Monday, May 16, 2016

A new look and a small ulcer

I don't make quick decisions. I can't jump into anything. I have to think every thought about a million times before I act on it. It is one of the most annoying things about me. Incidentally, my husband, the engineer, is the same way. As you can imagine, it takes at least 6 months for us to make any sizable decision such as, which (whiteish) color to paint the crown molding, what gas grill to buy, or where to eat for dinner. We are completely obnoxious. But we have each other and therefore prove the theory "there is someone out there for everyone".

As I was saying, decisions are hard for me. I started this blog in 2010 and it was in need of a face lift or maybe just a little botox. I have been thinking about doing it for weeks. Im exhausted thinking about all the nail biting that went into actually making a change. I won't bore you with the details....wait, yes I will. Because that's what I do... So the old look was SO old that I couldn't update things properly. Being a graphic designer in a former life, I was dying for a more streamlined updated look, but I knew once I started down that rabbit hole it would become a whole thing. I was right. I made one small change late one night and big bad internet was like "Gotcha!" There was no way to undo my change and the old template was erased forever. I was forced to start from scratch. So I promptly began hyperventilating.

Let me let you in on a little secret. I am so completely dumb when it comes to the internet and websites. Like super dumb. I'm so embarrassed to admit it, because people have assumed for years that as a graphic designer one of my trained skills is web design. It is not. Not even a little bit. You see, I entered college in 1996. The internet was still just an infant. The only use I had for it was checking emails from professors and even that had to be done in the computer lab at the library. At the beginning of my senior year I was given the choice to take a new class called Web Design. I thought about it for a minute and said "Nah. When will I ever need that? Who even knows if this web thing is gonna catch on?"  That was one of the many bad decisions made during my (ahem) 5 years in college. I was only able to pick up minimal knowledge after graduating, but thankfully there were still a one or two jobs out there for designers only wanting to work in print.

So here I am with a hot mess of a blog and limited knowledge on how to fix it. Thankfully, creating a blog is ridiculously simple. The blog host sites have step by step templates so that you can be up and running in minutes. BUT you are limited to their design choices, which is where I run into my problem.  I am extremely high maintenance with my visual customization needs, but since the only other option is to create my own website (excuse me while I order my copy of Web Design for Actual Dummies from Amazon) I must exhaust all template options until I find one that suits me. Exhaust being the most perfect word here. I get nutso about font style and font size and spacing and colors and gadgets and tabs and links. (I'm sure there are pills to help someone with my font disorder, but I haven't found it.) I spent hours on these nitpicky things. Hours plural. How embarrassing is that? Well, to be honest, part of the reason for the extra hours was my wireless internet connection. It was acting all nostalgic and pretending to be dial up from the 90s. Lots of waiting on updates and spooling and things that make my blood pressure rise and I start to pull clumps of my hair out. (I really sound like a catch don't I? You guys, I would like to take this moment to say Im so thankful I am married. It's really pretty amazing that I found someone to put up with this strain of crazy.)

So with that it is done (for now). I dragged myself and my blog kicking and screaming into 2016.
A new look for my new blogging challenge. The writing is new to me and difficult and I am learning a lot as I go. Who knows maybe I can take on the challenge of web design now too. Hmmm. I'll spend some time thinking about that. About 6 months. Yeah that sounds about right.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The thing about Mother's Day and Expectations

This past weekend we celebrated Mother's Day. A day to be thankful for all the mothers in our lives. This was my 10th Mother's Day and it seems they only get better. It always begins with some sort of breakfast in bed and homemade cards and hugs and sweetness. I think I get it easy because it is fresh on their little minds since they have been celebrating mom for the past 2 weeks (see birthday week). So it goes without saying that I am a big fan of Mother's Day.

However, I know for some it is very hard. I care deeply about many wonderful ladies who don't have children to call their own and for them this day is a reminder of what they can't have. Or something that hasn't happened yet. Also hurting are my friends who have recently (and some not so recently) lost their mothers. I imagine this day brings up all the saddest of emotions every year. I pray that these sweet friends made it through the day with peace and comfort from God and hopefully with some extra love from their families. And flowers. Flowers are always a good idea. oh and chocolate. For any day really.... (if there happens to be a man reading... take note of that.)

