Friday, May 20, 2022

Five on Friday - Five Books on My Summer Reading List

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Whew.  What a week, y'all.  What a week.

I do the majority of my reading for the year during the summer.  During the school year I rarely make the time to read because we have so much going on, but during the summer, we spend lots of time outside, and there’s nothing better than laying out in the sun by the pool or ocean and reading a good book.  Summertime is officially heeeere for our family starting today at noon, so I thought it would be fitting to share the books on my summer reading list.  Who knows if I’ll get to all of them, and who knows if I’ll stick to this exact list, but these are the ones at the top right now…

O N E – Meant to Be by Emily Giffin

Emily Giffin is my favorite author of all-time and she can do no wrong in my opinion.  I own every single one of her novels and I always look forward to reading new ones as soon as they come out.  That said, I am highly anticipating the release of this novel and it’ll probably be the one I reach for first on our beach trip. 

From Amazon…

The Kingsley family is American royalty, beloved for their military heroics, political service, and unmatched elegance. In 1967, after Joseph S. Kingsley, Jr. is killed in a tragic accident, his charismatic son inherits the weight of that legacy. But Joe III is a free spirit—and a little bit reckless. Despite his best intentions, he has trouble meeting the expectations of a nation, as well as those of his exacting mother, Dottie.

Meanwhile, no one ever expected anything of Cate Cooper. She, too, grew up fatherless—and after her mother marries an abusive man, she is forced to fend for herself. After being discovered by a model scout at age sixteen, Cate decides that her looks may be her only ticket out of the cycle of disappointment that her mother has always inhabited. Before too long, Cate’s face is in magazines and on billboards. Yet she feels like a fraud, faking it in a world to which she’s never truly belonged.

When Joe and Cate unexpectedly cross paths one afternoon, their connection is instant and intense. But can their relationship survive the glare of the spotlight and the so-called Kingsley curse? In a beautifully written novel that captures a gilded moment in American history, Emily Giffin tells the story of two people searching for belonging and identity, as well as the answer to the question: Are certain love stories meant to be?


T W O – Rivals (American Royals III by Katharine McGee)

I have loved the American Royals books, and I’ve been dying to know what happens since I finished the second book a couple of years ago.  This third book in the series is going to be released on May 31 and I am here for it!  I need some closure for these characters!

From Amazon…

Beatrice is queen, and for the American royal family, everything is about to change.

Relationships will be tested.
Princess Samantha is in love with Lord Marshall Davis—but the more serious they get, the more complicated things become. Is Sam destined to repeat her string of broken relationships…and this time will the broken heart be her own?  
Strangers will become friends.
Beatrice is representing America at the greatest convocation of kings and queens in the world. When she meets a glamorous foreign princess, she gets drawn into the inner circle…but at what cost?
And rivals will become allies.
Nina and Daphne have spent years competing for Prince Jefferson. Now they have something in common: they both want to take down manipulative Lady Gabriella Madison. Can these enemies join forces, or will old rivalries stand in the way?


T H R E E – Beach Read by Emily Henry

I’ve had this book on my wish list ever since it came out two years ago.  It has received high praise from many bloggers who I follow as well as a couple of my friends.  It also has 25,000+ reviews and 4.4 / 5 stars on Amazon, so I have high hopes for it.

From Amazon…

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.


F O U R – Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane

I’ve seen a few different people mention this book, and all of them couldn’t say enough good things about it.  I read the synopsis on Amazon and I was sold, so I couldn’t add it to my wish list fast enough. 

From Amazon…

Eve, Justin, Susie, and Ed have been friends since they were teenagers. Now in their thirties, the four are as close as ever, Thursday night bar trivia is sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed. Maybe she should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed still thinks about it, too.

But then, in an instant, their lives are changed forever.

In the aftermath, Eve’s world is upended. As stunning secrets are revealed, she begins to wonder if she really knew her friends as well as she thought. And when someone from the past comes back into her life, Eve’s future veers in a surprising new direction...

They say every love story starts with a single moment. What if it was just last night?

