Sunday, February 27, 2011

Party Like It's February 2011

“Megs, why do you still have your coat on?,”Leah asks as I worked to keep the buttons intact and my scarf wound tightly around my neck.

“Because I so did not wear a Catholic-appropriate, daytime wedding ensemble!” I said, sharing a grin and glancing around at the perfectly coifed guests, their toned down gray and black wear filling the pews with necklines and hemlines that hit in all the right places. Drat to improper planning and prioritizing the family to get that last minute shopping in, huh? Though I have known Molly and Tim were getting married on this date for nearly a year…

The bagpipes were played, the tears nudged at with small corners of tissues and bright smiles lit up the room as one of the most gorgeous brides this world has seen began her day with all of her dreams coming true. The love felt among the church’s stained-glass walls was immeasurable as stories of their love were swapped, guests sat silent with heartfelt emotion and rings of gorgeous wedding party attendants gazed on with support and admiration. The kiss was tasteful and elegant, the sermon one to always remember and filled with a few life lessons and the look on the happy couple’s face as they made their way back down the aisle as husband and wife: priceless. True to the kind of people Molly and Tim are, it was a day complete with romance, well wishes, inspiration and joy. Truly a magnificent event!

Turn to about six hours later and perhaps things are no longer being labeled as “nice,” but more like:’s.2011! Wine is flowing, words that will always be remembered being exchanged over the loud speaker, a table full of best friends and a play list to die for, it felt like college all over again. Suddenly, what can sometimes feel like the weight of the world got a little lighter as I danced cheek to cheek (yes, both sets of cheeks…we unfortunately haven’t changed THAT much – yikes), got down to Britney with the girls, participated in dance offs and rocked out to MJ. For a split second, I was no longer a Mom, an overachieving employee, a wife, a friend, a sister a daughter…but just me. Doing the groove thing. And that’s one little piece of heaven we all have to hold on to once in awhile…to remember what’s important in life, to let it all hang out for an hour or two and just.get.down.

So thank you Molly and Tim, and to all our “family” and friends we cherish and love each and every day. For your love, our love and the love we all share.

And for letting us party like it’s 2011.

May this night and all of yours ahead be all you’ve been dreaming of and more…

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

C'mon, Vogue

“Let’s do it…it will be so much fun…and different!” Sarah squeals, excitedly chattering about appetizers, dates and all things girly as we sat over cool beverages discussing the potential of an upcoming birthday celebration.

The corners of my mouth widened in a grin as flashes of Madonna, “Pretty Woman” and even “13 Going on 30” danced through my head, complete with lead roles and characters that were my best friends. Makeovers, jewels, Usher on the iPod, delicious grub and all my favorite people? Count me in. Sounds like the perfect way to bring in the big 3-1.

And so it came to be the Vogue Party was in effect. Feb. 11. At Sarah’s. Be there or be square.

Now, keep in mind pouring on the glam and letting loose with your inner Heidi Klum isn’t necessarily for everyone. But the gals took one for the team and all arrived in their own version of high fashion, with big smiles, warm hugs and ready to cheer on those who were brave enough to get in front of the curtain and get their girl-on.

I was first, my face lined with professionally applied makeup, heavy but classic – made just for the camera lens. Struggling to make the transition from the application chair to center stage, I downed half of Sarah’s delicious homemade pear vodka concoction and took my time dabbling with the accessories table, working with Bliss Photography’s jewel gal to select just the right accessories for that extra Vogue touch.

