Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Challenge Accepted?

I knew it was coming. I knew that amongst the dozens (and dozens) of ice bucket challenges flooding my facebook newsfeed that I too would soon be tagged to dump freezing water on my head in hopes of dodging a heftier donation fee to the ALS association. Which, I feel is really odd. Shouldn't we be promoting people to donate more for supporting something?

Just an observation: 2014 has brought on some interesting challenges, like the Fire Challenge which supports nothing but stupidity and the decline of the human race. Then of course this ice bucket challenge for something much better and more promising for the human race. 

Let's get this straight: We won't be seeing me on fire, or doused in ice this year kids. Sorry!

At any rate... let's review a few things we will see from me. I don't follow the crowd. HOWEVER I do like to be nice, and supportive. So we can expect that from me this year.

On the supportive note. Do you know who one of my number one supporters is? I will introduce you: 

His name is Butch, and he is my brother in law. He has been a part of my life for over 20 years. He has one of the best attitudes of anyone I know. He has dealt with and overcome more medical issues and "disabilities" than anyone I have ever met. Ever. You know immediately upon meeting with him that he never lets anything get him down. At 18 years old he was in an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He was told he would be wheelchair bound for life. He proved everyone wrong by training himself to walk again. I can't even count the number of surgeries and procedures he has had since he has been a part of our family. 

About 3 years ago Butch was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Though he has had some set backs and adjustments to treatments and medications he is still his chipper self. It is remarkable how he handles what life throws at him. 

I promise, very much so promise, that I am not trying to take anything away from the severity of ALS, or the people fighting it and living with it. 
I just would like to bring awareness to other donating options in hopes that other people (faced with the ice challenge or not) will find a way to support very important organizations without the prompt of a facebook fad. Take a look around, find some things that you would like to support and do so. Don't have the cash on hand to throw out there? Volunteer a free afternoon, donate some items you have on hand at home. You never know what an organization could need or use that isn't a check that you may not have available at the time. 

I did stick to the donation part of this challenge, and donated money to the National MS Society because it hits closer to home for my family. 
In case any of you are huffy that I may or may not have donated something to someone here is a snippet/pic from the donation confirmation (cropped down because I don't need you all knowing where I live). SIDENOTE - I have actually not seen any confirmation that any of the videos I have seen in the last week have actually donated any amounts at all. Just an observation. Not discrediting anyone, but I find that interesting. 


I won't tag anyone in particular, if you find it in your heart or your schedule to give to a cause you personally wish to support please do. Need some inspiration? Check out http://greatnonprofits.org/ to help you decide which organization you would like to contribute to. 

As for Butch, keep on keepin' on with your chipper self! You are an inspiration to a lot of us. 






Tuesday, August 12, 2014

You Matter.

Yesterday afternoon I took Adeline to our local library to pick out her weekly stack of books. We found a suitable pile of reading material and then found a spot at a table so I could read a few to her before checking them all out. I really didn't want to dawdle because the list of errands was high so I zoomed through two small books.

On our way to the check out counter she stopped by the movie shelves. I was trying to coax her away from the stacks and stacks of VHS tapes because we really needed to get to the tire shop to have my car serviced.
She seemingly ignored me and scanned through the videos to make a selection. We do actually own a VHS player at home so I couldn't really pull the "nobody watches VHS tapes kiddo, let's go" line. I was trying everything I had up my sleeve to get out of there without adding to the already heavy pile in my arms.

Alas, she was already clinging tightly to two VHS tapes. I urged her to hurry and that we probably didn't need to bring home movies and books this week but she insisted: "I have to take these home". So I said that was fine let's go. The child chose these two movies:


Of course, later that evening we heard of the passing of Robin Williams. My heart sank. 

It is hard to imagine what other people are feeling and fighting, especially in a world where many of us are more worried about what we are feeling at any given time. The demons in your head can be very, very real. I have loved ones both alive and gone who do and have battled with depression and substance abuse. I have only two words for everyone, currently battling or not, to read: 
YOU MATTER
Period.



