Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Milliners are underpaid (or "How to make a pill-box hat")

My in-laws celebrated 40 years of wedded bliss last weekend.  My mother-in-law, Donna, wanted a simple pill-box hat to match her dress.  Armed with the knowledge that everything that IS was made by someone, we set out to create our own.

Book Review: Fashioned by Faith

Book Description:
Everyone knows that we live in a “skin-is-in” society, heavily driven by media and immodesty. So how does a young Christian woman reconcile a fashionable wardrobe with maintaining her integrity?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ultimate Valentine's Resource

My Pinterest Valentine's Day Board, of course!  You're welcome :)

You'll find neat ideas like these - to see more information on each, click on the actual pin and then on the link above and to the right of the picture.  It will take you to tutorials, pictures, blogs and all kinds of great stuff!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Perspective is a funny thing.  You can look at something and be quite convinced that your understanding is accurate.  You can outline all the reasons that you are right, how others are wrong.  You are right. It's simple, black and white.  And then something shifts, you see the exact same thing in a new light; you have a new perspective.

shadow art
Grief is, perhaps, the greatest illuminator of all.  When something, or worse - someone, is lost you are forced to shift your focus from the tyranny of the urgent.  The mundane things of everyday life become even more mundane.  I've often said that there is a clarity that is the gift of grief - we are able to distill our lives quite effectively into important and unimportant.  Those of us who have received that gift, lived with it and love it have few occasions to share it.  Unfortunately - it seems the most effective teacher is, once again, experience.

Review: Radical

I've had this book for over a year now.  I cried the first time I read it - and I've referenced back to it so many times! 

Author David Platt is a pastor of a mega church.  In Radical, he gives us a glimpse into his transition from the status quo to authentic first-century Christianity.  And then he challenges me to do the same.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: "Don't Do What I Did"

They say that experience is the best teacher.  If so, why wouldn't you want to hear the experience of a twice-divorced parent with a heart to prevent the same outcome for her teens?

Author Diane O'Neil is all too familiar with the heartache of divorce.  She lived it not once, but twice.  Knowing that statistically her kids were pre-disposed to repeating the pattern, she decided to educate them about avoiding some of the pitfalls she fell into.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The times they are a changin'...

For the past several months my life has been crazy.  (OK, so maybe years, but the last few months especially!)
I've been running 100 miles per hour non-stop. 
  • January through May we were homeschooling.  Not to mention that Aaron has 4 therapy appointments each month.  We also co-lead a growth group at church and volunteer in other areas.  Plus, William is on the board for Camp Sol.
  • In June we completed Financial Peace University (from Dave Ramsey) and I decided to really pursue my Gold Canyon business.  I traveled to San Antonio for a meeting, ordered my supplies and scheduled parties.
  • In July Aaron was in the hospital.  In Tulsa.  Unexpected to say the least!  I had several Gold Canyon parties and my first $1000 month!  I also started doing a lot of networking. 
  • In August we put the big kids back in school and they adjusted pretty well (all things considered).  I also started my Facebook fan page and had a Hostess Appreciation Tea for Gold Canyon.  And - this is when I started battling recurrent stys and eye infections.
  • In September, I had parties and 3 booths at vendor fairs.  I continued networking and started my own networking group.  And planned a charity event with 30 vendors.  My husband started experiencing strange "nodding off" or "passing out" events, so I started driving him to the train station.  At 6:30 every morning!  And picking him up at 6:00 every evening.  My 12 year old was suspended for fighting at school.  And I found out that all of my children needed enough dental work to pay for the doc's Mercedes for at least a year.
  • In October, I had several booths, including the PINK Party charity event.  We also collected donations for William's aunt who had a house fire.  I also went on a much-needed Girlfriend's Getaway with ladies from my church.  I managed one fundraiser start to finish and set up a second one.
  • In November, I continued a heavy networking schedule, parties and several booths.  We also made 2 trips, one to Illinois and one in-state for Thanksgiving.  I spoke at a women's ministry meeting, kicked off a fundraiser and my 12 year old was suspended again.  My 10 year old had non-stop detentions for missing homework (she told us it was done.)  We also helped her get  a business off the ground: Ainsley's Accessories (and were her slave labor making scarves!)
  • In December I made it to one vendor event and crashed the next day. I called my mommy! LOL My parents came to help and it was just in time. I woke up on the first Saturday of December with plans for a great vendor event/home show.  Instead, I went to the ER and was admitted with double pneumonia. 
It took me nearly 2 weeks to recover, most of that time in the hospital. While I was there, they did a bronchoscopy and lung biopsy, and the night before that I found out that I had large gall stones and would have to have surgery to remove them.  I was a wreck.  I called a good friend and she came to sit with me and give me counsel.  She also gave me an incredible book called The Secret Place of Strength (Heart for God Devotional Series, No. 5) The next morning another friend came and prayed with me and sat with me, then waited for me to have the procedure done.

