Thursday, January 31, 2013


My kid has seriously become so hysterical - she keeps us laughing all day, everyday! Here are some recent gems:

Ava, about the obvious baby boy we saw at the park: "Mommy, look! Baby Jesus!"

We clearly need to spend more time around boys! Apparently being with five other little girls day in and day out has her thinking babies only come in one variety, save for Jesus. Ha!

The other day, when I picked Ava up from Plug & Play, they told me that during puzzle time when everyone else was playing quietly, she suddenly belted out, "Call me maybe!" That basically sums up Ava.

I've always been all for Ava learning Spanish, especially colors and other elementary concepts. That is, until she decided to name her Barbie unicorn Negro. Um....

Me: "Ava, you're so beautiful."

A: "No, mommy! I'm FABULOUS!"
Yes. Yes, you are.

She cracks me up.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Things to Do in Austin: MomCom.

While I generally reserve Tuesdays for posts about things to do in Austin with your kids, this Tuesday I decided to switch things up a bit and post about something to do in Austin for yourself as a mother - something to aid in refreshing yourself after all those trips around town for the kid stuff: MomCom.

This past Saturday, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go and spend the day networking with and being inspired by some amazing Austin women at a biannual conference known as MomCom. MomCom Austin was started by Trish Morrison, who as a new mother, found herself needing to find a community of support for working, blogging, and business-minded moms.

From the website:

At MomCom Austin, you’ll listen to speakers who are real people, working and living life on their own terms. You will walk away inspired by hearing real stories. You will meet new friends and you’ll hear that where you are right now in life is where you are supposed to be, whether you are ready to take that next step or don’t even know what the next step is! MomCom Austin is an inclusive event meant for women in all stages of their careers and/or motherhood. It  is a break from your every day. It’s an event that is meant to help you take a step back, take some time for yourself and  go home feeling refreshed so you can look at life with a fresh perspective and apply what you’ve learned in your day to day.

 This was my first time attending MomCom, but I was so excited to go for several reasons. First, this is the third time MomCom has been held, and I've known past participants that have raved about it. Second, it's in town. After having gone to Dallas for Bloggy Boot Camp, which I had mixed feelings about, I figured it was a no-brainer to head out towards Lake Travis in my own gorgeous city for a day away! And third, I signed up to volunteer, and got to help the amazingly talented Megan of Mean Baby for the day - how cool is that?

As for the conference itself, consider me impressed. Trish lined up some amazing speakers, including keynote speaker and pediatrician/media superstar/author Ari Brown, Carrie Contey and Bernadette Nolle of Slow Family Living, Laura Shook-Guzman of Soma Vida, Barb Steinberg, LMSW and Teen Life Coach, and Elaine Garza, the PR genius behind Giant Noise.

I'll admit - I initially thought that some of the talks would not be relevant to me personally. For example, Barb Steinberg's speech was on Teens and Sexuality. As someone who is the mother of a three-year-old nowhere near that stage of life, I figured this would be a good time for me to run to the bathroom, stretch my legs and take a mental break. WRONG. Through her lively and engaging presentation, I learned a ton of information that will help me down the road when it comes to talking to A about sex, and in the meantime, will be intensely helpful in guiding my interactions with the girls I nanny for who are slowly but surely heading towards an age where they have questions. And though I plan to be the one who has "the talk" with Ava at the different stages in her life, if I ever felt like adding another adult female into the equation would be helpful, Barb Steinberg would certainly be my go-to gal!

Each talk the speakers gave had both a personal and professional component, and I found it highly interesting that despite their professions being vastly different from my own (counselors, a pediatrician, a PR executive, etc.), their stories all resonated with me when it came to the struggles that they faced as working mothers and women who wore so many different hats.

There were a lot of things I heard over the course of the day that spoke to me personally, but none so much as this quote from Laura Shook-Guzman of Soma Vida, who used this metaphor for mothers taking time out for themselves and to rejuvenate:

"If you only put $2 into your gas tank, you're going to be pulled over again a little down the road, wondering why you can't get farther. If you take the time to fill up, though, you'll get much farther."

What a revolutionary way to put what should be the simplest of concepts, yet always gets pushed to the back of the priority line for me. If you're running on empty, you won't get very far. Seems pretty obvious, and yet, only recently have I begun to do nice things for myself when Ava is in school without feeling guilty about not devoting that time to work or housework or some form of productive or income-earning behavior. I definitely loved Laura's speech.

Ari Brown, local pediatrician and media professional extraordinairre, gave a great speech about how she got to where she is, with a bit of a pro-vaccination message to boot. While I know there are those that do not vaccinate their children, I will never be amongst them, and believe firmly and adamently in the power of vaccinations to erradicate crippling and terrifying diseases, so she's alright by me. I also really appreciated that she recognized her nanny as being a huge part of the reason why she is able to keep her life running smoothly. I always like to see that type of gratitude and recognition for the nannies out there - they're pretty awesome, if I could say so myself!

