Monday, December 4, 2017

Decking our Halls

"Yep, drag that sucker up here!" I shouted to the hubs, taking advantage of his wine-induced coma after a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. No sooner is the last candle blown out and the dishes stacked next to the sink that our family begins decking our halls for Christmas.

As the tree made its way up the stairs, we began evaluating our space and dreaming of how it would look over the next few days with sparkle and lights. Given it's the second year in this home, our vision was pretty solid, but it's always fun to mix it up just a little.

A room with a view: simple snow-coated succulents, pics Santa, gentle lit garland
on the stair, traditional stockings and mixed up the red and black buffalo plaid
ribbons on the tree and accents with some gray and white.

Simple switch of regular items and added some golden glass trees,
sparkling evergreen and jingle bells.

The table is used often for crafts and dumping mail, so
keeping it simple is key. These are great staples from Chip & Joanna's
Target line.

Simplicity mid-island as much family activity occurs in
this happy place. Some sprinkled snow, pinecones, mix
of ornaments in a Hearth & Home lantern. 

A touch of spirit near the oven, including the warmest
winter scent of birch.

The countdown is on next to a big ol' pile of candy canes.

The top of the coffee table is reserved for monster truck racing, so
kept it simple with lanterns, battery-operated candles and a
pop of winter greens.

Keeping the family tradition alive with Dickens' houses passed
on by my Grandma. Fake snow and a village lines our front
cabinet as guests enter.

The Lego winter village gained a train station this year! A holiday
favorite for the kids to build and use their imagination for the month.

There's something about the spirits and sparkle that makes us want to snuggle in, curl up by the fire and slow our pace to really enjoy time with the family. We can't wait to share it with those we love over the coming weeks!

May your interpretation of holiday space bring you all the happiness this year.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Go West!

It's no secret our little family of four grapples with staying out west from time to time. Well, make that two of us since one wouldn't fathom leaving his baseball buddies and the other's main focus is whether we have Babybel cheese in the house. While we adore the warmth and kindness of neighbors, the amazing schools, slightly more open land and the amount of house for the money, it's just so....far.

That's why when Lenexa announced they were bringing a public market near the area, we got a little giddy. Described as an open air concept with various food and retail vendors, our minds wandered to our time in San Fran, where sushi, candles, fresh bread and friendship bracelets could all be found in one good-smelling, bustling place. And while its soft opening wasn't near the scale of that, it was nice to have some of that big-city feel just 10 minutes from our house.
In the wide-open space so far is a beautiful mix of fine woods, natural and more cooler elements. Bench tables line the middle, while patio lights pop in all the right corners. Several small vendors bring scents of local soaps, tasty chocolates, aromatic coffee and baked treats. Mixed in are the pizza, dumplings, barbecue and ice cream tastes. Comfortable seating is movable and includes a variety of large-scale games to be enjoyed by all. Outside dons wide-based chairs, perfect for perching by one of their lit fires or for gazing onto the green complete with a few statues holding history of Lenexa. Nearby runners and swimmers are making their way around the beautiful new rec center, lined with shining silver and neon lights. Parking was easy, and all around was new housing and the promise of a soon-to-be-thriving mini downtown.

Our first visit was a cold, misty Friday night, likely influencing a more minimal crowd. But for a family seeking a low-key start to the weekend, it was just right. The kids enjoyed taking in the scenes and getting competitive over the table-top games.  Dinner options from the main food places were just ok, with tasty dessert from Foos and Christopher Elbow making up for it.  

Overall we left thankful for  the dollars and creative thoughts that went into breathing life out west, and the chance to try something new. We can't wait to see what it will look like in spring and summer of 2018. And if you want to come even a tad further, say K7ish, we'll welcome you!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Spiderman's Survival Kit

"Yep, grab the backpack, it's got all the goods in it," I said to the Mister, one hip on the door while two hands balanced waters, Goldfish, gift and of course, the ever-famous iPad. We were headed to a birthday party, which isn't always easy with someone who has the senses of Spiderman, so preparation is always key. Couple that unconditional love, patience and no expectations, and you're sure to feel you've done your best have a fun experience for you and your kiddo.