I was supposed to take it easy for a while after leaving the hospital, and in comparison to my regular routine, I did!  I "only" entertained out-of town company, closed a fundraiser, attended 2 parties and sat with my baby in the hospital for 3 days.  Then did Christmas and New Year's activities.

Then the last few weeks have held drama as I waited for test results from the hematologist / oncologist that now show that I have a genetic condition called Hypogammaglobulinemia.  This is an immune disorder (which explains the severe pneumonia).  The treatment is regular IV infusions of IGg.  I'm thankful that I do not have any of the things that would have caused this, had it not been genetic (lupus, lymphoma, leukemia, etc.)

As I've had time to reflect on my life, my purpose, my strength...  I've come to several realizations.  The first one is that Gold Canyon is awesome and amazing, but it is consuming me.  I dream about it.  I think about it during praise and worship.  During my devotional time I have to refocus because I've just thought of another brilliant idea to share Gold Canyon.  So, I've decided that it has to go.  Once I realized that it was standing between me and God, I realized that it was also standing between me and my family.  Friends - take note:  Something doesn't have to be BAD in order to be bad for you.  It can be a wonderful thing, but if it's not GOD's wonderful thing for you, then it's gotta go!

So, I am happy and sad to say that I am going to resign from Gold Canyon.  I will leave my website up for a while, I'll be able to purchase with my discount for several more months. and I'll still be eligible to do fundraisers.  I will be transitioning my facebook page and eventually my website to Bre Land, a fellow Gold Canyon rep who will take good care of my friends/customers!

The second thing that I've realized is that I have to take more time to focus on my family.  We've increased Aaron's therapy visits to 8-10 times per month, since he's getting stronger and doing so well.  I'm working on pre-school lessons with Gavin.  I'm scheduling date nights with my husband.  I'm playing more games with the big kids.  And, I'm doing (a little) more cleaning.

I'm stretching outside of my comfort zone.  I know that I can be popular and amazing networking and selling great candles.  I know that I can bring people together.  I know that I am a great marketer.  Those things come easily to me.  My comfort zone does not include wiping down counters or cleaning up toys for the 40th time in one day.  It does not include "down time".  It does not recognize words like "discipline" and "structure".

I know that this is God-directed though, so I am completely on-board.  Even as I began to empty my schedule and unsubscribe from mailing lists and facebook pages, and leave networking groups and decline invitations - I felt God's peace.  And in the "empty" places, He is beginning to fill new appointments, new opportunities, new people.

I'm going on a mission trip!

I'm excited to go on my first Mission Trip! You can read all about it on the link above!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Invitations - on the cheap!

I've been using this money-saving idea for a while now, and I thought I'd share!

I create digital invitations for my kids' birthday parties, Gold Canyon parties, charity events, etc., then print them out as a photo!  I get full color glossy invitations for about 10-20 cents each!  You could even take it up a notch by affixing them to cardstock, but we just hand them out as-is.

Here's the latest one I did.  I started out with an image I found online (be fair to copyrights!  Don't use an artists' work, photographers image, etc. - look for things in the general domain!):
found at San Diego Bargain Momma's blog, via Google image search
Then, I used the photo editing site Picnik.com to crop the image to 4"x6" diminsions.  You could do this with your favorite software or even PowerPoint.

Next, I added the text:

Then I saved it and uploaded to Walgreens.com for printing (always search for an online coupon!)  I picked them up an hour later!

