If you’re reading this, and you know me, you’ll know that if there is an easier way to do something, my lazy ass is going to figure it out. Ask my mom, who still furrows her eyebrows when I tell her I microwave our steamed vegetables. (Mom, +5 points to you for cooking your veggies on the stove, though! The utility company and I still love you.)

You also know that I love to scrapbook. So, when Scrapbooking Baby Jesus came down from the Heavens and gave us pocket pages, the angels sang in my heart. I know some of my friends think I’m absolutely batshit crazy for still printing photos and decorating paper. Who’s doing that anymore? Well, this girl is!…and a bunch of other crazy scrapbookers are too, thankyouverymuch. Do you know why? Because we love easy, and we’re sentimental memory-hoarders too.

You can read more about Project Life by Becky Higgins if you’re interested in the backstory and marketing, but let me give you the gist.

You can take these:

and make these: 

TADA! IT’S MAGIC.

I LOVE how easy it is to rescue our memories from our heads and my external hard drive, but my absolute favorite part about scrapbooking this way is watching Maggie flip through the pages and laugh out loud at the pictures. Damn, that feels good. She’s remembering the good times, in her own little way, and I hope one day, she sits down and reads the journaling too.

If you’re thinking about preserving your memories in a different way than using TimeHop, consider this method. If you’re cool with TimeHop, text me your embarrassing memories, because I love that stuff too.  It’s also worth noting that if you’re even lazier than I am, they have digital apps that you can plop your photos in and create beautiful layouts to print, and they’ll send that shit straight to your house. YES MA’AM, they will. I hope you get inspired to find a way to be creative and do what’s right for you.

Full disclosure: If you come to my house, I’m gonna make you sit down and look at these albums and appreciate my work.

JK, I’m actually an introvert and probably want you to get off my couch. Watch my YouTube videos instead.

It’s summertime, y’all, which means it’s time for an old-fashioned reading challenge. Do you remember when we were little and would get a fancy little worksheet from our teachers with cute little spaces to document our summer reading progress? My sisters and I even got to turn in book reports to my grandparents for money. Those were the drinking-water-from-the-backyard-hose days, am I right?

Well, inspired by my BFF, Becca, who asked for a reading challenge but totally won’t do it, I decided to make a fancy little sheet of my own for Lola’s First Ever Summer Reading Challenge. [Queue Britney Spears’ “Work Bitch” here!] If we’re gonna fail, let’s all fail gloriously together.

Current nightstand view:


(Shoutout to my new friend, Kim, who sent me a loving, thoughtful email with suggested reading. I ordered How to Be a Person in the World: Ask Polly’s Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life by Heather Havrilesky and Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed as soon as I could!)

Rules:

  1. There are no rules. We’re gonna have fun, okay?
  2. Read if you can, but don’t feel bad if you can’t. I’m shooting for 15 minutes a night, which is about 1,000 years in Mom Time.
  3. Use the blank space on the worksheet for whatever you want. Ideas: write a three-word summary of how you feel after you read, OR write the thing you *should* have been doing instead of reading, OR write the thing your heart needed more than reading, like Cheetos.

The month of June starts this Thursday, so get your butt on Amazon, and two-day ship your summer read. Or just grab the book that’s been on your shelf for 10 months staring at you, calling you names like “lazy” and “dummy.” I haven’t decided which of these two books I’ll pick for the official challenge, but it doesn’t matter since I’m really only in it to impress whoever walks into the room and witnesses me being a Fancy Book-Reading Lady.

Document the fun at #klreadingchallenge, especially if you’re doing something way more fun than reading, like drinking wine or eating those Cheetos we talked about.

Click here to download SUMMER READING CHALLENGE 2017 (WITH F-BOMB), but not if you hate bad words.

Love you all, and can’t wait to read/possibly fail at this with you.

KLpbsmp

Happy Seven-Weeks-Since-Having-A-Baby Day!

It’s time for me to review (only some of) the desperate things I’ve done in the past few weeks to feel like a competent human being:

  1. Spent hundreds of dollars on some shadow ombre highlights, because you KNOW I’m not going in every 4-6 weeks to update my damned hair, but I needed some blonde to feel alive. See you in the fall, Brooke the Hair Girl, who I owe my life to.
  2. Ordered all the closet organization tools I could find, because THIS IS THE YEAR I’ll finally publish a home organization book on the side, right?
  3. Created a spreadsheet of things I need to remember to do on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis, including brushing my teeth. Wish I was joking.
  4. Went emergency clothes shopping with mom since I tried on my “normal” pants the Thursday before I went back to work and I felt like a can of just-opened biscuits.

Which brings me to my favorite self-improvement effort I’ve done so far: joining Weight Watchers. Yeah, girl, I did that! I ain’t mad about it.

After the biscuit can clothes debacle, I sat myself down in the rocking chair I’d been feeding my new baby in hours before, and gave myself five minutes to cry. Marc sweetly approached me and asked if he could do anything, and through big, dramatic tears, I declined, telling him about my five minute cry plan, and reiterating that if my girls were this size, I’d honestly think they were beautiful. So, it was 9:55AM and my five minutes was up. Time to get a move on. I joined a week later.

My main goal is to learn to be healthier, and losing weight will be a bonus. Listen, I’m fully aware that my zero-point Diet Coke is not “good” for me. But right now, it’s better than ALL THE THINGS I want to put in my mouth, so I’m taking baby steps until I can become a certified, organic, bean-sprout-eating fool. I’m already down 7.6 pounds, thankyouverymuch. I don’t even care if that was 7.6 pounds in tears from crying in the rocking chair. I’m not letting anyone rain on my parade, because I’m doing what I can to better myself, and this works for me, for now. Okay? Okay??? Wish me luck.

