Tag Archives: Bonding

How to make New Years Eve Rock for the kids

New Years Eve is well known for the champagne, staying up late, kissing, and glamorous outfits. But what about those who are a bit younger? They definitely want to be able to ring in the new year with just as much fun and pizazz as their parents and older siblings! So here are a few Holiday Party Ideas to make their night just as memorable as your own.

  • Sleep over party! If you just so happen to have young ones of your own and a lack of plans for NYE, why not offer to host a sleep over for the neighborhood kids. Other parents may be appreciative of the night out, or may even offer to help you out! As a result the kids will have a safe and fun place to be for the night. Have the kids get dressed up and provide themed snacks like cupcakes bedecked in glittery sprinkles, cookies decorated like clocks, or dip sugar cones in chocolate and then decorate to look like NYE hats. Hand out noise makers and bubbles to celebrate and plastic glasses of sparkling cider. If you want to avoid the sugar of cider and the possible mess, seltzer or sparkling water adds the bubbly without the extra sugar.
  • Karaoke party! If your kids are a bit older and still want to have their friends over, try busting out the karaoke machine or singing video games. Everyone can take turns belting out their favorite tunes between munching on finger foods and dips. Kick it up a notch and offer prizes for a contest. Set up a rotating panel of judges (so everyone gets to sing and everyone gets to judge) to pass out scores. Just make sure everyone stays nice with their comments! Just Dance! and other dance related games can make a fun addition to a karaoke party. Contestants take turns getting in front of the television and trying to match their own smooth moves to the avatar on the screen.
  • Glam it up! If you have teens living at home who want in on the fun but you want to make sure they stay out of harm and out of trouble, let them invite their friends to the house. The kids can dress to kill for the night. Set up appetizer tables and a “bar” with virgin mixed drinks (just make sure they stay unspiked!). A photobooth can add a fun element as well. Set up a glitzy backdrop with 2014 or “Happy New Year” and leave out props like boas and masks for the guests to use. Either set up a point and shoot digital camera with a remote on a tripod or a webcam on a laptop. Guests can take their own pictures to be posted to a social media site or party website later. Have your kids make a fun playlist of music and offer games like Apples to Apples to keep the laughs coming and everyone actively having a good time.

The most important part of New Year’s Eve is to have a good time and make sure that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy so they can enjoy the coming year.

Christmas Tradition-Thinking Outside the Gift Box

Some Christmas traditions are passed down through generations.  Others are established intentionally to preserve the part of Christmas that is important to a family.  Sometimes though, traditions rise out of the ashes of human tragedy.

In 1999, a family of six was involved in a tragic car accident.  Three of the four children who were injured in the accident would not have made it had it not been for the heroic actions of the rescue personnel who arrived at the scene.  Several months after that awful day, the children, having finally been released from the hospital, traveled back to the rescue service stations to personally thank the men and women who had so bravely fought for their lives but it just didn’t seem to be enough.

In their hometown, the fire company has a tradition of putting hundreds of lights on the fire trucks and rescue vehicles on Christmas Eve.  Santa Claus climbs aboard the ladder truck and the vehicles travel from one neighborhood to the next blowing their horns with sirens blaring. The firefighters walk alongside handing out candy canes and toys to the children who come out to see them.

The family who was saved by the firefighters decided that one year they would turn the tables on them and instead of receiving candy canes from the fire company would instead give goodies to the fire station for those working on Christmas day to enjoy.  They set to work.  They baked cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning and put  them in a gift box along with cookies, caramel corn, candy, hot chocolate, microwave popcorn, hard tack candy and a thank you card explaining how appreciative they were for people who risk their lives to save the lives of others.  (After all, that is what happened the first Christmas when Christ came to earth with the sole mission of selflessly giving his life for the world.) The children stood anxiously along the road awaiting the fire trucks arrival and were delighted when the firefighter received their gift with a surprised, but appreciative smile and a tear in his eye.  From that time on, they asked every year to do it again and it soon became a Christmas tradition.