F I V E – Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

My friend, Jeannine, is a librarian, and she mentioned this author to me in a conversation a few months ago.  I’d never heard of him, so I made a note in my phone, so I could check out his work.  Shortly after that, I saw a friend mention this book on social media, so I added it to my reading list.  This book has over 40,000 reviews with 4.4 / 5 stars on Amazon, so it has to be a winner, right? 

From Amazon…

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises, these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

Proving once again that Backman is “a master of writing delightful, insightful, soulful, character-driven narratives” (USA TODAY), Anxious People “captures the messy essence of being human….It’s clever and affecting, as likely to make you laugh out loud as it is to make you cry” (The Washington Post). This “endlessly entertaining mood-booster” (Real Simple) is proof that the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope can save us—even in the most anxious of times.


B O N U S – Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

And because I couldn’t narrow my choices down to just five, I had to add Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore.  This was highly recommended from one of the bloggers I follow, and she specifically said that if you enjoyed The Midnight Library by Matt Haig that you’ll love this book.  Well, I loved The Midnight Library, so this one sounds like it’ll be right up my alley. 

From Amazon…

It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order...

Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.


Friday Funnies


On the Blog This Week

2022 Disney World Vacation Day 6 - Epcot

Our Week – The One with a Swim Date with Friends and Olivia's Dance Recital

My Favorite Young Living Products and How We're Ditching the Chemicals in Our Household


Happy Friday, y’all!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

My Favorite Young Living Products and How We’re Ditching the Chemicals in Our Household

*This post contains affiliate links.  

Although I don’t mention it much on the blog, I’ve been a loyal Young Living customer for three years now.  These last three years, I’ve slowly transitioned many of our household products to Young Living products, and as a result, our family is being exposed to way fewer toxins and chemicals than ever before. 

There are nasty chemicals in every single thing that we use on a daily basis – from perfume to candles to household cleaners to shampoo to dryer sheets – and they can disrupt everything in our bodies from our immune systems to our hormones.  Some can even contribute to health problems. 

Most people think only of essential oils when they think of Young Living, and although those are a huge part of their product line, they also offer tons more products from cleaners to supplements to makeup to toothpaste and much, much more.  All of their products are clean, making them a one-stop shop if you’re looking to ditch the chemicals in your household. 

Young Living used to require enrolling members to purchase an entire starter kit, but they recently revamped their entire system, and now anybody can purchase anything anytime!  So exciting!!  

Since it’s so easy to purchase through them now (no commitment), I thought I’d share a few of my very favorite YL products with all of you in case you’ve been considering cleaning up your home as well!  You can sign up here, or shop the links directly in the post below.

Thieves Cleaner

Thieves cleaner is arguably the most popular YL product ever.  It is awesome.  You can use it to clean and sanitize tabletops, countertops, floors, toilets, mirrors, windows, carpets, upholstery, and so much more!  The best part about it is that it’s safe to use around children because it has no harsh chemicals.  The cleaner in this bottle is incredibly concentrated, so just one bottle makes almost 30 bottles of cleaner.  Yes, y’all.  3-0 bottles of cleaner!!  Just add 1/2 oz. of Thieves cleaner and 16 oz. of water to a glass spray bottle, and you have a single bottle of cleaner that can clean every single thing in your house.  I have used nothing but Thieves in our house for the last three years and I’m still nowhere near done with my first bottle.  (In full transparency, I still use Lysol with Hydrogen Peroxide to clean the countertops after cooking with raw meat, though.  I know some ladies who do use Thieves for that, but when it comes to raw meat, give me all the chemicals to clean it.  Haha.)


Thieves Hand Sanitizer

Thieves hand sanitizer is all of the goodness that Thieves has to offer, but in hand sanitizer form.  I keep it in my purse at all times and it smells like heaven… minus the yucky chemicals that are often added to other hand sanitizers.


Calm CBD Roller

This Calm CBD roller is something that I never ever leave home without… it’s probably my personal favorite YL product!  This roller combines CBD with essential oils Lavender, Orange, Vetiver, Frankincense, Ylang Ylang, and Eucalyptus and they all work together to create a peaceful scent that can help ease stress and worry. 

