Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hot Cocoa...

is not just for drinking anymore, ladies….it's also for smearing on your nails! Take a break from the black and dark plums and lighten it up with a touch of winter class with Essie's fabulous new shade. I fell in love with it checking out at a beauty counter, and it quickly became mine after discovering it was 20-percent off (which is lame as that's what, $1.60 in the nail polish world?! But hey, it justified it for me!) It looks great on any skin tone, goes on bubble-free and lasts for days…perfect for bringing a little pizzazz to the dull winter months. Happy polishing!


"Sooo, what was one of your hot ticket items you received this Christmas?" I excitedly asked the girls, catching a glimpse of Nan's new diamond ring as it lit up the room, eyeing Katie's new H&M blouse and admiring Jenny's sassy new boots. Chatting around the circle, they shared stories of their time with families and threw out items such as diamond earrings, a fuzzy fleece, designer jackets and more. When the chatter arrived at me, I mentioned the Kindle as well as some of the fabulous items below, but the real truth is, the gift of five days with my son was the best thing Santa could have ever packed in his bag. Below are highlights of some of our magical moments together, big and small…

Under the tree loot! Kindle not pictured but sure is being used! Wait - does that cookbook mean I really have to start preparing foods now?! And yes, that's a customized iPhone cover. So fun!

Stocking loot! The WTF stamp is my husband knows me so well. And now my colleagues will too...

Lawson Loot! - aka Time to Really Be a Mom:
1. New vocabulary: mostly that consists of basketball, "Ellie!" (the poor dog is about to lose her mind between the name-calling and hair-pulling; btw the cat's name is apparently "No"), Elmo, Jayhawk, fork, Bye-bye Nana and Papa, Gwanma, tent, banana, cat, elephant, Santa, Ho-ho-ho, movie, potty, Gabriella (his school crush), snack, milk, water, juice and so much more…he even received several report cards that highlighted his talking habits this week. It's amazing!
2. New faces: scrunched up and teeth bared for "stinky!" when whiffing a sock or picking up a diaper (yes, a clean one…we may not be the most stellar parents but we don't let him play with soiled dips…come on now…); wide O-shaped mouth in discovering snowmen and lighting, the most devilish grin one can muster…so much so that I have to turn away when disciplining because it's so damn funny, wide-eyed "I'm about to dance" face, a look of concentration so deep I swear he's Einstein, squishy laugh face to some joke he only gets in his head and more.
3. New abilities: chicken dance, head-shoulders-knees and toes routine, eating with a fork (even corn; hell, I can't even do that), running, darting through small spaces (this includes running away and hiding when he doesn't want to do something), biting and hitting when he doesn't get his way (awesome), stair-climbing like an adult with minimal support, the exact sound of an elephant complete with the trunk (arm) rising up, shooting hoops on his mini basketball hoop and best of all: dance party USA:

Hope your holidays were as merry as this little guy feels…and as much as my heart has expanded to make room for all this joy...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Zero Hour

"Ok, yeah…grab one for 25, another for 15 and ok, um, yah…a 50," I said to Mike, afraid of his reaction as it was zero hour and here we were, still checkin' the list twice. All I can say is thank God for chain stores that carry billions of retailers' gift cards. Because honestly, who doesn't love a gift card? A chance to get out of the house and buy stuff you love at a store you adore? Yes please!

So if you're still pondering what to get that special someone (ok, and maybe not so special because let's face it, sometimes there are people we just have to buy for!), here are a few ideas you may be able to pull off in the next 12 hours that are focused on cost savings. Because really, most of us are broke by now:

1. Cookie baking: whip up a few dozen and continue to feed the bellies…no one counts calories at Christmas; or do cookie cutters tied with a cute ribbon accompanied by your favorite recipe
2. Playlist: create a fabulous playlist on iTunes and pass it along or burn it to a CD for someone's car - virtually free and fun! Plus, you can customize: been through a bad breakup? in love? have a baby? feeling forlorn? There's a song for that…
3. Picture drawn by your child: family loves it, plus it frees up some of your file space and occupies their time for about, oh - 8 minutes
4. Love note: let someone know how you really feel this Christmas…er, only if it's nice! What better gift than to know you're loved and why?
5. Anything on Amazon: seriously, they're shipping same day…it's bananas
6. Services: coupons to babysit, dog sit, clean something, run errands or do that chore they hate the most (like a diaper change..ahem)
7. Regift: make it a good one. And be sure it doesn't go to the person who gave it to you or have your name on some kind of hidden tag!
8. Craft items: for those with kiddos, these items are never sold out if you hit up a hobby store. And with the chilly winter months ahead, there will be crafts that will need to be done for survival! Think yarn, glitter, glue, cloth, construction paper, shoe boxes and more.
9. Pre-written and addressed thank yous: for a dear friend who you may have a bunch of addresses for; make her life easier by purchasing cute Christmas thank you, signing her name with the adorable saying inside, then addressing and stamping them, so all she has to do is approve and drop
10. Lottery tickets: because some people just believe…and there is always that one gas station open on Christmas Day
11. Hot chocolate drive-by: surprise them and say you were thinking about them with a spot of warm brew, complete with whipped cream on top
12. Magazines: give them a reason to indulge in some smut or a read they never have time for or would purchase for themselves; after all, they have a few days off to sneak off and catch up on what's new with the Kardashians
13. Shovel: for Kansas Citians - this means you. Get out there tomorrow morning with the winter weather, burn some calories and make someone's day by putting your back into it and grabbing a shovel
14. Post: do a blurb or word of gratitude on your blog, FB, etc. - if they're into the public love kind of thing…it'll make them feel extra special
15. Handprint kit: there are a few left at Hallmark, Paper Source and Hobby Lobby…grandparents are suckers for a look at your kiddo's hand - do an ornament or something more year-round - they'll love it!

Of course there are always gift cards stocked at your local Walgreens, photos lying around your home that need framed and passed on and flowers for those who believe in doing it fresh and real.

But really, this Christmas and all days at zero hour, all they need is love. Sweet, sweet love.

Happy last minute scrounging dear shoppers!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wearin' Red

"His red sweater is soooo cute, we can hardly stand it…" Miss Sarah says to me as I prepared to enter the classroom, pretending that my mascara was acting up as I swiped away a few quick tears. For minutes I had been staring at him through the plexiglass, marveling at his behavior, watching as he swayed his little body back and forth, singing the snack song with a look that can only be described as absolute glee lining his face. I don't know if it was the fact that food was about to be placed in front of him or the joy of the lyrics, but that little man was one happy camper.

Soon, it was circle time, and having arrived early, I gathered him in my arms, holding on to his warm embrace as he took his time warming back up to the classroom, the contrast of having Momma there so vastly different than most afternoons. As the flashcards came out, so too did his little grin and jolly sounds, all in a chorus with his little friends as they repeated what sound a cow makes, jingling keys, cats and more. Daddy joined us, video camera in hand while nicely-wrapped children's books were exchanged. We laughed that his "soul mate" Gabby, dressed in red velour of course, received yet another gift from Lawson…because really, if you saw them together, you'd agree that he's already given her his heart…

And that's when it got good - or so I imagined what Lawson was thinking as he made his way to a chair so small it could only be meant for a 15-month old, it's tiny metal legs holding tight as he climbed up to dine. A plate lined with delicious, parent-delivered treats lay before him and he assumed the position, loading a fork in one hand and using the other as a scoop. And when those two were full, he went full on dog-style, using his mouth to snatch up those few bites that surely could be squeezed into his squirrel pouch cheeks he was sporting. Like the dinosaurs we read about in his books each morning, he seemed to have a gift for foraging through the fruits, vegetables and cheeses and head straight for the red-iced cupcakes:

He enjoyed the red deliciousness so much, that he even took the time to dunk his organic Monkey Bars I spent over an hour preparing that morning into the spread. Good boy! And of course Gabby was in on it too, because after all, she was the one to pass along the amazing trick of how to successfully devour a banana in one bite. What are friends for if not tricks like such?