Even though those children are now young adults, you will still find them standing along the side of the road on Christmas Eve with their box of goodies in hand.  Some of the neighbors who have seen them do this every year have also jumped on board and offer their own gifts and thanks to the firefighters.

For them, Christmas is a time to remember how much they have received through the sacrifice of others.  It’s their Christmas tradition. And I might add, it’s their favorite one.

Grandparent’s Day

Grandparent’s Day was celebrated at Grace and Corban’s school today! Every year their school sets aside a day to celebrate grandparents and my kids look forward to it each year. My parents live in town and my in-laws live 1 hour away so its so nice that they are able to join in the fun! This year, the grandfathers stayed home so my mother and my mother-in-law had all the fun. They have been good friends since they were in middle school so they walked the halls with their grandchildren in tow this time. Grace showed them her classrooms, her locker and introduced her grandmothers to her teachers and friends.

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This was Corban’s first experience with all this so yesterday he kept asking who his “grandparents” were. He was unfamiliar with the term because he just knows them as “Sootie and Boom Pa” and “Nana and Grampa”. 🙂 They walked around his preschool classroom looking at this favorite centers and they met his teachers as well. They all came back to the house to tell me all about it! It was a great morning! I’m so thankful for the influence my grandparents had on me and so thrilled to see my children enjoy the same special love that only grandparents can give.

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Holiday Gathering Activities

It’s wonderful to have family staying over during the holidays. However, after the traditional meal is devoured you might wish you had a list titled holiday gathering activities. Memories are made when you are active together, laughing and having fun, and when all are included from little cousin Jimmy to great grandma Betty. Here are a few suggestions for activities that will get the fun rolling and make for treasured family memories.

Watch Home Videos

Ask each branch of the family to bring some of their favorite home videos to share. Simply pop up a big bowl of popcorn, throw pillows on the floor for the little ones, and have a family movie festival.

Do Something Outside

It can be as simple as a walk in a park, or you can plan an ice-skating party complete with hot chocolate and mulled wine. If there is snow, maybe have a snow man making contest and get everyone involved.

Win it in a Minute

These games are based on the hit TV show, Minute to Win it. It is easy to do a web search and find just the right games for your family to play. Most of the materials are things found around the house or can be found at a dollar store. Find five or six games to play and take turns pitting age groups against each other.

Talent Show

Your family is filled with talented folk and those that just like to show off. With a little planning ahead (so they know to actually bring their clarinet), you can organize a family talent show that may just become a yearly event. Set up an area as a stage and advise your family that it’s just for fun and is to be a safe place for family to express their interests and talent.

It doesn’t take much for a family to have fun together. Sometimes they just need a little leadership, encouragement and a push in the right direction. That’s where you come in.

Not enough room, but an abundance of toys

Have you ever gone into your kid’s bedrooms—or playrooms—and wondered where the floor went? Dolls, Legos, puzzles, hot wheels cars—there are so many toys all over the place that it looks like a typhoon hit the room! Maybe, until that very moment, you never realized how many toys your kids actually had. But this is a great incentive to do something about the clutter and organize your kid’s abundance of toys. You could even get your children to help you!

Arrange into Groups

Separate all of your child’s toys into different categories. For example: dolls, building blocks, action figures, reading items, cooking materials and outdoor toys are just a few good category names. Any accessories—like doll clothes—could be kept with the items so they won’t get lost. Outside toys should be kept in the garage or basement away from the inside toys.

Books, movies or CDs should be stored on accessible shelves in their bedroom or playroom. Why not sort them by age and give each of your children their own shelf? If you and your kids borrow books from your local library, be sure to allocate a shelf for that as well so that the borrowed items don’t get lost or mixed up with the books your kids own.

Reachable Storage

You should provide shelves, hooks and storage places for your kids to gain access to which will not only make it easy for them to pick up their toys, but encourage them to do so. Start out by buying a toy box or you could convert a big, plastic tote which makes a terrific toy box. The larger toys will fit perfectly in a toy box and allows for simple clean-up by your children.