When I’m feeling anxious, I roll it on my neck and behind my ears, and within minutes it starts to take the edge off of my anxiety.  It comes in two different strengths – 300 MG and 600 MG – and you can roll it on as much as you need to throughout the day.  I use the 600 MG roll-on and I LOVE it.  As a matter of fact, I’m already on my second roller, and I just bought a third to have when the second runs out.  I’ll never be without it.  This product contains 0% THC so it’s perfectly safe to have and use. 

I’m not going to lie, it is very pricey, but considering each roller lasts several months for me (I don’t have to use it very often), it’s worth the money.  It also allows me to manage my anxiety naturally, and that is priceless.


KidScents KidPower Roll-On

The KidScents KidPower Roll-On is formulated to help support mental well-being by invoking feelings of positivity and confidence.  It smells almost identical to the Anthropologie Volcano candle that everyone loves so much, and it’s SO good that I have started wearing it as perfume!  Perfumes and lotions are some of the worst products on the shelves when it comes to toxic chemicals, so I ditched perfumes and body sprays years ago.  It also comes in a dropper bottle so you can diffuse it and enjoy that Volcano scent!



I started taking Sulfurzyme, a daily supplement, at the beginning of March and it has helped so much with my hair growth.  Sulfurzyme is a blend of MSM (a dietary sulfur) and Ningxia Wolfberry that has loads of benefits.  I have been having trouble with hair loss for the last few years, and I know several ladies who have had lots of success with this supplement, so I decided to try it for myself.

In the last couple of months, I have already noticed a huge difference in my hair growth.  At just a few weeks in, I have loads of baby hairs sprouting up all over my head, primarily around my hair line.  My hair feels thicker and fuller already, and it feels healthier, too.  I’ve also noticed that my hair isn’t breaking off as easily, and it’s also not shedding nearly as much as it was either.  I used to have to clean out my brush every few days, and now there’s hardly anything to clean out.

In addition to seeing a difference in my hair, my eyelashes have also grown exponentially, and they’ve thickened, too.  They are longer than they’ve ever been in my whole life right now, and I’m sure it’s from the Sulfurzyme as I haven’t been using anything else. 

I was hoping it would help my eyebrows grow as well, but so far, I haven’t noticed a difference there.  Mine pretty much stopped growing several years ago, and now they’re sparse and uneven.  Yeesh! 

In addition to supporting hair and skin health, Sulfurzyme also supports joint health, normal range of motion, bone health, circulation, and the immune system.  I can’t speak to the other benefits as I’m not sure it’s something I would notice anyway, but it has definitely helped with my hair regrowth.  It’s also certified vegan friendly, gut friendly, keto friendly, and cruelty free, too.  The capsules have no scent or flavor, and I haven’t had any negative side effects from taking them.

The suggested use is two capsules two times daily, but I’ve only been taking two capsules one time daily, and I’ve already noticed a difference in my hair growth.  One bottle is a bit pricey, but each bottle contains 300 capsules, so it will last around five – six months at the rate I’m taking them, making the cost less around $10/month, or $0.33/day. 

*Please be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any supplements.  I am not a doctor.  ;o)



When I first signed up for YL, they sent this diffuser with my purchase, and it’s still going strong three years later, even after daily use.  It has 11 different color settings including the ever-popular candle-flicker setting (my favorite), and it has three different modes – high, low, and intermittent, so you can choose the amount of oils that are diffused. 

This diffuser is larger than most that I’ve purchased from Amazon, and it fills our kitchen and living room generously with scent when it’s on the high setting.  It’s only $29.95 when you sign up as a member!


Essential Oils for the Diffuser

I have been a candle lover my entire life, but candles are the absolute worst when it comes to chemicals.  I shudder even thinking about it.  When I first started using oils, I wasn’t convinced I’d be able to give up my beloved candles, but all it took was a few months of experimenting and finding combinations/amounts that I truly loved, and boom, no more candles.  I haven’t burned a single candle in nearly two years.  Instead, I’ve been using the following oils to create my own scents, and I love these even more than my candles now!  And the best thing about oils is, you can customize the strength of your scents by adding fewer or more drops to your diffuser.  I like my scents pretty strong, so I tend to use a lot!

Lemon Myrtle – Perfect for spring and summer, Lemon Myrtle smells like a little piece of heaven.  Combine 3 drops of Lemon Myrtle with 2 drops of Vanilla in the diffuser for the dreamiest lemon crème scent!


