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.

Today I am…Going Back to School & Starting Summer Camp!

I started back to school last week. The kiddos come on Thursday and I cannot wait! I love my monsters! I will get to meet them tomorrow at open house and I’m so excited. I LOVE BEING A TEACHER! Even my worst days are better than most people’s good days.

That’s a blessing, for sure!

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I’ve also started Art Journal Summer Camp with Samie Harding. I’ve been indulging in my creative side this summer (all part of our Get Healthy, Get Baby plan) and I’m so happy! I have always loved art, but just haven’t been very creative the last few years. But now, it is so on!  Last weekend, I took two classes with Donna Downey (and fangirled the whole dang time!). I’m still doing Effy Wild’s Book of Days and loving it. I’m also in Life Book 2013 with Tam Laporte, Behind the Art with Christy Tomlinson, and I’m starting Soul Restoration with Melody Ross soon. Am I insane? Probably! But in such an amazingly awesome way! I’ve also started cross stitching–The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery has the most adorable patterns…ahhhhh!

Creative Mandee is rocking it this summer & I’ve totally found my bliss!

My wish is for all of you to find your bliss, too! 

Here are some pics of my favorite artsy creations from the summer!

The Frosted Pumpkin Cross Stitch...Love!

The Frosted Pumpkin Cross Stitch…Love! Huge learning curve going on!

 

This is where we got engaged. I love this!

This is where we got engaged. I love this!

I love Donna Downey!!

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I made this in Effy Wild's class. Love her!

I made this in Effy Wild’s class. Love her!

Arting it Up!

Look what I made!!
Tonight I took a class at Altered Angel, my ultimate fave store in the universe, with the amazing Donna Downey. It totally rocked!

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Just like Hazel

Just like Hazel’s love for An Imperial Affliction, I can’t stop reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I’m listening to it in the car now (I saw it at the library and grabbed it!). It is beauty and magic and perfection all at once. It leaves me, quite like Hazel’s constant state, breathless.

When one of my dear friends mom was diagnosed with the big ugly C, we watched ever cancer movie there was. It helped her cope and heal with the giant suck fest that is cancer. When my dad got a similar diagnosis some years later, our healing time was bad comedy & lame SciFi. I didn’t read cancer books or watch cancer movies. I got angry, sad, and very afraid. So, when I heard Green’s new book was, in fact, about the big C, I ditched it for a long time. I wasn’t going to read a cancer book. But, I love John Green. I love the way he makes me laugh right after he made me cry or scream eff bombs, even though I’m trying not to cuss (you can take the girl out of Jersey…). That’s pretty dang epic. So, of course, it was just a matter of time before TFiOS made its way to my reading pile. It is, like An Imperial Affliction, the book, my book. It has become part of me in a way that a tiny few books ever have or ever will.

This was me yesterday, pulled over on the side of the road, crying, & trying to breathe

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I know the story. I know what’s going to happen. It makes it worse, actually, the knowing. And I love/hate it.

What’s your book?

I’m blogging along with Effy Wild this month. Join us!
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August Blogalong with Effy Wild

So, I’ve decided to challenge myself to Effy Wild’s Blogalong.

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Effy is a super amazing & awesomely creative artist, teacher, and glitter flinger. She is totally one of my artistic heroes! I’m taking her Book of Days class now & WOW! It is so full of win!

I’m not going to make this an icky challenge with lots of rules. Zero criticism from me will be allowed…aren’t we always our worst critics! I mean unless you teach middle school, like me, then you know those monsters can be pretty honest sometimes! It’s all about the fun & happiness these days for this girl! It’s all part of my Get Healthy Get Baby lifestyle! So far, so awesome!

Yay! I’m excited to write, share, & visit with so many awesome people during this August Blogalong! Maybe I’ll even pick up some new blogging tricks!

I’d love for you to join in the fun.
xo~Mandee

Today I am…Blogging Along with Effy Wild!

Yay, I’m so in!

My favorite art goddess, Effy Wild, is going to be blogging daily in August & I’m going to join her!
I’ll be blogging about anything & everything: books, art, scrapbooking, teaching 8th grade monsters, this crazy baby chase, & who knows what else…(Sharknado, anyone)!

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Making Beautiful Messes!

I am indulging my creative self this summer! It is so beautiful and messy and just AWESOME!
I’m taking some art classes, learning how to bind books, drawing, scrapbooking, creating insane collages, painting, and making friends with colors!

Look what I made! 

Check out my beautiful muses, I know you’ll love them, too! 

So in love with Effy Wild!  She is my artistic hero! I’m doing her Book of Days and Bookbinding 101 classes. Heavenly! I just love the art and therapy and wisdom she gently places in my heart. Also the glitter flinging! It is just…RIGHT!

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Christy Tomlinson, oh man! I can’t even describe her kind of awesome! I’m doing her Behind the Art class to learn about supplies, backgrounds, and colors. She makes it look effortless. I am making so many happy mistakes and just going for it!

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Tamara Laporte, the force behind Willowing Arts is amazing! I finally signed up for her  Life Book 2013: Late to the party, but jumped in full force! I’m in heaven!

