Skin Care Routine

If you know me in real life, you know I am about the least high maintenance person ever.

If Clay is reading this, I hope he wasn’t drinking anything–because he just spit it out.

Let me rephrase–in regards to make up, beauty routines, hair, etc, I’m very low maintenance. I didn’t start wearing any type of make up until my mid twenties, and that was only on special occasions. My mom got me the first make up I’d ever owned for my bridal shower. Currently, I wear eyeliner and chapstick on a daily basis.

I’ve never owned hair spray (or mousse or gel) in my life. In fact, I just bought my first hair dryer about 3 months ago since I’m growing my hair out. I don’t wax or pluck my eyebrows. I rarely shave my legs. Its just not how I like to spend my time. I’ve got other things to do. Like catch Pokemon.

There are a few things I do to make myself feel pretty. Like a good daily skin care routine, which I will detail below. Being a sunscreen fanatic. Keeping my toenails painted (I prefer a pedicure, but will do it myself if I have to). Smelling good is also really important to me, obviously. I’ll never turn down a spa day, and love bath products.

So most days I look like this:

But some days, I just want to do it up.

While I am low maintenance, I’m not NO maintenance–especially now that I’m in my thirties!

All that said, this is my daily (and weekly) routine–and the products I love! I have extremely sensitive skin so I have to be very careful. Also, I adore Mary Kay (I use this set)–and my mom is a consultant. WOOT.

I shower every other day and wash my face when in the shower. Alternating showers I use Mary Kay’s microdermabrasion or the spin brush. I’m obsessed with this cleanser–its the only one I’ve found that doesn’t make my skin go crazy.

Once out (or on non-shower days), I use the 2nd step in microdermabrasion if needed, or just go straight to moisturizer (with sunscreen) and eye cream. I have acne treatment gel, but I get like one zit a year, so rarely need it. The day solution gets used depending on how my skin is feeling, but I usually end up using it a few times a week.

Hair is up next-comb it out (wet) or brush (dry). If I’m going to blow dry, I use “its a 10” first. That stuff is like magic! And as a side note, I’ve had that comb since 3rd grade!

Deodorant, clearly. Then eyeliner and coconut lip butter. If I have something going on that day or am going out to dinner or something, I might put on some eye shadow (and this one), blush, and/or lipstick. I have a few others to choose from, but these are my go to.

Before bed, I put on chapstick, moisturizer (nighttime) and eye cream. Sometimes night solution, if my skin feels up to it. If I was wearing eye make up I take it off with a make up remover towelette.

I’m obsessive about hand cream and put it on a bunch of times per day. I have it at my desk, in my car, by my bed, and in the bathroom. 🙂

I get blackheads on my nose, so once a week or so I use a biore strip, or this new and exciting Korean pore mask! It keeps them pretty under control. Plus its fun in a gross way.

After showers, I use body lotion (or this one), foot lotion, and vaseline on dry spots.

And that’s about it. This even feels like a lot for me because I used to just put on moisturizer and that was it. Oh, to be young.

Any products that you just love that I should try?

(None of these link are affiliate links, just stuff I like!)









Southern Foods

Growing up my mom had a freezer in the garage that was magically refilled with individual sized lasagnas and french silk pies (and maybe some other things like chicken and steak, but whatever, I was there was for lasagnas).

My mom STILL has that freezer, 20 years later. Though, I don’t think it magically refills anymore. 🙂

A Southern Foods at Home representative came to our home about a month ago and cooked us a meal. She talked to us about how we eat, what our values are, and our cooking habits. It was yummy and after some long conversations and some back and forth about the commitment, we decided we needed our own magic freezer.

How the program works:

  1. We get a freezer filled with 6 months of food.
  2. We eat the food.
  3. They come back in 6 months to refill it.

So, not so magic after all. But pretty darn convenient! We pay for the freezer and the food monthly, eventually the freezer is paid off and we just pay for the food.

And how do we like it after a month? Very much!

Selling points: 

The quality of the meat.

This was the biggest selling point for us. The meat is free of chemicals, hormones, and steroids. Its (for the most part) local to the southern part of the US–mostly farms in NC, SC, GA and VA. It also tastes LIGHTYEARS better than what I was buying at the grocery store. There is a great variety to choose from. The veggies are also very good and local/healthy, etc.


