Thursday, October 8, 2015

Take It Easy... No Cartwheels!


I had a hysterectomy Monday morning. I've had "chick issues" for years - polyps, irregular bleeding, etc. and figured since I will never have enough time to take six weeks off to recover, the right time for the surgery was now. 

As I was heading to the hospital early Monday, I got emotional. Even though I've known for years that we're done having kids, there is something very gut-wrenching (literally) about having the organ that allowed me to birth two children removed from my body. It's just so... final. And then I started thinking about the "what-ifs" - there is something very sobering about making sure your husband knows where your power of attorney is "just in case." There were a few tears. I was scared.

The procedure went well though. I had a decent-sized fibroid on the front of my uterus. We knew it was there but thought it was about the size of a plum. Nope - more like a lemon. My doc took pics and I can't wait to see them. The procedure was done totally laparoscopically - I've got three tiny incisions in my belly and one in my belly button. I feel like I did after my c-section with Bryn - sore, tired, stiff and in need of some serious abdominal support. I ordered Belly Bandit yesterday that will be here today. That'll help.

I'll spend the next couple of weeks recovering and doing a lot of nothing. I've had so many people insist I take it easy "because they know me." Well, I've mastered the art of doing absolutely nothing. I should put it on my list of talents. Of course, here I am writing this blog instead of sleeping, so there's that.

I'll keep you posted on my recovery. As of right now, I'm all good. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

BLAH Blah Blah

Since we were hanging out with the Generation Rescue crew last weekend, we finally had Will's birthday party today. Will loves going to the movies so we decided to host of private screening of Hotel Transylvania 2 for him and his friends. There is a Cinemark nearby and they hosted the perfect party.

We had to be at the theater early - 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning, GASP! But we showed up with donuts and milk, a red velvet Nothing Bundt Cake (Will's fave) and some bundtinis and were ready to go. Snack packs with popcorn and fruit snacks were included in the package price for the kids. And we sent each friend home with a Cinemark gift card (not included in the price). I have to say - this is one of the least expensive birthday parties I've hosted and everyone had a blast.

We had a wonderful hostess who had two tables set up for us and made sure we were all taken care of. I'd mentioned in email conversations with the manager at Cinemark that Will has autism and some of his special friends would be joining us. The theater folks were incredibly accommodating - I can't say enough good things.

I would host another party at Cinemark in a heartbeat. I do love it when a plan comes together.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Movie Review: PAN

I don't get to see too many 3D movies. Actually, I don't get to see any. Will doesn't like wearing glasses during 3D movies so we've missed some great special effects and storytelling in these special flicks. Thank you autism. Well, Will had a Miracle League baseball game this morning so Bryn and I had a chance to check out a special PAN screening. And special it was!

I loved this movie. This prequel is to Peter Pan as the play Wicked is to the The Wizard of Oz. You learn more about the characters you love (and love to hate). We learn about Peter's mother and how he ended up in the orphanage. We meet aloof but good looking James Hook and we see that he and Peter are going to be BFFs after overcoming Blackbeard's pirates. Tinkerbell makes a cameo. So do the Lost Boys. The gangs all here.

The good:
  1. I loved watching this in 3D. There is something about a cannonball that was shot out of a flying pirate ship coming straight towards your head that is just... intense. I'm curious to see how the movie looks in 2D - I want to know if it can still capture the magic of the 3D version.
  2. The movie was magical. From the beautiful triplet mermaids with their Cara Delevigne likenesses to the sparkly fairies, the movie was visually stunning. Even the fight in the sky between warplanes and the pirate ships was out of this world - literally.
The not-so-good:
  1. At one point I thought the movie might be a musical. Legions of men belting out "Smells Like Teen Spirit" reminded me of Moulin Rouge and Baz Luhrmann's genius, but it never quite hit the mark. There were a couple of songs, but the movie wasn't a musical. Was it?
  2. If you take your small kids to the movie, know there are scary clown pirates, fairies being incinerated, and news shared about a beloved mother's death. I looked down to real tears coming out of mini-me's eyes. She recovered.

The verdict: thumbs up! I loved this magical flick and I look forward to insisting on seeing more 3D movies in the future. I'll go see it again in 2D just to compare if the lightweight version can spread the same magic.

PAN starts October 9th. For more information, check out the Pan website.

