Sunday, August 16, 2015

Monday Momfessions: The "Temporary Single Parent" Version

When I first learned my husband was setting out on a journey to better our family by studying for a tough exam and earning his promotion, I had visions of pre-prepped meals ready for his 10 minutes of daily freedom, smiling children who left him notes of encouragement, and kindness and understanding from our many one-sided conversations during these seven weeks. Here's how it really went:

1. Chicken nugget dinner count: approximately 3 times weekly. With fries or tots and no vegetables. Likely dessert as bribery. Also, Lunchables. So many Lunchables.

2. Weeping. Them. Me. In corners. On highways. Over the phone. With strangers. So much weeping.

3. Speaking of weeping: if you were driving SMP on a Sunday and saw a Mom slumped over her wheel in a Fritz's cardboard hat, that was me.  I may have been trying to put my foot down on the calypso/Kindermusik obsession in the car 24/7. This was on day 41. You know who won...

4. Lots of leaning on the village, especially in the form of two grandparents. For venting and relief pitching.

5. Plans with friends - so we could all stay sane and love one another.

6. Key phrases: "Pull your pants up." "Put it away." "Wait until I share that report with Daddy." "Daddy is studying." "Yes Daddy will still be grumpy. Mommy too." "Mommy's doing the best she can." "We'll have to wait for Daddy to fix that." "Where do we keep the pans?" "One shoes seems good enough." "When is the last time you brushed your teeth?"Why are you doing that?" "Why are you doing that?" "WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?! YOU WOULDN'T DO THAT FOR DADDY!" And so on.

7. Surprisingly, significant anger from our gentle one at bedtime. A boy gains so much benefit from the warmth, love and wrestling of his father.

8. Letting strangers tie shoes, hold your items in the checkout line, give you a knowing glance, wipe sweat from your brow, push your child in a swing, etc. Ah, the kindness of strangers.

9. Injuries. Broken toe, bruises and aching ego. Now on the Kindle: "Raising a Spirited Child." (To be clear, these were mommy injuries after a certain toddler couldn't quite find his words so used other objects to show how he felt). Related: illnesses that required hospitalization for the wee ones. Of course. Grateful everyone is on the mend!

10. Bitterness: like stare in the dark of the poor man who had just studied until 2 a.m. and consider placing a poopy diaper under his pillow kind of death stare.

Isn't that shameful?!

Don't get me wrong: the past two months have been wrought with awesome moments, watching our toddler's vocabulary blossom, the way he dances down to breakfast in the morning and the warmest hugs at the end of the day. And the oldest? So incredibly helpful without being asked, remarkable art skills and such deep conversations you think you're chatting with a 20-something.

I still haven't quite digested or let myself sit silently to let the disappointment of who I was as a mother and spouse these last several weeks. I do remember nearly daily feeling like I wasn't competent, didn't have the tools and was failing miserably as a parent. After all, my pals with traveling spouses, actually doing it as a single parent or with traditional roles make it look like a piece of cake. Meanwhile, I was crumbling each evening...and that's working full-time, having only been with my kids about 3-5 hours a day. Ashamed. I feel totally ashamed.

At the end of each day, water welled behind my eyes, the need to apologize to each child feeling like a heavy weight on my chest. Then they'd look at me and tell a joke, ask for another book, snack or water and in that moment I'd know: they felt loved. They still felt loved.

And that, my friends, is all I could ask for.

To all the parents out there who have or are doing it singly - whether it's always, sometimes or somewhere in between: you're amazing. I will never know how you do it all with such grace and confidence, but I can only hope to grow and learn from such a gracious human being as you. And may you always know that at the end of your days, it's love that counts. And you are loved.

And to Daddy: we wouldn't change a thing. We are so proud of you have always been incredibly grateful for you. Now having walked even more miles in your shoes, it's tenfold. We love you.

It's Our Anniversary

Nine years! Maybe, like 12?!

Before you go judging me about my marriage, please note I'm referring to what should be a national holiday, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Now you can judge me...

