Mar 7, 2018

Pop In Post- Quick Book Recommendation

I'm just covered up in work this week, but I wanted to tell y'all about a wonderful book that I just devoured the last couple of days-

Everything Happens For a Reason: and Other Lies I've Loved by Kate Bowler.  It's a memoir of her experience living with terminal cancer, and reconciliation of that diagnosis with her faith.  That sounds depressing, but I promise it's not!

Here's the blurb-

A divinity professor and young mother with a Stage IV cancer diagnosis explores the pain and joy of living without certainty.

Thirty-five-year-old Kate Bowler was a professor at the school of divinity at Duke, and had finally had a baby with her childhood sweetheart after years of trying, when she began to feel jabbing pains in her stomach. She lost thirty pounds, chugged antacid, and visited doctors for three months before she was finally diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer.

As she navigates the aftermath of her diagnosis, Kate pulls the reader deeply into her life, which is populated with a colorful, often hilarious collection of friends, pastors, parents, and doctors, and shares her laser-sharp reflections on faith, friendship, love, and death. She wonders why suffering makes her feel like a loser and explores the burden of positivity. Trying to relish the time she still has with her son and husband, she realizes she must change her habit of skipping to the end and planning the next move. A historian of the "American prosperity gospel"--the creed of the mega-churches that promises believers a cure for tragedy, if they just want it badly enough--Bowler finds that, in the wake of her diagnosis, she craves these same "outrageous certainties." She wants to know why it's so hard to surrender control over that which you have no control. She contends with the terrifying fact that, even for her husband and child, she is not the lynchpin of existence, and that even without her, life will go on.

On the page, Kate Bowler is warm, witty, and ruthless, and, like Paul Kalanithi, one of the talented, courageous few who can articulate the grief she feels as she contemplates her own mortality.

Go read it!!

Mar 1, 2018

Thoughts on Thursday- SHOP TIL YOU DROP!!!!!!!

Y'all.  As I get back into blogging, I must admit I am bored to pieces by a lot of my blogs that are in my feed.

I've talked about this before, but I would love to read a post that doesn't include any directives on what to buy, buy, buy.  Where do people put all these dresses and shoes? Where do they wear all of it?  I don't understand.  Or, possibly if I wore something other than yoga pants and a fleece 4 days a week, I would! Ha!

Maybe I just get grumpy during a ShopBop or Nordstrom sale.  Maybe it's because I like to shop, so I don't need someone to tell me what to buy.  Maybe it's because I like to read about people's lives outside the dressing room.

I think the problem is that I feel like I am being sold a falsehood.  Affiliate linking and undisclosed sponsorship/partnerships have become so pervasive that I feel like so much social media is just an advertisement. "MUST HAVE!"  "MY FAVORITE!" products rotate monthly or even weekly, and suspiciously appear on a variety of bloggers' want lists simultaneously.

Now, to my social media friends who have posted about this sale or that sale.  Don't be angry at me.  I love you!  I just want to read more you and less RewardStyle.  I love hearing about someone's (non-sponsored) latest workout, or amazing dinner, or supper club, or new curtains in their living room.

 Just not a million pictures of them in a dressing room with cute dresses that I should go grab right now!  Because I'm not going to drop everything, scurry out of my office or the school pick up to drive over to LOFT.  Let's be real- they have a 40-60% off sale every other day.  I will live if I don't add another super cute drop waist poly blend dress to my wardrobe this minute.

Tell me a funny story about your three year old.  Tell me about the fun party you went to this weekend.  Then once a week or so, tell me about your latest purchase.  An actual purchase, not just something you tried on then never wear again.  Something you just tried that you can't affiliate link.

Bring back reality!

Well, maybe I shouldn't go down the anti-reality rabbit hole of "curated" images and false presentations of perfect motherhood and children, amazing bodies and effortless, well everything. . . y'all will hear me ranting for days!

Anyway, I guess I just miss the blogging days of yore.  This grandma better go put in her teeth and chill in my rocker some.