The small room lined with primary colors, hand-drawn artwork and funny snapshots taken throughout their days lit up with laughter as the teachers described that one was a messy table while the other were the cleaner kids. Parents asked us "does he always eat that much?," marveled at our composure as he began to cover himself deeper and deeper in red dye, waiting for a reaction other than "grab the camera!" or "yay for you honey!," and looked a little perplexed that we'd share nose hugs and actually wash our own child's hands covered in goo, putting our own attire in danger.

And through all this, all we remembered later that evening as we recalled our day and all that we were grateful for is yes, we'll wear red for the holidays. We'll wear yogurt on our shoulders. Boogies on our buttons. Bananas on our kneecaps. Crumbs in our socks. And spaghetti on our shirt sleeves. Because we wear you, day in and day out. In our minds. In our hearts. In the very deep, deep corners of our souls.

So yes, dear son, we'll wear red this holiday just for you, and all the days to follow…even if it is in the form of frosting. Because after all, there just isn't anything sweeter than your smile.

Cheers to your second annual school party, bug! We love you and are so, so proud of you...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gel Yes!

"Shlaque…have you heard of it?" my friend Courtney asks as we both skim our nails, dreaming of a instant mani/pedi as we worked away at our desks. (ok, we were really taking a break to discuss feminine upkeep). "No - tell me more!" I say, listening in as she describes it lasts close to three weeks, doesn't harm your natural nail and is virtually indestructible and inexpensive. Needless to say…I signed up.

And I couldn't be happier with the results!

After a visit to Nail Perfection and asking for a gel manicure, I was delighted to find a broad array of colors to fit your every need, including the desire to have glamourous everyday nails, something darker for a sassy event or want the daily natural look. The process takes about 45 minutes to an hour, is painless and of course you hear some great stories from both the employees and the gals who gather around getting primped and plucked. The experience includes filing and cuticle care of your nails, then several layers of paint, including the gel being the last. Then you place your hands under the blue light to get it all the chemicals to work together, and minutes later, you're leaving with indestructible, beautiful nails. That last for weeks! Perfect for the working Mom on the go, or really anyone who doesn't want to bother with the teensy brush and spills every three days.

What did I choose this week? A berry color of course. And yes, I'd do it again. This coming from the gal who used to be able to virtually destruct a new, expensive pair of acrylics in two days...

Oh - and opt for the "on the spot massage" while you're at it. Because you deserve a break today...

Moms and Megan...Plus 17

We are so blessed to have an extremely full social calendar this December, including several ornament exchanges, our Fourth Annual Ugly Sweater Party, cookie parties, work events, happy hours, family gatherings and so much more. But I gotta admit, I was most excited about hosting "Hangin' for the Holidays" for our informal Mom's Group at our house this past Sunday. Unsure of who was going to be able to make it (Moms have to play it by the moment after all), it was such a joy to welcome 17 kiddos under the age of 2 into our home, plus a three and five year old to boot….

Ok, it was a little like "Kate Plus 8" on steroids, and the house looked like Katrina had come through, but seriously, look at these faces:

For once, the house came alive, and it didn't matter what drinks were on hand, who was sporting the latest accessories, what the latest adult topics were on the agenda or if the food came from Dean and Deluca and were lined with monograms. Instead, it was about discovering the craft corner, finding delight in newfound toys, watching their faces study one another, tummy time, Moms wiping noses and spit up and sharing giggles with their wee ones and swapping stories about milestones and mishaps. It was about telling war stories, getting excited about the celebrations, swapping ornaments, talking traditions, making friends with those who were once strangers and sending Moms upstairs to nurse one by one, not once apologizing for the mess upstairs because really, they get it.

Now THIS is what the holidays are about…

Thank you, dear friends, who continue to support the Mom's Group as we troop through what is surely the most amazing portion of this little thing we call life. May you find comfort and joy in a new face, a new name, but something so familiar it's like family…being a Mom. And may the rest of your time hangin' for the holidays be all the magic you've dreamed of and more...

PS: If you want in on the email list and invites to monthly events, just holler! You know where to find me...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Turned on to Sabon

It arrived today - the package of luxurious deliciousness that I fell head over heels for when I was a poor graduate on a Boston trip, seemingly never to be seen again. Rediscovered in Chicago on a recent business trip, I made the excuse that a full-time job (ok, two of them because being a Mom totally counts for at least one career) to splurge a little and bring these products into my home. And I could not be more thrilled that I did!

If you haven't heard of it already, stick it on your Christmas list: Sabon. For you. For your hubby. Your Momma. Your girlfriends. Did I already mention you???

The products in this line are uhmmazing, made from natural oils, healing, preventative and you can pronounce and identify all the items listed that line the insides of the jar. Plus, the peeps that work there are ridiculously helpful, don't pressure you into anything and help you identify what is reasonable for your budget. There aren't many around, but they are of course willing to ship to you at any time, and with their reasonable prices, it's just not all that bad. In fact, it's good. Really, really good.

If you wander in, they'll seduce you with their sugar scrubs - scents so spa-like and lively that you'll feel the weight of your thoughts slipping away as you massage your hands in their stone sinks. Even my Mom fell for you it, and well, you know how she is. The woman has been wearing the same lotion for more than 30 years and wastes no time, energy or resources on the beautification process. Now, the jasmine scrub is all hers - and she's thrilled. Meanwhile, I was seduced by the eye cream (La Mer clients are quickly converting according to stats and ps, they are saving a boatload of cash!), the night serum(because I'm shocked at how much older I look each day when I wake and peer in the mirror), the foot cream, the daily soap cut fresh from a bar and of course, the body scrub. And before I forget, I grabbed an aftershave salve for the hubby. It smells all manly and is ridiculously healing - perfect for the dude who has to attack his face twice per day.

So with this arrival I told my better half I will start to look like a new woman….

Ok, so that may not be entirely true, but I'll sure smell like one. And be delighted like one.

And that is worth it's weight in products…

This ad not brought to you by Sabon, but rather through a shopaholic, only spends ten minutes getting ready but likes to sass it up and look the part, Mom of one, friend to many, full-time working, help me I'm aging gal just trying to make it in this world. With authenticity. Grace. And really great skin...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Drive Through

Tonight I hit the McDonald's drive thru, passing through the two lanes where the voice shouts at you from a speaker, choices lined in bright neon colors with tempting pictures promising to erase all the emotion of the day. I watched as the face of the gal with the headset buzzed by, her face contorting into confusion as I pulled the 4Runner into those little spots where you sometimes have to wait for the poor soul that has to walk your food out to you when it isn't quite prepared. And here, in this spot…I wept.

Yep, I wept.

Because sometimes, I've found, as a mother, you have to climb into your car, see where it takes you, and just…weep.

It isn't important why you're crying - in fact, most of the time you don't understand it at all. And of course you'll feel guilty about doing it, but that's just another party of Mommydom one chooses to accept as a badge of honor. But what is important is that you let yourself do it. Lock yourself in the bathroom, go on a girls' weekend, crawl under the covers, close your office door and just…weep.

Then, pick yourself up and do it all again. And cherish every moment. Because, like the drive thru, these experiences are quick, delightful and made to order just for your destiny. And you don't get them back. Not the good ones or the tough ones. So when you placed this order to have a kiddo - they all count. And you relish every bit of parentdom. Because, unlike the convenience of the actual fast food industry, I don't want to drive through life without genuinely experiencing each magical moment.

Because there is nothing like it. Not even the McDonald's hot fries dipped in a delicious chocolate shake.

Though they come very, very close...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Makin' a List

And believe me, my friend, I've checked it twice. Twice a week, most likely. Because I totally have issues and love things. I can't help it. I, Megan Choate, love things. And I know exactly what those things are.

Which is why no one ever deviates from the list.

