Sunday, June 30, 2013

New Look

I am so proud to introduce you to the new look of E, Myself, and I!  :)


A HUGE thanks to Erika of The Fairy Blogmother & Life Unfluffed for her tireless work on this design and for responding to every one of my 1387589 emails. 

Please bear with me for the next few days as I work out some kinks and finish updating a few of the labels, links, etc.  In the meantime, be sure to check out some of my new pages (above) and categories (left).  Also, I'd love it if you'd visit my wonderful sponsor shops now posted!

More to come on our camping trip, my awesome husband (today is our six year anniversary), etc. later this week.

THANK YOU for making this place home! :)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Things I Learned in June & Insta Photos

I love this idea (and I need some easy blogging ideas right now), so I'm joining the party over at Chatting at the Sky today to share ten things I learned in June...


1. Swim shorts are all the rage. Remember I told you I bought a pair? Well, apparently so did every other mom visiting Great Wolf Lodge last week.  Whatdoyouknow?!?  Seriously, probably 85% of the moms at the water park were wearing swim shorts - which, by the way, are shorts designed to be worn over a bathing suit (like as a cover-up) and/or actually in the water (like as a bathing suit).  It's not surprising that they are popular; they are just too practical.  Being near water with a toddler is NO JOKE.  There is NO time for being modest or insecure, momma's gotta run and splash and frolick.  Swim shorts for the win.  (Mine are from Target & LL Bean, in case you were wondering.)

2. Being a stay-at-home mom is HARD.  I am absolutely loving the extra time I'm getting to spend with Sam these days; but y'all, I am exhausted.  Sam has two speeds: fast & asleep.  This really doesn't jive well with my "slow & asleep" lifestyle lately.  Anyway, I'm pretty sure I had learned this lesson before (and probably will learn it over and over again) but anyone who thinks taking care of kids all day is an easy job is a cryin' fool.

3. Spray tans are a (pale) girl's best friend.  Look, I don't mess with skin cancer.  Also, to my knowledge, beauty trends have not shifted towards sunburned, peeling, and freckly any time recently.  But, man, everybody looks better with a tan! (Except maybe Nicole Kidman.  She totally rocks pale.) Since June 13th, I have had THREE (to be fair, I bought a package that was basically buy one at a reduced rate and get two free as long as you use them within two weeks) and, well, I'm seriously considering picking up another job just to continue this habit.  It is amazing what a spray tan will do for my wardrobe, my thighs, and my self confidence.  I'm sold.  (I get the VersaSpa spray tan in medium-clear, in case you care.)

4. I am an all or nothing kind-of person; but, I need to be comfy in the middle. Recently I've been noticing this character trait about myself in SO many areas... If my house can't be 100% sparkly clean (which it NEVER is anymore), then it may as well be a dump.  If I already ruined my day of healthy eating with a donut at breakfast, I may as well have french fries at lunch too.  This, obviously, plays out in bigger heart issues too, and, I imagine, has had a big effect on the process of trying to find balance in my life as a mom, wife, teacher, friend, etc.  I'm learning about being content in the middle - about baby steps, and being comfortable in between.  Learn-ing.


5. My old t-shirts make excellent "night gowns" for toddlers when everything else is dirty.

6. Old friends are priceless.  In June, we got to spend a great weekend with old high school friends celebrating our friends Aric & Caitlyn's wedding, and (again) I was reminded how blessed Jeff & I are to have friends that we have shared so much of our lives with.  The groom's dad said at the rehearsal dinner that he had known many of us for 20 years.  We have seen each other through the awkwardness of middle school, the pressures of high school, the changes of college, the challenges of "the real world," and, now, the journey of marriage and parenthood.  That is special and unique, and I don't want to take it for granted.

7. New friends are really wonderful too. Also, as the weather has gotten warmer and we've been around the house more, we have gotten a lot closer with our neighbors.  (There are four families within eight houses of each other, all with toddler boys.)  I absolutely treasure the friendships Sam is developing with those little boys and get giddy thinking about his days of bike riding and flash-light tag playing with his buddies.  But, sometimes even more than that, I am thankful for the relationships I am developing with their mommies.  Most of my college girlfriends have kids, and I have the online community of moms (of course), but there is something so great about having moms to just "do life" with day in and day out.  I love that I don't have to apologize when they come in my house, because theirs looks just like it, that I can run Sam down the street when I need just thirty minutes to post an assignment, and that my neighbor can show up with an empty coffee cup when she's been up since four a.m. and they ran out.  These new friendships are good for my soul, really good.  That's community at its finest folks. :)

8. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry now recommends that children go to the dentist before their FIRST birthday.  That would have been nice to know, oh, I don't know... a YEAR ago. I mean, are they really allowed to just change their mind like that? I'm behind on a lot of things; but, this?  I did my due diligence for this.  I checked with the pediatrician, I read the pamphlet my dentist gave me when Sam was an infant, I was ready to go "some time between two and three."  And now, here's my two year old who has never been to the dentist and I'm all kinds of panicked over what a negligent mother I am and how Sam probably has 13590 cavities already.  Moms can't win, you know?  (#letsnoteventalkaboutthepaci)

What about you, what have you learned this month?