Feb 23, 2018

Five on Friday- Kids' Favorite Things

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope you are more cheerful than my crew when I attempted to take a picture at 5 PM yesterday evening during their long requested viewing of the new Pinkalicious show!  You would think I'm above such amateur moves.

 Another day, another attempt to get three kids to look at me.

Scooter rides on the greenway have been our jam all year, but with the nice weather they've been more frequent.  I try to explore a new section to keep things fun.  And there are a couple of cool playgrounds along the way.  We saw 7 turtles and 2 ducks in one section on Tuesday, then played at a new playground.  Then had Chick Fil A for dinner.  Everyone was very happy.  Including me, because I got to sneak in a 2 mile power walk under the guise of kid activity.  And because I like to see turtles too.

We made an executive decision to take the kids to Japanese steakhouse (their favorite) on Saturday evening last weekend. It was a great diversion to the nonstop rain.

 Dell Harper "I think tonight might be the best night ever!"

Tommy was a little scared of the fire, but then got in his baby groove.  Deeds was too busy eating to fool with any photo ops.

3)  Audible Books (for Children)

Our favorite diversion in the car of late?  Audiobooks!  We got several Junie B. Jones books on CD at the local library.  The kids are obsessed!  Deeds says "I'm ready for JUNEYBEEJONE now!", after his initial reluctance due to the fact that he couldn't see anything. Warning- the books do use the s-word (stupid), so we have to talk about how Junie  B. says that but we don't, etc.

I must admit, I am enjoying Miss Junie B. and her kindergarten travails very much.  Far better than Kidz Bop or Kids' Place Live.  That Lorenzo Llama makes me want to tear my ears off.

4)  Little Hoot Designs
I always brag on my friend Colleen's clothing business, but she just really knocks it out of the park!

 Love this model!

Here's some stuff from her latest show, which I shamelessly pulled from their instagram (@little_hoot_designs)

 I ordered this entire outfit for DH.  Y'all- the prices are great, and you can feel good about letting your kids just play.  Or go to school.  Or eat food with impunity.  Or at least without following them with a bottle of oxyclean.
This is Deeds' favorite shirt.  He refused to take it off during this modeling session, then got snot all over from the ensuing temper tantrum.  I bought it, and it's still his top requested shirt.

And their appliqu├ęs are fantastic as well!
Those bloomers are enough to give me baby fever!

I did nab these bloomers for Tommy.  Those fat little legs need to be on display at all times! Here's the website-

5)  Mrs. Piggle Wiggle

So I've been struggling to try and read DH chapter books, since we read books together with Deeds at night.  I'm trying to squeeze in a chapter of one of my childhood favorites- Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.
There are a few illustrations (by none other than Hilary Knight of Eloise fame), and each chapter stands alone.  We are both enthralled!

So that's it for me- we are headed to a beer and Girl Scout cookie pairing fundraiser for the Girl Scouts tonight, then I get to have a GNO with one of my best friends from Georgia who's coming in town this weekend from Charleston.  I can barely contain myself!!

Finally, again, thank you all so much for the encouragement and kindness.  I was reviewing documents while Tommy took his bath, and the kids got extra screen time last night.  I started to feel bad, but then remembered we're all in this boat in one way or the other!

Linking up with the Five on Friday gals!


Feb 22, 2018

Thoughts on Thursday- Secrets to Doing it All

  • First of all, I want to say thank you for all the comments and encouragement on my last post.  I wish I had some secret to making it all happen, but I'm in the trenches too.

  • Ooooh, I did think of one piece of advice I didn't include.  TAKE HELP WHEN OFFERED!  I really didn't do this until Tommy.  For example when a friends says "Do you want me to take Deeds to the birthday party?"  I no longer say "Oh, I got it!" then arrive at said party with my entire crew in to and miss the baby's nap.  Or whatever.   Instead, I graciously and thankfully accept (and say a little prayer of gratitude for my "village").

