Today I'm linking up with
to fill out another fun form.  Today's prompt:  I am _____

I am _____ right now:

I am - Relaxing.  Pretty sure I'm going to be in "vacation mode" until January. It's been a long year and I am loving the short weeks (hubby is taking every Monday off this last quarter) and all the festivities.  Sometimes you just need to let go and rest.

I wonder - How my daughter will react on her second Christmas - she's only 1 and is at the 'delighted with everything' stage - I foresee a LOT of cuteness.

I see - Time slipping by.   I just turned 29 and sometimes I wonder where the last 10 years went.  I still feel 19 - how did I get here?

I want - To live in contentment and use my life to serve others.  SOOO much easier said than done.  I have so much love to give and so many people I want to help, but I have NO idea where to start...

I pretend - That I have it all together - but if you've been following me at all, you know that I'm really one big mess :p  Everyone always says "just do the best that you can" - but how am I supposed to feel when I know that I'm probably not?

I worry -  That I'm not a good enough mother.  That I'm 'messing up' my kids and that by the time I'm rested and sane and 'together' enough to know how to deal with them, it'll be too late.  Or, I worry that I won't be around to worry about that at all. 

I cry - Over everything these days.  Seriously.  From stress, over stupid commercials, for other people's pain, because I'm happy, for no reason at all.  For someone who never used to cry, who was ashamed to cry, I sure get weepy these days.

I hope - That God will use me despite (or maybe because of) all my perceived shortcomings. 

I dream - Of being perfectly content.  Of days filled with sweet, snuggly, joyful moments with my children.  Of having a clean, tidy house with real furniture in it.  Of my blog and my shop taking off.  Of finally finding my 'cause' and then fighting for it with all my strength. 

I feel - Too much.  Seriously, I am almost entirely to the F side of the Meyers-Briggs spectrum - even the most stupid, mundane things effect me on a very emotional level (I was driving by a pretty, sunny field the other day and I just wanted to cry because it was so beautiful).  I want to get to know everyone I meet on a very deep level.  I care too much.  I feel too much.  But in some ways, it's a beautiful thing.
Hello Stuff I Love readers. I am Amber, the blogger behind Sneakers Over Stilettos. I am a fashion stylit turned photographer and Momma to Ethan and Peyton. I take way to many photos, love to get dressed up everyday, and basically just love to create things. Especially with Ethan and Peyton.
When Cat asked if I would like to write a guest post I thought I would write a tutorial on one of my favorite photography tricks. Free lensing is a fun way to create art with your photos.
You should know that free lensing is not for the faint of heart. But if you are adventourus like I am then you will love this!
Because free lensing involves detaching the lens from the camera I like to use a 50mm lens. Thats right you read right, detach the lens!
Step One: Focus on your Subject.
Step Two: Very carefully detach the lens from the camera.
Step Three: Slightly tilt the lens in any direction making one part of your photo in focus and the rest out of focus.
* When do this you want to still try and keep the lense as close to the camera as possible to prevent dust getting on to your shutter, and also trying to and not let a lot of light in the photo.
Here are some examples of free lensing that I have done.
The two photos on the left are my before photos, and the two on the right are the free lens shots.

One other thing I love about free lensing is how there is a slight curve or tilt shift in the photo. Making a little more unique then a standard photo shot with a prime lens.
Thanks for reading my free lens tutorial I hope you will come stop by my blog and check out some more of our adventures and photography!
xoxo Amber
Hey there! I'm Ashley. I love to create delicious gluten free & vegan desserts and recipes. You can buy mixes at Sugar Mama Bakeshop and they make perfectly sweet little gifts for anyone on your list! (Have you thought about teacher gifts? Best friend? Your grandma? The mailman?)
Baked goods make such a lovely gift and especially if you know anyone with a restricted diet (no gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, etc) I can promise you they will be thrilled to have holiday sweets they can actually enjoy :)
I am so thankful for so much right now it's crazy, but here's my top 3:
*A safe, warm place to call home. It isn't our first choice of a place to call home but I'm incredibly thankful for it. You can read more about that here if you're interested.
*Community. I have found such a wonderful, encouraging and supportive community through blogging and I'm extremely thankful for it!
*My sweet wonderful little family. This is Lily's first trip to the zoo... She's clearly not nearly as excited about it as mom & dad.
I'm offering 25% off your order with the code MERRYCHRISTMAS. Woo! OR get free shipping when you order 8 or more mixes! Just enter OVER8 at checkout! Also message me if you need them individually gift wrapped and I'll hook you up :)
Linking up with Living In Yellow for this one.  We'll just call today "learn too much about Cat" day.  Right.  Here we go:

Before I was married, I didn't want any kids.  Once I got married, we had 3 kids in 3 years.  Woah.  But aren't they precious?
I hate coffee.  But I like things that are coffee flavored.  And if I have any caffeine I am certifiably insane for a while, then crash and sleep for hours.  Not pretty.

