Megali - adjective, noun - adjective 1. great or big in Greek -noun 1.. A nickname derived from my first and middle names

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Music is (or should be) the gift that keeps on giving

Slim and friend playing on "the biggest toy in the house" when we lived in OH
We were fortunate enough to have a piano in my family for many years.  The piano was purchased right around 1960 for my Dad's older sister because she was taking lessons.

It remained with my grandparents/grandmother until 1983, when my parents bought a home and they took it.  Of the four kids in my family, I am the only one who took piano lessons. And that was only a few at the age of five. No one in my family played really, but we all enjoyed tinkering with it to figure out songs. I remember my sister and I working together to figure out how to play Ode to Joy.

I am the oldest of the four children. When R and I bought our first house in 2004, my parents offered us the piano as part of a housewarming gift. R plays instruments (guitar and drums mostly) and wanted to turn the basement into a recording studio. Although his band Silo practiced down there, the recording studio idea never reached fruition.

In the nearly 30 years that it has been at my parents' or my home, R is the one who has played it the most. He loves jamming out and playing silly songs for the boys.

Children who have come to our homes in OH and FL always gravitated towards the piano.  We often joked that it was the biggest toy in the house!

But, as much as we have enjoyed it, R feels that moving it is headache inducing. Some moving companies shy away from transporting pianos and there's always the concern of if there will be a place to fit it in the new house. Frankly, though it holds sentimental value for me, I agree.  And now that we're headed for Kansas City, we were ready for the piano to go to a new family.

We found the perfect family to gift the piano to!  A mom of seven kids is a member of one of the moms' groups I belong to.  Her eldest daughter is a musician and one of her younger girls has really taken a shining to the piano.  Her children range in age from newborn to 18 - the piano will see many happy years in their home!

We said goodbye to the piano over Memorial Day weekend.  We gave the piano to her family for free, but still she was so thoughtful as to send a token of their appreciation.  I was immensely touched by the thank you bag she put together (it included fresh eggs from their chickens! and space shuttle cups for Slim and Curly to remind us of our time in FL amongst other goodies)  Here is an excerpt from her thank you note:

"What a gift of love.  Music is (or should be) the gift that keeps on giving ... You have proven that ...
We are all so excited and ever so grateful!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  We'll let you know what we name the piano ... First one to learn to play it gets naming rights!"

It was such a sweet thank you card and solidified my joy in passing the piano on. I truly am happy that the piano will be going to such a wonderful home!

Monday, May 30, 2011

On the Road Again

R has accepted a phenomenal job opportunity in Kansas City, MO. So, we're moving. Again. For the way too many timeth in four years. I am excited, but also nervous/frustrated/annoyed by having to move. Because did I mention again? Mostly, I'd classify myself as excited though.
Our Melissa & Doug map puzzle came in handy to count and show all the states we've lived in and visited.

17 states!  That's how many the older one has been to.  We counted and Slim has been to just one state less than me (I've been to West Virginia and he hasn't)  Curly will be at 14 states soon.  And we'll be adding on even more states to the list when we move.  You are aware that they're only two and four, right?  I don't think I had been to 14 states until I was nearly 14!  Not to mention that my first plane trip was when I was 18 and the boys have their own frequent flyer numbers.  Craziness.

A big positive right now?  Aside from the opportunity to build a life in a place that's been rated amongst the top places to raise a family?  Imagining my dream home.  There were bits and pieces of each home we've owned that I wish I could pick apart to combine my ideal place.  The quick and easy way to play that game is to say that I'd take the OH house with the FL view and plop it in PA.  
PA - Couldn't find any pictures of the door painted red

PA - Hannah enjoying the backyard.  I loved that fence!

OH - Toddler Slim toddling along picking dandelions

OH - the view from my kitchen window

OH - we didn't get to use it enough, but it was nice having a playset in the backyard

FL - beautiful Palm trees, but even at Halloween it's still hot and sweaty!

FL - the thing I'll miss most about this house is the gorgeous view

 Things I would love in my next home?

Built-in bookshelves.  Brown walls with black and white photos.  An ottoman for a coffee table

A useful, organized entryway

Some kind of funky tile in the kitchen

Bench seating.  I prefer something more rustic than this.