  • My other secret is to ask for help.  That's a tough one for me- I don't like asking my parents, or my friends, or getting tons of babysitters.  But sometimes I have to!  And so I do.  And I try not to feel guilty about it.  Try is the operative word!
So that's it!  We all need a little help from our friends. Now, my sad desk salad is complete, and its back to work for an hour before pickup.

Feb 20, 2018

How I Make it Work- Working From Home

Work and life has gotten in the way of posting, which is rather boring, but I'm squeezing this into my day while waiting on return phone-calls and emails.

A reader asked for a run-down of how I handle working from home with little ones.  I don't know if I do the best job, but it's always interesting to read how we all manage things.  I'm interspersing some cute pictures of my children in case you don't care about working from home.

So quick background-  I'm an attorney for my family's business.  I work from home as I am needed.  This is great because I'm not twiddling my thumbs from 9-6 when I'm not busy.  Of course, it also means that sometimes I juggling a sixty hour work week with part time childcare.  It's a tradeoff that works well for me and my personality though.

The boys are in school four days a week from 9-2:30 (this fluctuates some, as Deeds goes to 2 schools- more on that later).  Dell Harper is in kindergarten, so she goes from 7:45-2:35 each day.  While they are at school, I work, prep dinner, switch out laundry, and (if I'm slow) exercise.  Having a limited window forces me to really focus and buckle down.  Also, I know if I don't get my stuff done, I will be working from 7-11 PM that night.

Sometimes that switch is worth it to me.  For example, today I wanted to do my group training class at 10, so I headed to my office at 6 AM and worked for an hour to get a head start.  Other times, when I'm super slammed, I know that it will be 9-2:30, plus nights, plus early mornings.  And I'm down with that!  I value the flexibility of my job so much- it makes it easy to sit in my office revising documents until late at night, knowing I can take my kids to the playground after school the next day.

Also, I love not having to put on work clothes and do my hair everyday.  After seven years of suits and panty hose, it is glorious! Wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt knowing I'm going to get kid gunk on me is great.

So that's the good things about straddling both working mom and stay at home mom worlds.  The bad is that I straddle both worlds.  I feel the childcare, housekeeping and volunteer expectations of a stay at home parent, as well as the work demands of a working mom.

What ends up suffering is self-care and time with Morgan.  I very rarely sit on the couch and watch tv with Morgan after the kids are down.  It's either housework, prepping dinner and lunches for the next day, or work.  My house gets messy because the kids are in it all afternoon, but I don't have time while they are in school to clean, because that's work time.

Also, I feel guilty if I use that kid-free time for myself- I don't mind sneaking off for an hour to exercise, but haircuts or eyebrows, or nails, etc.?  I just can't justify it.  That's why my hair is so ratty!  I make it for a haircut about 2x a year.  I also quit coloring my hair when I quit working full time.  It was just too much time and money to spend on myself.

The last tricky thing is childcare.  It doesn't make sense financially or otherwise to send the kids to daycare full-time.  Instead they go to preschool (except DH now that she's in kindergarten).  Last year the preschool at our church (where we have been since DH was 18 months old), cut Deeds' days from 4 to 3.  This was huge for me, because (as mentioned above), although some weeks I could get by with 2 days a week, other weeks I need full time.  So 4 days a week is the baseline for my sanity.  I can make it all work with that amount of time.  So, luckily I got Deeds into Tommy's school as a sibling.  Tommy attends a different program (that Deeds used to attend) that allows babies.  Next year, we are quitting my church's preschool and both boys will go to the same place.  It's bittersweet, as I loved my church's program.  However, as flexible as my job is, I can't take a chance on not having consistent days.  The other issue is snow days, illness days off or sick kids.  I'm in the same boat with working parents all over.  When school is out, I am scrambling.

Ahh, no botox, no makeup, dirty hair in ponytail selfie.  HAAWWWWTTT.