The next MomCom will be held June 29 in Austin, likely at the Oasis (the past two have taken place there), and with the summer in full swing, the view will be gorgeous - worth the cost of the ticket alone! And, for those early birds out there, tickets are only $55 for a limited time, so jump on it! You won't regret it!!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Cheyenne's Designs Mineral Makeup (and Much More!)

Before I start telling you about this amazing new line of products I've stumbled upon, let me first give you a bit of background about the why and how of it all.

This last year, when making my Christmas list, there was one thing that I wanted above all others: new makeup. Considering I'm nearing the big 3-0, I'm a bit too old to be wearing drugstore makeup, am I right? Plus, I have been unsatisfied with my makeup over the past six months or so, and the condition of my skin in general as well. I also have a mother who doesn't really wear makeup, so my knowledge of high end makeup brands and application and brushes (ahh!) is really, well, lacking. Anyhow, I purchased a Groupon for a set of makeup brushes, and felt it was high time to upgrade my makeup to be worthy of them!

Always one to stick to the list, sure enough, I got a gift certificate to Nordstrom and some cash from both my husband and my in-laws, and off I went the day after Christmas, armed with newly acquired Facebook knowledge on what I should get. Though I enjoyed my mini-makeover, that glow faded when I was slapped in the face with a price tag worth hundreds of dollars. I mean, no offense Bobbi Brown, but nearly $50 for foundation? Is it made from flecks of Gold? Is the shine element in that eyeshadow real diamonds? Yowsa. Discouraged, I decided to sleep on it, not wanting to shell out hundreds for makeup that would inevitably run out and need to be replaced.

Enter the amazing Cheyenne's Designs Mineral Makeup. For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you'll know I like to post. A lot. Anyhow, I'd been posting about wanting new, high-quality makeup when a friend suggested Cheyenne's Designs to me, and after a bit of facebook chat and some rapid-fire emails, I had a personalized makeup kit en route to me to try out, with a price point that beat everything else out of the water!

 Cheyenne's Designs is run by Debbie McAlester, a woman who is so friendly and knowledgeable about makeup that I immediately knew I would be happy with her products. Anyone who is that enthusiastic about their products must have a good thing going, right, and you can tell that she puts her heart and soul into her products. My package also arrived before expected - a really nice bonus at the end of a long day!

Though it's always wonderful to have a good relationship with a company you buy from, the real test of a business is their product, and let me tell you - this makeup did not disappoint. I had heard it compared to Bare Minerals, as it is a mineral makeup that she grinds out herself, and though I've not used Bare Minerals myself, I can definitely say that it covers and wears the way I would expect BM, with their foundations priced around $30. If you're wondering, the comparable foundation through Cheyenne's Designs? A mere $9.00!

When I put it all on, I noticed first how soft and smooth my skin felt, and also how perfectly the colors she suggested worked with my skin tone. The two eyeshadows (coffee and chocolate - two of my favorite things, ironically!) matched the two that Bobbi Brown had suggested, but at a fraction of the price ($5!). I honestly could not be happier with my decision!

(Pardon the awful pictures - is there a good way to take a self pic?)

Aside from foundation, they also sell powders, concealer, blushes, eyeshadows, and lip color, as well as body products such as soaps and candles, and are working on expanding their bath and body product line. I can attest to their soap line confidently as well, as I mentioned to her when placing the order that my skin has been more sensitive since Ava was born, and she sent me a Rosemary Goat soap that cleared a breakout right up! Now that's customer service! They also come in this sleek black packaging that looks just as nice as your department store make-up, but again - a FRACTION of the price!

If you're curious, I'm wearing Foundation in Moonkissed, Mineral Veil Setting Powder, Blush in Perfect Pink, Eyeshadows in both Chocolate and Coffee, and Lipstick in Pink Magic.

Though I was completely satisfied, I was curious as to if others would notice a difference. This past weekend I spent the day out at the Oasis for a local conference for entrepreneurial women called MomCom, and sure enough - I got a ton of compliments on how I looked! I cannot say enough good things and recommend Cheyenne's Designs products highly enough!

You can learn more about Cheyenne's Designs at their Facebook page.

(Note: I was given a mineral makeup kit, as well as a Rosemary Goat soap, for the purpose of this review. That being said, I only review products that I feel are exceptional and think others will enjoy and benefit from as well, and therefore the opinions expressed are entirely my own.)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Things to Do in Austin: Architects of Air at The Long Center.