Sensory soothers aren't just for the sensitive superheroes- many children need more breaks, calm-down tools and safe places to share big feelings than our current world allows them. Here's some of our favs:

Aqua motion: calming, distracting and something a child can
cup in their hand and focus on. Find them in educational
toy stores or Amazon

Their favorite song! Mix up their movement by offering
a beloved tune, either unusually loud, quiet or in a
safe place where they can regroup
Pocket bubbles: portable, magical and provides long
minutes of fun as a sort of treat

Ocean waves nightlight: so soothing and unique, it sends
gentle waves across the ceiling and offers several sounds.
Easy to use, affordable and has a timer. A more relaxing
bedtime routine can be yours! 
Swing: where a child may have trouble getting all of their senses to integrate,
the swing can do for them! Like a reset button that's also fun and calming.
If it takes up too much room, try swinging them by their ankles upside down or side
to side - they'll show you what they like.

Weighted blanket: to help them feel safe, protected and
cocooned into bed or couch as their body works to settle

Portable wipes: whether they are Costco's baby wipes or these nicely
individually wrapped ones, find the unscented and tuck them in all your favorite
places on the go. Not only does it help the kiddo that likes impeccably clean
hands, but distracts them for a moment while they work to open the package.

Matchbox cars: their wheels spin and you can use your imagination. Plus they are
one dollar when you're in a bind.  What's not to like?

Headphones: that fit comfortably for children and cut one of their senses
while the others are hard at work. Perfect for when they are feeling overwhelmed
or at crowded events.

Kiddie countdown: an app on your phone that counts down with fun music
and a mysterious picture when the words "Two more minutes" are too much
for your kiddo. Everyone likes to know what to expect!
Social stories, Miralax, essential oils, tagless clothes and socks, deep pressure, quiet spaces and visual cues are also a must in our household, all of which you can find tips on through Pinterest. So get shopping! Calmer days are ahead...for everyone.

What are some of your kids' favorite things when life gets to be a bit much?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

On the Daily

"Hmmm, what'll it be today? I don't think the words 'cranky, exhausted or stressed' are strong starters," I say to the Mister, a thin black Sharpie poised above my palm.

It was Monday morning. The kids hadn't slept in weeks, deadlines were looming and the grind of long commutes, sports practices and everyday life were upon us. And although it had been a mostly enjoyable weekend that included hugs, long bedtime stories, laughter and time outdoors, it was already almost as if they hadn't happened at all.

Many work weeks started like that, and ended with me having zero energy for my beloved family. Something needed to change, and quick.

The best place to start? The ol' noggin.

I began to ask myself and others: How do I set positive intent for the day? What can I do to revisit it when fatigue or challenges try to get in the way of it? Why is it so damn hard to live this utopic life others dream of and just be grateful for it? Where's the perspective?

As usual, A had the answer. Earthy, experienced and Zen, she shared her trick of writing one word on her palm in the morning that sets her attitude and intent for the day. Frequently she shared she wrote, "fierce, calm, productive" or "joyful." Between her tough boss, teenagers and needy clients, she found this subtle reminder she can visit in as simple as grabbing a sip of water a motivating way to stay in the positive zone.

If something like that is helpful for the already cool-as-a-cucumber A, it could work for me too.

Week one I had trouble committing to just one word (I'm a marketer - we're women of much fluff). So I scribbled a small acronym that highlighted where I'd like my mind and heart to settle in for the day. Several weeks later, I was down to one or switching it to two, depending on what the soul needed in the moment. Words on my palm frequently include things like chill, authentic, love hard or energy. And while it isn't so much about the act of placing ink to skin, it's a nice way to trick your body into taking a meditative moment to set positive intent for the day. And to revisit it when things got off track.

So while this isn't the holistic good eating, drink enough water, sleep more than four hours per night and get time to yourself kind of self care, it's an attainable, inspiring one that keeps me going.

