Kim of Queens

Kim of QueensThank you, LifetimeTV for Kim of Queens. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I love a lot of things about life, but two of the top ranking things are pageants and reality TV. LifetimeTV has brought these two things together in a series: Kim of Queens.

Kim Hardee Gravel is a character. I’m pretty sure we would be instant best friends if we met in real life. Kim is a former Miss Georgia. (Miss America pageant system.) She is 100% southern and a straight-shooter. She has an impeccable sense of style and can see potential in even the most awkward teen girl.

Kim of Queens takes place at The Pageant Place, a one-stop pageant training paradise owned by Gravel. Girls that are clients of The Pageant Place are coached in interview, walk, presentation, wardrobe, and talent.

Kim GravelAssisted by her mother, Jo Hardee – a former Miss South Carolina contestant, and her sister, Allisyn Vararalla – another pageant veteran, Kim has her hands full. Jo is full of style and grace, she has a voice of real reason and is extremely grounded. Allisyn, on the other hand, is the life of the party. She is the polar opposite of Kim — in every way imaginable. I absolutely love Allisyn! I ache for the episodes that feature her.

Episodes of Kim of Queens showcase a different pageant or pageant prep session each week. You get to see Kim and her team in action in a big way. It’s a great mix of fabulous coaching, comedy in the prep, and a behind the scenes look at the pageant world. Kim’s words of wisdom and genuine love for making the girls that cross her path become more than just beauty queens is completely inspiring.

Don’t think for one minute that Kim Gravel is a one-trick pony. She also owns Hardee Girl cosmetics. From bronzing powder to lip gloss, Kim understands how to take someone from plain-Jane to super model. You will see the magic she produces as you watch the transformation of her clients on Kim of Queens. I would kill to sit in a chair and have her wave her wand of awesome across this ol’ face. Seriously.

So when can you watch Kim of Queens? It’s on Lifetime on Tuesday nights right after Dance Moms. (Hello, night of guilty pleasure television!) Tune in at 9:00 PM Central.

If, by chance, you have missed this gem … check out this clip:


Tonsil, Adenoid, and Turbinate Surgery

Tonsil Adenoid Turbinate SurgeryMy daughter just had tonsil, adenoid, and turbinate surgery. We counted down to the surgery date for 2 months, and as much as I thought I was prepared … I found out a mere 24 hours post-op that I wasn’t.

Piper, age 9, has always been healthy. She is extremely active and a ball of life. This fall, on separate occasions that happened within a few weeks of each other, teachers and friends mentioned Piper being a mouth-breather. I know that she has a nasal-y voice, but it’s always been that way – so I just counted it as part of what made her cute. She’s always snored. Her dad snores louder than a freight train, so that was easy to pass off. Finally, I overheard her dance teacher tell Piper to “keep her mouth closed.” I got onto her after class about talking. She quickly let me know that she wasn’t talking, she literally had her mouth open … so she could breathe!

Upon further questioning, it became apparent that for the majority of the time and for most of her life, she hasn’t been able to breathe through her nose. Wow … what a revelation. I immediately asked for recommendations for an ENT via Facebook, and several people mentioned the same doctor. I wasted no time and called for an appointment.

At our initial appointment, the doctor did a scope to check the size of Piper’s turbinates. They were much larger than normal, so we were prescribed a nasal spray to see if this would help. We had a 6 week follow-up appointment and it was then that surgery was recommended: tonsil, adenoid, and turbinate surgery.

We were told that for the first 7 days, Piper would need to be out of school. For days 8-14, she would not be able to do any physical activity. Piper is on a competition dance team and she is right smack dab in the middle of her active season. Trying to find 2 weeks that she could sit out was a bit of a scheduling nightmare. (Yes, I completely realize that I’m working around a dance schedule to find time for a surgery, but in our house – that’s how it rolls.)

As luck would have it, it worked out that Piper could do a huge competition weekend, then have her surgery on the Tuesday following. She would miss that week of school and the next week was Spring Break! Perfect!

In the days leading up to surgery, she began to have some questions.  

1. Will I have an IV? I scoured the internet and found that for this surgery and with children, most often the kids are put to sleep with gas and then the IV is inserted (after they are asleep). This came true in our case. (And, no, it doesn’t hurt when they take it out.)

2. Can I take something with me into surgery? Piper was at a hospital, not a surgical center – not sure if that makes a difference or not, but Piper was allowed to take her favorite blanket and keep it with her the entire time. That thing is her lifeline. She is instantly comforted when it is near.