As you may have read last week, I found myself (plus Ava and another child) down at the wonderful Long Center for the Performing Arts. First and foremost, I cannot say enough good things about this space. It's known as "Austin's Creative Home", and for good reason. We've seen Pollyanna Children's Theatre Productions there, numerous of Ballet Austin's ballets, including the Nutcracker, I've been on a "girls night" to see Idina Menzel, an Elton John cover band, the list goes on and on. Anyhow, when we were there last week, it just so happened to coincide with the traveling Architects of Air: Exxopolit exhibit, and it wouldn't be a day in my life if I didn't try to fit it in, would it?

Though the line was long, we waited patiently and were rewarded for our perseverance with an amazing spectacle! The "inflatable sculpture", as it was explained to us, has gone through before, and we had heard amazing things, but the lines were discouraging the first time around. This time, though, the timing worked out perfectly, and like spectators in 37 countries worldwide (a little tourist-y detail for you!), our minds were blown by the tranquil tricks the lights of the structure played on our eyes, and the soothing, middle-Eastern expired music playing.

Here's a sneak preview of what you'll find assembled on the North lawn of The Long Center:

I will say that I think I may have enjoyed this more myself had I gone child-free and was able to lay around and really take it all in, like many of my childless counterparts seemed to be doing, but the girls absolutely loved it, and it was really fascinating to see their reactions as their skin, face and clothes changed colors.

Architects of Air runs through Sunday, January 27. Tickets are available for $10/person same-day only at the door, and expect longer lines over the weekend, when they're open 10am-5pm.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Weekday in the Life of Ava.

I've recently caught a bit of grief from someone who will go unnamed about how my long hours are unfair to Ava. I think I've mentioned, but in case I haven't, I'm working long days on Tuesday and Wednesdays, with us being out of the house for 14+ hours those two days each week. And I concede that it sounds bad. But before you go passing judgment, let me just say, it's not as though I'm hauling Ava around to do manual labor, or sitting her in a stuffy office in a chair to be still and quiet all day. Sure, she's with me at "work", but when my work consists of taking her to play with her very best friends and having adventures like the LBJ Library and Museum, or an Austin Duck Adventure Tour, or a trip to the Dinosaur Museum, is she really worse off for it? In fact, those are things we'd do anyway, but rather than it just being me and her - and trust me, we do get in our wonderful mommy & Ava time - she gets to experience these things with children who've come to be like siblings to her, girls that she loves and that, through their interactions, she's been able to grow and learn so much and in unthinkable ways. Our arrangement, in fact, functions much like a Montessori set-up, with the big and little kids interacting and teaching one another skills well beyond their current stage of development. Have I mentioned Ava can write her numbers and letters? Not all of them, and not perfect, but in watching the two six-year-olds learn this skill, she's become interested and motivated as well. THESE are the things we do in our long days, as well as field trips, playing outside (including organized games that require other children and wouldn't be possible without me at my job), and her regular bath and mealtime routines. She even goes to bed there, so she's not missing out on any sleep due to my hours, and she's more flexible than most kids because of it. Basically, stick that in your pipe and smoke it, unnamed individual :P

Sorry for the rant, but when the comment was made, it really hurt my feelings. I lost some sleep and shed some tears thinking I was a bad mother, but really, what is the other option? Taking up with an office job and shipping Ava off to day care without me for long hours? Not that that's not a perfectly legit option, but since it doesn't have to be the way things are, I don't think it would be better for my particular child in comparison. We get to be together. We get to learn and play and explore both together, and with other children who we love. So I stopped losing sleep. And I've stopped feeling guilty. In fact, I think Ava's a lucky girl. Sure, I'd love to stay home with her. But that's not an option currently, and this is the next best thing for us. These are formative years. These are the years where her brain works twice as hard and is twice as active in acquiring new information, and she's getting it from so many places and from different angles than I could provide without my situation. We're blessed. And if you don't agree, that's fine, but live and let live, right?

Anyhow, here's some proof of how much Ava adores our work-life situation, in case you need it :)

Dressing up and painting nails - girl stuff dominates our time with six girls!

Enjoying the view of Lake Austin from a park on the banks, and feeding ducks :)

Working in a preschool workbook we picked up while looking for learning materials. She LOVES it!

Did I mention how wonderfully maternal and caring Ava is with little ones? Definitely benefit!

How can you not be convinced that A is a lucky, happy girl?

Hanging out with her buddies having a pajama party and winding down after a long day!

Picking out dozens of books to read before bedtime :)

Learning how to jump rope a bit ahead of schedule :)

And no matter what, we still find time just to ourselves, no matter how long the hours :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pollyanna Children's Theatre Presents The Family of Ree.

Earlier this week, I told you all about a show that was coming to the Rollins Studio at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, entitled The Family of Ree. I was lucky enough to score tickets to the show for myself, Ava and one of the little girls that I watch, and so off we went to spend part of a day at the theatre. I was a bit uncertain of how it would go over in the few minutes leading up to the show, as toddlers are notoriously busy, but as I stepped foot into the production, I knew it would not be an issue.

