Arting It Up: 29 Faces

29 faces challenge

Participating in 29 Faces is one of the best things I’ve done for my creativity. The practice of focusing on one face every day has made a huge positive impact on my art. I’ve even made drawing a face part of my daily art routine.

During the month of February the challenge is live again. It’s hosted at I hope you join in the fun!!

Below are a few of my most recent faces. I love this creative routine!

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Today I am…Praying and Wishing


Today I am praying and wishing.

Big Prayers and Big Wishes.

One of my favorite people is in labor right now. She’s having a baby. I already love him. I know this.

I’ve been praying for them all day. I cannot wait to snuggle that little guy. Cannot wait! I’m so excited. Cannot wait to hug that brand new Mama and see the sudden wisdom in her eyes.

I pray. I pray that she is strong. I pray that he is a fighter. I pray this and so much more for both of them. And for his Daddy, too. I pray for healthy baby screams and fusses. I pray for every good and amazing thing.

I wish everything for this little guy. I wish every promise and hope and dream. Every good thing. Every magical thing. Everything. Every. Single. Beautiful. Thing.

And I pray for so many of my beautiful amazing friends that are loving and graceful parents raising children that are so totally and completely loved. I pray for patience and wisdom, laughter and love, and the kind of memories that make our world a better place.

And I pray for those waiting to be parents, that are praying to be parents, that are wishing to be parents. I pray for them. For their strength, their dreams, their everythings. I wish for every single one to become true and real life.

And I pray for everyone who never got to hold their babies. Or didn’t get to hold them long enough. Prayers for longings to be filled and rainbows to be bright. I pray for peace and strength, for healing and faith. I pray for compassion for those who don’t understand this pain and loss and just want us and our sad to go away. And I pray that not one more person ever has to understand this kind of pain. I spend my minutes wishing for everyone’s happily ever after.

And I pray for our pain. Our empty. Our far away and foggy glances. I pray for the tears to stop and the loathing to end. I pray for the loss that extends so far beyond our empty arms and frayed beliefs. I pray for our fractured faith that once was whole. I pray for everyone who had to walk away because sad isn’t fun and those that only add more weight to this infinite burden. I pray for full and trues and everything’s. I pray and I wish for Hope truly realized.

Faith. Baby prayers. Baby wishes.

photo credit: limaoscarjuliet via photopin cc

Today I am…Being Guided by Faith

20140101-161715.jpg Last year was the first year I selected a word to guide me. I chose RELEASE. I tend to ruminate and I needed a constant reminder to just let things go. I still get stuck, but knowing that I have the power to release myself from yuck really helps!

This year, I’m going with FAITH. I’m excited to see where it takes me, guides me, pulls and pushes me. Faith means so many different things to me, which I’ll be exploring this year.

Do you have a word to guide you? If so, I’d love to know what it is!


Ladies Rock Camp! Help Me Rock into 40!

More Mandee Monday-Date Night Edition!

More Mandee Monday-Ladies Rock!

I know it isn’t Monday, but I just couldn’t wait to post this! 

I’m going to be 40! WHAT?!

I’m not quite sure how it is possible, because most days I feel about 25, but it is a fact that on January 3, 2014, I will be 40 years old. I have completely and totally decided:

this new decade is going to ROCK! 

To kick-off my new rock star lifestyle (the kind of rock star that goes to bed pretty early, does crafts, and loves to read, of course) I really want to take guitar lessons. I also want go to this awesome Ladies Rock Camp with my super cool friend friend Lava-Girl. I totally have a feeling that I’m getting a sweet, sweet electric guitar for Christmas from Schmoopy, too. No, I didn’t peak, I promise!


Ladies Rock Camp is actually a fundraiser for Girls Rock Camp ATL. This awesome week long summer camp is for girls between the ages of 10 and 16. It’s just so much win! So, please consider helping me out! You can check out my Fundraiser Page here:

It would be an EPIC birthday gift for me that would also help send some super cool young people to camp! WIN!


I probably suck for this, but

Show Poster Baby Shower Invitations

I probably suck for this, but…

I don’t do Baby Showers.