Unless you're a professional (core group of girlfriends, and most of the time, Mom). And no, not my husband…

So here's what it's looking like this year so far:

1. Black sparkly TOMS
2. La Plates monogrammed handbag in camel (based on Style Scout's recommendation)
3. Sebon face and body products (because I'm just starting to look and feel old and these are delicious)
4. Money toward swimming lessons or Kindermusik for the little guy
5. Anything from Nordstrom
6. Anything made with sentiment or love or focused on Mommydom
7. New iPhone cover (because I've finally tired of pink)
8. "Take a Break" care - massage, mani, pedi, facial, etc.
9. Jewels (I admit I caved to the Borsheims sales gal, who in turn emailed my husband a ridiculously expensive image that he scoffed at - but hey, ya gotta think big)
10. Dishwasher

And to be completely transparent, we've already scored the new Apple desktop. It's heavenly. And yes, we are completely spoiled inside and out. And no, this isn't at all what the holidays are about. But this post is, so let's just leave as indulgent for now, shall we?

And do share: what's on your list this year?

Santa Baby

Anyone that has a toddler knows that 98% of the time, things generally do not go as planned. In this case, the little guy had been sick for several days, while Mommy caught the brunt of it last night and this morning. Not to mention he's totally off his schedule, teething and is nearing the green stage of a recovering black eye. But none of this kept us from visiting Santa. Ok, that and we all know my affinity (read: obsession) with planning and the need to leave the house daily. So off to the North Pole it was for us.

I'm pretty sure Santa forgave the shiner, granted Lawson all of his well wishes for the world (because he's so not asking for toys, I just know it. Ok - maybe 150 books because the boy is obsessed.) All in all, it was a fine time with jolly ol' Saint Nick. The very same one that at just three months old, the babe slept through and almost slipped through Santa's slippery white gloves. Yeah - I go back to that whole don't plan on things going as you anticipate thing to recover from these things…

And bonus: I witnessed a darling little girl dressed to the nines greet Santa in a way similar to Cindy Lou in the Grinch. Precious. And she called Lawson "pretty cute" and turned beet red. I love her already.

So yeah, despite any minor setbacks, this Santa visit was a success. A+, Santa. A+....

Download image here (because I don't have the patience to work with their zip files!) - this was our fav of three images. Enjoy!


"Soooo - let me see that sparkler!" I shout between squeals, welcoming my soon to be sister-in-law into the warmth of our home, overwhelmed with joy that she would soon become even more a part of our family than she already is. Minutes later we are flipping through iPhone photos, giggling and chatting about all the amazing details (none of which I will reveal here as a bridesmaid never tells before the big day, which, by the way is October 15 in beautiful Atlanta, Georgia). But, what I will tell you is that it is going to be….

Amazing. Customized. One-of-a-kind. Created with love. Intriguing. Meaningful. Gorgeous. So them. Fabulous. Timeless. And oh so much fun. She makes me want to do it all over again. With Mike, of course!

And our little family is honored to be a part of it all - Mike as Best Man, Lawson as ring bearer and me as a bridesmaid. All bets are off if the little man actually makes it down the aisle, but we sure are excited to see him in his special get up for the day!

And speaking of special - I cannot be more excited to welcome Miss Erica into our family (officially!) As we celebrated their engagement at Jasper's on 103rd, I gave a little toast that celebrated the planning period and touted how they should enjoy it and have fun. What I SHOULD of said was how delighted I am to have someone like her in my life, so full of grace, love, sincerity, kindness, wisdom and peace. I could talk for hours about how I appreciate her accepting me for me, for loving my little brother for who he is and for always being there, whether it's a handbag decision or a true rough patch I'm enduring in life. How I admire her style, her heart of gold, her love for family and how I think she makes the six that sit close to my heart even better just by having her around. She's the sister every girl dreams of, and I gotta admit, it's especially fun during all this wedding planning! With her impeccable taste, willingness to involve others and the authenticity by which she lives her life. I picture us years from now, inseparable and having the type of sisterhood that can only be created in these types of bonds.

So where does this creative thing get her inspiration? All over - but if I had to peg, it would be She's doing most of the handy work on her own, imitating that Anthropologie type feel, infused with the love she and my bro share. You'll just have to wait and see, but trust me when I say it's going to be an event worthy of a magazine spread. Even their engagement photos schedule for January are one of a kind - think runways, trains and vintage cars, all cast with their characters adorned in timeless wear. Wow!

So thank you, sis to be, for your inspiration not only found in our friendship, but in this fun wedding ahead! It's going to be simply.amazing.

And for once, I won't have to laugh at the line in "27 Dresses" where she says "so true" to wearing the attire again…because with you, it's true!

Looking forward to many more months of creative planning and late night phone calls. After all, what are sisters for?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mommy May I?

As many of you shopaholics know, adding a baby into your own family or a close friends provides the perfect outlet to expand your habits beyond shoes, handbags and jewels to shop for the wee ones. And this opens a whole new door, including toys, teensy outfits, itty bitty shoes, gear, food, decor and so much more. And it gives our addictive nature the false sense you're doing it for someone else. So really, it's the perfect marriage!

In addition, another door opens (it's more like a bright, glaring window) that allows you (or in some of our cases "forces us") to venture into shopping for Mommy. Here's what's on my Mommy hot list right now:

1. The "Stinky Bum" bag from Momma Coutoure: a diaper wristlet of just the perfect size, it's available in the hot colors of bronze and gun metal and easily attaches to any of your gear or can be tossed in your tote. In addition, in tiny letters, it says "Stinky Bum" and "Momma Coutoure" on either side, complete with pleats and washable, Kate Spade like fabric. It's so London. So chic. And mildly inappropriate. Love. I snatched one up in silver for myself from the "Kooky" boutique in Chicago and plan to wrap it under the tree just for me. We'll see if it makes it. It's perfect for Moms who's kids are getting just a wee bit older and are outgrowing the large diaper bag stage.

2. "Mom's One Line a Day" Journal: for Mom's on the go that want to cherish every minute! A five-year memory book that includes five lines for each day to write down the precious moments, like a quote, milestone, thought, or special event. Plus, it's pink for Mom! So great because so many resources diminish for memory capturing after their first year, and that's only getting started on all the magic they provide, day after day!

3. Sophie's friend: made by the French company Vulli, it's the perfect addition or replacement for Sophie the giraffe…or it lets you be just a little bit different as Sophie is becoming main stream. Made of the same material, it looks like a little smiley, alien-like critter with all the right teething components.

4. Storytelling flash cards: though it's made for ages 3 and up, it never hurts to get your little one's imagination flowing by holding up a colorful image and working together to create story around it. Affordable, unique and innovative, plus works on their development? Yes, please!

5. Snack Happened Reusable Snack Bags: zips, water-resistant, washable, green and award winning - a darling way to tote around those snacks. Comes in all sorts of patterns and are a great size to toss in your diaper clutch or purse. My Mommy friends can probably bank on one being under their tree this year!

6. Toddler Bistro Box: because it's just hard to feed a kid. Especially when you don't like to cook or know what eggplant really looks like at the store. Quick flashcards with easy-to-prepare recipes that include all the right nutritional components and a diverse taste for their ever-growing palate.

7. Pregnancy and New Baby Journal: because we, as Moms, never get tired of asking the question: "is my child 'normal'?" or curious about where we stand with milestones or whether we're doing anything right. A day by day look at your child's development by age - perfect for newly pregnant and new Moms.

8. The pirate tooth box: for the little boy in your life…a tooth box you can create a whole story around as it's captured in a black pirate chest, marked as such and tied with chains. A unique take on the concept and so boy!

9. Thinsulate's Bear Paws mittens: roasty toasty mittens shaped like bear paws so your kiddos will love how their fingers feel and look, while keeping them protected from snow and ice. Plus, you don't have to try and put their little fingers in the holes - an impossible task!

10. Any item of clothing from GAP Kids or Old Navy: affordable, timeless, a little trendy and makes your son look like a little man, and your daughter the most darling on the street. Can't go wrong here!

Every time I hit the stores or online, there's something new. And I heart it all.

After all, don't our little ones deserve all the best?