Monday, September 28, 2015

What a Weekend

What a weekend! I still haven't recovered. Ryan and I hung out at the Hotel Intercontinental with other autism parents, practitioners, doctors, presenters and businesses that support Generation Rescue and it's Autism Education Summit. Ryan spent Friday evening bonding with autism dads - it was a first-of-its-kind forum where the dads could relax, drink beer, and talk about their unique struggles on this journey we call autism.

Saturday, Ryan and I were on the celebrity keynote panel with Jenny McCarthy, Jacqueline Laurita and her husband Chris, Jodi Gomes and Ryan Blair. Hopefully we inspired the packed ballroom with words of hope.

We had a great time that evening at a wonderful VIP party hosted by Jenny and her cutie pie husband Donnie Wahlberg. They raised a ton of money for the foundation that will benefit families trying to recover their kids from autism.

But the highlight of that night... a young lady who decided to hit on my husband while I was standing right next to him. That hasn't really happened since his playing days. The trick asked Ryan if he still played ball and when he said no, she grabbed his arm and remarked that he was still built. Good thing I was in pseudo-shock. All hell may have broken loose.

But such a wonderful, fun, memorable weekend. I can't wait until next year!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Autism Education Summit is HERE!

I always hate it when I log on to this blog and realize I haven't posted in weeks - like I have nothing to talk about. Geez.

But here's a quick reminder that the Autism Education Summit is this weekend! Ryan will be speaking on a dad's panel on Friday and we'll join Jodi Gomes, Jacqueline and Chris Laurita, Ryan Blair and Jenny McCarthy on the celebrity panel Saturday afternoon. It's not too late to register - enter the code "NEUFELD" at check out for a sweet discount! For more information, check out

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Five Whole Years!

Can you believe it's been almost five years since Football Wives premiered? I'll be sharing some of my favorite memories from the show over the next month or so. Good times.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Upcoming Events You Don't Want to Miss!

My weekends in September are a little INSANE but for so many good reasons. Here's a quick look at some super fun upcoming events:

September 12th - ESTEEM Fashion Show benefiting the Elisa Project

One of my favorite places to shop in Dallas - Tootsies - will be hosting this amazing fashion show benefiting the Elisa Project. The organization is dedicated to the development of healthy children and adolescents by promoting the awareness and prevention of life-threatening disordered eating through education, support and advocacy. Both Bryn and I will work the catwalk.  

Click here for more information.

September 13th - Touchdown Tailgate benefiting Cafe Momentum

I LOVE Cafe Momentum. This Dallas-based restaurant and culinary training facility transforms the lives of at-risk youth by providing a positive environment to learn culinary, job and life-skill training as well as mentorship and support. Chef Chad Houser runs this ship and he's truly a man with purpose. I love that I'll be able to support Cafe Momentum at this fun event. I'll be one of the celebrity judges at this yummy fundraiser!

Click here for tickets. 

September 19th - Pegasus Ball benefiting the Autism Treatment Center

Hands down, this is one of my favorite galas of the year. The black-tie event at the gorgeous Fairmont Hotel in Dallas benefits the Autism Treatment Center. The ATC is an incredible LOCAL autism service provider that is doing some pretty incredible things in the community. The Pegasus Ball is a part of an entire fun-filled weekend and Ryan and I are so excited to support this amazing organization again this year.

You can find ticket info here.

September 25 - 27 - Generation Rescue's 2nd Annual Autism Education Summit

We are so excited to be included again in this amazing resource for autism families, caregivers, practitioners, etc. Ryan and I will participate on the parent panel but they've added something special this year - a dad's panel. Ryan and other autism dads will have a break out session to do some bro-bonding. It's so important - everyone always talks about "warrior moms" and so often dads fighting this autism battle don't have a voice. They will this year! And we'll get to hang out with Jenny McCarthy and her amazing hubby Donnie Wahlberg again. It's a fun, hope-filled weekend not to be missed!

Info's available here.

Our buddy Garth Brooks is coming to town in a couple of weeks - can't wait to see him in concert. And another amazing event - Mane Gait's Gala at the Gait is September 26th. I love fall in DFW - so many great events going on. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Great advice at the end of a tough Monday

