Alright, fine, I guess I care a little. #feelingjudged

I’m on a teeter-totter of two feelings about being a corporate, 8:30-5:30 Mom: feeling bad for leaving my girls “behind,” but feeling bad that I DON’T FEEL THAT BAD ABOUT IT.

It has been six weeks since I pushed out a little human being out of my girl parts, but GIRL, y’all know I was back to work this past Monday. MONDAY at 8:17 – EARLY! Do you know how many people asked me last week, with a sympathetic frown, “Awww, are you bummed about going back?” Do you know how hard it was to dig deep for a pouty face, and a “I knowwwww, totally!”

But really, I was ready to come back, friends. I didn’t even shed a tear. On the Sunday before my return (Mother’s Day, no less!), I serious-as-shit Googled, “Why don’t I feel bad about going back to work after having a baby?” Do you understand the desperation I was feeling to find another Mom who validated my anxiousness to get back to work, for me to go to freaking Google looking for her?

Most of the results were women posting to forums about not wanting to go back to work, using all the exclamation points left on earth, e.g. “Help!!!!! I don’t want to go back to work!!!!!!!!!” followed by a truly sad post that I didn’t even to click on, because I might absorb something from it. I read snippets of articles that suggested staying home with your kids, waiting silently for something to hit me like a ton of bricks. Nothing. Instead, I picked out my outfit for my first day back, fixed my hair, and wrote my boss an email about how excited I was. And I meant it.

If I still have you, and you haven’t decided that I’m a terrible person with a raisin of a heart, let me say this: I love my girls so much. I really, really do. But they say you have to take care of yourself before you’re good for anyone else, and it’s true. If I stayed home with my girls, I would be such an asshole, to them and everyone. (Side note: we’d also be poor, because on my maternity leave, I’m pretty sure my daily Amazon orders paid for at least a new car for Jeff Bezos). I need my job for me. I need to wear eyeliner, and uncomfortable pants. I need to yell at my computer screen, and write passive aggressive emails. I need hour-long lunches with my friends and I need marketing meetings. I need it ALL. And that’s okay with me (except for that 4% of the time that I’m feeling guilty about it and Googling for support). But really: it’s okay with me.

For the working moms who Googled for validation too, I’ll tell you what I’m hoping for: I’m hoping to teach my girlies that they can work hard for something they want, and that sometimes they’ll get it, and sometimes they won’t. I’m hoping they learn that it’s okay to like money, and to buy things for themselves and say, with sass, to their future spouse, “I HAVE A JOB!” <*Snap*snap*snap> like Mom does to Dad from time to time. I’m hoping they see me making sacrifices, or using resourceful shortcuts (Thank you, Shipt!) because I’m doing what I need to do for our family. I hope they see me as a strong, independent, smart woman who also crumbles every now and then, like we all do.

I shouldn’t have to say this disclaimer, but will anyway in case I’m misunderstood. TO ALL THE MOMS – the stay-at-home/work-from-home or work-from-an office kind: We’re frickin’ amazing, aren’t we? Whether we’re wearing heels, or half-naked, or both – we’re killing it out there, and doing what we need to for our families. I don’t think I’m better than you, or smarter than you. I know we both work hard as hell. Just know that all I’m really saying is that we should do what’s right for us, whatever that means to you, so we can be good for our little people, who are watching us. High five, girl. High five.

Love you all.

If there were a clean list of all the available emotions that can happen in a human brain, and there were 8,429 of them, I’d say I’ve felt all 8,429 of them since April 3, 2017.

The first thing my sister texted me after giving birth to Ruby was, “So is it true? Do you really love both of your girls equally, or was mom lying all these years?” I laughed. And then I cried. Because my heart is joyful, and scared, and everything in between, all at the same time. Figure that one out, guys.

Marc and I decided we wanted to get pregnant last summer, and luckily, it happened quickly for us. We always knew we wanted at least two babies, so this was it. Here we go, making life happen! But I never could have prepared myself for all the feels I’m feeling, y’all.

I am immensely proud of my two human beings, just for being alive, which I think is a pretty good deal for them. So what’s the deal with the spread of emotions? I can stare into Ruby’s eyes she inherited from her dad, and I can fall deep, deep into her world; her tiny world of short, quick milk breaths, baby squeaks, warm body rolls and seedy mustard poo.