Here are some other invitations that I've made this way:
created with a hybrid of PowerPoint and Picnik

created using Picnik's Premier Collages

created in PowerPoint

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Picnik's over!

UGH!  I just saw that Picnik is closing!  I've enjoyed my premium membership for the last 2 years, and have used it to make so many things!

A while back, Google bought them, and I suspected that they would be gobbled up and spit back into the google machine.  If Google didn't make everything so d*mn convienent, I'd hate them! 

The good news is, I'll get a refund of my membership fee, and they've offered a convienent way to download my photos.  That soothed my ruffled feathers a little bit.

The other good news is that the premium features are free to everyone now, so you can get hooked and let down just like me!  The features will be added to Google+ in the future.  I hope I'll still be able to do things like this:

Feel like a failure?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Win $125.00 in CASH! #SpotlightFacebook

Win $125.00 in CASH!
Hostessed by Mama to 4 Blessings and Home Grown Families with the help of several other fantastic group of bloggers we bring you Social Media Sportlight "Facebook"! This giveaway runs from 12:01 AM on Monday 1/16 and will run until Monday, 1/22 at 11:59 PM (all Eastern times). One winner will receive $125.00 Cash into their paypal!
And, if you enjoy crafting (or just looking at other's crafts, or just winning prizes) stop back by for the [ReDeemed] ScentMate Crafting Challenge!  Good luck!

Kindle Fire and $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Welcome to Kindle Fire and $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway Hosted by Coupon Scribbles
You've heard about now WIN one!! The Kindle Fire would be wonderful to win just by itself but we are throwing in a $50 Amazon Gift Card for Movies or Books to load up your Kindle Fire.
The Giveaway begins at Monday 1/16/12 and ends at 11:59pm EST Monday 1/30/12 The winner will be chosen and notified. The prize will be sent out via 2nd day shipping!
Co-Hosting the Kindle Fire and $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway with Coupon Scribbles are:
Please take a moment to stop by each one of them.
We, as a group, are bringing you this awesome giveaway!
Just follow the easy instructions below.  If you enjoy crafting (or just looking at other's crafts, or just winning prizes) stop back by for the [ReDeemed] ScentMate Crafting Challenge!  Good luck!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

ScentMate Crafter's Challenge!

*****Due to unforeseen circumstances, the challenge has been cancelled.  I sincerely apologize!*****

I've been busy behind the scenes planning a crafter's challenge!  Many of my customers tell me their kids love to play with the ScentMates - they imagine bugs, mice, airplanes, cars...  It got me thinking, what would everyone else see?

So, start your glue guns - there's a contest afoot!
I have some great prizes lined up, including gift certificates and products from sponsors with:
Do You Bake, Discovery Toys, Gold Canyon, Close to My Heart, Tupperware, Herbalife, Thirty-One, Organo Gold, DeBonair Custom Cleaning and Hobby Lobby!

Additional sponsors include:
Personalized Baby Quilts from Tracybug Creative
Aimes Collision
Scribble Cakes

If you'd like to sponsor this contest - there's still time to provide a prize and get exposure across multiple blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

The rules are simple:
  1. You must use a Gold Canyon ScentMate (your choice of black or aqua)
  2. The ScentMate must remain fully functional (batteries able to be replaced, scent pads able to be interchanged, still turns on and sends fragrance into the air!)
  3. You must submit your entry no later than February 10, 2012 at midnight CST (via your blog, YouTube, Pinterest or e-mail)
That's it!  Voting will open at 12:01 AM CST on February 11th, and will remain open until midnight CST on February 18th.  You may solicit votes from family, friends, followers, etc.

The winner of the popular vote will receive a prize (stay tuned for the big announcements!)  There will be a "best of show" prize for my favorite entry, and there will also be a giveaway for voters!

If you already have a ScentMate - start creating!  If not, contact your Gold Canyon Independent Fragrance Consultant today!  If you don't have a consultant, I'd like to apply for the job! Purchase your own ScentMate - if you win the challenge, I'll refund your purchase!