Autism Chronicles: A-holes and Twitterballs

Twitterballs - I coined the term during my Football Wives days. You know how bold people get when they're hiding behind internet anonymity? I call it Twitterballs - all of a sudden folks grow a pair and say things they would never in a million years imagine saying to your face. Like the girl who tweeted me once and said Will was my karma for being a bitch. Yeah... someone said that. Crazy and unimaginable, I know. But it happens.
It happened today.
I tweeted that we received a phone call from our insurance company telling us that Will's autism therapy claim is going to denied due to lack of documentation (that he (a) has autism and (b) that the treatment is medically necessary - more on this in a moment). So this random troll responded... and it was mean. I try not to respond to these pricks - they get off on getting a response from folks. But I had to respond. One response... and I was done. I've got bigger things to worry about right now.
Back to the insurance issue. And oh yeah... our insurance carrier is UnitedHealthcare.
I wrote about the issue a couple of weeks ago. I've been waiting on the denial - we aren't the only ones this is happening to in Texas. It appears UHC is trying to circumvent state law by requiring autism families to provide oodles upon oodles of medical records, therapist records, etc. to justify claims for therapy. A simple doctor's note is apparently insufficient. The extensive evaluations done by the school district (therapists, psychologists, etc.) don't count either. And this is going to be a problem for us.
We've now got Will scheduled for intensive, multi-day medical testing so we can have him officially diagnosed with autism to justify his need for therapy services. While the testing is "covered" by insurance (ha ha ha - what a joke), there are co-pays and deductibles, missed days of school and work, time spent on phone calls, stress, etc., etc., etc. Trust me when I tell you this stuff takes a toll.
Anonymity. Will is just a number and some claims adjuster (sitting behind a desk who was so busy a couple weeks ago it took her a week to return my first phone call) is getting ready to force us into a fight that's already got me exhausted. I hate insurance companies. A-holes. They can be worse than trolls.

Friday, August 28, 2015


Seems like we blinked and summer was over. We had all of these plans to take some staycations and enjoy being home for the summer. Yeah... that didn't happen. The summer just flew by. And now we've got a 5th grader and a 2nd grader in our ranks. We're looking forward to a fun year!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

KultureCity: #18forlife

It started with a social media connection. Many of my autism warrior friendships started that way actually. We've become a large extended family - all fighting the same battle. We pray for awareness and acceptance. We encourage each other through stories of triumph and hope. We understand the importance of small victories like delayed first words and eye contact; we fear things like wandering and the heartbreak many of our families have experienced in its aftermath. We get it... and we're surrounded by friends and loved ones who get it too. Our village.

Then there was the email I received back on May 1st from Michele Maha. She and her husband Julian founded an organization in Birmingham, Alabama called KultureCity. Their mission is an amazing one. While many autism organizations focus on awareness, KultureCity's goal is to provide tangible help and equip businesses and the community with to aid and understand children and families affected by autism. From art and music camps, scholarships, connections to service providers, IPads, and their lifesaving lifeBOKS, the Mahas have dedicated themselves to making a difference in the lives of our families and communities all over the world. And they understand... they have a son with autism. 

A beautiful reminder in Birmingham.

Michele invited me to learn more about KultureCity and I was impressed by their mission. The number one complaint I usually hear from autism families is that there is enough awareness... we need help. Real, tangible help. And KultureCity seems to be filling that void. Check out some of their amazing initiatives here.

Michele invited me to Birmingham to receive an award for my autism advocacy. What an honor. I was truly blessed to be among some of the movers and shakers in the autism community. I'm still in awe of this amazing group and all of their accomplishments. From an NFL great, a child prodigy, and a fellow reality star, the list was impressive!

My KultureCity trip began with a presentation and panel discussion at the Ignite conference. It was pretty incredible. The following morning, we were treated to a VIP party at jewelry store Kendra Scott. We sipped mimosas while customizing jewelry and having some fun and much needed girl time. It doesn't get much better than that.

A highlight - I finally got to meet my autism sister Jacqueline Laurita of the RHONJ. We've been "Twitter" friends for years and finally got to connect in person. It was great! She and her husband Chris will be in Dallas next month for Generation Rescue's annual conference - can't wait to see them in the big D!

And then... there was the KultureBall. Over 500 people dressed to the nines came out to raise tens of thousands of dollars for KultureCity and its lifeBOKS and #18forlife program. $18 will provide a potentially life-saving kit to our families. There have been so many autism wandering deaths recently - sad, tragic, preventable stories. KultureCity is trying to prevent them and these kits are making a difference.

My family and KultureCity knows how to throw a party for a cause. What a memorable couple of days in Birmingham. I'm so blessed to be a part of the KultureCity family and I look forward to helping out as much as possible in the future. Because that's what family does... (and I have to send a special shout out to Diane Zaragoza for being such an incredible hostess).

