Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cut the Crap I: Streamline Your Life

Cut the Crap part 1: Streamline Your Life

image from here

I'm starting a new series called Cut the Crap. It's really for my benefit, but I'm hoping it can help some of you who may be in the spirit of "I am tired of feeling stressed and rushed every second of every day and I need somewhere to focus my controlling energy!"

No? Just me?

Well either way, I find the start of a new year the best time to simplify life. The daily processes that sometimes bog us down in very mundane and un-exciting ways; the over abundance of "stuff" that surrounds us that we aren't sure what to do with; those parts of life.

This is the first order of Marden family business in 2011.

One thing I struggle with is constantly feeling like I have errands to run. There is always that one extra thing we need from the grocery store, or we're out of diapers, or it's so and so's birthday at work and I completely forgot. And when you have a little one and you work full-time, the one thing you don't have a lot of is spare time, and what you do have you want to spend with your family. Not behind someone with 27 things in the express lane at Publix.

So, here are a few things I've started doing and hope to do this year to keep things running smoothly, and to give me back some time. Hopefully you find these helpful too.

1. We all have smart phones by now, so let's use them. I created a contact card in my blackberry contacts called Store List. In it I have a section for the grocery store, Target, and Costco. Any time I think of something I need at one of these places I immediately I add it here, then it's always with me at the store. I add it right then or I swear it's gone from my brain. Plus, this is much more efficient than keeping a list at home because you don't always remember to carry that with you.

2. At the beginning of every month Matt and I are going to sit down and talk through what we have going on that month, from both a social and financial perspective. We're going to plan our budget based on specific expenses for that month which may include car repairs, hair cuts, etc, and also so that I can go ahead and think of any gifts, cards, etc. I need to pick up at the store.

3. I'm starting to grocery shop and menu plan for two weeks at a time instead of one. I hate (seriously, hate) having to run to the store to get one or two things. It drives me bananas. And, I'm starting to hate grocery shopping because it's become a bit of a time sink. Doing this gives me at least an hour back. On top of this, I cook and prep most of our food on Sunday. That way all I have to do the remaining days is heat it up or throw it together. Because coming home to a whiny, hungry baby and no idea what to cook for dinner at the end of the day is not my idea of bliss. And no amount of wine can fix that.

4. Keep a shopping bag in the trunk of your car for things you no longer use, and when it's full drop it by Goodwill. Example: When you take a top out of your closet to wear on three separate occasions but never actually leave the house in it because something isn't right, it needs to go in this bag. Right then. Don't come back to it later and create more work for yourself. I'll elaborate more on this later as it's a subject near and dear to my nerdy minimalist heart.

5. And finally, I've put together a list of the must-have items we rely on weekly if not daily that I like to make sure we have on hand. Before I head to the store I'll check to make sure these are present so we don't run out mid-week. This includes things like dish detergent, diapers, toothpaste, etc...don't hesitate to add things like wine, chocolate, or an anti-stress detoxifying face mask. I won't judge.

Here's to less stress in 2o11!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

As promised...

As promised, here are pictures from our Christmas. Notice we did not get one single good family picture. I guess the 976 pictures of Madelyn will just have to do.

We kicked off Christmas Eve with a lunch at my house that included my mom, Matt's parents, his brother Luke and my new sister-in-law Lacie. Since I was busy cooking Matt dressed Madelyn for the occasion...and this is what she came downstairs in...

Camo. On Christmas.

Proceed to check "let Matt dress Madelyn for special occasions" off my list of things to delegate and add "my husband is a redneck" to list of items for he and I to discuss.

After lunch we moved on to presents. Madelyn helped uncle Luke open his gifts and then she moved on to hers which included her new BFF, this bear that is twice the size of her.

The next morning Madelyn eagerly tore in to her gifts, most of which we caught on video. The pictures really don't do it justice, so I'll just include one of her in her cute jammies. Aww.

The next day my mom headed back to Florida and we went up to Matt's parent's house where Madelyn proceeded to reorganize the tupperware cabinet and learn to "play" the piano.

And last but certainly not least--the snow!! It was gorgeous.

With Christmas and 2010 nearly in the books we're working on our family goals and plans for 2011, and just enjoying life being back to "normal". Of course, every time I say that some random cosmic act occurs which throws everything off, but for now, it's nice and quiet :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Practical vs. Not So Much

Merry late Christmas everyone! I hope you are all recovering from the holiday whirlwind. I feel like no matter how much I clean I just can't quite get the house back to normal because every time I move I step on a barbie doll or errant bow.