Surgery montageDay 1 – Surgery Day: The surgery took approximately 1 hour. Only 1 of us was able to go back with Piper to get her ready. I asked three different times for them to get Don and send him back, but that didn’t happen. If we had it to do again, I would be more firm that both parents go back. After surgery, two of us were able to visit Piper in the recovery room. My son, Avery, was quite concerned about Piper, so he and I went back. Once she was awake, the nurses had Avery assist with feeding her popsicle. Our doctor suggests that all children stay in recovery for 2 hours before being released to go home.

After we got home, Piper was very alert and chatty. Whispery-chatty, but certainly happy. She napped a bit on and off, but was happy just watching TV and hanging out. Initially, she could breathe through her nose perfectly, but as it began to swell – she wasn’t able to any longer.

Pain was completely under control  for approximately 16 hours …. until 2:00 AM. When I gave her her pain meds at 2:00 AM, she nearly came unglued. She literally jumped from her seat. The pain had most definitely set in and the IV meds were gone.

Day 2 – Pain was certainly at a much higher level today. We gave the oral pain medication around the clock every 4 hours. Because of the turbinate surgery, we had Piper stay in the recliner. She napped on and off for the majority of this time. She would sip on ice water and ate about 1/4 of a popsicle.

Post OpDay 3 – This day was much like Day 2. She was awake a bit more, but pretty much a carbon copy. We still kept the oral pain medication going every 4 hours around the clock. On this day, some nasal drainage began. It wasn’t so significant that she was forced to wear the nose/gauze contraption, but enough that she went through an entire box of tissues. Piper managed to eat about 1/2 a popsicle and about 1/2 a cup of ice water on Day 3. A bad mouth odor set in today. (I was warned of this by another mom.) I had suggested that Piper swish out her mouth with water and just run a toothbrush over her braces. While swishing with water, Piper fainted. It was an extremely scary moment. I debated on taking her to the ER, but opted to first call the doctor-on-call. The doctor felt that she was just weak from her lack of food and was showing the signs of dehydration. We gave her Gatorade to bring her blood sugar level up. The stress that this brought to her body made for a long night’s sleep.

Day 4 – Piper was still very tired today. I spread her pain medications out to every 6 hours instead of every 4 hours after she complained that it tasted terrible and just overall made her feel bad. Later on day 4, we stopped the pain medicine. Piper said she didn’t need it any more. This day was a full day of rest and trying to promote a lot of liquids to fight off dehydration. She had periods of hot flashes that seemed to be eased with a wet washcloth on her head. The very tip of Piper’s nose is bruised from the turbinate surgery and she has a lot of clear drainage. The doctor said that she shouldn’t blow her nose, and she complains that the contraption that hooks behind her ears to hold the gauze on is aggravating. With that, she prefers to just wipe with a tissue. She says that her nose isn’t sore at all. If your child goes this route, be prepared … she went through about a box per day.

Day 5 – We focused a lot on day 5 on eating to try and build strength. Piper was still very weak and her appetite was non-existent. In the evening, she perked up quite a bit and actually sat up on the couch and played cards. It was nice to see a sweet smile and see her playing. She took no pain medication at all on day 5. The mouth odor was really bad and in looking in her throat, you could see that the wounds were healing.

Day 6 – Piper still isn’t eating – at all, to be completely honest. It was a somewhat yucky day outside, but we thought that it might do Piper a bit of good to get out of the house. We decided to take her to the movie. Her dad carried her in and out. She enjoyed the movie and stayed awake the entire time (a feat that she seldom meets when she’s healthy). Once we were home, she managed a board game at the kitchen table and drank about 1/3 of a slushie from Sonic.

Day 7 – We were back at the doctor’s office for a 9:00 AM post-op appointment. We got some good news and some bad news. Good news: Everything is healing perfectly. Bad news: She’s lost 11.4 pounds. For Piper, that’s roughly 20% of her body weight. Ugh. We were charged with getting her to eat. She had also developed a cough and were given the freedom to treat her with an OTC medication – as long as it didn’t contain Ibuprofen. As for her nose/drainage, it seems to be less. Piper says that she still can’t breathe through her nose because it’s swollen on the inside, but she’s not in pain.

Post-Op 2Day 8 – Still no food. We’ve finally had to warn Piper that if she doesn’t begin to eat, she won’t be able to return to dance next week. Cue the waterworks. After much begging, she did eat 1/2 cup of an Oreo McFlurrie. Today, I’m happy for that – we’ll worry about nutrition tomorrow. (PS – This was the day that Piper technically should have returned to school. There’s no way that could have happened.)

