Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Getting To Know You.

Firstly, THANK YOU for all the great advice about my Sn(ugly) Chair. It was great to read all of your responses and tips, and I learned so much. For instance, I had no idea that there was such a thing as upholstery spray paint! I looked it up over the weekend, which of course led me down a rabbit hole of weirdness that took strange turns at things like interior car detailing, "after" shots of upholstered chairs that were far WORSE than the "before" ones, and finally a fantastic how-to on how to, get this...paint a wing back chair.

Not with spray paint, either. I'm talking real live actual brush-on paint. It's crazy. And dare I say...fantastic.

I'm still investigating it more to see if it will work for my chair, but it feels like this could be a real possibility. Don't laugh at me yet...just wait for the reveal, then I'll tip my hat off to you and you can go gangbusters as you clutch your sides and the tears roll down your cheeks from laughing.

It shall be great fun! Or something to that effect.

Meanwhile, I'm now nursing myself back from the land of the living snot-infested dead - as my sweet little children were so kind as to share their germies with me over the weekend. I have this mental image of them, walking towards me as snot droobles down their vapid, lifeless faces and they shriek their battle-cry of, "Mama! Mama! I love you!! I vant to suck your bloooood!" (Wait. That's totally not zombie, is it? Great, now I've gotten my undead monsters all mixed up, way to go, George.) and then they infect me with their grossness...

...but I digress.

The point is, that I am two degrees away from death exactly THREE days before I am scheduled to go away with my galpals for a insert drumroll here....Women's Adventure Weekend!

I'll share more about the trip upon my return, but I do want to say it's something that I've never ever done before. It's way out of my comfort zone (my comfort zone being marathon shopping, not marathon outdoor adventuring), but it promises to be a weekend full of great memories made with a few of my most favorite people. Provided I can get better, of course. Did you hear that, body? It's time to STOP BEING SICK. NOW.

It's hard trying to make your body better when you're chasing a toddler around - as I am sure you are well aware. Unfortunately, I was one of those poor naive sods who was living under the misguided notion that once my eldest child was in full day school I would have oodles of free time on my hands...my GAWD, how wrong that silly thought was. I feel like I have less time than ever!

My days are now spent in a sort of revolving-door that involves drop offs, pick ups, and trying to cram in as many errands and activities as possible in between. I feel badly about hauling Nissa along for a lot of the not-so-fun daily chores, but at the same time, I'm enjoying our alone time a great deal. The downside is that there is less time than ever for me, which includes blogging. It's a problem, people...but I am working very hard to keep this creative outlet. I need it for my own sense of sanity, for my own sense of self.

In the meantime however, I am lucky enough to get lots of alone time with this delightful little girl:

I'm learning all about Nissa during our time together - and I have to tell you, she is certainly one cool chick. Nissa has become my little bestie, we hang out and share inside jokes wherever we go, making the most of her perpetually good mood (except for when I miss nap time - which tends to happen when we're having too much fun!).

A special date with Daddy, who also gets to spend lots of alone time with Nissa on his day off.

I had honestly forgotten what a joy two year-olds are to be around. There is a sense of maturity to Nissa's being, she is fiercely independent (more so than her sister was at the same age), yet she still likes to be smooched in public. She is adventurous and bold, yet easy-going and laid back. She's always up for whatever the day has in store, and I find our time together flying by as I discover more about her blossoming personality. I wonder who this bouncing little sprite will become, what her likes and dislikes will be, how she will view the world and her own very special place in it...

(Only a two year-old would think that cleaning up is fun. Partay time!)

We don't say cheese. We say, AHHHHHHHH! It's what all the cool kids are doing.

Inara always asks what Nissa and I did together while she was away at school, and on some days we have a lot to share. But on other days, the ones where we haven't gone to music class or grocery shopping or to the library, the days when we just get to be together, those are the days that are harder to describe... and yet they are far richer in experiences. Nissa and I always give each other a look on those days, and then shrug. "Not much", we say...but we mean something else entirely:

DANCE PARTY! or, "Shay-kah shay-kah booty!" as Nissa likes to say.