But then there are my friends who say mothers day is hard - not because of loss, but because of expectations. Expectations can totally kill even the best mood. Am I right? I can't tell you how many times I have planned a whole day/night/week/naptime (especially naptime) out in my head and  have been completely (and very dramatically) devastated that it didn't go as planned. So obviously, a day that is supposed to be "all about mom" where the plan is to be pampered and doted-on has the potential to be a HUGE disappointment. Especially when you have 3 young variables and 1 well intentioned spouse.

I get it. I've been there too. You wake up to a crying baby. You stumble past 2 other (although it sounds like 8 or 9) children kids fighting over... anything. (They are always fighting over something. Sometimes even over who gets the best air in the room.)  And this time it might even be over who gets to tell you "Happy Mother's Day" first, but it doesn't matter because they have forgotten the purpose of the fight and now are trying to kill each other with their screams.

So you sigh and head downstairs and clean up the "breakfast in bed" attempt and when they see you at your post they just start spouting off their breakfast orders because that's the routine. (and we all know kids love a routine except when it is at bedtime, or getting dressed, or doing homework, or anything other than eating food. Food must always happen at the same time and immediately) At some point your sweet husband comes in and says "Aww you shouldn't be doing that. It's your day, let me help." but then gets distracted because someone spills their milk. Again.

Then things start moving in fast-forward and you begin the crazy that is Sunday morning. Ironing dress clothes. Brushing teeth. Fighting. Twirling. Falling. Crying. "This is not the dress I wanted to wear because there is no pink on it. Wait, where are my shoes? Not those shoes. Where is my bible? Will you fix my hair? Walt won't stop looking at me with a weird face!"

This is when we want to throw our hands up and say "What's the point?! Mother's Day is a joke! No one appreciates me at all!!!" I know, because I have had those thoughts myself. But what I don't realize is that the real problem here is expectations.

Mother's Day/Birthday/Thanksgiving/Christmas expectations are the worst. We build them up in our minds and feel so defeated when things don't work out perfectly. Nevermind, my family is not perfect. Least of all, me. If we allow for some grace we will be able to see past the Sunday morning crazy to hear and be thankful for the sweet little voices saying "Happy Mother's Day".  And for the husband that means well, but is at least there to catch the milk waterfall that is flowing from the breakfast table.

Grace was my expectation for this Mom's Day and I am so happy that was all I planned. Somehow the day was perfect. Not because our family behaved perfectly, but because my focus was on grace. I hate to admit that I need a little focal adjustment from time to time. And because I was able to clear the expectations from my view this is what I saw....

What's better than breakfast in bed? Starbucks in bed.
And what is cuter than corny Sunday School cards?
God bless Sunday School teachers.
Just LOL at all of this. I clearly need to dress up more.

So after breakfast and church and cards we headed to lunch and took this perfect picture. I posted a civilized one to Instagram that day, but this one is a more accurate portrayal of my bunch.

 After lunch we had some lazy time before heading down to MS to see my mom. It was the first time in a long time that we have been in Senatobia when it was not raining or had not rained right before we came. Since it was nice and dry the kids took the chance in play outside. 

Chilling on the porch with a book before heading to Mom's.
My most favorite spot in the house.

This went on for at least 15 min. She has the best laugh.

The kids decided we needed to make bird feeders.
Which means they got all the stuff out and put a dab of
peanut butter on a pine cone and lost interest.
So really mom and I made bird feeders. Classic. 

Amelia and I even had a chance to ride with dad to go visit my grandparents. It was a nice but short visit. I could tell they were happy to see us all, but Amelia was the star, of course. She is sweet and smart and loves to read (which Grandmother loves) and she has that Dowdle red hair. (which makes Granddad light up!) 

Finally, Mom and I picked up some fried chicken take out so that we didn't have to cook and then we called it a day.  A great day.

