Wednesday, October 22, 2014

To Those at GOMI...A Response

Blogging isn't for the weak of heart...I've had my fair share of trials and tribulations when it comes to a public writing/posting forum where you subject yourself to the world wide web and the masses who tune in daily to get a sneak peak at your life. Though I have to also say that my experience has seen way more positive than the negative so to those of you who have stuck with me these past 6+ years, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Today, I'm tackling something head on and something that's been weighing on my mind...and that subject is the GOMI website. If you've never heard of it, consider yourself lucky. Basically, it's a website for people to go on and post "snarks" about their hate reads/websites they aren't particularly fond of...yes, I'm putting it nicely because in all actuality, I think it's an awful space for anyone to waste time on.
I've read some of my favorite bloggers responses to their GOMI threads and I'm taking the same route today and posting my response on my blog, rather than creating an account and adding anymore words on that website. In addition, I am sure some of my readers have questions/curiousness/doubts about me and I am here to clear it all up, so you can hear it from me firsthand. I think when someone attacks who you are as a person, your character, your marriage, your children, and anything of the sort, you should be able to respond to them in a dignified way, and this is the clarification I am hoping to get.
I think by now, you know I am an open book, so in certain instances, I might share too much, but it's who I am and I hope you won't fault me for being me. Here goes nothing: 
P.S. I'm going back to the beginning of my "thread" so my answers/responses can be as cohesive and all encompassing as possible. 
To the GOMIs Regarding the Portrayal of My Perfect Life/Kids/Family
I don't pretend my life is perfect...though I am a "perfectionist" and sometimes I might try too hard to attain that appearance. It's never going to happen, so I need to stop striving for that.  
Someone mentioned my family dynamic regarding my parents. My dad is my stepfather, not my birth father, but as far as I am concerned, he is my dad...the man who raised me from the time I was 6 years old. Yes, I refer to him as my dad because in fact he is my father. And someone said they assumed my mom is my birth mom...ummm yes, the person who I look identical to is indeed, my real mother...shocking I know (sorry for the sarcastic tone, but I couldn't help but laugh that someone really questioned that). 
To the GOMI who said she "knows" me (i.e. her husband is friends with my ex-boyfriend from 6+ years ago), you might want to check your sources before you report on nonfactual information... you said I was raised by my grandparents and lived with them throughout my school years...that is false and you may want to get your facts in order before jumping on said lurker website to state things you simply have no idea about. It's evident that your husband obviously doesn't know me, nor my background and/or adolescence. My grandparents did indeed help when it came to keeping me when my parents traveled for work, taking me to and from softball practice/dance class and picking me up from school, but I think that's pretty common when your family lives close.
Regarding my mention of a step-brother...yes, I have a step brother whose name is Justin. He is my dad's son from his first marriage and he is the same age as me. He lives in Ohio with his wife and we see them on occasion, though he is getting his Ph.D. from Ohio State so he might be a little preoccupied to be featured regularly on my blog.
In terms of Jeff's family, we do see them regularly, though I know they value their privacy and I'm certain they don't want to be plastered all over my blog. I will, however, try to do a better job of posting when we visit them over the holidays because they are an important part of our family life.
A few of you even mentioned that you think I miss my former lifestyle and "partying". Honestly, I think with age comes a certain maturity and the things I enjoyed in my early 20s just don't appeal to me anymore. I have a husband, two children, and they are my priority...not going out all weekend, drinking and visiting bars and staying out until 2AM. We do go out on occasion with our friends and it's fun every once in awhile...just not an every weekend kind of occurrence. You live and you learn and I did go through a huge change when I was 26...I was saved and became a Christian and yes, that has changed my outlook on life and the things I choose to do.