I love being with you, kiddo. I love everything you are, in this very moment. I love that you are my daughter, and I am so lucky that I get to be your mama.

Friday, September 23, 2011

DIY Design: The Sn(ugly) Chair.

My girls and I spent much of the week curled up together - both of the girls were sick and they needed some intensive Mama TLC to get better.  It definitely helped to have a nice big chair to curl up in...

...poor sick kiddos!

The chair is something I've been meaning to tell you about. I've been looking at our living room for some time now, and I've been thinking that it is missing something but not quite sure what. We currently have a tiny IKEA sofa and armchair (Klippan and Tullsta, respectively) in the room, and not much else...unless you count the toys that are threatening to take over my house. That back corner between the two windows was basically dead space, and we've been wanting more seating for when guests come over. In my mind's eye, I could see an upholstered wing back chair with a really modern print, but they are really way too expensive for our budget (our budget is IKEA Klippan and Tullsta!).

When a friend of mine suggested that I look on Craigslist, I laughed out loud, thinking I'd find only really dated furniture. So what? Was my wise friend's response. Ummm, excuse me? And that was how the plan to re-upholster an old chair was born....

Now, I have absolutely no idea how to go about doing this, but I do have the internet and a very handy friend who has promised to hold my hand (and my pliers and staple gun) as I bleed, sweat and probably curse my way through this project. What the heck, I thought. Let's do it! Yousuf thinks this whole exercise is nuts (which is code for "don't spend too much money!"), so I'm going to have to prove him wrong. It should be fun, right?

But first I needed a chair. A really cheap, but not so cheap that it was gross, chair.

Craigslist is a DIY'ers fantasy brought to life. Even in the quiet little market where I live, you can find absolutely anything. The chair that I settled on was going for $75, which was a bit more than what I had intended to pay, but I liked the overall shape of it and also that the ad said that it was in almost-new condition.

It was the first time that I ever made a Craigslist purchase on my own - Yousuf is usually the haggler, but as this was my project, I decided to go for it myself. Aside from the 90's green color, the chair was in great condition, and get this, El Cheapitan - I even haggled the price down to $60!!

Off to a good start, I'd say!

So we've been living with this GREEN chair in our living room for about a week. It's really comfortable, it makes a lovely accent piece and I love it's vintage lines.

I do not however, love the color. At all.

GREEEEEEN. I'd call it Pondscum, but that name's already taken by our van (which was another used purchase) The birds are a-chirpin': CHEAPY CHEAPY CHEAP!

But there is definitely the potential for character with this piece...I just have to figure out what fabric will look really fantastic, and oh - also how to reupholster the chair. No biggie.

So, if you have any great upholstery advice, websites, links, videos - hit me! I could also use help with my fabric choices too. It needs to be durable for sure, and I'm thinking no geometric patterns because lining up all that fabric in the right direction will give me a heart attack.

I'm envisioning the walls in my living room to be a very pale grey (gray for you Canadiurns). The IKEA sofa is in the process of being re-covered to a slightly deeper grey, to pick up the silver tones in these fantabulous pillows that I just snagged for sale off of West Elm. Hello, lovelies. I'm so loving this Indigo hue right now:

And then there is the IKEA Tullsta chair to deal with as well. It needs a new cover too - but thinking about all these different pieces and what fabrics to choose has me overwhelmed, which is SO WEIRD. Finding design inspiration is usually not so difficult for me, but I think I'm afraid of making an irreversibly horrible choice in my own home.

So - here is my Design SOS! Or, you can just sit back and watch how this whole thing unfolds. I'll keep you updated as the process develops.

But for now...I'm going back to doing more of this:

(I kind of adore it when my babies get all sniffly and need a little extra Mama love. The new chair helps to make it all extra comfy!)