Lime – Lime is crisp and fresh, and it’s an amazingly energizing scent when you’re in the afternoon slump.  Combine 4 drops of Lime with 3 drops Peppermint in the diffuser for an afternoon pick-me-up!


Cinnamon Bark – Cinnamon Bark is my personal favorite Young Living scent and it’s the only thing I diffuse September through December.  In the fall, I love to combine 4-5 drops of Cinnamon Bark with 3-4 drops of Clove for the perfect cinnamon pumpkin scent… it’s nearly a perfect dupe for the beloved Bath & Body Works Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin candle.  During the Christmas season, I diffuse it all by itself because it’s just that good.  It smells like a red hot all by itself. 


Clove – Warm and spicy, Clove oil is the perfect fall scent.  As I said before, combine it with Cinnamon Bark in the diffuser to have your house smelling almost exactly like Bath & Body’s Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin.  


Vanilla – Vanilla can be combined with nearly any other oil to give it a perfectly dreamy, creamy scent.  A few of my favorites to pair it with are Lemon, Lemon Myrtle, Lime, Cinnamon Bark, Peppermint, Orange, and Grapefruit, but it’s so versatile it goes with almost everything. 


Peppermint – Another energizing scent, Peppermint is another great oil to diffuse for a little pick-me-up, and it’s also great when you’re feeling nauseated.  I also love it during allergy season because it helps open me up when I’m stuffy.


Essential Oils for Remedies

Not only do oils smell good, many of them also serve other purposes and have many other benefits.  Here are a few of the oils that I always keep in my “toolbox.”

Thieves – Thieves is a powerful blend of Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Rosemary and it’s known for its immune support and cleansing properties.  I roll this on our spines every morning to boost our immune systems.  I also roll it on the bottoms of my feet before bed, especially when Brian or the kids are sick.


Digize – Digize is a blend of Tarragon, Ginger, Peppermint, Juniper, Fennel, Lemongrass, Anise, and Patchouli and it supports the digestive system.  Any time my stomach feels queasy or upset, or even if I’m overly full after a big meal, I roll Digize directly on my stomach for relief.


Lemon – Lemon oil is excellent for removing any kind of sticky residue.  Any time I remove a price tag and there’s a sticky, gummy residue, I drop 2-3 drops on the residue, wait about 30 seconds, and then I wipe it off with a damp paper towel.  The residue just slides right off like magic and makes the product look like new!


Lavender – Lavender is known for its calming properties, and it’s very gentle on the skin.  I massage 1 drop along each jaw line every single night before bed, and it has helped tremendously with my jaw clinching at night.  I do still do it at times, but I’ve found that I do it less frequently since I’ve been using lavender.


And there you have it!  My favorite YL products!  As I said at the beginning of the post, Young Living has revamped their whole system, so you no longer have to purchase a starter kit to sign up as a member.  If you sign up as a member, you get the member discounts, but there is no commitment for you to reorder or sell or anything like that. 

If you’re interested about ditching the toxins in your house and you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me!  

Happy Wednesday, y’all!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Our Week - The One with a Swim Date with Friends and Olivia’s Dance Recital

What a week!  It was oh so busy but oh so wonderful, and I’m exhausted and content and relieved and all the things.

Monday, May 9

Monday was a day to get a ton of stuff done, and my to-do list was a mile long.  After dropping the kids at school, I returned some books to the library, hit up Publix to grab some groceries, and then I headed home to put them all away.  I worked all morning on blog stuff, and then stopped briefly to go to physical therapy for my neck, and then I came home and worked on lots of other things to prep for upcoming events.

For starters, I had to get all of Olivia’s recital pieces labeled.  The dressing rooms get kind of crazy during their productions, so they like for every girl to have all of their costumes and accessories labeled in case anything gets mixed up when they’re doing their quick changes.  I also started packing for the rehearsal and recital as well, because there is soooo much stuff that we have to take with us when we go.

I picked up the kids when they got out of school and we headed straight to dance to drop Olivia, and then Jacob and I headed home so he could do homework and I could finish up some housework.  When B got home, I headed back to dance to grab Olivia, and then we went home and had breakfast for dinner. 

