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Survival Guide: How to throw a Kindergarten B-day Party.
Okay, so I am being a tad dramatic. On the other hand, if you are throwing a birthday party with 20 to 30 small children fleeting about this title could be painfully accurate. Lucky for you, I am going to take you through some easy, thrifty, and sure-fire ideas on not only how to survive the onslaught of that many little children, but to actually enjoy the birthday party yourself...and possibly looking forward to throwing another one next year(possibly).

My eldest is turning 6 this year and I can see a glimpse of what he may look like as a grown man. He is so handsome and he has a smile that lights up the room...oh and those dimples! Initially we invited local family and friends, but it is the beginning of the school year and I wanted to invited both my son's kindergarten class as well as my other son's preschool friends. Needless to say, we got to 30 people quite quickly. Not only that, it was supposed to rain....I was not even remotely prepared for that!

Survival Tip #1. Try to have the party outdoors. Luckily, it did not rain and the children ran around, climbed trees, and hit each other with foam swords for quite some time before becoming bored.

Survival Guide: How to throw a Kindergarten B-day Party.
Survival Tip #2. Introduce toys or other activities upon noted boredom. I had bounce balls, little containers of play dough, and stickers you could foil at the ready. All of these activities are activities the children can entertain each other with. That is the key to happy children and happy adults during a large birthday party. They can play and you can eat...genius.

Survival Tip #3. Include holidays when applicable. My son was 4 hours away from being a Halloween baby. I was already in labor 12 hrs+ when he arrived, but part of me wanted to hold out for the last 4 hours so that he could be an October baby...yes, I love Halloween that much. Because the party was "Star Wars themed" we got Star Wars masks at Target that included stickers to decorate them! This is also a perfect party favor for the kiddos. These masks were sold in a pack of 10 for $7.00. Relatively cheap and they were already assembled!

Survival Tip #4. Balloons. Out of all the little toys I purchased, the balloons reigned supreme. They chased the balloons, kicked the balloons, dragged the balloons, squeezed the balloons, popped the balloons, and everyone left with a balloon. I am obsessed with Knot & Bow. If you live in VA, know that Creme de la Creme is one of their carriers. I bought the cutest vintage-swirled balloons from them!

Survival Tip #5. Keep your party short and on a Saturday. This tip seems like common sense, but I am going to throw it out there anyway. As parents of multiple children, we are chronically overworked and very tired individuals. A short Saturday party ensures both a good turn-out plus the keeping of the party throwers sanity. This tip is win-win for everyone involved. Sunday is a fabulous recovery day!

In short, I hope these tips prove helpful and lead to a Happy Birthday celebration for all!

Alas, the time has come that a fire has been lit under my buttocks to finish painting our chippy back steps. Our home is an 1870 Victorian and these steps have seen lots of wear with many coats of paint. My mother-in-law generously stripped the stairs when we first moved in during October of 2011. Since then, I have been in a creative funk regarding these steps. I have tried many different colors and have re-done my work 10 times over. I think, however, I finally have it! I have settled on Old White and Chateau Grey accompanied with dark wax to bring out the details and to help cover the high traffic dirt. The biggest painting obstacle in painting these steps is the elderly and narrow nature of the staircase. In a very small space, you must choose your colors wisely or your finished product will look more like a cave then a beautiful "livable" and "walk-able" space. I know this, because I initially started painting the stairs using Coco(a beautiful light cocoa color) and the stairs looked dark and ugly. The door below is the beautiful Annie Sloan color Coco.

How to Chalk Paint your Steps with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
How to Chalk Paint your Steps with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
So, you really want to chalk paint your stairs? Warning: This is an advanced level undertaking. It will take up to a month to complete this project and because people "walk on stairs" this is a very hard project to complete in a timely fashion. Step 1.) Clean your stairs. Wash them once and then wash them again. Once you have no dirt, hair, or particulate on your stairs proceed to the next step. Step 2.) Start painting. Again, choose your colors wisely. Dark colors will permanently close off your space. Try a light color palette...avoiding white if you do not want to wash your floors everyday. I used Annie Sloan's Old White for the top portion of the steps using 2 to 3 coats. Chateau Grey is an olive greenish color that I used on the front of the stairs and on the side wall. I used 2 to 3 coats of Chateau Grey. I also used about 1 can of each color for the stairs. 

Step 3.) Wax your steps with Annie Sloan clear wax. Please take safety precautions. Use gloves, a mask, and good air ventilation when working with Annie Sloan wax. I used 1 can of clear wax with 2 to 3 light coats for my high traffic staircase. Let the wax dry overnight. Step 4.) Use the Annie Sloan dark wax to bring out the nooks and crannies. A little goes a very long way. If you use too much dark wax simply take the excess off with your clear wax. I used 1 light coat of dark wax. I use old rags to apply the wax and promptly throw them away as soon as I am done working. Step 5.) Buff it out. Take a dry, clean rag to buff the wax to a shine.When you can no longer buff your stairs to a shine, apply more clear wax. I would re-wax your stairs every Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter to keep the stairs looking fresh and beautiful!

