Friday, April 29, 2011

Bluebird.

My brain is a bit befuddled today, thoughts neither here nor there. So this post, likewise is the same. We were supposed to be home today, and we were - for approximately 12 hours. And then, like the blink of an eye (or one night of sleep in our own bed HOORAY), we were gone again, flying away like little birds. We were homeless for a day - or possibly more, not really knowing when we'd be allowed back again.

One of the rooms in our house failed the lead inspection, and we were told that we weren't technically allowed back until all the rooms were cleared. Sigh. And tears, because two little girls who don't really deal with transitions very well had to be told that although we were home...we actually weren't.

And so we packed up our belongings, again. Piled them into the back of the van, again. And drove. Inara sang from her seat, unknowingly appropriately,

And so here we go bluebird,
Back to the sky on your own.
Oh, let him go bluebird,
Ready to fly,
You and I,
Here we go.


We went out for breakfast, visited a museum, and then braced ourselves for the naptime crankies. Our friends-who-are-like-family told us to visit, to stay with them if we needed to, but no, we could do this. We were going to be okay.

Lunchtime rolled around, and the girls were starting to fade. Nissa started rubbing her ear, as she does whenever she starts getting sleepy. But there wasn't anywhere for her to lay her head. The museum was quiet, the middle of the day at the end of a work week. There wasn't anyone around as far as the eye could see. We decided that Inara could rest in the stroller, and that I would wear Nissa, and that hopefully, hopefully, she would sleep.

We can do anything, if we're together, we told the girls. But all honesty knows that I just wanted to be home. After a long week away, I wanted my little chicks to be home with us, in our nesting place.

I sent that thought out into the universe...and let it go. Because sometimes you need to have a moment of pity but not dwell on it too long, or else it will just drag you down.

Yousuf went out to the van to get Nissa's lovey, a worn, frayed, little black cat that she would absolutely need to fall asleep. She reached out to him when he came back, needing it so, and noticed her Daddy's beaming smile.

We can go home. I got the call.

And so the pendulum swung again, and we went with it - anxious not a moment ago and now elated to be coming home. Finally coming home.

On the way back, Inara's voice soared,

And so here we go bluebird,
Gather your strength and rise up.

Here we go...

Followed by,

Hey! We're going to be just in time to watch the end of Royal Wedding Week!

I'll take it.

Fly home, little bluebirds

* Lyrics from the song Bluebird by Sara Bareilles, Inara's current fave. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

You Have Reached The Georges.

We're sorry we're not here to answer your call, but please leave a message after the tone, and we'll get back to you as soon as we return from the best most loveliest staycation ever. This is us girls standing outside the crêperie where we had dinner last night. Oh là là...I'm still on cloud nine remembering that meal!

Crème brûlée crêpes...they were magnifique!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Power Of Positive Thinking.

My sister in-law (shout out to Becky), has a saying. It's not her saying, but she says it all the time. So in my mind it has inevitably become uniquely Becky's. And I can only ever hear it in my head in her sparkling voice, because any other way just wouldn't be the same. 

That's the power of positive thinking, she says, when we're playing board games (and she's winning). She furrows her brow and holds the dice in her hands and says, "Five! I need a five!", or sometimes she concentrates very hard as she whispers, "Eiiiight...c'mon eiiiight!"

I laugh at her every time because it's so funny to watch, but she looks at us, suddenly serious, and proclaims her famous mantra as she flicks her wrist and rolls those little cubes,

That's the power of positive thinking!

And wouldn't you know it, but she usually ends up getting her way.

At this point in I usually throw my hands up in exasperation as she erupts into fits of giggles, keeling over with impish delight. And I think to myself, my oh my. My girls look just like their aunt.

I wouldn't say that I am a natural pessimist, but I am a worrier. I sometimes wonder if it just comes naturally to mothers. Over the years, my fretful nature has extended beyond the confines of a never-ending game of Catan (nerd alert!) to more substantial realms.


My girls spent the weekend laying on the couch, the floor, the bed, on me, wherever they could gain purchase burying their little heads into crevices, and moaning. They were so sick, sicker than they had any business being, because I thought for sure, just this once - that we would travel (even if it's only 10 miles away) with a healthy clan.

Alas, it was not to be.


Nissa was so confused. Her tired eyes spent the better half of two days peering out at me from between folds of cloth, imploring me to will her better. She hadn't slept in days, full of all kinds of yuck. Exhausted, she would point to her crusted little button nose and say in a pitiful voice, "Nosey, mama. Nosey. Ouch."


Inara slept a lot (she collapsed onto the couch after climbing on top of the counters, as you can see above). I hardly spoke to her for days...it broke my heart to think of all the times that I had wished that she would stop pestering me with questions (I just wrote a post about it at ANTM), only to have it happen for days on end.

It was sad, and even more agonizing, it was...unnatural. I felt as though I had upset the delicate balance of her little universe.


On the third day, I was beside myself with worry. I couldn't spare even a moment to pack the suitcases. I wrote endless mental lists of the things we would need for the next few days, and as I was doling out medicine I wondered if I should pack that, too. Why do we need this much STUFF to survive, anyway? What ever happened to traveling light? Every time we travel lately, I feel like our van is bursting with so much junk that I'm worried we won't be able to get the thing out of the driveway.

I convinced myself that this time was different, because the girls were sick. Therefore we needed extra rations of...everything. I still worried that the whole getaway would be a torturous affair, with two murky-eyed and feverish little girls. Good times all around.

But sometime that evening, I began to think about my sister Becky (not many people are lucky enough to drop the "in-law", of this I am well aware), and her words of wisdom. The power of positive thinking, huh? At that point I was willing to give anything a shot. The girls, still listless, acquiesced in that quiet way that they have, understanding that sometimes it's better to continue being a part of the world, even if you only have the strength to watch from the sidelines.


I think it was a turning point, as still-feverish-and-a-bit-snuffly Inara perked up just the tiniest bit when she saw that I was baking treats to take with us (more STUFF - I can't help myself).


The last twenty-four hours are a blur. I don't know how we got to this hotel room (only ten miles from our house, but for all intents and purposes on the other side of the globe). I feel jet lagged, exhausted, and full of snot.

(I eded ub catchig whateber duh girls hab.)

But. We are here. Packed to the gills, suitcases stretched to their very limit and perhaps even slightly beyond, we are here. And left with nothing else, I have decided to heed the words spoken to me by my younger, wiser sister and friend.

We are going to have a fabulous time (even though I just got off the phone with Inara's school because she is at the nurses office, sick). We're going to rest up and then have some much-deserved fun.

 
Fun. As in, do-all-the-things-we're never-allowed-to-do-at-home-fun. 
Eat AND jump on the big fluffy bed at the same time? No problem! It's FUN!

Did you hear that, sickies? You can be on your merry way now. You're of no use here, thank you for your time the door is thatta way.

Now that's the power of positive thinking.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

(Not) Leaving On A Jet Plane.

