Y'all, I am still just over the moon from being in Las Vegas this past week. I was so excited to go but also so nervous to imagine getting in front of amazing ladies from all over the US to compete. Eric and I started our journey to Vegas by leaving at 4AM. I knew I was prepping myself for the rest of the week considering I had hair and makeup call times of 3:45AM! Bless it. When we arrived we are able to do a little walking around, shopping for some goodies for the boys, and eat. Well, Eric was kind enough to scarf down a cheeseburger and fries while, "I'll have a salad please" came out of my mouth again for the 900th time. #icouldhaveslappedhimfororderingthat
Thursday night I got my spray tan. I love a spray tan because I feel so tan and pretty but then a few days later I look sickly as it starts peeling off. I'm kind of to that point now but hey, it was fun while it lasted! I got to meet several of the contestants while I was getting a spray tan. Funnily enough we had to reintroduce ourselves the next day. I guess when you're stark naked with no makeup and hair up in a shower cap you tend not to recognize one another looking normal. Haha, needless to say, we were all pretty comfortable around each other from the get go because of that. That's an ice breaker if I have ever had one!
It was so hard to sleep Thursday night because I knew the fun would start Friday morning but considering my day had started so early, I managed to be asleep around 10! Don't get me wrong...that was 1AM to me.
Friday morning a lot of the Mrs. and Ms. contestants met up for Starbucks and a fun little gift swap. I ended up with some adorable earrings that I will have to post a picture of. It was a great way to talk to the ladies and find out more on a personal level with them. Of course we had all added each other on social media so we had a good idea about what each of us were like, our platforms, and our families, but to actually see each other face to face and talk about the things we are passionate about was so awesome. It also gave me an amazing respect for these amazing women!
Next up we spent the afternoon with helpful sessions on how to manage our social media, hair and makeup, interview prep and what to expect over the weekend. I'm telling you, these were awesome! Hearing the current title holders experiences, learning ways to protect yourself in the social media world, and ways to promote yourself and your platform were so helpful. I also got my first hair and makeup session with my amazing artists, Noemi and Shayla. Talk about feeling beautiful, WOW! They made me feel like I was a movie star all weekend! During this time I also got my professional head shots in my evening gown done. I cannot wait to get these back from the photographer!
Once the sessions were over the real fun began with orientation, questions and answers, and then rehearsals! Each Mrs. contestant got paired with a little one to escort out. My little, Heidi, was a 5 year old firecracker that I'm pretty certain came from the same mold as Judson. I called her Sassy Pants Junior since I, of course, am Sassy Pants Senior. LOL. We rehearsed our Resort Wear (Athletic wear for Junior Teen and under), Eco Wear, and Evening Gown. Once we got everything down we were released early. Hallelujah! I got a shower and then reported back to hair and makeup to get my hair curled and pinned to sleep on. Lights out since I had to get up at 3:30AM! I drifted off to Miss Congeniality 2, Armed and Fabulous! Haha! If you have never seen this movie, she's in Las Vegas this time. It was perfect timing for me!
That alarm clock went off WAAAAYYYYYY too soon for me! I couldn't help but be a little excited, though, and once I got my first Starbucks in me, I was even better. Then nerves started to hit me. They started with doing everyone's makeup and told us to go to breakfast with our hair pinned. I was okay with that until I got there and everyone else had dolled up hair but me (and a few others). I am a pretty confident person but when I'm in a group of amazing women and my hair is not fixed, I started panicking. As time got closer to Interview time and my hair still wasn't done I started getting more and more anxious. You know, the sweaty palms, antsy, tummy hurting kind of anxious. I had unpinned my hair and had my extensions in hand, trying not to continually text my hair artist to ask where she was but I could not help it. Judges were there and here I was half ready. Finally, I broke down and asked some of my girls to help me. If I could at least get the extensions in and my hair brushed then I would feel somewhat put together and then my artist could simply style it. If you want to see what pageantry really means, here it is. Two girls jumping up saying, "I'm a cosmetologist" and just taking over. There was no thoughts of letting me panic so they could do better than me, or hoping my hair would be a disaster so they would look better, none of that. It was plain and simple, let me help you so you are good to go friendship. This is why these women will be my lifetime friends. They are true and golden and care about others more than themselves.