Ok, ok - as the Beatles said, all they need is love. But it sure is fun to shop for them a little on the side too...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Top 10 Things the Big Man Is Doing These Days

1. Walks the same route round and round the living room with Daddy’s hat on backwards (placed there with his own two hands of course)

2. Finds his belly button and Mommy and Daddy’s, though he’s having a bit of a challenge discerning where Mommy’s is on her body. To be fair, many parts of her are round and squishy. This trick is followed by a squeal, laughter, giant bear hug and the triumphant phrase: “beeeh buuuhhh!”

3. Spends hours outside – hours – despite temps, wind factors or impending storms. These moments are generally filled with chasing the soccer ball, playing magic with sticks, stealing the neighbor’s paper or playing “car car.”

4. Asserts his independence – through refusing Momma’s hand, to pushing her away to go to school to insisting on feeding himself. Though slightly heartbreaking for parents, these are steps we’re grateful for as it means he’s developing into a budding young scientist.

5. Rides, feeds, brushes and kisses Thunderbolt, his wooden horse created by Grandma and Grandpa. He even checks his saddle, the cleanliness of the horse’s ears and then goes cowboy style. In fact, he mounts anything that is the right height, then treats it like a bucking bronco – two hand in their air, up, down, up, down. Items include tool boxes, the poor dog, Daddy, pillows and more.

6. Roars! He delights in his favorite book about dinosaurs, and does a quiet, but meaningful roar at any given time.

7. Climbs in and out of the bath with urgent pleas to get in or the announcement of “all done” when he can’t take the wrinkles and cold water anymore.

8. Giggles, giggles, giggles through dinner in a high-pitched, chattering sort of way. That is, when he’s not feeding himself with “bites.”

9. Hugs – warm, delicious hugs that can last up to 30 seconds, his head heavy on your shoulder, just melting away into yours. Magical…

10. Says “uh oh” more times in one day than one can count. A helpful trick, because he announces prior to doing an act that he probably shouldn’t.

Ok, so there’s way more than 10 – each one more remarkablel than the next. And man are we enjoying counting them and soaking them in, one, by one, by one…

Friday, November 12, 2010

Give and Get...Then Get Some More

The little guy totally scored again yesterday...

Thanks to Nana's great taste and love of a bargain, he's now the proud owner of more clothes than Mommy and Daddy combined, including a vintage rocket ship sweater, loose, skinny and original jeans in all sorts of shades, sweaters that make him look catalog worthy and separates perfect for tooling around the house. And much, much more. On our budget, he may get hooked up with some Old Navy duds too if we're so inclined - we'll see. After all, he's truly deserving, right?!

So get out and spoil yours too with GAPs Give and Get program going on the next couple of days which earns you 30-percent off your entire purchase, including sale.

Try to lure the grandparents in, touting something like it's almost the holidays. The wears are so darling it will make your heart ache. I even picked up the girliest onesies and tutus around to spoil the little "nieces" in our world and can't wait to stick them under their tree.

And don't forget to get yourself a little sumthin', sumthin' too while you're at it.

Happy shopping!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Major Motion Picture

"I've spent HOURS searching for the perfect song Jen - HOURS. Last night, I was up from 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., and today, I listened to 'Children's Folk Songs' on Pandora trying to get inspired. And don't even get me started on the amount of time I've spent dinking in iMovie. What is my problem???"

"Give me 30 minutes," she said, her new baby cooing in the background, the sounds of an ordinary evening filling the white space around her.

And so 30 minutes I did give. And for that, I will never forget.

Lawson-An Ordinary Day

She's amazing. She's magic. She brought our major motion picture to life. It's like all of my dreams came true and are archived in my soul and heart for a lifetime

Thank you, Auntie Jennifer, for bringing our vision to life without spending a dime. You've helped create a small window for our friends and family to see what is our ordinary life with the most extraordinary little boy. These are the magical moments we drop our knees for everyday and show our thanks. And now, they're ours to keep. In good times, and in tough ones. Just pull it up and cry, cry again. With joy. With love. With passion. With care. With words that can't even be expressed that a parent feels for a child.

Thank you, for bringing it to the big screen. We love you!


PS: This whole idea of capturing an ordinary day was ripped off and duplicated from Tyler Wirken. Someday, my friend, we will be able to afford you and you too will bring our magic to life. Can't wait! Meanwhile, we hope you make millions off of this amazingly simple yet profound concept.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We'll See...

I wasn't convinced.

In fact, it had been more than once that the phrase: "uh uh - no way. This woman of substance (read: size 14) can NOT pull off skinny jeans," had come out of my mouth. Then, I fell in love with a pair of boots, that, quite obviously, were best ensembled with...that's right...skinny jeans. And so the search began.

A Nordstrom, Target and LOFT visit later, I recalled a post by my favorite blogger, MamaBird Diaries, who had the cahones to post a picture of herself in GAP's skinnies just months after having TWINS. Of course, with all the stress she was most likely under, she looked fabulous and she was natrually that way to begin with. Nonetheless, she inspired me.

And so, the "Forever Skinny" in dark denim became mine.

And what's super cool, is now I have something with the word "skinny" associated with me. In my house. And on my body. That alone is worth risking literally putting myself out there.
They're pretty comfy. Not too revealing. Sassy. So we'll see...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


It’s official: he’s walking.

Cruising around the house in pursuit of all things amazing at all new levels, his arms straight ahead, mimicking Frankenstein in an effort to build his confidence. His hips are spread wide, feet planted firmly and a grin lines his face so big and prideful it’s as if he just announced the cure for cancer. It’s pretty great.

But the best part?

The defiant “UP!” that precedes his every start-up attempt to venture into this new mobile world. His jeans folded high above his ankles to avoid tripping, he tripods his body over his little belly and hangs his head low in the downward dog, takes a deep breath and says “Up!,” motivating himself to move forward on this new journey. His voice a little lower in pitch and much more serious, it’s like the shotgun firing before the runners cross the line at the Chicago Marathon. And you know what? It seems to work.

I’m thinking of implementing this tactic myself when setting out to do new, hard, or de-motivating tasks. Think of all the things I’d get done! “Clean! Work out! Cook! Be nice to Daddy! Take the trash out! Walk the dog! Finish that project plan!” Seriously, it could leave to productivity like I’ve never known. Great idea, buddy.

And we’re so proud of you. With each step, may your heart grow bigger and your devilish grin wider. And may you know we’re here to support you every inch of the way. It’s a big, big, fabulous world out there little man – may it be kind to you and may you find delight in its beautiful things. Meanwhile, we’ll be behind you filming it all and learning from you as you learn from that very same world. Happy walking Monkey!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Girl Can Dream

"So, I have a proposition for you," I say to Mike, watching him fight rolling his eyes and quickly creating a 10-page list of what THIS one will be.

I shared my little secret of the appointment I had sat through the day before, spending nearly two hours at Wirken photography, literally shedding tears over a family I had never met, the life of their 18-month old daughter becoming so real it was almost as if she was mine. Having come in to discuss portraits, the idea was immediately discarded as Tyler shared his new concept of following a family around for four hours of "normal day," capturing all the little moments that for our family, are more meaningful at this point in our lives than awkwardly trying to convince a 14-month old to pose in the fall leaves, perch on a cutesy blanket in some bizarre, white, clean home or ride a rocking horse the child has never even seen before. I imagined what this would mean for our home: a wall full of photojournaltic shots of our child's unique, goofy grins, his new Frankenstein toddle, the pointing, the way he tosses his blanket over the edge of his crib as he sends me a goofy grin, our moments tucked in the chair reading stories, stealthy food transfers between he and the dog, the runaway car down the driveway, the look of complete concentration as he studies his toys, his ability to select books, dance to Toddler tunes and so much more. Hours, minutes and fleeting seconds of pure magic. And for a mere $500 for just the shooting and editing time, it too, could be mine. Sigh.

Check out the sample here and don't tell me your heart doesn't melt:

Normal Day session from Tyler wirken on Vimeo.

I'm off to open a credit card or something. I don't know - maybe sell a kidney. Or my car. After all, who needs to get to work when you have these beautiful memories hanging in your home?

