Monday, November 19, 2012

Packing simplified

Now, before you judge, I swear I do not have a compulsive organizing disorder. It just so happens that I find comfort in the orderly. And in the midst of the absolute chaos that has been the past four weeks of our life, I had to do something to harness my anxiety.

So this past week my mom called and asked if she could steal Madelyn away for a few days before all of the Thanksgiving craziness began. She lives in Florida but it just so happened my aunt was heading down and said she could take Madelyn with her, so we said ok.

Of course, with impeccable timing, one of the bloggers I follow on Instagram was posting pictures of this amazing idea she used to pack her kids for their vacation. So I copied. It is the highest form of flattery, no?

Each gallon ziploc bag has a full outfit with coordinating hair accessory, panties, and socks where applicable. There is a separate bag for jammies and other misc. accessories. As you can see, hot trends for this winter include pink, leopard print, and Tangled panties.

I wanted Madelyn to be able to pick out her outfit each day, and my mom to have an easy time seeing what was in there. And for me, I got to stand back and admire each outfit- neatly folded and happily compartmentalized.

Now if I could just find bags big enough to hold my clothes...

Life lately

Life lately has taken precedence over blogging, and at this point it's all I can do to keep my head above water so apologies for the lack of posts (I'm talking to you Mom and Aunt Sue).

As the transition into daycare has eased from an emotional standpoint, Davis' poor immune system is still adjusting to the onslaught of daily germs and has been pretty sick with strep throat since this past Thursday, running as high as a 103.8 fever (and greying his mother's hair by the second.) His mother, apparently still still also adjusting to a toddler-like immune system has a double ear infection. We visited four doctors in three days because then I had a skin reaction to the antibiotics. I'm totally fine, D is on the mend, and I'm somewhat grateful I can't take any more meds because it was making me feel negligent when I'd take them with a glass of red. Now I can enjoy my wine guilt free.

We also received amazing news from his cardiologist today that we can drop another one of his meds which leaves just ONE that he has to take daily. His heart looks fantastic, function is great, and we are overjoyed.

My work is particularly demanding right now as I prepare for a trip to Barcelona to help with a very large and very difficult five day meeting. I'm basically working every night once the kids are down until I go to sleep....and I wonder why I'm sick...

I am excited for Thanksgiving, but even more excited for Christmas because I am planning to really unplug. I joked with my boss that for those last two weeks of the year I was going "off the grid" and that I wouldn't be reachable by cell or otherwise. I said it jokingly, but it's awfully tempting.

I have tons of fun projects I hope I get around to sharing eventually- lately I've found comfort in crafting and organizing and while I've successfully convinced my sister I have a serious disorder, I'm ok with that. She's probably right.

I hope you all have a wonderful, safe, and healthy holiday!!!

Please keep those families in your prayers who may be spending theirs in the hospital. I never stop thinking about them.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Being a mom is hard

Being a mom is hard

Like, really hard. The people that tell you that, your mother who often reminded you of that- they weren't lying. It's actually really fascinating how you can feel such emotion for someone that isn't you.

And it's hard for reasons you don't expect. It's not just the sleep deprivation, or the semi-loss of a social life, or the inability to leave the house in something that's not dirty or wrinkled. It's hard because of the worry. Because when you have to let go a little you can actually feel your heart break. But really because of the worry.

Yesterday I took my sweet little miracle boy to daycare and it has not gone as I would have hoped. He's scared, he doesn't know anyone or understand why his mommy is leaving him in this loud, scary place. He cries a lot. He won't really sleep and barely eats—and nothing is more uncharacteristic of Davis than not eating. When I picked him up yesterday his face was red and swollen and I could not squeeze him fast enough.

And today when I left he cried and cried as a stranger tried to calm him down and his mommy walked out the door. And I came home and cried and cried because my poor baby thinks I abandoned him and he doesn't feel safe, or comforted, or understand at all why he is at this weird place.

I know it sounds ridiculous. People take their children to daycare every day, he just needs to get used to it, he is safe and he will be fine. I get it.

But he's not just another baby. He's my baby. And when he is upset, I am upset. And I feel like I've failed him. And that is why being a mom is hard.

You have to make hard decisions, and sacrifices, and it isn't always fair. In the midst of that, you have to feel emotions that you can't comprehend or even control most of the time. You doubt yourself constantly and there is nothing you can do about it. And some days it's just hard, and there's nothing you can do about that either.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

That really happened

So, I guess I'm a cliché now. I'm the mom who took care of everyone but herself and embarrassingly ended up in the ER this past Saturday for dehydration. I like to think of it more as exhaustion like the celebs say, but you can call it what you like.
Remember the neck spasm? And Madelyn's four day viral bonanza of excretions? Well, I got that virus. I'll spare you the details, but I never actually got sick, I was just so nauseous I laid in the fetal position for a few days and barely ate or drank anything. Like, anything. I had three crackers and a Gatorade all day Friday. I was busy taking care of the kids, I felt like crap, and the last thing I wanted to do was eat or drink.
Cut to Saturday night when I got really weak and tired and then started shaking uncontrollably for about an hour. My sweet husband that I'm quite sure I scared to death took me to the hospital and luckily, they saw me right away since my heart rate was high. After a nice big bag of fluids, some anti-nausea meds, and potassium (mine was low) they sent me home. They also kindly confirmed that I am not, in fact, pregnant, which I informed them would have been a massive failure of the pharmaceutical industry.
It took five days in total, but Tuesday I felt Amazing. I had so much energy, I was thrilled to be working, I wasn't the least bit nauseous. And from now on I'm going to be that girl that walks around everywhere with her big bottle of Smartwater.
It has been a bit of a wake up call for me, for sure. I can't be a good mom to the kids if I don't make time for myself. It seems logical but it's easier said than done, though I can see now, absolutely necessary.
So, to close, I think we've learned a few valuable lessons: you may be a mom, and you may be insanely busy, but you are important and your kids will really miss you if you have to spend your days in bed sick and dehydrated. So eat and drink on a regular basis, please. Oh and also, I could never be anorexic. Like, ever.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Is it Friday yet?