I can go shopping in my freezer. I have limited my grocery shopping to dairy, fresh fruit (and some veggies), and grains/potatoes. I get a lot of this stuff at Costco to minimize shopping even more. Meal planning and shopping is taking up much less of my time. My excel sheeting what is in the freezer gives me ideas and lets me know how much I have left. Which is also super fun for me (excel lovers unite!).


Plus, because of the way the food is packaged it defrosts in minutes. MINUTES!!! I don’t know how, but it does.

The food is also insured if the power goes out.

Food choices.

For dinner, I pick a meat, veggie and grain/potato. We eat at home more because I can’t say, “we don’t have anything for dinner.” The portion sizes are great. Southern Foods does have some prepackaged options, but on the advice of our rep (who is also a nutritionist) we stayed away from those. Except the chocolate chip cookies. Ha.



We are paying a little bit more for groceries now. And I have to limit myself to what is in the freezer (but that’s not terrible, its a good variety). I can’t go crazy at the grocery store or I won’t stay in budget. It is definitely not a cheaper route for your groceries, but its not crazy expensive either. And once we pay off freezer, the monthly cost will improve.

I’m also not thrilled about the payment structure, because I’m paying interest on both the food and the freezer (and this was not revealed to me upfront, but I should have known better). Its built into the cost, so its not like they tricked me, but I do NOT like paying interest, so that is not my favorite part of the set up. But, its the way they do it.


Its a long commitment. They have us pay off the freezer very slowly so that we will reorder. They make their money on reorders (and were very upfront about that). To really get the most out of the set up we will need to be with them for years. We decided that worked for us (especially with two growing boys) and since our parents did it for years and loved it, we were comfortable moving forward.

Overall, I’m thrilled with our choice and it makes perfect sense for our family. If you have any questions about it, let me know. Its definitely a different model than most people are used to. If you are interested in talking to a rep, let me know and I can set it up (and we both get a little something out of that!).

We also get to eat steak more often. And that’s a win, obviously. 🙂



Camping! Dos and Don’ts

I have to admit, I was not totally looking  forward to this camping trip last week. I booked it and was SUPER excited until the week before. Then I made a packing list and was like, oh sh*t.

Because this is what I came up with:

Sleeping Eating Clothing Sitting Other Maggie
Tents/ Mallet Snacks 3 outfits 4 chairs First aid kit Bowls
Sleeping bags Meals (see food list) Rain jackets Old blankets Wipes Toys
Lamp Plates Diapers Sunscreen Crate
Tarps Cups/ water bottles Watershoes/sneakers/ keens Bug spray Towels
Pillows Silverware Suits TP Food
Flashlights Small table Beach towels toiletries Bones
Animals Baggies  Life jackets  toys  tether
Book Trash bags  Fire starter
Paper towels  Lighter

Packed into:

  • Little boy nighttime backpacks
  • Clothing Bag
  • Cooler
  • Food Bag
  • Supply Bag
  • Maggie Bag


And boy, was Saturday morning interesting getting all this stuff into the car.

But I’ll tell you what–once we pulled out of the driveway, we had an AMAZING weekend. We are in love with the NC mountains are are already planning our next trip.

So, what did we learn from this trip?


Find a campground well in advance. I booked 6 weeks in advance and it was totally booked almost everywhere. We ended up at Ash Grove and it was lovely, but wish I had started sooner.

Make a packing list. Only way to avoid forgetting things–because you have to take ALL THE THINGS. And do as much pre-work as possible (chopping, dividing, organizing). It was tough up front, but easy when we got there.

Plan SIMPLE meals. We ate hot dogs, fruit salad, and chips for dinner and cereal for breakfast. And of course, S’mores. This made things so easy.

Do lots of leisurely nature walks. The boys were simply enthralled by the woods. It was a joy to experience with them.

Make a camping bin. We will do this next time–a plastic bin that has all the camping supplies in it that we can just grab and go.


Schedule too tightly. I over scheduled us on the first day and I hate being late–so I ended up stressed. It takes longer to drive places in the mountains, enjoy the moment and the scenery.

Be too strict about bedtime. I’m normally a bedtime stickler, but the boys had a blast playing in the tent together and eventually fell asleep around 10pm. And with us in the tents and not getting dark until 9pm, the normal schedule just isn’t going to happen.

