Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sexy Safety

"Wait, you don't carry your ID with you when you're jogging?!" my brother and sis-in-law stared at me in disbelief, most likely calculating the number of times I couldn't find my way out of a box. We were about to go our separate ways on one of Georgia's more prettier parks, which included lack of signs to maintain its beauty. I could see them already slightly panicking about where they may have to pick me up once I took a wrong turn. This is all fair - I barely make it to my best friends' homes without Siri.

Couple this with a mild heart condition, race training underway and general lack of planning when I hit the trails, these two were right - I should carry an ID. But this to-do item generally falls under the "sh*t I should do but never seem to remember or get to"...kind of like "eating healthy," "winterizing the furnace" and "filing papers."

So, being the kind, wonderful people they are...my bro and SIL took care of it for me.

A friendly text banter with the two told me to expect a small package on Thursday, which is always a delight. Any personal mail, even if it was a forgotten item during our recent visit, is welcome and enjoyed. The day arrived and hence the adorable package with witty marketing, a solid case and a gift so thoughtful, I had to have a little welling of the water behind the eyes.

Among the catchy packaging lay a small silver disk that slides and stays perfectly over my beloved Apple watch band. Etched on it is my name, my emergency contacts, the first responder code for my heart condition and the quote "Make each moment count." It's meaningful, well-constructed, innovative and incredibly useful. And to have someone care so much about your safety to send a gift like this for no reason was truly heartwarming.

There's a plate for nearly any device - check out the RoadID site to see them all in their glory. It's the perfect gift for someone you love or a person you just flat out worry about.

Plate yourself up or do so for a loved one today - they'll thank you for it. And they'll look knowledgable and cool while they're doing it...

Monday, August 15, 2016

An Epic Summer

"Alright buddy, what do you think we should stick on the list this year?" I asked our oldest, a rainbow of markers laid out on top of a stack of white paper. It was late May and per Choate family tradition, it was time to put forth our wishes for the summer ahead.

The six-year-old's looked something like: go to Scheels, swim 100 times, Worlds of Fun, plant a garden and have a water gun fight.

His mom's looked a bit like: learn to tie shoes, ride a bike and swim. Oh, and have oodles and oodles of fun in the way of later nights and starlit picnics.

I'm happy to say, we accomplished nearly all of the above.

Sitting here on our moonlit porch, the cooler breeze swaying overhead, I marvel at how extraordinary our ordinary was this summer. The conversations we had on the driveway. The snuggles on the outdoor couch. The laughter that started at 6 a.m. and was still very real more than 12 hours later. The friends we met for hours of water fun. The sports we played in the sweltering heat. The dozens of small soirees we had in our new home. The pilates we did by the poolside. The shows we caught in parks. The farmers' markets we visited for fresh flowers. The wishes we made in fountains. The pals we met for happy hours. The bubbles we ran in for a 5k.The trip to the lake and MN, long walks with the dog and endless family fun.

And the learning - oh the learning.

As of yesterday, the Big guy has a new pair of Nikes he promptly laces himself. He swam a 150 yard breast stroke and practically did the 100 IM in the neighborhood pool. Not to mention the near hour he looked like a little Lance out there on the track on his new 20" wheels. Just mere months before, this was all just a twinkle in our eyes.

And the little one - he's thriving at a new school, finding new ways to say hilarious things and giving the warmest of hugs that any stranger would even long for. His feet are two sizes bigger and his heart is still the size of Texas.

So as we tuck in our first-grader this evening, kiss our preschooler on the head, and share a moment of silence, may we always remember this season full of promise come true. We feel like the luckiest, most grateful people in the USA.

Now that's a gold medal kind of summer. May yours have been the same!

A Fun Find

"Yeah, I'm not sure what all it includes, but her pics sure looked like her boys were having a great time," I said lightly to the husband as we worked to convince our own sons that wrestling time needed to move to the great outdoors. It was 10 a.m. on a Sunday and they'd been up since six. In our house, this is the "witching hour," where snacks are needed and enough playing has already happened that it's fight or flight for the parents. From here it's either take them out to run them ragged or pretend you can accomplish chores without screaming at one another or locking yourself in the bathroom.