Stuffed animals and other bulky, but light, objects can be pulled up off of the floor and put into mesh fabric that could be hung on the walls. The toys and animals will be seen but out of the way. To store smaller stuffed animals or dolls, a shoe holder is a clever idea and it can be hung anywhere that your child is able to reach.

Toys that have tiny parts like puzzles, building blocks or Legos may be put away in transparent, plastic bins with lids; if your child is at a reading age, you could also label each bin as to its contents. Likewise, wooden wine racks are terrific storage areas and can be found at any local thrift store or garage sale; many used wine racks are just like new! Use cylinder containers—like a Pringles potato chip can—and fill it with tiny cars or other little items; then place the full cylinders into the wooden wine rack cubbyholes.

If your little ones like to play dress-up chests, old dressers or trunks are wonderful storage for old clothes and accessories. Sift through your own hats, purses and clothes in your closets—maybe there’s something you could throw in the “Dress-up Box”!

For those miscellaneous things that don’t really have a home in any category, utilize wicker or plastic laundry baskets.

Toy Library

What is a toy library, you ask? Well, it’s a toy co-operative that’s a lot like a regular library except that you take out toys instead of books. A toy co-operative buys durable, top-quality, hand-made wooden toys from a senior’s workshop and non-profit agencies for the mentally impaired. There’s a small annual fee that you have to pay to belong to a toy library; when you pay the fee you and your children are allowed to go in and pick out toys such as trucks, games, cars, gorgeous puzzles—there are all kinds of toys to choose from for young kids!

If there isn’t a toy library in your community, maybe you and your neighborhood families could start one. The children will love being able to select and play with new toys every two weeks—and the kids may even get to play with something you might otherwise not have been able to afford to buy for them.

Art Area

There isn’t a youngster out there that doesn’t like to paint or draw. If you have the space in your child’s playroom, set up an easel so they can let their imagination run wild! But what do you do with all the paints and art supplies when they’re not in use? A bathroom, wall or floor cabinet is a good choice that can be kept or hung in the same area as the easel or in a separate room like the basement or laundry room. If you purchase a wall cabinet, be sure you hang it at a height that can be easily reached by your children. Keep items like colored pencils, crayons, paper, finger paints as well as other art supplies on the enclosed shelves of the cabinet. Inform your children that when they’re done in the art area, you expect them to clean up the mess and all of the items they use to be put back in the cabinet.

Kids need to learn how to properly care for their possessions and you can not only teach them how but be a good example for them by treating your own belongings with care. Just like almost every other item in your home, toys occasionally need to be wiped down with a damp cloth. You should show your children how to do this properly so they won’t ruin their toys.

Always remember, in this case, less is more. Your children will learn to cherish their toys and belongings if they have only a few of them. Set up a frequent “sort and purge” day—maybe once a month or so—and help them go through their toys. Urge your kids to give away to charity the toys they don’t play with or use anymore.

One last thing, if you started teaching your children at an early age to pick up after themselves, chances are they’ll clean their playroom all on their own. But if you haven’t, then now is the time to teach them to pick up their toys and other belongings. It’ll teach them to be responsible as well as how to organize!

Friday Amy Update: Gracie’s Birthday

My week began with a celebration (it ended with one too but more on that later)! After church on Sunday, we piled into the car and drove up to the mountains to where Joey’s parents live to celebrate his father’s 65th birthday with all my in-laws. When we all gather, we total 19. They live in a sweet little home near the mountains and we always have lots of fun eating, playing with the kids and catching up.

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Monday morning Emily (my oldest who is 15 years old) and I woke nice and early to hit the ice rink. She had a very important U.S. Figure Skating Test she needed to take as she continues to check them off her list. It’s a pass/fail kind of test and she… passed!! Whew. Then off to school. She only had one final today… in P.E. Really? Yes, apparently. I was at the office throughout the morning planning and meeting with staff. Mondays are usually my catch up days when it comes to AA and the house. I make a conscious effort not to work on Sundays. I don’t even check the orders. So between work, home and kid’s stuff the emails pile up a tad and it takes me most the day to get my checklist down to a manageable length. Since I was at the office, this catch up day was a little more challenging. Corban is taking his first swimming class every night this week and it started on Monday afternoon at my neighbor’s backyard pool. A swim instructor came to teach a bunch of the neighborhood kids a thing or two! We were supposed to go to a cookout with some friends but Joey had a rough day and I was close to my limit. It was a cookout where you bring the kids and I knew I’d have to have one hand on Corban the whole time. So with all those factors it added up to “Sorry, we can’t make it.” Whew… so thankful for my bed!