Minutes later, with bangles up to my elbows, a fedora perched on my brow and enough necklaces to qualify me as Mrs. T, I was bounced into the spotlight, giggles surrounding me, the bass pumping from nearby, the encouragement and direction from the photographers comforting and laid-back. Striking pose after pose, I channeled my inner Emme (because let’s face it, I’m no Kate Moss) and did my best to relax and have fun, taking in the gals’ faces around me and delighting in the sounds of them having fun nearby. For those few minutes it felt like freedom…to be young again, ridiculous, completely outside of your comfort zone, silly, glamorous, reckless and just plain sassy. All things one should experience when digging even further into their thirties and letting loose from the everyday stresses in life…

One after one, the gals flirted in front of the background, hamming it up for the camera, smirking as the “wind” hit their face or their pupils lit up with the help of some professional lighting. Scarves, hats, gloves, jewels, lipsticks and more were thrown about and exchanged, not unlike those nights in the sorority house before the big date dash. Chocolates and wine were consumed, stories were swapped, hugs and even some tears of disbelief took place near the kitchen as catching up occurred, posing commenced and an evening of glamour took place.

Finally, after 30 minutes of photo editing on-site by the professionals, a few party fouls, a lot of girl talk and even more adult beverage consumption, the slide show began. Like eager students, we gathered on the rug with the laptop before us and oohhed and aahheed over the final product, marveling at the transformation and the power of a little editing and a lot of camera talent. Cries of “that’s my favorite!” or “you should give that to your hubby!” or “omg, that doesn’t even look like her!” bounced off the walls as the girls’ faces lit up in delight, humor and plain ol’ carefree fun. Fabulous. Finesse. Phenomenal. F.U.N.

The final production of the night was purchasing time, as girls narrowed their photo options, chose to purchase images or trinkets, gathered their thoughts and made selections:

And so commenced The Vogue Party of 2011…for these girls at least. A night to truly remember, to mark down as a milestone and to reserve in your brain when life starts to get a bit too serious.

So thank you, girls, for reminding me what your 30s and all your years are about: friends, food, fun, family and…


It will remain a night I’ll never forget.

And to Sarah, the hostess with the mostest and all the besties that attended: you’re the best models any gal could ask for. Thanks for always being the tripod to my camera and being the support and friends I can always count on when I need it the most…and even when I don’t. I love you and will Vogue with you anytime. Anyday.

You just name it.


Clicking through my daily blogs, I took a deep breath that could almost count as a gasp when I spotted my dear friend Gina’s latest post on jewels. Necklaces lined the page, their antique fingers intertwining one another in perfect shades of gold lined with all the right materials to make it just extraordinary enough to, well…lose your breath for a minute. That is, if you’re a jewel junky like me I suppose. I began to daydream all the ensembles in my closet that would be enhanced by these pieces when suddenly, the soft chime of the doorbell rings and I stumble down the stairs to greet this this little number that arrives:


Thank you, sis-in-law, for once again nailing it like you always do. You make all my accessory dreams come true with your immaculate taste and giving heart, and for thinking of things that others adore that they’d never purchase for themselves.

Add it to my collection of necklaces I’ve received today from amazing colleagues that includes a beautiful, chocolate-colored beaded choker and a long layer of pearls perfectly mixed with a silver palette and you can call me one of the luckiest and most appreciative gals you know. Or just a jewel junky/fashion fiend…I’m flexible…

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ahoy, Vinoy!

Despite the fact I went all weepy on you last week as I made my trek to St. Petersburg for business on my favorite holiday, we can pull down the pity party banner given the fact I was “cooped up “in this little joint for five days:

The Renaissance Vinoy. You know…just a little shack off the bay filled with celebrities, signature cocktails, ocean views, waterfalls, steel drums, four different pools and bars, a spa that from the outside smelled of lavender, immaculate guest rooms, a fitness center that caused even me to think twice about working out and the kind of customer service that Walt D. himself would have even been proud of.

Needless to say I’m still adjusting to the lack of little chocolates sprawled on my pillow (ok, and the fact there was no scolding when I got some on the white duvet), a fresh towel every morning complete with high-end bath products, the smell of fresh-cooked seafood wafting from the kitchen and whirlpool to dip my feet into after an 18-hour work day. Apparently this type of service doesn’t exist at Casa de Choate (though I am thankful for dinner on the table every night a la chef hubby).