What about you? What inspires or sets your intent for the day? Or, what is your word, for today?

The Skinny on the Anni

"That's right - opening day, right at noon. I'll be there!" I shared excitedly to my gal pal on the phone, fully knowing that as a non-card holder, the situation would already be dire.

Luckily a few bloggers and friends had gone before me, reporting a less thrilling Nordy's Anni Sale than years past, which was both a beautiful and sad thing. Nice in that some dough can be saved and bummer in that the thrill of that fall fashion find was probably not going to be a reality this year. My husband and stack of mounting healthcare bills probably lean toward a mini celebration.

With a pen and paper in one hand and laptop balanced on a soft pillow, I studied with the kind of ferocity one does months before the Bar exam. Skipping the clothes almost altogether (hello, carrying around an extra 55 pounds and accessories always fit), I created my wish list between post-its and Pinterest. And when that Friday came around, I went in for the kill. With one hour to invest, it went purses, jewels, shoes, kids and home goods. Here's what I left with:
A pretty little something to add a touch of sparkle for day or night
Vince Camuto cross body that's just the right size and a unique,
gray brown to pair with any fall/winter ensemble

Ugg sneaks in a perfect neutral for fall that scream comfort and style
Teeny CZ studs that sparkle and are sized as if they were real

Copper mug, for those evenings that call for  a Moscow Mule

A cozy throw for the days I spend typing away in the home office

In these boxes were also a few Under Armor pieces for the boys. The scented candle, Zella leggings, plum jacket and a few other favs were left behind thanks to budgeting reasons.

So overall, not too shabby. Because come Anni sale or any time in between, Nordy's is top notch.

What did you bring home in your lovely, yellow-box themed sacks?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Channeling Your Inner Joanna

"Ok girls, how are we ever going to pick?!" I emailed the crew, the date of our upcoming girls' night on the horizon. Several strings later we were on a roll, clicking through Pinterest and modeling our favorite quotes we'd see in a book, mom blog or that fabulous wall at Scheels.

All this searching was for our upcoming night o' creativity, where we'd spend an evening in a beautiful home in Olathe making whiteboard signs. Always looking for something fun to do on our monthly outings, the mom pack stumbled upon Pinterest Parties, a fun, affordable and creative way to brighten a home. Having perused A's Facebook site, we landed on the whiteboard sign. Because who doesn't love a taste of Magnolia in their life?! The monogram, baseball, and Love signs were all close seconds.

With wine and bundts in hand we met, gathering in A's basement just perfect for crafting. Here, she had already laid out the whitewashed boards, our custom stencils, the paints brushes and the sound of inspiration in the background. Warm and welcoming, she got us started with easy instruction and stories of mommyhood.

Intimidated at first (because crafting), we each took our time outlining our choice, checking in often and building confidence along the way. Soon we were on a roll, choosing paint colors, complimenting one another's and catching up on our lives.
Hundreds of brush strokes later and touch ups by A herself, she placed the hanging on the back and we held up our masterpieces one by one. Unlike so many of those painting parties, these were works we'd actually hang in our home. And looked a bit like something Joanna Gaines may select in a store. Success!

It was a great time had by all, and a nice way to relax and use that right side of the brain you don't normally get to in the days of parenting small children. Highly recommend it - here's how to get started!

1. Like Pinterest Parties on Facebook
2. Visit the page and view "Services" on the left
3. Click "send email" to shoot A dates, times and project choice
4. Schedule and show up!

Then, get your Joanna on. Happy crafting!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pillow Walk

Get it? Like pillow talk, but different? need these sandals! They are the cushiest, cutiest, go-with-everything sandal of the season. And they're only $60. Plus it gives you a reason to pop into Nordys. And they're like walking on pillows.

Whatever color you choose (I went for the gray), there's something casual, work-ish and athleisurely that pair with these perfectly.