This has been a week. And it's only been 5 days since I started counting. Here is a brief recap of what's been going on at casa Marden.

**I had a bad neck spasm (I am secretly 67 years old)- spent a day in bed and the past four in a neck brace

**Madelyn fought a four day stomach bug, including her first several bouts with vomiting which is just terrible. This same virus also prompted a visit to the doctor as she became limp and listless from dehydration. We're going through a lot of Gatorade and crackers up in here.

**I had to move the trash can from the kitchen out to the garage because my insatiable son opens it and eats food out of it every time I turn my back.

**The kids pulled the drapes down from Davis' wall. Apparently they were in the way of their chase game.

**I woke up at 2:15 in the morning with a ROACH ON MY FACE. I swear I could have handled a python on my face better than that. I now sleep with the sheet pulled up right under my nose. Seriously. ON.MY.FACE.

In these times, when we don't feel well, and are literally in survival mode:

**I'm grateful for amazing health insurance and the fact that I don't have to worry about how I'm going to take care of my family when we aren't well

**I'm grateful for a son who is getting so big and is so healthy he literally cannot eat enough, and for a husband who effortlessly takes care of everything when I need to rest

**I'm grateful that Madelyn and Davis love to chase either. Their giggles and shrieks are my favorite sounds of the day.

**And in regards to the roach, there isn't really any redeeming factor there, except for the nice young pest control man who thoroughly treated our home yesterday and I'm quite sure is forever scarred by my story. As am I. Eww.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This week's menu

I am a meticulous menu planner. I sit down every Saturday or Sunday, plan the week, and make one trip to the store to cover everything. It's the only way we stay out of the Chick-fil-a drive through which we still admittedly end up visiting several times a month.

I thought I'd make a weekly effort to share what we're having in hopes it helps inspire you as well.

Bon Apetite!
The rest are my own recipes, but if you'd like them let me know and I'll share :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I should know better

I've been that mom bragging about my perfect children who will eat anything (anything!) for quite some time now and this, this is what I get for all that bragging.

See the below email sent to the BFF yesterday:

note: "try" should ready "tray"
 My sweet little boy, the one for whom I made copious amounts of homemade baby food. The one who ate plain steamed zucchini and broccoli like there was no tomorrow. You know, the organic zucchini I bought from our local farmer's market from a real farmer, not that I was being smug about it.

Well, those days are gone. I'm sure it's a phase like everything else, and I suppose it serves me right. But come on, dude, help your mama out. My mom pride takes a serious hit every time you throw the veggies.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Fall is finally here! My favorite season for so many reasons and I can't wait to enjoy it this year since we missed 2012's version.

Given the state of my brain these days, I find our life can best be explained in bullets, so here goes:
  • I got to spend the weekend with all of my favorite girls which does more good for my soul than almost anything. There is just something about unfiltered girl talk and senseless laughing that fills me with joy.
  • note: one very important BFF missing here but this is the only pic I have.
  • Said weekend was followed up by a THREE HOUR cardiologist appointment for Davis which I of course attended alone with both children. After texting Matt that I surrendered and to please send reinforcements, he came home with these trusty allies. Yet another reason why I love that man. And yet another reason why I love AP and her posts like this.

  • Davis is starting daycare on November 6. For the past year he's either been home with me while on maternity leave or home with our nanny, and now I have to send him out into the big bad germy world. I have a feeling I'm going to be relying on the above a lot that month. It's too bad day drinking is so frowned upon. Darn you, societal norms.
  • I am dying to go to the pumpkin patch but I refuse to go this weekend when it is projected to be 77 degrees outside. (note: it was 45 last night I'll be in shorts this weekend. What the heck)
  • Madelyn's new saying is "your mommy is so silly, Davis"--um, I'm your mommy too, kid. Three and a half and she's already ditched me. Nice.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Davis' first birthday

Davis' first birthday was not just a party. It was not just a chance to see friends and family and open presents and dress up the kids and have yummy food. It was a day to reflect on this past year and to be grateful for every.single.moment we've had with our sweet little miracle boy.

It's hard to believe what has transpired over the past year and I am beyond thankful for where we are. There is nothing I'd rather do than celebrate than my healthy little boy, and so we did just that. It was a wonderful, happy day.

Menu card (and other details) by Sweet Birdie's Nest


Aunt Lacie, Uncle Luke, and cousin Logan (your future BFF)



Dear Davis,

You have changed me, and our life, in a way I could have never anticipated. You make every one of my days better and I cry happy tears over you more than I'll ever publicly admit. Thank you for every smile, every snuggle, and every little slobbery kiss. I treasure them.


Your mommy

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Incase I forgot to mention...

Someone had a birthday!

Unfortunately, this same someone also has a mommy who is very busy at work and fighting a yucky cold. She promises to post all about her precious boy's first birthday celebration very soon.

In the meantime I'll leave you with this. You wouldn't have believed his smile when he saw that cake. Such a testimony to what a happy little angel he is.

Don't even get me started on how cute he was in that button down. I can't even take it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Things I Wish I Knew

The things I wish I knew when I became a parent for the first time...