Dear GOMIs Discussing My Husband/Relationship/Dating
To the people who said I dated Jeff for money, have been watching way too much reality TV/drama because my mind just doesn't think that way. Did it ever occur to you that we dated each other because we actually LIKED each other? In all actuality, my husband pursued me...not the other way around. If you read back in the archives of my blog, you can see where I mentioned Jeff and I hanging out as friends, him asking me out a few times, and then I finally listened to my heart, and said yes to having dinner with him. That wasn't a decision I took lightly, as I knew we had been friends for a long time and if we started dating, that would change the dynamic of our relationship. Yes, my husband and I are both educated and have done well for ourselves, but that hasn't come without tremendous sacrifice and if you remember, I had a successful career in marketing before I began dating my husband.
Someone said I give Jeff backhanded compliments/insults whenever possible and they don't think I really love my husband. Honestly, I give my him a hard time because he rarely reads my blog and sometimes hears things I write from his friends/colleagues/etc so it's a running joke we have. He and I have a completely healthy relationship, and one where we can poke fun at each other and say sarcastic things from time to time. That may not fly in other marriages, but it does in mine, and we enjoy the banter. And yes, for the person who said Jeff seems like a nice guy...he is indeed a really good guy: smart, giving, kind, sincere, and a good husband and father. I'm lucky and he knows I love him unconditionally, no matter what others might say and/or think. At the end of the day, it's him and I and our two girls and nothing matters more. 
And to the lurker who said they don't buy my "accidental" pregnancies... first of all, I don't consider either of my children to be an accident and saying that they were an insurance plan is just plain PATHETIC. That is just sick.
To the GOMIs Who Like to Talk About My Children
Just like most mothers, this mama gets protective over her babies so you can understand my anger when it comes to those lurking on a website discussing my children. Yes, this is a public blog, so I am bound to get feedback from some people questioning our parenting/choices/methods/etc, but don't start on my children...
Someone mentioned I have blatant favoritism with my first child over my second. Then someone else comes on the thread later to say I love the second one more. I can't even describe how that feels to read something like that. Honestly, I'd be ashamed of  myself if I ever said that about someone else and evidently you aren't mothers...I love my children with every ounce of my being and love them equally, but I also love them differently because they are two completely original individuals and God made them that way for a reason. Never once have I loved one of my girls more than the other and to say that is just hateful. 
I ask you nicely to please quit discussing/snarking on my girls. Talk about me all you want, but please leave them alone.