An Apple Today

"Mama, I want to bring an app-ull to school. Get it for me. Please," my four-year old half-demanded, half-begged outside of the fridge, one little palm grasping an iPad, the other laid loosely on the stainless steel of the fridge.

It wasn't unusual for him to ask a snack in what was likely our eighth attempt out the door, but generally it was something closer to Cheetos, Cheesits or a sneak from he candy bowl that was on his mind. Yes at 7:15 a.m.

Grabbing the apple, we set off on our journey of two drop offs and a long commute. One school down and coming in hot to the second, I noticed he slid the apple atop the cubbies, very near the elbow of his favorite teacher.

"I give it to Mr. Brian," he whispered, giving it a small budge toward his arm, then making a face and retreating into my arms.

"Oh, that's nice buddy - how kind of you!" I exclaimed, thinking they'd had a recent lesson on teachers and apples and the ol' addage that they enjoyed the sour things.

"So, I guess he brought you an apple today!" I laughed, watching Mr. Brian's face as he processed whether this was something fun or just a bad Teacher Appreciation gift.

"I eat an apple everyday," said Mr. Brian. "I bet he noticed, and thought I'd like it."

And that, my friends is progress. And it's love.

An apple today made for a memory that will always stay. Proud of your golden, giving heart little buddy.

Enjoy that apple, Mr. Brian.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Did You Get It Done?!

Teacher Appreciation week, that is!

If you're anything like our house, there's no one you're more grateful for than the village that's growing and loving your children at school each day. These saints are simply amazing. And I swear I co-parent more with some of them than my own husband.

Tomorrow marks the last day of the designated week when you get the chance to shower these leaders with love. So if you haven't full executed on the PTA recommended plan and need a few ideas, start here:
Mini bundlets: told you they're good for everything!
Spoil the whole crew with a variety mix.
Mini blooms from Trader Joe's: they come in a variety of colors
and types and are only $1.99!
Tervis Tumbler: they keep those bevs hot or cold with a
twist of personality and fun. Perfect for the teacher
that needs to hydrate between answering preschoolers'
questions for the tenth times! Find them at the new
Turves store on the Plaza or for best price,
Bed Bath & Beyond.
Fuzzy blanket: they give your child all the warmth and love
in the world - they deserve some too! Plus it looks nice
in their home. Target and Macy's have good options.
Don't forget a thoughtful handwritten note and a gift card go a long way too.

Wishing all our educators are the spoils and celebration their weeks can hold. You certainly deserve it!

Sunday, April 30, 2017


"I don't know E, I feel so blech...something's gotta get jazzy or this gal is going to loser her mind." 

We were entering into spring, but the first two weeks hadn't meant so much tulips as it had rain showers and not a higher temp to be found. Things were intense at home, all self-care had gone out the door and work hours never cease. So the answer to this reduction of stress could only be:

Highlights. A fab new beauty product. A mani/pedi. Maybe some Oreos. And wine - always wine.

Since there are always Oreos and wine in the house, first up was highlights. Given I'm a gal who is pretty lucky not to have any of those pesky sparkles yet, I was a bit torn if taking the time and spending the money was worth it. My natural hair hadn't been touched in nearly a decade and had it's own version of hombre. It had finally gotten to a longer length where I felt feminine and could be a bit creative with it. And most mornings I could hop out of the shower, throw some Diva Curl in and call it good. So why mess with a good thing?

The fabulous Susanne of Stem Hair and Body did her thing, foiling in strategic but random parts of the head to give that beach glow (she has a name for the process). Not to blonde, not to caramel and just the right gold, I left feeling a few years younger with the good kind of sparkly framing my face. And although I missed a bit of the length, it had gotten a bit mullet-esque, so now we're on a good path to growing a little less layered. That night I slathered on some Rodan and Fields tanner, and I appeared at work the next day looking rested and ready to be productive. A perfect front.

