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?



Straightening Up the Off Kilter

The last few weeks have been tough–and work-life balance has felt quite elusive. I’ve been working a ton and getting up early/staying up late to get stuff done. Henry had surgery which was super scary for mama. Not getting down time make things feel even more overwhelming.

I’ve been turning things in late, on work calls with kids screaming in the background and relied on take out more often than usual. Sent emails to the WRONG person. The house was messier and the kids got less time with me. I tossed and turned worrying about Henry, so was cranky and tired during the day. BUT, while I’ve done a TON of complaining these past few weeks I also need to focus on the good stuff that took the pressure off and made me feel like I could keep going. Its amazing how far a little encouragement can go.

  • Clay watching the finale of the Bachelor with me and totally putting up with me swooning over Ben.
  • A great review and nice comments from my supervisor.
  • My MIL coming over to play with the boys when my work day ran over.
  • Compliments from a colleague I haven’t worked with before–and on a new type of work for me.
  • Henry taking my face in his hands and saying he loves me SO MUCH!
  • My mom listening to me ramble on about everything and nothing.
  • George bringing me a High Five magazine and asking if we can make the project together.
  • A surprise birthday gift from my dad on the front step (helloooo instant pot!)
  • I had SO MANY emails, texts and calls with sweet messages about Henry. Even though I was alone at the hospital (by choice) I felt the presence of our whole community. It really made a difference.

Luckily, things seem to be turning back around, with tasks easing up a bit at work and the surgery behind us. I’m traveling for the next two weeks (San Francisco and Columbia, SC), and then hopefully things will return to a normal pace.  But in the meantime, I’ll keep thinking about the good things. Like these two.

Also, its my birthday this weekend, so can’t complain too much! 🙂

I can’t have it all and it doesn’t suck

Let’s talk privilege for a hot second: I am privileged as hell and this post makes that pretty clear. 

I’ve seen an article floating around Facebook the last couple of days entitled, “having it all kinda sucks.”

And to be honest, it got my heckles up every time I saw it. I didn’t read it at first, because I didn’t want to get mad–because I couldn’t help but feeling–that title is referring to ME. And guess what, MY LIFE DOESN’T SUCK!

But, I am also well versed enough in the internet to know that titles like that are meant to get a reaction. And it worked. After thinking about it a lot, and muttering to myself about it in the shower, I finally sat down and read the article. It was pretty good and on the surface I agree with a lot of what Amy Westervelt lays down. We need to have better support for women–better parental leave, better child care options, less double standards.

She makes a ton of great points and she really validates the super tough position women in our society face. It is literally impossible to do everything well at one time (to which I have to say, DUH). If you feel validated by this article, great. But I didn’t.

The general tone of the article (set by the title) is such a downer. She says, “Here’s the truth: You want to have a career and kids? You totally can, but both will suffer.”

Is this the truth? Maybe. I see Instagram photos of moms who do AMAZING projects and outings with their kids. Things I could never think of if someone had a hot poker to my eyeball. I can’t go into a craft store and buy cotton balls and build the taj mahal out of it (I didn’t get the craft gene). I don’t even have time to look up things on pinterest and get the supplies.

Two colleagues that started at the same time as me are now above me in our hierarchy. They got promotions that I didn’t. They spend longer hours in the office and take on more work–they are awesome. I can’t do that as much because of my obligations with my kids. I also took 7 months off and had two babies in two years.

So…reading that…is my career suffering? Are my kids suffering? Suffer means to experience something bad or unpleasant. So, by “society’s” definitions, yes. My career has not moved as quickly and I don’t have time to do as much with my kids. I’m not leaning in. I’m not opting out. But does this mean things are suffering?

And what if it does mean that? What is the solution? The article suggests that “we” need to “make it okay for women to [insert choice here].” She says, “Let’s redefine “having it all,” or better yet let each woman define for herself what the best version of her life might look like.”

I’m going to take this a step further and say, YOU need to make it okay for yourself. You need to find what works for you. You aren’t going to get validation from society. NOBODY feels validation from society. Find your strength. Find your balance. Its not going to look like mine. Its not going to look like Amy’s.

The article stresses the pressure to fit in a (literally impossible) mold of super employee and super mom. Who cares if the laundry isn’t done and your toes look like crap? Who cares if you only took one day off of work to have your baby? If you answer, I CARE! Then change it. Throw the mold on the ground and stomp on it. Make your own mold (if you got the crafty gene).

Prioritize your life based on your skills and your desires (and let’s be real, your needs–eh hem, paycheck). But it will not.all.get.done.well. It just won’t. But make the things that don’t get done well the stuff that you don’t care about as much. I’m slightly chubby and wear yoga pants and no make up. And I don’t give a crap. Only you can decide what is going to slip. Not some “we,” not “society.” You.

And here’s the truth: I am not suffering. I am compromising. And I refuse to be unhappy. I make my own happiness. Do I feel a pang of jealousy when I see skinny, fashionable moms doing 14 nature hikes a week with their kids, or traveling the country homeschooling in an RV, or when someone else gets an accolade that I don’t at work? Yes. Would my kids like to spend more time with me? Yes. Would my boss like me to do more? Yes. But I prioritize my life in way that makes me happy and gets shit done the best I can and I own (and love) my choices.

I can’t have it all and it doesn’t suck.


Searching for Balance

Moms are busy creatures. We are SO popular. Well, at least I feel popular when everyone is asking me for something. That’s popularity, right? Even the once aloof cat is all up on me lately.  And as a working mom, I get to add a boss to that mix. Its exhausting and lovely at the same time.

When I hear “work/life balance” it makes me a little crazy. Can I really achieve it? What does “it” look like? Does achieving balance mean leaning in or opting out? Hands free or hands full? These catch phrases seem to be buzzing about simply to give me an inferiority complex.

So, I had to figure out what balancing it all looks like for me. And it looks like getting my needs met: Downtime for myself, quality time with my kids, alone time with my husband and achieving my career goals.  

I have come up with some tricks to get all of these needs jammed into my week. I don’t adhere to any particular philosophy (other than extreme organization), but I approach my tasks consciously thinking about how I can do the following:

  1. Increase efficiency
  2. Be flexible
  3. Take help

And the purpose of this blog is to share the way I do things to help me find balance. And it takes work. Meaning a CONSCIOUS EFFORT to pay it forward to yourself by planning and being organized. Setting up systems at home and work has helped me get closer to having an outstanding balance in my life, rather than feeling indebted to my tasks. When my life hums along and I can sit down at the end of the day with a smile, feeling fulfilled, all that prep, planning and execution is worth it.

I am a full time working mom with two little children and a household to manage, just like millions of other women. And I LOVE it. I love working, I love my kids and I love the processes that make it all work.