(don’t) Think about being murdered. I got spooked in the middle of the night and was ready to kill someone with a maglite. Don’t be me.

Forget toiletries. See number 2 in the “Dos.” Whoops.

I am still surprised how much I loved it. And Maggie did great–we are looking forward to the day when she doesn’t have to be crated–that will make a lot of space in the car!

Any camping tips for us for next time?


Clutter Thresholds

Podcasts have become my jam. When we lived in DC I listened to them a lot while commuting, but since moving to Charlotte, I didn’t have a space where they made sense. Until we got Maggie! Now I listen everyday on walks.

Young House Love (a blog I read a while ago, but is no longer updated) just came out with a podcast and its been pretty fun. They are still finding their groove a little–they are only three episodes in–but I think its a keeper.

Back when I started this blog, a dear friend asked me to write a post on what to do when a couple is on totally different pages about clutter. I struggled and couldn’t really figure out what to write. Clay and I are on similar pages, though my threshold is definitely lower. He keeps up with me to keep the peace (most of the time). Or I just take care of it, because he is naturally on the neater end of the spectrum and I can keep up with it (and he lets me, which is key). And I don’t mind doing it, so that helps.

Celebrating 7 years of navigating clutter thresholds 😉

On my walk this morning, I listed to episode #3 where Sherry and John addressed clutter thresholds–though they are also on the same page, so didn’t really have a solution. They referenced a post by Gretchen Rubin on clutter blindness (she is new to me, I’ve only vaguely heard of her books, but I’m looking into her stuff–could be interesting). Rubin says that some people are clutter blind and just can’t SEE it.

Rubin gave this example from her friend:

“My husband never notices anything. As an experiment, when we got back from a trip, I left a suitcase full of his dirty clothes right in front of the front door, so he’d have to step over it to get in the house. I wanted to see how long he’d put up with it.  After a month, I called off the experiment and dealt with the suitcase myself.”

Ok, I have anxiety around clutter, and just READING this made me feel nauseous. And that brings up something interesting that was mentioned in the podcast, this post, and previous posts I’ve written–people have strong reactions to clutter. Some people need it (?), some can’t function with it (like me). Some of it is a control issue, some a creativity issue. But a lot just comes down to personality.

I never really considered people functioning better with clutter (and I’m not convinced that true) but I am totally on board with the idea that people don’t see it in the same way I do. I’m just lucky I’m not married to that type of person, or I would have a lot more panic attacks.

Rubin ends the post with:

“In my limited observation, such folks often just can’t be changed. They’re not thoughtless or rude; they simply can’t address clutter because they don’t see it.”

When my friend and I talked about couples struggling with clutter threshold issues, the only thing I could come up with was communication, grace, and compromise. And from reading the comments on the clutter blindness post, I think that is the best people can come up with…so, if you have this issue I recommend reading the comments. They are definitely the experts.

I know, who EVER recommended reading the comments on the internet!

In all seriousness, the commenters give some good ideas, and at the very least some catharsis. Lots of couples deal with this and figure out some give and take solutions to live together in (relative) peace.







Pantry Refresh

For the first time in my life, I have a pantry. When we looked at this house, it was a major selling point. Its big and gorgeous. I could live in there. I may have even hidden in there a few times to get a break–and some chocolate.

In Hyattsville, I had a cabinet pantry made from billy book cases and was really happy with the organization system I developed.

I carried that over when we moved, but after about 9 months in the house, it needed a refresh.  I was keeping way too much “other” stuff in there, had accumulated some clutter, the space wasn’t maximized, and the locations of certain types of foods weren’t working. For example: Henry needs sweets out of his reach.

I initially looked at the container store/pinterest/amazon for “pantry specific” organizational tools. I thought I had an idea of what could some helpful additions–multi-level can holders, for example. There are some gorgeous pantry examples on pinterest. But I realized that I didn’t really know what I needed yet, so decided to tackle it first, buy new things second. And I’m so glad I did.

Here is how I tackled the pantry refresh:

I waited until nap time on a weekend. Way too many breakables and possible messes for little helping hands.

I spent some time looking around the “before” situation and got a feel for what I had and how I wanted to rethink it.

I removed EVERYTHING. Out of the pantry and out of the bins. Swept and wiped everything down.

