Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Giveaway is Here!

Hey guys! Giveaway time is finally here! So, I decided to make this one pretty simple. I want to offer up something that I know every one can use. So, what is up for grabs?!


 That's right! $40 in CASH! Enter below, and good luck to you all. The giveaway runs until midnight on 3/7/13, so feel free to return and enter again!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Double Trouble

What is it about Tuesday link-ups?!  They are really fun to participate in, and there's always more than one I want to join.  So, that's what I'm gonna' do today. :-)

The Austin Family Diary
First up, linking up with the Lauren and Tiffany for Tuesday Topics.  I never miss this link-up if I can help it. :-)  Today's topic is two flowers.

I hate to dissappoint friends, but, I have what you call a black thumb.  I can't keep any kind of plant alive, and flowers are no exception.  When it came time to pick out the flowers for our wedding years back, I was no help at all.  I just said I wanted fall colors....and to be quite honest, I don't even remember what kind of flowers we had.  I know what they look like, but don't ask me what they're called. ;-)  However, I do remember two flowers out of my own bouquet, and I still love them to this day.  They may be 'cliche' flower types, but I don't care.  I like them anyway. :-)

{White Lilies and White/Champagne roses}

You can kind of see them in these pictures.  I have a really nice picture that is a close-up of my bouquet, but, I have no idea where my wedding photo disc is.  Whoops. Oh well, you get the idea, right?

This next link-up is right up my alley this week. 

thats my jam
Linking up with Katie and Shauna for That's My Jam.  This week is all about the 80's, baby!

How about some Huey Lewis to kick things off right?
Bonus question:  What movie did this song play in over and over?

Hair bands, puh-lease?  How about Def Leppard?
This is the BEST video, because it plays the entire Def Leppard 'Hysteria' album.  Rock on, my friends.

This list wouldn't be complete without Guns n' Roses.
'Welcome to the Jungle' screams (literally) the my opinion anyway. ;-)

C'mon now, Michael Jackson has to be on my list as well. :-)
'Man in the Mirror' is a classic. :-)

I think that'll do.  Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Liebster Award

This particular Monday is starting off pretty awesome!  Emily over at Little Country Blonde was sweet enough to nominate me for the Liebster Award! :-)  Thank you so much Emily!!!

I've been nominated once before, and it's so awesome that I was nominated again! 

The rules:
  • List 11 facts about yourself
  • Answer the 11 questions given to you
  • Create 11 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award
  • Chose 11 bloggers with 200 or fewer followers to nominate
  • Go to each bloggers place to let them know about the award
  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog

    Although I have been nominated before, I still wanted to share my 11 random facts and answer Emily's questions, so, here we go ladies and gents. :-)

    {11 Random Facts about S-Mau}

    1.  The title of this blog really has no meaning, other than it's my last name, paired with the word power, because it rhymes with Maurer.  Some of you may have already known that, but, those of you that didn't, you're welcome. ;-)

    2.  I drink one soda per day, sometimes two.  But, on the days I drink two or more, I feel really guilty.  Weird much?

    3.  I have no idea how to effectively style my hair. 

    4.  I love washing my hands, especially with the foamy antibacterial soaps.  They smell nice and make my hands super clean. Win!

    5.  When I was younger, I always said when I grew up I wanted to play in the orchestras that play music for movie soundtracks.

    6.  I'm still super close with some of my grade school best friends.  They are awesome ladies! :-)

    7.  I bite my nails, especially when I'm nervous and bored.  I've done this since I was little.

    8.  I have a slight obsession with mashed potatoes.

    9.  I almost always have to drive wherever we go.  Darren rarely drives when we're together, because I won't let him.  I always say I have to be in control of the vehicle, otherwise I would be the world's most annoying back-seat driver.