Dear GOMI People Concerned about Our Dog, Chloe
To said lurker who mentioned that I let it slip that we have a dog...slip, ummm not so much. I proofread regularly and if I didn't want you to know something I wouldn't have said it. It's a joke with our friends about our dog because she is crazy, but she is ours. Her name is Chloe, a German Short Haired Pointer, and she is 9 years old (Jeff got her while we were in college). Great with our girls, a sweet dog who has the funniest habits, but no, I don't talk about her as much on here...I'm not a HUGE dog person. Do I like them? Yes. Do I focus this blog on dogs? No.
Dear GOMIs Who Love to Talk About My Career/Sugar Bit
Someone said I dress my kids in Carter's/Baby Gap/Etc...heck yes I do! These retailers are awesome and they make some great, everyday basics as well as other styles, too. They said I'm selling stuff I don't even like? You must have me confused for someone else because this girl has always loved her some adorable baby clothes...Caroline had a fully stocked closet before she ever entered the world, because I couldn't wait to play dress up with a girl. If you read the background of why I started Sugar Bit, you'll realize that I wanted to curate a shop filled with ensembles for special occasions, outings, parties, and other events in addition to the everyday play wear. I dress my girls like I dress myself...a mix of basics from the cost conscious places blended with other boutique items that stand out and make a statement.
Others said my boutique is lame. Well you are certainly entitled to your opinion and I respect that. Of course there are people out there who won't like what Sugar Bit sells and that's OK, too. They said my styles won't sell to southerners...totally get that. But at the same time, I am gearing our collections to people other than those in the Southern region, which is why you'll find an eclectic mix of traditional and trendy pieces...I am hoping we can appeal to people throughout the US and other countries. To each their own :) I'm all for some constructive criticism, and I am just trying to do the best I can with my business.
To the GOMIs Discussing my Appearance/Weight/Looks/Fashion Sense/Personality
Not everyone likes the way I present myself or the way I look, um, OK? People are bound to talk about what I wear, my weight, my skin, etc and I get that... I'm sure you look 100% presentable and put together ALL of the time, too, right?
To those talking about where I shop/how I dress...yes, I am a savvy shopper and I do shop at a variety of stores, from Gap to Forever 21 to JCrew Factory to Target to local/online boutiques. No, I don't spend a tremendous amount of money on my clothes...I also shop when they have sales so that I can save money. I do on occasion splurge on a nice pair of shoes or a handbag, but that's because I save to be able to buy a specific item and not feel guilty about it. And no, I don't use credit cards to shop...paid off my debt after I got out of college and will never go down that path again.
I have wrinkles...yes, you're right I do. Do I wish I didn't? Absolutely! Am I willing to get Botox to fix that? Nope. Not as high on my priority scale at this moment in my life. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of my teen/college/early 20s in a tanning bed and I am paying that price now (which I have mentioned previously as a warning to others). That's also why I have discussed going to the dermatologist to help prevent skin cancer/precancerous spots/etc...learn from my mistakes! They said I look geriatric/look like I'm 60...well, I am sorry my looks bother you, but I also have two young children and a 10 hour night of sleep isn't something I have seen much of in the past 2.5 years. What more is there to say. Skincare hasn't been something I have been diligent about until recently and it's something that takes time to combat. It baffles me that people spend so much time discussing what others look like and snarking on that. But by all means, if you have some product recommendations that don't cost $300, please send them my way. I love hearing what works well for others and could potentially help me.
As for my "Oompa Loompa" look because I get spray tans...obviously that's not a compliment, but having "color" that doesn't involve me subjecting myself to further sun damage is better, so oh well on that one. You win some, you lose some, but I think I look better having a "faux glow".
And to the ones who discussed my weight, yes I have lost weight from my early 20s... probably because I'm not indulging in alcohol as much as I used to, or eating late night junk food like we did when we went out all the time... things change as we get older and mature. Yes, I was thicker around my mid-section and then started watching my weight/diet/exercised more when I was in wedding planning all, I wanted a better, healthier lifestyle so that's where I'm at today.
Someone also specifically mentioned that my "ombre" hair is awful...there was a discussion geared towards our family beach pictures and someone said my hair stuck out like a sore thumb...I totally agree. My hairdresser had actually used a different product on my hair when I visited her before our trip and I had to go back to get her to tone down the brightness. I wasn't happy with it at all, and was disappointed in the way it looked for our pictures as well. Do I wish I could Photoshop that picture and have it not so bright? Heck yes. Lesson learned the hard way on that one.
As an additional mention, to the woman who said she ran into me while shopping last week who decided not to come up and say hi, but to observe me in a non-stalker-like-way, YOU NEED TO GET A LIFE. You decided to follow me around and watch us while I was on a mommy-daughter date with Caroline...that's profoundly pathetic and sad that you did that AND then had to come report about it on GOMI. Saying I looked rough/bad/had an old lady face...again, I won't apologize that my looks offended you, but I will say I'm sorry that you thought it more appropriate to lurk instead of going about your day.
To the GOMIs Who Like to Discuss our Lifestyle/Money/Finances/Parenting
GOMI lurkers said if it looks like they have it all, they are probably drowning in debt. For some, I am sure that is true, but Jeff and I try to make smart financial decisions for our family and our future. I am very thankful to be married to someone who believes in saving just as I do, and we make it a priority, just like giving to our church, charitable organizations, and doing for others.
How my husband and I live is far from a luxurious lifestyle, especially compared to others out there, but you won't find me blasting others for how they live their life. Who am I to judge? Jeff and I invest, put money away into an emergency account, and have college savings accounts for both of our children. We are very practical about money. It may make the world go round, but it's not the most important thing to us, nor will it ever be.
A snarker recently mentioned that I was a "poor excuse of a mom". At the end of the day, my girls KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt they are loved and are the single most important things in my can say what you please, but I'm a present, attentive, and loving mother and I won't allow someone who doesn't know me to say otherwise. Think what you will, but my role as a mom defines me more than anything else and those two babies are by far my greatest accomplishments.