I cleaned the bins and sorted all of the like items. I arranged the bins back into the pantry, then decided what I wanted where. I moved items that didn’t belong in the pantry to the trash or other areas of the house. Coolers, BBQ items, and drink buckets went outside. I filled each bin and put them back in the pantry. I put sweets out of Henry’s reach and healthy snacks on the bottom shelf. Oils, vinegars, and spices are now within quick reach, and things like cupcake liners higher up since I don’t use them often.

I decant bulk food to smaller containers, so arranged the smaller containers within reach, and the large (ugly) bags in high sided bins on the higher shelves. A wicker basket for onion and potatoes is in the darkest area of the pantry.

I put some new labels and voila! Final product!

The great news is that I only had to buy two new bins and I got them on clearance from target, so spent less than $5. I didn’t even need multi-level can storage! 🙂

And now excuse me while I raid those high up sweet bins…






Day in the Life

My life on a normal Wednesday. Here we go!

6:15am: Wake up on my own. Alarm not needed. I wish it was–I can never sleep much past 6:30am. If the dog isn’t up yet, I look at Instagram/fb for a bit until she starts whining. Clay lets her out today so I can lay around a bit longer, which is very sweet. I get dressed and brush my teeth groggily.

6:30am: Take Maggie for a walk. Very excited to see that Clay has already pushed out the trash can for trash day.

While on the walk I listen to a podcast. Today, I listen to the rest of a This American Life and start a new Moth. Other podcasts I love are WDW Prep School, Radiolab, Limetown (waiting for the second season!!) and Simplify Everything.

7:10am: Clay is ready and itching to go to work when I get back. He filled Maggie’s bowl and she starts eating. The boys are in bed watching Disney Junior on my iPad. I do a 4  minute crazy workout that makes me feel like I want to die.

7:20am: I head up to the kitchen to unload the dishwasher and put George’s snack/water from the fridge into his already packed camp bag. Clay has already made his coffee, so I put his lunch out (leftovers I packed last night). He informs me that he has a work lunch today and I put it away with a fake huff. 🙂 I kiss him goodbye and he is out the door.

7:30am: Time to tidy. I walk through every room in the house and make sure that everything is put away. This gets done before bed as well, so its generally quick little things. I turn on lights, put ice cubes in my orchids (since its Wednesday) and make the boys beds. Today is not a laundry day, but if it was, I would put in a load.

7:40am: The boys are still watching TV, so I head into my office to get prepped for the day. I get myself some water, take a vitamin, and floss while I look at my email, check YNAB, read the Skimm, and add anything needed to my planner and to-do list that I wrote yesterday before ending my work day. I use this time to shower every other day, but today is an off day.

While doing all that, I also save a caterpillar George finds in the bathroom and chase Maggie down since she has pulled toilet paper all over the bedroom. Puppies, right?

8am: The nanny arrives and whisks the boys upstairs to get ready for their day. I make our bed and get to work.

8:35am: The crew is leaving to take George to camp so I go up and say goodbye, and make my protein shake for breakfast after they leave. I love my vitamix! Maggie settles down for a nap in my office.

10am: After lots of emails and crossing a few things off my to-do list, I break to take Maggie outside. I have meetings from 10:30am-1pm, so need to make sure I’m ready to sit for awhile. I go to the bathroom, refill my water, and stretch a bit.

I check my Wunderlist app for other household to-dos. I order a birthday present for a party this weekend and new sun hats for the boys from Amazon.

1pm: My morning meetings are FINALLY over and I am starving. I heat up some leftovers and have a tiiiiny piece of homemade tres leches cake. Maggie needs her lunch, too. She is a growing girl and eating a ton lately! She also gets a potty break.

I have another block of meetings coming up, so I walk around and tidy up a bit, load the dishwasher, and check the mail. No dice. When I sit back down I call Firehouse Subs to confirm that they are doing kids eat free on Wednesdays, like the internet says.  Victory! We will go there for dinner tonight. George has been asking to go there since he saw it from the road and found out the name.

3pm: Afternoon meetings over. I check the mail again. Its arrived, but its boring. Sigh. There are two boxes, but they are just 2 out of my 8 June subscribe and save items. I love how much money I save using subscribe and save, but its still hard to get excited about miralax and swim diapers. Ha.

4pm: Work day is done. The last thing I do is write my to-do list for tomorrow and update my planner. The boys are having a snack and watching a show upstairs. So begins the hardest/most fun part of my day!