With Kevin Spencer and Dahn and Alimi Ballard

With the man... Jacob Barnett. Google him.

Mike Vo (we2o founder) and Patrick Whaley (TITIN Tech)

c. David Bley Storytellers

c. David Bley Storytellers

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Autism Chronicles: Still Fighting

I'm tired... already exhausted from fighting a fight I thought I was done fighting years ago. 

My child has autism. There are fleeting moments of "normal" every once in a while that allow me to forget this very fact. Like today when after dinner, Will and I were walking to my car. I put my arm around his shoulder. He responded by putting his arm around my waist. Normalcy. An embrace between a mother and son. Of course, after about a nanosecond I realized how special that moment was - that my son with autism responded to my touch by reciprocating with his touch - and it wasn't so normal anymore. Autism. I'm reminded of it and the impact it's had on our lives - every second of every minute of every hour of every day.

When Ryan was playing in the NFL, we had THE BEST insurance - unless we needed autism coverage. Our policy through Cigna would pay for a medical evaluation for autism, but specifically and explicitly excluded coverage for autism treatment including speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy - pretty much any therapy you can imagine a child with autism might need. After being pre-approved for speech therapy, we got a denial letter for $5,000 worth of services. We had to fight to get the services (that had been pre-approved) covered. If anything, we went out of our way to prove Will needed these services despite having autism. We eventually got the speech therapy covered... his "developmental delays" were clearly caused by the repeated "otitis media" (a.k.a. ear infections) Will suffered as a child. But it wasn't because of autism, because if the delays were caused by autism, therapy wouldn't be covered. 

Unfortunately, our NFL insurance coverage expired (yes, it actually expires contrary to what a lot of folks think) and after paying for 18-months of unconscionably expensive COBRA coverage, we were forced to find a new policy. I was careful to seek out a plan that would continue to cover the ongoing therapy Will was receiving at Easter Seals every afternoon. Coverage under our new policy was working out great (it started in March) until we got a letter saying that Will's services were being audited. Even though Will has been receiving these services for a while now, we are going to have to prove that they are "medically necessary" (buzz words) in order for them to be covered.

Although Will has been identified as a child with autism for educational purposes (annual ARD meetings - another great reminder that your child has special needs), he has not undergone extensive (and expensive) medical testing for autism. Remember, we'd avoided such testing in the past knowing that had Will been diagnosed on the spectrum, his therapy wouldn't be covered. But now, all indications suggest we'll have to seek out a developmental pediatrician, neurologist or psychologist (or a combination of all of the above if we really want to cover our asses) to get a medical diagnosis so that insurance will cover Will's therapy. And we'll have to go back to said specialists regularly to maintain that diagnosis because the need for continual therapy has to be justified. And we'll keep getting letters from the insurance company asking us to prove said therapy is necessary - our policy states Will's services can be audited every three months. So even though Will has autism, even though there is no cure for autism, even though there is state law requiring insurance companies to cover autism therapy in Texas, even though... we now have to expend tremendous resources (time, money, etc.) proving that Will still has special needs... that he has autism... and that our lives are anything but normal.


I'm tired. Already.

(An aside: I've chosen not to mention our new insurance company by name yet because our issues with them are ongoing and I don't want to do anything to jeopardize coverage for Will's therapy. But this company has apparently raised some red flags in the autism community because of it's denial of services. If I start referring to the company by name, you'll know things have gotten worse.)

Monday, August 17, 2015

A first time for everything...

Bryn had her hair done professionally for the first time today. Those gorgeous curls of hers needed a trim so I took her to see my friend Ryan Abbott down in Dallas. After this guy butchered my hair and gave me a six-inch "trim" a couple years ago, Ryan was the only one I let cut my hair. I trusted her with Bryn and all went well!



Friday, July 31, 2015

There's a New (Movie) Player in Town

Last night Ryan and I (and a bunch of other super important people) got a VIP sneak preview of the brand new Studio Movie Grill in The Colony. We're already big fans of SMG and often traveled down to the Plano location to enjoy dine-in movies. That location is now closed for some much-needed renovations, so we're glad we have this new location nearby. The new theater is located convenient at 121 and 423 (Main).

SMG has done a great job with it's new theater. There's a full bar with plenty of seating in the lobby to enjoy bites and cocktails before your movie. The auditoriums feature stadium seating and amazing sound systems. We were treated to a viewing of the new flick Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (which is AWESOME) and we could feel the vibration from the bass in the seats. The service was great - the staff was pleasant and wonderfully accommodating (even after a few scheduling hiccups). Overall, we were really happy with the experience and look forward to going back!