Everything is a phase. It doesn’t feel like it when you’re in it—when they won’t sleep, when they cry for hours, when they insist on only eating a certain color food. No, when you’re in it, you feel rationally convinced it is going to go on forever. But it won’t. It never does. Just ride it out.

Your body will go back to normal. It may take a while, but it will. You will not feel like a jiggly blob forever.

The window of time that you get to hold your baby- truly hold them and snuggle them- is so short. Do it whenever you want to and don’t feel guilty. By the time they turn one they’ll be so active they’ll be running away from you (ahem, Davis) and you’ll miss those days when they laid on your chest for hours.

You are doing a great job. Even when you have a bad day, and you have no patience, and you feel like you’re doing everything wrong- you’re doing a great job. All your kids need is love. If you love them, and they know that, you’re already doing better than you think.

Trust your intuition. Don’t ever doubt the God-given sense that mothers have- it’s there for a reason.

Don’t stress- your kids can feel it.

Kids do everything at a different pace. Everything. Do not panic because your child isn’t clapping, or holding their bottle, or waving at the exact second the other kids are. These things are trivial. And they all catch up to each other at some point.

You will never be the same. Ever.

You will understand why mothers cry at Hallmark commercials and feel so silly for all the times you rolled your eyes. Those moments on those commercials, they are important. When you walk into your child’s room and they light up to see you. When you take them to school for the first time. Sitting around the table eating dinner. Brushing your daughter’s hair. Every moment is important…treasure it, and never take even those seemingly mundane activities for granted. Those moments make up your life.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Labor Day Fail

Our long Labor Day weekend didn’t exactly go as planned. One of these days I will finally learn that MY PLANS MEAN NOTHING. Aren’t your 30’s supposed to be a decade of clarity and knowledge? Yet somehow I continue to live in sheer denial and with the belief that I really can control everything.

Saturday and Sunday were great, albeit I had a minor migraine both days. And let’s be honest, saying you have a “mild migraine” is like saying you got shot by one bullet not three, so you should be ok.

After said migraine got the best of me on Monday morning I took a very strong pill that my doctor prescribed for when prescription strength naproxen won’t do it. And what did this little magic pill do? Make me magically and deathly ill for 8 hours. I spent all of labor day in bed. Every time I got up I immediately started to faint or be sick and thus returned to the fetal position.

Not My Plan.

Turns out, and this is the worst part, I think somehow white wine has suddenly become a migraine trigger for me. And if you know me, you know how devastating this is. As I posted to twitter last night, I'd advise that you hide your children and the faint of heart- without my wine I am officially a threat to society.

To recap:
Fetal position
No wine
=Holiday FAIL.

Needless to say I'm looking forward to Halloween.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


One of the most important things I think we can teach our children is the importance of giving. I want Madelyn and Davis to grow up knowing every day how lucky they are, and that it is their duty to help others who aren't as fortunate.

Of course, I know this isn't going to just "happen" without diligent and intentional teaching from us as parents. We've tried to explain to Madelyn what it means to donate as we're cleaning out her toys, but at three and a half she's just now starting to really get it. It's absolutely amazing to see that little light go off in her head.

I have felt really moved lately to help orphans. I don't know why, but for some reason God has put it on my heart to help children without a family. I don't feel like it's in our journey to adopt necessarily, I just want to do something to help others adopt, or at least provide for those poor children in some way. So as I was tucking Madelyn in the other night we said her prayers and I told her about how some children don't have enough to eat, or clothes to keep them warm when it's cold. She looked at me with the sweetest little face and said "mommy- we should give them some of ours."

I was a proud mama. I am a proud mama. She's listening. She's absorbing what we're saying. And she wants to help. It was a really awesome moment.

Sometimes you think your words go completely unnoticed. Half the time I say something she just wants to talk to me about her princess dolls and the pretty dress she wore that day. But I know she's listening. And our actions won't go unnoticed.

We are all so very lucky. I think we forget amidst the mass affluence of this country that we are all so very rich. The majority of people in this world don't have basic necessary comforts let alone 400 thread count sheets and a pantry full of food.

My kids will be spoiled, and that's ok. They will know to appreciate it, and as long as they grow up with generous hearts, I'll be happy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Happy Anniversary: our new chair

Reading blogs is a funny thing. There are some blogs I've read for years where I truly feel like I know that person, yet I never have and likely never will actually meet them.

Because of this, I was super excited when the opportunity presented itself to meet Beth from Design-A-Peele this past weekend. I've read Beth's blog for a while now and can relate to her on many levels. She has a great eye for design (on a budget no less!) and a super sweet personality, not to mention the most adorable little boy.

Recently, she started selling her beautiful creations and when I saw this beauty I knew it had to be mine. After all, the traditional five year anniversary gift is wood and honestly, what else can you buy each other made of wood? So Matt and I picked the chair up on Saturday and it's now happily living in our master bedroom. It's gorgeous and we are so so happy with it.

As an added bonus, it was so great to meet Beth. She warmly welcomed us into her home and after fawning over her adorable decor, I gladly took a few extra goodies off her hands. I'm hoping we can get together again one day as I really think our families would get along well.

Thank you, Beth, for everything! I loved our chat and can't wait to see what beautiful pieces you have available next!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Things that drive my husband crazy

As Matt and I prepare to celebrate our five year anniversary (!), I thought it might be fun to illustrate to you just how far I am from the perfect wife. You know me, I'm all for keeping it real.

Behold, things that drive my sweet husband crazy.