If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide please contact the National Suicide Helpline at 1-800-273-8255 - or for young adults and teens to chat anonymously on line: 

Making the choice to call a helpline is essentially an act of courage. It takes a great deal of strength to admit you have a problem and begin the recovery process of putting your life back together. If you or someone you care about is struggling with an issue related to an addiction to drugs or alcohol, the best thing you can do is to reach out for help by calling 1-888-299-5213 at any time of the day or night, seven days a week. http://www.recovery.org/


Rest in peace Mr. Williams. You will be severely missed by many. 



Thursday, July 3, 2014

Adeline Decides - RECAP SEVEN

Recap time!
Day late and a dollar short, but I am ok with this. On top of the dozens of odd jobs I take on I decided to try a personal project. I found through a friend a challenge for 100 happy days. www.100happydays.com 
The deal - Daily you post a photo of something that makes you happy, for 100 days. It makes you take the time to think about things so I signed up. Because, I totally have time for that sort of thing right? Oh good.

If you want to see what makes me happy you can take a gander at the instagram account I am using for this project instagram.com/stefmcjones. 90% of the photos involve my kid, so there is that. What can I say, when you grow a person inside of your uterus you tend to be pretty proud when you finagle the bugger out of there 9 months later.
I mean really, what did you make today? If what you made is cooler than this I will give you a dollar: 


Disclaimer: I won't actually give you a dollar, it's a trick. 

I digress! You want to know what life altering decisions my three year old has been making right? She has pretty well secured her fate as an entertainer. I present exhibits A and B:
video
video


Neat right? If you want to book her for your next gig you are going to have to contact her agent, Bacon Jones. He will probably be busy getting shot in the face with air from a Minnie Mouse hair dryer though so be sure to leave a message and he will get back to you when he isn't being tortured to hell and back.

She has decided more often than not, to make insanely silly faces all the time. On or off camera.
I have no clue who she gets it from...
She's actually wearing a funny face, while making a funny face. Silly squared? I think probably yes. 

Likewise, she cuddles more frequently too:

And this experiment has brought about a new whirl of imagination and confidence. She decides to be anything and everything. Tiger girl:

She feels like she can help out with just about any project that anyone in our family might be doing. Like gardening:
If you liked this post, but don't know why or what experiment I am referencing. I started a project almost 6 months ago to let our toddler make a lot (like, a lot) of decisions for herself. If you would like to take a gander and the previous recaps and reviews you can check those out by following this link: http://littlemrsjonesss.blogspot.com/search/label/Adeline%20Decides
We are basically at the end of the project. That flew by didn't it! I will do one last Recap post as a finale of sorts. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Retro Gaming Celebration

At this juncture, if you have read any of my previous party related blog posts you have gathered a few things: I suck at directions, I procrastinate, and most importantly - I make creative shortcuts and "bandaids" to save my ass. I started planning a summer party that sort of celebrated my birthday, my man's birthday, and just a gathering in general. I always have to have a theme because that is just how I operate. We chose a retro gaming theme.

Decorations were a breeze thanks to digital downloads on etsy. I got a pacman set of printables, and a mario set of printables. Cut the items out and pasted them to an existing party banner we had.

I used electrical tape and star balloons from the dollar store to make these guys:

Made a pirhana plant:

I saw this on the internet at some point in my journey to create the perfect party. But the day of when I went to find the directions for this I couldn't find it anywhere, seriously anywhere. So I went from memory on this.

I didn't want to bake an official birthday cake since it wasn't an official birthday party. I had decided that my clear and only alternative was making 143 cupcakes and building Mario with them...
 Not bad right?This was the finished product.

I found this ditty on Pinterest and followed the blog links to secure the knowledge I needed to convince myself that A-this was going to be super easy,  B- It was going to take no time at all , AND C- I was going to succeed with flying colors/minimal stress. Go ahead and laugh for me now. The internet is deceiving, and it gets the best of us.
The Daily Dawdle demonstrates this phenomena: http://www.dailydawdle.com/2012/11/16-hilarious-pinterest-fails-nailed-it.html.
I actually documented several of my steps just so I could finish up with a NAILED IT meme of my own, because I realized at the grocery store that this was going to be a much more serious undertaking. But I had already committed and there was no going back and going to the bakery and buying a cake like a normal human being was simply out of the question.