I'm off on a weekend camping trip with Jeff's family this afternoon, so I'll see you Monday with my brand new blog design! Yay!!  In the meantime, don't forget that Google Reader (but NOT Google Friend Connect, yet) is going away on July 1st.  Make sure you are staying connected by following me on BlogLovin', Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram.  

Happy Weekend!
 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ok Ok... Bachelorette Dez: Episode 5

This post is brought to you by my laziness being momentarily overtaken by Erika's motivating tweet...


Thanks girl, only a true friend can call you out when you're slacking on your (very important) blogger duties. ;)

Anyway, I actually only halfway watched this past episode, so I had to go back and re-watch it this morning on ABC.  (It's a hard job, but somebody has to do it), hence my delay.  My apologies people.  Now, onward and upward...

This episode took place in Munich, Germany which immediately sparked my interest (a little... and goodness knows my interest has needed sparking this season).  Jeff's cousin (and Amanda's brother) lives in Munich, and we had the incredible experience of visiting there during Oktoberfest about eight years ago while we were studying abroad.  We saw a lot of Europe that year, but Munich was my very favorite.  It is just a COOL city - young & hip, but steeped in history and surrounded by the (breathtaking) Bavarian Alps.  Needless to say, I liked that part of this episode...

Everything else was, honestly, just so-so.  Don't you agree?
Immediately Chris won me over because he wasn't wearing a zip up hoodie like ALL the other guys when they got off the plane.  What is it with them dressing alike?!? (Correction: James accessorized his hoodie with scarf, Bryden was wearing an oversized white fleece pull over that Poppy has, and Mikey T. was wearing a v-neck hoodie t-shirt.  I'm going to go ahead and say that's even worse then wearing the same outfit as five other guys.)

Outfits aside, I think you can trust a man's feelings for youwhen he is willing to skip & polka with you through the center of town, never mind on national television.  (What you can't trust, however, is that he will ever be able to regain his man-hood after his buddies at home see this!)

Moving on... Bryden was weird from the beginning.  Right?  And, if you weren't sure before, this week's episode DEFINITELY confirmed it.  WHY did he have to search all over the city for Dez and interrupt her date to leave right.that.second? Ugh.  That annoyed me almost as much as his bad hair.  Good riddance.  (Also, did anyone else think that filming and editing during that scene was ABSURD?  Seriously, you could have convinced me he was on his way to murder them. #zoominongargoyle #fadetocreeper Geez Louise! Sometimes these producers take the show way too seriously.)

#dezdidntreallycarethatheleft #butshedidshedsometearsforthecamera #atleasthefixedhishair

When it was all said and done, I thought Bryden's exit actually worked to Chris' advantage.  He handled the situation like a man (perhaps to make up for the skipping earlier) and was very sweet.  In general, he is cute, he seems to have his ish together (even a real career - imagine that); and he's one of the few decent guys Dez has to choose from... So, I'm rooting for him. BUT, for the love, enough with the poetry already!  When we study poetry in my English classes, I actually tell the boys "don't try this with your girlfriends, that only works in the movies."  Lame-o.  Actually, impromptu poll: Have you ever fallen in love with someone because of their mad poetry writing skills?  I'm being serious.  Please share.  If Jeff read me a poem he wrote, I'd die laughing. #moodkiller #badwife

On a positive note, if Chris doesn't win this thing, he may have a future in writing date cards. :)

Meanwhile, back at the house, Michael G. suffered from a horrible encounter with a lawnmower and his hair...

 More v-neck tees. (Did you know I bought Jeff two? Oh yes I did.)

The group date was one of the better ones they have done lately (no one even had to wear a banana hammock or go to the emergency room), and the setting was unbelievable (I've hiked that mountain, by the way).  While I could have done without the yodeling man (pretty sure I've also met that man), I'll settle on a date where no one wears silly costumes.


Before I get to the guys, did anyone else see the similarities between this and Sean and Catherine's date from last season?  She even wore the "smoking hot" red coat.  Coincidence? I think not.

Ok, a few thoughts on the guys on the group date...

