Get the Monkeys Off Our Backs

motherhood & lifestyle blogger, ready for school

I have a love/hate relationship with technology. When it works, I’m on Cloud Nine at how effortlessly my world can be optimized, but when it doesn’t … watch out. Heaven help the nearest soul when there’s a glitch because they will inevitably receive the full wrath that is my technological hissy fit. Unfortunately for him, my husband seems to bear the brunt nine times out of ten and last week was no exception. 

With kids around all summer long, I don’t have chunks of alone time that I once did to get work done. That being said, I leave a lot to do on the weekends when I have free childcare at my disposal (aka: Daddy Day Care). This past weekend I was doing some work on my website, and it was going great. I was in the zone, and getting things done when I hit a major roadblock. 

At the risk of getting too nerdy, I was trying to link my content, but nothing was working. I scoured the internet for tutorials and watched/read what I could but had no luck. I was beyond frustrated not to be able to get this one little link to connect after I had followed every instruction to the “T.” After about 30 minutes or so, my husband saw I was seriously defeated and dared to ask, “Can I help?” Without even being able to stop myself, I snapped back at him “well if you think you can do it better, by all means!” 

Immediately I regretted it, apologized, and said “Yes, please … I’d like you to watch and see if I’m missing something.” Now, out of the two of us, I’m the computer guru, so the chances of him being able quite literally to find the missing link was slim, but then again, he’s my go-to Mr. Fit It, so it was worth a shot. 

Our kiddos happened to be down for a nap this whole time, but of course (of course) they woke up at almost the exact moment Mike started to help me. It wasn’t two minutes later before we had all three kids (plus a pooch) on top of Mike. They came in one by one, snuck up around him and before we knew it, the entire house was hanging off of my husband. So much for the help. 

The moral of this story is that I’m ready for school, and if a teacher is reading this, please know how much I appreciate you getting the monkeys off our backs.

This article was originally published in The Sealy News, in the August 16, 2018 edition. 

More columns may be found online under the "Lifestyles" section.


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Walk Like a Man

Walk Like a Man - Stand up and be proud of yourself - Self-Confidence

I’m sort of obsessed with Frankie Valli. I first remember discovering his music as a little girl, going to the oldies night at Chelsea’s (our local burger and shake shop in New Orleans) with my dad. 

It was just down the road from our house, and about once a month or so all of the car collectors in the area would bring their classic Thunderbirds, Mustangs and Impalas down to Chelsea’s. They'd pop open their hoods, and crank up the best of the 1960s on the loudspeaker, and for a while, you felt transported back in time. 

There is something inherent I love about the music from that decade – serious talent with music that means something. “Mama Said” by The Shirelles, “My Girl” by The Temptations (also the song my father and I danced to on my wedding night), and “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers only tip the iceberg on my personal “best of” list from the era. 

As much as I love Marvin Gaye and The Beach Boys, “Walk Like a Man” by Frankie Valli is my all-time favorite song. At about 8 years old I decided this was my anthem – it spoke to my soul and always has. It may seem strange that a young girl would identify with a song about a teenage boy telling his girlfriend he won’t put up with her bad behavior, but it means more than that to me. 

I read between the lines and clung to the message that you need to stand tall, be proud of who you are, and don’t let the world get you down. No, that’s not really what it meant (literally), but that’s the message I’ve always taken with me. In fact, when I was in fourth grade, there was a talent show at school, and I took this mantra quite literally to the stage. 

Picture a very pint-size version of myself, alone, and when the music starts, I strut my stuff straight into the middle of the stage, where I stop and break into full-on lip sync mode. Talk about fearless! I was confident that I was totally killing it, and with my big brother in the audience cheering me on, it wasn’t long before the auditorium joined in singing too. Thinking back on it, I can’t believe I had the guts to go through with it, but it’s one of my favorite memories from childhood. 

That moment made a mark on me, and, to this day, “Walk Like a Man” is still my go-to, pump me up, get out of a funk anthem. I find it impossible to be in a bad mood when it comes on, and I love that 28 years later it still inspires me to reach for the high notes.

This article was originally published in The Sealy News, in the August 9, 2018 edition.

More columns may be found online under the "Lifestyles" section.


Stop and Smell the Snowflakes

Snowflakes, Schnauzers and memories...

