Monday, May 15, 2017

Baby Steps: Catch up

Hi, friends. It's been a while ....

The last few months brought quite a few ups and downs for us ... and writing, once again, took a back seat to real life. We were moving along at a fast and furious pace with work, building our new house, and trying to balance it all when life threw a major curve ball our way. We lost my stepfather in March, very unexpectedly. To be honest, I still do not have the right words. I'm not sure if I ever will. It's all still very surreal and much too painful.

But life can be funny, too (in an ironic sense, that is) ... I've been thinking a lot lately about giving up this blog. What is a writer to do if there is no time or will to actually write? And, blogging these days seems to be so much more about social media and affiliate links and promos ... and that's not really why I'm here. At least, it's not why I started this page way back when. But, as I said, life can be funny sometimes. Just this morning, as I was about to delete my 'friendly reminder' from Amazon Associates about how long it's been since I've had any clicks or purchases or whatnot, I looked up to see this little guy on my porch.

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He startled when I noticed him and flew up to the closest tree branch. He sat, and sang, and we watched each other for a while. They say a visit from a cardinal bird is a visit from your loved ones who have passed on, and that little bird reminded me today that I can't let the the outside world be the reason I stop doing this. I'm not sure how or if or when I will find the time to write on a regular basis. Hopefully the summer months will bring a bit of rest, a time for more writing, and reading, and self care -- we are all in need of a little more quiet time.

I hope to see you all around in the coming weeks. If I can find just the right balance, I hope to share with y'all some of the updates about building our house, as well as the stack of books I plan to dive into this summer, and maybe even a little bit about what I'm learning about Mindfulness.

Until then, here are a few fun items I have found for the Baby Steps House ...

These haven't arrived yet, but I'm hoping they do soon!



It took 2 weeks to get a kitchen table, but we finally found one at the West Elm Outlet. For now, we're using these fun chairs, but I can't decide if they should stay inside or go out to the patio ...



The one and only place in the house I didn't consult Husband's opinion was the guest room. I thought it would be okay to splurge away from his modern taste just a bit in there ...



Oh, and we're on a septic system now. I had no idea these things were so complicated, but this was my first 'septic-safe purchase...



If you have suggestions for dish soap, laundry detergent, etc., bring 'em on!

These are almost literally the only things we have in the house so far. Lots of work yet to do!

Thanks for catching up with me today. Keep moving forward, even if it feels like you're moving forward just one baby step at a time.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Building the Baby Steps House

If you’re following me in Instagram, you know that we are making quick progress on building our new home. Our finish date is scheduled for some time in May, and I am starting to realize just how quickly that time is approaching.

It is a bit overwhelming to think about outfitting a new home that will be bigger and need more furnishings that we currently own. Even if we don’t go all out right away, we still need some basics … because my almost-four-year-old most definitely needs to get out of a crib and into a real bed.

In fact, we will need new bedding for everyone in our new home. Upgrading from one living area to two and one dining space to two also means that we (I) have a lot of shopping to do in the next few months.

Timing these purchases is also a struggle. What can or should I order now and then pay to move in May? What can I purchase (big furniture?) and have stores hold for us until we are ready to have it delivered? What can wait until the last minute ... and how much will I regret putting things off until the last minute? How much will I annoy Husband if I overdo it at this point in time?

If you have any suggestions to share on this process, I’m all ears! I have been making wish lists and boards for months, and I actually made a couple of purchases recently. I picked up this quilt at Home Goods while traveling last week for work. 


It has the blend of gray and beige that we plan to use in most of the spaces throughout the house. Apparently greige is a thing now?! We will likely use this quilt either as a bedspread or throw in our new master bedroom. I also bought matching shams, but they’re standard size (not king) … so I know I’ll be looking for other coordinating pieces. I found similar Tahari-brandbedspreads on Amazon, but nothing that was an exact match.

I also picked up these supercute mixing bowls on an Amazon Lightning Deal. 


They’re not a necessity, but I love them … and I will just hide them away until moving day. Hopefully Husband will think we’ve had them all along. Shhhh!

So, as we move through this process that is quite daunting for me, I would love your help! Share your opinions, experience, advice. Bring it on! 

Today I shared some items that I have already purchased, but I plan to post options from time to time and would love to hear what you think. Because I’ll be sharing direct links, I will also be trying my hand at a few affiliate programs (Amazon, Wayfair, etc.), which means I might be compensated if you click/buy directly from my site. But I promise that I won’t be asking you to buy anything … just the opposite! I’ll be asking you to tell ME what to buy! If you happen to also love an item, I would be ever-so-grateful if you'd make your purchase by clicking directly from my link. 

It’s an exciting time as we build the Baby Steps House, and it’s moving quickly! Thanks for joining me in this journey! 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Today was supposed to be a holiday ...

God bless this hot mess: Summer tank, fleece-lined leggings, glitter tutu, last year's shrug. Then she added tall Frozen socks and brown ankle boots. Sometimes you worry about the small things. Sometimes you pick your battles. 