Next up was splurging on a beauty product. My tolerance for anything that has to be maintained or takes more than 3.5 minutes is minimal, so I was immediately drawn to R&F's new Lash Boost. Two simple swipes at night and you're off to bed. Just two weeks later, I had a few longer lashes (I practically have none) and felt a bit "prettier" and more feminine as well. My friends had seen amazing results - almost to the point where they had to stop using it or give up their glasses. Unfortunately, my super sensitive eyes (I mean unusually sensitive) never quite adapted and kept reddening, so my dream of what my lashes could've been had to come to a quick close. I tried! And still highly recommend. If you're not already living with one of their face regimens, it's time.

Finally, a little mani/pedi time, which is always good for the soul. Le Reve in Park Place is always worth the drive, leaving your feet baby soft and carrying June Bride (sparkles!) and #92 (perfectly fun purplish/bright/neutral). Even better is when me and the gal pals pile into HH's clean car on Fridays and hit Lovely Nails on 75th, squealing over colors and swapping stories about the week. Wrap that up with a trip through Chick fil A and life is good.

What makes you feel lit and feminine again when the blahs strike?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Keepin' It Real

"It was just so...depressing!," my girlfriend's social post stated as she reminisced on last night's
season finale of "This is Us." And while many of her gaggle of pals agreed with her, all I could thinking while watching it was:

Thanks for keeping' it real.

Because let's face it - marriage isn't all rainbows and sunshine. It's not always stolen kisses after the kids are asleep or slow dancing in the living room. Thoughtfulness in the deepest moments of fatigue. Shared eye contact. Meaningful conversations. Creating life plans together. Following your dreams. Sacrificing with grace. Calmly managing conflict while your children play quietly nearby. A wife who always wakes up looking like a super model and her husband the same (sorry - had to throw that one in there. I mean, they never show either of them working out...)

Marriage can be feeling like a ghost. Tears in your car before you pull all the way into the drive. Nights on the couch. Vices and addictions you either find a way to fight through together, apart or simply tuck under the rug. Temptation and questioning of this lifelong commitment you made. Figuring out how to take turns in your careers, passion and raising children. Forgetting why you fell in love in the first place. And struggling to create that list when the other person asks.

So when Rebecca and Jack take a departure from all of their warm smiles, kindness in the face of adversity, etc. - I breathe a sigh of relief. I watch this TV show and know that's why millions of us tune in. So that we too can say:

That's me.

Though no one is certain what will happen next, it's highly likely they will reconnect and show the world their great love that inspires us to keep coming back week after week. And in these stories, the good, the bad, the ugly - may the writing move you to reflect and find little pieces of your life along the way.

Because that, my friends, is great TV. And who doesn't need a bit of that when your spouse is making you crazy?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Still Hot for Mamas

"Hm, I just read the gorgeous, smart, fabulous Melanie's post about Evereve, and it's right up the street. Pretty please can I pop in for a sec? I can meet you at JCrew?!" I begged the husband, another portion of date night stolen by shiny objects vs. connecting over cans of beers and darts. That is before the meal we'll spend entirely too much on but thoroughly enjoy (without children.)

"Sure, sure - pop in. I'll catch up on some emails."

So plopped he did, right next to their tank of gold fish crackers and dangling necklaces, while I immediately clicked with a super friendly sales gal. What started as a "man, that tank is cute!" ended with a purchase of these two dynamite items:
The back of this is cut out and draped, adding the
perfect flair. And it's sooooo soft. 

Finally, a cold shoulder that has a bit of structure,
enough thickness to hide the mom pooch and a kick of
flair to balance out curvier hips.

And I could've kept going.

While I was there, I asked about the TrendSend deal they have (thanks again, Melanie!) and went home and quickly committed via PC. For no styling fee, Evereve will send you five items on your schedule and only charge you a dollar to return the package of whatever you did not prefer. Sounds pretty good to me. I can't wait to share my first box with you!