Here is the blog that I used as my guideline to create this nearly impossible treat: http://www.cuteasafox.com/2010/09/mario-party-credits.html?m=1
I applaud her for giving a very detailed diagram to follow as well as a few pointers involving frosting color combos, and the foam board trick as a platter. I too, procured a foam board that I quickly filled up WITH MARIO'S HEAD. Then freaked out because, where the shit is this huge Mario going to reside until the guests show up? Luckily I had a HUGE black table cloth and a HUGE dining room table that did the trick. If you don't own an excessively large table to fit this on. Run, turn back and run. Go to the bakery and buy a cake like a normal human being.

My half ass ingredient and directions list:

INGREDIENTS:

1) 3 boxes of cake mix - the back of the box will tell you that one box makes 24 mini muffins. THIS IS A DIRTY STINKIN LIE. One box produced enough mix for 48 mini muffins for me. Maybe I am magical and like Jesus I too can feed a multitude with just a few things. Doubtful. Just buy 3 boxes of mix (maybe an extra in case you jack something up along the line). I have several leftover boxes of cake mix thanks to Duncan Hines' misguidance. Maybe the person who made that up is eating half of the batter before it hits the muffin pan? That is 50% off, that is a big deal Mr. Duncan Hines. I should write them and ask for a refund for all these cake batter boxes I now have to store and not eat. My apologies for getting severely sidetracked. 
2) The stuff the cake mix requires. Eggs, oil, milk, whatever. 
3) Cupcake papers and an ungodly amount of mini muffin pans. Go ahead and ask everyone you know if you can borrow their mini muffin pans because there is no way in hell you own enough to get the job done.
4) Time. From start to finish this project took 2 days. Two. Days. Don't have two days to waste? Go to the bakery and buy a cake like a normal human being.
5) Large ziplock bags (if you do what I did and bake the night prior).
6) Frosting. This is up for debate, but I used 4 containers total, and wound up with a ridiculous amount leftover. Oops. And for the brown frosting? JUST BUY CHOCOLATE. Don't try to mix up brown. Just don't. I did, so just trust me and buy chocolate frosting.
7) Food coloring. I got a box of the contemporary colors.
8) Dark chocolate shavings. Unless you have a better idea for making black icing. For the black cupcakes I used brown frosting topped with dark chocolate shavings.
9) Printed copy of the diagram so you can build this monster with ease. I hit a snag here and will get to that snafu later in the Directions.

DIRECTIONS (I started this endeavor around 9:00ish pm):
1) Print copy of the diagram.
I thought it would be nice to include my husband and have him do this step for me since our printer at home is on the fritz. He even went so far as to texting me a pic of the diagram in his hand so I knew it had been done. All a farce. He came home without it. His one job was to deliver the one sheet of paper. My advice? Go ahead and let go of any hopes that you will have help with this endeavor and resolve that you will be a lone wolf in a baking hell. You may be able to trick someone by telling them it is a simple craft project you need assistance with. You will be on the fast track to doing this 100% solo if you say anything along the lines of "I am baking and decorating 143 cupcakes and then I am intricately organizing them according to a diagram".
2) Bake the mini cupcakes according to the package directions - don't forget you will get much more from each box. Dirty liars.
3) Let them cool.
Once you get to this point you may actually start crying because in the grand scheme of things you really, aren't even halfway done.

4) That last step wrapped up at 1:00 am for me, so I counted out and bagged them according to what colors they would be frosted with. Thought this would save time the next day.
 If you don't have a psychological issue with organizing the shit out of everything you can just go to bed without doing the bagging by number and color ordeal. Yea, do that instead.
5) Get some sleep.
6) Few hours until party time: Start mixing frosting colors. I wish I had photographed how we mixed our colors. My husband jammed the mixer blade into his drill and mixed them for me. I think I was too busy saying, "OHMYGOD what are you doing to the frosting" to actually take a picture. His methods worked well, he earned forgiveness for forgetting the diagram.
7) Frost all of the cupcakes according to the diagram that you may have to be following via your smartphone. Or your printed diagram if you are so lucky.
8) Find the biggest surface in the history of ever, and start building your Mario. This was actually the most fun part for me.
9) Walk out of the room. Pour yourself a drink, chug. Walk back into room take a glance at your amazing work of art and start singing WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS MY FRIENDS. Replace I with We if you feel so inclined.
 I seriously felt like I won the lottery when I realized that I actually made it look like Mario.
10) Take lots of pictures. There must be photographic evidence, because if someone touches that shit before you document it you have every right to kill them. Slowly and painfully.
11) Psychologically prepare yourself for party guests devouring the whole operation.
12) Eat and enjoy.
13) Drink 3 pitchers of sangria with your friends and play retro video games, then go back and eat more cupcakes. Rinse. Repeat.