Today was supposed to be a holiday for this working momma. But my youngest is sick, so we are scrambling to squeeze in a doctor's appointment. And I'm on mom duty instead of getting the pedicure and the peace-and-quiet I had planned. 

I had planned to meal prep, get some things for work organized in anticipation of a busy sales season, and possibly take a long afternoon nap. A little rest would have been ideal as I continue to shake off the effects of these cold/allergy symptoms that have plagued me for the last 10 days. Instead, I'm refereeing two of the tiniest, fiercest little people you could ever meet, who are currently reveling in that sick-but-not-sick phase that keeps kids at home and moms on their toes. 

I love these fierce little people, and I live every day for them. But my oldest has sung the same 6 words in rapid succession for the last 12 minutes strait, and I'm wondering how early is too early to pour a glass of wine. 

"Are we there yet?" they asked 2 dozen times on our 16 minute drive to the pediatrician. 

Today is not a day to worry about the small things. Today is a day to pick my battles. What she wears ... That he is hopping like a frog around the doctors office ... That I will get absolutely nothing done that I had planned...

I want to dwell on these things, wallow in frustration, grumble about that nap I'll never get. But picking those battles would be futile. Instead I am trying to take a cue from my 2017 word of the year (build) and re-frame my perspective ...

How fortunate we are that this happened today, when I am home from work. No meetings to miss or reschedule. No disruption to our overall schedule. No added stress for my over worked husband. 

Y'all, it can be hard sometimes to appreciate things like this. Things that don't immediately bring joy, things that aren't an obvious cause for celebration. But I'm trying every day to recognize these little gifts...the sick day that forces us to slow down, to take in extra snuggles on the couch, eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, and put aside the rest of the world. No matter how much it doesn't want to let you. 

Being still has never been my strong suit, but God always knows when I just need a little break. Today was one of those days. I didn't work out. I haven't rushed anywhere. I haven't cleaned, organized, or even answered more than an email or two for work.

   But I did have an amazing conversation with my kids about the significance of this MLK holiday, about kindness and inclusion, and respect, and love. 

  And my daughter was fascinated at the doctor's office, which led to more discussion and you tube videos...and, for the first time ever, she might be considering non pop star related life goals. 

  My son laid his head on my shoulder and reassured me that he would be just fine, because, "Mommy, you always take BIG care of me!"

These are moments that would have never happened if my day had gone according to plan.

So, when I say God bless this hot mess, I'm not referring to sparkly pink tutus paired with hiking boots and a dozen accessories. I'm referring to myself, and the constant buzz in my head that runs and runs until outside forces take over. I function both on autopilot and in complete overdrive so often that I think I want so badly to fight those outside forces, ignore the runny noses, and hope for the best.Today, I am grateful to have been able to press pause.

I let my one-of-a-kind child do her own thing when it came to wardrobe selection. And I allowed life to slow down, even if for a few short hours. It wasn't easy or even a very natural inclination for me, but I managed to pick the right battles today, listen to my instincts, and even sneak in a brief nap.

It may have taken 3 sittings to write the entirety of this post, but aside from the doctor's warning that steroids can cause hyperactivity and that my son's croupy cough could stick around for a couple of days, we are all doing just fine.

Thanks for joining me today as I take a few baby steps forward in my journey as a working mom. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2017: BUILD

For the last few years, instead of making an official New Year’s Resolution, I have followed the lead of my friend Jolie at The Gray Matters and selected a word that would guide me through the upcoming year. Two years ago, the word was Move. Following a rough pregnancy and baby time with my youngest, I was ready to take back a bit of control and move though my days with mental and physical intention. Last year, in a completely random turning of tides, I selected the word Still. I must have regained a bit too much momentum in 2015, and I was ready to quiet myself from the rushed pace I had been keeping.

I worked hard on capturing that still frame of mind in 2016. At a leadership conference in June, I was introduced to the concept of mindfulness and immediately knew it would be a useful tool for my goals. Slowing down is still a work in progress for me as a busy working mom, but I did take a few steps last year in an effort to find a bit more calm. Completely counter to my typical and very committed see-it-though-to-the-end mindset, I quite the PTA at my daughter’s school in September and immediately recovered 10-15 hours in my month. I also made the tough choice to stop publishing my Macaroni Kid newsletter. I loved being the Editor and Publisher for almost 7 years, but it had become more of a chore than a joy. It was simply time to move on to other adventures.

I have thought a lot about what my word for 2017 will be, given the dichotomy of my words from the past two years: Move vs. Still. I considered Balance. It would be oh-so-wise to make balance an intentional goal, but it also carries the biggest potential for failure. And, who needs that right off the bat in a new year? I’d like to continue with my mindful practices and the goal of finding more calm in my days, so I considered extending the word still for another year. But it didn’t quite fit anymore.

In thinking about what I would like 2017 to bring for myself, my family and friendships, my career, this blog, and so much more, I realized that the perfect word to focus my goals this year is BUILD.