Catching the Style Scout's post came at the perfect time - winter is wrapping up, I've packed on the pounds and not enough self-tanner in the world can make me feel even mildly attractive. Evereve has the an excellent solution - some on-trend, but uber comfortable and totally mom-appropriate for nearly any occasion. Prices range to fit almost anyone's budget and the styles too to meet even a pear-shaped gal's requirements. Plus the store smells amazing, everyone is over-the top kind, they don't work on commission and you can say things like "saggy boobs" and "c-section skin" and the gal knows exactly what you mean and can style around it.

I'll take it.

Next time you're on the Plaza or near Leawood - pop in. They're just as fabulous as "Hot Mama" ever was and there is someone just waiting for you to feel like the hot mama you are. Enjoy!


Saturday, March 11, 2017

"Spring Break"

"SNOW and -2 degrees?! We gotta call it," my husband said, tossing his work bag across the wood floor, his body language indicating he'd clearly had enough for the week.

Round three of a stomach virus had hit our home, Mommy took a hard fall down the stairs, the house was a wreck and both of our works required the best of this week. In other words, we were not winning.

So just like that, we cancelled our trip to Minnesota, our hearts sinking in our chests with disappointment on not seeing our loved ones and visiting a new city when we needed it most. And while visiting MN in March is always a risk (super northern, yah?), we were nearly out the door and now had to make the transition to try and appreciate our very own town.

Breaking out some paper, I quickly went to work, asking the boys what they'd like to do and madly scheduling, like many women do when they've lost all control. Our list started shaping up pretty well, with things like:

  • Lawrence
  • Indoor swimming
  • Zoo
  • New Dave and Busters
  • Date night with mom; another with Dad
  • Beauty and the Beast movie 
  • Parents vs. kids basketball game
  • Kids' cooking night
  • Auto show
Snowing on our first day of spring break?!
We'll bring the fun inside! 
Ok, and a shopping day meant just for Mommy. Oh - and we're surprising them on Monday with a giant trampoline that will now live in our backyard.  That should get us to winning. 

As a Pisces and a planner, I was extremely attached to our plan, idealizing snuggles with my boys, lots of laughter and a neighborhood a bit quieter that made time for just the four of us.

Truth be told, the first night I had to make the damn Hamburger Helper myself (gross - 7 yo picked it) and ended up locked in our master with a glass of wine. Outside the door were two little toddler feet kicking it violently, demanding I retreat, with a husband and an older child looking dumbfounded on what exactly was going on. 

But today's a new day! And while I psychotically demanded some taking back of the house occur, then promptly went to Cycle Bar to release some mom rage, I returned to a house full of boys clad in trunks ready to cross swimming off our list. At the pool we did do the laughing, the dunking, the smiling, the connecting. May there be much more of this to come.

Do you do this? Do you get attached to an idea of "I took three days off work so we better love unconditionally and hang out with no fights, dammit."?

Some days I find myself so stressed by how quickly they are changing and how we're constantly chasing time, that I can barely breathe. So I plan. I create romantic, ideal visions of a family of four in my head. And then I latch on. And then everything that was living in my little brain goes completely opposite of how I daydreamed it. Then all the grumpiness happens. 

Until the third day when they've woken us by 5:15 a.m. and I have to return to work the next day. Then I weep in my car after I drop them back at school, missing our messy, better-without-any-expectations life.

Happy spring break my friends. May it include beaches, connecting or a whole lot of nothing that brings you utter joy.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

It's not just today...

It's everyday I'm thankful for the ladies in my life.

To those that have gone before me, to create more opportunity than I can even imagine.

To my Mom who I talk to every single day and understands furniture needs rearranging on Sundays.

To my mentors, who lead by design and tell me nothing is too far out of my reach.

To my tribes, who love so unconditionally they can be called nothing but family.

To mothers, who take on the impossible job of loving their children so fiercely, while also letting them find their own way.

To leaders, who inspire us all to be better and do the things people used to ask permission for.

To my colleagues and friends, who leave little notes on my trail when a day was a little less sunny.

To providers, who spend a little more time asking you about your symptoms, fluffing your towel or holding your anxious child's hand as he enters new territory.

To strangers, who make conversation on a crowded train, because you know, we're women.