To the GOMIs about Stay-at-Home-Mom (SAHM) versus Working Mom
I quit my job when I had Caroline...yes, that's something I have discussed in detail before. We were able to make that choice because it's what worked for OUR family. I don't harp on anyone's decisions regarding their decision to stay at home or go back to work, so please don't hate on mine. That's a touchy subject for a lot of families out there. Can't we all accept the choices others make and be happy for them?
To the GOMIs Discussing our Childcare/Nanny
There were quite a few mentions of this so this was a topic I definitely wanted to expand upon. First of all, someone said I am a SAHM with a nanny...when in actuality, I am not. I am a business owner who operates and runs a business by myself. Yes, I am able to work from my home office, therefore Jeff and I thought it best for us to have childcare for our girls so that I could indeed work, and still be present throughout the day. I am not here to say our choice of childcare is better than anyone else's...we evaluated daycare versus a nanny and having someone come to our home fit our lifestyle better.
In terms of our girls going to Mother's Day Out, yes they do. It's great for learning, socialization, and mastering other skills and Jeff and I think it's absolutely important to their growth and development, and will hopefully help them succeed in school.Our nanny is Alex, who has become almost like a family member to us. We trust her wholeheartedly and she has been a tremendous help. We are so thankful to have her as she does so much to help our family and she knows just how much she means to us, and Caroline and Carson.
One person seemed to have a really big issue with the fact that we brought Alex with us on our family vacation. I have numerous friends whose parents did the same thing when they were growing up, so I'm not sure this is so out of the ordinary. We also have friends that bring a babysitter with them on vacations to help out. We don't have to, but when it works out, we think it's a win for everyone as far as we're concerned. Alex gets a vacation, we get nights out/dinner dates after bedtime, and my parents can enjoy their vacation, too. I love being with my girls when we're at the beach...playing with them in the sand, getting in the pool for swim sessions, and doing all the other family stuff people do...but at the same time, it's nice to be able to have the opportunity for Jeff and I to enjoy some alone time on our trips together as well, and that's where it's an added bonus to have an additional set of hands.
To the GOMIs Regarding Blog Posts/Giveaways/Features/Etc
There were some snarks saying I only post giveaways/reviews and stuff I like to buy. While I find some of that to be true, giveaways help my blog reach a new audience and it's something people have told me they, who doesn't love the opportunity to win something for free? You'd be surprised though--I get contacted by companies all the time to do a sponsored review/giveaway/feature and the majority I say no to. If I can't stand behind a product, I won't promote it on my blog. It's just that simple.I will, however, take note and try to post about other things in the hopes I can appeal to others, while still staying true to the things I enjoy blogging about (i.e. fashion, food, local events, home decor, fitness, family outings, etc).
Finally, I hope this post doesn't come across as arrogant, sarcastic, insincere, or anything of the like. This was my best attempt to clear the air about specific things people might have questions about me and my blog. My life is just that...mine and I am living it the best way I know how. I'm just a normal person, overcoming obstacles, trying to raise my children, making mistakes, attempting to be a good wife/friend/mother/daughter/etc, and doing the best I can with what God gave me. I hope this helps you see the true me just a little bit better. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Off Broadway...New Kicks + Money for Cancer Research

Cancer is a word we all hate to ifs, ands, or buts about it. It's not fun, though research, early detection, and treatment has come a LONG way! Today, I am collaborating with Off Broadway Shoes to let you know about a new initiative they are working on with ASICS. 
During October and November, Off Broadway Shoes is offering athletic shoes that help support pediatric, breast, and prostate cancer awareness in association with one of my favorite shoe brands, ASICS. 
For each pair of ASICS purchased in-store, Off Broadway Shoes will donate $10 to the organization that corresponds to the styles featured below...basically, you stock up on some new kicks and they donate money to an incredible and VERY worthy cause. 
I chose the Cookies for Kids' Cancer pair because I LOVE the all know I love bold bright color and because I hope we can put a stop to this disease once and for all.  
Giving back means so much to our family, as you know that we are avid supporters of cancer research, cures, and rehabilitation, especially as my BFF's husband founded Survivor Fitness Foundation, so it's absolutely near and dear to our hearts to do what we can to help. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Five on Friday...I Love Today