Shrugging a sling bag over my shoulders (water, 'screen, shoes the toddler won't put on, change of clothes, snacks), we loaded into the car and headed south, answering questions of how far we were on our journey and pointing out every digger along the way. Twenty minutes later we arrive, a blue sky lit against a rainbow of primary colored metals and ropes. Not to mention natural looking logs, springs of shooting water and gaggles of people with smiles plastered on their faces.

For parents with young kids, this was utopia.

The boys squealed with delight, forming their plans of what they'd tackle first as they raced their way toward the fun. Parking was easy despite the large crowd and each child seemed to have went for the water first, delighting in the anticipation of when each pop of liquid that would head their way. Next, the big guy went for the unique swings, all perfect for his size, comfortable and new. The two found their way to a sort of merry-go-round next, aiding in their parents getting in a few extra steps on the fitness tracker as well. Best of all, they spent nearly an hour in the "nature walk," a small nook where they could toss rocks, poke sticks, dig in the sand and pump water down a cascading fall. It was a camp ground right in the middle of suburbia.
Two hours later, it still took some bribery to pull them away. Couple that with a couple of rumbling tummies and a favorite restaurant up the way, it wasn't too difficult, but moments after the meal finished, they were asking for the park again.
Twelve hours later the Big and I returned as a sort of last day of summer soiree, where he spent hours speed racing his way around a track big enough for a six year old to feel like an Olympian and small enough for a mom to feel secure while she lounged in the sun nearby. A tear escaped my eye as I marveled at what the summer had brought and the joy that was this park. So much laughter. So much sunshine. So much joy.

Thank you, Overland Park, for bringing us this little gem. And friends, let's meet at Roe Park soon, shall we?

Monday, July 25, 2016

What'd You Get?!

"C'mon Mom, let's take a few laps. This is an athletic event after all," I chided to her, a grin of disbelief mixed with excitement crossing her face. After taking a few selfies in front of the "Nordstrom Anniversary Sale" sign, grabbing some tea and watching the clock for that starting time, we were ready. Mom even had her new sneakers on for the race...

And race we did, delighted that the metal doors slide open just a few minutes before 10 a.m. With a game plan tucked under my arm, we did purses first, then jewels, shoes, kids and juniors, just as planned. And boy did we feel like we were coming in first with these finds:
Thalia bag by Sole Society - for those hand-free
days and it resembles the Chloe - for only $35!

Kate Spade Spencer Court-Caren bag - in plum!
Simple to get into and still carry all the stuff for the boys,
while still looking elegant and classy. 

Sam Edelman flats to go with all that black and white
for work! Plus, there are tiny spikes on the heel. AND
they are comfortable. Swoon!

Vince Camuto boots. For jeans, dresses and everything in between.
Great, neutral color and so comfy. Better buy something other than
athletic socks this year or those bad boys will show through...

Because there can never be enough Kendra Scott in the world...

Party in your ears?! Yes please. Thank you,
Kate Spade.

Little twist on the timelessness from KS as well.

By Barefoot Dreams, this baby will go on immediately
after I walk in the door from work. Every.single.day.
So soft, so delightful, so yum.

Because we missed a size in hand-me-downs this winter,
a fun Northface for Liam

Scored this one in pink! Soft, easy to wash and perfect
weight for errands or morning runs this fall. By Zella

Again, there can never be too much Kendra. My first silver pieces!
Considering we're not card holders and therefore no early access (one of the pitfalls of being married to a finance guy), we thought we cleaned up pretty well. Mom nabbed some super cute red tennis and I still haven't heard what she found on round two.

Don't even ask me to publish the list of what I actually want if money were no option. But darn it, those kids gotta eat! At least I'll be serving them in my new fuchsia flats with sparkling jewels...