Day 9 – On this day, we turned a corner. Piper knew that she had to eat in order to return to dance. For her, that’s all the motivation she needed. I honestly think that she just needed to get something in her stomach in order to trigger the urge/need to eat again. At the end of the day, she had eaten 2 pieces of french toast, about 1/4 cup of yogurt, and a bowl of pasta with alfredo sauce.  She also drank 32 oz of Gatorade at the recommendation of a pediatrician friend.

Day 10 – This is the first day that I think Piper could have realistically returned to school. (We are on Spring Break!) She ate pretty regularly all day. Still moderately soft foods, but she was definitely more her “old” self. We, again, made sure that she drank all 32 oz of Gatorade. (For the record, my friend said to use “real” Gatorade for this purpose, not G2.) We went out for dinner and she felt like playing with friends. I weighed her and she had not gained any weight back, but she hadn’t lost any additional weight either — so I was pleased. She is able to slightly breathe through her nose. I’m hoping for this portion of her recovery to speed up!


Buying in Bulk

Buying BulkDo you buy in bulk? Maybe you think you should …

Costco has just hit my section of town and all of a sudden, the world is abuzz with bulk buying.

Here are my three hints on bulk buying:

1. When buying in bulk, always find out the per item price. Whip out the calculator on your smartphone and do some quick division. If a 20 pack of paper towels is $6.00, decide if 30-cents/roll sounds right to you! Sometimes when you find the per item price, it makes the decision to buy (or not) very easy.

2. Where are you going to put all the stuff when you get it home? It’s easy to buy a full basket of items and never consider where you will store everything until you get home and can’t find a spot!

3. If you are buying a food item in bulk, look at the expiration date! Be realistic about whether or not you can eat that amount of food before the expiration date. If you can’t, then you’ve only thrown your money away.

… and remember, there’s no cents in paying full price! Stack those coupons!

* This post is part of a weekly segment on KSBJ Christian Radio. For more on segments featuring Stephanie Click, the Texas Money Mom, click here.

Valentine’s Day on a Budget

Valentine PostValentine’s Day doesn’t have to break the budget.

Here are two options:

Cook at home. This week is a good one at the grocery for steak. (Kroger began a sale today featuring Ribeye steaks and beef tenderloin.) Splurging on foods that you love and cooking at home can save tons of money, and is a great opportunity to make some cool memories under your own roof.

Go out … another time. We are lucky this year that Valentine’s Day is on Friday. That leaves Saturday and Sunday to go out and eat, if you wish. Many Valentine’s Day menus have only select items and they come at a premium price. Go on Saturday or Sunday … get a bigger bang for your buck!

… and remember, there’s no cents in paying full price! Use those coupons or a gift card that you got for Christmas!

* This post is part of a weekly segment on KSBJ Christian Radio. For more on segments featuring Stephanie Click, the Texas Money Mom, click here.



Small Town Grief

I was raised in a small town. Beaver Dam, KY – population 3,033. It really doesn’t get much smaller than that.

Many of the kids that I started kindergarten with were the same kids that I graduated high school with 13 years later.

I knew my classmates, their siblings, their parents, their grandparents, their cousins, their cousins cousins. It drove me crazy as a child and teen growing up, but as an adult I can see so many aspects of small town life that I took for granted.

Two weeks ago, I read via Facebook that a friend of mine from childhood had suffered a massive heart attack and had undergone a triple bypass. I will admit that after I got over the initial shock, I began to realize that these children from my elementary school memories are now in their 40′s just like me! The times that we gathered together to mourn the passing of grandparents and the occasional parent has now given way to losing our own.

Steve Cook

Steve Cook : 1972-2014

These are the times that it stinks to live 1,000 miles away from home. All I had to offer my friend’s family was prayer. And, although I know that’s the best gift of all, it somehow doesn’t seem like enough. I felt as if I needed to make a casserole or a dessert to drop off, because that’s what you do to show that you care in a small town. You make a hospital visit. You pick up their kids from school. You show up.

Sadly, Steve – the boy who tried to kiss all the girls as they went down the tornado slide at recess – passed away. It still doesn’t seem real to me. And, let me tell you, watching your friends grieve via Newsfeed is torture.

Times like this remind me of two things: (1) I’m thankful that Steve was a Christian and I will see him again, and (2) I’m thankful that Steve’s wife and family are also Christian. Although the days ahead will be hard, there is strength in the faith that this Earthly life is just a blink compared to the eternity that we are promised.

The moral of this story is love your friends – the old and the new. If they really mean something to you, tell them often. If you think of them even for a moment’s time, let them know. Our time is truly short.