My stylist came in a few minutes later and got me finished up and looking great! So now it's time for interview. This is it, this is my jam, this is where I shine. I can talk the horns off a billy goat if given the chance when it comes to my platform, my children, and my family, but unfortunately I only had 3 minutes. I prayed and prayed that I would get the questions needed to speak on behalf of my platform so the judges would know exactly what my purpose was. Well, He answered them because I got the questions I felt were necessary to address what is most important to me in pageantry, my platform! My fish bowl question was does a crown make you a winner? My answer, "Absolutely not! If you have strong in your beliefs and you are willing to stand on your platform and speak up on behalf of yourself and what you believe in then you are already a winner. Each one of us here are winners because we are standing up here today speaking on our beliefs." Nailed it! I left interviews feeling accomplished and well spoken on the topics I needed to.
Short break to compose ourselves and get something to drink and then it is time to prep for Resort Wear. Resort Wear is basically like a swimsuit with a beautiful cover up to your liking. We were instructed absolutely no sarongs and we should be covered up. This is not a fitness competition where you need to flaunt your 6 pack abs (or lack there of in my case) but instead show your confidence in a trendy dress, wrap, cover up, etc. This is the first time my "little" and I walked together. We come out and are introduced together and walk down the cat walk together. Then we each had the opportunity to do our poses. Then I would walk her back up. Super cute and also probably comforting to a 5 year old to have an adult going with them. I'll be honest, it helped me too! LOL. Now I told you I called her Sassy Pants, Jr. and boy when she got out there she was definitely Sassy Pants. She strutted her stuff, posed, flipped her hair and did her thing. I was acting like a proud pageant Mom just watching her! Haha. I loved this portion of the competition and felt like I did well. Check that one off the list. Two more competitions to go!
Next up was Evening Gown and Eco Wear. Evening gown is pretty self explanatory. It's your time to show your grace and elegance. I love the dress I wore and the overlay skirt makes me feel so elegant and beautiful. I felt confident going out and gliding. This is that time in the pageant where you feel pretty liberated and the center of the world for just a moment. The best part was seeing my husband out in the audience seeming proud that I was his wifey.
The last event of day 1 competition was Eco Wear. This was something I had never done before but was so excited about doing. We were each charged with coming up with a creative outfit made out of recyclable products. Newspapers, trash bags, ribbons, flowers, plastic bottles, drink cups, napkins, cards, wrapping paper,. You name it, it could be put on there. I decided to go for a bridal theme since I am Eric's bride and wore a white beaded Jovani romper with a fluffy blue plastic bag and tulle skirt. The bags were sliced down the sides and then threaded onto a stretch belt that was upcycled from my Meme's closet (my friend, Courtney, did most of this for me. She's amazing and has a very crafty and seamstress talent). The tulle was also used to make a long train. My headpiece has blue plastic bags and tulle as well. I hand made a necklace and two bracelets from sprite and water bottles as well as straws. I cut these suckers out one by one and melted them around the edges for a smoother look. I then pierced them and placed pieces of straws in between every few pieces. I made my earrings out of coke and sprite bottle tops and gold wire. Lastly I made a bouquet out of lean cuisine, yogurt, mott's gummies, and popcorn boxes. I used some silk flowers that were getting a little old for my wreath, a ribbon that came on a package I received, and I draped the bottom of the bouquet with plastic bottle holders and a shiny gift bag the boys received at a birthday party. I felt so creative! The other girls outfits were amazing too! I loved how many different things people had come up with. I really did not know what to expect so seeing everyone's different outfits was so cool and so creative!