I had an eating disorder in college.  It did horrible things to my health, and I feel like a moron for letting it happen.  I'm hoping I'm better now.  This picture scares me.
For most of my life I grew my hair to my waist then cut it to my shoulders (and donated to locks of love) in 4 year cycles.  Haven't done that since I had kids, though.

I married the only guy I ever dated.  And I am so blessed to have him.
I majored in drama in college and have barely ever used my degree.  Not a lot to do with it in my town.  I miss it a lot (here's me as Kate from Taming of The Shrew). 
I'm terrified of flying.  Like, sick to my stomach, want to cry every time I'm on a plane scared.  But I have seen some of the most beautiful sights of my life from a plane window. 
I have zero fashion sense.  90% of the clothes in my closet are hand-me-downs from my fashionable sister-in-law.  And I still can't figure out how to wear half of them.  

I would rather buy something for a super great deal than buy something with a super great brand name.  Function over fashion for sure. 

I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

I have a complex where I really want to be good at everything.  So I try to do way too many things and then fail at most of them.  Some day I'll figure it all out.

My favorite authors include: Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Harold Pinter and William Shakespeare.  My favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird

My writing style tends to very closely reflect whomever I'm reading at the time.  My playwriting prof hated my Eugene O'Neill phase (he was much relieved when I moved on to Pinter). 

I'm embarrassed by how much I don't know about the Star Wars and Star Trek universes (and, really, all things geek). 

I own 18 shirts from  And I'm probably not done.  It's a problem.

I wish I were athletic.  However, every time I work out, I blow out one joint or another.  I probably have the lungs of an 80 year old.  It's pathetic.

I love air-hockey and I'm actually pretty good at it.

I can't eat gluten, but I'm learning to cook without it - mostly successfully.
I am seriously technologically un-savvy.  I wish I were cool like that, but I don't own a smart-phone, I only use Linux because my husband set it up for me, I don't even know the names of the video game systems that are out right now, and I only might be able to tell you the difference between an i-pod, i-pad, and i-phone.  Some day I'm really going to embarrass my kids....

My taste in music is really eclectic.  I listen to everything from Christian hip-hop to Johnny Cash.  I don't like some oldies, some country, and really really heavy metal.  But otherwise my tastes are all over the place.

Twenty One
I think flannel is one of the best inventions ever.  Flannel pajamas, flannel sheets (and in the '90s I was known to rock those flannel shirts).  Hello cozy. 

Twenty Two
My kids have their own fridge.  Yup - after the egg incident we swapped the big fridge for two minis.  One for them, one for us.  So far, it's working beautifully!
Twenty Three
I am definitely one of those ladies who will freak out when I turn 30.  Probably because I still feel 19.  Apparently, my dentist still thinks I am 19.  Funny stuff. 

Twenty Four
I went to an all-girl's high school.  I moved a week before starting school there.  In my entire high-school career I knew maybe a dozen boys my age.  And in the end, I call it a blessing. 

Twenty Five
When I started this blog, I promised myself I'd never write entries like this.  However, my brain is in vacation mode this week and I can't seem to get myself to do anything that isn't 'fun and frivolous' (I'm totally ignoring that stack of Christmas gifts I need to finish).  I hope you've had fun reading this

I'm (blank) because


It's going around the blogosphere, so I thought I'd partake as well.  I am _____ because:

I'm weird because...
I eat hamburgers, pizza, nachos and most other 'finger foods' with a fork.
I'm afraid of clowns.
I used to have a Yoda collection.
I'm terrified of talking on the phone.

I'm a bad friend because...
I get easily overwhelmed and bail on things I said I'd do (esp if I'm hosting)
I talk too much and sometimes interrupt.
I almost never get a birthday present in the mail in time.

I'm a good friend because...
I'll listen for hours if you really need to talk about something.
I really do care about everything going on in your life.
I'll watch your kids or bring you soup or help in any way I can. 
You can call me at 2 am and I won't get mad (hubby might, though...)

I'm sad because...
My babies are growing up so fast.
My sister just moved far away.
I feel like I've wasted so much energy on things that just don't matter.
I want so badly to help the suffering, but just don't know where to start.

I'm happy because...
I am blessed SO far beyond what I deserve or could even imagine.
I have an amazing family who loves me just as I am.
My God has saved me and given me hope.
It's a gorgeous day today.

I'm excited for...
My daughter's first birthday tomorrow.
Christmas and all the 'magic' that goes along with it.
Seeing my parents for the first time in a year.
Watching my son sing in his preschool Christmas pageant. 