This year was shiny and bright like all the rest. A bit anxious about arriving early enough to snatch a much-desired MK bag and slightly thrown off by the 10 a.m. start time (scoff - used to be 8 a.m.), I parked my hiney in handbags and took an hour-long conference call. A girls' gotta do what a girls' gotta do for her leathers you know. After purchasing this delicious item, there were several others:
Michael Kors Essex hobo in Dark Dune: perfect for tucking away diapers
while still looking like a classy, working lady. Make it over the shoulder
or across the body and buttery soft! Don't forget the matching wallet.

Haolson leath pale pink flats - so comfortable with some character!
BP multi snake print flats - they go with everything and are flats -
need I say more?!

Kicks for back to school - swoon!
I also scored a darling tunic that looked *just* like a certain birthday girl we were celebrating too for less than $30. And let's face it, if that money tree hadn't blown over in the early summer storms, the list would've been longer and the trunk a lot fuller.

You've done it again Nordy's, just as you do day after day. Thank you for feeding all of we shoppers' superficial indulgences with your delectable style.

Grab these and more (now in full price) as you prepare for fall. You deserve it!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Emptying the Bucket

Kindergarten starts in less than three weeks. That's right, I went there - 2.5 weeks. Some of my dearest friends are already being all administrative and setting up classrooms as we speak.

When did this happen?

As two parents that work full-time outside of the home, we long to make the whole May-ish through July-ish time try to feel a bit like our summers used to when we were kids. Hours spent in the chlorine, days in the sun, nights crawling around the neighborhood until dark, up past bedtimes, living in flip flops and imagination with friends. Priceless.

So like many crazed parents of the millennium, we made a family list and are attempting to attack it like the final rays of sunshine around 9:30 in the evening. We've made a dent, with some of our favorites being:

Catching a Royals game: ball caps, hot dogs, foul balls and cold beer. What more could a family wish for?

Visiting Scheels: not only is a kid paradise, but adult one! Ferris wheel, fudge factory, Starbucks, aquariums, more Jayhawk gear you can get than anywhere else, bright colors, current footwear and all the brands you love in one place. Not to mention picture posing locations and interactive games sprinkled throughout. Save a day for this one!

Water Balloons: or "ba-ba-boons" as Little calls them. Perhaps the best $10 we spent all summer, each evening is filled with filling balloons, quick tying and new target challenges. Fun for the whole family!

Catching a flick at the drive-in: ridiculously fun and affordable! Grab your chairs, blankets, some friends, a cooler and dinner in a sack and catch the latest movies back to back on the big screen. Be sure you know how to dim your lights before you go (not that I speak from experience).

Splash Cove: perfect for the 10 and under crowd and their grownups, there are several slide options, a mini wave pool and unique ways to splish and splash all day long. Only $6/person!

Time with family: we made the trek to Minnesota and some of them visited here, creating memories we'll never forget. Plus those regular meals with grandparents and growing excited for the boys' first cousin has been a blast. The extended family even made it to a few of Big's baseball games.

The "good stuff" at home: regular dance parties, meals on the patio, porch chairs perched out front with the neighbors, wrestle mania time and even room for quiet things like being creative and imagining. Even better, we're all more equipped to stay up way past our bed time for some reason. Making friendship bracelets may top the list for a certain 5-year old.

Swimming: with varied bedtimes and interest in the water this can be tricky, but we sneak in time to take the big whenever we can. Plus he's rocking swim lessons, doing log rolls in the deep end on his own!

Spending more time at the kids' school: reading books, dropping off treats and attending field trips. Bowling was a blast and their little minds grew exponentially from the museum ventures.

Have an epic vacation: HHI - enough said. We still talk and dream of it daily.

Strawberry picking: at Woheltz Farm just outside of Lawrence. Unique, fun and you can make some killer recipes afterward.

Left on the list to conquer the next two weeks is a trip to the lake, Kenny Chesney concert, Theatre in the Park (Shrek), farmer's market, splash fountains at Loose Park and more time in the water. For Mommy, "Magic Mike XXL" and First Fridays may be in there too, plus getting rid of clutter, which we've made a 11-bag dent in.

How's your summer bucket list coming, friends?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Girls Night Done Right

"Well, you are one lucky lady - it's not many women who can say they have such a large circle of best friends with no drama!" the Price Chopper gal says with admiration along with her support of the number of items going toward a Mexican fiesta.