(Full disclosure: I love the smell of newborn poop. If you think that’s weird, that’s okay, but we’re not friends anymore. Love me or leave me.)

And then there’s Maggie, dammit. She is so smart and beautiful, and fascinating to us. She’s my little buddy, my firecracker, my pistol full of life and a future potty mouth like her mother, I’m sure.

Together, they make my heart sing. SING, I tell you. But I guess it’s a part of every mom’s parenthood plight, to worry too. I worry that it will never be possible to explain how much I love them, together or as individuals. I worry that one will always feel inferior to the other. I worry that they won’t be friends. I worry that this world will attempt to oppress them, for being who they are. I worry I’m going to mess up. I know I will mess up. I worry.

And if there is one thing I’ve figured out with this whole parenting thing, it’s this: the previous life you knew and had is over. Somehow, when you don’t think it’s possible for the love and worry in your heart to grow, it doubles. It all doubles, and the weight and love, along with the fear and difficulty of being responsible for a human, is all there: waiting for you, smiling at you, and laughing at you.

But for us, it’s true what they say: that your love multiplies, not divides, when you have another one. Our hearts FULLY belong to these girls.

(GIRLS. I have girls. More than one. Plural. Shit.)

Our lives as we knew them are over, and now they belong to these people. These little girls, who we hope to raise into decent human beings. I consider myself truly lucky to have been given the chance to give up the lives I had before, for all this beautiful, gooey, girly mess we’ve been given. I’m all theirs, forever and ever.

So for now: books and hair bows and baby breaths and naps. That’s what we know right now. It’s good to be home y’all. It’s good to be a Girl Mom.

Listen up, you haters of pre-Thanksgiving holiday decorating. Your progressive Christian(ish), Unitarian Universalist, Democrat(ish), holiday-loving friend has a bone to pick with you. You’ve gotta get off my ass for decorating for the holidays early, and more importantly, you’ve gotta get off my ass in general.

I’ll start by saying that you had this coming. Your generally peaceful friend feels pushed to this point by you, and I’m just standing up for my holiday rights, because general human rights don’t seem to be anyone’s priority right now anyway. This is an annual problem, but you can blame my rant on election season, because I’m tired. Your beat-up, squishy, vulnerable friend has watched enough bullying, and wishes her house to SMELL LIKE HOLLY, DAMMIT. Can a girl have her peppermint bark in peace right now?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. It really is. I LOVE the food, the weather, being with family, and carrying on old traditions. But:

Thanksgiving + Your December Holiday Here = The Holiday Season

and when Halloween is over, it’s The Holiday Season. It’s math, y’all. And I totally get it – I, too, am a little freaked out when Mariah Carey is screaming “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU,” at me on November 1st. But can we trust each other and know that hearing that song didn’t trigger a reaction in my brain to buy all the things or be an asshole? It reminded me that, right around the corner, I get to see people I don’t get to see very often. I get to stand in the kitchen on my tired feet with my mom. I get to watch my kiddo open presents and light up. It also means a bunch of screaming, long lines, side-eye glances, and stressful family situations, but I’m fine with that, too. I’ll take that any day, because HOLIDAYS!

On a practical note, you know my lazy/working mom self is not going to decorate for two orange holidays that only last over a three-week span. I decorated my house for “fall” in September so I could get a good ROI on that shit. So, I ask: IS IT SO TERRIBLE that I put some red and green and even blue stuff up in my house right now? I’m not a retail store trying to sell you stuff and make money off of you. I’m just a girl who wants to be reminded for as long as reasonably possible that it’s a good time to evaluate the year and reflect on what’s important to me, and if that means burning an evergreen candle in my living room, then let me burn it, mkay?

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And lastly, Christian friends, I’m lookin’ at you. I’m basically decorating for your favorite person’s birthday, so please get off my shit. It’s not for you. It’s not for retailers. It’s for me. I’m trying to complete a mental and spiritual exercise here, and I’m not hurting anyone, or contributing to the downfall of our society, so just let me do this one thing, okay?

I guess what I’m asking is: In December, and all the time, maybe we support each other while we peacefully reflect and grow in our own way, whether that means praying in a pew or on a rug, or lighting a candle, or sprinkling some GD glitter on my table. No matter what your world view is right now, I’d be willing to share some peppermint cocoa with you, if we can both agree to not be assholes about our differences, or different people in general. Can we do that?