I believe I was interrupted (I was going to say "rudely interrupted", but it's not rude when your kids interrupt you to help them get pencil crayon shavings out of their underpants, is it?) by the anti-artwork antics of my delightful cherubs yesterday. So here is the continuation of my temporary relocation saga...

When we last met, I mentioned that we had to move out of our house for an undisclosed amount of time while our windows are being replaced. The best estimate the contractors can give us is "about two days but maybe up to four", which is ever so helpful when deciding on where to live. Imagine calling your friends or family and saying something to the effect of, "Hello dear friend or family member! Remember me and my two little pencil shred-loving monkeys? Yes well, would you mind if we came and stayed with you for two, possibly four, or maybe even some longer amount of days? I'll try to keep the colored pencils out of all bodily orifices it it makes you feel any better..."

Yeah, that doesn't seem to be working for me either.

Also! This is where I poke fun at my wonderful husband just a teeny tiny bit. I rarely ever do it (liar, liar, pants on fire!), but it simply can't be helped this time.  So please bear with me for a moment...

The best thing about being married to a professor is definitely the vacation time. We get tons of it. Sorry to make the rest of you hardworking folks out there feel bad, but it's true. From mid-May to August, we frolic in the sun, take impromptu trips to the beach, and drive wherever the road takes us. But it comes at a price. And that, my friends, is this: for the rest of the year we are bound and chained to this lovely town that we call home. That means no sick days, no being present for field trips, and definitely DEFINITELY no going out of town while your house is being renovated. Especially because the awesome timing of the whole zod-forsaken thing comes right smack in the middle of Finals. Gah.

I could go away with the girls. But I don't want to, because honestly that will just mean MORE work for me. This family operates best when two parents are around to prevent the eating and shoving of colored pencil shavings into bodily orifices. Because goodness knows, I am totally outnumbered on my own and can not handle the stress of caring for these two crazies by myself. Let alone trying to do it in some other person's house.

Even if we were staying with either set of grandparents, the point is that I would still be husband-less. And Yousuf would be wife-less, and Inara would miss school, Nissa would be - well, she'd probably be fine. But the rest of us would be miserable, mopey, and missing each other. We'd find a way to make it work, but sticking together has always been how we function best.

So I decided to take matters into my own hands.

If, I reasoned with my husband last week, you can't get away from your (rather inconvenient at this time) job, then fine, we'll all stick together.
- He agreed, because even though he is busy during Finals, he's not busy all the time. His schedule is actually pretty relaxed, apart from writing/supervising/grading exams. And being around for students to complain to (which he gladly does because he is one of those maddeningly annoying people who actually loves his job). I'm making it all sound very busy, but it's not - I promise.

And, we couldn't possibly impose on our friends to house us for an undetermined amount of time, correct dear husband of mine?
- He was still with me, nodding in agreement. Sounds good so far, okay mmm-hmmm, I'm being led into a trap but I can't see where this is going yet...

So the next best thing to do would be...come on, man! I thought to myself. Get there on your own, dammit! This has to be YOUR idea!
- Well, I suppose we'll just have to find a hotel for a few days, right?

Yes! Sweet victory is almost mine - I can just about taste it!

What a superfantastic idea, genius husband of mine! How ever did you think of that?
- Yeah...it IS a good idea, isn't it? And we can all be together and it can be sort of a mini-vacation!

Except that we'll still be in Rochester, but whatever.

That is SO wonderful, isn't it? But you know, staying in a hotel with two kids isn't all it's cracked up to be. Think of naps and bedtime. Asking Inara to stay quiet when her sister is napping is like asking Nissa to stop eating crayons. It goes against all the laws of nature. And what will we do when the kids go to bed? Hold hands in the dark until we get sleepy?
- Well I can think of other things...

BACK ON TRACK, MISTER!
-Fine. Go on, then. I knew this was going to be headed somewhere...expensive.

But think of the intangible benefits, dear sweet beloved husband of mine, who I love "holding hands" with in the dark...(suddenly his interest is piqued, all according to my master plan). We can find a hotel that has everything we need to keep the kids happy, and give us the space we need. It'll be like staying at home, but BETTER. Does such a place even exist, you ask? Would I be leading you down this rabbit hole of insanity if it didn't?
- Sigh. How much does it cost?

I'm not gonna lie, El Cheapitan. It's a bit more than a regular hotel. But they serve breakfast and dinner and there's a pool and a private bedroom for the girls and YOU'RE the one who wants us to stay together and have a mini-vacation, remember? This is like a flipping resort, man!
- Except that we'll still be in Rochester.

I know. There's that. But SOMEONE can't seem to get away from work, so this is the next best thing...if you want us to stay here. With you. Together.

Clearly my logic was flawless, because after some more superficial deliberations, during which I pretended to give equal consideration to all his other "options", El Cheapitan finally conceded TO ME. Booyah! We did  consider the expense, but as I so intelligently pointed out, it wouldn't be a lot more than if I went away with the kids and Yousuf had to spend money on a hotel for himself anyway.

Okay, so it's going to be expensive. But we can handle it (I live with the most fiscally-conscious human being on the face of the planet, and I believe he has a secret "expensive hotel" slush fund set up for just such an occasion). We haven't actually had a vacation since...ever. The last time we went away somewhere was before I got pregnant with Inara. So this is a long time coming, and it's not even really a vacation, because we're staying in the same town.

In a really nice hotel.

With a pool.

And a kitchen right inside our suite.

And a separate bedroom for the girls.

I CAN NOT WAIT.

I do believe there will be some hand holding going on, after all....

But only after we watch Harry Potter on DVD (after the girls are asleep IN THEIR OWN ROOM!).

What. Isn't that what all people do on vacation?

All dressed up with somewhere to go!
And yes, my children and I walk around dressed up in costumes ALL DAY.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring "Break".

Now that the giveaway is over, I really want to tell you about all the other things that have been going on in our lives...

(But first I have to make breakfast.)

I mentioned last week that we are going to have to move out of our house next week while we get our windows replaced...

(Excuse me while I cut the toast into funny shapes.)

And I think that is not normal. But we, as you well know by now, are anything but normal.

Mama! I want to do something! Can we DOOOOOO something today? 

The reason we have to leave is because the windows, which are original to our century-old house, contain lead paint. So we'll have to be out of the way while the professionals come in, do their window-changing thing, and clean up afterward to meet EPA regulations.

Fine, Mama. If you're going to work then I'm going to draw - ummm, can you get me some pencil crayons?

Have I ever told you how hard it is for me to hold on to one continuous thought for any length of time?

Mama! I want cray-nins! Issie want cray-nins!

So now the question arises, where exactly will we go for two to four days?

Uh-oh. My pencil crayons are not sharp at all! I'm going to need help to make them all sharp again, MOM.

Sharp sharp sharp! I sharp! Issie SHARP!

I'm thinking that I should ditch these two and fly somewhere tropical...

Mama, I makin' a MESS! Look! Look! 

...with cute cabana boys...

Mama? I don't think that I want to do this anymore. There are just too many pieces of pencil crayons everywhere!