Happy Weekend!
p.s. I just came across this fabulous website, it's called InCircle Interiors, and they offer design advice online to fit tight budgets. How neat! I thought I'd pass it along in case any of you are interested. xoxoxmahreen

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Hiney Woes.

My friends, last week - in all it's entirety - kicked my hiney.

And if you must know, I have quite an ample hiney (I blame genetics, and chocolate, and cheese. And bread. Oh, and ice cream! Can't forget the ice cream!), so you can trust me when I say that if my hiney received some kickage, and I felt said kickage on said ample hiney...that it was a really rough week.

My hiney actually hurts just thinking about it.

Fatima Mustafa, aka my mom, hopped on a train from Toronto when she sensed the desperation bordering on hysteria in my voice early last week. It was a blessing to have her here, and it helped immensely. For three days, I didn't have to feel guilty about abandoning one child in order to care for the other. Nobody felt left out, nobody acted out because they felt like they weren't getting my attention. It was all good in the 'hood.

And yet, the week still kicked my hiney.

It's because kindergarten is upsetting the very delicate balance of MY LIFE. We were teetering on the precipice here at the George household, looking out over the abyss and imagining that it was filled with sparkles and glitter and magical unicorns and happy friendly school vibes.

But it totally, utterly, completely, wasn't.

They abyss looked back at us last week and then reared it's ugly head and roared ANXIETY FEAR TEARS MAMA AM I GOING TO HAVE TO BACK TO SCHOOL EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE?!?!?!?!?!? OH NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

They (And by they I mean people that know more about parenting than me - which is like, everyone.) say that the second week of school is actually harder than the first. And sure enough, once the novelty of the school situation wore away and and was replaced by the tedium of sleep eat change school home eat change (bath optional) sleep, it really wasn't so much fun any more.

We're getting there though, with fewer tears every day - but lord almighty, is it ever hard. I feel like every moment of my life last week revolved around this gigantic spinning tornado, and I was grabbing onto anything solid every second of the day, trying not to get sucked into the chaos. It was so completely exhausting, the tears and the routine and the handling of every fragile emotion in a way that didn't end in someone bursting out in tears or banging little fists against the walls, floor, or me...and urgh. I just hope that we hit our school groove soon.

Nissa misses Inara SO MUCH. I miss her too, but the depths of Nissa's despair upon seeing Inara off to school every day is absolutely heart wrenching. I'm trying to re-learn all my toddler-entertainment tricks, but man, are my skills rusty. I love hanging out with my two year-old though, it's as if we are re-discovering each other in a whole new way, I'm learning things about my youngest child that I had no idea about previously.

Like last week, I learned that:

- Nissa loves green beans.
- Nissa compliments any outfit I try on in a changing room. She says I look like a "fancy lady", even when the pants are about two sizes too small for my (as I am sure you are well aware of by now) very ample hiney.
- Nissa wears her sunglasses upside down, every single time. She insists that this is the correct way to wear them, every single time.
- Nissa is all kinds of hilarious, and her sense of humor is fantastically well-developed. She can be dry and sarcastic in one instant, and be making farting sounds the next, all while giving me a look that says, Come on, Mama. Try to keep up with me here.

Nissa has been having a hard time napping lately, and I think it has to do with Inara going away. But last week I told her that as soon as she woke up from her nap we would be going to get Inara, and just like that - problem solved. Little sister understands a lot more than I give her credit for.

It hasn't been all awful, it's just been insanely busy. There were times last week when I felt like we could so do this school thing, and that given the right amount of time - everything would be a-okay.

Here is a brief run-down of positives, because it's good for me to keep all these in mind when I'm yelling at my kids and stuffing their faces full of breakfast muffins so that we can get to school on time (is anyone else dealing with morning slowpokes? Please say that I'm not the only one!):

- Inara loves with a capital L covered in goopy wet kisses to infinity her teacher. I am so SO thrilled for her.
- In spite of a slightly rocky second day (she got pushed on the playground, resulting in a scratched cheek), Inara has overcome so many of her own anxieties about school, and she hasn't missed a single day because of it.
- I have found a great way to alleviate all of our stress - humor. I make funny faces at Nissa when we drop Inara off, and instead of a love note at lunch (which was reminding Inara of me in an "I need Mama RIGHT NOW" kind of way), she gets a Joke Of The Day. I found out on Friday that her classmates and teacher all look forward to her reading them aloud. Awesome.
-  At the end of last week, we discussed Inara's feelings about school. She told us that when she comes home, no matter how tough of a day it has been, the feeling she feels the most when she finishes a day of school....is PRIDE.