Santa was very good to us. As were our families, and our neighbors who kindly provided us with enough baked goods to pad my tummy for winter hibernation. Thanks for that.

We really had a wonderful Christmas. Madelyn had a ball opening her gifts (pictures and videos to come thanks to a new toy from my sister, aka, Aunt Lulu), we spent a lot of time with family, and to top it all off, it snowed on Christmas! In Atlanta! It was gorgeous. We got about 3" which was just enough to be pretty without causing any major travel issues, at least for us.

On a random note, one thing that always makes me laugh at Christmas is the vast difference in my Christmas wish list versus Matt's. You see, Matt is a 9 year old boy at heart and he LOVES Christmas. And he isn't shy about his wish list. At any given moment he can spout off idea after idea about what toys he wants. And they are all toys. A four wheeler, an iPad, some fancy accessory for his car; he's really quite ambitious and not at all practical.

And every year I ask for the nice things I won't buy myself but that would really benefit the household: new (super-soft organic) sheets, cookbooks, face wash, and other miscellaneous items that Matt considers totally boring but that I take some ridiculous delight in.

I guess it's just one of our polar differences.

That being said, I was showered with gifts both practical and impractical. All in all I feel very spoiled and very very lucky. And now I know what my parents meant when they used to talk about how it was so much more gratifying to watch your little ones open gifts than to open your own. That is so true.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


If there is ever a time for family tradition, it is Christmas. And I love traditions. To me, they are like these little comforting moments in a life that often chaotic and overwhelming. It's not likely that everyone will remember the gifts you got them every year, but they will remember the moments you shared around the tree, the amazing food you ate, the stories you read, and the little things you did to add some personal meaning and sentiment to the day.

When you have a child, this responsibility is heightened. I've racked my brain (and the internet) trying to think of ways to plant these little jewels of tradition into Madelyn's memory, and to make her family Christmas unlike any other. Should we make an annual personalized ornament? Should we buy her a book where we record Christmas memories every year? Bake cookies? The possibilities are endless.

In the end, Matt and I decided to keep it simple. After all, I'm am a "less is more" kind of girl.

So, without further adeu, Marden family tradition #1: On Christmas Eve we're planning to cuddle up in bed together and read Twas the Night Before Christmas. On the inside of the book we'll write a small note each year about where we are, who we're with, etc...

And tradition #2: Pancake breakfast on Christmas day. Because every good holiday should start with an ample serving of carbs.

And tradition #3: We'll give. To everyone we can. I want Madelyn to know that Christmas has little to do with Santa and more to do with helping others in the spirit of Jesus. We have everything we need and far more than what we could ever want, and it's important to us that Madelyn grow up knowing the value of helping others, especially this time of year.
So there you have it. Let the festivities begin!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

My nemesis

Approximately three years ago I received a wedding gift in the form of a cuisinart. I thought with this new apparatus I was well on my way to unlocking the domestic genious within. I was going to shred, chop, and puree my way into my husband's heart. Every time he saw that blessed tool on the counter he'd know something tasty was about to be revealed.

Now, three years later, I have yet to even take that little guy out of the box.

In fact, I'm downright scared of it. Kind of like the first time I bought mango. It's fear of the unknown. With the mango I didn't know how to cut it or what to do with it once I did, and for years I avoided recipes including this ingredient (mango salsa, salmon with mango rice, many very delicious things) because I felt inadequately prepared to handle it. Kind of how I feel about my cuisinart. When I see that a recipe involves the use of this tool I immediately flip the page and move on.

I'm not sure what it is. I mean, it's an inanimate object for crying out loud. I think partially I just see all of those little parts and don't want to try and figure out how to assemble, disassemble, and then let's be honest, CLEAN all of those tiny separate pieces. And I don't want to take the time to learn it, which is just plain laziness.
But not this year. 2011 is the year of the cuisinart. No longer will I subject myself to carpal tunnel from chopping every.single.ingredient for guacamole, or resist making delicious soups because I have puree-a-phobia. Me and my Cuizy are finally going to become BFFs. After all, it's been three years in the making.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Slightly spoiled

I'm spoiled. I don't act like it, but I've always been just slightly spoiled by my parents. My mom gives me back rubs every time I see her and cooks me anything I want. My dad sends me a card almost every week, and often sneaks in a little money for Matt and I to have a nice dinner out. Backrubs and food? These people obviously know the way to my heart.

That being said, my dad told me several years ago that he would continue to spoil me and my sister until the day we acted spoiled. At that point it would end. I don't take Anything for granted, I think God for my blessings every night, and I know how lucky I am. Spoiled or not.

But the spoiling I've seen directed toward my offspring has taken on a life of it's own.