The rest of the evening was spent wrapping up the tasks on my to-do list and then watching a few performances on American Idol that we’re now weeks behind on.  Haha.  After the kiddos were in bed, B and I watched an episode of Inventing Anna and then headed to bed.

Tuesday, May 10

Tuesday was another day at home working on blog stuff, tackling projects, and prepping for end-of-the-school-year stuff.  I grabbed the kids as soon as they got out of school, and we headed home to get homework done and get changed for baseball and dance.  Jacob and I dropped Olivia at dance at 4:30 and then I met B at the ball field and dropped Jacob.  Then I headed back to dance to grab Olivia and then headed back to the ball field for Jacob’s 5:30 game.

His team played awesome, and Jacob had, probably, his best offensive game ever.  He hit a triple, a double, a single that was also an RBI, and he was walked once, and he scored four runs… every single time he got on base.  His team ended up winning 17-5, keeping them in first place for the season. 

After the game, B swung by Chick-Fil-A to pick up a very late dinner, and then after that was done, the kids got showered and in the bed.  B and I stayed up to watch This is Us, and y’all, that show is going to do me in.  It has been exceptional this season, but these last few episodes have me all in my feels.  Tonight’s episode is going to be devastating.  If you’ve seen the previews then you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Such a great, great show.

Wednesday, May 11

Wednesday was another day of knocking things out for the blog and at home.  I had some routine backend blog stuff arise that had to be taken care of, and I also had a million and one things to do for Olivia’s recital.  We were told Monday night that we needed to add an elastic strap to a headpiece for ballet, and I panicked because I do not sew, y’all.  I just don’t.  Haha. 

Fortunately, we had our one free evening on Wednesday – we just had to drop some shoes off that had sold in a local Facebook group on the way home from school – so I cooked dinner, we ate on the back porch, I squeezed in a two-mile power walk, and then I was able to sit down with Olivia and get everything worked out for her headpiece.  I used to make headbands for Olivia when she was a baby, so I actually had some old elastic bands on hand, so I cut the lace off the sides of the band to have a simple thin piece of elastic, and then I sewed one side of the band to one end of the headband, and then I measured her head so I knew exactly where to sew the other end.  It ended up fitting perfectly and I was so proud of myself.  Again, I do not sew, y’all, so this was quite a feat.  Haha.

While we were working on Olivia’s headpiece, we all watched an hour of American Idol, and even though we’re still way behind, we did knock out a huge chunk.  After the kiddos went to bed, B and I started the last episode of Inventing Anna, but it was really long, so we cut it short to go to bed.

Thursday, May 12

Thursday morning, I worked all morning.  Unfortunately, B was STILL having issues with the poison ivy (or whatever it was he got into in the back yard) and it had basically spread all over his body.  It wasn’t blistery like his arms were originally, but it was just an evenly distributed rash that was everywhere.  From what we’d read and been told, poison ivy doesn’t spread like that… it only blisters where the oils from the plant touch you, so for it to have started spreading all over his body on days 10-12, we knew something wasn’t right, and he headed off to acute care first thing.

The doctor advised him to see a dermatologist, so he made an appointment for Friday.   The doc thinks that his rash is most likely just an allergic reaction to some of the medication he’s on since they have him on so many things.

Mid-morning, I received a text from the school librarian... I love getting pictures like this during the day!!

Thursday was my last full day to prep blog stuff and get ready for Olivia’s recital weekend as the kids had early release day on Friday.  I had some more backend blog stuff to work on and it ended up taking hours of my day because there were so many issues.  Basically, Google Analytics is changing their system next year, and they need everyone to prepare in advance.  I’ve already been putting it off for months, so I really wanted to get it done, but unfortunately, I just couldn’t get it to work as I’m seeing some errors on my side.  I’ve tried troubleshooting as best I can and I can’t figure it out.  If anybody knows anyone who specializes in Google Analytics and Blogger, please let me know!  I’ve done all of the technical stuff for my blog for the entire seven years I’ve been blogging, and I’m so sad that I’m going to have to outsource something.

At 3, I picked up the kids from school and we flew home so Olivia could have her snack and get changed because it was… recital rehearsal evening!  Thankfully, their dance studio arranged things slightly differently this year, and they bumped the start time up to 4 PM (from 5 PM), so we were done much earlier than in previous years. 