If none of this resonates with you and you’re still a hater of early holiday decorating or me in general, then I’ll speak your language and kindly ask that you stick a candy cane up your butt.

I love you all, even if you’re a grinch. I really do.

In red and green and spiced lattes and LOVE,

Lola

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Happy Fall, y’all!

It’s been a while and I’ve missed writing, so here I am with no particular plan and a cup of coffee, just happy to be here with you. I am so happy for June 18th, 2016 Me who had time to organize her pantry and make a blog post about it. The Me who even took before and after photos, attempting to organize a part of our lives while sharing with you. Good job, June 18th Me.

October 6th Me has been thinking a lot lately, not only about what to write about, but just how to think and feel about everything going on in our lives. The weirdest part is that it’s been really easy to think and feel nothing in particular. There haven’t been any big light bulb moments or fights or anything that has jolted me into a learning moment worth writing, or even talking about. It’s been weirdly – calm. All of me wonders if Pregnant Me is the most Chemically Balanced Me – scary for all of you people. I haven’t burst into tears or yelled at anyone. I haven’t felt despair or hopeless in a long time. I’ve had many people ask me things like if we’ve picked out names for the baby already, and I’m initially embarrassed to admit that if it weren’t for my app on my phone, I might not know how far along I even am.  When I share this with others, my initial reaction is to start with “I know this is terrible, but…” but the truth is, I don’t feel bad about it. I have a lot of really good things in my life – of course! – but also, me. Just me.

Is anyone else out there in left field, picking flowers and watching butterflies? I should probably be throwing a ball or running or something, but I’m just kind of – here and okay with it.

When I feel like this, I love, love, love to read Jenny Lawson, who seems to capture all the spectrum of feelings I’ve ever felt before. I always feel validated by her, even if we aren’t feeling the same way on the same day. She’s written three books, one of which we were lucky enough to stumble upon in Book Club (Shout out TN and WG – BOOKCLUB4LYFE!) called Furiously Happy. Sounds like a self help book, but don’t worry, it’s not. It is, however, really thoughtful and heart-warming, and weird like me.

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I hope you find something to cling to in this weird, weird time in America. That’s a whole separate blog post, but Jesus, people, be kind to each other. I hope when you’re feeling just okay like I am now – that you feel validated and worthy, still. We’re allowed the stillness of fall and pumpkin spice lattes, dammit. I love you all.

xoxo,

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It’s the first letter of my “Lola’s Letters” series, and I’m starting with a letter to myself, because I don’t have the balls to write an open letter to anyone BUT myself right now, which is hilarious. Hilarious because that’s the topic of the letter, my friends: being full of potential, but being paralyzed by fear. Off to a good start, eh? Let’s go.

Dear Alyssa,

I know you’re in there.

PAUSE: Excuse me, eyes? I am writing here! May I please get through the first paragraph sans tears? K, thanks. PLAY.

I know you’ve been been meaning to sit down and lay out what’s important to you. I know you’ve been busy with your adorable-but-sometimes-crazy baby, darling-but-sometimes annoying hubby, and new-but-sometimes-overwhelming house. I know you’ve been navigating your way through some anxiety and depression, which is a real treat – I know!

I know that you’ve made some lists lately, to help your brain feel a little bit organized. I know you’ve cut out sodas (RIP Dr Pepper), vowed to spend less time watching those addicting Tasty videos on Facebook, and made an effort to find a sense of accomplishment by doing “just one more thing” than you feel like doing.

I think you’re a great mom who shouldn’t be so hard on yourself for still having that baby pouch on your tummy from your almost-2-year-old “baby.” I saw the way you organized the shit outta those bills the other night, and how you still managed to find some time to be creative in your space. I love the way you listened, really listened, to your podcasts last week, and even journaled the inspiring parts. I know that you actually love your job and strive to be a professional woman that your daughter would be proud of. I see you reading and researching so that you can continue your education, even though you’ve graduated. Let’s not forget about your ability to throw together a dinner for your family, even when you know you’d be cool with eating pizza, like, every day for the rest of your life.