"Yeah, I feel like the luckiest - I'm so grateful," I reply, my Big disagreeing as he shares with her he is NOT going to hang out with those lady friends when he gets home later in the evening.

This month we were celebrating one special gal for all of the 30-something she is. And since she's so incredible, it was only necessary I prepare all of her favorite things for her evening of celebration. With a husband/cook studying around the clock, two wee ones and full work schedule, it was also necessary that the meal prep be extremely easy:
Crock Pot Mexican Chicken to top our chips
on the nacho bar
Summer Corn, Avocado and Black Bean Salad
Taco Pizza Rolls
Nacho bar toppings
Champs, of course - thanks Trader Joe's!
Key ingredient: assistance with cleaning the house!

Funfetti cake, a birthday girl fave, was for dessert paired with Shatto Ice Cream cookies cut in quarters. Couple with Montell Jordan on Pandora, bubbles, Lemonadaritas, laughter, joy, inappropriate stories and tears - it's a menu for success. And all less than $200 and two hours of prep to feed eight with some leftover! 

Come hungry, leave happy and I'm happy. So grateful for these moments, memories...and food! 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


At ONE, our biggest concern was when to bring home a puppy, where the hottest night spot was that evening, the right tone of white for our wedding dishes and how many times we could slow dance on our rickety porch of our very first home.
You said to me: I love you just the way you are. Chase your dreams. Live big. 
My soul is yours. 

During TWO, we had to do adult things like pay bills, worry about health benefits, how to scrap together enough cash to take that trip to Vegas and struggle to find that career start. The laughter was abundant, our hearts too. Life was full of light.
You said to me: I love you just the way you are. Chase your dreams. Live big. 
My soul is yours. 

In THREE, another man stole my heart and we never looked back. We were no longer the two of us, but three, and forever turned into sappy piles of mush and joy we hardly even recognized. It was scares and experiences, pictures and first times, tears and endurance. It was amazing.
You said to me: I love you just the way you are. Chase your dreams. Live big. 
My soul is yours. 

At FOUR, it was creating traditions, being sillier than we ever thought possible and learning how to be more than me. More than we. It was trying to remember what life was before: quiet conversations, holding hands, calling during the day and leaving room for date nights. On those rare ones, it was like when we met at 21 - fireworks, too many margaritas and finding a shared spirit between learning to nurture a toddler.
You said to me: I love you just the way you are. Chase your dreams. Live big. 
My soul is yours. 

When FIVE came about, it was connecting with friends - hosting mustache parties, traveling to the lake and holding on to the pieces that led us to balance in life. It was growing in confidence as parents, now trotting along our career paths and putting family first.
You said to me: I love you just the way you are. Chase your dreams. Live big. 
My soul is yours. 

In comes SIX, where expanding our family proved to be trickier than we dreamed. It was late night fights, loads of icicle -illed walls building around us and pondering if we'd ever return to what we were. It was sprinkled with gratitude, going through the motions and celebrating firsts with our family and friends.

You said to me: I love you just the way you are. Chase your dreams. Live big. 
My soul is yours. 

SEVEN arrives, and so does our remarkable baby boy. We lose our hearts completely to our two sons, finding our lost souls wandering between the memories they created for us day in and day out. We start to forget about one another, but find it again in small moments over morning cereal bars, watching a child streak naked across the room or during a show that highlights a hysterical moment that reminds us that this is normal. We fight colic, postpartum depression and how to show big love to all these things we cherish so deeply. We fight for us.
You said to me: I love you just the way you are. Chase your dreams. Live big. 
My soul is yours. 

Around the corner comes EIGHT, where we settle into routines of work and travel, daily living and nightly waking. We're overjoyed with our family's amazing milestones and start to dream again as a family. As the two of us. We find grace, we accept, we grow. We start to realize we're different and hold on to what makes us happy about the same.
You said to me: I love you just the way you are. Chase your dreams. Live big. 
My soul is yours. 

Here we are at NINE. I don't know what this year will bring, but with you by my side loving me the way I am, allowing me to chase my dreams and live big? The possibilities are endless.

Thanks for giving me your soul. Here's mine. For I'm forever celebrating ours.

I love you.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Hit Fix

"Quick - rescue it before we hit the basement!" I shouted, my husband's jaw dropping in disbelief at my priorities during a summer tornado in KC. The box lay among fallen branches, scattered bits of hail and a sky more greenish/black then we'd seen in many months.

