Would you like some kindness with your Saturday coffee?

coffee and kindness

Each spring during the 40 days leading up to Easter, my friend Kelli practices Calculated Acts of Kindness and encourages others to do the same.  Way back in February, I promised her I would write a post about it, but those 40 days slipped away without me ever sitting down to write the kind of thoughtful post that the subject matter deserves.  (That kind of post — “real” writing – takes me hours, as opposed to a few minutes here and there to slap together a silly post about manicures.)  But since Easter is tomorrow, and spreading kindness is always worth talking about, I’m here on a Saturday morning with a few words for you.  (And coffee.  We have to have coffee, right?)

I have to admit, I didn’t manage to send out any gifts or cards to friends, or make cookies for firefighters, or leave quarters at a laundromat, like a good CAOK-er probably would.  But one of my goals lately is working on being a more patient person, specifically a more patient parent to my 4 year old.  (Kids that age are crazymaking, I tell ya!)  I have successes and I have failures, and I’m a work in progress to be sure.  This is hard work for me, especially since I’ve always considered myself a fairly patient person.  Despite my failures, I am proud of myself for the effort I’ve made.  And I know making the effort is making me a better parent.

The other big kindness I’m extending is to myself — people keep asking me if I’m dyeing Easter eggs with Josiah, or if I’ve gotten matching Easter outfits for my boys, or make some suggestion about an Easter craft or recipe they saw on Pinterest, and I usually answer with some wishy-washy version of “Yeah, we’ll probably do that this weekend…”  But I’m going to be honest: We’re not dyeing eggs because I forgot to buy the little dye tablets.  And I haven’t gotten any new Easter outfits for the kids.  At this point, it’s just not happening.  But Easter will be juuuuust fine without any of that.  We are going to church, then we’ll have Easter lunch at my grandma’s house, hide eggs in her front yard, enjoy some nice spring weather, and I even remembered to buy a chocolate bunny for Josiah.


We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled lighter topics next week.  Happy Easter, friends!

What would you tell me if we were having coffee this morning?  How are you extending kindness to yourself these days?

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Books for Mom about Being Mom

books for mom about being mom <-- great recs for your favorite mom-of-littles for Mother's Day

Photo Credit: ~PhotograTree~ via Compfight cc

I read pretty slowly these days (a full time job and two kids can do that to you) but I still love to read, and I thought I’d share some of the books I’ve been reading lately.  As I started to make this list, I realized that even though there are all different kinds of books on this list, they all center on a common theme — motherhood.  I guess it’s no surprise that that’s what’s on my brain lately.  Here we go with some quick twitter-style reviews.  (Please forgive my silly hashtags.  It’s a sickness.)  I hope you find something in here that sounds interesting to you!

Your Four Year Old: Wild and Wonderful by Ames & Ilg.  At this point in my parenting career, I don’t want a book to tell me what to do, I just want to know what to expect.  This short but info-packed volume (part of a series that runs from Your 1 Yr Old to Your 10-14 Yr Old) does just that. #all4yearoldsareweirdbutfun #notjustmine

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan.  There’s nothing like being thrust into a mothering role to make you appreciate your own mom.  In her carefree early 20s, Corrigan suddenly found herself channeling her no-nonsense mom (the “glue” of the family) while nannying for a motherless family in Australia so she could afford the globe-trotting adventures she had planned when she left home. #perfectmothersdaypresent (Trigger warning: moms with cancer.)

The Blue Jay’s Dance by Louise Erdrich.  Yes, it’s another memoir about a first year of motherhood, but this book is so much more – essays on nature, history, and how to be a writer in the midst of mothering  needy babies and challenging teens all intertwine in this #hardtodescribebutsogood book.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.  Okay, this one isn’t about motherhood at all, but this quirky romantic comedy is a fun, quick read.  It’s my most recommended book right now.  #SilverLiningsPlaybookmeetsBigBangTheory

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Twitterature.


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Confessions of a spa newbie

The true story of what happens when an extremely low-maintenance girl goes on her first spa day.

Photo Credit: deborah is lola via Compfight cc

Ah, a spa day! Sounds so relaxing, right? And who doesn’t deserve a little pampering these days? My mom treated me to a spa day as my birthday gift this year, and thanks to a special that the spa was running, I got to choose three services for a flat fee. I am seriously a low maintenance girl — I wear a little make-up and earrings, but this world of massages, manicures, facials and waxing was a whole other world. Not wanting to go too far outside my comfort zone, I opted for massage, shellac manicure, and eyebrow wax.