Here's the thing, though.  I would much rather have non-highlighted hair, big pores, and bushy eyebrows, and get to spend more time with my kiddos, yet work too.  If I was fully stay-at-home, I might go absolutely insane.  I need breaks from my wild and crazy crew.  It makes me (just me, personally) a better parent to have away time.  I love working for my family.  I love using the analytical part of my brain, as well as this degree I worked so hard to obtain.

I feel like I should end this with some grand inspirational quote.  I got nada.  Instead, I will tell you the truth.  I always feel like I have a window open.  For example- I'm taking work calls in the middle of making cookies with my kids, or answering emails on my phone on the playground or when snuggling. At work, sometimes I'm on a call frantically motioning to my kids to be quiet in the car.

I read all this stuff about being intentional and present.  And I think, "shit."  Because I'm not doing that.  and I wish I was.

Instead, I'm doing the best I can.  Like we all should.  So I'm going to try and continue that- intentionally doing my best.  And that's okay.

Oprah time is done.  Just call me if you need an inspirational speaker.  I'm the one in the ratty Old Navy running tights and no shower for a few days.
This picture is old.  Tommy doesn't have bottles anymore.  I look tired.  Because I am.  But I also look content.  Because I am.

Feb 12, 2018

Dancing the Night Away

We had an exciting weekend full of sunshine (and rain), dressing up and dancing!  Morgan and I attended an annual black tie event that I always enjoy (although not so much the next morning).

 A quick pick before dinner in the parking lot! Ha, I have to force Morgan to take pictures when I can!

And my brother and I managed to snag an adult sibling pic.

Saturday it just poured all day.  We didn't get home until the way wrong side of midnight, and my kiddos woke me up at 6:11 in the morning.  It was brutal.  I was so thankful that I took advantage of school being out for the flu and a sunny warm day on Friday by taking my crew to the zoo.

Kiddos climbed and explored to their hearts' content.  It was great!

Finally Sunday afternoon I threw in the towel and let everyone go play in the mud.
 See the folding chair in the garage?  I settled in with my magazine and stayed relatively clean and dry, while admonishing Dell Harper to please try and stay clean because she had plans!

Everyone had a bath, then I got Dell Harper all dolled up because that evening was Dell Harper's turn for a dance!  She had a blast eating filet and drinking Shirley Temples, and dancing the night away.
 Love that we both wore florals with red shoes.
She got in some cousin time, too!
Her corsage did not make it through all her dancing- by the time she arrived home a single flower remained.  I understand she did a lot of jumping off the stage.

While they were all fancy, Deeds requested the mall for his special time.  Pretzels, coin operated rides, and just walking around. . .they were two happy boys.  It was still pouring, so I was fine with getting out of the house.

Now I'm going to hit publish and post this without proofreading.  My kids are back in school after a week of school closures for flu.  Dell Harper has attended kindergarten for about 6 days since school resumed the first week of January.  It's been awful between holidays, snow, and sickness.  Hopefully this week I will be able to catch up on work and life!

Feb 6, 2018

A Magical Weekend at the Greenbrier

We went last year with Morgan's family to The Greenbrier, and fell in love with the place.  After making it through a weekend with a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 3 month old, I was thrilled to back with no one under the age of 25.  Or, ahem, 35 if I'm being accurate here..

A perfect weekend of utter relaxation and laughter.   It felt so nice to be properly attired like an adult instead of in worn Old Navy running tights and a frayed top.  Hair down and makeup on, wearing dry clean only without fear of snotty noses, or peanut butter hands?  Just blissful!

The most taxing thing I did was swan about the pool and swim a few slow laps.

But mainly I lounged, read magazines and books, and admired the fabulous Dorothy Draper decor.

My favorite parts included the breakfast buffet.  Now, I am a buffet snob (as in, I don't like them).  The Greenbrier's?  There is nothing to be snobbish about- it's fantastic!  I spent an hour at breakfast each morning, leisurely reading the paper, drinking coffee, and staring into space unimpeded by small, demanding voices.  It was AMAZING!!!
We did the "escape room" one afternoon, which was surprisingly really fun.  None of us had done one before, and we all went in doubtful of how enjoyable it would be. It was great!  I might become an escape room junkie.
In other surprising news, I had a great time at the casino.  I normally see casinos as a bit too fanny pack, not enough James Bond for my taste.  I'll take this casino any day.  And I LOVE playing cards- so blackjack was a very nice change of pace from our normal Saturday night.