Brooks: I know there are a lot of fans out there, but I honestly just can't handle him.  He always looks like he is filming an Herbal Essences commercial, and it is just too much for me.  Plus, I feel like he overplays the "sensitive guy" thing, and that annoys me.  He must be a really good kisser though. Right?

When Mikey talks, it kind-of sounds like he's also eating a hamburger.  Just me?

#Ilikedhashtagguymorewhenhespokeinhashtags He has large nostrils; but, really, I kinda like him.

Am I the only one that thinks Drew lied about his age to get on the show?  There is NO way he is over 18.

 #Aretheysittingonadeadanimal?

Zak W. basically represents everything I am against - sideburns and unbuttoned shirts with no undershirt - but he is FUNNY, and he seems real, and I have to give him props for coming up with an original story (#neversawpriestcoming)  I never thought I'd say it, but I like him. 

James is gross.  He just is.  And, as if her nude pants last week weren't evidence enough, Dez's obvious enthusiasm for him solidifies my belief that she has bad taste. #butwhydidBrooksspyonthem?



And, finally, the dreaded two-on-one date with (SHOCKING) Ben & Michael G.  Icouldhaveseenthatcomingfromamileaway  Honestly, I'm over the Ben drama, and Michael G. moved WAY down in my book because he was such a drama queen/bully.  Armageddon? Really?


I gagged a little every time one of them said something about being a "good Christian."  #andwewonderwhyChristiansgetabadrep.

I LOVED that they were dressed as twins for dinner.

I want a hot-tug.

That's really all I have to say about that date.  Sorry.  I'm getting bored...

In conclusion, poor Mikey T.  What did he do wrong?  Was anyone else surprised at how confident she was about that?  Was it the five kid comment?!?

Sorry about the end of this... Sam is awake now, and I'm just done.  :) Here's hoping next week is better!

P.S. THANKS for all the sweet bloggy birthday wishes on Monday.  Y'all are the reason I keep coming back here.  THANK YOU!

P.S.S. Sorry about the lack of Midweek Confessions posts lately.  They will be back WITH a linky & a new and improved button next week (promise).  And, thanks so much to all of you who have continued the tradition with or without me - I love reading your posts!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Four Years... My Advice for New Bloggers

Today marks FOUR years in the life of E, Myself, and I!  (Read my very first post here.)

It's been a goal of mine for a while to reach 1,000 follows on Google Friend Connect (which isn't disappearing yet folks).  Last night when I went to bed, there were 999.  I thought, "it would be so fun to reach 1000 on my blog birthday," but I didn't want to "beg" for Follwers.  Then, this morning when I signed on, this is what I saw...


One thousand and one followers!  It's a birthday miracle! Haha!  And I didn't even have to beg... Thanks friends!

You read those numbers right up there... In four years, I've written 912 posts (I considered - for a very brief moment - trying to make that number 1000 before my birthday too.  Then I took a nap.), and we've had 13,096,444 page views.  RIDICULOUS.

Next to gymnastics from the time I was seven to my freshman year of high school, this is BY FAR the longest I've ever stuck with a hobby.  (In fact, I'm pretty sure four years ago I didn't have any hobbies.)  And, I feel pretty good about the fact that despite lots of major life changes (i.e. motherhood), this place has been a constant for me (and for many of you).  THANK YOU.

In honor of my bloggy birthday, I thought I'd share my top 4 tips for new bloggers. Feel free to disregard as there are a lot of other posts on this topic from much more qualified people; but, if you are interested...


1. Be consistent.  My blog growth has been slow and steady; and, although at times I get caught up in the rat race of it, I'm proud of the way E, Myself, and I has slowly evolved into the community it is today.  It feels natural that way.  Don't be discouraged if you don't have many readers for a while.  (I celebrated having 50 followers after 8 months of blogging. ) Just keep writing.  Seriously.  The best way I've seen to grow your blog is to blog a lot.  Period.

 2. Be an active blogger.  Second to writing a lot, being active in the blogging community is the best way to grow your blog.  Read other blogs.  Comment on other blogs. Respond to the commenters on your blog.  Participate in link-ups (this was big for me).   MAKE FRIENDS in the blog world. *Just don't leave random comments like "follow me back please" - it's tacky. ;)

3. Be real (& respectful).  Don't try to be anyone else on your blog. Tell your own story. Write in your own voice - like the way you talk.  Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself.  BUT, also, be respectful of the way you talk about other people (even your own family and friends) and the fact that not everyone has the same opinion as you.