...where I can enjoy the view...

Yum! I eatin' cray-nins! Tasty!

...in silence.

Look! I found a piece of pencil crayon in my BUTT. It tickles!

Anyone want to join me?

These are the crazy people I live with. I'm sure they didn't inherit this from ME.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Inara's Rainbow Winner!

 So happy to be sending Inara's Rainbow to a sweet and loving home!

When I decided on the concept of this giveaway, the notion of getting people to do something good in order to get something good seemed simultaneously magnificent and ludicrous. I really thought that half of you would read about the idea and decide that the effort was simply not worth it. And that would have been okay with me too, if I wasn't convinced that giving away my most sentimental possession would feel even better if I did it for the right reasons.

As I picked the winner (by the powers vested in me by random.org) yesterday, it dawned on me that not only did I achieve what I set out to do in the giveaway, but that the winner achieved something good as well. I don't think I've ever seen a five-day giveaway, and even if such a thing ever existed, I doubt that that many people would actually want to go through the trouble of entering day after day. I was so lucky that many of you thought otherwise, and the winner of the giveaway was indeed one of those people. Not only that, but the winner also submitted a repurposing project, and that makes me feel so, I don't know...like maybe this whole concept wasn't a big crazy and naive dream at all.

On Day One, the winner commented:
"I'd love to use this for my toddler and/or brand new babe coming in May or June!  I use a Maya with my 21mo right now, but I'm not in love with it (it keeps slipping through the rings, argh!), and this is bee-yoo-tiful!

And I'm LOVING the repurposing idea!  Cogs are turning....turning....turning......"
Reading that right now gives me chills because honestly, I don't know if am going to have another baby. And if I'm not, then the thought of our Inara's Rainbow going to snuggle a new baby somewhere couldn't be more perfect. The winner stayed true to her words, and she did indeed not only submit a repurposing project, but she commented each and every day of the challenge. Shivers. I've got shivers!

On Day Four, the winner said that she wasn't going to stop with one repurposing project. I love that this giveaway inspired such thoughts:
"Subscribed via email -- and I'm thinking I may need to do an extra repurposing project over the next few weeks to turn some fabric scraps into some awesome doll carriers.  My son has a kid version of the Kozy Carrier, but I'm thinking a stretchy wrap and ring sling would be cool, too.

Can't wait to post pictures on my blog of him wearing his sock monkey once he figures it out..."
And her repurposing project was adorable. And free! And so adorable (I know I already said that, but it IS!)!: 
It started out like this, given to me by the nice Costco people to hold my fruit, cheese, and green beans:

Add a little bulletin board paper, glue, masking tape, and leftover die-cut letters and...

TA-DA!!!:

Lots of creative paper folding and fastening turned it into a neat little desk for Zeke's 21-month-old self. Not that I expect it to last longer than 2 minutes in its blemish-free state, but DARN IT it's cute right now!"
 I agree!

So it is with great, great pleasure that I congratulate Amy W as the winner of the first Do Something Good Giveaway! I am so happy to be sending Inara's Rainbow to you, with lots of our love and gratitude tucked in amongst its folds. I hope that you make many happy babywearing memories with it, and enjoy it with your growing family. Congratulations, Amy! Please contact me at mahreen@venividiblogi.com so that I get to work sending this to you!

There was a point in the middle of the week, when your entries started coming in fast and furious, that I thought no way. I simply can not part with this sling! I felt like it had become a part of our family's story, and I didn't want it to end. But on Friday and Saturday, when I read about one after the other repurposing challenge - and I marveled at your creativity, your willingness to be a part of my crazy scheme - my heart changed my mind. As I closed the comments for the last time at midnight on Saturday, I told Yousuf that being a part of this challenge has felt WAY better than holding on to Inara's Rainbow. Sure, it's an absolutely gorgeous sling that has an amazing story behind it, but using that sling to do something even better is what the real gift has been. So thank you all for giving me something in return, too.

It has been such a treat to share this giveaway with all of you. I only wish that I had a way to give all of you a piece of Inara's Rainbow...but that wouldn't really be very useful to anyone (You could use it as a rainbowy napkin maybe?). As I mentioned last week, I would love to keep these giveaways going, because I feel like even the act of having them is a good thing in and of itself. I love the idea of changing the world for the better, even if it's a tiny bit at a time.

I think we can do it, friends. We can keep this going...together.

Thank you all for being a part of Something Good!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Do Something Good Giveaway - FINAL DAY.

(You can read about Day One here, Day Two here, and Day Three here, and Day Four here.)

I don't know about you, but I'm actually kind of sad to see this giveaway end. We've been having such fun, haven't we? I've loved learning  more about all of you, and having wonderful conversations together. I'm really hoping that we can do this again soon (and thanks to some really fantastic readers and potential sponsors, it might just happen!). This stretched-out giveaway has also made me appreciate just how loved Inara's Rainbow will be at any one of your houses...and that really does mean so much to me.

So thank you all for entering, joining in all week long, and most of all, for making this giveaway mean something! Because today is THE DAY WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR! The whole purpose of the giveaway has centered around this, and I am so looking forward to seeing what all of you have come up with for the repurposing challenge!

One last time, here is the giveaway schedule...

Monday - leave a comment after this post
Tuesday - share the giveaway online
Wednesday - follow me online
Thursday - subscribe to the blog
Friday - submit a link to the pictures of your Do Something Good Challenge!

Even though I have said that you are not obligated to do each of the entry methods, I am still so encouraged by the fact that so many of you have expressed an interest in doing today's challenge. I love that you guys GET IT. I can feel that you are excited about the notion of doing something good to get something good as I am. And even if your repurposing project is really simple (just wait until you see mine!) the whole point of the giveaway is to JUST DO SOMETHING GOOD BECAUSE YOU CAN. And I know you guys can do this. I can't wait to see!!

Getting on with it then, here is what you will need to do TODAY to enter (it's the last day! Your last chance to win Inara's Rainbow! So DO IT!):
- Take a photo of your repurposed project and upload it to an online photo sharing website such as Flickr, Picasa, or Photobucket (or any other site such as those).
- Alternatively, you can upload your photo to the VeniVidiBlogi Facebook Fan Page.
- Leave me a comment below LINKING to your photo online! Feel free to tell me a bit about your project too - what inspired you? What was the total cost? How long did it take to complete? I want to know it all!

Please remember to link to your photo below...it's the only way that I will know you are entering the challenge today. If you simply post your picture to my FB page and don't leave me a comment below, IT WILL NOT COUNT (simply because I don't have the higher brain functional capacity to go through my FB feed to find all of your photos). I need to please see those comments and links below to make my life easier. And this way, everyone who comes to read this post can see all of your beautiful projects too! And be inspired! And can try to do some repurposing of their own! And can make the world a better place for it! I will stop using so many exclamation points now!