I also know you’re holding back. I know that you bought those cute little blog planners, to help you get organized and plan and write the way you want to write. I know that they sit on your bookshelf, because you’re afraid to fill them with shitty content, because how could anyone love what you write? I know you stare at your to-do list and decide it would be easier to watch YouTube than put your foot out the door and risk failing. I admire your sentiment, that you’d rather do something well or not at all, except that you don’t do it at all, and we’re all missing out.

I know you look at other people’s blogs, social media accounts, and plans, and feel like you’re never gonna get there. And I can promise you that you won’t if you stay where you are. I know you heard Tina Fey in Bossypants talk about those cute Greek kids, Christo and Maria, thinking their world was falling apart while their parents were out on a date, and you realized that some days you’re Christo the Worrier, and some days you’re Maria the Crier. But on both occasions, you’re really going to be okay. I know you heard Megan Tan talk about her fear of launching Millennial, BUT SHE DID IT ANYWAY, and you admired her for it.

So do it, you silly goose. Maybe it won’t be perfect. Scratch that, it totally won’t be perfect. But remember how good it feels to get those straggling dishes from the sink to the dishwasher, or the clothes switched from the washer to the dryer, and remember you’re more than that. Those things are awesome, and you should keep doing them and being proud of them, but I hope you keep going. You deserve to be proud, and feel good about what you do, whatever that may be.

I hope you know you’re smart, talented, and capable. I hope that when you hear that voice say “you’re not good enough,” that you find it in your heart to tell it to fuck off, because that’s not even true.

I know you’re in there. Head up, chin up, do your thang. You won’t regret it.

I love you,

Lola
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Instead of apologizing for being gone for so long (again), I’m forgiving myself and skipping straight to it.

SHAZAM! A month’s gone by and we’ve moved from our small rental house into our MANSION (ok, fine, four bedroom house) that we never thought we’d be able to buy. I thought about sharing a helpful checklist for moving folks, and then I remembered that I unpacked a few boxes labeled “KITCHEN – I think?” and “CRAFT ROOM – Probably?” I’ll be leaving that helpful post for someone else to do, mkay?

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Last week, Marc and I celebrated our “date-iversary” (13 years together!), and by celebrate, I mean I cried in my closet because I’ve been a little (TOTALLYBATSHITCRAZY) stressed out lately. Is anyone else crying in their closet? Why aren’t all of you posting that shit on Facebook? Your perfect photos of your perfect life are making me feel badly about the dinner I just microwaved for my family.

But seriously, it’s been a weird time for me, and I debated whether or not to write about being depressed, because it’s not an easy thing to write about or even understand. I’m just going out on a limb and guessing that some of you have cried in a closet before, from depression or just having a plain ol’ bad day, and maybe you’ll find solace knowing that there are other Closet-Criers too.

I really, really wanted to write a list of helpful ways to deal with anxiety, but again, I’m not sure the person who ate a mint chocolate chip popsicle in bed last night while laying completely horizontally is qualified to share healthy tips and tricks on how to deal with things when they come flying at you.

So what do I write about? What can I share? I don’t have a good sugar cookie recipe, and if I did, I’d probably eat all the dough before I made the cookies. So it seems as though I don’t have anything helpful to share with you, except maybe this:

If you’re struggling, or lost, or lonely, or hopeless, or down, or overwhelmed, or any of those shitty things, surround yourself with people who let you raise your hand and admit all those things without judgment. There is not a person in my circle that doesn’t know I’m struggling right now, and they’ve all been there to listen and offer support, and I am so grateful for that. I am lucky to have a community of friends- like, REAL FRIENDS, including family, that I can say anything to, and they get it, and love me anyway. I can’t express how important it is to share, and not keep things inside, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up doing stuff that isn’t something the Real You would be proud of when you see the sunshine again. Hang in there, fellow magical human being! We will be magical again soon.