The realization hit me softly as I reflected on the beginning stages of building our new home. The process has been tedious, but the reward will be wonderful. We will push through the pain points during the first few months of the year to find ourselves settled in a home that will allow us to build a foundation for the things that are so important to us … faith, family, friendships, and gathering those we love around us. Building our home will allow us to surround ourselves with a bit of nature that will bring the peace and calm we haven’t been able to find in our current crowded space. Our home will build the future that we have been not only dreaming about, but planning and saving for for a very long time.

This is the year to lay the foundation and BUILD.

We have spent 3 years carefully considering neighborhoods, builders, existing inventory, and so many other factors. We knew we would need to move, and we wanted the move to be long-lasting and the best fit for our family. Of the many considerations, we knew we needed to move from our neighborhood built on clay soils across town where our foundation would sit on solid limestone rock.

I love how fitting this verse is as we move forward in building our home and our life this year….


24 Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. –Matthew 7: 24-25

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Like a Baby

She sneaked out of bed last week about an hour after bedtime. She didn’t wear the usual mischievous look on her face that typically appears when she is angling for more TV time. She sleepily walked over to me and crawled into my lap without a word. I held her close, practically rocking her as though she were still a tiny baby.

At seven, though, she is far from tiny or a baby anymore. It’s not the weight of her that has removed her from the baby category. At fifty pounds, she is thin and lithe, but she is tall, her arms and legs now gangling from her body. Her face has lost any remnant of baby fat, and I occasionally catch glimpses of what my sweet girl will look like in ten years, or twenty.

So, as she sat on my lap that night, I held her closer still, knowing that these moments were fleeting. How many more times would her entire body fit into my arms? How much longer will she be able to rest her head on my chest in just the right way? I knew this particular time would not be the last time I’d hold her like this, but I was also keenly aware that that time would be coming, and far too quickly.

I breathed in the sweet scent of her freshly washed hair and, although it was a different smell than that of a precious infant, it was still familiarly innocent. I kissed the top of her head, and she snuggled closer still. But it was time for her to go back to bed. We both knew we had pushed the limits of our normal routine.

She drowsily asked if I would carry her back to bed like a baby, and I immediately obliged. I didn’t scoop her up easily like I have done for the last seven years; I had to brace myself, prepare for the impact. Would this be the last time I would cradle her in my arms? Perhaps not, as I am definitely too determined to hang on to these baby years. But that time is coming, without a doubt.

Until then, I will cling to these special, sweet moments; and I will brace myself, prepare for the impact of the day that is sure to come … the day that her head rests on my shoulder instead of my chest, the day that I can no longer physically lift her up in my arms, the day that I can no longer pretend that my beautiful child is still a baby.


Of course, no matter how much she grows, no matter how awkward or difficult or different the hold becomes, I will always hold a place for her in my both my lap and my heard as my baby girl. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A really tough day

"Mom, can I just relax in the bathtub for a while? I've had a really tough day."

When she said it, my first instinct was to laugh, snort scoff ... what could my very protected and privileged six-year-old possibly know about a tough day? 

But, I didn't laugh. I paused, just long enough to really consider what she had said. I watched her lean back against the side of the tub and close her eyes in an attempt to let the day start to wash away. She looked, well, a lot like I imagine that I look at the end of the day. As I thought more about what she had said, it dawned on me how similar my child's schedule, yes my CHILD, is just like my own. 

She wakes up before 6:00 a.m. Every single day and rarely slows down until 8:00 p.m. Sure, her school day ends mid-afternoon, but she is immediately bussed to her after school program, where they're encouraged to do homework right away. They do have a short snack time, but does that really count as down time? 

When I pick her up, there may be a bit of free time, but the evening routine basically kicks in right away...dinner, bath, homework. It's exhausting for me, as an adult that has the maturity and wisdom to process this busy trap we've woven for ourselves. 

She sighed and opened her eyes, ready for me to wash her hair. It had only been a minute, but I could tell she knew it was a minute too long, a minute we didn't have. It took a lot for me to fight the instinct to hurry her through the process, but I tried to resist. I sat down onto the floor, off of my knees. I rested my chin on the edge of the tub and sighed right back at her. 

"I had a long day, too." I told her. She touched my cheek with her wet, soapy hand and smiled up at me, and we sat in silence for just a few minutes. She swished the water around her, and I watched the calm wash over her face with every moment that passed without me saying, "hurry up."


Monday, October 24, 2016

Christmas Countdown

Another Monday means another week closer to Christmas. 

As the commercials and catalogs and lists ramp up, I found so much joy watching these cousins play this weekend ... with a piece of, well, I'm not sure what exactly. Foamy paper?? It was a protective cover for a new TV. Basically, it was going to be trash. 



But they played with it for a solid 45 minutes. And, I'm talking squealing laughter, big imaginations, loads of fun ...and not a toy in sight. 

So, as I prepare my holiday shopping lists this year, I'm hoping I can reign it in myself and remember that they will probably have more fun with the box than the gift!!