2017 - Baby Steps in High Heels

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

All the ways we recognize fall in the south ....

7:52 AM 0
All the ways we recognize fall in the south ....
Because the weather certainly won’t tell us. 

1.  College Football. Yes, it starts in August. Yes, it’s still Summer. However, for us, even when the quarterback snaps the first ball of the season, we know we will have 6-8 more weeks of flip flop weather. At least he’s more predictable than a groundhog. 

2. Mixed messages when our kids ask what to wear. In our house, I break out the cardigans and ankle boots the moment the temps near the low 80s. Husband will wear shorts in the 50s. Our poor kids never really know if they’ve chosen the right outfit. 

3. All four seasons in one week. It’s true the high temps can stick around through November, but that doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally sprinkle in a snow flurry the day after we’ve floated the river. {Seriously, the weather won't tell us when Fall has arrived, at least not with any certainty.)

4. Pumpkin patches in flip flops and shorts. Family photos in cute fall outfits while sweating up a storm at 8:00 a.m. And, heavy coats layered over tank tops, because sometimes all four seasons also happen in a single day. Our closets are always bursting at the seams, because we can never pack away a season of clothing for months at a time. We usually need swim suits and scarves all in the same week. 

5. We eat and drink pumpkin spice everything in front of our fire places, but we need to crank down the AC first. 

6. We buy out the fall foliage section at craft stores because the leaves on our trees go from green to brown, then straight to the ground without ever a hint of yellow or orange or red. 

7. Halloween costumes are a nightmare to select. Those cute and cuddly animals costumes may cause our toddlers to have a heat stroke. On the other hand, a cold front could roll through and bring temps in the 30s by the time we start ringing doorbells to trick-or-treat. Seriously, how exactly do you prepare for this?!

You may have better luck in you part of the South, but here in South/Central Texas, we mostly fake it till we make it. We love the autumn season, and we are dang lucky that our southern roots and flare for overly dramatic hospitality and decor allow us to compensate for Mother Nature .... now I’m off to order a PSL, just as soon I turn UP the seat warmer in my car and turn DOWN the AC to its lowest setting. 

Happy Fall, y’all. Even if we have to make it happen ourselves. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Relief

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Hurricane Harvey Relief
I am a born and raised Texan, and I have seen my fair share of floods. I have never seen devastation to this extent. We all want to help, and, at this time, I am using my local pajama drive - Christmas Pajama Promise-New Braunfels - to collect NEW pajamas for children affected by the storm. We will collect size Newborn - Adult Large over the next 2 weeks. 

If you are local to our area, please consider making a donation at one of the following locations:
Leslie Lybarger - State Farm 
Chick-fil-a Westpointe Village
The Gym

This is a great, but simple, way to involve children in the helping process. 

We do not yet have a specific donation recipient (or recipients). I will travel near Corpus Christi toward the end of September and hope to connect with some of the smaller towns who have received less support. If you have specific suggestions, please reach out to me. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Good morning ...

10:41 AM 0
Good morning ...
Good morning, old friends.

It always amazes me that I find so little time to write in the summer. It's the time when my work is a bit more slowly paced; it supposed to be the time when I have more .... well, time.

The truth is that I have struggled with my writing lately. To share or not to share. How much to share. Does anyone care? I've written a time or two about how much blogging has changed since I began about 8 years ago. For me, it was a means of connection at a time when I felt fairly isolated (remember: sick pregnancy, new town, no friends or energy = new blog).

Not only has my life changed and evolved over the last several years, so has the blogging world. It's no longer just a glorified daily journal, but a place that requires high quality images, social media, and some fairly intense networking if you want your work to go anywhere.

To that end, I have been wondering where exactly I fit in all of this. Write what you know is an often used adage, and I have done a lot of that, focusing on the aspects of working motherhood that are familiar to me. But, truth be told, those topics can grow weary fairly quickly. And .... another truth be told, most of those topics are not specific to mothers who work outside of the home, but to mothers of all walks of life.

Where do I fit? Who is my audience? This morning, friends, I believe I have found my answer ....

I fit here. And, my audience is me. I began writing as an outlet, as a mode of connection, and in a time when blogging was truly a glorified journal. And, at that time, I loved it. Write what you know. Do what you love. Today, I will begin a journey to take this space back to what I know and love.

I don't mean to exclude you by saying that I will by my own audience. Rather, I need to write for myself and not for anyone else. My goal, my hope, is that you will like what I share and that my writing will resonate with you .... and that you will become a part of my audience naturally.

What will I write about? Good question! What do I know and love? I love my family, our life together and this fabulous "new" idea to scale back, become less busy, and be mindful of the slower times and quieter moments. I'm not good at those latter things, so I'll write about my exploration and attempts at being less busy. I will still share my experiences in motherhood, working outside of the home.

I am also going to attempt a year-long project to post weekly about my kids, based on a picture from my phone. I'm hoping NOT to try to take pictures intentionally with a writing goal in mind. Rather, I'd like to look back on my week of photos (because I am that mom with 100 pictures/week on her phone), and write about our time.

Finally, I want to share some of my favorite things with y'all! I'm wholly reliant on Amazon Prime to function in any capacity (food, clothing, home furnishings, you name it!). I love supporting my friends side-hustle businesses. I love my friend Jolie's Purpose Box mission to shop with purpose and support those in need.

We will see how this goes, y'all! But before I can begin unpacking these writing goals of mine, I really need to finish unpacking our new house!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

School's Out .... for the Summer

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School's Out .... for the Summer
It's true. Here in the South, we are officially on Summer Break.

To kick off our hot and humid vacation (well, my kids' vacation, not mine because, you know, working mom here), I decided it would be a great time to mitigate some of my working mom {who travels ALL the time} guilt by only sending my oldest to child care part-time this summer.

That's right, friends, she will go to 'school' Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and I am trying to figure out a fun little Mommy-has-to-work-all-day-but-NO-you-can't-just-watch-Netflix-for-8-hours-straight daily schedule. Suggestions? I'm all ears!

In fact, I did draft a schedule, which my very head-strong child revised 3 times.

We also made a Bucket List over lunch (at 10:58 a.m.).

She added things like Spa Days and Shopping Trips (yes, she's 7). I added things like Learn to Whistle. She wants to go to Costco to track down some delicious Belgian Waffles I bought 2 summers ago. I didn't fight her on this one though, because ... you know, the wine section at Costco is, well, Costco-sized.

It's an interesting Bucket List, to say the least. I'll share it once we have realistically revised it. Until then, I did take a peak at our list from last year .... it was a solid list, and I think we did a pretty good job working our way through it.

I also stumbled on my Mom Guilt Vacation post from a couple of years ago. At the time, I penned this plan for just a couple of weeks late in the summer. Last year, I decided it was worthy of laying the groundwork for the entirety of the summer season. And, I have to say, that I still agree. No, I will not fight with my kids over broccoli or rigid routines or bedtimes before dark. And, I will not feel guilty about it one bit.

Happy Summer, y'all. We make just be taking a few baby steps forward, but at least we're moving in the right direction.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Baby Steps: Catch up

2:17 PM 0
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

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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 ...

2:02 PM 0
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

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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