If you pay more than $49 a month for your cell service, you can SAVE money with Solavei.
If your friends pay more than $49 a month for their cell service, you can MAKE money with Solavei

www.gopurplesavegreen.com William and Noel Giger Solavei Members

Wordless Wednesday - when the toddler decorates...

Better ideas for lantern fillers...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Valentine's Day is coming soon!

What are your favorite Valentine's Day Memories?

Our tradition is to spend the evening as a family - celebrating the love we have for each other.  We make it a double date night, although that has expanded as our family has!  I now have the pleasure of having 3 escorts for the evening (plus our ever-in-our-hearts Ian!) and William still only has one princess :)

We dress up and go out to dinner, sometimes even just to a fast food place!

Are you planning for Valentine's Day yet?  I've been collecting ideas on my Pinterest Valentine's Day board:

Source: duitang.com via Noel on Pinterest

There are so many more!  Go check it out!
And remember - if you need a gift for Valentine's Day, candles last longer than flowers :)
dfwgoldcanyon.com (prices are with a coupon, limited quantities available, request by e-mail noel@noelgiger.com)
dfwgoldcanyon.com (prices are with a coupon, limited quantities available, request by e-mail noel@noelgiger.com)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rafflecopter is hosting a Launch Giveaway

If you enter contests on blogs, you've surely seen Rafflecopter forms everywhere!  These have made entering so much easier!  They even remember your information now :)

To start 2012, you’ll have a chance at winning an iPad2 or one of two Kindle Fires in what we’re calling the ‘Rafflecopter Launch Party Giveaway’! 

You can even enter right here on my blog!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Down's Syndrome: the education of me (part 4, the end of the beginning)

Start with part one :)

As we left our first Down's Syndrome Guild Meeting, I recalled another time I had joined a club I wanted no membership in.  We lost Ian in 2006, then had a miscarriage a few months later.  We joined M.E.N.D. and attended Camp Sol, affirming our membership in the Bereaved Parents Club.

When we are little, we imagine our lives.  We plan the weddings (with Prince Charming), we play Mommy, we think about what we will be when we grow up.  Then along the way, life happens.  Never do we plan to lose a child.  Never do we plan to have any kinds of troubles.  We never imagine special needs.  Never create a scenario where divorce is acceptable.  Never account time off for dreaded diseases.  Why should we?  We were children.  There is a scripture that reads:
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.  1 Corinthians 13:11
As children, we dream big dreams of perfect lives.  We reason that it should be that way, and so it shall be.  When we encounter the challenges of life, we begin to see that childish dream slip away.  Mine was not just slipping, it was shattered.  Losing a child is one of those things you fear, but don't really think will ever happen.  Once it does, it seems the floodgate has opened and all the other potential tragedies of life, that once seemed impossible, might just reach you too.

Fear that my daughter would be kidnapped, my husband would die and leave me a widow to raise the children on my own, fear that I would have a stillborn child, fear that we would face financial ruin and end up having tenets in our own home (We would all live in the master bedroom, the baby would have the walk-in closet as a nursery, twin beds would line the other walls.  My fears have fully-grown legs!)

Still, in all those dark moments of fear and doubt, "special needs" never crossed my mind.  Yet here I was.  Strolling out of the Down's Syndrome Guild, pushing a baby carriage with the sweetest little bundle I've ever met.  Still struggling to come to terms with what it means to be a mother to a special needs child.

And then I realized - I'm just a mom.  Every one of my children has special needs.  Calvin is intelligent and clever and loves for me to spend time with him.  I have to keep him busy or he causes mischief.  Jordan is an artist, singer and loves anything creative.  She is absent-minded and would lose her head if it were not firmly attached to her body.  I have to remind her every few minutes of what she is supposed to be doing.  Ian lives at his Father's house.  I have to love him from a distance and rekindle his memory.  Gavin is a bundle of energy and love.  His hugs come kamikaze-style and often leave visible proof of his affection.  I have to teach him to channel that passion in constructive ways.

So Aaron will be a little behind "typical" kids.  I can deal with that.  I'm his MOM, that's why I'm here.

