New Year’s Resolutions…

I stumbled upon two great quotes this year that have been rolling around in my head for months…

emerald isle june 2015 mary oliver quote

This first quote is from the American poet Mary Oliver. I love how her words – wild and precious – show the enormous value and immeasurable possibilities of this one life we each get to live. Her question is a challenge… Are we cherishing this life?

my purple coneflowers 2015 - jim elliot quote

I have come across this second quote over and over this year. It strikes a chord with me because I really struggle to be present in the moment – to live each day one at a time. When I saw the quote attributed to Jim Elliot, I thought, Hmmm, the only Jim Elliot I know of is the American missionary to Ecuador who was eaten by cannibals in the 1950s. (Yup, same guy. Yikes.)

Anyway, these two quotes sum up my New Year’s Resolutions for 2016: I want to be fully engaged in the moment – really living it and experiencing it rather than documenting it or analyzing it or planning it. We shouldn’t be wasteful with a life that is wild and precious, right? In 2016, I am giving up:

  • Facebook (that was easy; it’s an election year)
  • Twitter (even easier; just noise)
  • Blogging (painful because I do need a way to capture our life for the kids and I do love to write, but there are other ways I can capture our family history and I have other things I need to be writing… also, I’m irritated that WordPress randomly deleted a bunch of my photos and after two hours of perusing possible solutions on their message boards, I can’t fix it; time wasted)

Additionally, I am cutting back the time I spend on my favorite hobby – reading interior design blogs and wandering through Pinterestto one evening per week. <aaaarrrrgggghhhh> This may be an aspirational goal. I may need a 12 step program. I’m such a visual person and find this stuff so inspirational – and yet, I only convert about 1% of it into an action like actually trying the recipe or tackling the DIY project.

I am not giving up Instagram. I love it. It’s awesome. ❤

On a high note, my goal for 2015 was to organize our house and I did make progress. It’s hard to tell at the moment as we are cleaning up from Christmas and two weeks of laziness, but I did have a few successes:

  • Sorted the family photos, kids’ keepsakes and all the games and craft stuff we store in our family desk/command center
  • Reorganized and labeled each cabinet in our kitchen
  • Got my family to join me in using Cozi, an iPhone app that allow us to share our calendars as well as to-do lists and our shopping list
  • Got our family to join us in using Find My Friends, an iPhone app that allows us to see where everyone is, which saves a lot of time and phone calls and occasionally helps us find a misplaced phone
  • Cleared out our master bedroom closets for new built-ins that work so much better for us
  • Hauled several carloads of things we don’t need/use to charity shop
  • Helped Leah reorganize her room with a new bookshelf and baskets

I hope to check in with you all this time next year to say I’m even more at peace and fully present than the Dalai Lama and have new, amazing ideas for an even better blog… Until then, I wish you all the best in 2016!

O Canada

The other day – in a moment of exasperation – I let out a big sigh and said something about running away to Canada. Michael got out the globe to identify places where snow will mound up against our door all year round… and he found some. Ha!

I checked and it’s 65 degrees colder in Baker Lake today than here in The Cove – and I am wrapped up in a cozy faux fur blanket. Brrrrr! I may not be cut out for Canada.

This reminds me of a funny story my Gran Gran told me once. My Uncle Hoyt was about 9 years old and he was mad at Gran Gran about something so he said he was running away. She watched him walk all the way up the road, stop, turn around and walk home. As he came in the door, he said, “I decided to forgive you.” Ha!

Mommy Fashions

When I was a kid, trends were more linear: flare jeans were cool and THEN skinny jeans were cool, but not at the same time. These days it all changes so quickly that styles cycle back before I knew they’d left! If you saw my closet makeover, then you know I don’t like to hang onto stuff. But some things never really go out of style, so I keep things like Converse, Birkenstocks, my favorite denim shirt, a black pencil skirt, etc.

Anyway, I got quite a laugh out of this: InStyle’s “What’s Right Now” headline says Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid are bringing cargo pants back in style. Trend alert!! I have owned a pair of olive drab cargos for many years and was already planning to wear them this Fall! <insert gasp>

This is what I wore to lunch today at my favorite neighborhood cafe. Everything I wore is 2-15 years old… 
Cargos: Talbots. Cardigan: Target. Top: Ann Taylor. Sandals: Birkenstock Betula. Tassle tote bag: Dooney & Bourke. Leather wrap bracelet: Stella & Dot. Boyfriend watch: Michael Kors.

I love the stacked bracelet + watch combination that’s trendy right now. I don’t think I have ever been “cool” although I may have thought so briefly in my 20s. It’s so good to be 45: you’re a champ every single day you put on something nicer than yoga pants, right?
Wrap bracelet: Stella & Dot. Watch: Michael Kors.

Cardigan: TJMaxx. Tee: Target. Shorts and belt: Walmart. Wedge sandals: Lands End. Layered chokers: Starr Luna.