My only quibble with the experience was the food other than breakfast. Y'all know I love to eat, and, although Morgan says otherwise, I'm not a food snob!  I just expect at a certain price point my food to be prepared correctly.  We all got the giggles when eating at the Italian restaurant when my Veal Marsala came out.  I think it might have been the West Virginia version, because it looked and tasted just like country fried steak.  At a gas station, prepared last week.

At least it saved me from overeating!

  We woke up Sunday morning to quite a bit of snow.
 It was just magical, and made leaving that much more difficult. Also, it was literally difficult to leave as the interstate had about 4 inches of accumulation that hadn't been treated or cleared.

 We finally made it home, and I was thrilled to see those babies!  Tommy apparently now prefers my mama, as he bawled when she left, and kept squirming out of my arms to go to her.  I apparently did the same thing to my mom when I was about his age.  Although she has been gone for 10 days not 2, but bygones. . .

I don't leave my kids to go out of town very much, and I think I need to remedy that (watch out, Mama/Gigi! More babysitting ahead!).  I cam back so renewed, relaxed, patient and above all, appreciative of my children.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder indeed!

Jan 31, 2018

A Day in the Life (Normal-ish)

Well, I was planning on attempting to do a more typical Day in the Life post, but Dell Harper was feeling a bit puny, so she stayed home on the day at hand.  Such is life! This is from last Thursday:

Middle of Night and Crack of Dawn:
Dell Harper got in bed with us around 2, preventing anyone from sleeping, and explaining her subsequent  reluctance to attend school.  Deeds then woke up at 5:30 AM, and crawled into our bed too.  Morgan decamped to the couch, and I shushed them for thirty minutes, before handing over the iPad (against my normal policy) at 6 AM.  This also totally messed with my plan to work some early this morning, because I can barely open my eyes.

6:30 AM Tommy is up, and I rouse myself out of bed.  The kids are still watching shows on the iPad.  This will end badly, but I'm still too tired to care.  I generally don't let them play on Morgan's iPad because they pitch fits when it's time to stop, and generally have bad behavior after using it.  I feed everyone . . .something.  I was too foggy to document or remember.  Coffee helps me, and I begin to come alive.

I make the executive decision that DH can stay home from school today, as her tummy is bothering her and she is worn out.  Flu has been crazy around town, and I don't want to take any chances.  I pack the boys' lunches, and they are not exactly nutritional powerhouses today.

 Apples, strawberries, leftover Chick nuggets, and cheese and crackers for T-Man.
 Two kinds of cheese, crackers and apples for Deedster.
8:45 AM Deeds is dressed and loaded into Morgan's car for school.

DH and I take Tommy to his school.  I'm signed up to go to my group training class, but I also really want to get some cardio in to up my energy level. I decide to split the difference and do half of a jazz class, and half my weight routine.

9:00 AM Dell Harper is downright perky now.  We go to jazz, then head over to my group training place.  We are a little early so she is amused with taking pictures in the parking lot.

My weight routine for the day.
10:30 AM After grabbing a couple things from the grocery, we head home, so I can attempt to finish a work project.

 I work in my office, while Dell Harper plays quietly in the playroom.
I get stuck in drafting my document so I take a ten minute break.  The bad and good thing about working at home is that instead of zoning out, I have domestic matters calling for my attention.  I decide to prep dinner.

I chop an onion, 5 bell peppers and prick 8 Italian sausages. Throw in a ziplock with a splash of olive oil and dinner is ready for the oven.  And I have to get back to struggling through a tough section of this document, boo.