4. Ask for help. This might sound silly, but I tell people all the time to hire a blog designer if you really want to grow your blog.  I'm going to be honest and admit that I sometimes often judge a blog by its "cover."  If your blog looks good - it is organized and pretty - I'm a lot more likely to stay and look around.  It's just the truth.  Plus, just like we are more productive in a clean and pretty house (or office), you'll like blogging more if you like your space.  (I recommend Tricia Nae, Thirsty Hearts, or The Fairy Blogmother for blog design, in case you were wondering.)

Again, THANK YOU for your friendship in the blogosphere!!

Here's to another four years!

 P.S. Want to know more about why I blog?  Click here.  More about blogging? Click here.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Private Parties and Fireworks Cruises at Blogher

I'm going to let you in on a little secret... My preparation for the Blogher conference coming up next month (it's in Chicago July 24th - 27th) has brought out some middle school-esque insecurities in me.  See, apparently, there is this whole other world of private parties outside the conference itself.  These parties are mostly hosted by brands/ pr agencies and require an official invitation.  People say that getting an invite has less to do with your stats and more to do with your social media presence; but, let's be honest, it takes me right back to my days of running for (and losing) the distinguished (ha!) office of Senior Class President.

When I really stop to think about it - and remind myself why I blog and why I'm going to this conference in the first place (which is, to learn from some great bloggers and stretch myself to get out of my comfort zone) - the parties really don't matter...

But, I'mnotgoingtolie, I was pretty darn excited when I saw an invite from Madame Deals to her Seadogs Fireworks Cruise in my inbox a few weeks ago... :)


Here's a little info about the company that is sponsoring the party:
Are you ready for an entertaining cruise experience along Chicago’s scenic lakefront? Come out to Navy Pier and let Seadog show you the city April-October, weather permitting.
Seadog offers four exciting ways to see and experience Chicago from the water:
Lakefront Speedboat Tour
This 30-minute cruise along the shoreline offers a descriptive tour of Chicago’s famous skyline, while playing your favorite music.
Extreme Thrill Ride
This cruise is perfect for the dare-devil in you! This 30-minute ride features splash down stops, 180-degree turns, slalom runs and more.
River and Lake Architectural Tour
Enjoy historic views of Chicago’s famous landmarks and neighborhoods during this 75-minute cruise on both Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.
Lakefront Fireworks Cruise
Enjoy front-row seats to the spectacular fireworks display aboard our Lakefront Fireworks Cruise! Cruise along Lake Michigan with an exciting speedboat ride paired with an informative tour of the Chicago skyline, then end the evening with a dazzling fireworks show and top-40 hits playing in the background! The open aired vessel allows for panoramic views, providing a perfect view. The Seadog Fireworks Cruise is available on Wednesdays and Saturdays, running from Memorial Day – Labor Day.
Seadog is great for both individuals and groups. We offer customizable group events for up to 450 people.
Seadog also features specific holiday cruises, such as Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Halloween.
Not only can you enjoy a Seadog Cruise, but your dog can as well! Dogs ride for free, space permitting.
For more information, please visit www.seadogcruises.com/chicago/ or call 888-636-7737.
Now, the big questions remain...

What should I wear?  And, how can I get Addy through the airport and onto that boat?!? ;)


P.S. I wasn't compensated for this post, but I do get to go to the party on Wednesday night with all the cool kids!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Blog Gems 6/16 - 6/22

Well hello there friends... Happy Saturday! Sorry (again) for the little blog absence this week.  I'm (still) figuring out my new summer schedule and - although I feel like blog post ideas are popping up all over my crazy head - it is hard to find time to sit down and write.  I'm getting there...

In the meantime, here are some good posts from around the blogosphere this week.  At least someone is writing something good...

LOVE the surprise lesson at the end of this one from Anna See of An Inch of Gray.

I'm a sucker for a good birth story, and this is a good birth story. Amanda is not only HILARIOUS, but she's also one tough momma - she had sweet baby Mary without a single bit of medicine... And lived to tell about it. (It's actually three parts and starts here - totally worth it, promise.)

A very thought-provoking read about the disadvantages of today's children being "over protected" and "over parented." 

Glennon nailed it again. I GET this.

On grace in marriage - such a good reminder.


Also - an unrelated (but very important) question...
Is Sam too young to go see Monsters University? When did you first take your kids to the movies? What advice do you have if we decide to try it?

See you Monday!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Confessions


- I don't love summer.  I know a teacher saying this is basically blasphemous, but it's true.  I DESPISE sweating, and I sweat if I so much as look out the window on a sunny day.  Need I say more?

- I might be addicted to spray tans. #thereareworseaddictions

- I bought swim SHORTS to wear this year.  People of the pool, you can thank me later.