I have learned so much from this precious child.  I've learned to just RELAX and enjoy him.  I have had very little expectation of what he will do and when.  And you know what?  I've been so pleasantly surprised!  I wonder how much joy I've missed out on in celebrating my other children's accomplishments - just because I was so focused on the next big goal?  And I'm not even one of those competitive moms!  I consider myself to be pretty relaxed already, but I've learned to just lean back and trust that all will be well.
what was I worried about?
less than a year and already in the driver's seat!
 So - my education will continue.  Thank you GOD!  I have learned that I have much to learn.  I've been reminded that I'm not in control of my own destiny, but I know Who is.  I've learned that Down's Syndrome "People" are really just like you and me - sons and daughters of someone who wants desperately for the world to see them for who they are, not for a label on their sleeve.  And if someone slips and says that "something's 'retarded'" then blanches and says "OMG - I'm so sorry, I didn't mean that!"  I'll smile and say "that's OK - I had to learn not to say that too."

Friday, January 6, 2012

Down's Syndrome: the education of me (part 3)

Start with part one :)

As we bundled our sweet baby and prepared to take him home, I had no idea what the future held for us.

We still hadn't told the kids, and they were going to Nana's house for a week or two anyway.  My mom stayed to help me with the baby since I had my first-ever C-Section and William was recuperating from back surgery.

Shortly after we settled in at home, I began doing lots of internet research.  My husband had already beaten me to most of it.  He had registered us with the Down Syndrome Guild of Dallas, who sent an information packet about 4 inches thick.  I still haven't read any of it.  There was a calendar with pictures of Down's Syndrome babies and kids.  I couldn't even hang it up.  The truth is, I didn't want my son to be like those kids.  I wanted him to be normal.

It was about this time that I started writing this blog post, but didn't publish it until Aaron was almost a month old.  It was also about this time that I realized that it was politically incorrect and insensitive to say that my other kids were "normal".  I've learned that the correct term is "typical". (Don't worry - I still struggle with it too).

The things that really flashed in my mind through all this time are all the times that I've laughed when someone was called a " 'tard" (short for retard).  All the times that a friend loosely hit their chest with a limp hand and said "dir-de-der".  The "tooty ta" dance that makes everyone look like they have "special needs"

and laughing as I said with my tongue planted to one side of my mouth "efferyone's specthial in thair own way."  I'm ashamed.  I'm not nice.  I'm a judgmental person, and now I am a mother to one who will be so judged.

This is what hurt the most; I knew that he would face people like me.  Nice on the outside.  Sweet to your face; laughing behind closed doors.  Not at you in particular, but at people like you.  Ouch.  Self-evaluations are painful under "normal" circumstances.  When it's so close to home the examination occurs with razor-sharp precision and the pain that accompanies that knife.

I determined to be a better person (for the bajillionth time in my life) and to eliminate the aforementioned activities.  What is harder than that though, is changing the way you view the people.

Our first Down Syndrome Guild meeting (quarterly meeting for new parents) was accompanied by a presentation of the "Team Do Something Great" that was a part of the SLANT 45 Film Project.  I was OK meeting the parents of the babies.  I was OK meeting the parents of the teens.  I was slightly creeped out by the teens fawning over Aaron (especially when one severely affected boy's dad kept saying "you were just like that when you were a baby.  You looked just like that."), but I completely lost it when the teens performed.  Here they sang, performed gymnastics, told jokes and other "talents".

I was sitting there, judging through outsider's "typical" eyes.  I saw mediocre at best.  I saw the "crowd" applauding non-accomplishment.  I was overwhelmed with a feeling that I couldn't do "this".  I couldn't applaud mediocrity.  I couldn't bear to think of this being all my son might ever accomplish.  I heard echoes of my mother's voice "he will probably never leave your home."  My elderly neighbor's words on hearing the diagnosis: "that's too bad - at least you'll always have him with you."

I retreated.  To the bathroom.  I sat in the pale green stall, hyperventilating and sobbing and thinking "if there were a window in here..."  After 15 minutes, I gathered myself together and dabbed in vain at my eyes - they refused to stop leaking.  I went back to the group where my husband was enthusiastically networking, meeting other parents, cooing over their Down's Syndrome Babies (that's what I saw, Down's Babies).  I sat down at the table, with my back to the room, hoping that no one would speak to me.  I didn't want to be there.  I didn't want to learn anything new.  I didn't want to join a new club.  William called to me to meet some people.  I tried to ignore him, but he persisted.  I played nice until we could leave, planning to never return.