My hope is that when you cry in a closet, no matter what the reason, that it ends quickly, and that you have people who will love you through it. For what it’s worth, I will. Love you forever, friends.
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Six months ago, I didn’t know what a podcast was. I would occasionally hear friends talking about them, but didn’t fully investigate them until I needed something to pass the time on my work commute. And since I hate the radio and can’t afford to buy 10 Audible books a month, I gave them a shot, and now I’m addicted. I tried to explain what a podcast was to my dad, and the best description I could come up with, being someone who thinks fax machines work by using magical messaging fairies floating in the sky, my best answer was: “It’s like a radio show that you download, and then listen to every week.” Here are my favorite five:

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THIS AMERICAN LIFE
– Broadcast weekly from WBEZ Chicago, hosted by Ira Glass – each show has a theme, and the hour-long program is broken up into acts. The themes are sometimes heavy, and sometimes they seem to come from left field, but I’m usually able to relate to every episode in some form or another. One of the first episodes I listened to was about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, so I cried, I don’t know, 11 times. One episode was about misunderstandings, and I laughed (out loud – a real LOL) like I was listening to a Comedy Central sketch. I find myself genuinely disappointed that the end of the program is here in 60 short minutes nearly every week. It’s hard to nail down what this podcast is “about,” until you listen to the show and refer to the title. Then it all makes sense.

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THE LONGEST SHORTEST TIME
– I heard about this podcast through a friend, when she invited me to a Facebook group called “Longest Shortest Time Mamas” and I was like, “Longest what the what?” It didn’t take long to figure it out though, after a few weeks of being in the group, when I realized a bunch of moms got together in a safe, non-judgmental space to share their experiences, good and bad, with each other. The podcast wasn’t too different, and listening to the host and creator, Hillary Frank made me feel like I was having lunch with a friend that I could share anything with. There’s been some recent drama (PODCAST DRAMA, WHO KNEW?) in the Facebook group, but honestly, the podcast is where it’s at. The title refers to the time phenomenon that happens when you’re raising people, but  it’s not just for parents. I’d totally listen to it even if I didn’t have a little person.

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THE MOTH – I love, love, love listening to stories. Real, human stories. The Moth features stories from The Moth Mainstage, StorySLAMs and MothSHOP Community program, where REAL PEOPLE come together, enter their names into a drawing, and if picked, tell a story based on a theme. I feel a range of a million emotions when I listen to these stories, and these people are REALLY GOOD storytellers. They also teach storytelling workshops, and who doesn’t love that? I find myself listening to these over and over again in the bathtub, when I need a little getaway. I travel with the storytellers to exactly where they are, and come back home in less than 10 minutes. This is one of my favorites to discuss with Marc, because he adds a different perspective I don’t always see, and it’s all full circle for me.
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SLEEP WITH ME
– Sounds sexy, right? This podcast is the opposite of sexy. Like, COMPLETE opposite. Scooter is the host, and he is pretty darn good at his job: helping you fall asleep. I stumbled upon this one when browsing through popular podcasts, and was immediately drawn in. Lately, I haven’t needed his help to get to sleep, since we are cramming 4 life events into one quarter, but sometimes, it will come on in my car, and it takes away anxiety very quickly for me. You don’t really “listen” to the podcast, because there is definitely not a beginning, middle, and end to anything Scooter says. He just babbles, and kind of mumbles, which is a glorious combination if you’re needed to chill the f-ck out, which is me, all the time.

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SERIAL
– I ‘ve got to be honest that this season of Serial has me a little bored (Sorry, Bowe Bergdahl), but last season of Serial had me listening to host Sarah Koenig and dying for next week’s episode like it was a soap opera. She basically takes a sort-of-unsolved criminal case, and opens it up, starting from scratch and investigating the crime from start to finish. Spoiler alert if you want to listen to last season, which I recommend you do: we still don’t know what the bleep happened, and if that kind of stuff haunts you, then you’re gonna be upset. In my humble and unqualified opinion, though, it’s worth it.

BONUS! And maybe (definitely) my favorite of all:

  
WOMEN OF THE HOUR – If it’s my favorite, why the hell isn’t it first on the list? Unfortunately, for us, the season is short AF. Lena Dunham is the host, and she had me sitting in my car, late for everything, because I was so sucked in. It’s an hour-long show broken up into segments, and features a bunch of amazing stories from equally amazing women and their experiences. The entire season was five episodes that mimicked the chapters in her book (also the best) and each and every episode, for me, was empowering, inspirational, thought-provoking, and educational. I miss her. 

I hope you find time to listen to something that lifts you up, or allows you to get away from the craziness that life can bring. If you need me, I’ll be in the tub soaking and laughing. Actually, I’ll be packing because we MOVE TO OUR FIRST HOME in 10 days, but same thing, right?