She and I arrived at the theater promptly at 4, and then the next three hours were spent hanging with all of her dance friends and their mommas, and I finally got to see all four of her routines from start to finish.  She nailed all four, and she looked fantastic up there on that stage.  I swear, she is such a natural on stage… she just shines up there. 

After her first routine (ballet), she came back to sit with me and she said, “Man, it feels great to be back on stage!!  And it’ll be even better when it’s packed in here!” 

Oh, to have even half of that confidence, y’all.  Haha.

I’m not comfortable in the least with being on stage, public speaking, or anything like that.  I don’t even like getting up in front of a small group of people I know.  Shoot, half the time I even dread small talk.  NO THANK YOU. 

This is a picture of the inside of the theater from their website... can you imagine getting up in front of all of those people?!  Terrifying.  Just terrifying.  Haha.

As my momma pointed out, she’s obviously following in my Big Daddy’s footsteps as he loved being in the spotlight.  He was a local radio personality his whole life, and he loved being on the radio, being on stage, and getting up in front of people to speak.

Anyhoo, Olivia and her friends ran through their ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical performances, and then once they were done, we were free to go.  Since this was just the rehearsal, they went out of order to let the younger kids go first, so we were only there for about three hours.  And she didn’t have to be in costume, so that’s why she was just in her leotard and tights on Thursday.

Her portion wrapped up just before 7 PM, which was perfect timing, because Jacob had a baseball game at 7:15.  She and I swung through the Chick-Fil-A drive-through to grab dinner, and then we ate at the ballpark while we watched his game.  And if anyone’s counting, that makes two dinners at CFA just this week.  #ItsThatTimeOfYear

Jacob’s game ended up being SO CLOSE and his team won in the last second, 15-14.  He caught another pop-fly Thursday night, and offensively he was walked once, had one hit and was thrown out at first, and he was hit by a ball and got to take a base.  His groundout was an RBI, and he also scored 2 runs.  Not too shabby!

Friday, May 13

Friday, the kids had an early release day, so I dropped them off and then tried to squeeze in #allthethings before I had to pick them up at noon.  Some of our school friends had invited us all over to their house to swim after school, so we swung by our house to change really quickly, and then we headed to their house, which is only about five minutes from ours.

When we arrived, my friend Christy already had a whole spread out for lunch – pizza, salad, a delicious fruit bowl, snacks, and desserts, and most importantly, adult beverages.  Hahahaha.  The kids ate lunch quickly and then jumped in the pool, and the other ladies and I sat by the pool and drank rose and Trulys for a couple of hours. 

We had to leave a little after 2 to get Olivia ready for her dress rehearsal, so we said our goodbyes and headed home.  Olivia got showered, and then it was time for hair and makeup.  Her recital isn’t your typical dance recital… instead, it’s a full-blown Broadway-style production complete with a professional set at the largest theater in our city, and it’s open to the public (which means we have to buy tickets at the box office just like everyone else), so they take it very seriously which means we do a rehearsal, a dress rehearsal, and then two full productions.  

Friday was the dress rehearsal, so Olivia had to arrive in full hair and makeup along with all of her costumes, accessories, and shoes.  Since we had to be there at 5, she and I ate a super early dinner at 4, and I made sure to load her dance bag with snacks to hold her over for the rest of the night since I knew we’d be there for a long time.

Her school didn't do professional pictures in their recital costumes this year, so I took some at home Friday and Saturday.  This is her ballet costume.  I took a few with her jester hat and a few without.

After that, we said goodbye to the boys and headed straight to the theater.  The theater is downtown, and there was a huge event going on downtown on our river walk, along with lots of other smaller events, so our downtown area was INSANE.  Somehow, we miraculously got a close spot to the theater which was awesome since we were hauling so much stuff with us.

The dress rehearsals are long and exhausting, so I’d come fully prepared in comfy leggings and an oversized tee along with a snuggly sweater (because it’s always freezing in the theater), a book, snacks, a giant water, and a charging bank.  Olivia and I got all settled in the theater with some of her dance friends and their moms, and then before the dress rehearsal started, the girls all headed to their dressing rooms where they remained for the rest of the night.