The girls have been "helping" me (in that ever-helpful non-helpful way that kids have) complete our repurposing project over the week, and even though it was so simple to do, it took us FOREVER! Mostly because in the midst of hole-punching and gluing paint chips, we've been filling big holes in our walls, priming, repainting, and preparing to move out of our house for a few days when we get our windows replaced week after next. The word "fun" can definitely not begin to describe how I feel about this process. I hope to tell you more about it next week, and I'm sure I'll have more choice descriptive words to use about it then....but for now, I want to share my project with you!

It started off with paint chips. Lots and lots and LOTS of paint chips (these are just the neutrals, blues and greens - there were a whole whackload of crazybright colors as well. I don't know what I was thinking with those):


Then I made Inara punch holes in all seventy million trillion of them (I'm kidding, of course. There were only sixty million trillion. And she only said that I was torturing her three times. It was FUN! And I am kidding, of course. I did most of the punching after the novelty of the ordeal wore off for her...which happened in about 15 minutes):


After that, Nissa and I set to work glue-sticking them together back-to-back, over some fishing twine...


...when we were done Nissa exclaimed, "ooooh! Pretty Monies!" I have no idea how she knows about money already...


Behold! I have created...a stringed, dotted, THING! I was more than a little bit proud of myself. 


(I look so tired in that shot. Because I've been painting until 1am for one week straight!)

I know it doesn't look like much, but I love our "Colorful Money Garland", as Inara has "coined" it (groan). My inspiration for it was something sweet and simple for either Nissa or Inara's room, like this:

Image courtesy of Oeuf

But I didn't want to pay over fifty dollars for it! Our version was free because I already had all the materials and supplies on hand. The best part is that I saved all those paint chips that were headed off to the trash (excuse me while I polish off my halo). It really didn't take that long to put together (if you don't count the painting interruptions), and the girls were able to help with it as well. They are so proud of their work! Because we are in the middle of repainting rooms/replacing windows, for now it is being temporarily displayed on my banister:


I think it makes the whole room feel happy.


I feel so good about Doing Something Good! I showed you mine, now you show me yours!

The comments will close TOMORROW (Saturday April 16th) at midnight EST. I wanted to give you guys the time to submit your photos, and I thought an extra day might help. Remember, this will be your LAST CHANCE for a chance to win Inara's Rainbow. Have fun, and good luck to all of you. The winner will be announced on Monday! Have a wonderful weekend, and see you on the flip side...xoxoxmahreen

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Do Something Good Giveaway - Day Four.

(You can read about Day One here, Day Two here, and Day Three here.)

Today is another really easy way to enter the Inara's Rainbow Giveaway. According to the giveaway schedule:

Monday - leave a comment after this post
Tuesday - share the giveaway online
Wednesday - follow me online
Thursday - subscribe to the blog
Friday - submit a link to the pictures of your Do Something Good Challenge!

And so what you will need to do TODAY to enter is:
- Subscribe to this blog! There are a couple of handy buttons you can click on at the top right area of this page, under the aptly titled "Be. Cool. Subscribe Now" and "Or Subscribe Via Email" headings. 
- Leave me a comment after this post telling me you have done so!

Now I know that there are some of you who may not want to subscribe to this blog - and that is totally okay. You do NOT have to do every entry method to be entered into the giveaway! Just do the ones that you feel comfortable with to increase your chances to win Inara's Rainbow. That includes the repurposing challenge too, just have fun with it and do something good! It'll make you feel GREAT!

We are up to over sixty entries for the sling, and some of you have entered each day, which is wonderful. There are even people that were entering for the first time as of yesterday! It's great to know that the word about this giveaway is traveling far and wide, and that people want to be a part of it. I love that - and thank you to each and every one of you who has taken the time to enter!

I would love to do more giveaways like this in the future, both to inspire more ways for us all to think a little more altruistically, and also to be able to share some wonderful gifts as well. If any of you know of, or can contact companies, artisans, and manufacturers and tell them about the great things we are doing here, then please spread the word about the Do Something Good Giveaway! I would love for  more like-minded people to come together with me on this, and make the giveaways and challenges bigger and better for all of us.

People keep asking me why I'm doing this. I have fielded a lot of questions over the past few days from a lot of you, and you are so sweet and polite, thanking me for this giveaway and then going, "...uh, I can't believe you would give this away!!!" Which I think is an even nicer and politer way of asking WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING???

I think that I at least owe you an explanation.

Yes, I am giving away the wrap that was named after my daughter. One that I paid to turn into a ring sling for the express purpose of giving away. But first of all, I'm only giving away half of the wrap. I still have the other part that I am keeping to show and share with my girls someday. I can turn that half into a ring sling, a blanket, or mount and frame a piece of it to look at and smile at every day. So all is not lost!

But better yet, there is a little secret that I have been wanting to share with you with regards to Inara's Rainbow. You know that beautiful wrap that I'm giving away?

Well, I've got an even lovelier,


Even happier,


Even stink eye-ier,


Even gigglier,


And an even sweeter version right here at home...


...and she is all mine.

I don't know what more I could possibly ever hope to ask for.

The comments below will close at midnight tonight EST, and TOMORROW is the day to submit your repurposing picture entry! I can't wait to see what you've all come up with...and I hope you like my (kind of laughable) attempt as well!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do Something Good Giveaway - Day Three.

(You can read about Day One here, and Day Two here.)

It's another day, and that means another way to enter the Do Something Good Giveaway! I have to say, I am really excited by the number of entries so far. So excited because I feel like this idea is catching on, and it's so nice to have such wonderful people to share Inara's Rainbow with. Without sounding too mushy, I will now take this opportunity to say I LOVE YOU GUYS! For serious. I do. Thanks for entering the giveaway every day, for sharing it with your friends, for wanting to do Something Good with me, and for giving Inara's Rainbow a wonderful, loving home. I can't think of a better bunch of people to share this very special sling with!

Here once again, is the handy-dandy giveaway schedule. Today's entry method is so easy that it's laughable! Ha HA Ha (okay, I'll stop now)!

Monday - leave a comment after this post
Tuesday - share the giveaway online
Wednesday - follow me online
Thursday - subscribe to the blog (I know a lot of you might not want to do this, so this is something I'm willing to change if I get any better ideas)
Friday - submit a link to the pictures of your Do Something Good Challenge!

In fact, I'm hoping that most of you will have done this already (what do you mean you don't already follow me online?!? Shocked, I am! Kidding, kidding OF COURSE). If you happen to be amongst that small percentage of people, all you will have to do is leave me a comment below saying, "Well DUH. Of course I already follow this blog online! Please don't insult my good taste with this uselessness!" Or something of that nature.

If not, here is what you have to do TODAY:
- Go to either my Facebook Page and click on that sweet little inviting "Like" button, or go to my Twitter Page and click on that attractive green "Follow" button. Or do both!
- Leave me a comment after this post, telling me you have done so. 

Like yesterday, even if you follow me on both Facebook and Twitter, please only leave ONE COMMENT please and thank you! And that is all you have to do today to get one entry for a chance to win this lovely little number:
(Yes, I am making out with my daughter. I do that sometimes. But it's not my fault! It's her fault for having such a kissable little face. 
And I just noticed that Inara and I stand the same way too...is posture hereditary?)