However, the modernity of this and the ability to tuck it back against the wall is cool too.  Plus, I adore the idea of that wall, although not the design of it entirely.

A playroom that looks more like a classroom.

A deck with some privacy and a pergola.

Another view of above

Am I going to get all of these things?  No, of course not.  But it really appeals to the planner in me to think of all the potential of a new home.

So, what's Kansas City like? Outside of what I can find on Google. What does a real person who has lived or visited that part of the country think?

Children's Claritin Chewables Review and Coupon Giveaway

I have more bzz to spread!  As I stated yesterday, I presently have four BzzCampaigns with BzzAgent - the awesome word of mouth marketing program!  And again, I encourage you to check them out because as a BzzAgent, you are given the opportunity to try out different products and then share the feedback, coupons, and sometimes even product samples with friends and family. 

I am part of the Children's Claritin Chewables BzzCampaign.  The freebies I received this time were several coupons and two product samples - a 2 oz bottle of liquid Children's Claritin  and a pack of the chewable version containing 10 tablets, both grape flavored.

I have many friends whose children have allergies, ranging from relatively mild (runny nose, watery eyes) reactions to pollen to severe (anaphylaxis) reactions to peanuts and tree nuts.  Children's Claritin is not intended for food allergies, but rather indoor and outdoor allergies.

Slim has recently exhibited signs of seasonal allergies to pollen (just like me :( )  Allergies can be absolutely miserable.  The symptoms come and go with the pollination seasons of certain trees, grasses or weeds. Pollen levels from these plants can vary day to day, depending upon several factors, including the weather. High pollen levels can, in turn, affect the severity of symptoms.

I am generally rather anxious about using medicine for myself and the kids.  I think it's great that their website lists alternative methods to manage allergy symptoms that don't require medication.  That said, sometimes the symptoms are so life disrupting, that medicine is a necessity.  Children's Claritin combats the allergy fog with powerful, 24 hour non-drowsy relief and is the #1 Pediatrician recommended non-drowsy allergy brand.  And Children's Claritin, in the Chewable and Syrup form, can be taken by children ages two and older.

I have never given the kids something without at least tasting it myself.  Grape taste isn't my choice when it comes to a medicine flavor, but it sure is kid friendly!

Before Slim tried Children's Claritin Chewables, he was suffering from:

- itchy nose
- runny nose
- itchy eyes

During and after getting a dose:

- no fighting over getting him to take it because it was easily chewable and
- he liked the flavor
- felt better
- recognized claritin on a commercial while watching Sesame Streeton PBS at 7:55 on 4/23 and stated, "I had that last night!"

I gave away the syrup sample to a friend and handed out most of the coupons.  My friend said her daughter experienced immense relief from her indoor allergies and was even able to go over to a house that had a cat for a little bit without her throat automatically getting scratchy.  Another feature she likes is one that I always try to look for with liquid medicines - it's dye-free, sugar-free, and alcohol-free. 

I have coupons that I'd love to share with you!  I have two $3.00 off Children's Claritin allergy products (either 4 oz syrup or 10 count or larger chewables) left.  Just be the first two to comment and they're yours!

If you've ever used Children's Claritin to alleviate your kid's allergy symptoms, I'm curious as to your opinion.  Did you like it?  Why or why not?

Happy Memorial Day!

I love many things about the development we live in.  One thing that I greatly appreciate is that around American holidays, they decorate in front of the entrance of every neighborhood by planting flags.

Slim asked me why the flags were up this weekend and then what Memorial Day was; we had a fun and funny little conversation that went like this:

Me, "It is a holiday to honor and celebrate the soldiers who keep our country safe."

Slim, "I think we also dress up in costumes of what we want to be when we're a grown up.  Some people dress like soldiers.  I'm going to dress like an alligator hunter.  That's what I want to be."