Monday, May 9, 2016

DIY and Home Improvement for the lazy

Last week was beautiful in Memphis. Really, I think we had one rainy day and the rest was gorgeous spring weather. We enjoyed it to the fullest. My mood is completely dependent on the weather. Fortunately in the south, that works out well for me. If I lived in Seattle or London or some place where it rained 90% of the time, I would have no friends. Also I would most likely be single and childless because no one could stand to be around me. Or so I have been told. Whatever. I digress....

So because of the excellent weather, I felt motivated to do a few projects that have been hanging over my head.

1. clean, prime, and paint our toddler chairs.
We've had these since Amelia was 2 and they have held up well, but lately have spent lots of time in the tree house and developed a little mildew problem. Nothing a couple hours outside with a paint brush, a can of spray paint, and a happy (and adorable) painting assistant couldn't fix.
I kind of love how they turned out.

My assistant. Painting the fence with water.
In her PJs complete with matching bow. This girl.

I totally love this picture specifically for its "Little Rascals" vibe 

the finished product in pumpkin

2. The great room switch.
My older two have been sharing a room since the birth of little sis, which has been about 3.5 years. While they do love each other, there have been more than enough fights over.... well everything. I know will probably remember these years very fondly, but the time has come to make a change. We have been promising Walt that once Louisa made it out of a crib, he could move back into his room and out of the land of princess and fairies. Which is a pretty accurate description of Amelia's room. When he moved in she "graciously" allowed him to decorate his bed and the 1 foot surrounding space with "boy" paraphernalia. Nothing more. So needless to say he has been extremely patient.

So Tuesday morning Mom came up and we got to work swapping rooms. We managed to get almost all of it done while they were at school. With the exception of a few pictures hanging, new curtains, and the closets. The closets still have not been tackled because mom went home and I can't even. Kids closets are basically a black hole of every single random thing that has ever been given to them. With a few unfolded clothes and unmatched shoes mixed in. Even so, I think the rooms turned out so perfect. As much as I loved and cried over the loss of the nursery, Walt's adorable "boy cave"- as he now calls it - totally makes up for it. You have never seen a boy more happy about having his own room. And a little sister who is so proud to be in the "big girl room". Amelia, while not as pumped as her siblings, is amazingly ok with having a new 3 year old roommate and has welcomed the chance to go "all out girly" with open arms!

Walt's Boy Cave

Amelia's corner of the girl room

Little Lou's Nook

We rounded out the rest of the week with some legit home improvements done by actual skilled carpenters. Nothing dramatic, just a little crown molding in the hallway and the prettiest little semi-functional fence wall. Even The Donald would be proud of this wall, although he was definitely not the inspiration. We needed something to hide the drainage ditch at the end of the driveway that was becoming a little too interesting to our children (out of site, out of mind...hopefully). The Wall's second and more important job is to keep the basketball from rolling down in the ditch and causing an immediate halt to every. single. game.

The. Wall.
I'm so thankful for people who know how to use tools to make things out of wood. I'm even more thankful that God has given us the money and good sense to pay them for their skills.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Birthday Week happenings

Today is my birthday. It has been a wonderful day. More accurately it has been a wonderful week.

I am one of those people who celebrates an entire Birthday Week every year. 7 days of birthday fun. I thought this was more common than it apparently is. Maybe there is not actually group of people who do this, but for the life of me I cannot figure out why there wouldn't be. As mothers we don't have many opportunities to have an "all about me" day (week) so I think it is important to make the most of the one day that is all yours.

The birthday week came about some time in my adult years when getting older became less cool so I needed loved ones to pay attention to the celebratory nature of the day to make me forget about gray hair and gravity. People seem confused by the timing of my birthday week so allow me to break it down for you.

BW is the week leading up to your big day not the week following your birthday. This seems obvious to me simply because the anticipation of an event is half the fun. Also, no one cares about the day AFTER the big day. There are no "day after the wedding" parties. That is why honeymoons were invented. To let brides down easy after a year of planning and celebrating. If you are unmarried or a man and don't get the metaphor, it's like Christmas. Why do you think Target starts celebrating in October for Christmas? Because no one cares about the day after Christmas. It's over. Decorations are down and trees are on the curb. Not that I'm saying that my birthday is as important is Jesus's birth, but you get the point.