-------> Check out the LIVE action before and after YouTube video! Questions? Please leave them below and I would be happy to answer them. Happy Chalk Painting!

My semicolon story: National Suicide Prevention Week
This post is as spontaneous as it gets. Spawned from seeing photo after photo of "semicolons" on people's wrists. The semicolon symbolizes a deeper meaning. According to The Semicolon Movement, "The semicolon is used when a sentence could have ended, but didn't". It symbolizes hope in the face of suicidal ideations. Suicide has been a subject of sadness and fascination for more years of my life then I care to admit. First, as a daughter to a suicidal mother and then as a witness of suicidal behavior as a registered nurse. I speak scientifically of course, but we are talking about the human element of it all: pain. Deep seeded pain from which their is seemingly no return.

My mother's journey with multiple attempts at killing herself was enough of a heartache that I could not even conceive of suicide as an option for myself. The hurt was real enough, however, and I dealt with it the best way I knew how; reading, writing, and music. True teen angst. Initially, it was reading the pain of others. Nothing has quite the feel of depressing camaraderie as Edgar Allen Poe's short stories or a Shakespeare tragedy. This transitioned into writing. Writing has always been an outlet for my pain for as long as I can remember. I wrote in my journals(Note to self: I need to remember to burn those.), but I enjoyed writing poetry the most. My poetry was one of a angry and distraught teenager, but it helped me get my feelings out. It saved me. Nothing tears the soul into pieces quite like keeping your sadness inside.

Why share my story? I cannot even begin to tell you how utterly alone I felt during my teenage years. I had a few close friends, but relatively speaking I felt like an alien. The suffering I endured, I did so behind closed doors and in my bedroom alone. No one should feel that level of loneliness and void of all hope. I want everyone to know that it is not only possible to come out of the depths of hell relatively unscathed, but you can learn to thrive. The only possible roadblock? Yourself of course. You and you alone must use your suffering as motivation to "feel good" again.
My semicolon story: National Suicide Prevention Week
Found on
Here comes my main point; I do not need anyone's sympathy. Empathy is welcome. Feeling sorry for someone is wasted energy. Letting someone know they are not alone, however, can change someone's life. Giving someone hope, well that is always energy well spent. There is always hope. As long as you are standing here, there is hope. When I was a child, I still remember my mom showing me the picture of the crane trying to eat a frog. The frog is squeezing the crane's throat in an attempt to prevent the crane from eating him. It says, "Don't ever give up". My mantra.

Giving up is the point of no return. Giving up is letting the world win. Giving up is not in my nature. I will go on fighting until the very end. If I am able to instill one single virtue in my children it is this: be kind to all. You never know who is fighting the battle of their life. Life takes us at a furious pace. We sometimes forget to slow down and notice. Or, perhaps we just simply ignore the suffering of strangers or friends. It is too tough to talk about...right? Wrong. It takes no thought to smile. Both kindness and a smile can turn a life around.

A word of advice to those who are currently struggling; Adversity makes us stronger. Do not let life break you. Life is full of bumps and bruises. It is your duty to get up and try again. Let it mold you...let it make you better. There is always a way out of is a slow road, but one day you will see the sun shine again and be grateful that you never gave up. The key is never giving up and believing(always) that you will make it.

Need to talk? Call 24/7 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or visit for more information on suicide prevention.

Treadsetter. from Atinga Team on Vimeo.

Even in the most dire situations, we can change our direction for the better. There is hope. Hope is a positive human element that drives us forward. For the artisans of Atinga(Ah-tinga), they are hand-crafting more than recycled taxi tires into beautiful footwear. They are hand-crafting their future. At Atinga, it is said you must, "walk a mile in their shoes". These artisans in Rwanda, East Africa run a business and support their family with their entrepreneurial endeavors. I could feel the love and positive vibrations radiating from these shoes as I retrieved them from their box. 30% of the profits from these shoes go back to the artisans, their families, and communities. All of the artisans are paid a fair wage. So, when you purchase your Atinga sandals you can be assured that you are supporting a local small business in Rwanda and that YOU are directly making a difference.

The Atinga Project review & giveaway #SpreadTheTread
The Atinga Project review & giveaway #SpreadTheTread
Atinga(Ah-tinga) means honor, dignity, and humility. Holding these shoes, I can feel everything. The pride in craftsmanship, the honor and dignity in providing for your family, and the humility of the shoemaker. I received the Atinga trail in a beautiful Jade green color. I could not get these strappy sandals on my feet any faster! They are beautiful, comfortable, and truly aesthetically pleasing. I do, however, need some practice lacing them up, but I am sure I will be an Atinga trail pro in no time!

Walking is a breeze with the Atinga trail sandals. I feel close to the earth and snug in my sandals. We have all walked many miles. Everyone on a different journey, but we are all connected. Now is the perfect time to invest in these beautiful shoes for you or a loved one. I can see them under the Christmas tree for many family members this year. Invest in a community when you are investing in your shoes. Invest in The Atinga Project. Are you ready to walk a mile in someone else's shoes? Win any pair of Atinga sandals! Winners Choice. Giveaway time. BOOM.

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