You will notice in that picture that Inara still loves to wear her sling - the one that Inara's Rainbow was made and named after. I thought it would be fun to share some comparison pictures of the two with you, so we could see how closely Inara's Rainbow stacked up to the original.

This was the first picture that I posted of Inara wearing her little doll sling (which was made by one of my dearest friends for her many many moons ago). It was the photo that launched this whole great adventure...


I know that it's SO hard to not be distracted by that adorable little face. But I think what everyone responded to (apart from the mug of the wearer) were the bright and HAPPY stripes:


So lovely and cheery! I never even dreamed that not only the colors, but the feeling of Inara's original rainbow sling could be duplicated. But if anyone could do it, and do it so well - it was Giselle. Here are the two fabrics together. Inara's original doll sling on top, and Inara's Rainbow the wrap on the bottom:


I left the shot largely unaltered (apart from sharpening it up a little), and I took it in front of a bright window in natural light. I think the colors are almost spot on, don't you? The red weft does alter the blues and greens a little bit, but in a way that is totally complimentary to those colors:


I feel as though Inara's Rainbow the wrap, is a deeper, more three-dimensional representation of the original.  I can stare at the wrap all day and notice new hues dancing across the stripes, just out of the corner of my eye...it's absolutely magical.


If anything, I feel as though the wrap is a more grown up and sophisticated version of the original, but that it very much carries the spirit of that happy little doll sling alive. Here are the two side by side. This shot almost makes it too hard for me to part with the sling, but reading all of your comments has made me want all of you to have a little bit of this perfect simple pleasure in your lives as well:


My hope is that all the sweet babies that are carried in Inara's Rainbow will feel this same sense of bright joy and love. We certainly do!

Good luck to all of you in the giveaway - I wish I had enough to share with all of you!

By the way, I'm curious to know how many of you are working on the repurposing challenge? You have THREE more days (including today, which isn't done yet!) to get it done, and all photo entries must be submitted by Friday, April 15th at midnight EST. Because this is the Do Something Good Giveaway, I'd love to see LOTS of creative do-gooding! Even though you don't have to do it, wouldn't it be nice to Do Something Good in order to get Something Good? 

Last night I was at a meeting all evening, and Yousuf was with the girls. This morning I found all the paint chips that I had set out to repurpose in Inara's lunchbox. With holes punched out of them! 


Not to worry, though...it's all part of my big repurposing plan! I think. What are you working on?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Do Something Good Giveaway - Day Two.

For those who are just joining us on this grand experiment/adventure, WELCOME! You can read about Day One of the Do Something Good Giveaway here (so many entries so far yeah!). This is a wacky giveaway for a one of a kind ring sling (that you can use to carry your child or pet or other sundry items if you so choose) that is named after my daughter, Inara.

(That's the baby sling I'm giving away. But that's not Inara. That's my other daughter, Nissa. Are you confused yet? Good.)

Part of the giveaway involves doing something good (hence the name). You don't have to do it, but it will make you feel good and might even give you good karma, or juju, or a halo. Whichever. I'm not picky. If you decide to enter, please find out more about today's entry method below. If you missed yesterday's entry method, don't worry! You still have FOUR more days and four more ways to enter. If you decide to do the "Do Something Good part of the giveaway", the challenge is to repurpose or upcycle something by Friday at midnight. You will upload a photo of your completed project online (like to Flickr, Picasa, etc.) and submit a link to it in the comments section after Friday's post NOT SOONER! So get thinking! I'll be doing the challenge too, you can read about my progress at the end of today's post.

*****

Friends, I woke up so disoriented this morning. Yousuf and I were up way too late last night, sanding the huge spackle-filled holes in the walls of our kitchen (oh yes, there are actual craters in my walls right now). Somewhere in the midst of all that mindless sanding and vacuuming and more sanding I entered a time vortex.

I went to bed tired out of my mind, and I guess the last conscious image I had was that of Yousuf covered in spackle dust - he looked like a fast-forwarded Grandfather Time version of himself. I think my brain fast-forwarded and when I woke up this morning I thought it was FRIDAY, and that I had somehow messed up the entire giveaway. Holy Heart Attack, Batman! I have never been so confused and terrified in my whole life. I flew downstairs to check on my blog post, and realized:

- That it was Tuesday. PHEW.
- That I had forgotten to close the comments at midnight EST. OOPS (not to worry, you are still entered into the giveaway even if you commented after midnight).
- That I needed massive amounts of caffeine. NOW.

Everything is better now, thank goodness. My heart is going at a slightly faster-than-normal, caffeine-induced whumpawhumpawhumpa pace instead of a panic-attack-inducing BONGBONGBONGTHUMP.

And we can move on to Day Two of the Do Something Good Giveaway! Hooray and Huzzah!

So according to my handy-dandy schedule (copied from yesterday's post for your convenience), today is the day that we get to spam the world with our Do-Goodingness. Sounds absolutely delightful, no?

Monday (today) - leave a comment after this post
Tuesday - share the giveaway online
Wednesday - follow me online
Thursday - subscribe to the blog (I know a lot of you might not want to do this, so this is something I'm willing to change if I get any better ideas)
Friday - submit a link to the pictures of your Do Something Good Challenge!

Here is what you have to do TODAY to enter the Do Something Good Giveaway:

- Share the link to the giveaway online, either on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog. If you already shared it yesterday, you can STILL enter today.
- Leave me ONE comment after this post, telling me you have done so. Be sure to put in a link to your mention!

I know that some of you prefer to only use Facebook and not Twitter, or vice versa. So, I'm leaving the choice of how you share the link up to you. If you decide to share both on Facebook and Twitter, thank you so much from the bottom of my caffeine-fueled heart. But please still only leave ONE COMMENT stating that you have shared the giveaway this way and that way and every which way. I hope I'm making sense and not just gibbering because of my caffeine buzz. That would not be good.

EXAMPLES (feel free to alter at will):

If you are sharing on Facebook, link to this blog post, and then type the following:
"Hello peoples of the world! This is your friendly neighborhood Do-Gooder! I am hereby entering the VeniVidiBlogi Do Something Good Giveaway with this status update! Be forewarned! My Do-Goodingness knows no bounds! I shall change the world, one altruistic task at a time! Resistance is futile! Join us in our quest!"
(Don't forget to leave a comment & link below telling me you've shared this on Facebook!)

If you are sharing on Twitter:
"Hey! Do Something Good & enter the @VeniVidiBlogi Do Something Good Giveaway. It'll make your hair smell like cupcakes. http://t.co/uLtvEeF"
(Don't forget to leave a comment & link below telling me you've shared this on Twitter!)

If you are sharing on your blog comment below thusly:
"Greetings! It is I, the fabulous (enter your name here), writing to inform you of my insane awesomeness. Evidence of my magnificence can be viewed here (enter the links to your mentions here). Thank you and try not to be blinded by my shiny aura."