I'm blessed by...
Having more than I need every day of my life.
My loving family and friends.
A loving Savior.
All of you!!  I really do appreciate every one of you.
There's a growing controversy over the safety of crib bumpers for babies.  Traditional pillow-like bumpers not only pose a suffocation hazard for babies, but once a baby is mobile enough to need the bumpers, they can be used as an aid for climbing out of the crib.  For this reason, we initially decided to forgo bumpers entirely for our first baby.  However, as soon as he learned to crawl, he was continually getting his poor tiny legs stuck in the crib slats.  He was very squirmy in his crib, and loved to stand at the end and shout for Mommy when he woke up.  But 5 times out of 6, he'd get his knee wedged in the crib rails so badly that I often had to use baby oil to get him out. 

Finally, we found the Breathable Baby crib shield. These bumpers are made of mesh, so baby won't smother.  And, they wrap all the way around the top rails of the crib, so baby can't use them as a step (and it prevents chewing on the top of the crib rails).  These bumpers are sturdy (they've held up through three babies) and washable (we've had poopy incidents) and are easy to install.  Best of all, these bumpers now come in several stylish shades and patterns to match almost any nursery. 

If you've got a squirmy baby and are worried about safety, I highly recommend giving this site a look. 
I am so excited for the holidays.  In fact, we've already had our Thanksgiving celebration.  Which means that in my mind, it's time for Christmas!  I wanted to share a little of that holiday cheer with you, so here is the final giveaway of 2011!  I've got some things to decorate your house, some things to decorate yourself, some things to regift, and even some surprises!  One winner will receive all of the following:
A gingerbread man candle
A Christmas train candle
3 pairs Forever21 hoop earrings
A desktop water fountain
A set of erasable holiday gift tags
PLUS a couple of surprise items that aren't pictured here.

All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter below.  Good luck everyone!!
I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about what things were like this time last year (pictured above).  I'll be the first to admit that I live a stupendously blessed life.  I do complain, but I know that in reality I have nothing to complain about.  That being said, the holidays last year were pretty rough.

When I was about 38 weeks pregnant with baby girl, I noticed a weird bump on my cheekbone.  After trying antibiotics, we realized it wasn't an infection and I was sent to the ENT.  He took a look at it and said "It's something in the bone, we need a CT scan, call me after the baby's born."  As in - don't worry, it's probably not serious and certainly don't make yourself crazy looking things up on WebMD.  Riiiiight.  Baby girl was born the day before Thanksgiving and I found myself smack in the middle of newborn care, holidays with family and, suddenly, medical stuff. 

After the scan the doctor said such things as "It's probably just a harmless condition, but we'd like to do a biopsy just in case" - what he meant was "just in case it's sarcoma" - but he didn't come right out with it at first.  So with a 3 week old baby, I found myself in the operating room.  And then trying to recover amidst night nursings.  And then battling an infection from surgery.  And then sick from antibiotics.  Not to mention my nasty little case of post-partum depression. 

To put things in perspective, it turned out to be nothing at all (something called fibrous displacia - aka random and unexplained bone growth).  My sweet parents dropped everything to stay a whole month to help with the newborn, then help with all the kids while I had my surgery.  My husband was a star about keeping the house cleaned and the kids fed and everything humming along while I was either bedridden or too 'sad' to get things done.  My precious babies are all healthy and happy and growing likes weeds.  The P.P.D faded around the time my kids all finally learned to sleep through the night.  So far, in general, we're all doing just fine this holiday. 

But I can't help thinking back to sitting in that doctor's office, reading between the lines and wondering if it were going to be my very last holiday with my babies.  And it made me think - none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow here on Earth.  We need to be making the most of every single day we've been blessed with. 

SO - that's my super long way of saying, I'm giving myself this holiday season off from the blog.  I have one more giveaway that I'll be posting shortly, and I'll keep up the regular posts this week - but starting next weekend I'll be gone until January.  Keep an eye out on the facebook page - I'll probably still update now and then with deals, sponsor posts (I have some great ones coming), and links, but I won't be posting regularly until the new year.

I hope that you all have a very blessed holiday, and for those of you who are having a rough time this holiday, please accept a most sincere *hug* from me.  See you all in 2012!
Our favorite book from the stack we brought home from the library this week is Bunny's Lessons by Harriett Barroux.  It's a simple story without much text, but the pictures are cute and, most importantly, it's a wonderful tool for teaching kids about emotions.  When Bunny's boy plays with other friends, Bunny learns about jealous.  When Bunny's boy leaves him behind, Bunny learns about lonely.  When Bunny's boy plays the tuba, Bunny learns about loud.  As Bunny experiences and deals with his feelings through interacting with his boy, our kids can learn how to describe and deal with their own emotions.  My kids asked to hear the story again, and I will gladly slip it into bedtime reading every night this week.  We talk about why Bunny is feeling the things he feels and remember times that we've felt the same way.  It's simple, but effective, and may wind up in our book pile again soon.
Please go check out the post on The Shine Project over at my shop's blog.  She is an amazing woman working so hard to help kids from her community afford to go to college.  See what you can do to help!
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