As southern Texans, we spend most of our winters looking longingly at the Facebook posts of family and friends in a picture-perfect winter wonderland. We sit in our air-conditioned homes wishing for a break in the heat, but those moments seem seldom and fleeting. However, this past week we were given a beautiful mini-blizzard and found ourselves marveling at the gorgeousness that was our snow day.

For me, weekdays start early, so I got my first glimpse of snow in the wee hours of the morning, at about 5:30 a.m. I rushed to get myself ready so that I could wake up the kids and have some playtime in the snow before the business of school and work began. I went into my oldest’s room first. He’s six-years-old and has been begging me for a snowball fight for years. Actually, we ended up getting the kids a playset of snowballs just so my husband and I could get a little relief from the endless question of “When is it going to snow? When is it going to snow? When is it going to snow?”

He was groggy at first, but when I whispered, “it snowed last night,” in his ear, he shot up like a rocket, got himself dressed, and ran outside. The rest of us joined him shortly, and before long I was making him pint-sized snowballs off of the top of the trash can for him to chuck at the car.

After our front-yard fun, we loaded up for school and took the long way so we could see as many snow-dusted branches as possible, and I found myself wondering, “When was the last time it snowed?” As it turns out, that was nearly a decade ago in 2008, and I couldn’t help but reflect on how different things were then.

Back in the snowfall of 2008, my husband and I were newlyweds, and had two precocious fur-babies - Mona Lisa, a miniature Schnauzer, and Dixie Belle, a black lab. I remember being just as excited to show them the snow as I was to show Parker. Mona was curious about what was going on outside, and I can still see the puzzled look on her little face as snowflakes landed on her nose. Dixie, however, much preferred the warmth of home, and didn’t care much about coming out to play with us. The roads were closed so I spent the day reading a book on the couch with a bottom-less latte in hand, and my two best girls at my side. Our life was so different then.

Nine years later, we’re still blessed to have our Dixie Belle, but it’s been over a year since I lost my Mona. We've moved three times and had three actual babies. We've also survived layoffs, an oil crash, illness, and career changes. In as much as our world may seem unrecognizable, to me, it isn’t. Back then as I read my book, drank my coffee, and snuggled with my puppies, I also dreamed. I dreamed of having children, a family home, and getting to cozy up with my guy every night… I dreamed it, and it came true.

No, life is not perfect, and I could read you a laundry list of daily frustrations. However, when I reflect back to where I was, and what I longed for, I realized that things did have a way of working themselves out. Sometimes the road was more winding and icy than others, but maybe that just kept things interesting. I'm  grateful for the gift of snow this holiday season, the reflection it brought, and the chance to throw snowballs with my son... I wonder where I'll be for our next southern winter wonderland.

Ho, ho … oh just stay still for the camera!

How to get a great Family Christmas picture - embrace the unpredictable and have fun!

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and ’tis the season for eating like you only live once, gift giving and cheer spreading. Christmas is legitimately my favorite time of year, and one of my favorite things about it are the Christmas cards. For me, Christmas cards have a way of making me feel connected and loved. It’s like getting a little snail mail hug from all of your family and friends – I love it! 

So you’d think that as much as I like to receive Christmas cards, I’d be good about sending them out, right? Wrong. I am notorious for having the best intentions that never seem to come to fruition. One year I bought all of the cards early because they were on sale. I thought for sure I was giving myself ample time to get them addressed and out the door, but, alas, they remain unsent in our spare bedroom. 

Recently I’ve been blaming it on not being able to get a good picture. I mean, if we can’t get a decent picture of the five of us, what’s the point in sending out a card! For one reason or another, I’ve put it off, and off and off. However, this year I was bound and determined to see it through. Come hell or high water; our family was getting a picture taken. 

How to get a great Family Christmas picture - embrace the unpredictable and have fun!

I found a photographer doing Christmas themed mini-sessions in her studio, and I thought that was ideal. Surely our clan could handle a bite-sized 20-minute photo op in front of the camera, right? Wrong again. I scheduled the session, planned the outfits and got the props, but in all of my planning I forgot to remember that I have very, very small humans that are not going sit down and smile for any length of time, much less 20 minutes ... after all, that’s 1,200 seconds! 