- Monday, due to a slight childcare/work issue, Sam spent the morning watching cartoons, eating potato chips, and feeding Addy (excessively, for at least twenty minutes #sheateitall).  Please don't call social services... 

Sorry this is short and sweet today!!  I'd love to hear some of your confessions in the comments (preferably ones that make me feel better about that last one. Ha!)








Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bachelorette Unfiltered: Dez Episode 4

Truly, I don't even know what to write..

This season is boring, do you agree?  Last night, I spent most of the episode chatting with Amanda about babies and showers and exciting things like that.  I can't even remember who went home - ohwait,itwasthatpersonihadNEVERseenbefore - if that tells you anything.


Let's see... I totally had Brad winning the whole darn thing, so this game is basically over for me.  I really thought he was cute (which is pretty much what I based my bracket on, that and the drama-level... Dez seems to like herself some sob stories), but I admit he was awwwwkward on the date.  Ain't nobody got time for that.  Bye bye, Brad (and my bracket).

Moving on, the group date was pretty fun.  Mostly, I enjoyed the Twitter commentary of the event.  (Did you see the one that said, "And for the talent portion, Brooks will deep condition his hair" ? LOVED it.)  I about PUKED at Bryden's naked dance (really? who are you, dude?) and Mikey T.'s talent of stripping was just perfect after his heartfelt expression that he was more than just his body in the interview.  Oh geez.  In the end, I was glad that Kasey won - his talent was legit, and he is growing on me.  #whatifhashtagboywins


Zak W. is also growing on me.  Guitars get me every time.  (For the record, Sam WILL be taking guitar lessons in his life.)  But, I have to say, he took the whole thing a bit too seriously.  (News Flash: You weren't ACTUALLY going to be Mr. America if you won.)


Speaking of being too serious, what about Chris's deep dark confession that sometimes he sits in coffee shops and writes.  GASP!  I loved how Dez said that she did that too and it was like they had a MAJOR CONNECTION.  #nooneelseintheworldsitsincoffeeshopsandwrites  It is going to be a loooong season.  (He is cute though, don't you think?)

Also, am I the only one that didn't know that Juan Pablo had a kid? What is it with all these single dads on this show?  In ten years there is going to be a whole new series of reality tv shows called "My dad exploited me to find love."  It will probably be right up there with "My mom exploited me to build her blog."  Can't wait.

The whole show would really be a lot better if this guy was on it regularly.

Moving on... James.  What is there to say?  The scene with him in the bathtub eating strawberries and, later, sipping wine in a white fluffy robe.  TOO MUCH.  He is just too much for me all around.  Anyone that uses "I cheated on my girlfriend" as his sob-story is a loser to me.  Unfortunately, I think Dez is buying it hook, line, and sinker.  She's really falling for him, don't you think?  

MARK MY WORDS: If he is the next bachelor, I will not watch.  (Ok, I am totally lying, you know I will... But, I won't like it.)

I thought the date idea was sweet, and I did appreciate that The Bachelorette producers took a chance to draw some attention to the victims of Sandy.  Of course, I thought Manny & Jan were just precious, but I thought the scenes with them were a bit longer than necessary.  Am I jerk?

I totally missed the drama with Bryden.  Besides, I'm too excited over the fact that he has started swooping over his bangs - I can't really focus on anything else.

In the end, Michael G. continued to be a girl, Ben continued to OWN the game, Drew (who has to be lying about his age) was SUPER awkward, and a stranger went home.  I'm pretty sure he's been hiding in the bathroom for the entire show so far, so it was no big heartbreak to see him go.  Adios, amigo!

*All photos from www.abc.com

Until next week,

Monday, June 17, 2013

An Alternative to the Erin Condren Life Planner

If you are a regular in the blogosphere, you've probably seen all the hype about the Erin Condren Life Planner and the new release a couple of weeks ago.  I should probably start out this post by saying that I LIKE the EC Life Planner.  Two years ago, when I was pregnant with Sam, it was the latest and greatest and everyone (it seemed) had one.  Not to be left out, of course, I bought one with an awesome discount/coupon available through Plum District that made it virtually free, and I happily used it for the next year.  It was super cute, and I got compliments on it all the time.  I also appreciated that EC seemed to have thought of everything - a zipper pouch and folder to hold stray papers and cards, colorful tabs and stickers, a cute placeholder.  I was a big fan.


BUT, when the time came to buy another one, I found that the company had gotten too popular to run the same great promotional deals, and I really couldn't justify spending 50+ dollars on a paper planner.  (Even though I do LOVE a good paper planner.)  Then, possibly just to make myself feel better, I started thinking about the things (besides the price) that I didn't love about it too - like the way each day was set-up by time slots and the gigantic size/weight.