This week we received THREE boxes in the mail addressed to Madelyn, each larger than her in size. And she's a tall one and a half year old. We have a tree full of presents underneath and they're pretty much all for one special little girl. Matt and I were trying to decide what to get her for Christmas and we're at a loss! Her grandparents have covered every necessity, every want, and every possible wish. We are truly so blessed.

It may take three days for her to tear through all of her little tokens of love from family and friends, but we'll enjoy watching every single one.

And here she is in all of her glory in front of the tree. Disreguard her wind-burned cheeks, it's been a literal arctic tundra in Atlanta this week. Oh, and please also disreguard the fact that there aren't ornaments on the bottom 1/3 of the tree. We're having a contest to see how many ornaments Madelyn grabs and shatters on the ground in fits of joy before this holiday is over. Let's just say she's winning.

(here she is concocting her next plan of attack. She's had her eye on my shiny penguin ornament all week)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Where my bells at?

Has anyone noticed a serious shortage of Salvation Army bell ringers out this year? What the heck? I set a personal goal every year to give at least a little bit to every single bell ringer I pass, but at this rate I won't even go through the change under my car seats!

Oh, and to the grammar police out there, I know you aren't supposed to end a sentence (or blog title) with a preposition, but I just couldn't help but give a subtle homage to my favorite ad campaign and hilarious you tube video found here.

Anyways, I am back from Paris. I published a post right before I left but for some reason it showed up several posts down the page. Blogger error? Not sure. More likely user error. Anywhoo-- it was a very quick, very busy trip. I arrived to the city of lights lightly blanketed in snow which I didn't expect. It was stunning. I loved seeing those little villages covered in snow from the plane. So quaint and sweet. I imagined every one one of those houses looking just like Kate Winslet's character's house in The Holiday and I could practically smell the chocolate croissants baking in the kitchen.

Speaking of chocolate croissants, or pain au chocolate if you will, I ate many many of these during my stay. I wasn't a huge fan of the fancy food we had available at our meeting so I pretty much ate carbs the entire time. I swear the bread and butter there is the best I have EVER tasted. I also made a cab driver take me past the Eiffel Tower so I could see it decorated for Christmas one night. So worth it. The entire city was decorated, it was so gorgeous. And, in a move that seemed to shock both of us, I told said cab driver where I wanted to go in a full French sentence and he actually understood!

But as they always say, there is no place like home. I am happy to be here and to wake up to Madelyn's sweet sounds, eat homemade American food, and speak a language who's grammar rules I know enough to actually be aware when I'm breaking them.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Don't worry, you didn't forget my birthday. There is a new meaning for the popular abbreviation "B-day" and it's an exciting descriptor for my day yesterday which I have dubbed Breast Biopsy Day. Yay.

Not so much.

All in all, the biopsy wasn't fun but it wasn't as terrible as I had mentally prepared myself for. I did almost faint at the end which prompted the nurses to cover me in cold rags and force apple juice into my mouth, and that was just plain embarrasing. But I never react well to numbing agents, in fact I have a very low tolerance to any medicine, so this wasn't a huge surprise.

I'll spare you the gory details and leave you with some "highlights":

1- I get to work in bed with an ice pack tucked into my bra.
2- I forgot how yummy apple juice is. Yummm.
3- I had a really fast-talking doctor from Africa who was very sweet to me even with my negative attitude and the fact that I told her 9 times "I don't want to see anything and please don't tell me step-by-step what you're doing!" I really just wanted to slip into my yoga breathing and picture myself and Ryan Reynolds on an island somewhere.
4- They put a chip into the tumor so that when I get older it will show up on mammograms and they'll know they already looked at it. Matt is convinced the government is now tracking my every move. I'm pretty sure once they see how few exciting things I do they'll become disinterested and move on.
5- I can't lift Madelyn for 5 days but we're heading to Orlando tonight for THANKSGIVING (!) so my mom can help with the monkey.
6- It's done. The best highlight of all.

Hope you all have a safe and wonderful holiday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's ON!

Our house that is...its officially on the market!! We're just slightly excited.

Here are a few pictures. You never know who out there may know someone who wants to move to the beautiful suburb of Fayetteville.

The house is precious. We've truly put our heart and soul into it and will miss it dearly, but it's time for us to move on. And "on" for us means moving closer to work and family.

We've had many late-night get togethers on the back deck, celebrated bringing our baby girl home, even had our first kiss on the couch in the living room back when Matt's parents still owned the house. It's dripping with memories, and we will no doubt be dripping with tears upon leaving it.

I only hope her next owners love her as much as we have:)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Poor me

Poor me.