The massage was awesome. I’ve only had about 4 massages in my life, but that’s enough to realize that a good massage therapist can really make a difference. This gal really got in and dug around on my tight muscles, which left me sore for days. I’m sure it’s personal preference, but I also prefer a massage therapist who is just a bit of a talker. Laying there in complete silence while a stranger rubs oil on you is just awkward.  So we talked about running and kids and new restaurants in town.  You know, the normal stuff you talk about while you’re naked.  =)

Next up was the shellac manicure. I almost never paint my nails because (a) I can’t sit still long enough to let the paint dry and (b) I am not careful with them and inevitably they chip in a couple days. Not worth it. And how freaking annoying is it to pay for a manicure, then mess up the polish while you’re opening your car door as you leave the nail place? But I’d been told that shellac manicures are more durable, so I decided to give it a try.   You guys… It’s so true. The polish is completely dry and hardened before you leave, and it lasted a week and a half weeks with no scratches, chips or anything.  (It probably would have lasted longer but I went swimming one day and chlorine is evil.)  They are a little more expensive than standard manicures, and I’m a bit of a cheapskate, so I doubt I’ll be getting these on a regular basis, but if I ever have a big event that I want my nails to look nice for, shellac is the way to go.

I loved my first shellac manicure!  It really (really!) doesn't chip or dent.

I chose a really neutral color since I’m not used to having my nails painted.

The eyebrow wax… Did I mention it was my very first waxing experience? It’s just always sounded SO painful. But actually, it wasn’t that bad — very similar to pulling off a band-aid. I guess I expected it to be more like a haircut where we would discuss ahead of time what I wanted (there are definitely eyebrow “styles,” right? I don’t want then super thin!) to have more of a discussion about what I wanted before she started slathering got wax between my eyebrows. I am a pretty committed tweezerer, and I think I’ll stay that way, but it was nice not to have to worry about it for a couple of weeks.

My very first eyebrow wax! It was a weird experience, but it was nice to be able to skip tweezing in the mornings for a couple of weeks.

So, how about you – are you low maintenance or high maintenance? Do you think I’m a weirdo for trying some of this stuff for the first time at age 35? What’s your favorite spa treatment if money were no object?

Humpday Confessions :: linking up with Vodka & Soda


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Chaos contained (a closet makeover)

One of my goals this month was to get the main hall closet in my house under control. It’s the largest closet in our 70′s split-level house, and it’s conveniently located near the entryway, living room, and kitchen, so a whole bunch of junk ends up in there.

I know cleaning out a closet sounds a little OCD, but seriously… It was bad. To the point that it was completely non-functional. Stuff was covering the floor so you couldn’t even walk inside to hang up coats or put toys away, so more stuff just got piled on top of the mess.  All right, enough chatter.  Wanna see?

This closet is out of control!  Check out how I got it organized.

Yes, I have a inflatable remote-controlled minion in my hall closet. Doesn’t everyone?

There’s no magic formula I followed to organize the space, just the basic “get everything out, put back what you need to keep” philosophy.  I moved a junky bookcase from my sons room and wedged it in under the coats to make room to store toys that’s not on the floor.


The only things I bought for this project were two large storage containers.  I stashed sports gear and dress-up outfits in them, under the coats on the other side of the closet.


This freed up the floor so now my son can use the lower hooks to hang up his coat by himself. I put some baby stuff that I like to have close at hand on the upper hooks.  The top shelf is empty, since I learned from the ADD organizing book that you should always leave some extra space for “staging” or short-term storage in areas that are used a lot.

Closet redo april 2014 front view

Yay!  I’m soooo glad I got this project done.  I was almost tempted to stick something in the closet that didn’t belong in there today, but I resisted.  That’s progress, people!

What’s the most chaotic space in your home?  Or are you one of those organized people whose closets never look this bad?

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Pups Save a Fourth Birthday


Chase is on the case!

Josiah is 4! We celebrated with a Paw Patrol themed party in the community room of a local fire station. We started with some games and cupcakes, then we had a tour of the station. The fire fighters did a great job showing the kids around, demonstrating how the trucks work, and teaching them about all the parts of their firefighter suit. They do look/sound a little alien once all the breathing equipment is on, so I thought it was cool that they taught the kids about each piece of their equipment so kids wouldn’t be scared and try to hide if they saw a firefighter coming through their house during a fire.