If you decide to do all or any combination of the above, comment below:
"OH MY GOSH I AM THE GREATEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD AND SMARTPHONES! I shared the link to your giveaway on Facebook and Twitter and on my blog (enter links to your mentions here) because I AM A PERFECT HUMAN BEING."

See? It's easy!

Remember, doing this gives you an entry to win this! Drooool....

Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful...

And don't forget to think about, and work on, your repurposing project! You have until Friday at midnight to submit a link to the picture of your completed project. Remember, you don't HAVE to do this part of the challenge. You don't even have to do an entry every day! Just do what you want and can do. Every day will give you another chance to enter the giveaway, and Friday's entry will give you an entry plus some unicorn sparkles because you will feel like a superhero for Doing Something Good! 

Here's what I'm going to be doing this week. I have a million and two paint chips in my house because we've been picking colors for our house. We have a designer/consultant person coming over this afternoon, and after she laughs at all my color choices and hands me some newer, more modern colors, I will take the rest of the chips and instead of throwing them in the trash...I shall repurpose them into something grand!

(Seriously, guys. This is just a third of the paint chips that are currently occupying my house. 
I think I have a problem.)

Or at least...that's the plan. We'll see what happens!

Stay tuned for a new entry method tomorrow, and more pics of Inara's Rainbow. I have some comparison shots to Inara's original sling that I know some of you have been s geeked out (like me!) to see. The comments below will close at midnight tonight, so share away!

Hey, you know what else is good? YOU. Because you've decided to come along on this crazy adventure with me. Thank you so much for entering the giveaway - you guys are my shining stars!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The V2B Do Something Good Giveaway.

Did I ever tell you my life story? It's long and boring, and you might as well settle down and get comfortable because it's probably going to take all week long to tell it.

What's that? You're not interested in my life story, you say? You're just here for the giveaway, you say?

HOW RUDE.

Well fine, then. If you insist. Jeepers, a girl can't even tell her life story anymore without people trying to shut her up. Pffffft...

GUYS! I have been SO FREAKING EXCITED about this!!!! Forget everything you just read! I couldn't sleep last night because I was so stoked (stoked? Who says that anymore? Only crazy Canadians that give away things for free, apparently)!


Remember that pretty little wrap called Inara's Rainbow? Perhaps you've heard of it? Yes well, the lovely Giselle was kind enough to send me my very own Inara's Rainbow a few weeks ago, and I immediately set to work deciding what to do with it.

With your help, I decided to turn half of it into a ring sling. And I was tricky when I asked YOU what color you liked the most for the rings (most of you liked the deep red ring color) because I had an ulterior motive all along...
(Hello, gorgeous!)

I had Giselle send the wrap directly to Jan at Sleeping Baby Productions, and she was so sweet to work with. I asked her to convert half of it into a ring sling (in the interest of full disclosure, Giselle gave me the wrap for free, but I paid Jan to turn it into a ring sling) with the intention of giving it away.

You think I'm crazy. You think I've lost my marbles. And it's probably all true, but there's also this. Ever since this whole incredible journey began, you guys have been nothing but supportive. There has never been an ounce of jealousy, competitiveness, or anything other than pure love and light shooting through the internets for me, my daughter, and this gorgeous wrap. I am so awed by your kindness and generosity of spirit, even when some of you wrote to me and said how you wished you could own one of these limited-edition wraps, even though you had not a penny left to spare....

 
...that really moved me.

So I thought about it, and I decided that want to give it all back to you - and more, if there's a way. I want to give each of you a chance to own this gorgeous piece of our babywearing legacy, without any cost involved on your part. I want to Do Something Good.

And that's how the Do Something Good Giveaway was born.

So after consulting with my expert readers (that would be you), I've decided to give you LOTS of chances to enter this giveaway. The more chances to win, the better - don't you think? Here's how it's going to work. The whole concept of the giveaway will center on Doing Something Good. I'm going to stretch it out allllllll week long, and close the giveaway on Friday, April 15th at midnight EST. I'll pick the winner on the weekend and announce the name a week from today - Monday, April 18th. Every day, there will be a new way to enter. You don't have to enter each day, and certainly if one of the days is something you're really not interested in doing - then don't do it! Or send me an email and suggest something else that you would like to do. I'm all ears!

As of today, my giveaway schedule is looking like this (with more details about each to be shared on that day):
Monday (today) - leave a comment after this post
Tuesday - share the giveaway online
Wednesday - follow me online
Thursday - subscribe to the blog (I know a lot of you might not want to do this, so this is something I'm willing to change if I get any better ideas)
Friday - submit a link to the pictures of your Do Something Good Challenge!

Now you're asking...what the heck is the Do Something Good Challenge? Well, I thought you'd never ask!

(But first let us pause for a moment to admire the beauty of this sling...)

Last week, I ran this idea by you guys and I think it went over pretty well. The idea is to make my giveaways mean something more for all of us. Rather than the typical enter-and-spam-the-interweb idea (which is good for  me, but a PITA for you), I wanted all of us to think outside the box. Why? Because WE CAN. And we should! Why NOT do something good for our world, for our community, for our fellow human beings, for OURSELVES - to win something good? Or why not just do something good because it's the right thing to do?

I have to say, I have the best readers - because all of you responded with a resounding BRING IT ON HELL YEAH BOOYAH!

I love you guys.

So here's what you have to do to enter my first ever Do Something Good Giveaway TODAY:

1. Leave me a comment at the end of today's post (comments will close at midnight, so get on it!) telling me why you would like to win Inara's Rainbow. Is it for you? For a future baby? For a friend? Maybe to wear as a funky turban or shawl (be careful if you go that route though...those rings might hurt!)? To use as a picnic blanket or a tent or just to love and pet and drool over...er, wait. That's my personal fantasy. Forget I said that.
 (Don't worry - you're not getting this half of the wrap.)

2. Get to work on the Do Something Good Challenge. I asked my resident do-gooder (Inara) what she thought a good challenge would be, and she said that Earth Day was coming up, so we should do something for the Earth. Great idea, right? So you have until Friday to work on repurposing (or upcycling) something in your house for another creative use. Do you have lots of something that you usually throw away? Can you reuse it in a creative way instead? Or do you have old clothes that you can cut and sew into something else? Have a little think about it, get your kids involved if you want (a great way to get them Doing Something Good!), and go nuts! Be creative! And submit your entry on Friday. Not earlier. If you submit it earlier IT WILL NOT COUNT.

I am really excited about this, and have found some neat things online, if you're stumped for ideas:
- My friend Carla makes all of her wares out of old clothes. (I took those pictures!)
- An entire blog dedicated to repurposing! I don't know if you can do anything like that in a week...if you can, then I shall bow to your superiority!
- A few repurposing craft ideas.

The possibilities really are endless. Make something pretty for yourself - you deserve it! Or make something for someone else - they probably deserve it too. Or, let your kids' imaginations run amok with the idea. I can't wait to see what you come up with. You have FIVE DAYS, so make them count!