Some things to remember about SMG:
  1. SMG isn't open seating - every seat is reserved. You pick your seats when you order your tickets. Sometimes big blockbusters and new releases sell out. We've found that ordering tickets in advance (24 hours usually works for us) allows us to pick the seats we want without a fuss.
  2. You can order food and drinks throughout the movie. And... so can everyone else. That means servers will be going up and down rows during the movie. They try to be as unobtrusive as possible, but in a big theater with lots of folks, their presence is noticeable.
  3. Theater seats have come a long way over the years. These seats are pretty comfortable but they are new... we found them to be a little stiff (your posture will thank you - maybe not) with a little give. If you do end up sitting towards the front of the theater on the floor, those seats recline. I've always been a back-of-the-theater sort of girl, but reclining seats might get me to move up to the front.

On a special note, SMG offers special needs screenings for some movies. It's the perfect family-friendly environment for our kiddos and their siblings. The screenings are shown with the lights up and volume lowered. It's a no-judgment zone as our kids can talk, move freely throughout the theater and even "dance in the aisles" during the movie if they feel like it. This, on top of other special screenings like Girls Night Out and Family Rewind make SMG the perfect movie location for everyone. Click here for more information.

The theater opens TODAY - check out for more information.

SMG founder and CEO Brian Schultz and other SMG reps
during the ceremonial film cutting.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tackling Football... Jen Welter Cracked the Glass Ceiling!!!

Smart - check.
Hot - check.
Super nice - check.
Can kick butt on the football field - check.
Cracked the glass ceiling and has become the first female coach in the NFL - CHECK!
Overall bad ass - CHECK, CHECK, CHECK!

I almost tried to flip a cartwheel last night (that could've been bad) when I read the Arizona Cardinals hired my friend Dr. Jen Welter. She'll be an assistant coaching intern during training camp and the preseason making her the first female coach in the NFL. Leave it to this amazing woman to make history!

Jen has been a trailblazer for women in football. Not only has she played for many, many years (she became the first woman to play professional football in a non-kicking capacity when she suited up for the Texas Revolution) but she's coached at the professional level for the same pro team this year (the Revs even made it to the championship game this year). I've seen this woman take a helluva hit (and pop right back up) and earn the respect of her teammates and players. We had the privilege of interviewing her a couple of times on The Broadcast and I'm glad to say she's become a friend. She's an amazing woman and I'm beyond excited for her! The Cardinals have a new fan and I'll be cheering her on this year!

Here's a link to our interview with Jen a couple of months ago! Jen Welter on The Broadcast

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Autism Chronicles: He Let You Do What?!?

I understand most people don't know what it's like to have a child with autism (or any special needs for that matter). They don't understand what it feels like to always be on high alert... waiting for your kiddo to sprint across a parking lot or anticipating the next thing that will cause a major meltdown (which are different than tantrums - I'll explain that in a later post). Maybe they've never had to spend hours on the phone with insurance companies justifying why their kiddo needs continued therapy to treat a medical condition after a claim has been denied. And let me tell you... the fear and anxiety that come from social invitations - barbecues, pool parties, etc. are stifling. There will be no chill... you're watching like a hawk in case you have to ninja roll and intervene if your child decides to throw an enormous dirt-filled planter into your friend's pool (that's happened). And after an event is over and you're sitting in traffic, you've probably never had to consider asking a cop for a police escort home because of the tears triggered by the epic hour-long meltdown your kid is having in the back seat. Or... or, maybe it's because your other child has never broken your heart by saying that she hates that her brother has autism because he won't play with her. You haven't had to deal with these things... so again, I get it. You probably don't understand...

"Where's Dawn?"

"Where's your husband? He didn't come with you?"

"You let her go out of town... by herself?"

"Are you guys having relationship problems?"

"I mean, if that's what works for you guys..."

Yep - all questions/comments Ryan and I have received both recently and in the past. All full of judgment... maybe even a little concern. One of us may show up to a social event... alone... the other parent left at home with the kids. Chances are Will has had a pretty rough day and we know that any further stimulus might trigger a meltdown. And it's the worst... the absolute worst... when those meltdowns happen in public or in other people's homes. I'd say 98% of the people at the get-togethers usually don't realize Will has autism so it looks like he's having a tantrum. We're pierced with annoyed stares accordingly. The hosts, who usually do know about Will's autism, always try to be loving and reassuring by telling us it's okay. Well, it's not okay. My kid just knocked over the DJ's speaker and is laying on the ground sobbing in the middle of your party. It's not okay. I'm panicking. My heart is beating out of my chest. I want to cry and it's embarrassing. And I was really, really enjoying that beer and some chill. It's not okay. 

