Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013!

The Big Girl Chronicles:  Happy New Year 2013!
HAPPY NEW YEAR2013!!!  I don’t know what 2012 was for you.  If it was a trying year, then farewell.  Let’s make a fresh start.  If it was among the best, then let’s keep the momentum flowing into year 2013.  Either way, the New Year brings with it a new beginning and time for us to pause amidst our celebrating and do some personal reflection.  What did you learn about yourself in 2012?  What do you plan to do with that information in 2013?  I’ve learned that I’m still just a big girl.  I haven’t graduated to womanhood just yet, but I’m 365 days (and steps) closer to my vision of the woman I intend to become.  I’ve also learned more about what I want to do and what I’m willing to withstand to do that.   

With a New Year comes the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve done so in the past only to abandon your resolutions within the first couple of months, this time could be different.  After you’ve done your personal reflection, think of what goals you’ve yet to accomplish and what changes if any are needed to put you closer to achieving them.  Resolve to begin this New Year with a healthier attitude and envision your transformation.  This is your year.  This year will be what you make of it.  Auld Lang Syne! 

2012 in review:

Whatever embarrassment, laugh at yourself.
Whatever sin, forgive yourself.
Whatever imperfection, love yourself.
Whatever situation, be yourself.
Whatever discovery, appreciate yourself.
Whatever disappointment, encourage yourself.
Whatever challenge, push yourself.
Whatever dream, dare yourself.
And in all things, respect yourself.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Response to Recent Gun Violence

The Big Girl Chronicles:  Response to Recent Acts of Gun Violence

I’m sitting and staring at the cursor blinking on the screen, trying to gather thoughts to share and extend my support for the victims of the recent incidents of violence.  What is there to say?  How do you respond to victims that are trying to cope with senseless violence?  Images of children excited about the Christmas Holiday and the gifts neatly wrapped awaiting them under the Christmas tree flash through my mind.  Families that had hoped and prayed for the birth of the child lost are mourning during this season that was carefully thought out for their little one.  What can you say to that?  Empathizing with the families causes us to want to assign blame.  Blame the schools.  They were unprepared.  Blame the parents.  They didn’t do enough to protect us from their child.  Blame the gun makers or owners or sellers.  Why do we need guns?

The truth is violence is a part of our world every single day.  Whether it’s the video games, what we watch on television or a hobby, we are exposed to violence daily.  It seems a good idea to restrict access to guns, but that isn’t the focus.  If the perpetrators of these crimes didn’t have access to guns, the plans that were made to do this would’ve involved some other deadly weapon.  The focus is on the logic that led to these crimes.  Many people take part in these activities that don’t go out and become violent with real people.  What is it that pushes some toward rationalizing violence as a solution?  Some would say it was bullying, which is an assault that can be both physical and psychological.  The mental abuse that happens when a person is bullied can have tremendous consequences on the victim, abuser and unfortunately others who could have had nothing to do with the abuse.  Others have cited mental illness.  Yet the facts are that there are millions who suffer mental illness that also never become violent.

While we are picking apart the tragedy and trying to arrive at some sort of solution to make us feel safe or hope that we can prevent such tragedy from recurring, let’s not forget that the perpetrators are also victims of their own actions.  It’s important not to demonize the perpetrators or take this opportunity to dump all the labels and ills that we can.  Once we stop seeing human beings, we become ineffective at teaching how important it is to preserve the sanctity of human life.  As parents, talk with your children about violence.  Make certain that they understand the difference between what is considered entertainment and reality.  Also teach and model appropriate behavior when faced with issues of anger management.  It could be that some commit such senseless acts due to a lack of knowledge about appropriate forms of expression, feeling that their “power” was taken away or that they were being ignored.  Whatever the reason, healthy communication is the path to understanding and guidance.  

This holiday season, take a moment to say a prayer for the families of the victims of these crimes.  Realize that the time we have to share with family is precious and should never be taken for granted.  Include in your New Year resolutions a goal to make more time doing constructive things with your child if you’re a parent, and remain mindful of how your child is spending his or her time.  Enjoy your holiday season among family in a warm and nurturing environment.  Season’s greetings. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Hosting the Perfect Budget-Friendly Party

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Hosting the Perfect Budget-Friendly Party

Did someone say “party?”  Let the fun begin!  Envisioning what you want your party to be and bringing that vision into fruition can put a fizzle on your fun.  To avoid the pre-party pooper, plan plan and plan again as much in advance as you can to make the process smooth.  You could possibly have just as much fun planning as you anticipate your event will be on that big day! 


Before you decide to make a guest list, it could be helpful to decide what kind of party you want to have.  For example, some of your guests could be hesitant to do an outdoor pool party and would feel more comfortable attending something more elegant and reserved.  Also, deciding upon a theme early will make the selection of invitations, decorations and location easier.

