Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Semblance of a Tornado!

June 24, 2010 something happened at our house that I hope we NEVER EVER repeat... A TORNADO!

The following pictures were taken upon leaving the house right after the storm. Our house is still standing but we lost a bunch of trees and our playset was hurled from the back yard ----> to the front yard ----> and across the street.

My thanks be to God for keeping me and my babies safe!

This was the only piece of our playset left after debris was removed from our property.

It will be a part of our house for as long as we live here!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

CONTEST WINNERS! *(updated)*

(updated with another winner!)


Congratulations, you are now THE COOLEST MOM on the PLANET!

Head over to her blog and say "hi!" and "Congratulations!"

Jen, please send me your mailing address - michellebrownlow@yahoo.com - so I can get your 5 packs of Googlybands out to you ASAP!


While our ACTS OF KINDNESS CONTEST was filled with amazing acts, I am sure you all will agree that Felicia deserved the prize with her story! Well, Daedra from Strawesome felt the same way, too!

Felicia, please contact Daedra - sales@strawesome.com - as soon as possible so you can give her your mailing address and you can soon be the owner of your new STRAW!



Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fed Up Friday!

Exactly what are "skilles"? And what makes them so special?!

If you are going to try to entice me to fall for your $950/wk load of CRAP... you might want to use spell check! Guess you didn't need any SKILLES to get the job writing copy for this company either!

I emailed them right back and said JUST that!

WINNERS of last week's contests will be announced tomorrow...
that's why FED UP FRIDAY is a little early!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Scars and Stilettos by Harmony Dust: A Book Review

"You will want to get a copy for every person you know... Once you start this book, you will not be able to put it down. You will laugh, you will cry, you will be encouraged, you will fall in love with God all over again."  Holly Wagner, Author and Founder of GodChicks

If this doesn't make you want to read this book, I don't know what will.

LitFuse Publicity group once again sent me a PHENOMENAL and INSPIRING book to review! I love when they do that!!

Harmony Dust's raw account of her life and the struggles that began while she was still in her teens and drove her to make some life-changing decisions will chill you to the bone. But her resilience once she turned her life to Christ will warm your heart like no other book you have read.

Scars and Stilettos is an encouraging story of how God can pull you out of what feels like an abyss and plant your feet on solid ground. Harmony Dust has a MA in Social Welfare & now leads Treasures, an organization helping women in the sex trade discover their true worth & value. For more information about Harmony or her book please visit her website: http://www.scarsandstilettos.com/.

The transformation of this exotic dancer started when the fear of being abandoned kept 19-year-old Harmony trapped in an abusive relationship. She was tens of thousands of dollars in debt and struggling to get by when someone tells her how much money she could make taking her clothes off. For the next 3 years, Harmony lived a double life as Monique, a dancer in a strip club.

Harmony's downward spiral started at age 11 and continued through losing her virginity at 14 and trying to hold her head high as she endured multiple rapes, her parents' divorce and other heartbreaks. By 15 she was financially supporting the only man who hadn't left her yet. By 17, she was stealing from the cash register at her job to fulfill his monetary needs. But unfortunately this supremely unhealthy relationship would only get worse. Harmony's predicament left her with a boyfriend who in essence became her pimp.

Her quiet and conservative college student "costume" was the only thing holding her double life together. By night she was someone else's fantasy girl.

We have all heard stories of those who hit rock bottom and found Jesus. But Harmony's story rings authentic. The pages turn themselves as you get just as sucked into her world as she was. Entranced. Unable to look away.

Harmony has taken her heartache and grief and turned it into something so beautiful... TREASURES! We are all God's treasures...HE is sucked into our worlds...no matter how evil they are...HE is entranced by us...HE is unable to look away. And sometimes those who suffer end up being OUR angels sent to save US. This is what Harmony Dust does on a daily basis!

Today she would introduce you to her savior like this, "Like a gentleman, He pursued me with his infinite love until he captured my heart. I finally met a Lover who would never leave me—the only One who could satisfy my needs. He took the hollow and empty pit inside me that had been carved out by a lifetime of disappointment and despair, and He filled it with hope, love, and purpose."