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Through the Veil 2014

Photo compliments of http://www.cg-photo.biz/


I AM.

Since my first visit to the experience that is Through the Veil I have found myself spiraling into opportunity after opportunity both with the event, and outside of the event. 

It has helped me immensely in all areas of my life. To work harder, love harder, play harder. To think clearer, feel more, see more. Through the Veil has answered questions I feel everyone comes across at some point, and it holds out it's arms and takes in anyone that will allow it to. And it is just one weekend a year. Crazy right?

I am going to try to as briefly as possible explain the event and how my involvement has evolved.
Disclaimer: being brief went way the hell out the window. Way the hell. 

Thanks to my friend from the paranormal group I used to investigate with - fellow investigator (Jordan Duncan) convinced me to give it a try five years ago. My first year was Through the Veil #2. I had reservations about the -woman in charge- the director, Michelle. I had heard several negative things about her (from what I would learn later were very manipulative people) so I had a seriously skewed pre-conceived notion. I came into it judge-y and for that I am regretful. I was pregnant with my daughter at my first event. Had some interesting input from a few people that asked if they could touch my belly, which seemed odd to me at the time (I wish I could recall the face to the name of the woman who said "she" was going to be just fine). I didn't fully submerge myself into all 3 days, but I did hear some pretty amazing speakers in our short stint there that weekend. I was still too busy in the "I'm a new paranormal investigator and I want to believe that it is all just science". The touchy feely, these are spirits, your life has a bigger purpose here, and all the woo woo stuff went straight over my head. Straight over. I didn't feel moved or seriously motivated after that first event. I didn't let it. However, I had found a shop that had been a vendor that year, the Meditating Mantis. I would have NEVER found the Mantis without TTV, and my time spent in that shop until the day they closed their doors for business was invaluable to me. I began regularly meditating. I could write a novel of a post about my experiences and the synchronistic events that came from that. *adds to the to-do list*

The second event for me- Through the Veil #3. I was also sporadically at this one, didn't get down and dirty and go to all of the discussions, panels, and lectures. I was extremely impressed with the opening ceremony, and hearing James Redfield speak obviously led me to checking out the Celestine Prophecy series. I still hadn't quite "gotten it" by the time the weekend was over. I was too involved in life and it's motions, and trying to figure out the new mom thing that I wasn't paying attention.

Third - Through the Veil #4. My paranormal group (of which I had become director of) was a sponsor, and was selected to host the event's paranormal investigation. I organized most aspects of that, including the guest's transportation. I had also been invited to be a part of the volunteer staff that year. I was surprised Michelle actually wanted to have me help out. I had a ton of fun (possibly too much). I would have begged for another volunteer position, but thanks to the wonderfulness of Michelle she invited me back hands down before I even went home that weekend. I actually did a recap post after that TTV event, it can be found here.

Fourth - Through the Veil #5. I had become disenchanted with the pomp and circumstance of paranormal investigating. I felt that my time of sitting in the dark surrounded by gadgets had only answered half of my questions. My heart wasn't in it, and I couldn't be happy with it so I made the decision to resign from the paranormal group. Having resigned from the group I offered a seriously hefty chunk of my time to devote to the event. The day I notified Michelle that I had resigned/was at her disposal she had let me know that her assistant was no longer working with her. Divine intervention if you ask me. I became her assistant and spent the next six months filling the event's vendor area. I second guessed myself the entire time, and I can't for the life of me figure out why. Fast forward to the weekend of. I not only learned a lot from the speakers (I made it a point to hear as much as possible) but I also learned a lot about myself. I also learned a lot about what I needed to do in the year following. I paid more attention to the connections and friends I was making over those 3 days. It was the first time I was physically pained leaving. I also realized there was no real way to thank Michelle for the chances she had given me thus far.