I know there are good and bad things about every age, and four is no exception. Josiah is smart, affectionate, funny, and full of interesting questions and observations about the world around him. He can also be whiny, irrational, stubborn, and extremely slow-moving when we’re trying to go somewhere. (So, he is his mother’s child, basically. Except the slow part. I can get ready and out the door in no time.)


I waited a long time to have kids (I was 31 when J was born, and I’d been married for 9 years) because I wasn’t really sure I wanted any.  (A lot of people will tell you they just can’t remember what life was like without kids.  I can!  It was awesome.  I had a lot more time to do whatever the heck I wanted.)  But eventually I decided that I did want to have a kid or two, and I was blessed with one of the sweetest, easiest babies ever (until his brother came along, but that’s a story for another day).


Right from the start, Josiah was mellow, cautious, and very studious and observant of his surroundings.  He didn’t crawl until just before his first birthday, and didn’t walk until he was 19 months old.


He took his sweet time starting to talk, too — so much so that he was in speech therapy for a good part of the year between his second and third birthdays.


He was a great little two year old — extremely agreeable since we got really good at interpreting his pointing and grunting to get him what he wanted!  Terrible twos?  Nah.


Three is when he figured out that he didn’t have to do everything we told him to, and things got a lot more challenging.  I never understood what people meant about how parenting teaches you so much about yourself, but it really does.  It forces you to confront the worst in yourself, but it also gives you the opportunity to dig deep for more patience, compassion, and humor than you ever imagined you had.


So here’s to FOUR!  I can’t wait to see what another year brings.

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Purple spring flowers rise

Happy Monday!  I picked you some flowers…


Not my favorite spring bulbs, but they are definitely purple!



I discovered these tiny flowers (the blooms were about the size of my thumbnail) growing wild in a neighbor’s yard.



This might be stretching the definition of purple a bit, but I love these flowering tulip trees.  They’re all over my neighborhood — I think I might plant one in my yard for Arbor Day.



More tiny “weeds” I spotted on our purple flower walk.  I assume these are mutations of larger grape hyacinths planted somewhere nearby.



And last but not least, some bright redbud blooms.  I love how from a distance, whole branches of the tree look like they’re covered in pinky-purpley fur, but on closer examination it’s hundreds of tiny blooms.

I spotted all of these flowers on a 2-mile loop around my neighborhood that I used for the inaugural spring (double!) stroller walk of 2014.  (Side note: pushing nearly 50 pounds of kids is a workout even though it’s just a walk!)  I hope you enjoyed my purple Ozarks flowers.

What’s your favorite spring flower?  (I love daffodils and tulips.)

Linking up with the One Community photoblogging project.





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One Community: April 2014


One Community is a monthly photo project in which participants photograph their lives and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to both showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide – and bring us all closer together in understanding through art.  Rebekah of Honeysuckle Life chose our words for April: Spring, Flowers, Purple and Rise

The Rules:  Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up at the bottom of this post.  Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them.  After all, this is all about building community!

I hope you will forgive me — time got away from me this month and my photos aren’t ready yet!  This post will be host the link-up and hopefully I’ll post my photos soon.

Want to play along? This month’s link-up is open until April 12, and next month’s link-up will begin May 5.  Sue from No Bad Days chose the words for May: Five, Mother, Recipe and Remember

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April Goals, and March Goals in review

Monthly Goals // Beauty School Dropout

Photo Credit: caljuggler via Compfight cc

Hello, April!  It’s a good thing April is a long month, because I’m feeling extra-motivated this month.  I think it’s that involuntary spring cleaning thing kicking in!  But before that, I always think it’s good to look back and see how I did on last month’s goals.

March Goals Recap

Crafty stuff.  A-.  I finished the cross-stitch and dropped it off for framing.  I hoped to have a photo of the finished project but the framing isn’t done yet.  I did start a new knitting project (a hat for my husband) but I’ve only half-heartedly worked a few rows on it.  It should hopefully be done by next winter!  (I don’t do as much knitting, stitching, etc. in the spring and summer because I’d rather be outside playing.)