Kristin Tweedale of RuKristin is a rockstar! I took her Fold It In! class and made a million albums that I adore. She is running a wicked cool FREE summer class right now, Find Your Voice. It is all about discovering your storytelling voice. I’m so loving it!

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I also joined in an art swap hosted by super creative and talented Sandra Kaye. I figured swapping would inspire me and get my booty in creative mode!

Of course, I’m stalking some awesome blogs, too!
Donna Downey…so in love with her Inspiration Wednesday posts. So much technique filled awesomeness!

I’m making stuff, messing up, gluing, painting, experimenting with color, & screaming DO OVER a lot! And I LOVE IT!
And, because I’m a book girl, I’m also reading these awesome books:

Art Journal Freedom by Dina Wakely…she is awesome!

Inner Excavation: Exploring Your Self  Through Photography, Poetry and Mixed Media by Liz Lamoreux. She has a book study on her blog & Effy Wild is doing one in The Glitterhood, too! Awesomeness!

Art is my new happy place! What’s your happy place? 

Today I am…HAPPY!

So, I’ve made blissful some changes in my life lately.

I AM HAPPY! I AM SO FREAKING HAPPY!

source: http://communitygifs.tumblr.com/

source: http://communitygifs.tumblr.com/

Sometimes dreams change. It is strange to admit that my dreams are different now than they were a few years ago, but it is true. So, I’ve had to change a few things around in my world. Thankfully, there is so much love and support all around me!
This is just the best! The. BEST!
I am eating great, real, fresh food & focusing on getting healthy.   Who would’ve ever thought that I’d drink something with raw spinach or kale! Schmoopy is joining in, too. He wasn’t a big green smoothie fan before, not at all, but he is on board now. He feels great, too. YAY US! I’m hooked on www.simplegreensmoothies.com. These girls are amazing!
I feel wonderful.
We’ve also decided to get this baby thing going again. We had a devastating second trimester loss in 2010 & it almost destroyed me. We call it The Dark Times. Everything crashed and I was really lost for a really long time.
Feeling much more whole than I have since then, we are moving forward. It is a long, sad, difficult, & super expensive process. We are starting with IUI for now. If we need to, we will move on to IVF, & then adoption.
We will be parents. I will be a Mommy. Schmoopy will be a Daddy.
We will do this! And it will be EPIC!
I’m also focusing on being creative again.  I’ve taken a few art classes at my local scrapbook shop, a few online, started scrapbooking and Project Life-ing again, and it is just good for my soul. Really good.
And the biggest change of all…I’ve taken a leave from my doctoral work. It is a six month leave for now, but it may be a forever leave. Earning my doctorate was something that I wanted for such a long time. It was a dream.  A big dream. I used to get so excited about my research, the writing, the discovery, the papers (what?!).  Lately, the whole idea of it has been a source of so much stress and anxiety. The spark is gone. The thrill. The dream changed. I agonized over it for a long time. Schmoopy and I had several looooong discussions about it. I’m not a quitter and this was the most difficult part. I had several discussions with my wonderful Mama about this, too. I was raised by two amazing people who taught me to finish what I started and to do all that I do with my whole self. To say that there was some internal conflict is an understatement. I finally made the decision to take a leave and I’m so happy I did! The gloomy cloud lifted almost immediately. The stress levels dropped dramatically, and my heart felt hopeful again. I may return. I may not.
Either way, I’m ok with it. I can do hard things!
source: tumblr

source: tumblr

Whew, lots of info there, huh!?!? Maybe even a little TMI, but I’m good with it all.
There are going to be some awesome changes around here & I’m totally super psyched!
source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/happy%20birthday%20david%20tennant

source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/happy%20birthday%20david%20tennant

AWESOME YALL FEST PIC ROUND UP!

My super adorable friend Laura & I set out on an adventure to Charleston, SC for YALL FEST! It was an awesome trip filled with tons of book love! Here are a few of our favorite pics from the weekend. Yay books!

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My new YALL FEST shirt

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Cassie Clare & Holly Black

My ticket to meet Cassie Clare. Alas, it wasn’t in the cards that day. Sad Panda!

Adam Gidwitz rocks Grimm with tons of sass! Love it!

Trenton Lee Stewart! Love his Mysterious Benedict Society series!!

David Levithan. I love the way he makes the world a better place with every awesome book he writes!

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Gayle Forman…OMG! Love her!

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Laura & I on a bike taxi! Check out the cool reflection in her glasses! So fun!

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Carrie Ryan…then I died! Love her!! Also, LOVE HER!

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The coolest YALL FEST volunteer around!

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Laura with her fave, Stephanie Perkins

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Laura with Carrie Ryan. Did I mention that I love these two?!?!

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My new favorite necklace by the amazing www.hebeldesign.com Love her work!

Today I am…talking about bullying at Uniquely Moi Books!

I stopped by Uniquely Moi books to give my teacher perspective on bullying.

Check it out and you could win a copy of A.S. King’s epically awesome EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS. ANTS is an awesome book about bullying, the kind of wounds we can see, and the kind scars that we can’t. (And also because I totally love everything she writes and you should too!)

 Read the post here!