Saturday, October 22, 2016

Mart Mania!

"Water. Cross body. Cash. Smiles. Sustenance. Game plan. Let's do this!" I exclaimed excitedly to my  Mom, the dawn of one of our favorite days of the year upon us. Climbing into her sedan, we shared stories of our week and anticipated all we were going to find at this year's Holiday Mart. It was the perfect way to start a day of PTO aka "national shopping holiday."

The list included things like teacher's gifts, gems, gourmet holiday decor and of course, anything you can monogram. Top of the pile: things for our new niece/granddaughter. Tutus, bloomers, sassy monograms and sparkly shoes? Yes please. Holiday Mart just took on a whole new purpose.

Arriving to pumpkin donuts literally sitting in a frier, we carbed up and got on our way. Lane 1 did not disappoint. Nor did the dozens of rows to follow:

The edibles: raspberry compote, aged Wisconsin cheese, sweet ham sticks
and enough dips to whip up in a pinch when entertaining or for hostess gifts this holiday
Don't forget the cherry salsa and chocolate covers cherries! 
The wearable: this week's styling event claimed camo is still all the rage.
Therefore this countoured, comfy piece came home to pair with
jeans or plum pants. 
The Giftable: my brother's Georgia loving family will love
this add for their corn hole game. 
The Giftable: perhaps my favorite find of the day is this mug. When days are tough,
my boss and I give each other a certain look and utter the one word listed
above. The accuracy of this mug for her is profound and personal. Plus she obviously
needs the koozie for after work for managing our team.
More wearables: truths for me and the hubs. You can guess which belongs to who.

The girlable: upon meeting our new niece, she shall dress in this
ridiculous, not at all useful but quite adorable ensem. Because aunts can.
More edibles: throw in some sour cream and you have your appetizer!
When you get a moment to yourself, enjoy a warm cup of white hot chocolate
by the fireplace. Yum.
The accessibles: nieces need bows and I need hair cute patterns and bright
colors. Mave jewelry offers unique, simple pieces with slight edge. The ring on the
left is like Kendra with a twist and the bracelets on the right are perfect
for adding to a stack. Not pictured: a fun bangle with my kids' birthstone
and I added a "L." Five-percent of the bangle purchase went to human trafficking.
The girlable + baby: a personalized frame that matches the nursey and a blanket
to accent the past baby shower theme. Plus a little fox from a fabulous
personalized ornament shop for an upcoming baby shower.
The house accessible: a few unique pieces to add to our KC themed basement.
11X14 pics that will fit into IKEA frames.
The shootable: rifle type toy guns that don't look real, include a laser pointer
so the cat can also get involved and the loudest of sounds. Every boys' dream.
It's been non-stop since they came home - including a 6 a.m. battle. Consider
keeping these at the grandparents house!

My Mart marathon buddy - love you Mom!
For those of you headed out today, text me for details on booth names and price if that's helpful. Enjoy and wear comfortable shoes!!! We were a bit slowed by a much-needed bootie change mid-way. I guess that's she way marathons go, huh?

A few changes I think were different this year that may help you prepare:

1. Parking is the same, but there are some road closures. The valet was wide open in the morning, but a long wait to get your car at the end of your journey.

2. Consider bringing your own bags: this year the maps and bag you used to receive at the entrance are now at the Junior League booths. You can get a cute red bag for $1 or a free plastic Charming Charlie one for all of your things. Warning: people will constantly ask you where the Charming Charlie booth is and it's just a sponsorship.

3. Eat up! A huge improvement - now there are food trucks in there! Gyros, fried donuts, loaded fries, salad, booze, BBQ and even sushi. A big step up from the hall food. The Bartle stands are still open.

4. Squeeze in! The aisles are a bit tighter this year. Prepare to fight your way to the sparkly gem you have your eye on.

5. Prepare for iPhone payment: almost every vendor had their iPhone to accept card payments. Many times they were down and required cash. Have those dolla bills ready!

6. Put your feet up! More seating is available plus a cozy couch when it's half-time.

Now grab your shopping buddy and go! And don't forget to share what you found afterward. I'll be hear grieving all the fun is over.

Happy holiday marting!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Commuting Conundrum

"When I was a recruiter, we looked for drives that were no more than 25 minutes," my girlfriend shared, her tone light and supportive as she stared at my sullen face. It was our usual run to Quick Trip, where we indulged in loads of tea and swapped stories of our mornings at work. In other words, a mental health break.

That morning it took me close to 90 minutes to arrive at work. The night before it was nearly an hour before my little ones were tucked close in my arms with a welcome home hug. The next day it was 60 minutes in and another solid 48 to get home. Today was the regular 10 minutes of me complaining about it to anyone who would listen.

My commute - it's a conundrum. And I need help.

From here, it's either uproot from what's our almost dream home (that we've lived in for 9 months) to improve our quality of life, but risk removing our son from an amazing school system, friends he adores and sports teams where he feels like a star. Or it's altering an already complicated schedule, bogged down by two working parents, schools 30 mins apart and workplaces even further. Perhaps it's just changing perspective, drinking a favorite bev on the way and enjoying a podcast or catching up with friends on the phone (Bluetooth of course). Leaving a career I thrive in doesn't seem like an option, that's for sure. Maybe it's just accepting it and changing focus to how amazingly lucky I am with a healthy, growing family, a job and team I adore, the kind of mommy neighbors you only dream of and more.

But friends - I'm paralyzed. Stuck in the death spiral of the commute. In near tears from the rat race of what is 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. in our home. Loaded with guilt, not knowing what to expect, bitterness, frustration and at times, rage. I'm gaining weight, feeling in a funk, arriving to work and returning to home in a foul mood and just not myself. Over a drive. Not acceptable. I mean, my life is pretty damn good.

Except for that drive. But I digress.

So whatcha got? Advice, tips, experiences? I'll take them. Before I'm driven even more looney tunes.

PS: I get that for my big city pals, this is child's play. But KC - we're an anywhere in 15 mins or less in our SUV kinda city. :)