Guest list

With your theme in mind, begin making a list of those most likely to attend that will add to the milieu you hope to create.  Try to avoid personalities that you know will clash unless you have specific plans to mediate between the two.  If there’s a best friend that you know won’t mesh well with what you’re planning, it’s ok to invite him or her to help with some other tasks so as not to have him or her feel as though (s)he is being left out.  It could be a good idea also to take into consideration who of your guests smokes and who doesn’t.


Now that you have a general idea what kind of party you hope to have and about how many people you hope to entertain,  begin budgeting for expenses like invitations, food, decorations, rental fees, music, giveaways or favors, etc.  If you plan far enough ahead, you can minimize these expenses drastically.  There are a variety of software packages available on most computers that have fonts and art appropriate for creating your own personalized invitations.  For those who are gifted in crafts, there are limitless creative possibilities. Research ideas online.  Creative use of simple things like construction paper, string or yarn, newspaper and spray paint can make it appear as though you spent a ton for pennies on the dollar. 

The ambience you create will definitely define the mood of your extravaganza.  Deciding upon a location is essential to creating the right vibe to carry your party from start to finish.  Try to avoid places where there will be constant distractions or bothersome interruptions.  You also want to make sure that your location isn’t too difficult to find if you are expecting guests that aren’t familiar with the area and offers a "Plan B" area in cases of unexpected (and uninvited) weather .  Spaces that offer an open plan could prove easier to work with than having to dash in and out of different rooms.  Be certain to check what is included in your rental fee for the space.  Will you be responsible for chairs and tables?  Or are a certain number of these available to you?  Can you rent additional tables and chairs for a fee with the lease?  Whatever you decide, make certain your space is functional and easy to transform into the vision you hope to create.  In many instances, if you have the space, you can host a fabulous event in your own back yard for an economical alternative to rental spaces.    

If you decide against a live band you can still have live entertainment by having your guests sing for their supper with karaoke instead, which would also add a bit of fun to your festivities, is appropriate for most occasions and rather inexpensive.  Another alternative is to load your mp3 device with music appropriate for your guests and occasion.  Rent a couple of speakers for outdoor occasions or employ your surround sound and you’ve set your event to music.

It’s pretty safe to say that food is the most expensive consideration when hosting a party.  Caterers are pricey, and doing it on your own is both expensive and time consuming.  All the costs you can trim from the other categories can help make this a success.  After all, it will be one of the major points of reflection on your event.  If you have friends and family who are willing to help, take advantage of their kindness.  Buy items in bulk from places like Sam’s Club where you can get large quantities slightly cheaper than grocery store prices.  Consider doing hors d’oeuvres and one featured entrĂ©e to cleverly minimize costs.  For that finishing touch, simple desserts like cakes and pies adorned with fresh flowers make a wonderful presentation for little to no added cost. 


When scheduling a date for your party, unless it is in observance of a specific holiday, avoid dates that could conflict with holiday travel and family time.  Being conscious of holidays also lessens the likelihood that whatever space you decide to use won’t be booked for celebrations or family reunions.  Once you have a date in mind, send out an RSVP with a “save-the-date” to get a general idea of how many of your guests will be available.  Include on your RSVP any food allergies your guests might have, whether or not (s)he will bring a guest and a deadline to respond.  If you can afford to do so, include postage to make certain your RSVPs are received in a timely matter.  Or opt to have your guests respond via email.  If you don’t expect the RSVP to be a keepsake, online invitations are a fabulous alternative at no cost to you!

Ready? Set. Party!

Once you’ve confirmed a headcount, you’re ready to put all your hard work into action.  Take time to tally up what you can expect to have to spend per guest for things like favors, food and other costs. It could even be helpful to create a spreadsheet. You’ll want to constantly keep track of spending and minimize overage.  Solicit help from volunteers to get deposits and reservations made.  Decide upon flatware and tableware that add to your chosen theme.  Depending upon how you decorate your tables, you could get away with simple paper plates at your local dollar store or general store.  Other places to find bargains are at stores like Hudson’s, TJMaxx and Marshall’s that offer huge discounts on discontinued items.  If you plan to make your own decorations, how about hosting a mini get together with some volunteers to get them done! 

The day before your event, you’ll want to call and confirm everything.   Accomplish as much decorating as possible.  Check the weather again and have an alternative in mind should there be an unexpected change.  Have someone volunteer to do random video during the event for a nice memento for you and possible gift for your guests.  If you can’t find a volunteer, set up a tripod for your guests to have at it instead.  Get that manicure and pedicure done, along with a hairdo that puts the finishing touches on your look.  Double check your garb. Get a good night’s rest, and wake up refreshed and prepared to tackle those last minute errands like picking up ice and fresh flowers.  If you’ve elected to have a co-host, make certain the two of you are clear on who’s going to be responsible for what, especially clean up.  Accept offers of help after your event to clean up or designate helpers if necessary.  Try to get as much done early in the day as possible so that you have an hour or two to rest up before you expect your guests to begin to arrive.  As soon as the doorbell rings, it’s lights, camera, ACTION!  Your party’s on!  Put your hosting skills into action as only you know how and enjoy the success you’ve made of your event!