For a while, I switched to a MUCH simpler planner from MayDesigns and - while I loved it for other reasons (like being incredibly adorable) - it was too basic.  I needed a happy medium.

Finally, about a month ago, as the school year ended and I started getting the itch for some new organization in my life, I started researching alternatives to the Life Planner.

That search eventually me landed me at Plum Paper Designs on Etsy.


Please allow me to introduce you to this beauty...


At only $30 plus shipping, the Plum Paper planners (saythatthreetimesfast) have all the stylish and preppy flair of the Maybooks + the borderline OCD organization of the Erin Condren at - what I consider - a much more reasonable price.

Here's what I love:
 
- It is similar to the EC in terms of size and basic design; but, I think, slightly lighter.  
- Like EC, it too has colorful laminated tabs for each month, a full page calendar spread and note sheets at the beginning of each month, and then individual columns for each day.  It also has a pocket in the back and space for contacts, etc.


- I also, personally, like the cover designs more.  Check out some of their latest monogram styles that were just released in May --


MY VERY FAVORITE THING though, is that Plum Paper gives you the option to personalize the actual pages of your planner.  For just five dollars more ($35.00) you can get the FAMILY PLANNER (which is what I got) and choose up to seven labeled tabs for your weekly schedule.


I love the idea of having one row per child/family member or something like that.  For me - since it is just the three of us and that isn't really necessary - I chose these labels and have been thrilled with them:

Work
Home
Errands
Appointments
Dinner
Exercise
Blog

I love that this has virtually replaced the whole idea of a "home organization notebook" (another big blog craze) for me because everything is in one place that I can easily carry with me in my (giant) purse all the time.

Anyway, that's it.

***Plum Paper DID NOT pay me to write this post or give me a free planner, FYI.  (They did give me free shipping, but only because I asked for it in exchange for writing this post.)  I'm writing this because I've been really happy with it, and I know how important it us for us organized(ish) mommas to not break the bank.  Hopefully, some of you will find this as a great alternative to the coveted Life Planner we keep hearing about.  (And, yes, I realize that this probably takes me out of the running of ever being one of Erin Condren's bloggers - oh well!)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Work of Dads

Recently I found a file my mom kept when I studied abroad my junior year of college with all the emails and letters I sent home.  They perfectly chronicled the six months Jeff and I spent in London, and I loved reading through them and remembering not just the experiences we had - but also the way I was feeling at the time and all the things I was learning while I was there.

Anyway, one thing that stood out to me in the emails was the difference between the way I wrote to my mom and the way I wrote to my dad.  The emails were typically addressed to both of them, but the tone made them clearly more directed at my mom.  (My excessive use of the word "girl" and full paragraphs about the street-style and how frizzy my hair had gotten in the humidity, for example.)  In the body of the emails, I often shared bits of my heart - like how things were going with Jeff and how homesick I was at times.  But, at the end of the email, there was almost always a paragraph specifically written to my dad.  It usually read something like this...

Dad, don't forget that my rent is due on the 21st - do you still have some checks of mine?  Also, I'm expecting a new shipment of prescriptions sometime soon - can you send them to me?  THANK YOU! I LOVE YOU!


Reading those little caveats made me really sad.  My sweet dad had already done so much so that I could have that experience and been SO happy and genuinely excited for my adventures, and there I was talking "business," and making requests, and fully expecting that he would take care of everything... 

And, you know what?  He always did.  My dad is one of the most selfless and giving men I know... He responded to every one of my emails with enthusiasm (even about my hair) and generosity, and he never once complained (at least to me).  


So, first, I'm sorry Dad.  I wish I had taken more time to send you your own emails and letters filled with reports of the cool cars Jeff kept pointing out on the street, or the good food we were eating, or how much I knew you would have loved the Irish Pub down the street.  


Reading those old emails got me thinking about the work of dads

There is a lot of talk in the blog-world about the work of moms - how many "hats" we wear, responsibilities we carry, how our "job is never done."  And, don't get me wrong, I agree with all those things.  I'll be the first to admit that sometimes I even get a little jealous of Jeff when he comes home from work and gets to just play with Sam instead of worrying about things like schedules and appointments and routines.  I might have even said something like "Dads have it so easy" before.  

But, more and more, I'm learning that the work of dads, although often different from the work of moms, is just as important, and just as hard.  

I'm a "spotlight" kind-of girl (as if the fact that I have a blog at all wasn't proof enough).  Most of my "work" for our family is done in visible or tangible ways; but, Jeff's work is often behind the scenes.  He is the one usually orchestrating the complicated details that make what is "seen" actually possible (not to mention, look a lot better).  