PS: Mike so didn't vote yes to proposition drop $1k on photographs given we need a new dishwasher, Christmas is around the corner, etc. etc. Although, he has promised to shoot a normal day this weekend. I'll keep you posted on how it all turns out!

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's About That Time

Some say I’m outdated. Or missing out. Inefficient. Behind the times.

Instead, I like to call it creative. Visual. A planner.

Either way, I’m so ready to order. To grab up my MomAgenda before it’s too late. To line it’s pages with all the events to look forward to in 2011, including my brother’s wedding, babies’ due dates, travel adventures, work meetings, new experiences for the kiddo and lots and lots of social plans. Not to mention the occasional doctor’s appointment, to-do list and goals and dreams. After all, Franklin Covey says it’s still proven that those who write it down have a much higher likelihood of completing tasks. Of course, this is the same dude who is selling daybooks.

Either way, I’m in love. And I’m not turning back. So now the question is: zebra or teal?

New Uses for That Ol' Pumpkin

The night has passed and hearts are happy with memories of small children waddling up to the doorway, beside themselves with anticipation of what you may drop in their pillowcase, their costumes consisting of penguins, legos, princesses, puppies, scary clowns and of course, the occasional teen dressed inappropriately. The remainder of the jack-o’-lanterns candle hangs on into the night, despite the cool breeze and dropping temperatures causing the last of the green grass to spot with frost. Candy is brought to work, the orange and black are packed away and preparations already begin for the day of thanks. But, what to do with those pumpkins you so lovingly picked with your family off a farm just a few weeks ago? Here are some ideas:

1. Paint a word of thanks or celebration: grab any kind of paint from your cupboard or nearest Hobby Lobby for less than five dollars and get creative! Grab a Sharpie and write “Thank you!” and line the rest of pumpkin with polka dots in your child’s favorite colors, then send it to school for their teacher to enjoy. Put your artistry skills to use and color up a pumpkin or two for a friend who’s birthday is in October/November, is welcoming a new baby or has just done something nice for you. They’ll appreciate the nice, unique gesture for weeks to come, and it’s still appropriate for Thanksgiving!
2. Decorate for Thanksgiving: repurpose your pumpkins and place them throughout the home – up high in your kitchen, accessorize them with cornucopias and turkeys and drape fall-themed leaves around them. Poof! Instantly transforms from Halloween to Thanksgiving.
3. Make a pie or seeds: yum!
4. Donate them to your local zoo: the animals love to eat non-rotted pumpkins! Drop them at the zoo for the lions and tigers and bears to enjoy.
5. Toddler toy: keep them busy for an hour and listen to the cooing of their voice as they say “bumpin” over and over and over again. It works, and you already own it. Plus, it will give you time to sit for a minute!
6. Smash ‘em: take your anger out in a safe zone. Try to be alone so no one witnesses your little tantrum. Then, do you best to clean up afterward or pray for rain.
7. Recycle ‘em: stick them in you or an obliging neighbor’s compost pile so it re-enters where it came from.
8. Dump em’ for Deffenbaugh: make good use of those ginormous containers they leave you with and insist you stick in your tiny garage along with your two SUVs.

Whatever you chose, enjoy. And cheers to yet another fabulous weekend of ghosts and goblins, tricks and treats!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


“So, we’re doin’ it, huh? The whole eight hours?”

“Dang straight we are Momma – it’s a national holiday!”

What: Holiday Mart
Who: Mom as a partner in crime – she’s the only one that gets my obsession and can hang the full day with limited bathroom and snack breaks (must be done on the run)
Where: Overland Park Convention Center
When: a Friday, which totally warrants a vacation day and leads into ladies’ night
Why: because it rocks and you get totally consumed with meaningless materialism. But hey – some of the proceeds go to good causes, right?! Plus you can drink and eat while you shop for sparkly, monogrammed, unique, fabulous items. I’m on a high just reliving it…

So, what did we get this year? Watch and you shall see…
Lawson's Goods

Food Stash

Wild wear

BoyMom finds


Best for last - soon to be personalized "Choate Cove" teepee!

Thank you Mom, for continuing to support my habit. When they come out with a patch for the addiction, I’ll consider it.

Cheers to Holiday Mart 2010! Already counting down until next year…

Mom Fouls

You know, like a party foul, but played out by a Mom? Yeah – that was so me this weekend…

Left to our own devices for several days, the kiddo and I enjoyed life as usual, delighting in the fall breeze, shaking pasta boxes at the grocery store, attending fall kid-friendly events and snuggling well into the evenings, his limbs loose and pudgy, falling around me, leaving me to feel like a pile of mush from all the love I felt at the end of the day. There were snacks to be had, naps to be taken, laughs to be shared, wrestling matches to win, peek-a-boo sessions, dance parties, mailbox visits to delight in, car and horse riding, and so much more. Then – there were the incidents:

1) Smackdown: dashing across the kitchen to grab more of Gerber’s best in response to the “more” signs (his sign language gets more insistent the more anxious he is, much like we adults choose to talk louder when someone isn’t listening), I prepared to toss his “lovey” aside to make room to let the applesauce mixing commence. As I went to snag the ear of “Pickles” the blue elephant, I catch a flicker of black movement out of the corner of my eye and instantly perk up with the “oh an insect!” feeling, then begin giving myself a pep talk that included why I needed to save my child’s lovey from this hairy beast. After all, we had already labeled this silky, filthy elephant as something that may constitute a trip back into the house while it was on fire, because, after all, how else would he fall asleep?

As the eight-legged creature got creative and quicker, so too did Mommy’s reflexes and need to panic, grabbing for the first viable squishing object in site. Of course, this happens to be my current favorite pair of shoes, perfectly wedged, delightfully gray and sparkly to match all items, comfortable, and unique. But – it had to do. After minutes of hoisting my arm further back than it went even in my athletic days and relishing in the vibrant “thud” of each whack across Pickles head, I felt I was beginning to earn my gold star for killing the creature that was attacking my child’s object of affection. Very heroic, don’t you think?

Then, I heard it. Next, I saw it. Fear – pure, unadulterated, “what in the hell do you think you’re doing to my lovey?” look of disbelief lining my 13-month old’s face, coupled with a cry that can only be interpreted as “I’m scarred for life by witnessing the act you are doing right now.” Sigh.

I’ve already emptied my cute Pottery Barn vase that housed pumpkins and instead labeled it “Lawson’s Therapy.” The first five dollars in it is marked with “Mom lost her mind and tried to kill my lovey.” Aye yiy yay.

2) Rodeo Retriever: calm, cool and collected, the little man and I blabbered away on our way to the park, exchanging glances, pointing at trees, making friends with the neighborhood dogs and calling everything a “car.” Feeling refreshed from a six-block jaunt, I pulled the stroller near the edge of the park and tied Ellie to it to respect the other parents on site who may not be comfortable with a large dog. Giving her the command to lay down and stay, Ellie offered an understanding glance and relented as I walked away to place L in the swing. Moments later, she started to get that Golden look in her eye that says: “Damnit – I’ve been away from my person for two minutes two long. I’m starting to freak out here.” So – she did. And, since Chicco’s stroller weighs only 13 pounds while she weighs nearly 100 – she won. Except that when I say she won I mean she made a complete clown of herself and me, dragging the damn stroller through crowds of children, tearing up mulch, causing Moms to grab their children in fear and give me the glance of “You unfit Mother! And unfit dog mother too!” I swear this went on for two minutes – a ridiculously large canine with an even larger heart and pretty big fear factor trying to run from this out-of-control, plastic object that seemed to be terrorizing her on this fine day. So much for making friends with that super cool Mom I was just having a conversation with. She claims to have two large dogs at home and was even kind of enough to point out my iPhone was buried in the sand, my garage door opener now on the slide and the stroller busted for good. She must think I’m a complete idiot. And I must say, I don’t blame her. But on the bright side – L wasn’t in the stroller, so that’s good right? And her kids survived, so there’s another plus? No? Okay…

That said, the rest of our alone time was priceless, filled with Mother and Son moments I will not soon forget. The hugs, the games, the routine, the love, the smells, the magic – all so indescribable and all so amazing. Thank you buddy, for trusting and loving Mommy, fouls and all. These are just the first of many. Don’t worry – I’ll keep that therapy jar of yours full. Hey – maybe we’ll even have a fundraiser. At a park. Without Ellie…

And don’t tell Daddy, ok? He may not leave us home alone again…

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Step Two

You've read about step one. Now, catch it on video:

Congratulations buddy - we can't wait to see what you'll do next. And we'll be by your side every step of the way with open hearts and all the love and support one can muster. Because you, little one, deserve all the magic this world has to offer.