Oh yeah, baby. So take THAT, last week. I am laughing my backside off, in all of it's magnificence, in your general direction. And oh, how good it feels to laugh.

p.s. - approximately twenty minutes after writing this post, Nissa threw up in my lap. Sigh. Looks like it's going to be another loooooong week.
p.p.s. - approximately 4 hours after writing this post, I fell asleep and had the strangest dream about Matt Damon leading my next book club meeting. This has nothing to do with anything, other than to remind you that my mind is a strange and bizarre place. And that I love Matt Damon.

Sweet dreams of waking up to get Big Sister from school - and by the way, no more puking, please.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Champion Of Kindergarten.

So, guys...she did great. No, great isn't an accurate description. Inara ROCKED her first day of kindergarten.

I always remember it raining on the first day of school. Even if we had a summer filled with nothing but sunny skies, as soon as September hit it would pour buckets, especially on the first day. Sure enough, yesterday was no exception. But the grey skies didn't put a damper on my kindergartner's spirits. She bounded down the hall with eager anticipation, not minding the squelch squirch squeak of our footsteps.

(Yousuf got more than a little soaked. Poor guy doesn't have any hair to absorb the rain, you know.)

And the rest, as they say, was history. She could barely sit still, wanting to explore the class, eat her snack, and basically you know, just get on with it, already. Especially when we posed for pictures and I almost suffocated her with the sheer desire of never wanting her to grow up:

 Okay, mom. Enough, already.
In fact, the only person who had any major issues was little sister, who got grumpier and grumpier as the morning progressed. She felt slighted when she didn't get a morning snack and therefore tried to steal Inara's...

 ...and even grumpier when Inara said that she was ready for me to leave and I channelled every ounce of my being into not crying in front of my big, brave, amazingly grown up girl.

Nissa remained grumpy until the car, when she went straight into morose without any warning. I had no idea that it would affect her so deeply, but being without Big Sis was the most heartbreaking thing that had ever happened to her. She couldn't understand why we weren't going BACK to get Inara right away.

And to tell you the truth, I spent much of my day wondering the same thing. I spent the day puttering around, carrying Nissa and convincing her that Inara was okay (but I was really convincing myself), and half-wanting her school to call me to come and get her early. Thankfully, they never did. And when I went to go pick her up later that afternoon, she was SO proud of herself. She was The Champion Of Kindergarten, she said.

I have to agree with her assessment of the experience. Inara kicked all kinds of...well, you know what I mean. She didn't even MISS ME, that's how great of a day she had. Her teacher confirmed it all, which leads me to believe that she is now officially a Big Kid. Sniff, sniff, I'm trying very hard not to have "a moment" as I type that. We couldn't have asked for a better start, and I am so awed by how grown up she seems today. For today I am the mother of the Champion of Kindergarten. It's a big deal around these parts.

Aside: You will notice in the above picture, that my girlie is NOT wearing the nice black mary janes that we hunted all over the known universe for. Nay, instead, she insisted on wearing her old, treadless, beaten-up Fancy Nancy sneaks...and I let her. Because she is the Champion Of Kindergarten, and who am I to argue with that?

The night before the first day of school, Nissa was so forlorn. I had told her that Inara was going to school the next day and she vehemently shook her head at all of us insisting, "She NOT go to school tomowwow. Nanu stay HERE." Then, she walked over to Inara and held her hand while she looked up at her and said, "I miss you, Nanu. I miss you tomowwow."