1. I am terrible at ironing. So bad, in fact, that I beg Matt to iron my clothes for me. #domesticfail

2. I leave cups of water and tea all over the house. Usually one on the nightstand from when I go to bed, one in the living room from that evening, and one on the kitchen counter that I may use again. It's just slightly annoying to him. I tell him I'm just trying to save him the worry that I could become dehydrated.

3. I constantly harrass him for using ranch dressing on everything. He doesn't even use it as often as he used to (he's a total ranch head) but when he does I still

4. I find really fun DIY projects that look "so easy!" and then make him do them for me.

5. And lastly, I make to do lists.

For him.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A work in progress

Our family reached a major milestone yesterday. We attended church for the first time as a family of four. I was so excited to get the kids dressed up, pack the diaper bag, and fall into our new Sunday routine now that Davis had clearance to attend the church nursery--until we got there.

I was worried about how he would react- he’s never been left with someone he doesn’t know, let alone in a room he’s unfamiliar with. Turns out he was a total champ. And I was the one who cried like a baby.

Literally, I had to go to the bathroom and compose myself.

It’s funny- I swear I’m still carrying around emotions from the hospital almost one full year later. I can’t seem to let them go. Part of my tears were happy tears because leaving him means that his doctor thinks he’s healed. But leaving him brought back memories of where we’ve been, doubts that we’d ever live a “normal” life or that he would get to participate in these activities, and fear about what happens if he gets sick.

I realize some of this is highly irrational and I’m quite confident my husband thinks I am crazy. I don’t completely disagree with him.

I was talking to Kristin about it and I really feel like what we went through with Davis changed me as a person. I think about the hospital all the time and I cry about it more than I’d like to admit. The fear and the desperation that I felt those 28 days made a dent on my heart and my sense of security that I sincerely cannot seem to fill.

Even though I get to look at that beautiful, thriving child every single day.

Even though I see the x-rays and tests that show he’s ok.

Even though I truly believe in my heart that he is ok.

I can’t let it go.

I hope that changes over time. Maybe I’m just grieving the loss of the part of myself that could live free of doubt and fear. Or maybe I don’t really want to forget because it reminds me to be grateful for every moment, every single day.

Either way, I’m a work in progress. At least now I can relish the small victory of my sweet boy who gets to grow up knowing what it’s like to spend his Sundays at church. For now, that’s good enough for me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

My little secret

I’ve been keeping a secret from you. I wanted to share it but didn’t for safety reasons (which unexpectedly reveals the other secret that I am a paranoid maniac, but that’s neither here nor there).

Matt has been on a business trip and I have been on my own with the kids for the past three weeks.

Twenty two days to be exact.

Single mom to a lovely (albeit high maintenance) three year old and 10 month old who decided to start walking and climbing stairs upon his father’s departure. Which translates to- I haven’t sat down, or slept a full night, in 22 long and tiring days.

Until Wednesday night when my love returned home and life went back to our happy normal.

In all honesty, it wasn’t that bad. But it is hard to do everything yourself and not have any time for yourself. I’m lucky the kids have been healthy and that they have the best little dispositions. They are such little troopers, and were always extra sweet to me when I had my moments. Being a single mom is no joke people. If you happen to know one offer to help them NOW.

Oh, and in the essence of full disclosure, I finally gave in and started drinking on Sunday. That helped. As did these moments. MELT MY HEART.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Not the Perfect Mom

Sometimes, more often than not, the solution to my anxiety is merely just to simplify.

A few weeks ago I began the process of planning Davis’ first birthday party. I’m not sure why I call it a process when it is truly a JOY; I guess because it’s a process nonetheless.

As I was thinking through all of the details: time, guest list, food, drinks, theme, invitations, etc. I started to feel my anxiety rising and I couldn’t figure why planning such a happy and blessed event was actually causing me stress.

I had decided on a sailboat theme (boyish enough for the hubs and cute enough for me) and I was feeling all sorts of undue stress trying to figure out how to theme everything for the party. I call it PinDrome (aka Pinterest Syndrome). Suddenly my party was going to be a complete failure unless had monogrammed sailboat party favors, a nautically-themed menu, and perfectly coordinated outfits for the children.

This raised several questions:

1: Good enough for whom exactly?


2: What the heck was I doing theme-ing his party? I am not a theme-y person. I didn’t pick a theme for either child’s nursery, I’ve never chosen one for Madelyn’s parties, yet here I was trying to figure out how I was going to incorporate the obviously necessary sailing rope into my tablescape.

So I dropped the theme. And it’s incredible how my anxiety instantaneously vanished. Suddenly, all I had to do was buy some cute plates and napkins (doable), get food on the table (doable), and plan on enjoying the moment with my family (DOABLE).

I’m not a theme person and that’s ok. I can appreciate them from afar, but it’s too much for me. I need simple. I truly believe in every aspect of my life that less is more. And if it’s stressing me out, I probably shouldn’t be doing it.

So, we’re having a late afternoon barbecue with our closest friends and family. We’re going to eat with our hands on an old tablecloth and talk about the many ways in which my sweet boy has stolen our hearts. And I will spend the day focusing on what matters, the amazing family Matt and I have built, and will not give one thought to what everyone else is doing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Form AND Function

I am a form over function girl. I don’t care how it works, or even if it works for that matter, as long as it looks good. This is (just one of the many reasons) why I won’t wear crocs- have you ever seen an uglier shoe in your life? I don’t care how comfortable they are. I’d rather wear my stilettos and be uncomfortable all day yet still have some dignity than wear plastic shoes that look like they were made out of tire rubber.
But sometimes, when the stars align, you find the perfect marriage between form and function. And let me tell you- I have found THE ONE.