That’s an outfit I wore last week. I rarely go anywhere more exciting than the kids’ school, sports practices or Target, so for me, it all comes down to simplicity (mix and match, no dry cleaning) and comfort.

What’s your go-to look?

Pinterest Told Me To

I was looking for Fall outfit inspiration on Pinterest the other day and stumbled across the funniest blog called Pinterest Told Me To! Just the name cracked me up! I really liked this outfit that she pinned…

And since Pinterest told me to, I had to give it a try…

This is what I wore to a parent meeting yesterday with our school system’s director of strategy and innovation. She answered a lot of questions I have had about our magnet schools and the high school we are zoned for. I actually felt excited about our secondary public schools for the first time. Interesting presentation… made all the better by orange and white with denim and leopard print. 🙂

The tween who stole my heart…

It’s this time of year – every year – that I really cannot get my head around the disparity between Leah’s maturity and her actual age. This child is 10 years old? That seems crazy to me. When she turns 11 in November, it will likely feel like a good fit for a couple of months and then – if history serves as any predictor – I will find myself thinking, Is this baby really just 11? 🙂

So pensive.

I often crawl in bed with her and talk for a while before she goes to sleep. That’s when we seem to have our best conversations. Sometimes they’re serious and sometimes they’re hilarious – like which little boy toots the loudest in class. Ha! Most nights I find myself thinking, You were a little peanut just a couple of years ago! It all goes by so fast – way too fast. I’m glad so many moms told me this is how it feels to watch your babies grow up – you have to revel in it and soak it all in.

I snapped these pictures with my iPhone last weekend before dropping Leah off with friends who were taking her to Atlanta for Auburn’s opening game. She packed her bag and picked out this outfit and pulled back her hair and was pretty convincingly thirteen. I found myself thinking back to kindergarten when she wanted dangling earrings and make-up and I said, Let’s wait until middle school. I’ll bet you a jillion bucks that next August this kid says, Yay! I finally get to wear dangling earrings and makeup! She forgets nothing.

I love her so much! ❤

I’d like to thank The Academy…

Our 15 seGlamourconds of fame has been kinda fun – definitely unexpected. Brooklyn Sherman, the woman who runs The Way We Met, asked me if she could share our story with Glamour magazine for a feature on their Web site. I was a devoted Glamour reader in the 90s when I was more their demographic. I’m honored they let old people like Bryan and me grace a page. 🙂

Let’s run away to Mooresville…

Amid all my organizing, I stumbled across the most absurd blog post about a disheveled drawer <insert gasp> and decided, I am done organizing. We are good. I like to keep my cleaning and organizing comfortably shy of a DSM-5 diagnosis.

The next time I feel stressed, I am going to run away to Mooresville, Alabama to raise chickens who lay eggs that I’ll scramble for leisurely breakfasts on the veranda. 🙂

The town was founded in 1818 and little appears to have changed since then. It just feels so quiet and peaceful there.

This is not a joke – this is their post office and its the oldest in operation in the US.

The entire town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The town has a population of 58 people. We saw one person on a bicycle – a farmer coming down to check on his chickens and/or check on us – and another person driving (a car) down a street.

The farmer invited us in to see the chickens, lambs and their fluffy guardian, Justice, a Great Pyrenees.

The city’s history is tied to two US Presidents: Andrew Johnson served as an apprentice tailor in Mooresville as a young man and James Garfield preached a sermon at the Church of Christ.

Thank you to 1818 Farms for allowing us to pet the animals!

Sweet bliss.

I love Cozi, so very much

This is our busiest time of year – the kids are back in school, which means sports and clubs and homework! Leah has volleyball and theater, Michael has football and track, and both kids are taking German after school. Their schedules are different every day of the week! Between the kids’ activities, school, work, church, and college football, our calendar is full!

I realized it’s time to say goodbye to paper… 😦

As part of Operation Organization 2015, I decided to check out apps for a shared family calendar. I was intrigued by one called Cozi because it mentioned color coding <insert breath of fresh air and sunshine> but little did I know the love I would feel in my heart! This app is perfection. Here’s why…

(1) It’s easy to set up and use.  

(2) It works on any device: The whole family can use Cozi, whether they have an Apple/iPhone/iPad or Android/Samsung or just want to go to the Web site from their laptop… it works anywhere!

View from my iPhone

(3) Color coding makes it easy to scan: I get visually overwhelmed when there’s too much in front of me. Do you? Having a distinct color for every family member warms my heart – it’s so much easier to scan. Also, I can view “all” (above) or I can click and see just me, just Bryan, etc.