PS: The camera shaking is due to a blanket draped over my head and me making ridiculous faces of encouragement. Whatever it takes, right?!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lucky in Love

A light breeze trickles in through the cracked window, just an inch from its frame so as not to tussle the hair too much of our resting son in the back. The air is crisply lined with the scent of fall, the memories of the day laden in our minds and the threads of our clothes. Soon, there are tears to match the falling leaves that had been such a significant part of our family’s day…slow and wandering, meaningful and beautiful. Tears of joy. Tears of disbelief. Tears of wonder. Each making its way down one by one as I hold his little hand, his eyes growing heavier as 7:30 drew nearer, his body for once calm from fatigue as we shared several magical minutes. His skin feels just as soft as the day we brought him home, the only difference that more dirt lines his nail beds, his chubby feet hang a bit lower in the car and his hair a bit longer on his collar. Other than that…just the same. The little baby I fell in love with at the first signs of understanding of his being. The little baby who will always remain that way, as with so many in a Mother’s heart.

My husband enters the car, his strut still joyful even as the evening grows longer and the event of running in to grab cat food was his recent mission, a less than thrilling task. Taking in his profile, I marvel at my first love, the contours of his face just as handsome as the ones I had picked out in a picture and labeled as “the one” before fate ever crossed our paths. The man who stands by through celebrations, contemplations and disappointments that real life throws my way. The man who takes me at face value, through additional pounds, tantrums, quirks, undomestic habits, long hours, stubborn charades and of course, all the good stuff too. And I marvel…

How did I ever, ever, in a million years get so lucky in love?

I think I’ll quit asking and just keeping taking it in, bit by bit, ounce by ounce as the little droplets of magic that have become my life to create a pool of savored gratitude that, for some reason, is all mine.

Because, after all, life doesn’t get much better than being lucky in love. Agreed?

Friday, October 15, 2010

18 Dresses

For the most part, the car was silent, the road pulling us North as our eyes danced across the changing of the leaves as they whisked past us, the reds, yellows and oranges blurring together as the camouflage for fall. My mind was reeling over meeting evaluations, securing a photographer, missing my family and deciding what my up do was going to be the next day…

Jess and Eric’s wedding.

The espresso-colored dress lined the backseat next to me, the sides perfectly hemmed, little dog hairs trailing across the back reminding me that clutter and responsibility awaited me at home, despite my excursion of the weekend. I tried to daydream as my parents exchanged light-hearted conversation, and I thought about how much we had changed, our roles looking more like peers than parent to child, child to parent with the welcoming of a grandchild and the entry into the 30s. I also thought about how much I loved and appreciated them, and how I should hold on to these moments on our trek to Rochester, Minnesota…for it’s not every year one gets the opportunity to share a road trip with only their parents, bathed in comfortable, adult silence and stretches of road ahead.

As we got closer, I watched the contemporary windmills twist in the wind, taking in the billboards of civilization coming up around the corner and began to wonder how I was going to get around in this “tiny town.” Pulling into the main drag, I marveled at the Trader Joes, Super Target and all other things holy that you could ask for in a city.

Dropping my things in the quaint room and watching my parents stroll side by side to their car, I marvel at the number of years shared between them, and find myself wondering how they make it work. Then, deciding to get less deep, I frisk for my phone and searched for Laney in my favorites. Minutes later, we’re together, as if time stood no chance in the distance and months that tried to separate our friendship, talking like sisters, reviewing outfits, curling hair and gossiping. It was almost as if the letters A, X and O dangled over our heads again on a late Friday night.

As the rehearsal began, I stare at my beautiful friend, that, although seemed a bit stressed with the big day looming ahead and a church full of quasi non-compliant guests, looked beautiful and excited about what lay ahead. Her outfit perfectly planned, her nails done, her shoes uncomfortable, she was graceful and stunning…with a smile to match. Watching her with her husband to be, one could almost feel the warmth of patience, love and kindness that grew between them in the midst of all the madness.

The hours led late into the evening, introducing me to girls who I might as well have known for 15 years as we shared laughter and child stories over drinks. The bride’s family fit the stereotypical Northern exposure, welcoming and embracing us with gentleness, inclusiveness and humor as a way to let guests know “you’re welcome here.” Slide shows were viewed, new friendships were made and anticipation of the big day ahead was on everyone’s minds. Not to mention the buzz of the downtown, a martini-like atmosphere with a romantic, suburban feel that’s hard to come by anywhere else.

Morning arrives, and is typical, the girls are dolled up with coifed hair – antique pony tails on the side, up dos with loose curls and a face of porcelain beauty and a perfectly placed veil lined the bride. Dresses are put on, makeup applied, sandwiches carefully consumed so as not to stain the silk and the calming of the bride occurs. Pictures are snapped, the tears begin and the hustle and bustle of it all begins. The zipper of the expensive gown goes awry, leaving the clan to scramble for a well-executed pin montage. The necklace the bride dreams of wearing snaps and is tied with floss, leaving little to show in pictures and a lot to recall on such a fun event. Jokes are shared, last minute preparations are completed, and then the two are introduced and celebrated to spend their life together.

Later, the sun beams gently on our faces, the weather a gift from some higher spirit that understands how deserving this girl is. Last minute pictures are taken, thank goodness avoiding the “perch on your partner’s leg” pose, the entrance into he reception is announced and dancing commences until the wee hours of the morning. A candy bar is populated, along with the liquor one, pizza is delivered and bobby pins begin to fly out from all the fun. It is an evening to never forget.

But the most memorable: those faces. Two people so deeply in love, who have been through the tough stuff and celebrated the rockin’ stuff along the way. Two people who have shared deep secrets when it was hard to be vulnerable, who have made across-state moves, who delight in fireworks and sports, have built a home and opened their hearts. Two people who, just years ago, weren’t even sure they were going to take that first dance together. Now here they are today, standing before the world and proclaiming their love for all of its beauty, righteousness and fortitude. Two people who share inside jokes, share sacred values and appreciate one another for just who they are. Two people, who, undoubtedly, will sit side by side in those porch chairs and silently, with love, watch the sun dip beneath the horizon and breath a sigh of contentment that this is the life they have chosen, with each other.

Jess and Eric – thank you for my 18th dress experience. While I know it’s not 27 and most likely will not warrant a reporter following me around for days, it truly is a day in writing for me that I’ll remember always. Wishing you the best and celebrating your love today and always – happy marriage, dear friends!

Step One

“Ok, I’ll bring…er, MAKE cupcakes for the party…see you then!” I waved to the half-time teacher, making a mental note not to forget a quick run to the bakery for the harvest party next week. You know, to find some delicious, fluffy cakes that look like I had spent hours dropping the perfect amount of frosting, painting on pumpkin faces and made with the kind of love only a mother can achieve. Yeah…mothers who never sleep maybe…

Stealing one last glance toward my son, I marvel at the profile of his cheeks, still lined with babyness, but his eyes growing wiser and braver with the passing of the minutes and caught my breath like I do so many times when indulging in these moments. As I pivot to walk away, Miss Shannon stops and greets me with her kind smile, then launches right into:

“I hear Lawson took his first few steps here yesterday!”

Caught off guard, I watched as she assessed my body language, and then carefully caught myself training my body to relax and respond to this information. I was delighted to find that indeed, I was thrilled to hear the news.