Inara hugged her little sister very tightly and said to her in a soft voice, "I'm going to kindergarten now, Issie. I can't spend every day with you anymore. But I'll always come home to you. I promise."

Gawd, I thought to myself. Just kill me now.

This growing up thing is going to take some getting used to.

Thanks for all the wonderful comments, emails and messages, friends. I read every one and cherished every word. Thank you for going through this with me. I feel like we all sent my big girl off to school, together. xoxoxmahreen

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kindergarten Eve.

I was a total mess this past weekend. It was supposed to be the last blast of summer vacation for our family - we had plans to do all kinds of fun things together, and instead I spent it grumping around being mad at anyone and everyone who dared cross my path.

I don't think I was a lot of fun to be around.

At the start of the long weekend, I had convinced myself that Inara was definitely NOT ready to go to kindergarten because she hadn't gotten a haircut. What kind of mother was I, to have not thought about this earlier? Only THE WORST MOTHER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD EVER. Of course.

Stricken by panic, I started calling hairdressers in the area. All but one of the places laughed at me. At the last place, a kind lady took pity on me and offered me an appointment...for next Saturday.

I cried, and then I took it. It's not so bad, I told myself. Maybe I'll take pictures of her after the appointment, and tell everyone that they were taken on the first day of school...

...because that's what crazy people tell themselves when they are caught in the tailspin of emotions leading up to KINDERGARTEN.

I think that I've purposefully left this many things to the last minute because I am still in complete and utter denial about the whole ordeal. It's the same reason I hauled the girls all over town this morning to find new shoes for Inara. I just couldn't stand to think about it until I was forced to. And I WAS forced to, when yesterday Inara put on her old sneakers and I noticed that the tread on the bottom was completely worn out. What kind of mother doesn't notice these things until the day before school starts?

Only the kind who is sabotaging herself emotionally because she doesn't want to let go of her baby.

I feel as if I'm getting ready for birthing another baby, I'm restless and pacing and nesting - but it's all bass ackwards. I'm preparing for someone leaving instead of coming, and I'm steadying myself for a flood of tears - and not the happy kind. I so badly want school to be a good experience for her, I want her to realize school for the gift that it is...and I'm so scared to think about what will happen if anything goes wrong.

I've done a very good job of keeping the nasties away from Inara, for fear of tainting her newly-emerging excitement...but they're not gone away completely. Instead, all my anxiety is coming out in the form of shoes and haircuts and lunch menus and rain boots (she doesn't even have RAIN BOOTS, people. It's like I'm going to send her to school in rags à la Oliver Twist. And then she'll be cold and hungry and end up falling in with the wrong crowd and they'll keep her warm and fed but only if she does their evil bidding. All because I didn't get her new rain boots. Stop laughing. It could totally happen.)

We have a gigantic calendar in our kitchen - I've written about it before, and every month I take it down to make a new one with the girls. Well, it's the day before kindergarten and our calendar still says August. I just can't bear making a September calendar and then having "Inara's First Day of School also known as THE DAY SHE WILL LEAVE YOU" printed on it and circled three times for emphasis. I just can't do it.

So now when Inara goes, "Mama, what day is today? I can't tell because the calendar is completely wrong."

I cheerfully reply with, "It's not wrong. It's actually August 37th today. See, I've written it at the bottom of the calendar. It's not wrong AT ALL."

And then then everyone in the house rolls their eyes at me and I pretend not to notice. BUT I TOTALLY DO NOTICE IT, PEOPLE. And guess what? I could CARE LESS.

(This is something crazy people tell themselves all the time. Or so I've heard.)

Inara is totally stoked about school. She's excited, she's looking forward to it, and she wants to go. I am so thrilled to hear this from her, and what a change it is from this time last year. On Friday, we had a family conference with Inara's kindergarten teacher (standard issue at her school) to familiarize all of us with each other. Later, Inara said that it was the best part of her day, and that she didn't want to leave at all.

It was music to my ears, and yet my heart couldn't help but break just a little bit.

