for more information AND to schedule your first session/consultation for FREE! No excuses!

Right now they are running a Mother's Day special for new clients: $99 for (4) 30-minute one-on-one training sessions! That is a great deal. Bonus: you can pay by credit card via PayPal!

And! Swift Results is offering a generous giveaway to one MichiGal reader: (4) 30 minute one-on-one personal training sessions! Just use the Rafflecopter form to enter!

Please share and spread the word about this local business!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I am receiving complimentary personal training session in exchange for hosting a giveaway and promoting Swift Results Personal Training. All opinions are my own.

So What Wednesay

So What Wednesday

Once again I am a day late posting Travel Tuesday. I try, guys, I really try. Some nights I just cannot peel myself off the couch. It's like I've been drugged.

I feel like there's a conspiracy theory somewhere with the weather forecasters around here. They'll say it's gonna be a beautiful, sunny day, and that at the last second sneak in a little "possible showers and thunderstorms" comment.

We thought we were going to have a perfect day for Mathilda's field trip to the farm yesterday. And then it rained and got cold. But we still had fun, riding ponies in the rain and all!

I was at Ikea twice this week, Monday and Tuesday. My mom and I went Monday, and she forgot something. As it happened, Mathilda's farm field trip was in Canton on Tuesday, about 10 minutes from Ikea. When we were there on Monday, Mathilda got a cinnamon roll on our way out. She said she'd get an ice cream cone next time. So Tuesday she got her ice cream cone.

I have a really cute picture of Mathilda eating her ice cream cone, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to share a picture from Instagram on Blogger. #technicallychallenged

I posted a picture of my blooming rhododendron this morning, with a comment that maybe it's time to take down the Christmas lights and cut the grass. And like magic, the lawn service just showed up to cut the grass. Happy day.

In Michigan we have what we call Construction Season. It lasts about half the year and is a real inconvenience. Especially because they never fix the roads right the first time, so they'll be re-doing them again in a couple years. My nearest freeway entrance is closed and now the main street nearest my house is under construction for God knows how long. Just a little something to make life more interesting!

Today I don't have anything planned until after school and it will feel good not to be driving 100 miles. Mathilda will enjoy staying in her jammies until 4:00, when she has to get dressed for dance.

Our television is being uncooperative today and I'm glad.

I lost Connor's boy scout camp registration form, which is due today. Always flying by the seat of my pants!

Tomorrow is my big day. Getting my hair cut. Maybe if it happened more than once a year, it wouldn't be such a momentous occasion! While I'm there I'm making an appointment to get my hair colored next week. Because if I don't make the appointment while I'm there, who knows how long it will take me to pick up the phone again?! And yes it would have made more sense to get my cut & color done on the same day, but the only appointment time I could get would not leave me enough time to pick my kids up from school. So after tomorrow, I can take a break from sock buns.

What are you saying So What to this week?

Be sure to visit Life After I Dew to read more So What Wednesday posts!

Travel Tuesday: Florida Spring Break Edition - Cape Canaveral National Seashore

This post has been moved to MichiGal Travels. Just click the link below to read it now.