You won't be the only ones Doing Something Good...I'm going to do some repurposing too! I have an idea involving the millions of paint chips that are strewn about my house. I'll share more about it over the next few days, along with more luscious pictures of Inara's Rainbow.

Ready, Set, Giveaway!

(Other important things to note: ANYONE can enter this giveaway. If you have an address, I will do my best to ship this to you. Did you hear that, Russian readers??  Also, please feel free to share this post with the world at any time. You don't have to wait until tomorrow. Think of all the people that can get in on Doing Something Good together! I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it!)

(Carrying your baby is Good. Winning a free sling is even Gooder!
Unrelated aside: My baby turns two in exactly ONE MONTH. 
I'm going to miss these tender moments so much. Sniffle sniffle...)

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Most Popular Kid In Class.

I have been called a lot of things in my life, but "popular" has never been one of them.

I was the small, bookish, brown kid in school, the one who walked the straight and narrow and was always the first person to answer the teacher's questions. I was highly competitive, and if trivia about the cellular structure of celery was an Olympic sport - I'd have totally won gold.

I didn't ever have a lot of friends growing up...and even though I was very happy with the friends that I did have (who are still my best friends today), I always wondered what it would be like to be one of the popular kids. You know, the ones that didn't have pop-bottle glasses and who were allowed to go to boy/girl parties (You could catch diseases if went to places like that and didn't study for next day's test!).

I started growing out of my social awkwardness sometime in high school (right around the time I started growing into my independence...which was a long and arduous process in and of itself), but even today, I still sometimes have flashbacks to lonerville. I'm never really quite sure where I stand with people, never really sure if I'm following all the right rules of society when I talk about my unyielding love of Harry Potter or the fact that I can name the first 20 Elements of the Periodic Table in my sleep (Ayech-He-Li-Bib-Ke-Nof-Nee-Nal-Mig-Al-Sip-Pis-Cal-Ark-Ka is how you would say it phonetically - just in case you were wondering).

Until Now.

Inara always brings home the artwork she has created at school, and I always hang it up on our Giant Wall of Art in the dining room. Lately however, she's been painting less and less, choosing instead to play with her friends (because she's SOCIALIZING WITH HER PEERS! Sniffle!). So when she bounded in the door yesterday with a large rolled tube of paper, I was understandably surprised. I was excitedly looking forward to a new addition on the Giant Wall as I unfurled the roll and said, "Inara! Did you do make this for the me?"

She bent over, taking off her sneakers, "Nuh-uh", she muttered.

I unrolled it and looked at the picture, slightly confused.

"Inara...this doesn't look like your art. Are you sure you didn't get mixed up, and maybe bring home someone else's artwork instead?"

Inara was sitting on the floor and she looked up at me, rolling her eyes as if I was just about the densest person on the planet. "MOM. It is for you, okay? I didn't paint it though. My friend Ruby made it. FOR YOU. Didn't you read the picture?"

I squinted at it, more carefully this time. Slowly images and words began to emerge, like little surprises popping out of a surrealist piece. I smiled as I read the faint white words: I love you. Ruby.


Down below, Inara's teacher had written "For Mrs. George, Ruby"

I have to admit to to getting a little choked up, and I had to catch myself from tearing up when Inara sighed at me, and used her Are-You-Really-Not-Getting-This-Yet? voice. "Ruby made that for you, Mom. And now ALL the kids in my class want you to come and visit so that they can make you pictures. So can you just visit already?"

Like it was the most inconvenient thing in the world to have a popular mom.

Which it probably is, but I could care less. It only took me 32 years, but I'm finally the most popular kid in class! Booyah!

And the best part about having four year-olds as best friends? They LOVE the fact that I'm a nerd. You should have seen them today at school (I finally did go and visit, and I had all my little friends hanging off my legs while Inara just rolled her eyes and shook her head at all of us like we'd lost our minds). I finally have an enraptured audience to showcase my many and varied talents for. Periodic Table Song, anyone???

Have a great weekend, friends! Don't forget to check in next week for the Do Something Good Giveaway...it's going to be such fun! xoxoxmahreen

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I Scream, You Scream.

Do you ever have one of those days when you have so much to do, and just can't seem to catch your breath?

I am very much having one of those days...except get this - I have a million things to do...and they're all FUN! This rarely ever happens to me, and even though I am more than a bit overwhelmed, I am understandably pretty excited too. Today, I get to:

- Take my girls to the bookstore (which is their HANDS DOWN MOST FAVORITE place in the world. I am raising little bookworms! I love it!)
- Plan a little giveaway I am going to be doing next week (don't know if you've heard about it. Ha ha ha.)
- Pick out paint colors for a few rooms in our house. Super fun...but my gosh, it's so overwhelming too. I have no idea how to pick a paint color, and I'm really afraid to commit to something for fear of it not looking good or feeling right later. Right now, I'm sitting on the floor of the living room surrounded by fan decks and paint chips. I have no idea what to do!
- I get to host the Wednesday Scream at my other gig, And Nobody Told Me! The lovely Lerner is away on vacation (to Spain! Jealous!), and so our poor readers have to deal with me instead. I'm trying to keep from answering every comment with, "Sleepy Blue, or Atmospheric?" Come and visit me over there for a spell, won't you? It's a great way to let off some steam, and I promise to try to be just the tiniest bit helpful (as long as you don't mind me discussing shades of gray with you).

Oh, and the best part of my day is that I get to hang out with this little monkey. She was kind enough to demonstrate her own version of the Wednesday Scream when she saw all the paint chips covering every available surface of the house.


Pretty cute, huh?

I just hope she doesn't react the same way when she sees what color I'm going to be painting her room!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Let's Talk (About Doing Something Good).

I recently received something in the mail, and ever since I got it I can think of nothing else but giving it away. I know, it's absolutely crazy - and goes against my previous stated and vehement dislike of giveaways.

I wrote that post over a year ago, when I had nothing to give away other than Inara's artwork. I have always felt (and do still feel) that giving away things just to attract more readers isn't in anyone's best interest...HOWEVER...

...let's just say that I now have something in my possession that I know you, my wonderful and devoted readers, will be far more interested in than Inara's artwork (which frankly, shocks me because who WOULDN'T want a poster-sized painting of blobby people?). The thing is, I want to give this away because even though it's probably one of my most beloved items, I know that paying it forward to all of you will make me even happier. Yes, I know. I'm a crazy fool. But I just know that this is the right thing to do....for you and for me.

Now here's the thing. Giveaways in general drive me a bit batty. I honestly can't stand it when I have to do eleventy million things just to get a fighting chance to win something that I want (and you will want this. I just know you will!). On the other side of things, as a blogger - I do appreciate it when my readers think enough of me to want to share my blog...and I feel weird about making you HAVE to do that as part of the giveaway. But it would also help to give more people a chance to win, and the more people the merrier I say! Spread the love!