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Valentine’s Day: maybe my second favorite day of the year (behind Thanksgiving!). I had big plans to be really cute and make some crafty things. I had plans to make everyone around me feel really special and loved. I had plans to get the babies something small and sweet.

I didn’t.

I’ve been in that kind of place where you just get the stuff on your to do list done, and there isn’t much room for anything more. I’m normally in what Marc calls “Initiative Mode,” where I’ve always got something up my sleeve, but this week, and today, I’ve taken it pretty easy, soaking it all up. I spent hours in my craft room this weekend, just sitting and reflecting. So, Valentine’s Day kinda snuck up on me, and I spent the day feeling a little guilty about not making it as big of a production as I had hoped or planned.

After running errands and picking up the house, Marc, Maggie, and I hopped into the car and casually headed to dinner at my Mom & Dad’s, no different than any other Sunday. We ate a delicious meal, and at the end of the night, my sister Amanda thought it would be a good idea to lift the baby seats so we could clean the chairs. Sure enough, I lifted the seat, and there was a menagerie of prehistoric vegetables, thrown in protest on a previous evening. I told Mom we needed to leave some cash for her so that she could buy new  chairs, since this recently-purchased set already had loving streaks of who-knows-what from the babies. And then she said something that filled up my Valentine’s Day cup:

“It’s okay that they got dirty. It means we have good times here.”

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I LOVE it when one sentence wraps up all the thoughts in my heart and head. Often times, I’m caught up in the day-to-day, and the BIG picture, that I lose sight of the little things, or even the good perspective. My mom was totally right about the good times, and those are so much more valuable than any heart-shaped something I might have cut out and hung in our house.

I look forward to getting back into “Initiative Mode,” since I have shit to do around here. But for today, for now, I’m taking Mom’s advice. I’m seeing things for what they are, and learning to love that my kitchen floor is dirty, because Maggie drops her “nuh-nana” when she’s excited. I love that we have a ton of laundry to fold, because we got rodeo cow poop on our jeans, and Maggie learned to “moo.” I love that Mom’s chairs are dirty, too, because she feeds us food and love all the time.

Happy Valentine’s Day, from the girl who LOVES love, but gets a little tired every now and then too. xoxo

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It’s February, one of my favorite months of the year! Not just because the weather is nice and it’s Girl Scout Cookie season, but because it’s Valentine’s Day season, and I LOVE love. I’ve often hoped that Valentine’s Day would be as big in our house as Christmas and Thanksgiving are, because I love being loved, and expressing love. BONUS: Everything is pink, and that’s my favorite color. So BAM! Happy February!

I thought I’d kick off LOVE Month with five little things that make all the difference to me. I have treated myself (or someone has treated me!) with these little goodies in the recent days, and I want you to know about them! It’s worth mentioning these are NOT affiliate links and I don’t get paid for any of this. I’m just honestly sharing these small, but amazing treats because sometimes, we need a pick-me-up. If you’re saving your money like crazy right now like we are, it’s gotta be something small too. So, here we go:

Five Things (Under $10) That I’m Loving Right Now
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What:
Caldrea Hand Lotion in Green Tea Verbena 
From: Target ($7.99)
Why I love it: Oh, Caldrea. I’m not sure I even say the name of this company correctly (Call-Dray-Uh?) but DAMN! They’re good at what they do. Someone I know once bought me the Herbs of Provence lotion for my birthday, and then “accidentally” kept it on her vanity forever. (I’m looking at you, Mom). The Green Tea Verbena lotion is SO bright, uplifting, and fresh. I keep a bottle at work, and it smells beautiful, but not overwhelming. Just lovely.

IMG_3149What: Mrs. Meyers Hand Soap in Basil
From: Target ($3.99)
Why I love it: Hey, no fair! Two hand products! But really, Mrs. Meyers Hand Soap in Basil will make you want to do the dishes, just so you can use it when you’re finished. And God knows I need all the motivation I can get to do those ever-looming dishes.IMG_3152

What: Lettermate
From: Lettermate.com ($9.95)
Why I love it: Don’t laugh at me for buying a piece of plastic with four rectangle-shaped holes in it. It’s so much more than that. I’ve already written THREE handwritten letters and used the Lettermate, and if nothing else, it’s fun to use a tool to make it feel more official, and more thoughtful. It helps keep your lettering straight when you’re addressing an envelope, and if you’re already going to the trouble of sending something snail mail, then you might as well make it look good.