Tonight I leave for a 3 day business trip in Paris. I get to stay in the most beautiful hotel in the city, right next to the Opera House and a sweet little street vendor that sells the best scarves. I get to eat nutella and banana crepes for breakfast and indulge in French coffee and chocolate which in my opinion are the absolute best.

(from a website called We Heart It but I don't have time to find the link)

I'll fly first class, drinking wine and watching movies of my choice before reclining in my seat and sleeping the rest of the flight away.

Poor, poor me.

I'll also be flying for a total of 19 hours, working 12-14 hour days, surviving on coffee because I tend to experience extreme levels of jet lag when I travel overseas, and spending three precious days away from my honey and my Madelyn who literally evolves in front of my eyes every single day. I figure by the time I get back she'll be going to ballet class and practicing long division. Scary.

Bonjour for now, blog friends!

Craving boring

I'm fighting an unusual craving and it appears I'm going to lose. It's not the usual battle I wage between myself and the M&Ms in the work kitchen, or the draw to the couch when I really need to work out, it's a craving for one full week of normal, boring life.

It feels like since the spring it has been one thing after the other. Car repairs, house repairs, Matt traveling, myself traveling, illnesses, birthday parties, you name it, we've done it.

Sadly the next 6 weeks don't look much better.

This week had a lot of potential to be the week I needed. No major plans in sight (until Thanksgiving of course), my dad flying in on Friday which I was so looking forward to, and I appeared to be off the hook for an upcoming meeting in Paris which I didn't want to work (more on that later). Then yesterday I took Madelyn up to the pediatric pulmonologist to find out she has asthma. Coming from an asthmatic, this is like a parental nightmare because it's a condition that's generally difficult to anticipate and even more difficult to control. And as we all know, I like control.

After returning home I noticed the smell of gas around our water heater, and after a hour of "do I call the emergency service line? Do I not call? Am I crazy?" I called. Good thing, because we had a small gas leak. "Of course we do" I thought to myself.

Today we're meeting with the listing agent to get our house on the market. Next Tuesday I have my biopsy to confirm "the lump" is nothing (can you tell I'm confident?), Wednesday we head down to Florida for 5 days, and Tuesday I leave for Paris. Turns out I do have to go. Of course I do.

I know one day when it's just Matt and I sitting around, old and retired, I'll think about the days when we ran around like crazies and wished for a sometimes quieter life, and I'll feel blessed we had so many fun things to do and so many wonderful people to do them with.

But for now, all this mama wants is a plain, old, boring week.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How I spent my weekend

This is me in the middle of my two dear friends, Dai and Kristin. We're riding a motorized cooler through the streets of Gainesville, Florida in the midst of gameday mayhem. Just a normal Saturday.

Note: next time you ride a cooler, don't wear a dress.

And to the officer who insisted we immediately park our "vehicle" because we were endangering pedestrians, it IS street legal.

If you wanted to bust us for something you should have checked the inside of the cooler for open containers.

Just sayin'.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My new digs

I'd like to thank the fabulous Penny Lane Designs for my gorgeous site makeover!

I saw this template on her site and just fell in love.

Everyone needs a little makeover every now and then. Since I've already done my house and my closet, the blog was just bound to be next. And when I say I made-over my house and closet, you should know the great majority of the items that made those acts possible came from Target.
And took years to complete.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A day for me

Today was my day. The entire day. Matt was taking Madelyn to his parents house and going to a football game, and I have been alone, on my own, since 7 a.m. this morning.

ALL I have asked for all summer and fall is one day to myself, to do whatever I want, and not have to take care of anything but myself.

Well I got my day. And I had absolutely no idea what to do with myself. Seriously. How ridiculous is that?

I had plans in the morning to get together with some girlfriends and ooh and aah over a new baby in the group. It was just as fun as I expected. I absolutely cherish my girl time. I guess I'm a bit of a girl's girl, which is probably good given that I'm raising one. We had lovely conversations about nap times, entertaining children when it's cold out, how wine and coffee are so essential to motherhood, and how our husbands parent our children completely different than we do, simply because they're men.

Turns out once you have kids you just can't help but talk about them, even in the rare moments you get some time away. Go figure.

After my time with the ladies I went to the mall, but the whole time I felt rushed. I think that's just my default setting these days. Rush home from work. Rush to get ready. Rush rush rush.

I mean, I'm a fast walker anyways but you would have thought I was one of those speed-walking women pumping my arms and sporting a fanny pack. You know the type.

Anyways, I finally calmed myself down. I tried on some dresses for a few events we have coming up but didn't buy a single thing except for an eggnog latte from Starbucks.