4:30pm: I tidy again, take Maggie outside and get the swimming bag and my kid bag ready to go (since we are going out to dinner after swimming). I take a deep breath and get ready to wrangle the kids into shoes and out the door.

4:40pm: Henry will not get his shorts. He cannot FIND his shorts. Finally, I go up to his room to help him. Shorts on on the floor in front of him. “OH, THERE THEY ARE!” he says.

4:45pm: Maggie in her crate. Boys in the car and off to the pool.

5pm: Get George into his suit and lined up for his swim team picture. It takes FOREVER and is adorable and hilarious to watch the swim coaches handled all those kids. Henry is chillin’ in the pool while all this goes on.

5:30pm: George goes to practice and Henry is still swimming. He makes a little girl friend and shows off for her. He gets out of the pool repeatedly and says: “Mommy, A GIRL!!” and then jumps back in the water.

5:50pm: Adult swim is called and I get Henry out of the water and change him into his clothes. I realize that the kid bag is in the car, so I have no real diapers. I debate what to do with myself for about 5 min before just putting on his shorts. I tell him not to pee.

6:01pm: Henry pees walking to the car.

6:05pm: I make the executive decision to drive right by the house and not get Henry another pair of shorts. I’m too hungry and he is two–meaning no pants required.

6:30pm: We eat subs and the boys watch TV. Clay and I chat about our day and alternate reminding the boys to eat.

7:00pm: On the way out the door, Henry realizes he is not wearing pants.

7:15pm: The boys run outside to play when we get home and Clay and I zone out on our phones for a bit. When we come to at 7:45pm we realize that NO it is in fact NOT bath night like we thought it was. Never was. Nope. TOMORROW is bath night. What a team!

8pm: Stories, songs, and tucked into bed. Clay and I settle in and watch some of The Bachelorette on Hulu.

9pm: I set up for my work meeting with Guam. Realize the meeting is actually tomorrow at 9pm. That international dateline is a B. Clay takes Maggie for a walk. I do one last tidy and run the dishwasher.

9:15pm: Bath (with a lavender bomb), then into bed to play some games on my iPad.

9:58pm: I put on hand lotion, chap stick, and drink some water before lights out.

Good night!

WHEW. If you hung in this long, I’m impressed. Hope you had a good day, too! 🙂






Bravery and Fear

I glance over to the other side of the pool and see George standing in the corner of his lane. He is bouncing up and down and when he catches my eye he smiles and give me a thumbs up. Before I can respond, I feel the ton of bricks that is Henry land on me. He knocks my glasses off and water goes up my nose. He swims up into my arms and shouts “AGAIN” through sputters. I set him on the side of the pool and do an irritated search for my glasses.I am not irritated at Henry. I’m positively fuming at George. Yes, the one that just smiled sweetly at me from across the pool. I turn my attention to Henry and throw my arms out and he jumps into them swimming and kicking his little heart out. Looking over at George, he is still standing there. Not swimming. The source of a surprising amount of annoyance that I’m not sure how to handle.

As a parent, I like to think of myself as pretty chill and “hands off.” This involves a lot of waiting. My method of potty training involves waiting until they tell me they are ready. If they fall down, I wait to see what they do before jumping in with my reaction. When the boys fight, I stay out of it for the most part. I don’t feel the need for them to be “the best” at anything. I hope they find things they love to do.

But to my surprise, this swimming thing is driving me batty. Letting him go at his own pace is incredibly tough. Cause here is the rub. George CAN swim. I’ve seen it at his private swim lessons (that we paid a boatload of money for, by the way). The boy can dive down and get a ring, and even swim unassisted for about half a length.

The fact that he can and won’t was causing serious annoyance, and to be frank, downright anger. At a parenting low point, he asked me for his puddle jumper and I said no. He begged me. I said no again, and in fact, I was going to get rid of it. He cried—real tears. It was a wake-up call.

Why in the world is this bothering me so much?

The water is my natural ally. I swam independently at 2 years old. No one “taught” me really, I was exposed to swimming and had an innate skill. My mom tells a story about me learning to swim when I fell in the pool and she rushed to the side (but note: she did NOT panic or try to pull me out immediately—she waited, giving me space to try) and I swam up to her. Eyes open. And that was that.