He is never really "off duty" either.



Today, I am remembering the work of dads all over.  I'm thanking God for an incredible dad that set my standard HIGH for the men in my life, and gave me opportunities and experiences I am beyond grateful for.  I'm thanking God for an amazing father-in-law who raised a strong man who knows about hard work and commitment to family.  And, I'm thanking God for giving me an amazing partner in this thing called parenting.  I'm so blessed to parent beside my best friend and a man that I respect SO much.

Happy Father's Day!!





*I'm really hoping you guys know me well enough to know that this is NOT intended to be about the roles of men and women or any of that other debatable mess.  I'm a working momma, and Jeff and I share almost every job in our home.  This is just about thanking some great dads in my life, and remembering that we ALL do important work. Thanks.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Adjusting & A Little Help

Hello there!  Sorry I've been a bit quiet around here lately.  It always takes me a week or so to get adjusted to the new schedule of summer break, but rest assured that we are happy and LOVING the break!  

On top of that, we had a big storm here yesterday afternoon and, although we were one of the very lucky ones to NOT lose power, we don't have internet at home so my blog access is limited to quick Starbucks runs and my phone.  Bear with me, I'll be back...

In the meantime, I've been busy working with The Fairy Blogmother to get my blog in tip top condition for the upcoming Blogher conference in July.  She is putting together an AWESOME blog make-over and my friend Howard just took some fun "headshots" for me.  (Ask me how awkward it is to have a friend take 250 photos of just you.  Very.)

Here are a couple of outtakes for your viewing pleasure:

Now THIS is real life. :)
Love Sam's face here.
In addition to all that, I'm also trying to organize all of my old posts into some easy categories/labels AND re-writing my blog profile "blurb," "About Me" page, etc.

That's where you come in...  Can you help?

I really want to be authentic in the way I present myself at the conference (and online in general) and remain true to this community that WE have created.  I want my bio to truly represent me and this place.

So tell me, how would you describe me/ E, Myself, & I?

I REALLY appreciate your feedback... Can't wait to unveil the new design and all the newly organized stuff soon.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bachelorette Unfiltered: Dez Episode 3

You should probably know that I watched last night's episode with Sam and Jeff - BIG mistake.  As a result, my viewing was disjointed, and this post is all over the place.

Alright, let's start at the very beginning... The dodgeball group date.

Source
First of all, I LOVE that there is a "Commissioner of the National Dodgeball League." 

I also loved the guys' passion about the game, and it seemed fun enough... THEN, Chris Harrison showed up.  (It's all fun and games until Chris Harrison shows up.)  "Winner takes all."  #bore  #beentheredonethat  #hireanewdatecoordinatorplease

Ok... I obviously can't continue without talking about 1.) their outfits - a bit scandalous, and 2.) Cliff Brooks' very serious FINGER injury. Is it just me, or do people survive broken fingers pretty regularly?

On another note, Michael G.'s hair in that headband? Beautiful.  (As in, he clearly had a stylist do it.)  He probably should have helped Brooks with his hair - maybe his fate would have been different then. ;)

How shocking that Dez decided "everyone won" and took both teams to the party...

I think Brad is pretty adorable.  I also really respect that he waited and told Dez about his son later in the season. (Take note BEN.)  I have him going far, but I'm not 100% sure I buy his "baby mama" story.  Maddox is a good name - just added it to the official "future Baby Chapman name list" on my iphone.  "Well honey, it's a funny story, mommy actually found your name on The Bachelorette."  (Jeff would never go for that.)

Ok. Ok.  I'm starting to like some of these guys...

... And then Brooks returned!  #BrooksisthenextTierra #hehassparkle  She digs him.


Chris is cute cute too.  (Although, he had a funny way of showing his excitement over getting the rose.) Where has he been in the other two episodes?  The private concert is SO overdone, but they do seem to have good chemistry.  I like him too.


Moving on...

I can't really even talk about the whole "Stephanie" saga.  I thought the whole thing was blown WAY out of proportion, and she was totally an actress. And, if she isn't, I'm actually really sorry for her because she acted like a crazy on national television.  (Look, I'm all for girl power, but she didn't really do us any favors.)  I thought Dez looked like she was about to crack up, and Chris Harrison took the whole thing a bit too seriously.  Producers, this was a low blow - no one even cared about Brian.  Brian who?  Am I right?  Hasta la vista baby.  #Stephanieasthenextbachelorette #poorDonovan


That's all I'm going to say about that.