    10.  I can't choose just one favorite song/band/movie/book.  It's too hard.

    11.  I had sinus surgery a few years ago, and I don't think it helped.  Yay for unnecessary surgery! [thumbs down]

    Here are Emily's questions for me:

    1. If you could visit one place in the world, where would it be and why? Italy.  I've always wanted to go.  It seems like such a romantic and beautiful destination. :-)

    2. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you bring with you? (No boats, no planes. Transportation doesn't count, people!) Do people count?  I would bring my hubby, son, and some sun screen, because we all know how much a sun burn sucks. ;-)

    3. If you could have dinner with any three people, dead or alive, who would they be and why? Can they be movie characters?!  Harry Potter, so he can teach me wand crap and how to play Quidditch; Chewbacca from Star Wars, so I can help him fly the Millenium Falcon; and Johnny Depp, because he seems cool and owns his own island.

    4. What do you want to be when you grow up? An award winning photographer, but, most of all, happy :-)

    5. What is your favorite social media site? Why?  Facebook.  It's so addicting, and it's really helped my photography business.

    6. Any bad habits we should know about?  I can belch pretty loud...TMI?

    7. What is the one cause that is the most near and dear to your heart? Relay for Life.  It's a wonderful organization and I try to help out and donate as much as I can. :-)

    8. Favorite TV show? All time?  Probably Friends.  I can sit down and watch every episode over and over and never get tired of it.

    9. Recommend a CD to me.  Journey's Greatest Hits.  :-)

    10. What is the best advice you've ever been given?  Don't sweat the small stuff.  It's not worth it in the end.

    11. What is your favorite part of blogging? I love having a space where I can put my thoughts, vent, be happy, be sad, share my family stuff, and share my photography.  Plus, I've got to get to know a lot of other wonderful bloggers.  It's such a great community of people! :-)

    {My Questions}

    1.  What's your favorite movie?
    2.  Do you have a few favorite blogs that you follow day in and day out?
    3.  What is your favorite color?
    4.  What is your favorite article of clothing?
    5.  What is your favorite type of shoe to wear?
    6.  Do you have a favorite actor or actress?
    7.  Any pet peeves?
    8.  Do you have any pets?  If so, what kind(s)?
    9.  What is your favorite online shopping venue?
    10.  What is your favorite dessert?
    11.  Where would you love to travel to?

    Thanks again for nominating me, Emily!  It was a lot of fun going through this for a second time. :-)  I couldn't narrow down just 11 bloggers to nominate, as all of you deserve to be nominated, because you're all awesome! :-)  If you want to participate, feel free to answer my questions. :-) 

    Happy Monday!!

    Friday, February 22, 2013

    Looking Ahead

    First off, I just want to send out a mega-huge thank you to everyone who commented and messaged me about yesterday's post. After I hit the publish button, I still wasn't sure if I had done the right thing in sharing.  But after hearing some of your stories and all of your kind words, I knew I had done the right thing.  Thank you thank you thank you all so much!!  Seriously, your words/thoughts/everything else mean more than you could ever know! :-)

    So, I need a plan.  A big plan.  A gigantic plan actually.  I need to focus more on me, my family and my photography business. 

    I already have some things set in motion that take away some of the every day stress that really shouldn't be eating at me, and I want to get back into some things that have dissipated for no good reason:

     --Money is always a huge deal, and I think it's that way for a lot of people.  I've taken some small steps in hopes at getting us at a better place financially.  I'm looking forward to see where we are in a few months.

    --I need to make a fitness plan that works for me.  I know I want it to consist of a running/walking plan, and there are some seriously awesome and amazing people that I can turn to with questions and advice! These girls are super inspiring, and if I'm lucky enough to be half as awesome as them, I know I'm doing something right.

    --Eating right is another thing that I really need to get back into.  With all that's happened, and with how busy I have been, I've let the healthy eating slip away.  I know it's OK to have a free day, but, when you're free day turns into your every day, that's a problem.  I need to buckle down and do this for myself.

    --Take more pictures for 'me.'  I take a ton of pictures, but, they are always for other people.  I need to take more time and venture out, and just take pictures for the pure enjoyment that it brings.  I love doing this, and need to make an effort to do it more.


    As far as focusing more on my family, I really want to take advantage of our time together, especially since Ryder is getting older.  We can do more things as a family, and I really want to concentrate on what those things are.  Once the weather is nicer, I know it'll be easier to do this (RDub loves being outside) but, until then I have to come up with fun stuff to do inside (game night anyone?!) Spending as much quality time as I can with my boys is so incredibly important to me.  They are my world. :-)

    I can't wait for the warmer weather so we can do this kind of stuff more often!