To be continued...

Part 4

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Down's Syndrome: the education of me (part 2)

Start with part one :)

It was New Year's Eve, 2010.  I sat in the dimming hospital room and had just urged the visitor who knocked on the door to "come in".

"Hold on a second honey, the doctor is here." I said to my 9 year old daughter, who had called to check in from Grandma's house.  I was expecting the usual "he looks great" but what I heard rocked my world.

I was alone, William had back surgery just a week prior - so he wasn't staying with me as he usually would (he also could not drive yet)  My mom's health is not good and I didn't want her to stay at the hospital, and my dad was really the only one who could help William if he needed anything.  The other kids were at my in-law's house.  I had confidently sent everyone away, secretly thinking that I would enjoy the peace and quiet!

The doc started by introducing himself and handing me a business card.  I listened as he said that he had been talking with the nurses and other doctors (thinking "uh huh - can we move on, I'm on the phone...") and that he thought that Aaron should be tested for Down's Syndrome.  My heart started beating faster, I felt the room close in.  I told my daughter "I'll call you back honey."

He started recounting signs of Down's Syndrome and whether or not my perfect baby boy had them.  Something about curved pinky fingers (he didn't) and a single crease on the palm of the hand (he did on one hand).  Extra space between the toes (he didn't) and low and rear-set ears (he did mildly).  Slanted eyes (a little) but no extra fold of skin.  Thick, protruding tongue, he had that.  There were more, thirteen I think...

The physical signs were enough to warrant the chromosome tests - did we want to do that now or wait until later?  Oh, and sometimes babies with Down's Syndrome have heart defects and lung problems, did we want to test for that now or wait until later?

My head was reeling, my mind racing to catch up to what I was hearing!  How could this be happening?  He looked so normal - there must be some mistake.  I felt sick to my stomach, like I was going to vomit.  My throat was tense and I knew that I would cry, but not now.  Now, I had to focus.  I had to pay attention and be rational and make a good decision for my baby.  I asked questions about the tests and how invasive they were, how necessary they would be, what they would tell us and how long they would take.  I told him to go ahead and do both of them.  I was relieved that the heart test would be back soon, disappointed that the karyotyping would take several weeks.

I called my husband.  Now I cried.

I called for my sweet Aaron to come nurse.  And cried some more.
My parents came to visit.  I told them.  We all cried.

I texted a few close friends.  They all cried with us.  My best friend even sent me a picture of the product of her days of crying; puffy eyes have never conveyed such love before!

Aaron's heart scan came back perfect.  I harbored hope that would mean he was normal.  I Googled "Down's Syndrome Babies" and compared the photos and descriptions, thinking "it's not true" - while secretly beginning to recognize slight traces.  We decided not to tell the kids or "everyone" (aka Facebook posts) until we knew for sure.

The next few weeks were a crash course in my own ignorance and judgmental nature.  All I thought I believed about special needs children and families would be tested and hung out to dry.  What was left was the realization that I was not as nice as I thought I was.

To be continued...

Part 3
Part 4

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pinterest Piques my Interest

Do you Pinterest?

I've started pinning and I can't stop! As I've been browsing through pins of those I follow and those in chosen categories, I've come up with some guidelines I thought I'd share.

  • Remember that your pin may make it around the world and back.  Don't pin sensitive family photos!

  • Take a moment to include relevant information.  Where did you find it?  Why do you like it?  I can't tell you how many fabulous pictures I've come across that simply say "like"!
  • If you found the image on a blog, link to the actual blog post (not the main blog site, and not the image url) so that others can visit the creator if they like.
  • If you find something on a shopping site, include relevant information (store, designers name, product name, style, color, etc.)
  • If you include a $ (dollar sign) and amount (i.e. "got this at the $1.00 store), your pin will have a banner with a "price tag" on it:
  • Categorize your boards!  One or more of these is clearly not "Architecture"!

Follow Me on Pinterest

Be careful - it is addictive!

Don't stop - there's lots more good stuff...

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