Banish the Mean Mommy Monster.  B.  I am getting better… I’m becoming more aware of what triggers the MMM to rear her ugly head, but I certainly haven’t been 100% perfect about not yelling.   My son has also learned the word “annoyed” this month, as in, “Mommy, are you annoyed with me?”  Yes, son… yes I am.  Just being able to have that conversation really helps take the uncontrolled emotion out of the situation for me.

Yoga.  B.  I didn’t do yoga twice a week like I’d hoped, but I did go to class a lot more than normal.

 Self care.  A-.  There always room for improvement in this area, but I’m starting to look at my calendar differently and carve out some time for me, even if it means burning an hour or two of vacation time at work to do it.  I have also made peace with cooking much simpler meal (and repeating them a lot) at this point in my life.  Let’s just hope my family doesn’t get sick of crockpot meals!  Actually, they probably will, just in time for grilling season to start, which is equally easy in my mind.

April Goals

Start running again.  Now that the weather is not mind-numbingly cold anymore, I am excited to get back into running!  My running buddy is on the injured list, though, so I won’t be able to rely on her for  motivation.  I’m thinking of registering for a Superhero 5K!  (yes of course I’m going to wear a costume!!!)

Plant the garden.  Obviously it’s not warm enough to plant everything yet, but I can clean out the old plants, put in some new soil, and get spring plants like peas and lettuce started.

Closets.  Do seasonal clothes switch-out in my closet and donate stuff I don’t wear anymore.  Get too-small clothes out of the kids’ closets and box up or give away.  Clean out our disaster of a hall closet.  Bonus points if I manage to also slightly reclaim the living room from being a playroom.  (I was inspired by Steph’s decluttering tips, Kathy’s epic closet organization project, and Seana’s post on how to Organize Like a Kindergarten.

April Wallet Watch with Steph & Marla.  This is a choose your own adventure spending freeze — make your own rules!  Life According to Steph

My rules are:

1. Wallet watch lasts from April 1 – 30.
2. Track every dollar spent and stay within budget (under if possible!)
3. No buying clothes, shoes, beauty products, or Easter basket junk, except a new Easter outfit for Josiah and gifts for a baby shower and birthday party (staying within budget of course!).
3. Only one meal out per week except for weekends we are traveling.
4. Cook out of the pantry and freezer and really use what I have before food shopping.
Linking up with Ginger at Just One of the Boys.
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Nothing is small, in fact…

Photo Credit: Chicago Man via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Chicago Man via Compfight cc

I had just arrived in Chicago with one of my best friends, and we were running a half-marathon the next morning.  This was a big deal for us; it was her first half-marathon, and my first since having a baby.  We’d been training for months for this race.  We’d slowly built up our mileage, practiced different fueling strategies, debated carrying water versus water stops, and carefully pondered the placement of the porta-potties along the route.  We’d booked airplane tickets and hotel rooms.  Later that day, we would go to a crowded convention hall on Navy Pier to pick up our race numbers and timing chips.  From my pocket, I unfolded and re-read the pre-race email that detailed our transportation options for getting to the starting line, several miles south of our hotel.

To continue reading and find out what small thing turned out to be a very big thing for that race (and my outlook on life), please check out my guest post at Be, Mama, Be.  

Linking up with the Humpday Blog Hop

The Hump Day Blog Hop
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Project Life Stylesheet

PL stylesheet

Whenever people ask me about Project Life scrapbooking, I tell them my favorite thing about it is that you can make it as simple or as complicated as you like.  There are people who use tons of embellishments, design their own journaling cards, etc.,  and then there are people like me who scribble in a few notes about the photos, stick everything in the photo pockets, and call it done.

I was originally inspired to try Project Life because I saw it on Kathleen’s blog.  I love how she keeps her pages simple but they still look really beautiful and reflect her style.  She recently posted a “style sheet” that she’s using for her 2014 album to keep it consistent throughout the year.  I am stealing her idea and doing the same.  

Here’s the loose set of rules for my 2014 PL album:

  • Jade core kit, using mostly the white and brightly colored cards, avoiding muted grays and browns
  • Use a mix of colors on every page
  • Include colorful ephemera like ticket stubs, kids drawings, etc.
  • Rounded corners on photos and cards
  • Grouping photos by month, not breaking it down by week
  • Journaling cards in my handwriting with a black fine-tip Sharpie
  • Lots of photos with very little embellishment
  • Smaller photo page inserts for special events, like birthdays, family photo sessions, etc.

Here is a sampling of the pages I’ve completed for January and February.

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