“Oh yes – how exciting! We’re so excited!” were the words I felt come stumbling out of my mouth, my body continuing to make its way to the door in the urge to grab the phone and call Mike to see if there was something he forgot to share yesterday from pickup.

I had heard about this moment. About the rules that exist at day cares that “your child never takes their first step with us.” Well, I was about to bust up this covert operation going down right here.

Still processing, I grabbed for the pink coolness of my phone and spoke excitedly into the voice dial, calling for Mike’s work. Answering on the second right, I dive right in:

“Sooo – how is work?” I ask, this seemingly normal as I generally call to report how drop off went in the morning. After some meaningless dabbling back and forth, I push harder…

“Um, is there anything L’s teachers shared with you yesterday that we forgot to chat about?”

Silence…followed by a whole lot of “ummms” and some questions to buy time. Had he had a Twix in front of him, I think the non-sweets guy would’ve even stooped to that level.

Finally: “They weren’t supposed to tell you!!!! I told them not to tell you!”

Apparently, the director had not become part of this plan, leaving Momma in the know.

So, the first steps have been had. And I couldn’t be more excited. It’s a little bit like Santa…you don’t quite see him, but you know he exists with all the delicious presents and joy and cheer in the world all tucked into his round belly and mysterious bag.

And thanks, Miss Shannon, for being a whistle blower. Don’t fret – the first time I see the magic of one in front of the other will be like all my little dreams coming true all at once and it won’t matter when, where, how or why.

Because, after all, it’s just step one. And there are so many more amazing ones to come.

Monday, October 4, 2010

If The Shoe Fits

“Wait, what? I don’t understand…he has shoes that aren’t sandals that he wears without socks?”

My brain began to ache as I tried to describe my Mommy dilemma to my only girlfriend who would understand. Keep in mind this is the same dear friend I called hysterically on my way to work when I thought I had gestational diabetes, the one whose lap I laid in when I missed my child so much it hurt and the one I asked questions that I can’t even write here because it could put me on some porn Google list (because of child birth questions) or land me in Family and Child Services for my lack of Mommy knowledge. Let’s face it – she went through the journey first so she could be our wise, o-chosen-one.

So asking her a question like: “Soooo – you need different sizes of shoes based on if the child is wearing socks or not, right?” leaves you feeling safe and protected, rather than judged and just plain stupid. Ok, I still felt a little stupid, but a safe stupid nonetheless.

I mean, seriously, no one told me this rule. And shoes on non-walking toddlers who aren’t teetering about in glass shards? Ridiculous. No one is happy about this situation in our household, but toddler room rules indicate that yes, shoes must be worn. And so came our trek to Stride Rite and Nordstom where we learned that I’d been squeezing that pudgy little foot into shoes two sizes too small, that red marks shouldn’t be a part of his foot wardrobe and the anatomy of a kiddo who was in the pre-walking stage.

And to think I’d been so focused on leopard print heels for the last few years…

Either way, those places have got it down. At Nordy’s, first-timers get a balloon, can eat the crayons, the sales gal climbs on the floor with you and you even get a Polaroid of the event. Now THAT’S service! Granted, we left with shoes that fit well, but ended up in a Frankenstein stance because they were a bit too advanced. I can’t blame the sales lady – after all, I’d work to sell those sparkly Converse, even on a one-year old boy. Yes, they’re THAT cute.

A size 4.5 wide and no-grip socks later, we’re happy Stride Rite campers. Exhausted, but content. And now the frequency of shouting from the back seat and a little leather PediPed bouncing off the back of my head is no longer a daily occurrence.

So even though we’d both rather be roaming the streets in bare feet as some higher spirit intended, we’re satisfied. Because if the shoe fits, we’ll take it.

Now remind me this again in three months when I’m still trying to jam him into this pair…

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Aw, Nuts!

Or more specifically…peanuts.

Turns out the kiddo is allergic. Of course we found this out the hard way on a Sunday morning, basking in the fall sun, enjoying breakfast as a family for once when it hit. I was lazily sprawled on the couch, one leg flung over the side, the other half of me curled into a magazine as I tried to pretend I was sleeping in at some beachside resort. Meanwhile, Daddy is taking one for the team and preparing the babe’s breakfast of eggs and peanut butter toast, none of which he hadn’t tried at least once before. As fussing arose from the prince’s chair (ok, a space saver high chair), I couldn’t help but meddle (I’m the Mom, ok?) and check out the situation. I heard Mike mumble something about “what’d you rub in your eye buddy?” which of course roused me to actually assert my body to the upright position and scope it out.

I quickly pieced together what was happening as my eyes darted back and forth to the toast, then to his swelling face, then back to the toast, now onto his coated eyes and waited for the labored breathing to begin. I remember asking Mike to remain calm as I wildly ran upstairs, a not so gazelle like move that ended up throwing both boys over the edge because they weren’t sure what was going on. Grabbing for the Benadryl, Google and an iPhone (reviewing that now, I wonder if people even 20 years ago would ever list those as emergency prep items), I began calculating in my head how quickly an ambulance really could get to BFE, where they would take us and the millions of things that could go wrong. Being in health care improvement has it’s perks, but with a little knowledge also comes fear – you could call it power, but when a Momma’s kid is in this kind of situation, nothing but fear is left.

As he sat there before me, in all his glory – Mr. Anaphylactic shock himself – all I could think of as my fingers darted across the keys 9-1-1 and Children’s Mercy that thank goodness were locked into my phone (thank you self-help books) was “not on my watch buster – if anything ever happened to you – well, there’s no point in going on.” Full.on.Momma.Bear.Mode. Looking back I can’t pinpoint if it’s cool or really, really creepy. There are no words to describe the feelings felt in those moments that feel like hours, where you’d do anything to trade places with the situation you’re child is in, to release the pain, the fear, the unknown…

Minutes later his breathing slowed as I continued assessment with the 9-1-1 dispatcher, then again with the CMH clinician. A smile returned to his puffy, swollen eyes and face – his grin flowing into the flesh that didn’t usually surround the panels of his face. Even with this bizarre-like mask, he returned to playing cars, eating the remote and banging around pots and pans like it was nothing at all. A few doses of Benadryl, some sleep and a few Zen-like breaths and prayers, we were in the clear. Well, the little man and I were – I’m not sure if Daddy has fully recovered. I seem to recall frantic cursing and stomping and all out mayhem, providing confirmation that indeed, Mommy will have to be home in all emergent situations lest things really go off the deep end.

Today we visited our primary care and allergist, who went over the duties of an Epi pen, what to look out for, the test results and more. On a lighter note, the kid has a head the size of a bowling ball (which houses a brilliant brain I might add), is long and lean, an insatiable appetite and the energy of a Jack Russell terrier. Plus, an adorable, flirty smile and personality to match. So what if he doesn’t have teeth or can’t have peanut M&Ms…

we’re nuts about him anyway.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Otherwise Engaged

I fumbled for my iPhone, hearing its insistent ring muffled somewhere in the confines of my Tumi I’d been toting around for a straight week, the fatigue of a 100-hour work week settling in further as I grew annoyed with the sound. Finally spotting the pink case, I grabbed the fingerprinted screen to check to see what last minute thing may be needed back at the hotel now that the weekend loomed before us. Instead, I was greeted with the identity “Rynny,” and felt the foul mood slip right away, crossing my fingers he was calling with the good new. Sure enough…

“Hi Meggie,” he said, his voice an octave higher than usual, his pace a bit quicker as there was no pause between the next phrase:

"We’re engaged!”

Causing a scene on 47th street, I dropped my bags and meeting evaluations and focused on the news at hand, begging for every last detail, even the ones he most likely couldn’t recall. I didn’t care that others were staring at me as I gabbed into my phone, congratulating him and praising him for a job well done – an important conversation to have with the groom to be, whereas the bride phone call would go very different of course. But that call on “how did you feel? Did you like the ring? Were you surprised? What girls did you call?,” etc. would come shortly after. I listened as he described the romantic scene that had taken place just hours before, coming alive like the fairytale he had intended it to be. Recalling the hours he had obsessed over this, biting my head off one minute and asking me for help the next, I was relieved they both thought the romantic gesture had been spot on to kick off their happily ever after. I won’t share their story, because it’s theirs, but let’s just say it involves an art gallery, wooden blocks, one shocked gal, some champagne and a beautiful, sparkling ring topped with a “yes.”