Being the house villain? I can handle that.  Wearing a spaghetti strap man-shirt?  NOT OK.  Ben is dead to me.

Brandon is TOO much.  End of story.

And... Dez got so stressed out by all the drama of the morning, that she apparently forgot to put on pants!?!  Now THAT is a crisis! 
Source (+ my edits)
Kasey (aka #hashtagboy) was pretty cute, I have to admit.  I thought he seemed sweet on his date and totally rocked those spandex pants on the side of the building - he didn't even use a hashtag once in conversation.  The windstorm was hilarious.  My favorite part was when Dez said, "There was no hope in having any quality conversation, so we had to jump in the pool."  Naturally.  Also, man, it was SO dramatic when they showed that rose about to blow away.  I was SO worried.  Thank goodness it survived and she was able to pin it on his undershirt at the end of the date. 

P.S. I really think Dez is the prettiest when she isn't wearing (much) makeup etc.  Anyone else?


Next group date: Filming a Western.  This is perfect because it allowed Dez to see all the guys again in their "natural environment" and be sure they have important skills for marriage such as being able to lasso, draw a pistol, and "fight for justice."  But, of course.
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Bryden is awkward (I'm sorry).  Zak is funny (in a good way) & a little bit of a suck-up.  James is not real. Dan is cute.  Juan Pablo is hot.

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Did you catch it?!?! Bryden swept over his hair on the group date at night.  YES!!!!!

I was shocked that James got the rose.  #thanksdad #shereallydigssadstories

Ok, I gotta hurry this up now because nap time is almost over.  Here are a few final thoughts:

- The final "pool party" was so much nicer than the normal old cocktail party.  It seemed so relaxed and no one was stressed at all about getting "one on one time" or getting the rose.

- We didn't see quite as much of Michael G. this week; but, I think I spotted him in one of those Ben-esque spaghetti strap shirts too.  NO!!!  (Someone please tell me I am wrong!)

- Dez looked really beautiful at the rose ceremony.  She's improving her look each week.  (Was she wearing fake hair?)

- Glad to see Brandon go.  

- Sad to see Dan go.

- Brian who?

Until next week... Killing brain cells one Monday night at a time,

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monograms and Mimosas/ Pink Ombre Shower

As I mentioned before, my mom and I hosted a bridal shower at my house for the bride-to-be of a good family friend recently.  I went a little "Pinterest crazy" (for me) in the planning and, I must admit, felt a bit overwhelmed with details by Friday afternoon; but, things went off without a hitch on Saturday, and I was really pleased with how everything turned out.  My mom and I really make a good team with this kind-of thing.  :)

Here are some pictures and a few of the details in case you are interested...


This theme was SO much fun!  I absolutely loved planning for it and, I must say, the bride got some awesome gifts - people really got into it!  Especially with all the trends in monogramming these days, it was so fun to see what kinds of creative ideas people came up with.  Plus, the bride should have no trouble remembering her new last name now. ;)

Our cute invitations were designed by the wonderful Erika of Life Unfluffed/ The Fairy Blogmother and pretty well explained the party "concept."  We also used this great design to "set the tone" for the rest of our decorating -- primarily pink ombre/sunset/citrus colors.  There were LOTS of great ideas for this on Pinterest and accessories galore available to fit the theme.

We stuck with a simple brunch menu of quiche, ham biscuits, and a spring mix salad.  We also set up a yummy yogurt parfait bar (we used tiny 9oz. plastic punch cups and pre-filled them with vanilla yogurt) using adorable berry baskets & scoops from Smashcake Studio and lots of fresh berries, granola, and coconut.  We also served Dunkin Donuts strawberry glazed donuts with pink and orange sprinkles (which they just happened to have for this season).   Then, of course, we served lots of mimosas in disposable champagne glasses we ordered from Oriental Trading.


Our friend Sarah G. - who does all of our special occasions - made an INCREDIBLE ombre cake and little monogrammed cookies as favors. Both were a huge hit.

As for games, we kept it simple because our guest list was large (30+ people), and I created a crossword puzzle online with questions about the bride and groom, the wedding location (Knoxville, TN) and general wedding trivia (no photos, but inspired by this).  We gave away one of Target's cool new "Cinnamon Mini Donut" candles to the person who was able to complete the most.

Here's a little round-up of where we got the rest of the goodies:
Chevron Frames - One Kings Lane
Wooden Utensils - Smash Cake Studio
Chalkboard Bunting - Simply Scissors on Etsy
Pink Table Cloth & Ombre Poofs - Martha Stewart for J.C.Penny
Pink Lanterns - Target

Congratulations to Megen & Alex - We can't wait for the REAL party in July!! :)


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