I haven’t gone to a baby shower since we lost baby Hope when I was 14 weeks pregnant. 10.01.10:  The worst day ever.

I used to go to them. All the time. I loved to plan baby showers for friends. I have always been baby crazy. Just the thought of one of my friends being pregnant would send me into a whirlwind of excitement! I’m was so totally YAY! BABY!

Now it just hurts. It makes my whole body ache. I grieve all over again. I have to remind myself to breathe. I’m not being dramatic. This pain, this most awful reality, is so very real and vivid and painful.

I hope that you don’t know this level of pain. Not anyone. Not ever. Unfortunately, I know so many that do. And so many more that struggle with infertility. It isn’t fair, not even a little bit.

I’m happy for my pregnant friends. I’m even happier for the ones that get to experience that same kind of innocent excitement we were blessed with for the 14 weeks I was pregnant. For those friends that are pregnant after a loss (or two, three, more), I am endlessly excited for you. Soaring with you. Worrying with you. Praying all the while, for all of my pregnant friends with love. So much love.

So, I probably suck for this, but I don’t do baby showers. I don’t because they hurt my entire everything. I don’t because it isn’t about me. Some sad and distracted friend in the bathroom crying isn’t exactly baby shower material. It pains me when my friends apologize for being pregnant. That awkward phone call, even though we haven’t spoken in a while. The “I have something to tell you” or the “I wanted you to know before we announced it.” That almost kills me. Every time. Not because of me, but because of you. The idea that I am loved enough to be called and coddled. That someone would almost downplay one of the most amazing things ever. It KILLS ME. A baby shower is not about me. It’s about pure joy and the amazing awesomeness of a life being built. Dreams and wishes and everythings. Baby showers aren’t for me right now.

I hope, one day, to be pregnant again. The kind of pregnant where you get a healthy baby at the end. And I hope I get to have a baby shower. I hope everyone will come, but I won’t think you suck if you don’t do baby showers.

the super cute invite at the top of this post is from

The School for Good and Evil

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani 

So, I totally judged this book by its cover…come on, look at it!

The School for Good and Evil

This is an awesome story! Two girls, an isolated village in the woods, a late night kidnapping, a mysterious school full of Good Evers and Evil Nevers, and a masked School Master with a dark secret. Yup, I’m hooked!

This book reminded me of Harry PotterCharlie Bone, and The Grimm Collection, but with such a different and unique twist! I loved Chainani’s spin on the classic fairy tale world, good versus evil, love, and friendship.

So. Much. Fun!

I saved this one for our Thanksgiving trip and I wasn’t disappointed! Excuse the blurry pic, but I was in the car (nope, wasn’t driving…I am too slow for Schmoopy!). I finished it last night & didn’t really want it to end!

Of course, I needed to find out which school I’d end up in, so I went online applied to SEG myself. The results weren’t that shocking, even though I kind of secretly wanted to be a little more evil.



I’ll totally read the second book, A World without Princes when it comes out. I even hear the film rights have been acquired; I’d love to see this one made into a movie!

The School for Good and Evil  gets 4 Blings! from me. There were a few spots that left me kind of eh, but overall it was a great read. Middle Schoolers and anyone who is kinda dreamy would totally like it!

4 Blings!

4 Blings!


Here’s some more info about the book from

The School

In 2013, the adventure begins. HarperCollins Children’s Publishers presents THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, the first book in an epic fantasy trilogy by Soman Chainani.

“Invention in overdrive, indulging in a gnarly smackdown of folklore conventions, THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL is a comedic education by a writer primed to shoot to the head of the class.”

Gregory Maguire, Author of WICKED

“Wow. From the very first sentence, you know you’re entering a thrilling world of strange fantasy. The beautiful Sophie can’t wait to be kidnapped by the mysterious School Master. And I couldn’t wait, either–because I knew I was in for a wild and dangerous fairy tale ride. I loved this book.”

R.L. Stine, Author of GOOSEBUMPS

“A whip-smart debut… If I could bewitch you all to read it, I would. Grade A.”