The set was done so beautifully, and in such brilliant and vivid colors, that there was no way to not be caught up and attentive to it! Add to that a cast of individuals who all shined in their roles, colorful costumes and exuberant props, and I had two still, well-behaved little girls who were captivated by the production.

I won't give too much away, but The Family of Ree was based on a book of the same name by Scott Sutton, and was adapted true to form, with a message about being kind to our environment and being honest to ourselves and our friends - a moral that hits home for anyone at any stage of life!

Pollyanna Children's Theatre has recently been named the resident children's company at the Long Center, and watching the actors on stage left no doubt about why. From their stage presence to their articulate yet boisterous performances, I didn't feel like I was at a children's performance but a family-centered performance - one that was fun and entertaining for us all.

The Family of Ree runs January 24-27 at the Rollins Studio Theatre in the Long Center. Showtimes vary based upon day, but if you've got youngsters, I highly recommend the 11am show. If you've yet to get tickets, you can secure tickets online for the remaining shows here.

The Little Gym of Round Rock: Ava's a Funny Bug!

Now that Ava's celebrated her third birthday, she's graduated from the Super Beasts class at The Little Gym of Round Rock into the Funny Bugs/Giggle Worms combined class for 3-4 & 4-5 year olds.

We went to our first class with our new friends this past weekend, and while there are some kids that are a lot older, it works out great since her ballet class is with the same age group, and she really idolizes older children. If there's ever anything we really want Ava to do, we just have to get one of her older friends to do it, and she'll jump right in!

Anyhow, the new class was great, if a bit larger. Since the course curriculum follows the timeline of a school year, rather than semester, we did happen to start on the mid-session parent watch day, which threw us slightly off our game. We'd been prepping her for the fact that in this new class, we wouldn't be able to go in with her, so imagine her confusion when every parent filed into the classroom to watch. Doh! That's ok, though - it was a great way to ease her into the new class and she'll be ready and see some familiar faces for next Saturday's class.

Here's my "funny bug" doing her thing!

We're really looking forward to this weekend's class!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pollyanna Children's Theater Presents 'The Family of Ree' This Weekend at The Long Center.

Central Texas’ most well-known children’s theatre company - and the resident children's theater company at the reputable Long Center for the Performing Arts -  Pollyanna Theatre presents The Family of Ree by Scott E. Sutton, adapted for the stage by Andrew Perry at the Rollins Studio Theatre at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, 701 West Riverside, Austin, TX  78704.

This new play, best suited for children in grades K-3 (ages 5-8) is adapted by the stage by playwright Andrew Perry (Pattern Nation: Waves and Playground Superhero). The play explores themes of being honest and telling the truth and the dangers of false accusations.  The play also discusses the interconnected nature of life and the need to care for our environment.

The cast includes professional actors from Pollyanna Theatre Company, including Robert Burkhalter, Aaron Alexander (Playground Superhero), Gricelda Silva, Jessica Hughes, Rob Faubian and Jacob Trussell.

Hundreds of readers have fallen in love with Scott E. Sutton’s colorful characters and illustrations after discovering his series of picture books featuring the imaginative world called Ree.

The play opens this Thursday, January 24, through Sunday, January 27, with tickets ranging from $7.75 to $9.75. Group rates are available as well for the discounted price of $3-$5. You can check showtimes and purchase tickets here. They are also available by calling 512.743.7966 or 512.474.LONG (5664). 

Enjoy the show!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Things to Do in Austin: LBJ Library and Museum.

It's no secret that I'm both a diehard Austinite and a diehard Democrat, so forgive me my enthusiasm over our recent trip to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum. Over Christmas break, the LBJ Library reopened to high praise after undergoing serious improvements and renovations. While I cannot attest to the renovations themselves, having never been to the LBJ Library and Museum before, I can say that this is hands down one of my favorite museums in Austin, if not in all of Texas.

While the museum and library focus on the life and Presidency of LBJ himself, there are significant figures and events intertwined: The Kennedy assassination that made LBJ President, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the end of the Vietnam war, his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, and so on. Not only was LBJ a fabulous and accomplished President, he was also a humanitarian and equal rights activist in a time when controversy ran amok, and for that, I respect him ten times over.

I could go on and on about the attention to detail in the collection and the fabulous exhibits, but I'll just show you instead (warning: major photobomb ahead!):

The LBJ Library and Museum is open daily (except Christmas Day), 9am-5pm, and is located at 2313 Red River Street, Austin, TX 78705. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $3 for ages 13-17. Under 13 is free, as are UT students/staff/faculty, student groups, and active military.
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