My sweet niece has been watching Corban a few mornings for me, since he’s been out of school. But I decided to keep Grace and Corban all to myself on Tuesday because I had to take my mother to the airport (who went to go see her mother in TX). So I made it my day to run errands and not work too much. We were out most the day except we did come home for lunch. Grace is my musician and she has her piano lessons on Tuesday afternoons which she really looks forward to. Her lessons are short but I managed to get a quick run in while Corban played at a nearby playground… he plays and I run circles around him on the little path that winds through the park. I’m sure I look a little funny but sometimes you just gotta do what ya gotta do. Then I picked up Grace, picked up Emily from school and we all headed and got a quick dip in the pool. I wanted Corban to get some practice in before his swim class. Another crazy busy day for me. I’m not used to this! I admire you single moms out there on days like this… and I didn’t even work!

On Wednesday my niece came back to watch the kiddos! Woo Hoo! And I ran out to buy gifts for my sweet Gracie’s birthday! That was fun shopping and it went smoothly too. But it did take me all morning to find just the right little items. I ran to Target and found some pool toys, pjs, and a sweet little top. I ran to a sports store to find a little tank and shorts to keep her cool in this hot SC summer that is fast approaching. Then I ran to REI to get her big gift, an ENO (a hammock she can hang between our trees in the backyard). Emily has one too, so it will be a sister bonding thing, which I love! Speaking of Emily… she took her last exam today and she is done with her freshman year of high school!! Emily had a figure skating lesson and then back to Corban’s swim lesson. He is the oldest in his little class but you’d never know it. He’ll get it, I know he will. Then before we went to bed Emily and I decorated the kitchen with tons of streamers and balloons for Grace to wake up to.

Happy 11th Birthday to my sweet Grace!!! The kids and I piled in the car to go get donuts (a big treat for this paleo family)! Then off to Barnes and Noble to browse the toys and books. Emily found a classy journal that she bought. We just happened to come when it was story times so Corban and I listened to the story (well to be honest, Corban kinda listened and I checked my email on my phone) and then did a craft! Nice! Grace found a book that I bought her (it was her birthday after all) and she bought a little toy with some of her birthday money. It was great outing which is rare with Corban. He has really turned a corner these last few months and it so nice to have a child who has finally understood HOW to behave (most of the time). Grace wanted a Subway sandwich so we grabbed it and took it home to eat an early lunch. Grace’s best friend, Elizabeth, came over and then we hit the pool! It was then that Corban put his whole face in the water for a number of seconds for the first time! He was so excited he just kept wanting to do it over and over. He couldn’t wait to show his swim instructor that afternoon! So exciting! Then home for a taco dinner, presents and a quick swing in the new ENO! Grace had all kinds of things she wanted to do including glow the dark bubbles (which unintentionally squirted all over the bathroom which you could see when you turned the lights out!), games and crafts. They were out by 10:30 and so was I… thank goodness.

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Today is looking just as busy as the rest as we plan to hit the pool again since Elizabeth is still hanging with us, more errands, and one more swim class. I need to clean the house because I’m hosting a baby shower tomorrow afternoon and we’re going out on a double date with friends. Work? What’s that? It has not really existed this week since the kids have been home and we had a big girl turning 11! But I have a wonderful husband and staff to run the show. I am so thankful for them. They allow me to go to the pool with my kiddos and shop during normal business hours for my daughter’s birthday. It is truly a luxury I am so very thankful for.

ENO

Amy Adele’s Easter

Happy Day After Easter! He is Risen Indeed!