If that wasn't reason enough my birthday has a few more specific reasons for the pre birthday week. 1. My birthday is May 1st. Before smart phones and Facebook reminders people with "1st day of the month" birthdays got lost in the shuffle simply because people had not flipped the page on their calendar. I used to get so many "oops I forgot your birthday" greetings on May 2nd. Something needed to be done. If only there was a way to let everyone I crossed paths with know that my birthday was coming....hmm. 2. The week following my birthday is getting dangerously close to Mother's Day. I am a firm believer in keeping all holidays separate but equal. I genuinely feel bad for those Christmas babies who grew up with combined celebrations. If I were you I would totally adopt a week in the summer so that you too can experience the joys of Birthday week.

All. of. that. to. say.... (good grief. I can be so long winded.)
BW2016 was epic. The theme being eat all of the food. That's it. Just eat everything you see. It was great fun.

I may have mentioned that the way to my heart is with food. So I started off birthday week with one of my favorite dinners. Meatloaf and Mashed potatoes. I'm a Mississippi girl and there is no better comfort food than this combo. I should mention that my kids and husband are not from the great state of MS and therefore are not huge fans of this meal.  But it's my Birthday Week and I am also the family chef so.... Like it or not. Everyone just be happy making bird's nests out of Potatoes and English peas.

Wednesday night we took the kids to one of my favorite sandwich places. I have no pictures because my kids turned into hooligans as soon as they saw the chalk board wall and made everyone wish they had chosen another dining location. 

Thursday was beautiful and I was feeling the need to sit out and enjoy a good book in the awesome weather. I have been a fan of the Big Mama Blog for some time, but just recently discovered her books. Melanie Shankle has somehow tapped directly into my brain and is writing my life, only much funnier and more fabulous. Naturally, I'm convinced we are now best friends. In the same way I'm certain Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake (collectively) and I will one day hang out together doing Bee Gees impressions and laughing about hashtags. Until then, buy the book. And then read it. You're welcome.

Thursday night I met some sweet friends for an "elegant" dinner at The Farmer on Highland. Again I have no pictures of this but for a completely different reason. The food was way delicious and the company was lovely. There was no time for pictures. We were too busy loving our ladies night sans kids.

Friday was packed with fun. Mom and Sister came up for lunch and shopping. I may have had a highly embarrassing experience in a very nice accessories shop. Ill just say I left the shop feeling a bit like Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman. But the day was not a complete loss. I picked up some adorable earrings and had the best time with my favorite girls. 

That night we all got together again to run the Opening Eyes to Autism 5k. This race holds such a special place in the hearts of our family and it was so fun to get the entire gang (plus a few hundred more) together to run for my sweet nephew Owen. Team Owen rocked it and won the award for largest group! Awesome night.

Saturday (also known as Birthday Eve) we spent the day at home (which is my favorite way to spend a Saturday) and the night in Midtown. Well Steve and I went to Midtown. The kids stayed with a sitter which we all know is about as fun as aSaturday night gets when you are a kid. Steve and I hit up the always spectacular Babalu for some  lots of tapas style cuisine. Beginning with homemade guacamole and ending with a dessert PLATTER and a personal fireworks spectacle. Which is, in my opinion, the only way to celebrate a birthday.

That brings us to today. May 1. Here's the thing. If you start talking about your birthday weeks in advance, people know about it and have fun celebrating with you. Sunday morning started with breakfast in bed from the kids, and then more surprise breakfast at church with the best Sunday School class eva, followed by a fun lunch with presents (see what I mean about the food theme?). I finished my BW2016 with a little pedicure, coffee, and FB messages. 

I'm not one to ask for extra attention on a regular basis, but there is a time and a place for it. And that time is your birthday. Mom friend, I give you permission to let people pamper you on your big day. It makes you happy and it makes everyone around you happy. 

If you don't believe me, look at this face!

So long 37. You were good to me but #38isthenewblack.