Now I'm home missing my honey and my monkey. I missed them all day. I baked a double batch of these muffins, a batch of this Uh-mazing rice pudding, and now I'm sipping a glass of red and halfway watching football.

Turns out a day to myself was nice, but not all it was cracked up to be. I think a few hours would have been sufficient.

So much of who I am now is Madelyn's mommy that when I spend an entire day away from her it truly feels like a little piece of my heart is missing. It's quiet, and my idle hands aren't
quite sure what to do with "free time." Imagine that.
Matt and this little face will be home in a few hours and I plan to spend all day tomorrow loving on them and being grateful they make my heart feel so full. And next time I'll be careful what I wish for :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Momnesia (n.): the inability to remember anything not written down or on your blackberry task list. Often occurs after childbirth. Worsens with age.

I once read that the aluminum in coke cans has been linked to early Alzheimer's, but I wonder if anyone has documented the effects on your brain that come from raising children.

Exhibit A. In the past 3 months I've left work twice oblivious to the fact that I was missing important items. Once, my laptop bag WITH my laptop. Another time, my purse. Not just my lip gloss, sunglasses, or snack for the ride home. The whole thing. Yesterday I pulled into the garage and reached down to turn the car off.

Turns out it helps to put the car in park before turning off the ignition.

Thank God for technological safety advances.

If you've seen Something to Talk About with Julia Roberts and Dennis Quaid you remember Julia's character constantly leaving to go somewhere and accidentally leaving her daughter behind.

I sincerely hope this is not what's next.

What causes this complete memory lapse? It's true that motherhood is busy. Very, very, busy. Maybe we all just have too much to do? Maybe it's learning to do all of those things on less sleep than we're accustomed to? Maybe the part of your brain that used to serve as your common-sense memory organ now swirls with Baby Einstein songs and verses from Goodnight Moon?

I tend to think it's because you get so used to focusing on one thing that you tend to let the rest fall by the wayside. Has Madelyn been fed? Yes. Is she clothed? Yes. Am I clothed? Yes.

Except for the time the mailman came to the door and I answered in my nursing bra. But that's another story for another day.

As I told my mom last week, I often feel like I'm a doctor in the triage unit of my life. Tend to those things in the most critical condition, the others can wait. Stop the bleeding (crying), bandage the wound (provide sippy and baby doll), move on to the next crisis.

Lord help me when we have more children.

And please say a prayer for our mailman, bless his heart. I fear he may be scarred for life.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Tornado (n.) is defined as a localized and violently destructive windstorm occurring over land characterized by a funnel-shaped cloud extending toward the ground; a movie produced in 1996 featuring fierce competition between storm chasers with a strong romatic undercurrent; a metaphor for my life this week.

I hate tornados. When I was pregnant there were three separate occasions when the local tornado sirens went off and I was home alone. I immediately took my cell phone and hid under the bathroom vanity in our powder bath which I considered the safest room. This may seem drastic, but when you live in a little redneck town the suburbs, tornados are an actual possibliity. Oh, and being 8 months pregnant may have shifted my perspective as well. Imagine cramming that belly in a space designed only for a trash can and maybe a few magazines. It wasn't pretty, but it was safe.

This week we had tornados again. Actual tornadoes and destructive metaphorical tornados in the form of pneumonia in my sweet baby girl.

Tuesday on my way home from work I got a call from daycare that Madelyn had spiked a 102.6 fever. I picked her up and we went straight to the urgent care. After an hour of observation because her breathing was so rapid they deemed her illness "a virus" and sent us home. It didn't sit well with me, but they said her lungs were clear and as someone who has always had asthma and respiratory issues (and who has made several trips to the ER in respiratory distress) this is always my first concern.

That night I got up constantly to check on her. She was panting like a dog she was breathing so hard but I just kept telling myself that they had checked her and she was fine. Trust the doctors, don't be a paranoid maniac like you always are.

The next morning we woke up and I knew something was wrong. After 2.5 hours at the doctor, x-rays, breathing treatments, and a big shot of antibiotics we were sent home with a diagnosis of pneumonia.

Chalk one up to mother's intuition. And thank God for it.

Proceed to cancel all work appointments, head to Target for antibiotics/juice/tylenol/a new toy as retribution for all of her pain and suffering, and hibernate at home for two full days of snuggling and resting. Worry, worry, worry all day and all night. Feel terrible that I ever put my parents through this. And pray that this is just a fluke and she doesn't end up with asthma like me.

It doesn't help that our pediatrician has urged us to go see a pulmonologist because it's "not normal" for a child to have pneumonia twice by the time they're a year and a half.