Tara Fowler, Entertainment Weekly

Hardcover Release: May 14, 2013
Page Count: 496 pages
Reading Level: Ages 9 & up
ISBN-10: 0062104896
ISBN-13: 978-0062104892


“The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.”

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

What are you reading? 


If you buy the books from the links above, I may get an associate fee from Amazon. It hasn’t happened yet, but hey, a girl can dream.

This blog is all Mandee.

Thanksgiving Fun and Ready for December!

November…where did you go?

We started off our Thanksgiving week at the movies! Schmoopy took me to see the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special in 3D. It was AWESOME! He had no idea what was going on, but he loves that movie popcorn!

On Wednesday night we joined Schmoopy’s family in Amelia Island, FL for Thanksgiving. I’m a lucky girl to have such an amazing extended family.

It was good to get away, spend time with the kids (who are growing up WAY TOO FAST for this girl), hang out with the sister and brother-in law, Schmoopy’s parents, eat, drink, and just be merry! There was a lot of football going on, which meant a lot of reading, drawing, and cross stitch time for me.

We scheduled family pictures on the beach (my idea) and they were horrible. Well, I thought I was horrible in the pics. The selfies I took rocked, but the pros got me all wrong! What a total downer that was! You know how I love pictures, too! UGH! Most of the family pics came out great, so everyone else was pretty happy. I looked at them, cried, and took a nap. Yup. True story!

I’m ready for the Christmas Season to get going! This means I’ll try really hard to finish my December Daily album this year (I always have the best intentions…), complete the December 30 Days of Lists, and two daily prompt-based challenges: FatMumSlim’s Photo a Day and Ello Lovey’s Doodle a Day. Am I insane, yup! Will I make it? Maybe. Either way, tis the season and I’m happily jumping in (with a little bit of Grumpy Cat here and there, I’m sure!)

What have you got going on in December? 

*I use InstaCC for my monthly photo collages, like the November one at the top of this post. It is really cool. It pulls all of my pics from Instagram and throws them into a calendar for me. YAY! Also, I received no compensation for anything in this post. Just me and my crazy ideas.

My worst enemy is me

Sometimes things suck so massively that there just isn’t any way to put a positive spin on them. Believe me, I try. I’m usually a life-is-beautiful, everything-works-out-in-the-end, YAY FOR ALL THE THINGS! kind of girl. But, not so much right now. Schmoopy and I had this conversation several times this weekend. He’s the realist. I’m the hopefull one. He likes it that way & usually I do, too.

Right now, I’m a hope-is-for-suckers kind of chick. I’m one of those everything-sucks kind of people today. And I’m perfectly okay with that. Because stuff sucks sometimes. People say stupid things. Nothing goes the way you want it to. I’m not pregnant AGAIN, I have strep, and my back is about to go out.

On Saturday, it became obvious that our last IUI didn’t work. That was confirmed on Sunday. I’m done for a while. Done with being happy. Done with hope. Done with the stupid roller coaster that is infertility.

I don’t trust my body to do the right thing. I don’t trust my body enough to invest the time, emotional toll, or huge dollar amount needed for IVF. It might not work. It might work and I could have another miscarriage. It might work and we could have a healthy baby or two. I’m no math genius, but the odds don’t look so hot. I just don’t believe that this is going to work for us. So I’m waiting to confirm a few things with our doctor and I’m ready to call it. Throw in the towel. Be a quitter (which seems to be a theme with me lately and I still don’t regret any of my recent quits!).

Friends who were in the same infertility boat as us have now had a successful pregnancy (or two or three) or have successfully adopted. We are happy for them. Truly. But, the bottom line is, that doesn’t get us our baby. That doesn’t make me stop hating the parts of my body that don’t work. It doesn’t fix anything. I know, I promise, really I know, that I need to be a good friend and support all of the people we love who are new parents or expectant parents, but I might need to do it with a bit of distance. I might not be able to go to baby showers yet (I haven’t been to one since my 2010 miscarriage at 14 weeks and I don’t know if I’m ready yet). I’m trying not to be a selfish brat, but at the same time I’m trying to protect myself from seriously considering staying in bed all day every day.

Who knows, I might feel better in a week, feel infinitely hopeful again, make peace with the broken parts of me, and be ready to go for it again.