So that’s one piece. I don’t get his hesitation. But, he is cautious by nature. He takes his time. And I want him to TRY. Right away. Try and fail. I want to see him struggle. I don’t need him to be GOOD at something, I just want him try it. I value persistence over all other skills. When I stopped to really think about it, I have actually felt this annoyance with him before, but was able to brush it off. Because playing soccer, or going down a slide, or writing his name doesn’t really matter. He will get there. He will learn, get braver, and accomplish all sorts of wonderful things. I make him try, get annoyed when he pushes back, decide to pick my battles and move on. To the point that it’s unconscious.

So back to: Why this? Why can I deal with his timid, deliberate nature (so opposite from mine) in most of areas, but not with swimming?

After spending a lot of time thinking about this, I can tell you in one word: FEAR.

Water is dangerous. Swimming saves lives. Swimming saved MY life. I fell into a river at his age. Only the fact that I could swim saved me from dark water. I feel the urge to push him so hard because I am deathly afraid of him drowning. It’s the leading cause of death in kids his age.

I need him to be brave because I am terrified.

So, as usual, it’s my problem. Not his. Writing this out has helped me see that I need to utilize one of the hardest things for me: patience. I’m going to take some deep breaths and work with him. Let him have his floaty. Let him love the water. Keep teaching him to swim, keep him exposed to water. And keep my eyes on him like a hawk.

Be brave enough to give George space to be George.

Puppy Time

I’m not sure exactly how this happened, but we are getting a puppy on Saturday. Clay has been pushing for a dog for years and I have said a very firm NO. But then, I mentioned I could be ready and now he claims that the dog was MY IDEA.

Well, marriage communication issues aside. Maggie is coming. And like a newborn, puppies need lots of prep.

Maggie and her sisters, she is on the far left

My first step was to find a reputable breeder that we could drive to–I’m not into shipping puppies. We (ME) decided to go with a non-shedding variety because of my aversion to dog hair all over my house. I had a standard poodle previously and looooved that she didn’t shed. I’ve heard great things goldendoodles –great with kids, sweet and easy to train. So, we decided that was a good fit for our family.

I did a TON a research and developed a spread sheet of breeder locations, litter timing, and availability. I spent a lot of time on the phone with breeders asking questions about their practices and eventually found one I really liked that also had a puppy available in our time frame. Let me just say–waiting lists are looong for these dogs everywhere–they are popular. We waited about 2.5 months for Maggie. Most litters fill up before the puppies are born, sometimes even before the dogs “honeymoon!”

In the end, everything lined up with Appalachian Goldendoodles. I’ve been very happy with my choice so far–great communication and lots of pictures!

Maggie at 5 weeks

My next step was to to create another excel sheet of to-dos and get going on them. I located and visited a training facility, groomer (goldendoodles are groomed every 4-8wks), boarding facility, and made a list of things we needed to purchase. I made a vet appointment for her the Monday after she arrives and she will begin puppy preschool the following Saturday at Zoom Room.

Maggie’s got a schedule. 😉

Here is what I purchased for Maggie in advance of her arrival. I got almost everything on Amazon. I set up a shopping list and price monitoring since I had so much lead time.

Crate with divider (don’t mind the child):

The crate is on rollers so that she can sleep in our room at night and hang with me in the office when she needs a break from the boys–and especially while we are house training.

Toys (picked out by the boys):

Leash, collar (girly!!) and tag, brush:

Training items (treat bag, treats, clicker):

Clean up:

Food (bowls, outside water bowl, food storage, food):

We are feeding what the breeder fed, Blue Buffalo puppy lamb and rice.

All ready!

And this bag  for her stuff because I HAD to have it:

I can’t wait to see the boys with her! We have set up some rules, but I imagine those will adjust as we see how they handle her. I feel like we have prepared the best we can, but I really have no idea what to expect. I worked at a vet for a long time and was crazy about my previous dog, but the reality is that I haven’t had a dog myself in about 8 years.

This is what I’m taking when we go pick her up: old sheet, towels, treats, her collar/leash, and a toy.

Wish us luck–and send me tips! 🙂


Weekend Away Prep

The past weekend we left the boys overnight for the first time together. We had left them individually, but they have always had one parent overnight.

That also means Clay and I hadn’t spent a weekend just the two of us in 4.5 years. It was time!!