That's right, I'd rescue a Stitch Fix box mid tornado. I may even do it more than once if ya ask me...

And aren't I glad I did, because she delivered these little beauties:
The shorts that changed my life! Kut From the Kloth's Corynne Distressed Boyfriend Short
not only fits this lady of substance, but are extremely comfortable and doesn't leave
me too self conscious of my most loathed body part that is the legs. Plus, they are
a great addition to my wardrobe since my best gal pals have informed me capris
are no longer. Love, love, love and kept!
Daniel Rainn Sicily Pintuck Detail Silk Blouse in yellow: amazing color
and just the right blend of character with classic. Had the budget allowed, I would of
kept this guy as well, but the fact that I had to wear something underneath in
these high temps and it was a bit boxy on me swayed me just enough the
other way. A great find though! 
Le Sample Kahlo Embroidered Racerback Tank - adore! This was a keeper
despite it's horizontal stripes (why enhance the size 14), but the compliment of colors,
unique cut at the bottom and ridiculous comfort made it a keeper. Plus a $38 price tag!
Fab add to my casual but still hip mommy desired wardrobe.

Pixley Edmond Chevron Print Henley Shirt: swoon! I think I squealed
when this one came out of the box. Incredibly soft and comfortable, it's cut
fabulously, coming in at the waist, covering arm flab and giving a peek at the
chest, all with a tabu pattern and incredible comfort. Keep!
Muse Prudence Eyelet Dress: the sucker didn't go over my hips,
but the color and cut seemed great for casual to dressy. Bummer!
Tish: you did it again! I swear I'd take you for some summer brew right this second if you lived closer, my virtual friend.

What's been working for you in your fixes lately?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Monday Momfessions: July 6 Week

1. When your two-year old pulls the defibrillator alarm in the US's third largest airport, you go ahead and just walk away v.e.r.y. slowly. Turn red, look around to make sure there isn't actually someone that appears they need assistance (aka avoid waste), then promptly hide at a different gate, avoiding your husband's glare that didn't even see it happen but just KNEW. Thank goodness Americans have suddenly become creepily immune to screeching alarms. Twelve minute response time - really?!

2. The amount of naked wrestling time has only increased since KC has hit temps in the 90s. We've had to remind both boys that clothes are required outside the home. Suddenly, they've become homebodies. Of note: undie Nerf gun fights in the backyard are acceptable.

3. I ate the last Oreo. Again. And I didn't even feel guilty about it. Not for one second. They even heard the crackling of the package and came running and I just blankly stared them in the face while popping the black and white deliciousness into my pie hole...

4. Sibling rivalry is going to be the death of me. I keep trying to stay positive, smooth on all those essential oils and do some educational reading to cope, but find that I only want to throw said book and mix vodka with the oils every time it begins. I feel a bit like Jessie on "Saved by the Bell..."

5. Seeing our oldest do good deeds absolutely on his own and with his own intent may be the coolest thing ever.

6. They should make support groups for when your favorite teachers transition from daycare. It should be the kind of support group that serves alcohol.

7. "Aw, SH*T." Yep, he said that. At school and in front of grandma. Damnit. I mean, shoot. Darn. Augh...

8. The little one has embraced a new sales tactic that moves him from demon to angel in nanoseconds. When he wants something, he becomes like that cat in Shrek with the big eyes, very gently caresses both sides of your face, looks lovingly into both of your eyes with his big blue ones, cocks his head and say "HAVE ONE?!" If you try to look away, he only becomes more insistent and even uses multiple languages. It works every time. I should tell our sales team at work...

9. Kindermusik is an incredible program I highly recommend. Allowing the playlist in the car that suddenly leads to toddler addiction is another story. Not only does it help you near the definition of insanity, it's not good for the ego when you accidentally leave it running and pull up next to a car of young bucks, the hot guy you always see at the grocery store or that ultra hip Mom that you want to be. Anything for the kids...

10. Avoid employing a hot, female swim instructor for your son. You may think they are too young to notice, but watch any private lesson and quickly learn that around five, learning seems to be decreasing and a Kindergartner's version of flirting increases. Oye.