Go out and by SCARS AND STILETTOS for every woman you know. Let them know THEY ARE WORTH it.... THEY ARE WORTH HIM!

Thank you Harmony for being an angel! This book will remain on my shelf...and inspiration like no other.

Want to WIN this book?Kregel Publishers is graciously donating a $50 Amazon.com gift certificate for the Litfuse Blog Tour Contest! Woo-hoo (thanks Kregel!)

To enter...

SHARE the book on Facebook using this link: http://www.litfusegroup.com/Blog-Tours/scars-and-stilettos-blog-tour.html
Scars and Stilettos-story of ex-stripper #HarmonyDust & her work now to reach out to those still in the sex industry. http://ow.ly/1WrGD

(must use hashtag #HarmonyDust to be entered into Amazon.com gift certificate drawing)

If you would like to read more reviews of this book, head over to the LITFUSE BLOG TOUR LINE UP

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Kate Clip from TLC's KATE + 8

I just HAD to post this! This was my favorite scene from the premier KATE + 8 episode! Makes me giggle!

Megan from TLC contacted me this week and LOVES the new KATE*VERSATIONS I will be doing on My Semblance after each episode...so make sure you tune in every Sunday night (or Monday morning).

KATE*VERSATIONS will be highlighting lessons we can learn from America's strongest mom in each of the new episodes! So, STAY TUNED!

*Make sure you scroll down and check out the previous two posts ... THERE ARE PRIZES!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Googlybands REVIEW and CONTEST

No doubt you have seen them.
You may have even driven a sweaty-handed child to the closest retail establishment to clean out their inventory. They are Googlybands! You can find them at Walmart, Toys 'R' Us, Walgreens, Supervalu, Publix, Rite Aid and Christmas Tree Shops.

The wonderful people at Googlybands asked me to review their instant trend that has taken the country by storm. Of course my kids, all three of them, were thrilled the day the Imperial Toy Compant envelope showed up...we split them up evenly and everyone was giggly for their googly!

As an artist, I think these things are so STINKIN' creative! I love looking at how the peace sign is in one piece and how the recycle symbol actually looks like one! I am even thinking about entering their DESIGN CONTEST! Not for the $50 gift card but b/c I think I would be THE COOLEST MOM EVER if I actually designed some of these HOT new BANDS!
I love the colors, the themes. I love that some are glittery, some glow in the dark. I love that there is no subject matter that is questionable. I love that they encourage fairness and trading. I REALLY, REALLY like that their packaging is recyclable! WOOHOO!Of course the collecting is really fun, too.

I have a pink hippy bus and a purple electric guitar on my wrist and have since we first discovered them!

Find them on Twitter
Find them on Facebook

Now....wanna know what you have to do to win 5 packs of Googlybands?
All you have to do is leave a COMMENT and become a FOLLOWER My Semblance of Sanity.
Yep, that's it!! You don't even have to leave the house, brave the crowds or console a tearful kid.

I will use Random.org on Friday @ 5pm EST to choose the winning comment!

Monday, June 7, 2010

A BIG REVIEW WEEK...starting with Strawesome!

I have some GREAT reviews and contests running this week! I am so excited to introduce you to all the great products I've been asked to review!! Some of the reviews will include a chance to WIN that product!

Come back! A new review and contest EVERYDAY!

Today I am THRILLED to introduce you to Daedra Surowiec, artist and owner of

During the spring I took a leap and went RAW... meaning everything I put in my body was raw... veggies, fruits, etc. NO meat. I have since added cooked foods but remain mostly vegan. So while I was looking for vegan/raw recipes I came across STRAWESOME and since I had been getting much of my nutrients through some amazing smoothie recipes, I contacted Daedra and asked her if she would like to do a contest on my blog!
She mailed me a straw and I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!

Why STRAWESOME glass straws?
~ reduce toxin exposure from plastic
~ imagine every straw you have ever used laying in a landfill

~ she even personalizes her functional art!
~ need I say more?

~ serve a bright colored smoothie with one of these straws and WHAM, your kids will be SOLD!
~ add to your water consumption! It's more fun with glass!
Who is Daedra?

Daedra is a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy with a bachelor degree in fine arts and architecture and with studies abroad in Italy. Surowiec worked in the corporate world for five years following graduation. It was less fulfilling than she imagined.