IMG_3150What: Sworkit Workout App on iPhone
From: SworkIt.com (FREE)
Why I love it: Please don’t’ think I’m the working-out type, and that I’m qualified to judge any exercise program, like, ever. But YAY for Sworkit. Shout out to my friend, Becca, for convincing me, as I literally stuffed chips and queso in my mouth, that this app was not intimidating at all, and that I should give it a try. My FAVORITE part is that it gives you an option to do a five-minute work out, and I LOVE a product that openly allows me to call five minutes of exercise an acceptable amount of time to exercise, because HEY! Five minutes is better than no minutes, am I right?! (March Goals: increase to 10? Maybe.)

IMG_3151What: Greenroom Binder Notebook
From: Target ($5.99)
Why I love it: It could be that I *particularly* love this watercolored version of this binder because my Mama gave it to me, stuffed with family recipes and notes that made me cry, but I LOVE Greenroom binders in general. They are beautiful, but sturdy, and make you feel like you’re a BAMF when you’re organizing your bills. I have three already, but somehow think of a use for another one every time I’m at Target. Someone keep me off of the office supply aisle already, SHEESH.

I hope you find a small way to treat yourself this week. Heck, I hope you find a BIG way to treat yourself this month. Try picking up something small for someone you love – a cupcake, a coffee mug, a funny book. I’m guessing it will make a big difference.

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I’m 28 now! I know everything! Just kidding. I still know nothing.

I had a really quiet birthday, and I realized that’s exactly the kind of birthday I need. If you know me well enough, you know I used to hate my birthday. So back up to three years ago when everything in my life that had just been falling apart…finally started to get better. I was 25 when I decided I wasn’t going to hate my birthday anymore. It’s just another year I get to be here, soaking up the love of my favorite people.

The exact moment I stopped hating my birthday: My 25th Birthday.
The exact moment I stopped hating my birthday: My 25th Birthday.

So now, here we are, three years later, and I’m so grateful for the way it’s all been playing out since then. I especially love that even though my perspective on my birthday has changed throughout my life, there is one person who has consistently made me feel truly special about it: my mom, of course.

Now that I have a child of my own, I GET IT. I totally get it. It’s just like the gap in my teeth. I’ve always hated the gap in between my two front teeth, and then I had Magical Maggie, who also has a gap in her teeth: a gap that takes my breath away and fills my heart with love every time she smiles. I get it now. Everything I do is magical to my mom.

So, what does a mom get her 28-year-old daughter who hates social situations that require her to put on pants, and only recently started liking her birthday? THIS.

My mom bought a beautiful binder, and filled it with the most magical pieces of paper.

“If you use these reciPIES, please put them back in alphabetical order,” says my elementary-school-aged Mom to her Mom, I assume, since I’m not sure how much cooking my uncles and grandpa did in the kitchen. I imagine the time she put into alphabetizing those recipes, and how proud she must have been of her work. I imagine my grandmother’s quiet smile of approval.

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Just when I started to realize the amount of awesome that was about to ensue, I flip to pages of little hands and scribbles: Maggie’s hand, Ryan’s hand, and Kinsey’s hand. I immediately know I’ll pour over these pages when I’m older, when I’m missing Maggie, and her smallness.

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She made copies of handwritten recipes from our family, including recipes in her handwriting that I remember looking at when I was a little girl. I immediately know I’ll pour over these pages when I’m older, when I’m missing my mom.

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They weren’t all fancy, hence the permanent markered “Cheese Sauce” that has no title – I just know what it is by looking at the ingredients. Watch out, cauliflower, I’m comin’ to get you.
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She even included this recipe, handwritten by our beloved Nick, and I know that I’ll make this recipe when I need the warmth of a familiar friend standing beside me, even if I can’t see him.

IMG_2778My new recipe book is a living, breathing book, filled with memories and spirits and ink that weighs on my heart in the most special way. I’m so grateful my mom thought I was worth the trouble – for the cookbook, for giving me life.

I don’t hate my birthday anymore.
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