So, though I’m thrilled to be back to the regular 200 thread count sheets, sticky fingers and toothy grins, I’m longing for that little slice of heaven called 76 degrees, sunny and a five-star restaurant each night. In an effort to recreate it, I’ve posted similar signs around our home that request that no photographs or autographs be taken in an effort to respect the guests. So far so good…no one’s been around asking for the John Hancock of an exhausted, satisfied wife, Mother and employee. Though the little one still seems to be getting his fair share of flash time still these days. Guess the plan is kinda working.

Now if we could just work on that whole “put it on the room” tab…

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Left My Heart in K.C.

“You’re going to be great honey – and we love you!” he said, turning the keys wildly in the ignition, tossing the daycare bag in the back and waiting patiently as I tucked our son in his seat against the cool morning air.

I made my way through what felt like the motions of over the shoulder, buckle, chatter about Elmo, shovels and footballs, plaster a smile on my face and hurry along because Daddy was already 30 minutes late to work, and well, you know how that makes him a little grinchy in the morning. At the same time, I felt my heart dropping down to my ankles, then straight out my toes and fought the urge to chase after the car and rip my baby from the back seat and hold him against my chest, never to let go. Because leaving your child for a business trip never gets easier, despite the fact you get a small reprieve from what can become the everyday routines in life. But no amount of love for your career, passion for seeing new cities, or even the drive to do something meaningful in the pediatric world can replace the small of his hand on your knee, the weight of his little body in your lap, the warmth of his head tucked against your shoulder as you rock him to sleep or even his wicked grin when he’s about to do something really, really naughty. Nope – there’s nothing quite like it.

So this year, on Valentine’s Day, I left my heart in K.C. But I’m also taking with me every sound, face, giggle and antic that I have memorized. And my one wish this year? That you may feel my love from miles and miles away…

I love you boys. Happy Valentine’s Day!

And to all of you, dear friends – may this day and all days be filled with the kind of love you’ve only daydreamed of. Because you truly deserve it.

Finally, to my dear husband and best friend: if I forgot to mention it, when I'm chasing that car...I'm hoping you'll leap out too. 'Cause there is no where else I'd rather be than in your arms on this Valentine's Day and every day...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Works of Art

“You know, local artists are downstairs in Nordy’s painting TOMS again today…” my Mom says with a slight grin of anticipation, knowing my reaction would look similar to that of a gal who heard a knock on her door from Ed McMahon.

“WHAT?! YES!” I say, grabbing her hand on this rare shopping trip and steering her to the south side of the congested mall, practically mowing over a crowd of people that were doing what there, I don’t know. Milling about? Being teens? Fighting cabin fever? Regardless, they were slowing my intense shopping pace…

“Don’t you already have a circus of those?” my Mom half-laughs, half-asks, as I stare intently at the color selection as if it were the hardest decision I’ve made in my life (by the way, don’t tell my work this – I mean, we’re supposed to be helping save children’s lives for goodness’ sake). Finally, a charcoal color is selected (because hello I of course have all the sparkly ones and I’m saving some dough for all the springy ones for when it finally arrives) and I trot up to the counter to pay, catching the eye of the young dude who always seems a bit torn up that he works in the BP section at the large department store. I hand over the debit card and as he asks me to describe what I’d like painted on them, I can feel him his eyes internally rolling as I go into detail, which leads him to decidedly just walk me over there to chat with the artist herself. Even better! I think to myself…

A young, hip gal greets me at the table, her speech slow, steady and super chill as any good artist would be. Her hair is tied loosely in dreads, her tee simple and un-tucked and her jewelry one-of-a-kind, most likely created with her own two hands. I glance at the lines of shoes on her table and suddenly feel the immense pressure to come up with something uber fabu to don on these shoes. My dream was to have Lawson’s handprints line the canvas in amazing colors that would take me into spring, but the factors of a) he wasn’t there b) we all know how the Valentine thumbprints went c) I wasn’t sure how toxic the paint was all led me to go with the standard pompei flowers that it seemed other girls that had gone before me had chosen. Not wanting to completely follow the herd, I requested an olive branch running throughout, which symbolizes peace and a tattoo I had always desired, with hidden initials of M,L and C within it. Which I decided was pretty rockin’, given that’s a) my monogram b) represents Mike, Lawson and our last name. Score!