Following her first son’s birth and her decision to start a home based business, Surowiec took a class in torch work at the Glass Academy in Dearborn and discovered that she could apply her artistic skills to create functional pieces of art with glass straws and develop a viable business.

Surowiec admits to having a special advantage over other start-up businesses. Her husband Brian Surowiec, owner of Essential IT, is a developer of e-commerce web sites including http://www.strawesome.com/.

I asked Daedra when she finds the time to work her business...
The beauty of this business is that it’s online and whatever is seen in the shop is what I have in stock. I don’t have to hurry up and make straws everyday to complete a order. I usually create straws once a week to keep my stock up. I receive orders throughout the course of the day and then when the kids are in bed I take a few minutes to wrap up all the orders of the day. It’s pretty simple and I enjoy every part of it immensely.

Daedra and I chatted about what our contest would be and we decided on a
Leave a comment with something KIND you have done recently...Daedra will choose the KINDEST Semblance of Sanity reader and you will win your very own STRAW from STRAWESOME!

So, here's your chance to BRAG! Go!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kate + 8 Series PREMIER and KATE*VERSATION #1

(photo courtesy of TLC)

Aaden, "Everything's back to normal!"

These were the some of the first words on the new show when Kate surprised this kids with the camera crew on the first day of filming! I loved that he said that b/c it dispells the common notion that the kids hate having the cameras around and it is harmful to them! Go Aaden! Love ya!

I have to say, Kate seems so much more at ease in this show than she did in "Jon & Kate," makes it even more evident to me that she made the right choice and it, in turn, is making a better, happier life for her and the kids!

The hour long show didn't hide the stressors that cause most moms to lose it. TLC didn't choose to only show the happyhappyjoyjoy times to sugar coat what their life is like now. Let me run down the list of things that happened in the first 24 hours of them arriving at the airport to head to Florida...

*their plane was delayed over an hour
*there were multiple meltdowns before the plan even left the gate
*Alexis pukes and has to return to hotel with Jamie leaving Kate alone with 7 kids
*wet suits refusing to slip onto seven sweaty, sandy bodies
*Mady's temper tantrums

Is there ANY mom reading this that thinks she could handle even 3 of these events in one day without completely LOSING IT? Yeah, me neither!

Did you notice how calm she was? Did you notice how much she smiled? Kate's personality does not lend itself to being "fake" and it was obvious she was NOT faking her sincere adoration of the opportunity she had to spend with her kids on their very special birthday celebration.

At the end of the show she said this about motherhood, "There's no manual, no right or wrong way. You just have to feel your way through it." Isn't that the truth! In the heat of the moment when I am angry and frustrated with any one of my three kids, in the back of my mind I am thinking, "how would so-and-so handle this?" and "I am flipping out, what would so-and-so think if she saw me now?" When what I should be thinking is, "How do I need to handle this for MY child? How does he/she NEED me to handle this situation?" No one can tell you how to be a good parent. But if you listen to your kids, know them inside and out and act from your heart, you will give them the best of you...and that's all they need.

I saw Kate give her 8 the best of her in this episode.

You go girl! So happy you are happy!

Then there was the INSIDE KATE'S WORLD special.

All I can say is WOW!
If I had Meredith Vieira (Today Show), Jim Moret (Inside Edition), Steve Neild (security) and Kate Coyne (People Magazine) in my corner I would be skipping up and down the streets singing my own praises!

I was happy to see prominent faces in support of someone who is outdoing many of us in the "MOM" category!

As Steve Neild was talking about the personal threats ending up in Kate's mailbox and on the front porch (which is scary b/c someone would have to scale the tall fence around their house to get to the porch) I was thinking how obscene it is that people have the audacity to think they have the right to pass judgement on anyone, let alone a woman whose shoulders are carrying daily what most of us couldn't handle in a WEEK!

I would LOVE to produce a new reality show...I am not sure what it would be called (help me with coming up with something creative) but here is my proposal...