    I have so many ideas for my photography business, I really have no idea where to begin.  Things are going very well, but, I really want to kick things up another notch.  I can safely say I've done this on the wedding aspect (10 weddings booked this year!!!) but I want to kick things up in other areas, like with newborn photography and attracting more seniors to the business.  I need to get some marketing tactics in line, and do some other things to amp up my business...but, that takes a lot of money too.  I just need to take it one step at a time.  It's so hard when you have so many ideas, and have a clear vision of where you want to be, but have no idea where to start because of the dolla' billz and the resources.  If I had more time, I would totally be a DIY junkie, which would make things so much easier and money friendly!

    Sorry for the lengthy post guys!  Once I turn it on, it's hard to turn it off...

    Did that sound dirty...? If so, I'm ok with it.

    Have a great Friday, and an even better weekend!  I'm hoping the snow stays for at least a day so Ryder can enjoy for a little while.  We'll see....seeing as I live in Illinois, it could very well be 60 degrees tomorrow.  I wish I was kidding.

    BYE! :-)

    Thursday, February 21, 2013

    Something Personal

    I've questioned whether or not to share this.  Even as I sit here and type it out I am having second thoughts.  I am not sure what I am so scared of, or why I am ashamed of it.  Originally, Darren and I said we didn't want this as public knowledge.  Why?  I don't know.  That's how we are.  But, the more I've read and learned, the more I think it's time to share this.  It's common, so why not?

    It all started back in May of 2012....

    Darren and I were ready to have another baby.  We had talked about it, and were both in the same place emotionally.  We decided to start trying, because we had no idea how long it would take.  I should've known better, especially from my past experience when I got pregnant with Ryder.  I took the test the end of May, and was surprised to see "pregnant" displayed as the result.  I had just stopped taking the pill, so, I was really expecting it to take a little longer..but, it happened just as quick as it did with Ryder.  We were thrilled, scared, and excited to become parents to another little miracle and for Ryder to be a big brother!

    Even then, something didn't feel right....but, I brushed it aside.  I took 5 tests total, and each came up with the same result: pregnant.  I called my doctor and made an appointment for when I would be 8 weeks along.  I had a little bit of morning sickness in the beginning and some cravings, and overall I was feeling really good.  But, even with that, something felt off....

    Darren came with me to that first appointment.  I had my initial exam, and was transferred to the ultrasound room to see if we could pick up the heart beat on our little one.  The doc started the ultrasound, and I knew something was wrong.  He found a small gestational sac, but, upon first glance it didn't look like anything was inside.  He zoomed in more, and we all saw something small inside, but, the doc couldn't find a heartbeat.  He thought I was possibly earlier than we all thought, so he wanted to re-check me in a week, and do another ultrasound to see if anything grew.  In the meantime, I went ahead and had the necessary bloodwork done, just to make sure the numbers were in the 'good range' for early pregnancy.  I was a mess at that point.  Thank goodness Darren was with me and I didn't have go through that appointment alone.  I called the office the next day, and the blood results looked good, and the hormone levels were consistant with those in early pregnancy.  This made me feel a bit better, but, I still knew something was wrong.

    The following week Darren and I headed back to the doctor, and went straight to the ultrasound room.  The sac had grown, and the doctor could see more inside, but, again, no heartbeat.  He wanted me to get more blood tests done to make sure the hormone levels were rising, and wanted me to come back in one week for another ultrasound.  At this point, I knew this pregnancy wasn't going to happen.  Darren told me to be optimistic, but, I just couldn't.

    The next day, I got a phone call from the doctor while I was at work, advising my hormone levels from the previous day's blood tests were dropping, meaning, I was going to miscarry, and there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening.  He left it up to me: I could wait and let it happen on its own; or I could schedule a D & C right away so I wouldn't have to go through the actual miscarriage.  I asked him his opinion, and he said it was ultimately up to me, but, he recommended the D & C.  So, that's what I decided on, and I scheduled the procedure for the following day.
    I still hate the fact that I found this out at work.  I had no one to turn to, because no one knew that I had been expecting.  I ended up telling a good friend that day, which helped a little.  Darren works third shift, and was home sleeping, so he had no idea any of this was happening.  I cried hysterically at my desk and couldn't breathe....I just kept thinking about what we were losing.  It didn't seem fair, and it still doesn't.