It's been so fun to see the sale explode online and check out what others are purchasing. The superficial yet incredibly delightful indulgence is sometimes just what a person needs. Hope you've had some good juju too!

Make yourself happy. Visit the Nordy's Anni sale by August 8. Then let me know what you got!

Flu Flicks

"Oh man, I'm on day three. Please text me something interesting about the outside world," I wrote my girlfriend who was braving a Monday at the office. Admittedly, I'd rather be there vs. tucked in for yet another day full of naps, Amazon movies and closed blinds. And though this sounds like every mom's dream once in awhile, it's much more delightful when the flu isn't involved. When your husband isn't studying for the biggest exam in his life. When you're not missing your boys ("Mommy's got the germ touch!) and another fun social plan on the books. Blah.

But if there is one good thing that has come from coping with the flu, it's inspiration from catching up on hours and hours of movies. Between the darkness in the media the last few weeks and working in behavioral health, this virus may have sorta been just what I need to shift the ol' brain. Here's what I've been watching and what I remember about each between naps:

1. Miracles from Heaven: break out the tissues! After round eight of tears, I marveled at how true to life the story was and the unconditional love we have for our children. For the gut instincts we have as parents, the need to fight in the healthcare system and that faith can take you far. That children are curious, pure and magical little people and that Garner is the flawless girl next door. The movie made living on a farm in Texas look like he most loving place on earth and that even the most laid back, handsome husband can still cause you grief. It made me miss my career working with children's hospitals and reminded me that those who serve pediatric patients are simply the best. It seriously left me inspired to be a better mom and wife. And yes, it stressed me out the sick child never wore a seatbelt in the back seat. I can't help myself. A must see!

2. Hot Pursuit: made it through 24 minutes and just had to stop. Just stop. Reece: this wasn't you! How'd you get roped into this one? Hokey, obnoxious, bad acting and lame story. Skip!

3. We're All Fine: kinda dark, as it raised my biggest fears that when my boys run off and marry, they'll find any excuse not to wander or call home. It calls into question we constantly ask ourselves on how we're parenting, what our kids will carry with them and will they turn out alright. How when they are adults, everything changes. DeNiro was as lovable as always and in the end, there's a spark of family magic.

4. The Words: first, Bradley Cooper is in it, so there's a win right there. Second, it revolves around the art of writing. It stretches you to think about ethics, the choices you make in life and what love can be. I marveled at how sweet their marriage was and thought "I should be more like her." Oh, and not steal anyone else's work. If journalism is your thing, I think you'll enjoy it. There's a few too many stories running at once, but hey, it keeps it quasi mysterious. It may also make you worry that someone as beautiful as Olivia Wilde could sweep your husband off his feet.

5. Everything Must Go: definitely not your usual Will Ferrell flick. Slow and depressing. I watched the first 25 minutes, then forwarded to the last 10. Even the ending was just kinda...sad. Too much of what's really going on in marriages, addiction and real life these days. The only bright spot was the difference he sorta made in the life of his lonely neighbor child. Don't download.

6. Burnt: delightful! This undomestic goddess has zero interest in cooking. By the end, I really...wanted Bradley Cooper to be our family chef.  It was intriguing to imagine a chef's life, made you assess the importance of food and what it all really means. The emotional connection to building a community and second chances was also a good message.

7. The Age of Adaline: though a bit unrealistic, every Pisces loves a romantic film. Lively is the girl you always want to be, for her looks, grace and zen character. She's mysterious, wise and has the class of women that was so relevant to the past. It takes you into pieces of history that anyone can appreciate and the opening and closing guy does an excellent voiceover. The relationship with her dog and daughter is something every woman can understand. Worth a review!

8. While We're Young: a bit more "artsy" than my regular collection of brainless films, this one was kinda fun. It left you considering what it means to age, what you're settling for and what you want to try in life. Stiller was his normal, hysterical yet funny self and the hipster couple is so relevant to who you meet today. It may inspire you to get unstuck, or just to be grateful for where you are on your journey.