Today was interesting as one of the initiatives being pushed forward was for others to experience "a day without women." But in my experience, all my days have been better because all of these women?

They show up.

And for that, I'm eternally grateful.

The world is a better place, with you, woman.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

From Sportswear to Almost Sport Coats

"Yes, buddy - they are as comfortable as I can find them. And at 9 p.m. you can lose the bow tie," I assured our seven-year old, who was throwing a pre-pubescent tantrum over having to dress for wedding.

If your boys are anything like mine (and perhaps some girls too!), their closet is full of Under Armour , Nike and Adidas with hardly a hint of denim or chino in sight. And forget anything with buttons, tags or a touch of structure or polish. Which  makes dressing for things like school pictures, programs, fancier dinners or weddings a challenge.

Learning from my past mistakes, I started the hunt a bit earlier, particularly since the holidays had passed and nicer clothes were all on sale. The big one could be conned into a button down and nicer pants with hardly a fight, where the bow tie would take some major convincing. But hey, it was easier than bringing up the word "layering" or "putting product in your hair."

The little one is sensitive to clothing (buttons, zippers, tags, anything that sags - you name it), so this one called for bribery on top of thoughtful purchases of his top and bottom. And the shoes? Forget it. There's only one particular pair of New Balance in his life.

Here's where we landed:
Big one: comfortable bow tie from Dillards with a no-iron white shirt and chinos from Gap. Couple that with a pair of new Converse and he was set. We didn't require a belt or nicer socks. Verdict: he felt mostly comfortable, shirt was out halfway through and the bowtie made it almost thought he entire evening. Success.
Little one: we'd been working the shirt angle for nearly a month, pulling it out of the closet and bribing away, letting him feel the buttons and choose how he'd wear the sleeves. Surprisingly enough it went right on sans undershirt and wasn't a problem the entire night. The pants were an awesome find: UnderArmour toddler golf pants from Dillards. He didn't even notice they weren't his regular basketball pants as they were super soft and easy to slide around in. Adjustable with a forgiving button, these were amazing. And with a shirt over the top of it, they looked almost identical to dress pants. The toddler Converse were a challenge, but the width, two velcro and color worked great once he got over the stress of it. Success.

Mom borrowed a dress from her boss that was classic and comfortable for carrying 35 pounds around on the dance floor, while Daddy splurged on a new tie and pocket square. Also success.
If your boys are anywhere as tricky to go from sportswear to sport coat, here's some tips to try:

1. Start talking about it early: people like to know what's expected of them. For the anxious ones, assure them others will be dressed the same, so their spiffiness will not be noticed.
2. Use bribes: late bed time, extra books, more time with friends or a sucker.
3. Choose your battles: build you foundation around what they must wear - a nicer shirt and pants - vs. going full hog on adding the belt, coat, slick shoes, etc.
4. Try a spiffier version of their usual: if your kiddo lives in tennis shoes, try just a new pair or doing Converse. If it's basketball pants they live in, choose a fancier sport pant that looks more presentable, but feels just as comfortable.
5. As the party loosens up, so can the clothing: during the reception, near the end of a dinner, let that shirt untuck and the bow tie come off. They'll have more fun and feel more like themselves. By then the women have ditched their heels and men their coats anyway.
6. Invest less or borrow: it won't be often your boy will have to dress this way and by the next round, he'll probably have outgrown it. Shop the sales or borrow from his friends for the event. And if he wears the same button down to every "fancy" event, so be it.
7. Sing their praises: after the event, let them know how much you appreciate them looking nice and ask them how they felt in the clothes. Just because it's expected, doesn't always make it easy for kiddos who have "thoughts" on clothes.

Even better, try to "recover" with a jammie day the next day. They'll thank you.

Then, hang those clothes up they look so adorable in and think to yourself, "I deserve a glass of wine," and slip into your own version of comfy pants. It will be all kinds of happiness.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

What We're Reading

 "Ok buddy what would you like for your three books this evening?" I asked, tossing away his towel to reveal a set of warm, fresh jammies.