    The next day I had the procedure done.  I put on my brave face and was able to get through the pre-surgery agenda without crying.  After it was done, Darren was with me in recovery as I came out of anesthesia, and I remember crying, and saying we weren't having a baby anymore.

    This is where I went down hill.  Prior to this, I had been really good about watching what I ate and maintaining a healthier weight and exercising/walking regularly.  That all went out the window.  I was depressed, and not just 'boo-hoo' depressed, but, I had a serious problem.  I stopped caring about myself.  I lashed out at everyone when they would mention anything about what had happened.  I couldn't talk to anyone about it, not even Darren or my mom/dad.  I didn't want to.  I was fine when I was with Ryder, whether we were playing/cuddling/whatever else, he made me feel better.  But, once he went to bed or he wasn't with me at a particular time, I couldn't handle it. I hated everything and didn't want to deal with anything.  To this day, I regret not going to talk to someone about this.  Especially now, when I still have the occasional  'episode' or 'meltdown.'  I've gotten better about talking to Darren about what's happened and how I am feeling, but, I still need to work on this.

    After this happened, I kept myself busy with other things: shopping; eating; and photography.  I put on a happy face for everyone outside of my family and on this blog, which was exhausting.  It was so incredibly tiring pretending to be happy when all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and not do a damn thing.

    It's gotten better over these last few months.  We told some of our close friends what had happened, and their love and support mean the world to us.  I know we are luckier than others can say....we already have a beautiful little boy that is absolutely perfect, and a family that loves us and supports us no matter what. But, all of that didn't make this experience any easier or give us any less heartache.  I know people struggle with infertility issues and whatever else on a daily basis, and, believe me when I say they are some of the strongest people. 

    Our baby would have been born earlier this month, so I'm sure that's why my mind is on this today, and has been every day for quite some time.  It feels better to get this out in the open.  I've read so many articles and blogs, and I realize this happens more than we all might think.  It's so common, and there's no reason to be ashamed of it.  Not at all.

    Thanks for reading, friends.  :-)

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    Want Some Extra Cheddah'?

    I have a real treat for you all today, so I'm so glad you stopped by!  I am part of a very special giveaway...the prize being MONEY!  Who doesn't want that right?!

    Me, along with 19 other lovely sponsors of Allie at Tales of a Twenty Something  are teaming up to offer this awesome giveaway! 

    So, how much are we talking here...?

    First off, I want to introduce you to all of the lovely ladies also part of this awesome giveaway. :-)

    1  // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7// 8 // 9 // 10// 11

    12// 13 // 14 // 15 // 16// 17 // 18 // 19 // 20 

    Now on to the rules:

    - Enter below via Rafflecopter
    - All entries WILL BE verified, so please be truthful
    -Everyone can enter as money will be sent via PayPal
    - Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EST on 2/26
    -Winner will be emailed once entries are verified and has 24 hours to respond

    Click the link below to enter, and good luck! :-)

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

    A Double Whammy

    There are two link-ups I really wanted to participate in today, so, I decided to load them both into one post.  I decided it's ok if I did this because, well, it's my blog. ;-) haha

    The Austin Family Diary
    First, I'm linking up with my gal pals Lauren and Tiffany for Tuesday topics.  Today's topic is three stores.

    This should be fairly easy, considering my taste lately. ;-)

    [Old Navy]
    I've found tons of cute tops and jeans at ON recently.  Plus, flip flop season is right around the corner, and we all know ON has basically every color imanginable.  Awesome.

    I know this isn't really a 'store'...but, it's one of my favorite places to shop!  Amazon has everything my little heart desires: movies; clothes; fabric for photo props; Kindle accessories; eBooks, real books...c'mon...what doesn't Amazon have to offer?!