I'd like this to serve as reminder for everyone out there, parents and not, that doctors aren't always right. They see A LOT of patients every day, and they don't know your body like you do. They don't know your children, how they act, how they react, their normal tendencies. Be your own advocate and if you think something is wrong, pursue it.

Tornadoes are often unexpected and cause major damage. Watch for the signs in the air and in your life. And remember next time you have to take cover to grab snacks. With Madelyn I can conquer anything as long as I have snacks.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I have eaten waaay too many candy corn in the past week, the actual number of which I will never publicly disclose.

I spent all day on Saturday at the Clemson football game without my hubby and without my little angel and I had so much fun. Really, it was a great day. Gorgeous weather, tons of food, and great time with friends. Including our friend's adopted 10 month old daughter Gracyn who I really did not want to put down. Go figure, I get a break from mommy duties and all I want to do is hold a baby.

I have a sink full of dirty dishes and floors that need sweeping but I'm sitting on the computer and watching Dancing With the Stars. And after I see Audrina and Jennifer Grey I plan to catch up on some magazines. This is about as rebellious as I get these days.

I'm not sure when it happened , but I am completely obsessed with Madelyn. I wasn't one of those parents who felt a tsunami surge of emotion after birth and lost all sense of reality. I knew I loved her but my feelings manifested themself in gradual, more subtle ways. Like, I couldn't stop looking at her. And I was stressed out maniac trying to make sure she was constantly ok. Normal first time parent behavior, but to me, affirmation that I felt connected to her.
Over time my love grew and grew for her and now I've turned into a big gooey puddle of Madleyn love and every.little.thing. she does just melts my heart into a million pieces. Seriously. I've become one of those moms. And in the midst of my love-struck fever I've decided that all I want is to move to a farm and have a whole litter of babies that can just crawl all over me all day long. I'm kidding, though I really do have daydreams about this. I'm confident the urge will pass. But please don't tell my husband--he scares easily.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Puttin' my big girl panties on

Yesterday was rough. After being so grateful and assured that my honey was home for good, he was told at 9 a.m. that he'd have to leave that evening to go to Birmingham for two straight weeks. As I told Kristin, there are not enough profanities in my vocabulary to explain how I feel about this. So instead of cuss, I cried.

All. Day.

It was obnoxious, even by my standards. I'm not a crier and I'm not sure what happened. I wasn't prepared. I hadn't grocery shopped or cleaned the house, not to mention we had big plans to go up to the Clemson game on Saturday while Matt's parents watched Madelyn. Yes, a day together amongst adults together was just what the doctor ordered after all the time apart. Not so fast.

After a sleepless night I woke up feeling un-refreshed but less dramatic. Accepted there's nothing I can do, thanked God for giving him such a good job that he happens to love, and put my big girl panties on. Time to stop being such a baby.

Except now I'm watching Steel Magnolias and Shelby is in the hospital know how it ends. Great. This is just what I needed.

I'm still going to the Clemson game. I'm going to let Matt's parents watch Madelyn and enjoy the day with friends, even though my best one will be missing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A day at the farm

Yesterday we spent the afternoon at a local farm to celebrate fall and of course, pick up some pumpkins. Except we didn't end up getting pumpkins because we were so tired by the end of the day that we decided having the pumpkin patch experience was enough and we could just pick some up at Lowe's. So lame. But we really were so tired.

Our friends Chad and Amanda met us there and they have a little girl named Emma who will be 3 in January. It is hysterical to watch her and Madelyn play together and talk to each other. Especially since Emma talks like a five year old and Madelyn talks in complete jibberish. Somehow they look at each other like they both know what the other is saying.

Here's a little recap of our afternoon.

Arrive at the farm and immediately hop in line for the tractor-pulled cow train. This was an obvious choice.

Stop to let Emma pose on the child-sized tractor:

Admire large tree:

Continue on to the corn house where we proceed to let the children walk around shoe-less in a foot of corn and repeatedly say "Madelyn don't eat the corn, just touch it.....touch Madelyn! Not eat!"

Pause again for an attempt at family photos:

(aren't they cute? :)

(pause here to wish blogger would add a photo editing tool titled "add tan")

Begin making our way through the corn maze in the shape of Bobby Cox's face. Pretty impressive, even by redneck standards ;)

The bridge at the end of the corn maze. At this point Madelyn has permanently removed her shoes and all Emma wants is her juice box. Proceed to cafe to indulge in fried food made the way only a rural Georgia farm family can.

Good friends, good times, and not a single tantrum from either toddler :) It was a happy day.