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


Cell Phone Contract for Tweens

Santa brought iPhones for our kids this year. He’s not crazy despite what you may think. The world that we (meaning our specific family) lives in is much more convenient when our children have phones. (This isn’t our first encounter with children and cell phones, you can read more here.)

With the phones comes additional responsibilities, especially since they are smart phones. I searched and searched online for a contract that fit our situation. I loved parts of each one that I found, and thought that other parts just didn’t fit our needs or weren’t concerns for us. So, I combined about four of them.

This is what I came up with:

Iphone - contract for tweens and teens

It is my phone. Santa bought it, but I’m paying for it.  Aren’t I the greatest?

I will always know the password.

If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad.”

No phone calls or texts after 9:30 PM on a school night or weekend night at 11:00 PM. If you would not make a call to someone’s home phone, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.

If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.

Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being.  This includes posting a photo/video of anyone without their permission.

Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first and always!

Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person … to their face.

Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say with their parents in the room.

Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.

Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear — including a bad reputation.

Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.

Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Wonder without googling.

Don’t give out your cell phone number randomly. Never to a stranger regardless of what they say.

Do not enable or disable any setting on the phone without my permission. We have things turned on and off to (a) keep you out of trouble and (b) make your phone free of junk that will cause it to fail.

Iphone - contract for tweens and teensNo texting or making calls with friends while doing homework. Your mind needs to be on your studies!

Never share personal information such as name, address, phone number, school, teams, age, etc., with anyone online. Be safe. Crazy people are out there, and unfortunately, not everyone is good.

You may not join any social media network without asking your parents first (Facebook, Vine, SnapChat, etc.). When it is appropriate for you to be a part of these networks, we will set up your account so that the highest privacy and safety guards are enabled for you.

You will give your parents access to your phone whenever we ask  … with a cooperative attitude.

You will mess up. We will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You and I, we are always learning. We are on your team. We are in this together.

Parent Expectations

We will respect the privacy of our child when the child is talking on a cell phone.

We will pay the standard monthly fee for the cell phone contract.

We will be reasonable with consequences for violations of this contract. Consequences will start at loss of cell phone privileges for 24 hours and progress according to the seriousness of the violation.


At the bottom, there is a place for each child to sign, as well as the parents.

If you would like a download of this document, click here!


It’s a Great Time to Give

giftNow is a great time to give to a local charity. There are deep discounts on toys and groceries. You can really make an inch stretch for a mile.

KSBJ has a Giving Tree. Many of these families need toys and groceries. You can see exactly what is still needed! It’s a very cool page and ministry opportunity.

When you buy your items, keep your receipts and mark them. These items are tax-deductible. If you need to make a year-end contribution, this is a great way to really make a dent.

Remember to have your children help you. They can find a child their age, or perhaps a child who wants the same toy as them! Take this opportunity to teach the real meaning of Christmas.

… and remember, there’s no cents in paying full price!

* This post is part of a weekly segment on KSBJ Christian Radio. For more on segments featuring Stephanie Click, the Texas Money Mom, click here.

5 Christmas Tips

Christmas giftsChristmas often busts our budgets and it’s a shame. That’s not what the season is about at all.

Here are some tips to help keep you in check and maybe brighten up your gift giving experience at the same time!

1. Keep all of your receipts and continue to watch prices on items that you have already purchased. If the price drops, take your receipt and ask the store to refund the difference. If all else fails, return the item and re-buy it at the lesser price.

2. Use cash. If money is tight and/or you are trying to stick to a budget, use cash. It’s so easy to lose track of what you’ve spent when you are swiping a debit or credit card. Put your money in an envelope and when it’s gone, you are done.

3. Make your gifts. If you have someone that has everything, consider making a gift. I’m sitting down with my kids this weekend and we are going to make some gifts for family members that seem to already have it all. If you need some inspiration, Pinterest is a great start. You might be interested in my “I Can Make This” board if you need a kickstart!

4. Do a lot of asking! If you see something that you like, ask where it was purchased. You might find a great deal! My friend’s teenage daughter is making wreaths that look like they are from a really expensive boutique. They would make an awesome gift and I could buy several for what I would pay in a fancy shoppe!

5. Gift thoughtfully. Sometimes we get really caught up in the size of the box under the tree and forget that sometimes the best gifts cost the same amount and can help in our everyday life. If you have a person on your list that is just making ends meet or sometimes gets slapped big time with Murphy’s Law, think about a different kind of gift. For the price of a sweater, you could buy a gift certificate for an oil change to keep their car running smoothly. Perhaps you could buy a one-time house cleaning (a fabulous gift for a new mom). Think about something that would really help their life, but might be considered a splurge. Just buying one oil change or one house cleaning (or the like) can be less money than what you would buy in the store, but the blessing will be even more! (Use those coupons on these items! They aren’t exempt.)