So now it's time for me and my little to go out on stage. The lighting is dim and there are green lights hitting the curtains by the ornate topiary trees. Very elegant. Heidi goes out and does her strut in her cute outfit and then it's my turn! I had planned to do this cute, "Here comes the bride" move and was even going to toss my little bouquet out to my hubby but as I started strutting out I felt a little tug. Hmm, feels heavier than I remember. I figured out something wasn't right so I turned to see Axel (the light and sound guy) chasing me down the runway. Then I saw it! I knew why he was chasing me....I WAS CARRYING A TOPIARY TREE! OMG what in the world do I do?!?!?! Do I stop and let him get it and look embarrassed or do I keep going? Well, for those of you who know me you know I just kept on going. I decided I would play into it so I kept on strutting, I stopped and posed and lifted my hands and said, "Oh well!" I smiled, shook my bouquet a little, turned, and cat walked on back all with Axel and the Topiary tree following me. Once I got back to the entrance we got it removed and put back in it's place. I can't help it, I guess I'm a tree hugger and the tree just wanted to hang out! I knew at that point it would either be the breaking point of making point. Spoiler alert, it was the making point!
After this we had a great taco bar and rehearsals for the coronation day and called it a night. It was a LONG but exciting day. Sunday, finals! Ahhhhh, I was so excited and so nervous all wrapped up in one. I honestly had NO idea where I may stand among the group because the ladies were ALL so AWESOME! Seriously, this was a tough group. Great platforms, beautiful, kind, friendly, and passionate about what they were doing. How could you not like everyone??? After final rehearsals we were released to get ready for the pageant. We had an opening number introduction followed by a showcase of about 10 Resort Wear and 10 Eco Wear outfits. I was not one featured (this was not impacted or chosen by scoring so that no one would have more edge over another) so after opening number I was ready for our final walks and crowning.
This is when things really started feeling real and nerve wracking! It all came down to this. I had worked really hard on my platform and raising awareness in the community on the Queen of Bags. I felt good on interview and resort wear. I felt beautiful and elegant in Evening gown but that Eco wear, though, lawd help me....I have no idea what they thought of my Gracie Lou Freebush moment as a full fledged, tree carting, clutz. It's time to line up, though, and get awards. Three titles are up for grabs, Mrs. Eco Earth US, Mrs. United Continents US, and Earth's Eco Mrs US. I had honestly prepared myself for going home empty handed. Call me crazy, but I just didn't want to get my hopes up. I mean, let me say it again, the caliber of women here was ah-mazing! I love these ladies, I mean LOVE them. They are all awesome and I just could not say confidently that I had made the cut. But.... "You're Earth's Eco Mrs is.....GEORGIA!" HOLY CRAP THAT'S ME!!!!! I think I stood there for a second trying to process the fact that it was my state that just got called! I just looked over at Eric and saw him smiling like a mule eating briers and then I had to self control myself from ugly crying. I can just remember someone saying to me, "Don't start crying we've got pictures after this!" Haha!
They still had to crown the Miss and Ms. categories so I had time to go backstage before I could see Eric so I ran to my phone to call Mama and Daddy. Again, trying to hold back the ugly crying but it was pretty hard to even talk once I got my Mama on the phone. I mean, what do you expect, it's my Mama! I also was so excited to tell my boys that Mommy had a new sash and hardware to bring home!
Overall it was an absolutely amazing experience. I cannot begin to tell you how great it felt to be recognized on a National Stage and now I get to represent my country at Internationals! WHAT! I mean, I'm on team USA! It's like the Olympics of pageantry when you get to represent your country. It's like I get to be Dominique Dawes for the week! Haha! I am so proud of this sash and crown and I cannot wait to represent USA in July. For those of you who have always supported and believed in me, thank you. It means more to me than I can begin to put into words. Pageantry is hard and it is full of people trying to talk down to you because they don't get the purpose but to me it's an amazing way to not only build confidence but to share your thoughts and passions. In the words of Gracie Lou Freebush, "I really do want world peace!" Keep reading as I get prepared for Internationals in just a few short months! Below are a few more pictures of the pageant!
Me and my hubby, Eric
Taking an Usie after the crowning!
My sister queen, Rachel, who also represented Georgia in the Miss division. She was also crowned and will go to an International pageant this year!
Kristi, is the current Mrs. Earth and will be hopefully crowning me a second time in Vegas when I go to represent USA at the Mrs. Earth pageant!
Yep, these are the famous topiary trees. One of these bad boys was under my tulle skirt when I was doing Eco Wear. Notice this tree is not much shorter than me....bless it! I felt the need to hug and do a photo op with them after crowning! :)