P.S. New Rule: if you search for the things that you really want, and it doesn’t show up, you get to go with the lowest point of all the listings. Pretty sure Weight Watchers would approve.

Love you all, and the desperate things you’re doing to make yourself a better one.

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.

Dear Marc,

We’ve been together for half our lives, but I still learn something new about you nearly every day. Sometimes it’s good, like when I learn that you can sense when I need you to do things like pick up around the house without me asking you to. Sometimes I learn less-awesome things about you, like that throwing your dirty clothes in the hamper instead of next to the hamper is apparently more difficult. (I still love you, though). But you know, we’re in the thick of raising a 2.5 year old little girl/crazypants, and getting ready for another, and I’ve been meaning to sit down and tell you what else I’ve really learned about you in the past few years that I honestly didn’t expect to.

You and I have had our ups and downs, haven’t we? We’ve ranged from “How are we gonna do this marriage anymore?” to “I’m glad we get to do this life together, exactly how it is.” I look at our lives now and thank God we made it through those bad times – Jesus – look what we’d be missing. Especially our kids. Which brings me to my real point, Bub.

I always knew you’d be a good dad, but I have to admit that when I found out we were having a girl the first time, I wasn’t sure how you’d navigate that one. You already have Crazy Me, and here comes this other Thing that could be crazy too. Being a sensitive teddy bear ain’t your thang, and I’m cool with that, but this little person is going to need you even more than I do, and she’s going to count on you to help build her up in this weird world. You don’t even have a pet name for me, because my name is, in fact, Alyssa. How were you going to handle this new person who will hope for bubbles and laughing, and thriving, and loving? (You know, Me 2.0?)

And then you knocked it out of the fucking ballpark, dude.

The minute we became parents together, it all changed, didn’t it? The last two and a half years have dragged on, and flown by, all at the same time, and it’s you who has been my slow-and-steady friend through the magic and the miserable. But even bigger than me and you is your love for our daughter, and that’s what makes me most proud to be your wife, your co-parent, and your friend. And if we had to nail down an exact moment when I knew you win this Girl Dad thing, it was when you bought Maggie FOR HER SECOND BIRTHDAY I Dissent, about Ruth Bader Ginsburg being a strong, smart little lady. Sigh. We’re yours, forever and ever.

Listen, you drive us crazy with your rules and things, (Why can’t we have 8 kittens???) but we appreciate you, and love you more than M&Ms, which is a lot. You’re really our hero.

Now go put your clothes in the hamper.

KLpbsmp

marc and mags

 

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?

holiday-candy-iii

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

KLpbsmp

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.

furiously-happy

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,

KLpbsmp

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
KLpbsmp

It’s not too often I get to sneak up into my craft room for hours at a time, but last night, I knew I had to play with paper. I did it for my soul, and for the soul of a friend I knew was in need of a little creative space of her own. I love easy little projects like this that can be done in an hour or so. I grabbed 6 sheets of some really pretty double sided scrapbook paper and got started. I used the 12×12 Best of Basic Grey paper pad, and chopped off 4 inches, leaving me with 12×8 sheets. I used my handy dandy Martha Stewart folder to crease down the middle, creating a nice spine 6 inches in.IMG_4288

I created the folds on all six sheets, then put them in an order I liked, taking into consideration that each paper would be next to a different pattern. Just kidding, I don’t think things through that much, and I was more than pleasantly surprised that it turned out as cute as it did, but this is why it’s helpful to use a paper pad with the same theme so you don’t have to worry about stuff like that.IMG_4289

I then used some binder clips to clip the papers tightly together so I could make even holes down the crease line.
IMG_4286

Since math and I aren’t friends, using 8 inch paper is also helpful, because I measured one inch in from each side to create the “top” and “bottom” holes, and one punch in the center at 4 inches. Thank God that worked out, otherwise I would have had to figure out fractions, and FORGET IT if that happens.IMG_4291

I used one of my fancy American Crafts tools to punch  some small holes, but big enough to fit a small ribbon through. To be safe, I punched from the front and the back.IMG_4292

See that little strand of mint green ribbon there? I had that laying around, and it happened to go perfectly with the cover paper. Love it when that happens. I weaved it in and out through the holes until I got back to the beginning (inside the spine) where I tied a knot.IMG_4294

Don’t stress if the knot is visible. In fact, I think it adds a little bit of character, and I didn’t even bother cutting the strings because I think it’s fun to have a little sweet knot in the middle of your book.IMG_4293

Go back and fold those pages with something really hard. I used a bone folder because I am weird and have a bone folder, but you can even use a ruler. Just make sure the papers are well folded so you or your friend can clip through them easily. 
IMG_4295

The last easy step is to embellish it with a few little die cuts and Project Life cards, if you have them. If you don’t have those things, paper clip a magazine clipping or a doodle of one of your favorite quotes in. The idea is to be fun and not create too perfect of a space that your friend will be afraid to glue in/write in. Get messy, but keep it simple too.

This is the perfect little book to practice making if you need a quick, but sweet gift for someone special. The materials are inexpensive, and the small amount of effort really goes a long way! See below for a quick flip-through of the final product.

I hope you get the chance to be creative in some form or another, especially if it’s for a loved one. I promise – it will make you BOTH feel better.

Peace and love to you, friends, and happy papercrafting!KLpbsmp