Me, puzzled as to where this idea came from and prepared to ask where in the world the idea came from when Slim went on, "alligators don't eat bathing suits you know.  So that's what I'll wear."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

COVERGIRL Review and Coupon Giveaway

I have been a BzzAgent for about two months now and I think it's great! If you aren't a BzzAgent yet, what are you waiting for?  Go (as soon as you're finished reading my blog, of course!) and sign up right on their website.  I think you'll enjoy it too and here's why:

How does BzzAgent work? Simple: we send products from top brands to everyday consumers, just like you. Then they talk about them.
  • Try popular products and services, totally free
  • Help friends discover cool new stuff by sharing opinions
  • Influence brands eager for feedback
A simple concept that's also quite cool. I currently have four active BzzCampaigns.  One of those campaigns is for the new COVERGIRL NatureLuxe line.  The freebies I received for this campaign were a sample of NatureLuxe Silk Foundation in Flax and NatureLuxe Gloss Balm in Sandstone as well as several coupons to share!  My responsibility in return is to share honest feedback on the product (meaning you're not going to hear me gush just because I got it for free!)

So, what did I think?  The short version is yay foundation, nay gloss balm. 
According to COVERGIRL, 3 out of 4 professional make-up artists would recommend the NatureLuxe Collection to their clients and they are so sure you'll love NatureLuxe Silk Foundation, that if you're not satisfied with the results, they'll refund your money!

I may live in Florida, but my Dad has had skin cancer enough times to make me want to rock paler skin, so I selected one of their lighter shades Flax 310.  For the months of April and May, the shade was a fantastic match for my skin tone, but I imagine that I might want to choose a slightly darker shade for the summer months.  I found my ColorMatch and it looks like I will want to try Bamboo 315 as my face gets a little more color.  Although I use a daily moisturizer with SPF and sunscreen if I anticipate I'll be outside a while, I am thankful that NatureLuxe Silk Foundation also comes equipped with SPF - 10 isn't much, but it's extra protection and that's something!

The foundation is creamy without being greasy.  That's an advantage now that it's getting to be the delightful time of year in Florida when you sweat immediately upon leaving the house.  NatureLuxe Silk Foundation is certainly lightweight and it didn't sweat off terribly (it did come off a little on days I spent a great deal of time outside.)  And I really like the smell!  It has cucumber water and a hint of jojoba for a nice, fresh scent.  The look achieved with this product is very even and natural. The best part?  It totally helped with my undereye circles!  Seriously, my kids still don't always sleep through the night at two and four, so any help I can get with the heavy baggage I sport is greatly appreciated!  I'm 31 now and ever since Curly was born, I look in the mirror sometimes and don't recognize myself; I'm definitely starting to age.  You know how they say that makeup should enhance your natural beauty?  Or was that just my Mom and Becky on Full House when DJ started Junior High?  Anyway, this foundation brings out the Megali I used to be and it's nice to see her in the mirror again!

I don't have the same rave reviews for the NatureLuxe Gloss Balm.  First off, I don't think Sandstone 265 is the right shade for me.  It's too pink and on my lips it's a weird pink, not a pretty one.  Some of my ColorMatches that I'd rather try and are much more the norm for my makeup palette include Pinot 245 and Clove 280.  But I'm going to have to see if they have the same effects as the Sandstone; apparently some of the shades are much glittery than others.

When I think of lip balm, I think of ChapStick - waxy and moisturizing for chapped or dry lips. When I think of lip gloss, I think of a shiny, sometimes glittery finish.  The only thing the Gloss Balm got out of those things is the glitter part.  It was not the "sheer color with a hint of shine" promised.  Unfortunately, it was the glitter that kept the product from being "decadent" (again, COVERGIRL's description) thick, and moisturizing and it was much bolder than the shimmery glossiness I prefer.  I kinda felt like a tween trying their first lipstick, it was that infused with glitter!  Worse still, I could feel every piece of glitter and it felt coarse

I hate to waste things though, so I decided to resort to the old practice of using lipstick as blush.  Now, if COVERGIRL would get behind marketing the NatureLuxe Gloss Balm as a cream blush, I'd be cheering them on!   It worked beautifully and really brightened up my face.  The color was much more flattering on my cheeks than my lips and the glitter was a positive this time as it provided a dewy look.

Are you a BzzAgent too?  What products have you reviewed Please let me know what you think or ask any questions in the comments!

And as for the coupon giveaway?  Be one of the first five to comment and a coupon for $2.00 off one (1) NatureLuxe silk foundation is yours!