An hour passes, and we pick up the final product:

And I’m over the moon. So much so I even wore them barefoot in the two fresh inches of snow the other day because well, I can. I recall also eating Fritos for breakfast that morning, so I’m not sure what was going on…

So thank you, dear local artist and the world for this trend of TOMS, that are not only like walking barefoot with a slight slipper feel, but also result in a pair of shoes given to a child in need with every purchase. Truly – a work of art.

And speaking of works of art, check out this other snazzy pair I invested in this week.

Yet another Sperry original.

So though this attachment to buying bizarre shoes that so rightly matches my quirky personality…hey, it’s cheaper than buying ACTUAL art, right?!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thumbody Loves You

“Move over babe, I gotta find something creative for Monkey to do for our loved ones on Valentine’s Day,” I said, shoving aside cables and wood chips, my elbows nearly tipping over the tools that lay nearby.

“And you picked just the perfect time…” Mike said, rolling his eyes and making his way across the study, a slight smirk lining his lips as my ridiculous dedication to the heartfelt holiday.

After a few minutes of tapping on the keys and clicking through songs that gave me an instaheadache (yet made his painting project more manageable), I scribbled a few notes from parenting web sites and began to imagine my own little touches, fighting the urge to immediately jump in my car and head to Hobby Lobby. Because even though this gal ain’t no Martha Stewart, it’s no mystery that every chic can use a creative outlet once in awhile…

I daydreamed through the rest of the afternoon while living in the moment of “chase the toddler,” preparing meals, doing “art” and reading with Elmo. A few hours later after a rocking session, two rounds of “You Are My Sunshine” and whispers about our gratitudes for the day, I was off to collect the goods: 20 small clay pots, craft sticks, pink scrapbooking paper, a Sharpie, raffia ribbon and a bag of conversation hearts. The red paint – we already had it since painting our Halloween pumpkins and doing the many hand/feet projects I forced my toddler into when writing thank you notes or just for my own personal entertainment (much to his dismay I might add). From this, came these:

Twenty little flower-like acts of love, each lined with tiny thumbprints (ok, some are my pinkies, because really, a 16-month old gets bored at number six), each that says: “Thumbody Loves You” and “Happy Valentine’s Day.” Pink hearts, red thumb smudges, ribbon and a multitude of colors lined with sassy little messages. All for the people we love.

Because Valentine’s Day, like all days, is meant to genuinely share with those you cherish that…well…you cherish them. And if you’re a Pisces-born, girly-girl that has a soft spot for pink, glitter and hopeless romance, you make room to go a little overboard on this day.

Wishing you a Valentine’s Day that fills the teeniest corners of your heart with the utmost joy. And remember…”Thumbody Loves You.”

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Toddler To Dos

“Art…ART!” he said frantically, shaking the thin plastic stackers at me as if he were McGruber himself about to prevent a bomb going off in the home, a clean sheet of paper tucked under his arm just ready to be scribbled on. As if the casa didn’t already look as if a device had already exploded in it, but I digress…

It was hour three of the little dude being awake during the “Blizzard of Oz” and we’d already eaten, “swam” (bathed), “raked” (swept the floors), had multiple dance parties, played cars, did flashcards, tortured the animals, climbed the stairs, jumped on couches and beds, drew three Valentines, “cooked” (banged pots and pans), sifted through the dog food and unrolled the toilet paper. Among other things. And for the millionth time since 16 months ago I thought to myself: “THIS is why SAHM deserve to win the Pulitzer Prize. Or get five gold stars each day. Make a bzillion dollars. I don’t know…they’re superwomen. And I don’t know where they get an ounce of their strength, patience and well…energy! The thought alone made me shudder. Either that or grab my debit card and order all my SAHM girlfriends the royal spa treatment.