This morning, on our way back from trying on every shoe in every shoe store from here to the Canadian border, I told Inara how I felt. "I'm not sure what Nissa and I will do when you're at school, kiddo. I think we're going to miss you an awful lot."

She thought about this for a few moments, dog-earing the book she was reading and setting it aside (it was about the Titanic, her latest obsession...so kindergarten appropriate, yes?), and she gave the question her full attention.

"Mama," she said seriously. "If I think about things for you and Issie to do when I'm at school, maybe it will help you not miss me so much. And then we'll both have lots of things to talk about when we see each other again. Because I'm big now, and I just have to be in kindergarten, even if we're both nervous about it. Maybe our feelings will change. We just have to give it a chance. Hey, look! The leaves are falling off the trees already! Does that mean it's autumn?"

I pulled the van over onto a side street because I was "having a moment" (as my family now likes to say about me. Often.). I put down all the windows and stuck my head outside, inhaling the cool fresh air and letting it wash over the fat tears that fell silently from my eyes and plopped down to the road below. I sighed as I realized what was happening, and pulled my head back into the van.

Sitting under the big oak tree, we watched the leaves swirl around us. The wind made a hushing sound as it rustled the leaves, in calm, soothing tones.

"Do you think that it sounds like the wind is whispering something?" I asked the girls, twisting in my seat to look behind me.

"Maybe..." Inara replied, turning back to her book.

"Go back home NOW, Mama! Go!" came the helpful response from Nissa, who was facing backward and confused about this sudden change of pace.

I started the van back up again, but before I pulled away from the tree I paused one last time, to listen. The world seemed like a much less complicated place under the shelter of that big tree. But as we drove off, I heard my own voice echoing the voice of the wind and the world as it pushed us all along into tomorrow and the huge milestone we faced.

She is so ready for this it whispered, in my ear, in my mind, across my heart...and I knew that it was true.

She is so ready for this.

And so...I will be ready for it too. Even if breaks my heart, just a little bit.

In case you missed it yesterday, my other gig at And Nobody Told Me is coming to an end. My last post was yesterday, and I hope you will have a chance to read it. The blog will not be publishing any more regular material, but we are leaving the content up in the hopes that it will benefit anyone who happens to come across it. I've enjoyed my time at ANTM immensely, and will always treasure the wonderful friendships I've made with all of the incredible and talented women there. xoxoxmahreen

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September First.

Inara announced this morning, "SUMMER IS OFFICIALLY OVER." - I daresay she sounded not altogether unhappy about it either, which is possibly the most exciting thing to happen around here since her fifth birthday back in July.

It's because she's getting older, and all of a sudden school doesn't seem so scary. We went to go visit Inara's Pre-K teacher and old classroom this morning, and in that teeny classroom with those teeny toys, my teeny girl loomed large. She is so ready for kindergarten (which starts exactly one week from today - aaaaaaaahhhhh - I'm going to be such a mess!), even if she doesn't quite know it fully herself...yet. A mama can tell about these things, and all I can say is that her new school better had be ready, because they are about to get a whole lotta EYE EN AY AR AY. All caps. Exclamation point exclamation point exclamation point. This girl has personality to spare and the world needs to see it unleashed.

Even though Inara still says that she is "kind of nervous" about school, I am hoping that in a short while it will all be smooth sailing. After all, she has done the whole school thang before and this year she will see some familiar faces to welcome her back.

One bone of contention however, has been uniforms. Inara's new school has uniforms, her old school did not. She has expressed on more than one occasion, her vehement dislike about the whole situation saying, "I do not, ever, want to wear uniforms. Because I don't want to wear what everyone else is wearing. Ever."

I had no idea that Inara cared so deeply about her attire (if she had her druthers she would wear her pajamas all day every day for the rest of her days...or so I thought). But all of a sudden she is very much into picking out her own wacky clothing combinations, and not giving two hoots about what any of us have to say about the end result.

(To tell you the truth, I'm totally digging her new-found sense of independence.)