But, until that happens, here’s what you can do to help:

Here is a list of things I don’t want to hear from ANYONE EVER:

It’s okay (because not even one little bit of this is okay)

Stop trying and you’ll get pregnant (that is both total b.s. & so freaking hurtful)

I know, read, heard that …. (you, just like me, don’t know much about this–geez, even the doctors don’t know a whole lot, really)

Everything happens for a reason (might be true, but totally not helpful, & the reason pretty much sucks to me right now)

Cheer up (or anything that sounds like that. I’m really effing sad & there’s nothing wrong with being sad)

My friend (sister, cousin, lady at church, whoever) did xyz and it worked (please don’t throw other people’s good fortune in my face. It feels like you are, which you probably aren’t, so just don’t)

Here are some things that you can do:

Pray for us (it helps infinitely)

Let me know if you know anything about adoption (we are seriously thinking that adoption might be the right path for us)

Respect my right to be sad for a while.

Love your pregnancy and your kids a million times more than you even think is possible. Even when you are puking and feeling horrible (I’d love to be that sick right now-you are making a person, deal with it), even when they drive you totally insane (because they are such a beautiful gift), even you are exhausted and worn out and just don’t know anymore (be thankful for every second of parenthood, no matter how difficult it may be)

Yep, this was a rant. It’s over now.

It didn’t make me feel much better and I probably offended several people, but what’s done is done.

Reality Boy by A.S. King

A. S. King is one of my writing heroes. Her books just amaze me. I don’t know how she does it, but I’m so thankful for the magical way she puts words together. Her books really make the world more awesome!

When Amy at Lady Reader’s Book Stuff asked me to be part of her Red Carpet Book Tour of Reality Boy, I couldn’t say yes fast enough!

Then I got the book in the mail and this happened:

This was meant to be. Jane’s Addiction is my all time favorite band. OMG! is an understatement!! And, as usual, King’s writing doesn’t disappoint. Reality Boy is freaking EPIC.

I dove right in and was immediately hooked. Gerald was on a reality show when he was five. He had this bad habit of pooping in unusual places, like the dining room table or mom’s favorite shoes, when he was angry. He was crying out for help, but he never really got the help he needed. Even all these years later people still call him Crapper. It haunts him. His older sister, Tasha, tortures him constantly and relentlessly, his other sister, Lisi, took off for college on the other side of the world as soon as she could. His dad works and drinks to forget, and his mom totally ignores all of the insanely disgusting things Tasha does (think loud bedroom noises coming from the basement while the rest of the family is eating dinner). Gerald is trying to keep himself together, use techniques he’s learning in anger management,

I really wanted to jump into Gerald’s life and save him. Ugh! I had to put the book down several times because I was so freaking angry. That’s a great story!

Reality Boy is a must read. A total 5 Bling Book!

If you click the link above, I will earn a small profit from Amazon. Any proceeds are used to buy books for my 8th grader students and for blog prizes.

A.S. King’s Reality Boy & a Contest, too!

I love every A. S. King book I’ve ever read. She is a total fave of mine! My friend L. Moon and I call her “asking” and it makes us laugh (because we are 12). So, when the mega fabulous Amy at Lady Reader’s Bookstuff asked me to be a stop on her book tour, I said, “Heck Yes!” (and totally screamed a little as I was responding to her email, because, OMG A.S. King’s new book in my hands so super fast yay!)

Check out all of this awesome going on for REALITY BOY! It totally rocks!

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he is still haunted by his rage-filled youth—, which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school. 
Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he has tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone is just waiting for him to snap…and he is starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that. 
 In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.


A.S. King is the author of the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner, Ask the Passengers, Everybody Sees the Ants, a 2012 ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults and Andre Norton Award nominee, and the Edgar Award nominated, 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book Please Ignore Vera Dietz.

 She is also the author of the ALA Best Books for Young Adults Dust of 100 Dogs, an adult short story collection, Monica Never Shuts Up, and the upcoming REALITY BOY (2013). 

After a decade living self-sufficiently and teaching literacy to adults in Ireland, she now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and children.

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