… and remember, there’s no cents in paying full price!

* This post is part of a weekly segment on KSBJ Christian Radio. For more on segments featuring Stephanie Click, the Texas Money Mom, click here.



Choose Energy

choose energyIt’s Cyber Monday and everyone is surfing the internet to find the hottest deals. I bet you never thought that you could save big by shopping for your energy provider!

One of our most expensive bills each month is our energy bill. Can you say “Texas in the summer”? Yikes! I’ve never lived in a deregulated state before, so I often forget that I do have a choice!

Head over to, type in your zip code and find an energy solution that fits your budget. I was amazed at the choices for my zip code alone. I have a lot to think about!

If you visit before December 3 and find a provider that fits your needs you could win 3 months of FREE electricity from Choose Energy. (Up to $350)

These are the states that are available: Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Maryland, NewJersey, New York, Ohio, and Texas.

So, who is Choose Energy? They are an easy-to-use online marketplace that helps residents and businesses comparison-shop for their ideal energy supplier. It’s a free online platform that provides a secure way to compare rates and plans for your area.

*Sponsored post

Movie Review: Disney’s Frozen

Frozen Movie PosterDisney’s latest feature film Frozen hits theaters today. My family was able to preview this film a few days ago. I think you’ll agree that Frozen is a great holiday film.

Here’s the official statement:

In “Frozen,” fearless optimist Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) teams up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf (voice of Josh Gad)in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. 

The first thing you’ll see in this movie is the famous short. In Get A Horse, you’ll feel like you’ve been taken back to a time when Walt Disney himself was in charge. The theater erupted in laughter several times, so I’d definitely could this as a hit!

Once the film begins, you’ll immediately notice how beautiful the imagery is. Once you get beyond that, you’ll be mesmerized by soundtrack. Several times, I thought to myself “I can’t wait to buy this album.” Not for the hit pop single by Demi Lavato (“Let it Go”), but for the amazing orchestral score and the OTHER songs that will never hit the radio. They are amazing.

As the credits rolled, Don and I jumped from our seats when we saw that the songs were written and composed by husband and wife team Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. They are also the masterminds behind Nemo-The Musical at Animal Kingdom. This is, by far, our most favorite show on Disney property. If you love this show, you’ll love the music in Frozen. Here’s a link to the soundtrack to Frozen (Deluxe). Amazon is offering this as a CD with a free mp3 download! That’s an awesome deal!

In Frozen, you meet two beautiful sister princesses – Anna and Elsa. They are beautiful with gorgeous, captivating eyes and incredible singing voices. The script introduces them so well and gives us a great glimpse of their relationship and history together. The writers do such a great job of pulling you into the sister-bond. You will be grasped into the story for the rest of the movie.

OlafWe all agreed that our favorite character in the movie was the snowman Olaf (played by Josh Gad). Olaf gained fame because he, along with reindeer, Sven were featured in the trailer. He was so funny. Not that corny-I-can’t-believe-I’m-laughing-at-this funny, but clean comedy. I won’t give it away, but there is a one liner that Olaf has with the Marshmellow monster that my kids have quoted at least 1,000 times since we saw it!

This film is based on Hans Christian Anderson’s book The Snow Queen which I am not familiar with. I caught myself – about half way through the film – thinking that I had it figured out. I’m so glad that I stayed tuned in. I most definitely did not expect the twist that occurred.

Everyone loves a good Disney love story, but I dare say the “love” that saves this story is the best I’ve seen in a while. I can’t say much more than that without giving away the twist, but it’s a nice change of pace.

Elsa : FrozenWatching Frozen from a parent’s perspective was great. I only got one elbow from Piper, because Olaf says “butt”. We say “bottom” in our house, but other than that – you need not worry about the language or violence. You can sit back and just enjoy.

In closing, I’ll say that Frozen is a perfect Christmas release for Disney. It’s not my favorite Disney movie, but it is certainly the best one since Tangled.

Is it worth seeing in the theater? Yes.

Is it worth seeing in 3-D? It definitely had some great parts in 3-D. If you can afford it, yes. If not, then you’ll still really enjoy it.

For more information on Frozen, visit their official movie site or Facebook page.

* Affiliate links used.
* My family was provided with tickets for this movie free of charge. I was not required to write a review. All opinions are my own.