See, it’s tricky, because it’s a bit of a conundrum as there is no place else I’d rather be than with my child and family as a whole. Never. But sometimes in the moment (example: hour three), I ponder just how we’re going to survive it. But, like soldiers in combat, we gotta have a game plan. And with 17 inches of snow mounting the house and the wind whipping at -20, we went to plan B – break out “The Toddler's Busy Book." And you know what? It worked like a charm.

Because I became a kid at heart again. And his grew with excitement. And there was a whole lotta love. You know how I know?

He said it: “MOMMA, I WUV YOU!”

Ok, so it was while he was wrestling. With my clean, folded stack of laundry. While dropping graham crackers and milk treads in his path.

But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

So thank you, dear book, for offering the creative activities such as the blanket toss, mask making, water tricks and so much more. Because you gave me the best of my kiddo…and that’s the best gift a gal can ask for. And because the only “to do” on my list for this rare “adult snow day” should be 1. Love my son. Unconditionally. Relentlessly. Fearlessly. Selflessly.

Now that’s one toddler to do I can live with…

Calgon, Take Me Away...for a Half Day?

If you’re anything like me, the days of snow piled up outside your graying front door, the unreturned voice and emails piling up (along with the laundry), the rise in snarkiness at home and work, the remnants of the holiday spirit now fading, not to mention “little” things like, ahem Egypt, are starting to become, well…a.little.too.much. So much so that you find yourself recalling that ridiculous 80s commercial about Calgon whisking you away to a happy place and thinking, “why the hell not?” I’m not sure if they even produce that product anymore (ok, or what it is) and I’m too damn lazy to Google it (see above), so humor me, will ya, and check out some of the stress management techniques I’ve been using below to remind me just how good I have it. Because I do – I really do. It’s just sometimes you need that itty bitty reminder – and these top 10 strategies help me get to that place:

1. Wine: enough said
2. Five minutes of daily meditation: before anyone is up and it’s just little ol’ you, perusing a favorite quote, writing in your Mom journal, blogging, etc.
3. Phone call with a dear friend: to vent, to laugh, to cry – whatever you need
4. Social media break: Facebook drama, blog updates or catch Sportsgal33’s Bachelor tweets…that will crack a smile or two!
5. Yoga: Namaste
6. McDonalds: because you deserve a break today. And pizza, soda, Sour Patch Kids, chocolate and licorice. No reason really – besides to fill your emotional void with food. Don’t judge – it works. I don’t care if I’m a “lady of substance…” – at least I went to bed with a grin on my face.
7. Dance party: even if it is to Yo Gabba Gabba
8. Feng shui: clean up, clean out, clean space.
9. News diet: ignore the Snotorious B.I.G, the predator down the street, the car accident on I70 or what celebrity is in rehab today. According to the media, the world is imploding on itself anyway, so you might as well enjoy going down with it doing something more exciting than cruising TV channels or CNN.
10. Keeping perspective: remember the Four Agreements, delight in your child’s smile and keep on keepin’ on.

Because really, we don’t want Calgon to take us away from this place that all in all, just ain’t that bad. Ok, maybe for a know, just to ease the pain once in awhile when it becomes a smidge too much…

Bonus: if you're rollin' in the dough and the thought of dropping a cool $100 or so on a massage will actually help you sleep better than not, I recommend jaunting over to Bijin in Prairie Village. Thanks to two lovely lady friends, I recently indulged in a Swedish massage that, at the time, felt life-changing. Think lavender, fluffy bathrobes, calming music, warm steam showers and relaxed sesame lotion you just want to tuck in your purse and run off with. Magical!