    [Best Buy]
    Ok, don't judge me here, but, Best Buy is one of my absolute favorite stores.  I could look at TVs, cameras, and computer crap forever.  Plus, they have tons of movies and CDs to choose from too.  I love me some Best Buy goodness! ;-)

    This next link-up sounded fun, so how could I not participate?  I'm joining Sar, Alexa, Lo and Jena for "Truth be told, I'm lion."  For this one, I list three things, and you try to guess which ones are truths and which ONE is the lie.  Fun, huh?

    1.  I currently have a hole in the sole of my shoe, but, I hate shopping for work shoes, so I just choose to ignore its presence.

    2.  I really dislike blueberry muffins.  I think they are nasty, but, I still eat them if they are made because I don't want to come across as rude.

    3.  I don't really like to wear jewelry.  I wear a watch and my wedding/engagement rings.  That's the extent of it.

    If you guessed #2 as the lie, you are totally right.  I'll eat the crap out of blueberry muffins.  The batter alone is heavenly.  YUM!

    As for #1, yes, I know, this is laziness at its finest.  But, I loathe shopping for work shoes.  I don't know why...but, it's the truth.

    And for #3, well, I used to wear more jewelry, but, it just seemed like too much to put on in the mornings.  ;-)

    Happy Tuesday, peeps.  Have a good one!

    Monday, February 18, 2013

    Sneak Peek Monday + Giveaway Update

    I know, I said a giveaway was right around the two weeks ago.  Epic fail on my part, right?  I promise, it's on the way! :-) 

    This weekend I had three sessions; two newborn sessions and another with some adorable kiddos.

    In this first session, little miss didn't want to sleep for anything.  I was able to get a few sleepy shots, but other than that she was wide awake.  She's definitely a beauty. :-)

    This next session was a lot of fun, especially when we were trying to wrangle all of the kids for the group pics. :-)

    I took this little guys newborn pics about 9 months ago.  He's getting so big!

    This last session was so much fun.  This little guy is such a cutie!

    Happy Monday, friends.  I hope you all had an awesome weekend! :-)

    Friday, February 15, 2013

    Friday's Letters

    It's been awhile since I linked up with Ashley for Friday's Letters, and what better time like the present?  Am I right or am I right?  Boo-yah.

    Dear Friday, you took forever to arrive.  Why?  Why do you make my weeks so difficult?  Dear photo sessions this weekend, I am so unbelievably excited for you.  What's better than getting to snuggle two newborns, and getting to spend time with cutie babies?! Dear weather, You have been pretty awesome the past few days.  Not too cold, not too warm, just right for February in my opinion.  Dear Ryder, Please be good tonight.  These tantrums at night are really for the birds.  Dear hubby, Our mini-vacation was fab.  I think we need to venture away again soon.  Vegas again?! The beach?! Anywhere?!?! Dear couch, I'll be seeing you in a few hours. 

    Happy Friday, friends!! :-)

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

    My View on Valentine's Day

    So, today is the day;  Valentine's Day.  The day when every teen becomes twitterpated and the day every man thinks is overrated (you know it's true). 

    While I am not against the holiday, it's not one I hoot and hollar over. Darren and I exchange cards/flowers/candy/other stupid gifts, and wish eachother a happy Valentine's Day, but that's the extent of it.  We don't have a V-Day date night or anything, and we definitely don't go overboard with the gifts, if there are any in the first place.  We weren't always this way...let's go down memory lane for a minute.

    1st V-Day together:  we went to...da da da...MCDONALDS.  YEP!  We sure did.  It was actually funny, and I wouldn't change it for anything.  I got to witness Darren scarf down a Big Mac in under 1 minute.  That, my dear friends, is something special.

    The next year: Darren made dinner (which included a heart shaped biscuit bake..SUPER CUTE), and had laid Hershey's kisses and rose petals down on the table.  There were gifts exchanged as well. Very thoughtful....but, I think we were still in the stage where he wanted to impress me (like, duh!).  Well played, Darren. ;-)

    The following year I did something for him...made dinner...I don't know.  I know it involved champagne somehow, because, you know, we're fancy bitches.

    The next year was a real treat:  Darren cooked this pasta meal (after I asked him not to, since I would be working), which turned out awful anyway (the pasta's fault, not Darren's), but then, Darren bought me half-dead carnations.  I bawled like a flipping baby.  No joke.  Worst V-Day ever.  I laugh my ass off about it now, but back then, well, you know how it is....the sky was falling or some crap like that.