Enter, the maxi skirt.
Maxi entered my life last week and we’ve been having a mad love affair ever since. Shauna posted about a skirt she found at TJ Maxx on Instagram and after seeing how cute and flattering it was I knew I had to find one for myself. Well, I found two. And I am obsessed.
Why I haven’t participated in this trend sooner I do not know. It could have made my life a lot easier.
All I have to do is toss a tank top over maxi and immediately I give the illusion that I am totally put together and stylish, yet I feel like I’m wearing pajamas. These are so mom-functional- I can move around freely and comfortably, no one sees my underwear when I bend down (which is often), and because I look so cute, I am a much happier mama.

See honey, we all benefit when mommy goes shopping.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Life as a Mom

It is 1:30 p.m. and I just finished the cup of coffee I began at 6 a.m. this morning.

I had to fish my toothpaste out of my own urine because someone* thought it would be funny to throw it in the toilet with reckless abandon before I had flushed.
*I'm talking about you, infant

I just threw my duvet cover into the wash because said infant also had a major hand-in-poop incident this morning while on top of my bed.

And I just got back from running errands and found these on my feet.

At least I no longer have to worry about losing my mind… I can now safely assume it’s already gone.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How I'm Becoming More Efficient

There are days, more than I'd like to admit, that I feel extremely overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done. Life is busy. Being a working mom is hard. I constantly feel pulled in 20 different directions and often wonder if any of them is getting the best of me.

Lately I've been trying to streamline my life so that I can spend less time worrying about things that really don't matter and more time with the people that do. Maybe some of these can help you guys too!

Three of the four above photos from my favorite fashion/beauty blog
1. I am the girl who always opens up her closet full of clothes and swears she has nothing to wear. To add to that, I have to get dressed every morning with a three old begging for cereal and a nine month old climbing up my leg, so as far as I'm concerned, the fact that I leave the house in more than yoga pants is an accomplishment.These days, whenever I come up with a cute outfit or see one online that I like I take a picture of it. That way when I can't think of what to wear I just scroll through my "outfits" photo roll and pick one out. You would not believe how much easier this has made my mornings.

2. Matt and I have declared Wednesday night "home maintenance*" night. After the kids go down we review our budget for the week/month and then we clean house. It's been a huge help because previously, I got anxious every single time I saw something dirty wondering when the h*&^ I was going to find time to clean it. Now I know- it will get done on Wednesday, and I instantly relax.
*Someone please send me a better, slightly less lame name for this

3. I buy gifts when I see good things on sale- not when I need them. That way I avoid running around like a crazy person at the last minute. When my favorite jewelry is on Zulily I stock up. Or when Tiny Prints runs a good sale on thank you cards, I buy some nice universal ones that would work for a variety of occasions.

4. I keep lists in my iPhone for everything, especially the grocery store and Target, and as soon as we run out of something I add it to the respective list. No more scrambling around to see what we need from the store.

5. And lastly, my planner. Duh. Every night I sit down and plan the next day. I even write things like "send Kristin a card" or "daily devotional" because it helps me focus on what I want to spend time doing, and what I find personally fulfilling. For me, when it's scheduled it gets done and I like that.

Monday, July 9, 2012

EC Love!

I'm not a big jump-on-the-bandwagon kind of girl. I know what I like and the hot new trend doesn't usually influence me much (with the exception of the mint skinny jeans purchased in NYC for which I fully blame Pinterest).

But the rage around the Erin Condren life planners totally roped me in. I got one last year at the tail end of my pregnancy with Davis and just received my new one for July 2012-July 2013 a few weeks ago.

I love school supplies. Pretty pens, nice paper, it always signals a new start for me just like it did when I was in school. But as much as I love these little accoutrements, I LOVE planners and this planner does not disappoint.

It has separate sections for morning/day/night for each day which is great for me because I essentially plan my day around "before work/work/after work." I sit down every Sunday and plan our menu in this based on any activities we may have and every night before bed I plan the following day. And looking at all of these bright colors really do make me happy, even though I realize that sounds ridiculous.

It has laminated tabs, a nice big pocket in the back where I keep stamps and extra labels, and a zipper pouch where I store my fancy gold paper clips. There are tons of blank note pages in the back which I use for planning parties, bible verses I want to refer back to, or our house to do list. Not to mention, they are fully customizable down to the colors, design, text, everything.

I'm not sure why I'm rambling on about the details when you can find them all here, but nonetheless, there they are, and THERE is my beautiful new planner!!

Erin and team also threw in tons of beautiful gift labels for FREE which I obviously love. I use these all the time- on teacher gifts, delivering food to friends with new babies, etc. It's amazing how put together a gift looks with a nice personalized label. I realize these things are superfluous wants and certainly not needs, but often you can find 50% off vouchers for Erin Condren on One Kings Lane, Zulily, Plum District, and other deal sites, which makes it totally worth it.

I'm linking up to one of my favorite blogs, Meredith over at the Tichenor Family, so you can check out everyone else's planners. She also has way more pictures than I do so take a look around!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Recent Kitchen Successes

In the event that you, like me, are always looking for something new to make for dinner, here are a few dishes I've made recently that we've found quite enjoyable.

Dig in!

1. Grits' crock pot pulled pork- super delicious, super easy. We made this with the accompanying quick slaw recipe and my classic corn casserole and ate the leftovers for three straight days with no complaints.

2. Roasted corn risotto from this post by Kate. Love her Menu Monday posts and this dish was a total hit. We served it with hamburgers and a big salad.