(4) You can set up reminders: It will email you the week’s agenda on Sunday! And you can set it up to text or email reminders for appointments. It’s like having your own personal assistant. You can also leave little messages for the family, like this…

cozi view 5

(5) The lists: I am a list maker. Are you? Cozi helps you organize your lists and keeps them in one place. Shopping lists. To do lists… Color coded for each family member!

cozi view 6

(6) You can do meal plans: The concept of meal planning intimidates me. I am one of those moms who thinks, “Didn’t I make you dinner yesterday?!?” 🙂  What a chore! I aspire to have a plan, shop in bulk, cook dinners to go in the deep freeze, and publish a meal calendar on the fridge… like my friend Tara who shames us all. With Cozi, I can start small. I can jot down something simple (see example below) or I can go all out and create a recipe box and corresponding shopping list. Yowza!

cozi view 4

(7) Journaling <3. OK, like all this is not enough, you can upload photos and jot down memories in a journal that’s sort of like Instagram except Cozi will let you share it with your friends and family via a family newsletter – or – via your own Web page! It’s like a free, effortless “At Home in the Cove” of your own! And the security features are awesome – you totally control your privacy.

cozi view 7

The journal can become a newsletter and/or a Web page if you want.

I know, you’re wondering how you made it through your life this far without Cozi! Me, too! If you’re at your computer, go to Cozi and sign up! If you’re on your phone, go download the Cozi app. You’re going to love it!

Seen and Heard – The “stepping up our game” edition

Here are few things that have been seen and heard around here lately…

Michael was arguing that twin sized beds are for toddlers – so I said, “College students sleep in twin sized beds in the dorm.”

Michael: “Not at Stanford – they have queen sized beds in their dorms.”

Leah – worn out with her little brother’s claims: “No they don’t! You made that up!”

Michael: “I’ve been to the Web site. Have YOU been to the Web site?”

Leah has finally fulfilled her wish of becoming a mermaid!

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Michael: “Mommy, do you think I know a lot about history?”

Me: “Yes, for a 7 year old.”

Michael – insulted: “I don’t mean compared to 7 year olds! I mean compared to history experts on BBC documentaries!”

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brown basilisk

I showed this Instagram post to Michael, who glanced over and said, “Tell him it’s a Brown Basilisk.” He was right – the kid knows his reptiles. (We still have to google his claims because sometimes he makes stuff up. See: Stanford dorms have queen sized beds.)

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Michael: “Do you think I’m more of a nerd or a geek?”

Me: “I’m not sure how you’re differentiating between the two, but either one is good.”

Football try-outs! (He loves those plaid shorts!)

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Leah: “Paw-Paw left Michael and me alone and he said I was in charge since I’m the oldest.”

Me: “He mentioned that to me. How did it go?”

Leah – with big eyes: “Wellllll, I had to send Michael to his room for a time-out. He was sassing me.”

Not too grown up for dolls. 🙂 #happymommy

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Michael: “Mommy is very strict.”

My brother Steve and our dad: “Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!”

Michael: “No! Really! She is 60% mean and only 40% sweet. At Target she wouldn’t let me get a toy and I even said I would pay!!! That is meeeeeeaaannn!!!

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Leah: “I’m ready to go to college – I can’t wait!”

Me: “Listen, college will be here soon enough! Do you realize you’ll be moving into your dorm at Auburn 8 years from right now!

Leah: “Auburn? I’m going to Harvard!”

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My brother Steve, noting the noise-level at the dinner table: “What we really need is a few more kids.”

Me – aghast: “Hey, these children are the joy. of. my. life!”

Michael – pretending to be nonchalant: “I thought you’d say gardening.”

I knew it was taking Bryan and Michael a long time to read that chapter from Harry Potter… 🙂

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Michael: “Mommy, if I had a billion dollars, I would convert it to change and sprinkle it all over every poor city; then I would try to level up our technology around the world. We have really got to step up our game. The iPhone 6 was not our best.”

Little Man, Director of Paleontology

Michael has been fascinated with dinosaurs since preschool and is loaded with interesting facts. I’ve learned a lot about dinosaurs from Michael. His favorite is the Mosasaurus, so I found a diagram of one online, ran it through a Waterlogue app (to make it look cool) and then through PicMonkey (to personalize it with inspiring/aspirational text) and printed it as a poster on Vistaprint for about $8. When Michael saw it, he was speechless – completely, if you can even imagine Michael being silent for a couple minutes. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking at all. He loved it. Like he LOVED it. I do, too.

My little man is all about strategizing the launch of his zoo. He’s spent the past 4-5 months planning, designing, hiring (his classmates, neighbors, family) and firing (his sister – at least three times) for what will prove to be a magnificent operation once he’s open for business. The zoo will float in space in/on a hover craft (to save the expense of buying land and paying property taxes) and will be home to wild animals – both living and, as of yet, extinct. I am in charge of the baby big cats, running the cafe and playing my trumpet to entertain the guests. Bryan is the engineer in charge of operations and has his own huge office. Leah will be the star of a mermaid show, unless Michael fires her again. My favorite moment in all the months of planning was when the mother of one of Michael’s classmates asked me if there’s any truth to this zoo Michael is opening this summer. “Yes!” I replied, “Of course!” Her kid is in charge of the dinosaurs. What’s unclear about this plan?

For now, Michael’s anole, Emmitt, is the closest thing to a dinosaur living with us.