Friday, October 15, 2010

This kind of morning

What do you do when you've been stuck in traffic for 55 minutes in jeopardy of missing your 9 a.m. conference call?


Open and boot up your laptop as you continue to drive in lane 6/7 of Atlanta's mess of an interstate. Sip your large latte. And crank up your Friday morning Britney playlist as you speed into work.

While I don't typically condone doing anything but driving in your car (I'm taking to you teenage texters), sometimes you just have of those mornings.

This week has been crazy at work so needless to say I'm pretty excited it's Friday. Even more excited that our highs are only in the 70's for the weekend! Perfect pumpkin patch weather.

As always we have a busy weekend planned, but I'm just so happy Matt is home I could care less what we do. Saturday we're getting up and heading straight to J. Christophers our favorite breakfast place (hello blueberry crunch pancakes), then coming home with full bellies and working on the house all day so that in the coming weeks we can get a For Sale sign in that front yard! We've been doing a lot of praying (begging); a lot of financial planning (not shopping); flipped a few coins, tossed some salt over our shoulder and are hoping for the best. A little luck can't hurt.

Sunday we're going to church and then to the pumpkin patch! You can be sure I'll have a photo filled post ready for Monday morning. I don't know what could possibly be cuter than Madelyn and pumpkins. Or just Madelyn.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back to normal

Order has been restored at the Marden household...Matt is HOME! Cue the harps and the gospel choir singing "Hallelujah!"

He got home around 2 p.m. yesterday and I think by 2:05 my stress level had been reduced to normal state. No more training. No more Connecticut. No more single parent-hood. I'm a happy girl.

He couldn't believe how much Madelyn had changed in just two short weeks. It was such a reminder to me to cherish every single moment because they really do pass so quickly.

I made a decision in the midst of this past week as well. I've made no secret about the fact that I hopelessly suffer from a type A personality. Typical first born, a slave to my to-do lists, neurotic in nature, with a minor tendency to panic when I can't control a situation. You know the type. Well, I'm it.

But something clicked with me and I realized that not only is stress the most useless emotion, it also ages you and it makes you cranky. I don't want to be stressed about getting everything done. We're all busy, we all have a lot to do. Instead of resenting all of my to-do's I'm going to take joy in those I like, and get to the rest when I can.

If I feel like baking I'll bake. I won't do it out of guilt (because if I don't, daycare will feed Madelyn non-organic teddy grahams for snack instead of her homemade banana muffin!), or out of obligation (because even though I can't explain it I feel like I should do this). I'm going to take joy in the little things like reading, writing handwritten cards to my friends and family, decorating and organizing photo albums for Madelyn when she grows up, and spending time with my husband. I'm going to check my google reader and TV listings a little less.

I've felt like I've been on a slippery anxious slope lately and I'm convinced if I let it continue Madelyn will inherit these neuroses and that is just not ok.

I don't think God ever intended for us to spend all day running around like crazies, trying to squeeze 40 hours of work into a 24 hour day. So I'm going to stop.

Life is too short, and I've got it easy. It's time to enjoy it :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Die.

Slightly biased, yes, but seriously I just die over the cuteness of this picture. Die.
I always said I'd be the authoritative parent. The bad cop to Matt's good cop with natural tendencies to spoil. But I'm afraid that little girl is going to run all over me, leaving me in the dust of her dimples and giggles.
I'm in serious trouble.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sometimes you just have to breathe

On Friday we traveled up to Gor-Geous Chapel Hill for my cousin Jimmy's wedding. The trip included a one-hour plane ride with a nearly one and a half year old, renting a minivan, and sleeping in a hotel room- all things that make this girl uncomfortable. Have you heard about the hotel-driven bed bug epidemic? Yeah.

Thankfully my sweet mother flew to Atlanta just to help me and Madelyn get to North Carolina in one piece and I really thought we had everything under control. Until 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night when the stomach virus of 2010 took me down. And I mean down.

I thought maybe it was the bar french fries I ate while watching a shameful Gator loss to Alabama but turns out no one else who partook in my fries was ill. And ill is an understatement. I was up all night and then had to fly the next day. Thank the good Lord above for my mother because I wouldn't have made it without her. We're now home though I'm not exactly sure how we got here, and I'm still sick.

Since Saturday night I've been living on motrin and gatorade, sleeping constantly, nursing a blinding headache likely from dehydration and lack of food, and generally trying Not to breathe on Madelyn.

Last night I was exhausted and nauseous but I knew I had to give Madelyn a bath so I did. Afterwards we went into her room to get a new diaper and jammies, but she saw my weakness and took advantage of my impaired reflexes by pooping on her floor. Carpet, to be exact. You know, the kind of flooring that soaks up everything. And in three different spots.