3. I've now completely hooked Matt and Madelyn on these cookie balls and have to make them every single week. They are delicious, totally healthy, and thankfully all you do is throw everything into the food processor and freeze.

4. Pepperoni pizza quesadillas. I didn't say these were all going to be healthy, folks. 

5. And lastly, peach salad with basil oil. Make this tonight and you will thank me tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Night for Me

I declared last night MY night.

From the time the kids went down at 8 until the time I went to bed I decided to focus on myself and ignore the things I so often spend my evenings doing. No dishes, no cleaning, no planning out the rest of the week in meticulous and detailed to do lists, just me time.

I started with some exercise courtesy of these girls. They have an amazing assortment of workout videos on You Tube, absolutely free, extremely difficult, and very effective. Sometimes I forgo exercise in favor of spending time with Matt or working on the house, but I've realized it's my best stress relief and everyone benefits from that. Trust me.

After I was sufficiently tired and shaky I took a long hot shower where I proceeded to deep condition my hair, shave my legs, exfoliate my entire body, pumice my feet, and just generally relax under the hot water. I swear I was probably in there for 15 minutes.

I got out, lotioned up, put my hair up in a wet bun, slipped on my softest pajamas, and settled into bed with a hot pad on my neck and shoulders...a new nightly ritual after a massage last week indicated I need "deep neuromuscular therapy" to take care of the knots in my back.

And you know what I did then? I spent one full hour watching the Real Housewives of Orange County finale.

And I didn't judge myself once.

Aahh Espana

I am really lucky. My job has taken me so many places I may have never ever seen on my own, and definitely not in my 20s and 30s. My on-the-job interview was in Athens, Greece and since then I've been to Paris, France (several times), Frankfurt, Germany, and now Madrid, Spain.

Let's not even mention that I get to fly business class and this is what my seat looks like- tons of room and champagne upon entrance. The flight over was the most relaxing 9 hours I've had all year. That being said, the following 4 days were the most tiring I've had all year, and lets not forget I just had a baby.

I worked like crazy but I got to do it in a beautiful place with people I truly enjoy. The meeting concluded on Wednesday afternoon and I spent the rest of the day walking around the city and taking a bus tour where I proceeded to relish my tourist-status and madly snap pictures on my iPhone.

My thoughts? Madrid is gorgeous. It's old and beautiful and the buildings are just spectacular. There are lush gardens everywhere and the wine is cheap and delicious. Oh, and it's clean. My personal favorite attribute.

Behold, Madrid. Through the eyes of someone who barely scratched the surface on all this amazing city has to offer.

This was the view from my hotel room's balcony. Not too shabby.

Grabbed a quick lunch at a restaurant where I could sit at an open window. Ate a quesadilla because it's the only thing I recognized on the menu. It was amazing.
Cool sign I spotted moments before getting lost and having to use my phone's GPS to guide me back to the hotel.
Starbucks. First stop every morning even though our coordinator at the hotel often begrudgingly referred to "the Americans with their Starbucks."

Our hotel- the Westin Palace

Plaza Mayor- where the locals report for dinner and sangria at 11 p.m. each night. I am so not meant to be European with my regular 6 p.m. dinner schedule.

Entrance to dinner on Monday night at Casino de Madrid

Dinner was just a little fancy.

Bus tour 

Entrance to the gardens

The architecture was a-m-a-zing

I think this was the military headquarters

Spain from above

Old church

Another church. This one was behind The Prado museum and at night it was absolutely breathtaking.

And lastly- this was  La Rotunda in our hotel where they served all of the meals. Breakfast here was a nice way to start the day- even though it was only 12 midnight EST when I was beginning the day and felt like I'd been hit by a mallet from jet lag.

Things that I missed while I was gone in order of importance:

1. My husband and babies. I could not wait to get home and let Madelyn and Davis crawl all over me.
2. Chick-fil-a sweet tea.

The end :) 

Monday, June 25, 2012


I am craving some serious normalcy around here. These last few weeks have seriously thrown me for a loop.

We spent Memorial Day weekend in Charlotte visiting our dear friends. It was our first roadtrip with two kids and while we had an amazing time, it was exhausting.

The next weekend we took off to the Ritz Carlton at Lake Oconee (where Carrie Underwood got married!) for my work's family weekend. We were spoiled by the views, the food, and all of the amazing memories we got to make as a family. But it was our first time with two kids in a hotel room and it was exhausting.

Then this past week I spent 5 days in Madrid, Spain for a large and very stressful meeting for work. I loved Spain, the meeting went extremely well, but Lord have mercy am I exhausted. I worked very long days, on little sleep, in a country six hours ahead of my own. I never caught up on sleep or jetlag and I was useless when I got home.

Now, I want to do NOTHING for the next few weeks.

I owe you all a lot of pictures of our adventures and I'm hoping to get some up later tonight. But I wanted to post a quick update while I sit and watch last week's Bachelorette and stare at my sleeping babies in their monitors.

There is no place like home. There is no place like home.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I went for a run

I went for a run last night and it had absolutely nothing to do with physical fitness and everything to do with my mental health. And I realized when I returned and completely collapsed on the floor just how much stress and adrenaline can affect our bodies.
I am absolutely swamped at work right now as we prepare for our largest event of the year taking place next week in Madrid, Spain. I've had more curve balls and last minute changes thrown at me than ever before. I work all day long without any breaks and then at night when the kids go to bed. It's always like this once a year and it's just part of the job- the part that I happen to love, the event planning. But it is really stressing me out.
And when I stress, I run. It's the only thing that can clear my head.
Now, ironically, I'm not much of a runner. I try to do a nice walk/jog once a week and I do strength exercises every day (crunches, squats, lunges, etc) along with yoga once a week, but I've never been a good runner.