So a couple of weeks ago, when I brought home a department store worth of uniforms to try on, she took one look at all the light blues and dark blues spread out before her and let out a drawn-out exasperated siiiiiiiiiiigh. And then said, "UMMMM. NO."

I have to say, I was really not in the mood for arguing, since I had just spent the better part of an afternoon holding back tears in the middle of the mall just thinking about my girlie dressed up in these clothes, headed off towards her bright future. WITHOUT ME. More than one salesperson had to hand me a tissue, I'm sorry to say that I was really that pathetic.

"Inara. You're not going to look like everyone else. You're going to look like YOU. Because you're special and it doesn't matter what you wear. Just try them on. Please."

She thought about it, grunted at me, and took a pile of stuff around the corner to try on.

And came back stating matter-of-factly,

"I have decided to wear this with my uniform too. So that I can do THIS!"

She looked so grown up, and so NOT grown up, that my emotions - now at war with one another - came spilling out in the form of a guffaw drowned in tears. I just couldn't believe that something so funny could make me want to grab her and hold onto her and demand that she not grow up...ever.

And of course, everything just devolved from that point onwards, as Inara, driven to manic hilarity by me laughing and crying, decided that she would just have to see how far she could push my fragile emotional state.

Little sister got in on it too, exclaiming, "I a bee! Buzz Buzz Buzz! I go to school too! Bye-bye, Mama! See you SOON!" Which was so endearing and heart wrenching that I nearly broke down into sobs right then and there. ET TU, NISSA.

At which point Yousuf joined the traitorous masses and threatened to take my baby to school right then and there. "NOOOOOOO!!!" I shrieked, in mock agony, while Inara cackled with delight, "I'm gooooo-ing, Mama! I'm going NOW!":

By the end of it all, we decided that uniforms weren't probably so bad (if they could be accessorized...but not with dinosaur hoodies), that both Inara and I were probably equally nervous about kindergarten, and that every time I looked like I was going to get "uncomfortable feelings", Inara would just have to do something crazy. You know, to help turn my feelings into happy ones again - and maybe that would help change her mind about kindergarten too.

We've had a lot of crazy going on in this house ever since.

And Inara says that helping me feel better is making her feel pretty good too...which is my really corny segue into...

The Do Something Good Giveaway!!!
(Because all of YOU did something nice for someone else too! Get it? Huh? Do ya? Okay, I'll stop now.)

I was so touched by reading all of your comments and entries. You totally GOT IT, guys. And I love you all for it - I love you for getting on board and wanting to make someone's day a little brighter. I love that you didn't hesitate to tell me how great you thought the idea was. And I especially loved reading about all the people you want to help. I am lucky to have all of you wonderful, kind souls as reader friends - I feel like I got to know a little bit more about what makes YOU tick. And baby, I like what I see.

Extra special congratulations to Illusion of Sanity who won with the following comment:
I would give them to my good friend who has recently become a single mom and is struggling to keep a bit of normalcy for her kids. This would make her day!
I truly, truly hope it does! Please contact me at mahreen at venividiblog dot com to claim your Mabel's Labels Ultimate Back-to-School Combo for your friend. I hope that she loves them as much as we do...and thank you for entering her into the giveaway!

Thank you all so much for participating in the Mabel's Labels Do Something Good Giveaway, and especially to Mabel's Labels for making it all possible. It was fabulous to work with the ladies over at Mabel's Labels, they were on board with the idea right from the start and have been nothing but super supportive. If you didn't win this time, remember to bookmark the Mabel's Labels website, Facebook page and Twitter stream to keep up with all of their fabulous products, sales, and more giveaways too.

I love doing the Do Something Good Giveaways and as always, I am so appreciative of my readers taking part in them. It's so gratifying knowing that YOU want to help me make our time here a little bit more meaningful. Feel free to email me with more giveaway ideas anytime, I'd love to hear from you.

It was fun to pay it forward wasn't it? Let's do it again real soon.
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