So to avoid these situations... sometimes, autism parents roll alone. Why should both of us miss out on some fun?


Everyone knows I just got back from the most amazing, rejuvenating five-day solo vacation the week before my 39th birthday. Yes... I went alone. I guess you could say Ryan "let" me go although I didn't really ask permission - we just coordinated schedules to make sure there was someone home with the kids. Ryan's going to meet some of his buddies to catch a UCLA football game in September. Yes, I'm letting him go alone while I stay home with the kids. And I hope he has an absolute blast. But this is our reality... it's what works for us. It's our way of making sure we both have a chance to come up for air every once in a while. To breathe.

You see, the last time Ryan and I went on vacation together... alone... was about 7 or 8 years ago (I forget, it's been so long). I can remember the sound of the ocean as we lounged in our plunge pool at the La Casa Que Canta resort in Ixtapa. It was the honeymoon we hadn't been able to take after we got married because... football. Will had already been diagnosed with autism, but he was only 3 and my in-laws felt comfortable caring for him for a week (on their territory - we flew will to California then flew back to Texas to head down south). That trip was everything. And needed. 

We want to go on vacation. Just the two of us. We want to come back with tans and 5 lbs worth of extra weight from endless buffets of exotic foods. We want to lay out on the beach together sipping cocktails and running our toes through the sand. We want to hold hands over a candlelight dinner while tradewinds flow across our faces. A vacation. A dream. A luxury.

It's not that we can't afford a vacation. The issue is finding volunteers to watch the kids for a week while we're gone. The thought of wiping a 10-year-old's butt after he's pooped is scary. And gross. But unfortunately, if you volunteer it's part of the job requirement. We've had some offers but coordinating schedules has made it impossible thus far. Then there's the anxiety of planning the trip... heading to the airport... checking in for our flight... then getting a call that something is wrong so we need to return home. I understand... you may not have had to worry about any of this before. So I understand your questions.

So yeah... Ryan "let's" me go on vacation alone. I'm "letting" him go hang out with his guys friends... alone. Because one of us has to be home. But we both need a vacation... together.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Oh Baby! Mrs. Texas is Having a Little Princess!

I've thrown some pretty epic pageant watch parties over the years. Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Universe all give me great excuses to get my pageant sisters and friends together for good times. So when I found out my dear friend Whitney Beseda a.k.a. Mrs. Texas 2014 was expecting a baby, I figured a watch party/baby shower was in order.

I absolutely love entertaining and throwing parties. Finding the perfect decorations to fit the theme give me a little high. Planning for Whitney's shower was super fun because I got to shop for anything and everything involving princesses, tiaras and crowns. The party-by-Pinterest based on these goodies was beautiful. 

Decorations... check! 

I found these adorable decorations at IKEA.

I hand glittered the rubber ducky - a little spray adhesive, lots of glitter.

Food... check! The semi-potluck menu included some goodies: chocolate fondue, regular and cotton candy popcorn, sopapilla cheesecake, cheese and crackers, yummy dips, crown-shaped watermelon slices and a delicious chocolate cake.

Drinks... check! Infused waters, Prosecco and Rose (12 bottles of booze on the counter...) kept all of the guests quenched. There was even cotton candy to put in your drinks if they weren't sweet enough. Don't worry - we provided the guest of honor with sparkling cider.

Entertainment... check! We played the usual baby shower games... guess the number of safety pins in a jar; word scramble; and baby price is right. But the big competition of the night was predicting the Miss USA top 5 (and in the proper order). We had a clear winner - Melba had 3 out of the 5 correct. I had... none. There were prizes for all of the winners!

I'd also painstakingly set up a fun photo area for my fellow pageant sisters... none of whom every really shy away from a photo opp. I loved gathering props for this! 

And of course, there were presents. Lots of adorable, cute presents. That's what showers are for!

It was a great night... good food, good fun, good friends. And a new Miss USA that maybe 2 people in the room anticipated going into final interviews. Looking forward to the next big pageant party!

Former and current Mrs. Texas contestants and our director Tracy.

Former and current Mrs. Texas queens, and Michelle Evans - Mrs. America.