Fifth - Through the Veil #6. The event that ended just a few days ago. I must have done a bang up job on TTV 5 because Michelle kept right on plugging along with me helping as her assistant. Once the vendor area was squared away I was able to help out with other aspects of the event. From helping to prep the props, picking songs for the ceremony, to meeting with hotel staff to help plan the ins and outs. I still can't decide what convinced Michelle to utilize me is the capacity that she has, but I am happy she has.

So my answer to the most common question in regards to Through the Veil "What is it?". The answer would be:
It is a place to figure it out.
It?
What it? Well, you get to decide. Maybe you are looking for answers, the next move, how do I, what do I, and so on.
Maybe you have all your answers, you just want to learn something new in general. That can be accomplished. It is thought to be about the bridging of the paranormal field to the metaphysical. This event spans quite a bit more though, in my opinion. I can't bottle it up, I wish I could so you could see exactly what I am trying to put into words. I constantly say that it is a life changing event.
If you let it be.
Things aren't always impossible.
(beautiful art print by the wonderfully creative Paulina Cassidy, whom I met at one of the first TTV events, & was a guest speaker for us this year.)

The power of positive thinking, the laws of attraction, synchronicity, it all works and is all very real. It helped me turn my shy, quiet, stay under the radar, go unnoticed, slide by life feeling mediocre attitude into something pretty crazy. I have discovered that I have a voice, and it is worth being heard. Michelle putting her faith in my ability to get the job done catapulted me into a few other positions that I just can't even wrap my head around yet. You are as lucky as you will allow yourself to be. You are as loved as you will allow yourself to be. You are as happy as you will allow yourself to be. I am happy to report that I am convinced to the fullest that I am lucky, I am loved, and I am happy.

The general theme for this year was I AM and a moving away from a robotic/programmed way of thinking.
Photo compliments of http://www.cg-photo.biz/

Spectacular statue designed by the one and only Shane Garner. I had the best time working with Shane and Michelle on the props this year. 

 We had a board set up where we all wrote versions of what we are. I wrote I AM: honored to be here. First thing to pop in my mind, and I just can't think of what better to say.


One of our guest speakers hit the nail on the head:
I AM ME, AND THAT IS ENOUGH. -Callea Sherrill

What is your I AM?

Can't leave out some of the photos of friends from this year's event, this is the only place I have ever been where new friends feel like old friends, or better yet - family:
My niece Chelsia, and Jordan, the guy who introduced me to it all!

 The lovely Michelle and I.
 Paranormal Illusionist Aiden Sinclair. Always a wonderful time hanging out with him! 
Ms. Sas sang me the coolest birthday song ever. I am convinced she is an angel without wings. She also gave me this:

It is just as beautiful as she is, and she made it herself. Amazing calligraphy work. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Adeline Decides - Recap SIX

Greetings beautiful people! I am not going to discuss what a slacker I have been on here, let's chalk it up to me being awesome at other things. I wear too many hats/too many irons in the fire/ possibly some sort of attention deficit disorder/ OH LOOK! SOMETHING SHINY. Maybe one day I will grow up, settle on one job that pays superbly vs. 10 small jobs that pay not as superbly, if at all. Meh probably not. Anyways, Adeline has been very busy making wonderful decisions so I shall recap for you now.

         Adeline has found a new hobby that she both enjoys, and is good at. Fishing! She only does this in 10 minute increments, and stops as soon as she catches anything. At any rate, catching her first fish at 3 years old is putting her on the fast track to becoming a redneck. She can boast about this later. Oh wait, she probably won't want to mention any of this. Good thing I am PUTTING IT ON THE INTERWEBS. Sorry sweet cheeks.


 Yea right dad, I am not touching that...

She has also found a new love for baking. She prepared (all steps aside from touching the oven) a birthday cake for her nanny: 
 It was crazy good for a three year old. She's got skillz. 