Since the production is in a real theater, there is no photography or videography during the live performances, so dress rehearsal is the night that we’re allowed to take pictures and videos of the girls on stage in their costumes.  Then they have a professional photographer and videographer who film the actual productions so we can have a copy of their actual performances.  I love that they do it that way because that allows me to just sit back and watch the show and I don’t have to worry about capturing the moment. 

I took several myself and the room mom also took some from backstage and sent them to me, so I was able to have some shots from behind-the-scenes!  During the middle of the production, they always do a jazz section with a whole different theme, and this year, the older girls performed Chicago.  It was SO good.  I threw one of those pictures in here as well because the set and costumes were all amazing!

In order by appearance, Olivia and her class were "Jester's Assistants" for ballet, "Powerful Enchantments" for lyrical, "Locks & Chains" for tap, and "Jazzy Jewels" for jazz.  Their costumes were all adorable.

Olivia had four routines sprinkled throughout the production, and unfortunately, her last one was second to last in the entire production which meant that we had to stay until the end. 

During her last performance, Olivia botched her forward roll, but she hopped right up and continued the rest of the performance without missing a beat.  She was smiling so big on stage for the remainder of the performance that I had no clue that she was upset that she’d messed up, and I was shocked to see her crying when I picked her up backstage. 

It’s VERY unusual for her to be down in the dumps as she’s literally always in a great mood (seriously ALWAYS… that’s why I always call her my jolly gal), so I knew she was just overtired and that was contributing to her funk.  Bless her heart, it was already three hours past her bedtime when she took the stage, so who could blame her?

We left the theater at 11:15 (YEESH), and then we headed straight home and had her in the bed by midnight.  Bless her.

Brian was waiting up for us, but Jacob had already gone to bed.  They’d had a boys’ night at home together, getting Chipotle for dinner and watching Avatar. 

My whole body hurt by the time I got home since I’d been sitting in that hard theater chair for more than six hours, so I made a hot toddy to wind down, and then we headed to bed where I slept like a rock. 

Saturday, May 14

We all slept in past 8:30 Saturday morning and I made homemade waffles for breakfast.  After that, we all lounged together and watched an episode of Is It Cake? and that was my last moment of relaxation for the entire weekend.  Lol.    

Olivia was still a little blue Saturday morning about what had happened Friday night, but she was completely over it and feeling confident again by lunchtime.  The rest of the day was a hard workout for me, lunch at home, laundry, and prepping for the recital/production Saturday night.  

Brian picked up Panera for a very early dinner, and while he was gone, Olivia and I took pictures of her in her remaining three costumes.  Whoops, forgot the lipstick for the first one!

The show was at 7 PM, but we arrived a little before 6 since Olivia had to be there earlier.  That same event was still going on downtown on Saturday, so parking was an absolute nightmare.  We drove around for at least 20 minutes, finally lucking out and getting a spot in one of the parking garages.

We snapped a couple of pictures, and then I walked Olivia around through the stage door to get her to her dressing room while B and Jacob went in to get good seats.  The theater holds 2,600 people and there are two balconies, and I wasn’t sure how full it would be, so we wanted to get in there early to make sure that we could be close to the front.

On the way backstage, we saw my mother-in-law and step-father-in-law, so Olivia was able to talk to them for a minute before going back.  Just as we were walking back, one of the girls in her classes came through, so they were able to walk back together.  Look at them holding hands, y'all!  Once she was settled into her dressing room, I headed back around to meet up with Brian, and by the time I got there, my parents were also there. 

We were able to secure seats for my in-laws, my parents, and us all together right towards the front on an aisle.  Score!  Once the seats were secure, I headed back to the lobby to grab Olivia’s trophy and grab some beers for us and candy for Jacob. 

The show was 4 hours and 15 minutes, but there was a medical emergency during intermission that ended up adding on about 20 extra minutes, so we didn’t get out until nearly 11:45 PM.  Olivia nailed all four of her performances, although, her forward roll was a little bit wonky, but thankfully, she wasn’t upset in the least this time.  I didn't take pictures during the performance, of course, since it was prohibited, but my friend Sarah (the room mom) did send some pictures to me from backstage again!