HELLO LADIES!! Finally, it's Friday and I am singing the praises of this glorious because Carson comes home from Mimi and Pappy's today and more because the weekend is inching closer to us. Before I dive into my Five on Friday, I wanted to officially say CONGRATULATIONS to our Five on Friday Giveaway Winner to Jen of Life, Love, and Puppy Paws. Thanks to everyone who participated...we were thrilled with the turnout, want to say thanks to all our wonderful shops and vendors for collaborating with us, and we hope to do another giveaway soon! (P.S. Jen, feel free to contact one of the Five on Friday hosts and we will help you claim all your goodies!)  
OK, now back to my regularly scheduled programming...
One. Three is the New Two
If you don't follow AP via I Love You More than Carrots you're totally missing out on her fun, honest candidness and I tune in to her posts frequently as it's refreshing and sheds light on feelings I'm having all the time myself. Earlier this week, she posted "Three is the New Two...5 Reasons Having 3 Kids is Awesome". I absolutely loved this and was so glad I read it in its entirety. For curious minds, we're totally having 2 versus 3 discussions and I'm glad there are other mamas out there putting it out there and telling us how life is with three. I know it would be a constant circus, but I can't help but think one more may be just what we need to complete our little family. And no, I am not pregnant so don't get any ideas my dears...this is just a healthy topic of conversation in our household right now. And yes, if we ask Caroline, she says she wants another baby.
Two. Bell Buckle 
Tomorrow morning, Jeff and I, the girls, and Mimi and Pappy are headed off to our annual fun shopping/craft adventure known as Bell Buckle Craft Fair. This has been a cherished tradition for our family for years and I cannot wait to sample the yummy food (the primary reason I love it so much), and check out some gifts and goodies for friends and family Christmas gifts. If you're local, it's a must do in my opinion, if not for anything other than to get outside and enjoy the gorgeous scenery!
Three. Apple Cider Champagne Cocktail
Need I say more??? I think this picture says it all...mix apple cider + Jack Daniels (hello, you know I am a Tennessee girl) + champagne = pure fall deliciousness. Sign me up. You can see the recipe here.
Four. Halloween Pajama Link-Up Party
We love festive yummies (AKA pajamas) around these parts and so of course we are SUPER excited to be co-hosting this fun link-up with some of our other favorite mommy/mini bloggers (The Good Life Blog, Fancy Ashley, and I Love You More than Carrots) on October 27th. It's easy...dress your kiddos in their/your favorite Halloween pjs, snap a few shots (or 119474 to get 1 good one like me), and then link up with us to show them off. And if you're still on the hunt for some scary options, check out these options: 1 / 2 /  3 / 4 / 5
Five. Live Life for Yourself
Remember, if you're ever down and stressing about the things that don't matter, remember to live YOUR life...God gave it to you for a reason and there is always something to look forward to. Don't live your life to suit others, as you'll never be able to meet everyone's expectations. If at the end of the day, you're satisfied with what you've accomplished, well that is success in itself my friends! OXOX

As always, be sure to visit my girls April, Christina, and Darci to see what they're up to this week and link up with us below so others can check out your blogs, too!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

In Bloom...Shop Feature and Giveaway!