Breathe in.....breathe out......breathe in.....breathe it with me now....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Get to know your girls

Yesterday was an interesting day, and since we all know I like to outdo myself, today I decided to top it by locking myself out of my house. When I had a conference call starting in 10 minutes. And in the midst of my sweat-ridden panic realized I hadn't put deoderant on yet.

I eventually got in the house thanks to an accidental spare key in the garage and did also eventually put on some deoderant. You're welcome.

But back to yesterday. This picture provides a bit of explanation. Let's just say it did not involve buying a new watch (though she is pretty- thanks, honey!), but instead a nice little hospital-issued wristband and baring my girls for complete strangers. I think you know what girls I'm talking about. They're the two that are attached to you at all times. That unless you're prone to adult films or wet t-shirt contests you'd prefer NOT to bare for the general public.

This post is probably TMI but whatever. If you can't bare your thoughts (about your chest no less) to a blog-community full of strangers who can you talk to? :)

About 10 days ago I noticed a lump that caused a bit of concern. 48 hours later I was at my OBGYN where they confirmed said lump, killing any hope I had that it was a complete hallucination. One week later (yesterday) I was at the women's radiology clinic for an ultrasound to try and figure out what this new visitor was. Turns out we think he's a fibroadenoma which is nothing more than a benign tumor. Apparently very common in "women my age".

Typically when these are small they recommend you come in 6 months later and monitor it closely to make sure it doesn't grow/evolve in any way. When they're large they suggest a biopsy to run some further tests. Mine is right in the middle, which means they're leaving it up to me. Seems like an easy decision. I mean, avoiding needles and knives is usually the prefered route in any major decision making process. But I come from a family of worriers. And let's be honest, since the birth of the monkey I've been known to worry from time to time. Manically even, which is why it's so surprising I'm not the least bit worried about this.

So, it looks like I'll be going under the knife. I figure it's worth the peace of mind. And a day off work.

The moral of this story is- check your girls. You never know what you might find.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Glutton for punishment

As I've mentioned, Matt's spending quite a bit of time out of town this summer for job training. And he's not just the next state over, he's in Connecticut which might as well be Dubai as far as I'm concerned.

In light of the fact that he's leaving again on Sunday I started making a list of things we needed to do before he leaves so that I'm not having to run errands, clean the house, etc etc...basic things to make my next stint as a single-parent just slightly easier.

- Bake two dozen muffins (freeze half) to have for breakfast/snacks
- Pluck my eyebrows and do my nails. If these are not on the list I can assure you they will not get done.
- Clean out my car. Take clothes to Goodwill and books to library to donate.
- Clean the bathrooms, dust the house, vacuum, clean the microwave and fridge, finish putting laundry away....on second thought, email cleaning lady this morning and pay to have someone do all of these things for me. Score one for delegating.
- Shop for diapers, wipes, and any toiletries we may need.
- Hit Publix for groceries and easy meal ingredients. Plan all meals using this cute template so I can mindlessly get food on the table every night.
- Clean out Madelyn's closet and pull the many clothes she's rapidly growing out of so I quit trying to dress her like Britney Spears in midrif tops and daisy dukes.

Apparently I felt this list left me far too much free time, so I decided I NEEDED to make a wreath for the front door, decorate the house for Fall and Halloween, AND plan a last-minute surprise 30th birthday party for Matt before he leaves town.


Am I incapable of functioning without 47 projects on my plate? Honestly.

Please remind me next time I complain that I'm running around like Joan Rivers at a free-Botox convention that I do this to myself.

Monday, September 20, 2010


On Saturday we traveled further out into the middle of nowhere than we already live to visit a local farm festival called Heritage Day: A veritable celebration of a simpler way of life. We saw tractors, a moonshine still, and LOTS of overalls. Here are a few pictures from our little adventure.

Matt couldn't resist the homemade peach ice cream.

Neither could Madelyn...

I, on the other hand, opted for something with a little more grease...

All I can say in my defense is worth.every.bite.

Seriously, I'm still thinking about it. Especially when I jog and I feel my butt jiggling behind me, quietly reminding me of my indiscretions.

Damn oreos.

Here you can see how someone took an old car and made a barbeque out of it. Matt was in complete awe over this.

Aforementioned overalls, example 1/94:

The same farm also grows Christmas trees which provided a beautiful backdrop for pictures.

I wore plaid....when in Rome....

And last but obviously not least, the cutest little denim-covered one year old you've ever seen:)
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