Speaking of gal, I can’t imagine a more complimentary fit to my amazing brother – a pair so well matched that tough conversations may respectfully be had, good times will be celebrated, quirks will be accepted, memories will be magical and a lifetime of goodness, peace and love will pave their every journey. Not to mention she’s freakin’ gorgeous, understands my obsession with handbags, has olive skin and thighs that don’t touch, is amazing with children, is one smart cookie, is my partner in crime with board games because we can read each other’s minds and fits well into our admittedly odd family. She’s perfect. And I can’t wait to love her even more.

Congratulations Erica and Ryan – may the love you felt in that magical moment light a spark for the lifetime that lies ahead. And always know, we’ll be supporting you and cheering you on from the Choate family sidelines.

Now, let’s get wedding planning, shall we?

Top 10 Reasons We're Certain the Kiddo Is Mine...

Week of September 26

1. Though we love adorable shoes, we can’t be bothered with them. They cramp our style with their restrictive nature and stuff. Maybe flip-flops on a nice day…if only someone will invent those for one-year olds.
2. When served mostly delicious food that is somehow masked with something healthy, we’ll manage to pick out the nutritious stuff and wolf down the yummy goods. Example: toddler spits out egg masked in the yogurt while Mommy picks around vegetables to consume cheese in a casserole.
3. When others cry, we cry. We can’t help it – we wear our hearts on our sleeves. So if you need empathy with a side of sympathy, stop by.
4. Daddy, at times, has a hard time understanding our language. Example: growling/whining when toddler can’t get the lid off something means “take care of this for me” ironically, a death stare from Mommy means the exact same thing.
5. We’re social butterflies – show us the way to a party and we’re there.
6. Dogs make us smile (ok, and shriek), and we will stop whatever we are doing to acknowledge them.
7. When we don’t get our way, we tend to let others near us know about it. In fact, toddler has picked up on tossing things over the balcony, much like Mommy did when she was three in an effort to “make a statement.”
8. We’re not afraid to get a little dirty – it’s what makes life so adventurous and fun.
9. Our hineys stick out of the back of our pants, and our little potbellies out the front. For some reason, it’s cute on the toddler, but no so much on the Mom.
10. We love to dance. I mean, really love to dance. Make it soft rock, R&B or Toddler Tunes, and we’ve got our hands in the air.

Let’s hope he picks up some of Daddy’s good habits here soon…

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Bite Among Friends

You may think you're entering into a post about a fabulous evening out with the girls, and perhaps you're even asking what new joint we hit up, the gossip we cruised through or the events that occurred afterward. Or maybe even what we wore. Probably not because this isn't OK! magazine, but who knows? Anyway, that's not the case. Instead, I'd like to share what I walked into the other day when picking up the babe from his first day in the toddler room:

"Oh, hi Megan - he's out back. He had a really good day, but..."I watched the director's face contort a bit, wondering exactly how to interpret what the creases, frowns and half-smiles all meant. My mind went immediately to the fact he had pooped on the floor, wouldn't sleep, threw a burrito across the room or heaved in a corner due to all the excitement. So hey, yeah, that's a little graphic, but come on now, we're talking about a toddler here. Nothing can really be too gross, dramatic or surprising, can it? Because these are real, real events people...

As she began to explain he received his first "boo boo" at school today, I imagined a black eye, a little bloody nose, scraped knee or the ever-consistent head bump. But instead, I was met with this:

A bite among "friends." His boo boo note read: "My friend accidentally used his mouth instead of his words over a toy, so I suffered a bite." It went on to say they iced it, had snuggle time and was signed off by an administrator. Serious stuff for a boo boo. I almost felt like submitting the note to HIPAA.

Apparently there was a toy incident. And given that L has no teeth, is new to the classroom and isn't quite yet walking, I'm going with the notion he was being hazed. Or initiated. I'm not sure which. Either way, I'm pretty sure this kid, whoever he is, may not end up on L's "friends" list anytime soon. Either that or they'll move forward in true boy fashion and forget it all happened. As a Mama Bear, I'm considering going all CSI on the mark and give the kid a talking to, but given his 2-second attention span, I'm not sure it will influence him much.

Guess they don't call it the ankle biter room for nothin' what's with the forearm?

Cheers to you, little buddy. Day 2 is bound to be a best day in the toddler room yet!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Change Management

There are days, oh so many days, that I place my hands near my temples and drag them down my face, wishing for a dictionary to fall out of the sky. Yes – a dictionary. (Ok, that and perhaps a money tree and a cute pair of heels). To which I would then flip to the “M” section and search for my very own name. Here, I would find “Megan” and discover clean, neat bullets underneath, defining my personality, my day-to-day and my fate line by line in a simple, meaningful way I could understand. A definition so complete that, when I find myself doubting who I was, who I am and who I will be, could serve as the magic genie that would help pave the way. A book with such magical fine ink that would give me the confidence, know-how and faith to appreciate the woman I was going to become in each of life’s amazing moments.

Now, you’d think at 30, I’d have figured this out by now. In fact, you always hear women running around talking about this decade and beyond, ranting how they “found themselves” and felt “comfortable in their own skin” and “finally knew what they liked.” Lies, I tell you. Lies. Ok, maybe not, but if this is the case, I’m falling sadly behind, in one area particularly:


Blech – just typing it makes me ashamed.

You see, the hubby and I are on a quest to simplify, which not only includes de-cluttering the impossible house, but also returning to our Dave Ramsey roots. By simplifying, we hope to reach a more Zen-like state, focus on what matters (like our little family) and create open hearts and minds that have more energy to be positive and give back. Oh, and to do the little task of saving for braces, college, to support a growing family and not have to go into panic mode when the AC stops working…

Yeah…this goal does NOT fit in with my general habitus. A.t. a.l.l.

For me, I am what I have. It comes from a long, sick line of baggage and confidence issues that I won't bore you with as I'm sure you're due for your own time on the couch. My perception is what gets me noticed is not the smile on my face, the friend I am, the Mom I try to be or the work I put in on the job or at home. It’s not that I remember to call on your birthday, plan a celebration in your honor or help you when you’re at your lowest. It’s not the hand-written note, the holding of your hand or the ride when your car is in the shop. It’s the Coach handbag, the Nordstrom clothes, the glittery top and the latest nail color. Strip that all away, and to be blatantly honest…I’m not sure of who I am at all.

Now, for those of you who know me really well, you understand the above paragraph is only true at a certain level, but this whole stripping down in life thing? Is really, really scary.

Will the girls still call on a Saturday night, even when I’ve had to turn them down a few times because it wasn’t in the budget? Will anyone notice if I’m in the same tees and jeans each week so I can send my kid to the best pre-school? What kind of first impression will I make without the perfect gear? What will I talk about if not the latest fashions? Will I still be any fun if it’s water at wine night versus the real deal? What will my family eat now that I have to actually prepare nutritious foods for them? Without “stuff,” how will we preserve our memories and keep the love alive?

Even typing it, it all so selfish and silly. After reading that you probably want to just give me a swift kick in the ass. Or even call me a selfish b*tch – who knows. And please, don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful for every little bite I take, the roof over my head, the threads on my back, the luxury of a car to drive to my amazing career. But even a gal who seems to have it all has to stop and think: it’s too much – I get it.

But who will I be without?

I can’t even comprehend or quite honestly imagine what it’s like to really struggle – how I got dealt such a blessed hand in life I’ll never really know. But I’ll keep being appreciative and grateful for it each and every waking moment and be humbled by the fact it could change on a dime.

And in the meantime, I’d love to know if you’ve stripped down or dealt with change to spare some change. What did you discover and what became of your life and love because of it? What was your long-term change management plan and its results?