9. Men, Women and Children: I wasn't in the mood. It felt too negative about family life and so focused on porn. I couldn't get into that head space in the moment. Went for 11 minutes. Pass.

In between these, there was a bit of Rizzoli & Isles (love their friendship with a bit of mystery!) and a smidge of the Today show and some blog reading. Needless to say, I'm waiting for my body to catch up on healing because my mind is about to turn to mush.

Also discovered in this three day bedrest: love of LuLaRoe leggings, iPad technology, red Gatorade, Sleep Number beds, Dave Brubeck on Pandora, watchful pets and a supportive husband.

So next time you're laid up, consider one of these flicks. They may be good (or not so good) for more than the flu.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Touch of Green

"Wow, it's really coming together! HOW long have you lived here?" a guest asked, taking a look around at all the accessories that I'd frantically placed in the living room just a mere few hours before.

Thanks to my amazing Mom, friends with great taste (here's looking at you Andrea) and a deadline of hosting a baby shower, the family room has started to piece together. A quick stop at NFM resulted in the perfect chair, with just enough oomph of personality and comfort to bring some character. Next up was the sofa table, a unique blend of metal and woods and the ideal spot for Matchbox races. Both were excellent price points for our active family and completed the furniture quota for the room.
Finally, there was a need to fill all those cute little vases I had stuck in every nook and cranny. On a limited budget and not knowing where to start, I hit the usual haunts of Hobby Lobby, Target, Michaels and IKEA. Striking out there, I remembered that Featherstone had some great accessories in the past, so ventured out with fingers crossed. And thank goodness, because we had quite a bit
of luck:
A succulent that forever lives coupled with a fun little wishbone for good fortune
Can't get this pic to rotate, but you get the idea - a
flourishing welcome to the home with these fresh sprigs
Some flare for the mantle
A little height to accent the dining room art
Wild greens to mix up the structured table and
hydrangea balls to soften the hardware

A room that's starting to feel warmer and ready for family lounging

Moving into new construction means starting with a beautiful blank state, making it fun to innovate and create. Grabbing some greens is the perfect way to start warming it up without committing to a level like drilling holes in walls. Even better, there's options for those with no desire or ability to keep actual green things alive at an affordable price.

Next up, we may get brave and try for a fiddle leaf fig for behind that chair and a live house plant for the corner of our eat in kitchen. We'll see...

A touch of green: good for the soul and the home.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Date Night

"Honey - they just posted Parents' Night Out - we're in!" I half-shouted into the phone, the opportunity for a date night after a few fun but intense weeks sounding more than delightful. "I call dibs on you planning!"

That plan he made turned out to be oodles of fun - out of the ordinary, affordable and in a part of town we rarely venture to in our more "mature state" of life (read: exhausted parent/worker people).

We started at Char Bar in Westport, my fear of barely keeping my lids open fading away as I enjoyed one of the best brewskis that have ever touched my tastebuds. We followed that with perhaps a top five favorite meal around town (holy cheesey hushpuppies!),  porch swings, bags to toss and excellent people watching. It was an excellent entrance to an enjoyable, laid back evening.
Since we were already in Westport, hitting Murray's was a no-brainer, despite the lack of tummy room to hold all the goodness. Move over intestines, there is mint chocolate chip to be had!
We closed with something we've never done in our 15 years together, which was to catch an improv show at the Kick Theater. Tucked in a dark corner of a coffee shop, air barely venting through and a slightly rowdy crowd, we weren't sure what to expect. But several minutes in to the announcer pumping us up, a killer MC for the night and meeting the comedy crew, we were hooked. The humor and talent of those folks to constantly think on their feet and be funny was pretty baller. There is one skit that still makes me laugh today, which involved a "pick me up" theme with rounds of role playing strippers, a dad trying to take his kids to TCBY and a constipated lady. Needless to say I was in tears.
We closed the night feeling fat and happy, which I vote is always a win. So if any of this is newish to you, give it a shot. It just might be the comedic relief of a date night you need.