For the three-year old, it's always the same:

Spiderman vs. Doc Oc: packed full of adventure, borderline too-old concepts so he can be like his  brother, and superheroes. Perfection.

 Llama Llama Time to Share: the scene where two toddlers get into it over a lovey and the arm comes off?! The ideal amount of drama to make bedtime interesting.

Mickey's Halloween: a lift-the-flap book full of fun that keeps his favorite holiday alive all year long.

The older one likes to mix it up, choosing only chapter books these days, reaching a page goal, then diving into a new one. On his nightstand:
  1. Big Nate box set: a fun mix of conversation bubbles and boy talk, he shares little excerpts as he silently reads. 
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: enjoying them because the older kids do, we take turns reading the pages and pairing the movies on the weekends. 
  3. The Thirteen-Story Treehouse: is goofy and fun, filled with boy humor and things you'd never really get away with at home or school. It reminds me of how much he loved several of his imaginative books when he was younger, all telling the story of building and living in elaborate structures. 
When it's after 11 p.m. and bed calls, it's rare the Mister and I can keep our eyes open to catch a few words, but when we do, we're usually hooked on something about personal growth or bestseller list. Right now I'm digging into:
  1. Carry On, Warrior: a series of the famous Glennon Doyle Melton of, filled with stories that encourage you to be brave, kind and imperfect. Most leave me with smiles, some with tears and almost all of them include something I can identify with on a daily basis.
  2. A Dog's Purpose: the cover of this one caught my eye in a bookstore jaunt recently after almost losing our girl. Couple that with the movie coming out and you have an emotional, heart-warming read that reminds you to cherish your pup and the day's memories.
  3. Radical Acceptance: with 2016 being a year full of surprises, this book calms my spirit and quiets the questions that sometimes resonate in my heart at the end of each day. It's not as light hearted, but just as moving and a strong reminder to be grateful. 
On the Mister's side, you'll find:
  1. Outliers: a book on what makes high achievers tick.
  2. Raising Men: because he's always striving to be the best father.
  3. Basic Economics: since his next financial exam is always right around the corner.
What pages are you turning these days?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Four-Pronged Approach to a New Year

"I don't know, the power of just one word isn't settling well with me," I said to my husband, looking only half-interested as I began the vicious cycle of self-improvement and purging in the New Year.

Hours earlier I sat, a gold-framed chalkboard cradled in my lap, as I tried to bribe the three boys surrounding me to share their wishes for 2017. Things like "for my little brother to cry less" and to "be the world's fastest Dorito eater" were wearing me thin, so I took matters into my own hands.

Shortly after midnight, the sound of fireworks popping outside our new doors and each boy snoozing sound in their place, I thought of what I would strive for in the new year. The previous one had been a jarring one, with world events weighing heavily on our hearts and such significant, surprising changes for our family, it had left us broken and frozen for months at a time. Not to mention the closing months mostly consisting of illness. There was plenty to be thankful for, but admittedly, we were all ready to turn the page.

2017: it's time to pick back up, strap on a smile and get after it. And get grateful.

To document this untapped potential of the new year, just 13 minutes in, I tried a four-prong approach to things:

1. Let go of
2. Priorities
3. Cherish
4. Self-care

The first category includes things like comparisons, FOMO, doing it all and being attached to chaos. The "priorities" list says things like connect, play, reduce spending. In 2017 I will cherish BoyMom moments, more time at home, simplicity and the journey our family is on. And self-care will include going to church more often, reducing emotional eating, more rest and meal planning.

The full list is tucked near my bedside, holding all the newness of the 365 days ahead. Two days in the zen-like state had already passed, but there hasn't been a day yet that I think of the teal ink and what it can mean if I actually do the things I set out to.

This year, may all of your wishes come true. May you find inspiration in the small moments of your everyday. And may some of the most unexpected things bring you joy.

Share your list if you'd like - you never know when you'll be the inspiration someone is looking for.

Cheers to 2017 and you, dear friends.