12:30 PM Lunchtime!  Dell Harper keeps it simple with a banana, applesauce and some cheese and crackers, as her tummy still feels a bit funny.  She is still bopping around, so I can't tell if it's really bothering her or if she is running the long game.

I have the last bit of leftover broccoli cheddar quiche from Monday's dinner, and some cherries.
And a precious ten minutes with The Potlikker Papers, which I cannot put down!  So good!  Also so good?  My much needed daily Diet Coke.

1:15 PM-I work for another 40 minutes, then we head out to pick up Deeds.  On Thursdays I have an awkward 45 minute window from his pickup to Tommy's pickup time.  We normally hit the carwash or library.  Dell Harper and I went to the library yesterday, so carwash it is!

 They love to vacuum, especially Deeds!
 He also loves to sport his headphones!  Which are playing nothing. . .

2:30 PM- We pick up Tommy from his school, and head home! Before throwing them in the recycling, I give the kids a bunch of old magazines, scissors, markers, glue and paper.
 Deeds normally isn't much one for crafts, but he gets into this.  Tommy has a snack while they craft.  He naps at school, so he is ready to roll with us for the remainder of the day.

Banana and Nilla Wafers for the baby win.
 I have a little snack myself- about half a cup of pureed winter vegetable soup that I had leftover form earlier in the week. And another 4 minutes with my book while everyone is occupied.

3:30 PM- The sun is shining and weather thankfully mind, so a scooter ride, walk is in order!  I throw on an IcyHot patch (HA!), put Tommy in the Baby Bjorn, helmet up the kids, put Buddy on a leash, and off we go!

 I love this picture- there was a really cool plane that looked like a rocket ship, so it was must see TV.

4:15 PM When we get home, Dell Harper wants to work on her art some more, and Deeds would like to watch a show on "Wexa", aka on our Amazon Echo thing.  He watches a "If You Give  a Mouse a Christmas Cookie", his current favorite.

I remember that I have a birthday dinner for a friend tonight at 6:30.  I call the friend who organized and beg off, since I'm behind with work thanks to having DH home today, and being up all night/not getting head start this morning.
 Tommy is ready to play, so I chase him up and down the stairs, before settling in the chair in the nursery.  I'm ready to look at Instagram and catch up on the news of the day.  And sit for a second, whew.

 Instead this cutie brings me a book, as he knows I am physically and mentally incapable for refusing reading requests.

4:35 PM- the big kids get a quick shower!  I soap them down, then get them cozy in robes and slippers.  Deeds gets to finish his program.  I throw the sausages in the oven for 45 minutes at 425 degrees.
 Kiddos play, and I try to straighten up a bit.

5:20ish PM- Morgan is home!  This is super exciting because he's had work stuff past ten o'clock the previous two nights.  I'm thrilled to have him home early tonight!

5:45 PM- We eat a quick dinner- freshly baked Italian bread, and the roasted sausages and peppers.

 I'm always trying to get more green in my life, so I throw mine over a kale salad with some parmesan.

6:00 PM- It's time for Tommy's bath.  The big kids come upstairs with me to play while I bathe Tommy, and Morgan "Buddy-proofs" our dinner remains, feeds Buddy his food and cleans up dinner mess.

6:15 PM- Morgan comes up and starts books with big kids, while I take Tommy to nursery for some books, a sippy cup of milk, and bed.
6:45 PM I go into Dell Harper and Deeds' room to finish reading books, sing songs and give nighttime hugs and kisses.

7:05 PM- I head downstairs.  Morgan reminds me that we have a new The Good Place on at 8:30.  This is perfect incentive to whip through my work and really focus. I work until 8:15, then hop in the shower.  In clean PJ's, I feel renewed!  I finish cleaning up the kitchen, reorganize the dishwasher (sorry, Morgan!), fold remaining laundry and get Dell Harper's clothes laid out for tomorrow.  

8:55 PM- I'm ready to watch!  We watch The Good Place, and part of a Drunk History.

9:45 PM  Morgan and I are both exhausted.  We cross fingers for a restful night and go to bed!