My mom and step dad (Nana and Pop Pop) came to Charlotte to stay with the boys for the weekend and I wanted to make it as easy and comfortable as possible for them. The boys ADORE them, so I knew they would be fine emotionally, but the more smoothly things run the happier everyone is!

I did three main things to prepare: meal planning, communicating, and writing it all down.

Meal Planning

Food is clearly the most important part of a weekend. 🙂 I wanted to make sure that my parents had food that was yummy for them, but also appealing to the kids to make meal time smooth. I also wanted to have some variety/options and snacks so that weren’t locked into a certain meal if they/the boys weren’t into it.

I wrote down each day and meals for the weekend and filled it in. I came up with:


Cinnamon rolls, eggs, pancakes, cereal


Sandwich fixings, grilled cheese and tomato soup, leftovers


Make your own pizza (lots of adult and kid topping options), taco dinner

They boys also get vitamins, miralax and special milk at meals so made sure I had all of that available and easy to find.


I prepped us, my mom (and Chris by extension), and the boys for our time away. Clay and I got on the same page about our plans and I conveyed them my mom early so that she knew what we were thinking, and weighed in with her schedule. She and I walked through the plans a few time on the phone before the weekend even started (this is easy because my mom and I talk almost every day!).

We also talked on many occasions to the boys well in advance so that they would know what was happening, who would be with them, and when we would be back. There were no surprises for anyone in the weekend.

Writing it All Down

This is the most important thing in my mind. I know my mom well, and much like me (surprise, surprise), she likes schedules and plans.I tried to give as much information as possible while keeping it flexible–I was not trying to control what happened while we were away. I wanted them to have options, not feel boxed in. I totally trust them to take care of the boys.

I wrote everything down for them, including: Schedule, Meals options, Contact/Emergency numbers, and local activities they could do with addresses and directions. I gave numbers for Clay’s mom, our cell, and the Greenbrier. I included phone number and address for the pediatrician, our urgent care and ER. Luckily, they didn’t need it!

I also told them where the first aid kit was–and of course with two little boys, they did need that! Haha.

I put all the papers in a plastic folder with my car and house keys, discovery place membership cards, and health insurance card. We left my car with the car seat installed for ease.
While things went extremely well, we still had some bumps. They car battery died, so they couldn’t go anywhere with the boys–but there is plenty to do around here–so they were okay. Other than that, everyone was happy!

The boys didn’t even care when we left, so we take that as a very good sign that everyone was prepared and happy! I walked my mom through everything when they got to our house, but said that she really liked having everything written down and referred to it frequently. 🙂

And we all had a GREAT time.

And look how well rested we are…

What a fun weekend!

(and thank to mom for all the pictures!!)

Talking to Kids about Work

Inevitably, kids are going to ask, “why do you have to go to work?”

And of course they ask it in the morning while everyone is rushing to get ready and tired and hungry. In these instances, its really tempting to answer, “I HAVE to go to make money to buy your food, house, toys…etc.”

As I heard this coming out of my mouth one morning, I realized that’s not how I want my boys to think about work–and WHY I go to work. Even though I am tired and may not want to go to work that minute, and they clearly want me to play with them instead (and I would love to do that, too!), that’s not the message I want to convey.

Instead, I have started talking to them about how much I love my job.

“Mommy really likes to solve problems with her coworkers–just like when you built that really tall tower the other day with Henry.”

“I have a project due today and the people at work are counting on me! Isn’t it fun to finish something, like when we made pancakes together and then got to eat them?”

“My job is fun! Today I’m going to [insert whatever thing here].”

The boys respond really well to these answers. Kids like to see their parents happy, it creates security. My tone sets their tone. They ask questions about what I do and who I talk to on the phone.

There is nothing wrong with going to work, and while money is great, I also get a ton of fulfillment from my career. Why wouldn’t I want my kids to focus on that? They certainly understand why I would do something I love all day better than the abstract concept of the electric bill.

Doesn’t it make more sense for kids to see us going to do something we love (or at least like) when we aren’t with them?

And don’t forget, they will work one day. I model for them that work is a good thing. It isn’t a four letter word (most of the time!). And as a mom of boys I model that women work and like it, so it doesn’t surprise them later in life, hahaha.

And I want them to see that ideally work is not something they will do just for money of because they HAVE to, but hopefully to make the world, their families and themselves better.

A note on privilege: I have lots and this is written from my experience of life and work.