All of us at Amy Adele hope you had a lovely Easter yesterday. After a rainy and cold Good Friday and Saturday, the sun came out and it was a gorgeous sunny warm day here in the Upstate of South Carolina. We were praising Jesus a little bit more than we normally do on Easter for the weather alone! 😉

On Easter morning we all woke early (but not really early like some of you sunrise folks) and went off to church to sing, worship and remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Then we scooted home quickly to get ready to celebrate some more with my in-laws (whom I love). It was my turn to host, which I was happy to do. When I was growing up, my parents always hosted the Easter meal, so it feels right when it’s my “turn”. 🙂 

I should back up a tad though. To prepare for it all,  I had a lot of fun this year decorating and getting the house ready. I like to keep things simple and sweet… but it doesn’t come naturally. I  take forever fiddling and thinking  through things to get it just right (or close enough). I think I may have drove my family a little crazy with all my home decor projects!

Easter Garden

Here is an Easter garden I created… but this one doesn’t have any dirt so I can store it for next year! I just used a little moss instead. Celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus is the most important part of Easter for our family and I just really wanted a decoration that reminded us of this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This wreath that’s now hanging in my kitchen was a very simple creation… I  just took a store bought wreath and added little Easter eggs.

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Here are a few shots of my dining room… all decked out in its finest Easter flare. I had so much fun finding candle sticks, vases, platters and such around the house to create a little spring garden. I cut those branches from my trees in the backyard. My neighbors were probably wondering why I was running in and out of the house (in the rain) on Saturday holding branches and leaves! 🙂

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My husband and I made some big diet changes on January 1st of this year and it’s been such a success that we’re sticking to it! So the macaroni and cheese dish and a few others like it, got cut from the line up. Of course, not everyone in the family is eating like us so Uncle Jon brought over some yummy bread (that I must admit I ate a tiny piece of). 🙂 I’m not a chef but I found a simple healthy recipe for asparagus risotto that I thought I’d try. As I began putting it together Aunt Chris and Uncle Jon (who are very good Italian cooks) kept commenting on how they’ve never made risotto because they heard its quite tricky. My “simple little recipe” quickly changed to an intimidating one as 13 people hovered in the kitchen waiting to eat. Yikes! But in the end it turned out ok. Whew!! Here’s a picture of me and my sweet mother-in-law as I stir stir my risotto (I quickly learned that lots of stirring was required).

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We finished the afternoon off with my mother-in-law’s beautiful 3 layer lemon cake that was amazing! (Did I just admit to eating that too?) Also, my 10 year old daughter created a scavenger/egg hunt for the older cousins who are in high school and college. It was a hoot watching the older ones running around instead of the younger ones this year!

Family Easter pictures are a must. This tradition dates back quite sometime for my family. This is a photo of my grandparents and my father on Easter Sunday, March 28, 1948 in Washington DC taken with the national cherry blossoms as their backdrop. We don’t have very many photos of them so we think its kinda neat that this event and Corban’s birthday were both on March 28th!

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Now, sixty six years later here is a photo me and my sweet family on Easter 2014.

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Not every day is heavenly but I’m thrilled to say this one was pretty close!

Writing: Why children’s stationery is important

One reason for giving personalized children’s stationery is to help motivate children to do their best possible writing. The ability to write well, especially in social settings, is one that is seldom gets enough time to develop fully in schools because of the sheer volume of other information and skills to be mastered. That is a shame because the ability to communicate graciously on paper enriches life greatly over the years.

However, it is not hard to teach the basics of social writing with just a little know-how. Believe it or not, some of the best advice for teaching the basics of writing comes from Benjamin Franklin, in his Autobiography. His method boils down to imitation – not surprisingly, as this is one of the ways children learn naturally. In his own case, he took an “odd volume of the Spectator” and found he “thought the writing excellent, and wished, if possible, to imitate it.”

Franklin records that he read some of the papers and made short notes of the main idea in each sentence. He then set the original book aside and “try’d to compleat the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should come to hand.”

After doing this he compared his own work with the original, “discovered many faults and amended them” and often “had the pleasure of fancying that, in certain particulars of small import, I had been lucky enough to improve the method or the language, and this encouraged me to think I might possibly in time come to be a tolerable English writer.”