Ya'll have heard me rave about In Bloom Boutique before, and today I'm here to do it know I love supporting small businesses and the fact that this one is local to me is even better (or more dangerous depending on how you look at it!)
I visited the In Bloom gals a few weeks ago and picked up some adorable new goodies for fall.
They have SO many cute and unique items...some favorites of mine were the Everyday Color Block TunicPiko Tops (perfect for everyday, casual wear), and the Fringe Mint Scarf (which came home with me)
For those who love the convenience of online shopping (I think that's all of us), In Bloom is FABULOUS in that ALL orders ship for free!! And to help all of us save some $$$, they have graciously offered a 15% discount to all Hello! Happiness readers with discount code HAPPINESS15 at checkout. 
far right cardigan was my FAVORITE find of the day and now has a home in my closet, too (seen here in mocha, and yes i love elbow patches)
love this aztec cardigan, too!!
In the mood for some FREE goodies while we're at it? Enter below for a $25 shop gift card. Rules are easy peasy to enter and you could score some fun new finds from a great company. Thanks again to Kelly and the In Bloom ladies for ALWAYS being so much fun to work with! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Life with Carson and Caroline...Fall 2014 Edition

I've been meaning to post this "update" on my girls for a bit, and low and behold, as we are all aware, life gets the best of us and our best intentions get put on the back burner for other pressing issues. I know I love to take note of all the things my girls are up to so I can note this for their future amusement, so I thought I'd post a little bit about my darling minis...and yes, I know, they are getting WAY too big! It turned out to be a pretty afternoon the other day so I took them outside to get a few updated shots...because no, you can never have too many pictures ;)
Carson (AKA Little Bit) is up first:
You are growing leaps and bounds as of late my little nugget. You've FINALLY adjusted to Mother's Day Out activities and don't cry at drop off anymore...yes, it only took 2.5 months, but better late than never! You have THE best facial expressions and you're still VERY sensitive...can turn on those alligator tears at the drop of a hat and I can't help but laugh. You love to dance to any type of song/music/TV show and play musical instruments whenever possible. You love to read books before nap and bedtime and it's my favorite part of the day when we get to read together...your top literary choices include Goodnight Moon, Sandra Boynton books, Llama Llama, and any book that plays music/has liftable flaps. Recent funnies include finding any and all ways to get your shoes off, putting food in your hair to signal you're done eating, climbing on anything/everything, and you are obsessed with fruit snacks. Your vocabulary is really starting to take off, as you answer "yeah" when we ask you questions, though you still grunt/point/walk to show me what you want/need/etc. You can also say mama, dada, seester, dog, Ah (for Alex), mimi, and pap. You're still a great sleeper and LOVE to say hi/bye bye and wave to anyone who looks at you...and my favorite detail is how much you're enamored with your sister. You can't wait to see her each morning and you love to play/color/slide/tickle her.
Caroline Cate, now its your turn: 
There is NEVER a dull moment when you're around my sweet CC. You talk ALL THE TIME (watch what you ask for other mamas out there) and you are constantly asking questions: 1/ Where are we going? 2/ Where you bought that at? 3/Why does this....? Sometimes I struggle with how to answer some of the more difficult questions like why we don't show our bellies in You're a girly girl in every sense of the word, and you love to have me paint your toes, put bows in your hair, model your outfits, etc. Eating is still a touchy subject, but you've really taken to new foods lately, which has been SO want to put "kapup" (AKA ketchup) on anything and lvoe any kidn of sauce...hey, no complaints here if it gets you to eat a real meal. You love to play Doc McStuffins and say "listen to your heartbeat" over and over again. You are nuts about Frozen and want to wear your Elsa outfit ALL the time, though you don't like it when anyone else sings the songs. You love any Disney movie, love to play outside and ride in your car, enjoy taking pictures now (YAY!!) and you love to swim in the tub like a mermaid. You are officially potty trained (except for overnight sleeping) and I am thankful you were fairly easy to get so excited to go by yourself and are extremely independent when it comes to getting dressed, brushing your teeth, fixing your hair, etc. You are doing really well at MDO again this year and have two best friends...Annie and Margaret, though you remind me all the time that Carson is your real best friend.
If God ever told me to pick one time in my life where it was REALLY really good, I'm fairly certain this would be it baby girls. Nothing brings me more joy than my time with you and I treasure these sweet moments even more than I ever thought possible. There are hard days and we get through them the best we can, but I wouldn't change this life I've been given for anything. You two precious gifts are my world and the reason I look forward to getting up each and every day and I am thankful I get to be your mommy. I hope you know how much you're loved and how special you are! 

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