Right, when we walked through the door to the studio, my 1-year-old took off running down the hall, and our kindergartener sprinted after him. As we watched the two scamper around, our daughter (who is 3 going on 30) stamped her foot and pronounced that she was not “doing this.” I quickly assessed our situation and realized I could either make all of us miserable and attempt the posed portrait of my dreams, or, I could let it go and cross my fingers we get something usable. 

My husband and I looked at each other, shrugged, laughed and asked the photographer to do her best. For the next several minutes we tickled our squirmy toddlers, chased after the baby, and had a party on the studio floor, all the while hoping we’d get something to work with for the card. Our sweet photographer assured us that she got some great images, but I was super skeptical. The five of us were a hot red and green glittered mess! 

How to get a great Family Christmas picture - embrace the unpredictable and have fun!

The following week we got the email saying our images were ready to preview and I squinted as the web page pulled up, but to what do my wondrous eyes should appear … but a slew of photos dazzling with cheer! I could hardly believe the great pictures we got! 

Was everyone smiling at the camera? No way! The two littlest ones weren’t even smiling for half of them, but they are great nonetheless. We may not have the perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas picture, but that’s A-OK. 

The photographer captured the essence of our young family to a "t," and I wouldn’t trade the memory for anything. After all there’s always next year, right?

How to get a great Family Christmas picture - embrace the unpredictable and have fun!

Fun Fashion + Motherhood IS possible!

Fun Fashion + Motherhood IS possible!

The other day I was walking through the mall with my three-year-old daughter when she stopped dead in her tracks and said, “Mommy! What is THAT?!?” I looked around thinking maybe she had a random November Easter Bunny sighting, but, no, my sweet little girl had spotted a floral embroidered velvet blouse! My heart smiled, and I said, “Baby girl, that’s velvet, do you want to go touch it?” Immediately she ran over, stroked the fabric, looked up and said: “Can I have some velvet too???”

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2018 Planner by Epica

2018 Planner by Epica

If you know me even a little, then you know I love paper. If you know me a lot, you know I’m ever-so-slightly planner obsessed. Seriously, if it’s got a calendar and some note pages, I want it! The amount of time (and money) I’ve invested over the years in figuring out just the perfect planner situation is something I try hard not to think very much about, but, what can I say, I’m a planner girl. One of my most favorite paper companies of all time is Epica. A few months ago, I reviewed one of the notebooks we’ve been using as a family journal (read more here), so you can only imagine my excitement when I discovered they came out with their very own daily planner this year - and it’s fabulous.

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While I absolutely LOVE journaling, and all things stationery related, when it came time to grab the baby book and write down all the milestones, I fell completely flat. With each child, I had the best of intentions to capture every detail of their little lives in a beautifully preserved book, but it simply never happened. As a result, I now have three beautiful, but empty baby books… And some mommy guilt.

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Two Easy Tips for Family Organization

Two Easy Tips for Family Organization

Earlier this week I decided to schedule a conference call during nap time. I was a little hesitant but felt sure I could make it work. The older two were at camp (still no school due to the hurricane), so I took our littlest man out for a morning adventure, followed by a big lunch, and then laid him down a smidge later than normal to ensure I’d have the time I needed. Well, Cooper didn’t cooperate and woke up right in the middle of my call. To avoid a toddler-sized tantrum, I scooped him out of bed, brought him down stairs and shuffled him into the “play closet.”

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Thursday Thoughts: Hurricane Harvey

Thursday Thoughts: Hurricane Harvey

Early last week I first heard about “Harvey” when my brother sent me a text warning us that Houston was likely going to be hit with some heavy rain - an estimated 15 to 20 inches. He knows I’m not great at keeping up with the news, and wanted to make sure I knew what was coming. At that time I thought, about the typical tropical storm checklist: flashlights, extra batteries, pop tarts, and water. Just the basics (yes, pop tarts are basic hurricane food) to make sure we’d have a little “insurance” in case we went without power for a few hours.

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Small Backyard Ideas: Family life in the City

Small Backyard Ideas: Family life in the City

For better, or for worse, we’re urban dwellers. When you live in the fourth largest city in the country, real estate comes with a cost, and, for us, the cost was a yard. With kids and dogs, sacrificing a sprawling yard for more interior square footage was a tough decision, but Houston is too hot to live outside most of the time, so inside it is. We’ve been in this house for over three years, and in that time we’ve put quite the effort into our little back yard to make it as functional as possible. We’ve packed a lot into our "tiny yard, " and whether you’ve got four legs, or two, we did our best to make sure everyone has a spot to enjoy.