You can modify Franklin’s method to suit your child’s ability. Simply write a sample note using the form you’d like your child to use, a kind of template to be followed. Then have your child write the same number of sentences with each sentence modeled on the one in your example, making changes to personalize the note. When the note is complete look back and read both notes aloud, compare the changes made to the original, and point out improvements. This method of using a template works particularly well with thank you notes, children’s stationery,  or greeting cards sent out on vacation.

As your child gains experience it is natural to make each note a bit more advanced, until your child easily writes notes independently. The process of checking the new work against the original allows the child to see exactly where improvement is happening and builds confidence and enjoyment of the process. You can be assured that every step along the way helps your child prepare for a lifetime of enjoyable communication.

5 Tips To Give A Birthday Experience Instead Of A Traditional Party

We’ve all seen it…the pile of gifts at a traditional children’s birthday party.  It is exciting at the time, but ask them in six months what they received and most won’t remember.  However, take them to that event they have always wanted to go to and they will surely remember it.  In a world where “stuff” seems to overwhelm our lives, consider giving the gift of an experience this year instead of a traditional party.  Make a memory with your child they won’t soon forget.

  1. Setting a budget…just like a birthday party, birthday experiences can be provided at any budgetary level.  Make sure you consider not only the cost of the tickets (for sporting events, concerts or theme parks for example), but also food and any other souvenirs you are willing to purchase.
  2. Choosing the experience…every child is different, professional sports events might top the list of some, while others may want to visit a theme park or new museum they haven’t been to yet.  Others may simply want an over-night stay at a hotel with a pool or to see the professional ballet or symphony.  A ride in a helicopter or a limousine might be what other kids have always wanted to do.  Decide whether you will offer choices to your child or select it for them.
  3. Inviting friends…depending on the experience and your budget, you may be able to invite a few friends to go with your child on their experience.  Having someone to share an experience with can not only increase enjoyment but also help create even more special memories for your child.
  4. Giving other gifts…just because you are giving an experience doesn’t mean a traditional gift is not possible.  Consider giving a gift that coordinates with the experience or maybe something to help time pass on the trip if there is a long car ride to the experience.  A new baseball glove if you are going to a baseball game, new tennis shoes if the event requires a lot of walking, maybe let them chose a souvenir from the gift shop or a camera to take pictures during the experience.
  5. Making it special…Birthdays are all about having a special day for your child.  Send invitations if inviting others for the experience.  Make a paper announcement or special certificate to detail the experience for your child.  Consider ordering a special dessert or maybe bringing a cake to the experience.  Give a t-shirt or hat as a party favor if it fits into your budget.

Memories last a lifetime.  Give your child an experience they won’t forget this year.

Follow-up on Corban’s 5th Birthday!

Corban started the day off by celebrating with his preschool classmates. He brought these birthday cookies to share! They were made by one of our very own Amy Adele staff. Sometimes we just don’t know how we contain so much talent in one building. 😉

(We apologize for the sideways “A”, the box may or may not have been shaken a bit, and by the time we noticed the cookies were long gone!)

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After he came home from school Corban picked out the movie Turbo to watch because it was a little rainy outside. Then the whole family went out for burgers. (Amy normally prepares food for them at home, so this was a real treat!) Here is Corban in his birthday shirt on the way to dinner.

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When they got back home Corban opened some gifts from family. He got a spider man mask, some books, and a remote control car. Then they unveiled the biggest present of all…his new bike!

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Corban has been riding a balance bike (one without pedals) for some time now, so this big boy bike with pedals and brakes is a big step. They pulled the cars out of the garage so that he could ride his new bike in spite of the rainy weather. He was able to master pedaling forward by the next day! Braking is still in the works, but is getting a little better each time.

There was also chocolate cake. (Which Corban was much less excited about once his bike was revealed!)

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Thanks for stopping by, and keep your eyes peeled! In the very near future we will be doing a series of artist spotlight blogs. The series will give you an inside look at Amy Adele’s various artists, and I think it is something you won’t want to miss! 🙂