Yesterday I ran, literally RAN, for two miles. This was no walk/jog. This was an all out, running off every stress of the day, sprinting up hills, Britney cranked up as loud as I could handle, run. And it felt good.

When I got home my legs were shaking so badly I had to sit for 10 minutes to recover. But I felt great. I realized though, that for someone who is admittedly not in the best cardiovascular shape, the only thing that got me through that run was my mind. The stress. The adrenaline I'd been running off of all day.
As sore as I am today, I am grateful for that run. I swear it is the only thing that saved me yesterday. And tonight, I'm taking a gentler approach to stress relief…WINE.
Who's with me?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Giving myself a break

Sometimes you need a break. Sometimes, as much as I love making and managing my to do lists, and as much as I enjoy the productivity that comes with never sitting down, you have to sit down. I have to sit down.

So this week I'm letting myself off the hook.

We're eating off of paper plates because I am sick to death of constantly doing dishes. It never ends. Seriously, we need a dishwasher the size of our bathroom.

We're eating really (really) easy meals. I love to cook but it does add an element of busyness to our evenings that I don't always relish. And it adds to the above point of creating more dishes. This is our menu for the week. I estimate I'll dirty approximately one dish cooking the asparagus and one other cooking the mac and cheese. Two dishes that will go directly into the dishwasher that I will not wash by hand even though it would be much more efficient.

It's amazing how knowing that I don't have to cook but merely "prep" dinner immediately calms me. I know I won't have to rush around and attempt to keep the kids happy while I put together a dinner that I don't even eat because I'm so busy trying to clean up the kitchen while they eat. Instead, I'm going to sit and eat with them and then throw my un-environmentally friendly dishes directly into the trash. I hope the crunchy hippie Gods forgive me.

I'm also not cleaning this week. Not at all. I will straighten up because I truly cannot function in a cluttered environment, but I will not clean any more than is absolutely necessary. I will wipe the kitchen counters and table and I will clean if a mess occurs (what am I saying- when a mess occurs) but I will not clean the showers, mop the floors, or spend my evening dusting.

I'm not doing any laundry. I'm letting our nanny do it all today.

If I'm tired and I want to sit and relax with Madelyn I'm going to let her watch Tinkerbell and feel no guilt whatsoever. She's happy, I'm happy, no harm done.

And you know how I'm going to spend my evenings? I'm going to sit on my butt and watch TV. I'm going to finally catch up on my overflowing DVR, spend some time with my favorite reality stars, light a candle, drink red wine, and relax.

What a novel concept.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Exhausted and grateful

I wanted to write a post about what the bambinos are up to these days, not because I think anyone other than my mother is interested, but because I don't want to forget. And I find myself forgetting little things every day so it's best that these little nuggets be preserved in writing somewhere for they are surely doomed if left in my brain.

Madelyn Grace, 3 years old, April 2012
Miss Madelyn, or as she'd prefer we call her, "Princess Madelyn Grace," is into hair bows, barbies, ruffles, pink, nail polish, her baby dolls, purses, and of course, princesses. This one is all girl, folks. She has the most hilarious personality and so often she says things so completely inappropriate that we'll have to go into the other room so she doesn't see us laugh. She is so loving and the most wonderful big sister to Davis. She's just dying for him to get bigger so she can squeeze him to pieces. The other day she looked up at me and said "Mommy, I want to hold your hand just because I love you." I about died. But on top of being loving she is feisty, which while it can make these years a little testy, is a trait I love in her. Everything is a negotiation. If I say we're having oatmeal for breakfast she says "how 'bout...oatmeal and string cheese?" or "how 'bout I eat while I watch a show." And she likes to say "capeche?!" like they used to say on Full House to make sure we understand her request. She calls Davis "Bud" like I do, though I have no idea where that came from. She would live in a dress in a backyard fort like the picture above if we let her and it amazes me every single day what a beautiful, polite little girl she's becoming. She's definitely not my baby anymore.

Davis Allen, 7 months old, May 2012
And then there's this one. My tough little man who is already covered in bruises from attempting things no seven month old should be. This past month Davis started crawling, going from laying down to sitting, and pulling up on everything. If you want to know the real difference between girls and boys here it is: girls never stop talking and boys never stop moving. The end.  It thrills me to see him thriving in this way, though I will admit it's quite busy around here. He's climbing the curtains, the furniture, his sister, everything. But oh my goodness is he a joy. And he loves his mama. It makes me so sad to see how quickly he's growing up- I want him to stay my chubby delicious little baby forever. He's eating lots of baby food, the majority of which I've made myself which I'm shamelessly proud of. And he thinks his big sissy is the most hilarious thing he's ever seen. All she has to do is look at him and he lights up with a smile and a giggle. He drives her crazy always taking her toys and knocking over the block castles she's constructed, but I'm so grateful they will have each other to grow up with. I always tell him how lucky he is that he got Madelyn as his big sister though I know it doesn't feel that way when she's bossing him around, which she does, constantly already.
Being a mom to two kids is not easy, but there is truly something to smile about every second of every day. They are the most amazing blessings and I am unspeakably grateful for them.

To Madelyn and Davis- if throughout the course of your life I can give you two one ounce of the joy you've given me, I will consider my life a wild success. Love, Mommy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tidbits from my week...