             Recently my company was asked to participate in a vintage fashion show at the local nursing home. Another freebie job but very rewarding. We had a blast, and Adeline decided that the nursing home is by far one of the coolest spots to hang out ever.The kid would have stayed if I let her! We brought over a wardrobe of vintage threads for the models to use, and naturally Adeline had to take a stroll on the cat walk as well. And to think, I was sure she would be too shy to waltz around in front of strangers. HA. I was probably just projecting my own nervousness because the staff gave me a microphone and let me do ALL THE TALKING. Yikes. 
Here she is in one of her fashion show ensembles:

              Summer festivities are upon us, and school has ended. Her gymnastics classes have wrapped up as well and she snagged a trophy at her final performance. She decided it was much too wonderful to hide from the world. The trophy made it around everywhere the days following. Restaurants, stores, grandma's house, etc. 
Here she is with the coveted trophy at our favorite mexican spot. 
This was post performance, so she still had the leotard and refused to put on pants, so we compromised by pulling her leg warmers way the hell up her legs to make pseudo pants. 

                Adeline received her passport this week. She was so proud of it, and said that it was her story. She had to read her story to everyone around, and she even told grandma that I was in it. 
She explained that the illustration below is mommy at a party:
So if you ever wanna party like it's 1799, I'm your girl! 

In case any of you are wondering if this little project of allowing a toddler to make so many of her own decisions has blown up in my face yet, which I am sure a few of you are... Trolls. I am happy to report that it has not blown up in my face at all. I now present some observations.

Adeline Decides - Observations thus far in our experiment:
She is more outspoken, less shy, yet still polite. We get constant compliments on her demeanor in general, especially in public places where a majority of toddlers act bat shit crazy. She is cool as a cucumber. Her diet has improved, as well as her appetite because she has more of a choice in what she consumes. Don't get me wrong, she asks for treats more often than not, but we compromise by getting those treats after we have regular meals. In most cases she enjoys the meals so much she forgets all about the treats. Sleeping patterns have improved a bit as well. 

If you would like to read more about Adeline and her antics, and what exactly we have been doing the last few months click here. 




Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Adeline Decides - Recap CINCO

          Has it really been an entire month and a half since the last recap? Ouch, sorry folks. This recap of Adeline Decides is days away from Cinco de Mayo, which really means nothing to Adeline because she is half Canadian. I don't know where I am going with this. Proceed to the recap!

Ahem, if you need to get caught up and figure out what the heck Adeline Decides is you can go here and here.  In a nutshell, I am spending at minimum, 6 months letting my 3 year old make decisions for herself and for our family. We are at the halfway mark and I have zero regrets with starting or completing this project. It is hard to recall what decisions are notable on here though, as it is becoming second nature for me to get her opinion on a whole lot of things.

But here is what you might have missed in the last month and a half:

-We hopped in the van and drove down the road...TO TEXAS. I gave a detailed synopsis of that trip on our business blog that you can view here. Adeline did things like con an old lady out of some bacon, and play with cows, you know, the usual.


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          Moving along, I have been getting my nails done in a nail salon by my cousin for, 17 years now (what can I say, I am high maintenance). So we visit the nail salon every other week. Adeline decided it was high time she got to sit in the chair for a fresh coat of polish:
Is this normal? 3 year olds aren't supposed to stay willingly stationary for this long right?

Since the last recap, Easter happened. That weekend was a blur, but Adeline did decide to make Easter cards instead of buy:
She made the lil guys with her finger prints! I drew the faces and such. 
Everyone together now: "Awwww".

             Another month of March achievement for the books, Adeline became a knight. Wasn't her decision initially, until she saw that she got to hop on stage and have a captive audience. Oh, people are watching? Give me that crown and let's do this:

She did pick out several outfits for herself and I that I thought to snap a pic of: 
Not entirely sure why I look frightened in this photo. The outfit isn't scary at all. 

The dress she helped me buy from another recap. 

A shirt she got for a song during the Texas antique show. The vendor loved her to pieces. 

Remember from last recap she picked out her outfit for school picture day? I'd say she was pretty happy with her selection...

        Since the beginning of this parenting project I have had a few friends ask me if Adeline could decide for them too. While I don't plan on daunting her with everyone's life questions, if you have one you would really like to have Adeline give her sage advice on you may send it to us. Comment here on the blog with those, or email them to us at junkdrunkjones@gmail.com (subject line: Adeline Decides). If I feel like asking her, and she feels like answering, we will get back to you with her words of wisdom.