So here's where you come in. I'm going to do this giveaway next week. But I'd like your help in setting it up. I've had a few discussions on the Veni Vidi Facebook Fan page, as well as on Twitter about the kinds of things that YOU find the most interesting/least spammy to do as part of a giveaway. I'd like to bring that same discussion here, so we can all talk about it together, and decide how we want this to go. I love the intimate number of readers I have today, and I think of all of you as friends. I would never want to do anything that irritates my friends, and who knows? Maybe the decisions we make together today will shape the direction of V2B in days to come. I think it would be fabulously democratic for you guys to have a hand in that.

You know it's true...

Everything I do...

I do it for you...

Ahem.

One of the ideas I put out there on my V2B Facebook Page was to stretch out the giveaway over a week, and give readers a different way to enter on each day. That way, you're not having to do a hundred things all at once and losing track, or bombarding your friends with V2B spam. Some of the common ways to enter online giveaways are:

- Leaving comments on the blog itself (Love this. Low effort, low spam. Love.)
- Sharing the blog online via Twitter or Facebook (I'm meh on this. But I like that more people can enter the giveaway by you sharing it with them.)
- Following me on Facebook and Twitter (meh. But I do loves me some followers. FOLLOWERS. What a horrid term. How about Potential New Reader-Friend Type People?)
- Subscribing to my blog via email, RSS, Google Friend Connect. (Not sure about this. You should follow me if you like my content. You shouldn't have to follow me if you don't. But maybe you like the giveaway AND the content? Thoughts?)

And then I started thinking about other, non-traditional ways to make my giveaways more fun for all of us, and possibly to turn them into something GOOD for even more people:
- Someone suggested that an entry on one day could be to tell a cute story, or tell a funny joke (could be really cool!)

Do you have any other ideas like that? Something YOU would be willing to get involved in?

Then I had my big huge uh-maze-ing idea.

What if we used the giveaway to do something altruistic? Something good for someone else, not to benefit me or you but just doing something good BECAUSE WE COULD.

See, I've always felt that bloggers have a lot of power. We paint pictures with words, we can incite and encourage, and do so many things with the power of our writing, and the power of the people who read our words. We can hold giveaways and lord our power over your heads - making you send in videos proclaiming your love for us, or Tweeting about us seven times  a day on the hour OR ELSE. Or...

Or...

Or we can Do Something Good.

What do you think about a Do Something Good Giveaway? I would like it to not involve money, because doing something good for someone else shouldn't necessarily involve cash. What if part of the giveaway was to help a stranger out? Or to take some baked treats to your neighbor? Volunteer an hour of your time somewhere? Could this work? Am I living in Lala land here? Or could this be the start of something bigger and better for all of us? Maybe there are vendors out there that would want in on this too? I know that it would make me feel pretty good, knowing that my product was inspiring people to DO SOMETHING GOOD.

I know we're all busy people, with kids and families depending on our very limited and precious time...so what if there was a way to Do Something Good online? Does anyone have any ideas about that?

Oh, and I need to give you a hint about what my first Do Something Good Giveaway prize is going to be. It's going to be awesome, because I think that by it's very nature, it is Something Good. I can't think of a more appropriate item to start this off the right way.

Here's a picture - and the hint is that even though these two lovely people have inspired me to become a better version of myself...YOU CAN'T HAVE MY KIDS! And because I'm not giving myself away (Yet. Wait. What?) that just leaves....



 You know what they say - that the happiest people aren't the ones who are getting more, they're the ones who are giving more.

My hope is that in the long run, we all get to be winners in my giveaways.

Friday, April 1, 2011

From Russia With Love.

The strangest thing happened to me this morning. I was sitting at the breakfast table, with the girls, as I always do on weekday mornings when Yousuf leaves us to go and earn money so that I can sit at the breakfast table with my girls, in my jammies, and not have anywhere to be, or anything to think about other than the fact that I am grumpy because Yousuf is not around.

Right. So.

The girls and I were sitting down to breakfast, contemplating the dreary day outside, and talking about birdhouses. Why birdhouses, you ask? Well, it's not really important to this story, but if you must know it's because Inara bought a tiny birdhouse with her own savings the other day and she is reallysuperexcited to decorate it, so that lots of birds can come and live inside of it and be warm. The problem is, the birdhouse is tiny. Like it fits into the palm of your hand tiny. So I don't think any actual birds can fit into this birdhouse. But I don't have the heart to break it to her. Or to Nissa, who takes one look at that tiny birdhouse and goes running around the house, arms flapping, yelling at the top of her lungs, "BIIIIIIWWWWD-EEES! COME HOOOOME!".

It's awfully cute. But not, as I said, important to this story.

We were discussing birdhouses, and I was doing that thing that I always do at breakfast. That is, hold a conversation with my children, while holding several virtual conversations online. Because I am a BAD MOTHER. And because it's the only time of the day that I can ensure my children's safety if I half-ignore them. They're sitting right next to me, so there is nothing they can do to hurt themselves or each other (say, like the last time I tried to answer blog comments in the living room and Nissa wandered away into the bathroom and then emptied the entire contents of the trashcan into the toilet. And then tried to fish them all out. I caught her with her face thisclose to going into the water. And that is why I sometimes don't answer blog comments).

Right. So.

I was checking my email, and I noticed a message, but the title of it wasn't in English (English or english? I can never decide). At first I thought it was spam, but when I clicked on it, it absolutely was NOT. But it was in Russian. Odd? Oh, wait. It gets better.

In the contents of that email, I was informed that I had a rather large following of readers. In Russia. I double-checked on that immediately in my blog stats and wouldn't you know it, but it's true! Most of my readers are North American, but there is a rather large Russian readership that up until today, was neglected completely by yours truly (probably because I know nothing about Russia. Sorry, Russian friends!).

And then I was offered a job. From Russia (with love.) Tee hee! I couldn't resist. Sorry again, Russian friends!

The deal is this. I have been offered my first ever paying writing job in real monies. Lots of them, in fact. I'm absolutely shocked that my dream of paid writing might be coming true, even though it's in a rather unconventional way. I will be writing for a Russian publication with a big circulation. I will be writing about, get this...anything I want. I can write about birdhouses, or babies, or the fact that I know absolutely nothing about Russia whatsoever and why am I qualified for this position again WHO CARES WHY?!?!

Because Mama Is Making Money, Baby!

But seriously. I should probably learn more about my targeted audience, right? Does anyone have a really quick primer for me about Russia? I know nothing other than the fact that it's big, it's cold, and they make vodka. And that their capitol building looks like in belongs in a game of Candyland. Oh, come on now. You've been thinking it too!


I'm really excited about this. I have no idea why it has happened to me, or if I'm even qualified for this, but it's huge and amazing, and might just be the break I need to make it to the big time. In Russia. 

I also have no idea how I'm going to balance blogging and writing and birdhouse-ing with the girls, but I'll figure it out, somehow. This is just absolutely amazing, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. I'll end here, but before I go and brush up on my Russian trivia, I thought I'd share the name of the publication with you. I'm having a hard time translating it. Maybe someone out there can help?

It's called:
Попался! Счастливы Апрель Дураки День!

It sounds really cool when you listen to it phonetically. I think that this is going to be so awesome!)
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