I headed backstage to get her after the production was done, and then we showered her with flowers and her trophy that she worked so hard for and deserved so well.  We all headed home after that, and the kids were in the bed within minutes of our arrival.  B and I were both hungry, so we had a bowl of frozen yogurt at 1 AM, and then we headed to bed, too.

Sunday, May 15

Sunday morning, I felt like I could have slept until 10, but there was no time for that because we had to get ready for production #2!  I was up by 8:30, we all ate various quick breakfasts, and then it was time to get packed, yet again, for the final show.  Olivia slept in until 9:15, so she didn’t quite get a full night’s sleep, but I was just glad she didn’t wake up in the 7 o’clock hour like she usually does.

We all had an early light lunch, and then we dropped Jacob and Maui off at my parents’ house.  We always give Jacob the option to go to the second performance or to stay with someone, and he always chooses to opt out of the performance since it’s so long.  I don’t blame him… 4 hours and 15 minutes is a long time to be sitting in a theater.  Especially when you have to do it twice.  Haha.

Brian, Olivia, and I arrived at the theater with a few minutes to spare, so we snapped a few more pictures and then I got her down to the dressing room while B met up with my father-in-law to grab seats in the same spot as the previous evening.

We were the first ones in the dressing room, so I stayed down there with Olivia until the room mom arrived.  While I was in there, several of the senior girls came in and showered the girls with gifts and treats.  One brought crown shaped frosting sugar cookies, one brought full-sized cupcakes, one brought mini cupcakes, and one brought a bag of candy.  Olivia had also received a princess tumbler the night before from one of the other girls.  It's just so sweet that they do that.  

When one of the room moms got there, she told me that we were short a room mom, and she asked if I could potentially come back at intermission and help the girls get ready for the second half.  The other mom ended up showing up, though, so I was able to watch the whole show from the audience.  On the way to my seat, one of the other moms from our class who I had never met, stopped me in the hallway and asked me if I was Olivia’s mom.  When I told her yes, she went on and on about how graceful and joyful Olivia is on stage, and it was just the sweetest. 

My friend, Sarah, sent me a couple more pictures from backstage yet again.  Yes, please!  Just darling!  

Showtime was at 2 PM and Olivia nailed all four of her performances, including her front roll.  She was just shining up there… I swear, she is a natural on stage.  I could not have been more proud of her.  There is nothing better in life than watching your kids do what they love to do.  I teared up all eight times she was on stage during her performances (and I borderline sobbed the first time she was up there).  I just love her so dang much.  Gah, I’m tearing up just typing this.

It’s a lot sitting through two 4-hour performances in one weekend, but I have to say, her dance studio goes all out, and they do a phenomenal job.  The whole thing is so professionally done, the older dancers are just incredible, and it’s very entertaining.  There is so much talent at her school.

The school has classes for ages 3 through seniors in high school, so there’s a wide age range.  There were several seniors in high school that performed, and some of the other dancers brought flowers to them on stage as they took their final bows.  They were all sobbing because it was their last performance ever at that dance studio as they’re all going off to college in the fall.  I can’t even imagine how bittersweet it must’ve been for them and their parents.  Most of them had been dancing at that school for 14 years… since they were 3 or 4.

After the performance was over, we met Olivia at the stage door, and took some pictures with Grandpa.  One of Olivia’s dance instructors was the star of the production (she played Sleeping Beauty), and she’s a senior this year, so Olivia wanted to find her and tell her goodbye since she won’t be dancing or teaching at the school anymore.  We snapped a picture of the two of them with aaaallll of their flowers.  Olivia loves her Miss Cope.

After that, we headed straight to my parents’ house where our usual Sunday dinner gang was waiting for us, including Jacob and Maui who we’d dropped off prior to the show.  My mom had spaghetti and salad and bread waiting on us, and it was just the perfect way to end the busiest weekend of the whole year!  God bless my Momma for getting dinner ready so all we had to do was sit down and enjoy it.  I was just exhausted. 

I poured a big ol’ glass of wine to have with dinner, and then I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief because our biggest hurdle of the month was done, our girl ROCKED it, and we were finally on the homestretch to summertime!  Only 3.5 more days, y’all!!!!

Happy Tuesday!