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To write, or not to write...

To write, or not to write...

You may, or may not, have been wondering what happened to me. My apologies for going MIA over the last few weeks, but I'm still here... let me explain. Since starting this blog last fall, I've met some wonderful people, and gotten some great opportunities. I had no idea what doors the world of blogging would open for me, and I've been incredibly blessed in this journey so far. 

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Superhero Style

Superhero Style

Little boys run, jump and fly through life - it’s just what they do. They seem to attack their days with the same vigor and tenacity that most adults would use in a triathlon, and they do it all in the name of fun. It’s “fun" to soar through the air to stop a rocket, chase down a villain or jump all the way to the top of the tower and save a princess. As the Mom of two small boys this makes for some very exciting afternoons, and when they’re in full “super-mode,” I do my best to swallow my OCD and focus on the joy of their battle cries.

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Amazon Prime Day's Must-Haves

Amazon Prime Day's Must-Haves

The prime is now! (pun intended) If you use Amazon at all, you know about the fantastic phenomenon that is “Amazon Prime.” With an annual Prime membership, you get all kinds of great deals, free shipping, videos, music and more. Whenever I need to buy something, I always go to Amazon first because I’m such a Prime fanatic, and also because Amazon has some of the best customer service on the planet.  But what is “Prime Day”?

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June Favorites

June Favorites

Kids are out of school, the sun is up, temperatures are high, and we've already had our first hurricane scare - summer is officially here. June was a busy month, and I hit a new parenting milestone - my first month ever with all three kids home ALL the time. It's super scary, super rewarding, and super crazy, but that's just the way it goes these days. Hopefully, you're off to a great summer and enjoy this month's favorites list!

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Currently on my Countertop

Currently on my Countertop

There are a few products I love so much I can’t bear to take them off my countertop, which is saying something because I like to keep my bathroom countertops as tidy as possible… all the time. However, I’m also a creature of convenience, and I reach for these items too much to ever put them properly away. So there they sit - contently on my counter. I love them all for different reasons, and they are…

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Thanks Dad

Thanks Dad

I was a little girl, about seven or eight, and my Dad was driving me to school one day when I very nonchalantly asked him, “Daddy, have you started saving up yet?” Inside, I think he beamed with pride thinking “My sweet little girl wants to make sure she can go to college,” but he calmly asked, “For what honey?” I excitedly responded in about 0.5 seconds, “For my wedding!” That may have been the moment my Dad realized he was in trouble, but it’s one of our favorite memories, and we still laugh about it.

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My Most Productive Tool

My Most Productive Tool

I spoke about this briefly in my April Favorites post, but some of the best task-management advice I’ve ever gotten was to create a daily to do list. I was listening to a keynote address by Emma Chapman of “A Beautiful Mess” when she shared this pearl of wisdom, but I thought, “daily… did she say daily… like every day???” Initially, it seemed like a lot of work, but I was listening to a very successful woman about her most productive tool, and I wanted to absorb her success like a sponge. With that in mind, I decided to give it a shot and committed to making a to-do list every single day for a month. Want to know what happened???

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Upping my beauty game with Eyelash Extensions

Upping my beauty game with Eyelash Extensions

I love discovering what’s new in my neighborhood. Houston, in particular, is a city that’s always evolving and I really enjoy paying attention to how it develops and changes over the years. A few weeks ago I noticed there was something new in the niche of a nearby shopping center - Chic Lash Boutique. With all of the new beauty trends on the market, I was curious what services they offered so I decided to pop in. The boutique was adorable, so I made an appointment for eyebrow threading and lash tinting on the spot. That session went so well that I decided to go back for more - eyelash extensions!

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May Favorites

May Favorites

Happy Memorial Day everyone! I’d like to extend a particularly happy Memorial Day to all of the men and women who have served this great country over the years. Truly thank you for all you’ve done! It’s hard to believe that the end of May is here, and summer break is upon us. What better way to start the summer off then with a few family-friendly favorites from the last month? I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, and please enjoy these May must-haves!

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