Random tidbits from the week so far…

  • I had a wonderful Mother's day. It rained outside and I stayed in my robe and jammies until lunch which is this girl's idea of a good time. Matt made my favorite chocolate chip pancakes, the kids loved on me all day, and they also gave me a gorgeous (and way too nice but I love it so I'm keeping it) purse from J Crew. I am a lucky lucky girl.
  • I vowed to my husband, and my self respect, to refrain from ever contributing to the ratings of the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise for as long as I shall live Amen. And I broke my promise. They really lost me after the Jason/Molly/Melissa fiasco and I've successfully avoided the past few seasons, but something about sweet single mom Emily roped me right back in. She's just precious and I love that they're producing the season in Charlotte so she can stay at home with her little one. It actually almost felt real…until the men showed up. Honestly, ABC. Shame on you. She's more likely to find a husband in the tampon aisle at Walmart than from the group you "expertly curated" for her. I felt like so many of the guys were chosen for shock value and really, what was with the awkward entrance comments? Am I going to continue to watch? Yes. Am I proud of this? No. No I am not.
  • I got these shoes per another blogger's recommendation and I am in love with them and they were TWENTY DOLLARS. I'd say that's fun money* well spent.
  • I am reading three books right now and clearly have commitment issues when it comes to reading material.
  • I am going to attempt to make a video of a typical conversation between me and Madelyn. Everything is a negotiation. And she has mastered the loud exhaling "UGH!" and condescending eye roll when she doesn't get her way and it is hilarious. I knew with a little girl these things were coming but I thought she'd be closer to 13. Not 3.
 *Fun money- the very small amount of money the hubs and I get each month to spend as we wish. Also known as our respective allowance so someone doesn't go crazy at Target buying things she does not need.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bring it, thirties

Thirty is one of those birthdays that feels like it should really be commemorated. Like twenty one, only with less alcohol and slightly more self respect. It's the beginning of an era that, I'm told, is full of self assurance and stability.

Aside from my girl's trip to NYC (otherwise known as spring break 2012) I decided that it was time I start taking better care of myself. We've all seen the tanning mom on tv and I think we know that's not our end goal 20 years from now. Not that I tan, but I think we can all agree that her face has become a sad illustration of years of mistreatment.

Enter my arsenal. The products I've been using on my face to prevent evidence of prior abuse (or spring breaks, ahem) and further preventative maintenance.

There is no question I have been blessed with my mother's skin and I don't weigh this blessing lightly. My skin rarely breaks out, it's evenly toned, and my mom has often been confused for my sister (big boost for her, weird old feeling for me). That being said, I am noticing my pores getting bigger as I age and have stolen a glance or two in the mirror at some new lines popping up around my mouth and eyes.

I thought sharing what has been working well for me might be helpful for others.

1. I wash with Cetaphil twice a day. It's mild and creamy and works well. And it's cheap. And I can buy a jumbo pack at Costco that literally lasts us an entire year which thrills me to no end.

2. In the morning I use Kiehl's ultra facial moisturizer with SPF. I have mixed feelings about this product- I like that it's light and isn't scented, but I feel like I could find a comparable product for less money. It hasn't blown me away, but as a long time fan of Kiehl's products I wanted to try it. When it's gone I'll probably go back to using Avalon Organics which is wonderful and makes me smell like a delicious orange grove.

3. At night after I wash I use this Boots expert sensitive hydrating serum. I've read about the benefits of serum for a long time so I thought it was high time to try one. I love this product- the consistency is perfect. I use this all over with special attention to "problem areas." I found this at Target and was intrigued after reading about the line on Goop and it has not disappointed.

4. After the serum I use Boots expert sensitive hydrating moisturizer. Again, love this. Nice and creamy and makes my skin super soft.

5. Lastly, I bust out the big guns: Kiehl's midnight recovery eye. This is for where I see wrinkles and where I want to prevent wrinkles. A little goes a long way. Worth every dollar.

The way I see it, I only get one face. And I have to look at it every single day for the rest of my life. I might as well do what I can to preserve it! Also- and this is important- don't forget your neck! No one wants a nice young face and a saggy wrinkly neck. The end.

* Yes, I buy everything on Amazon because I am too lazy to constantly run to the store.
**I also believe that wine helps prevent skin aging and don't you dare try and tell me otherwise.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Little Bud's room

I realized, talking to my friend Meg recently, that I never showed Davis' room on the blog! Shame on me. Here is the "finished" product. It's still not totally done (is anything ever?) but it's pretty close. Matt says it's not "manly" enough to which I say hush. He's not 17 he's 7 months.

A rare moment of Davis sitting still

A cute little grey table I found at a local antique store. Basket with blocks below, basket with books above. Deer antler hooks on the wall with temporary items hanging--I can't seem to find the perfect items so the search continues.

This basket is extremely important to me. It was given to us by a couple who had never even met us when we were in the hospital. They heard about Davis from a friend and left this basket at the front desk full of monogrammed items for Davis, a few things for me, and even something for Madelyn. Just looking at this makes me cry. They even wrote "Davis" on the front and even though it's smudged I can't bring myself to fix it. Amazing people.

His dresser and changing pad opposite the window. That little yellow lion was a gift from Kristin in the hospital. I treasure it. (Pardon the humidifier- we've been a house full of stuffy noses lately)

Another baby-less view of the room.

View from the window.

Picking out a book, and a little sneak peak of Madelyn's room....

I still want a few things for the walls in Davis' room, but it's in pretty good shape right now. The most important thing to me is to keep the majority of the floor space open so that he has plenty of room to move. Have I mentioned he never.stops.moving?? ;)
© Living the Good Life. Powered by