    Every year since:  we haven't made a big fuss.  No dates, no special dinners, no big gifts, just us.  It's been nice.  There really aren't any expectations, which I think really takes the pressure off. 
    I haven't always been this way.....
    When I was younger, I used to be one of those obnoxious teeny boppers who expected huge ass bouquets of roses or small pieces of jewelry from my boyfriend.  Seriously, how stupid was I?  Why should I have expected a high school boy to spend all of his money on me for one day?  Idiotic, really.

    So, now, my view is this.  V-Day isn't terrible, but it really isn't that special to me, or the hubby.  We celebrate it, kind of....but, in all honesty, why should one day outweigh all of the others?  I don't love the hubby any more today than I will tomorrow or the next day, so why give all of that extra attention for one day?  Hallmark and Fannie May have enough money, am I right?!

    Let's be honest, today is really just Thursday.

    Can you feel the love?  Hear hear!

    Happy Valentine's Day Thursday, peeps. ;-)
     Enjoy the day, no matter how you're spending it!

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

    Tuesday Topics: 4 Things People Don't Know About Moi

    The Austin Family Diary
    I missed linking up with Lauren and Tiffany last week, and I am totally bummed about it.  I am a loser at life......

    Today's topic is four things you don't know about me. 

    I HATE meatloaf.  It's disgusting.  The ketchup on top makes it so much worse, too.  Ick.  I'm dry heaving thinking about that nasty meat brick.

    I have a bit of a potty mouth I swear like a sailor.  I'm trying to be better about this, especially since I have a young toddler that repeats every flipping thing I say.  He may/may not have already let 'damn' and 'shit' slip once or ten times.  Whoops....

    I have beefy man calves, and because of this I can't wear cute boots over jeans because my calves won't fit.  I've cried over this, I'm not even kidding.  Ask Darren.  His face was priceless during the "beefy-man--calf-freak-out of 2012."

    I had fake nails on for our wedding, but I got sick of them a few weeks afterwards and bit them off.  I'm such a bad-ass....or a weirdo.  You decide.

    Happy Tuesday, friends.  :-)

    Monday, February 11, 2013

    I'm Baaaaaaack

    It's been about a week, but, I am back.  I took a little blogging hiatus while Darren and I were away in sin city, gambling away all of our hard-earned moolah.  ;-)

    You know what's stinkin' hilarious?  We took one of our nice DSLR cameras to Vegas, and I took maybe 5 pictures on it the entire time.  The rest were taken on my craptastic cell phone.  The photographer in me is flipping me off right now....

    So, I guess I can share what I learned this trip:

    --Quit while you're ahead.  
    --Do not make eye contact with anyone offering to give you discounted crap.  They will follow you.
    --Wolfgang Puck makes awesome steak skewers and 'za.
    --Michelob Ultra is my new beer of choice.
    --If you get a large Eiffel tower tourist drink, you will be drunk in about three sips.

    --Caramel cheesecake pops are phenomenal.
    --The hotel we stayed at (MGM Grand) is the largest hotel in America.  Thank you to the lovely cabbie who told us a bunch of facts about Vegas. 
    --Quit while you're ahead.
    --Do not eat the prime rib at the Golden Nugget.  It is most likely more on the raw side. Yummy, right?
    --Serendipity is still my favorite stop for a sweet treat, hands down.
    --The Ghostbusters slot game is amazeballs.  It's all we wanted to play.
    --Jet lag is no picnic.
    --Quit while you're ahead.

    Want to see some pictures?  Since I clearly suck, there aren't many to share.  Apologies....

    Here's the view outside our hotel room.  Pretty fantastic. :-)

    Here are some random pictures, in no particular order.

    Light show at Fremont street

    The Luxor was pretty bad ass.

    Just like we're in ol' Parie...

    Right on...right on..
    Love the Bellagio.

    All in all, it was a fun trip.  We've talked about making this an annual thing. :-)  We'll see if we're able to go again next year.  I hope so!

    Happy Monday, peeps. 

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