Gather 10 Kate-haters (they are easy to find, they lurk on every Kate-centered website and make themselves known with their "holier than thou" comments) and each week you drop 8 kids and a cheating husband who spends all their money into their judgemental laps and see how they fare. I have a feeling they would soon change their tune

I think Meredith Vieira said it best, "When you're a strong woman and you have opinions, people think you are a b*tch. I think people should get a life!" AMEN, SISTER!

Kate wrapped up the show by saying, "When you love your work and you love being home, balancing the two is what makes your life work." Isn't that the truth! Thanks Kate!

So, this was my first "Kate-versation" (Kate conversation) this year. In further Kate + 8 conversations I will not be pushing my opinion this far. I will discuss parts of the show that pertains to WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM KATE as moms. If you wanna hate on her, go somewhere else. Those of us who are truly commited to being good moms and not hating someone because they are stronger than us will be able to maturely garner some good skills, tricks of the trade and parenting lessons. If that's what you want, come back!

I hope you enjoyed the show and I hope you will join the nex Kate-versation!


Kate + 8 Series PREMIER! TONIGHT!

TLC 9 - 11pm EST

I am so thrilled for Kate's return!
Come back after the show for MY take on the Gosselins!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Book Review: SIDE EFFECTS by Amy Goldman Koss


As my loyal readers, you know I am super passionate about Childhood Cancer! So, when Amy Goldman Koss, who is on my Facebook friends list, posted that she was looking for people to review her book I did the "Horshack thing," "OOoooo! OOOOOooooo! OOOooooo! ME! ME! ME!"

Now, I read the book in two days (yep, it's THAT good!) but it has taken me almost a month to get it here for my review! Thank you, Amy, for being so patient!

On page two of Side Effects, 14-year-old Isabelle complains of a swollen gland that won't give her a break and her mom makes a doctor's appointment. Isabelle was annoyed that the stupid gland just never went down after having the flu a few weeks ago. And that's where her story begins....

The "C" word! CANCER! Lymphoma to be exact.

Not only is CANCER every mother's worst nightmare, it is every teen's worst nightmare...especially when your mom turns into a bumbling idiot at the mention of the word.

"If the cancer didn't kill me, the ride to the hospital would. My mom's eyes were streaming tears and she was babbling in general."

Izzy was usually annoyed, she was a teenager, it's what she did best. Izzy's indignant personality rarely fades as she and her best friend Kay try to stay one step ahead of this roller coaster that may just kill her. But when you are running on foot down the steep track with CANCER-on-wheels barreling down behind you going ten times faster, it may just be easier to lay down and die than try to beat it.

Izzy makes her cancer diagnosis frightening, livable, somewhat doable, sometimes humorous, and oh so REAL! Who knew you could crush on someone, while he crushes back, all the while having poison pumped into your veins, together..how romantic. NOT!

Having been virtually "in" the cancer world during my short stint as a Childhood Cancer Awareness Advocate through my blog its 4 the kids, I can say this book is a bright-side view of cancer but at the same time a painful peek into Izzy's world as she battles a monster bigger than she had ever imagined. While Izzy's story is real and raw, it is humorous but truthful.
Not only would a child with a recent diagnosis benefit from the TOUGH HOPE throughout Izzy's journey, this book is a PHENOMENAL resource for the friends and family of a teen with cancer. Izzy's thoughts relay what she wishes her mom would say, what she wishes her best friend knew, what she hoped the boy she liked would not say. Everyone could benefit from reading this book...maybe people would acknowledge little bald heads instead of look away. Izzy would kick you if you were so rude!

Goldman Koss did an amazing job of writing from inside the mind of her fictional Izzy. While I read I truly felt for her, wished I could clue her BFF in and hoped she would be OK. Izzy's thoughts are so vivid and the descriptions of her physical AND emotional side effects paint the painful picture of what cancer can do.

I thank Amy for this poignant book that reveals the truths I know cancer patients would love to have their loved ones, doctors, nurses and BFFS know as they run from that coaster car that's breathing down their necks!

Cancer is serious. It is horrific. 46 children are diagnosed with it EVERY school day! It's not a subject to make light of and Amy Goldman Koss gives this subject the respect and seriousness it deserves while twisting it with a bit of crass teenage wit.

Thanks Amy! I hope hospitals buy oodles and oodles of this book for their oncology floors!