Speed dating‎

True Love

Things I Love And You Might Too

Summer’s unofficially here!  It’s my favorite season… beach trips, fresh tomato sandwiches, grilling out, outdoor live music- or more accurately, people watching at the outdoor live music.  As your summer begins, take a look at some recommendations I have for you- a beach read, an encouraging podcast for moms, an app (developed locally!), a delicious recipe, and a bingeworthy Netflix show.  These are some of my recent favorites… and I have a feeling you may love them too!

things i love

Your Next Summer Read

Since my last book club on the blog post, I’ve read a handful of books, but by far the best one I want to tell you about is The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi.  Set in Afghanistan, the novel flashes between the separate stories of two women who disguised themselves as boys to create a better life for themselves.  If you need something to read on the airplane, at the beach, before bed… check this out.    the pearl that broke its shell

current favorite podcast

Thanks to the recommendation of my friend, Holly, I’ve really been enjoying the Risen Motherhood podcast.  Most episodes are 20 minutes long; all are gospel-centered and cover topics relevant to being a mom. (Topics like: adoption, disciplining our children, miscarriage/infertility, “Mom Guilt”, putting your marriage first, etc.)   New episodes drop on Wednesdays.. it’s so worth the listen!

the app you didn’t know you needed

Several months ago, my friend, Becky, casually mentioned that she and her husband were “creating an app”.  I think I just stared at her like “………………………………how do you do that”.  Then she used smart words for a few minutes and I made a mental note to download the app when it was ready.  Their free app is officially live and it’s called Just My Style.  This app is perfect for me because y’all know I have issues with shopping in public places (see previous blog posts on: Target, Grocery StoreCostcoOpening Doors While Shopping With a Stroller). With this app, think like: online window shopping + Tinder for women’s clothing.

You choose a category you want to browse in- say, sleeveless tops- and then you either give it a thumbs up or thumbs down before you can move on to see the next sleeveless shirt.  The more you use the app, the smarter it gets to learn what types of styles you’re into.  Some of the clothes I’ll give a thumbs down, but as I keep using the app, it shows me more and more styles that I’m interested in (thumbs up!).  I can then go to my “Love It” list to see store/pricing details or buy it directly if I want to.
     

The app uses clothing options from Anthropologie, Athleta, GAP, JCrew, Lands End, Old Navy, Eddie Bauer, Target, Under Armour, Nordstrom Rack, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Amazon, + more.  Love the concept, love supporting local awesomeness, and love not leaving my couch to window shop.  Available for download with Apple or Android devices: get it here.

if you’re not on a diet, make these.

Clearly I’m not a food blogger, but I have to share a cookie recipe with you guys.  It will be like a turning point in your life once you’ve eaten them… they’re that good.  Here is a photo of the homemade Oatmeal Creme Pies:
cookiesThis past weekend, I went on a Girl’s Weekend with some of my best friends from college.  (Last year’s recap can be read here.)  This year, we went to Nashville and terrorized the city in all the best ways- did some of the music scene, ate good food, took pictures like middle school girls.  One of our friends is named Amy and she can work a kitchen.  On our last night together, the group decided we needed to peer pressure Amy to make her homemade Oatmeal Creme Pies.. so we did a 9pm grocery run and sent her to slave in the kitchen until we had these cookies in our hands.  I may or may not have appointed myself as her apprentice and stalked her in the kitchen in case she “needed help cleaning” or “wanted to let me lick any spoons or cooking tools”.

Here are screenshots of her recipe so we can all get fat and love life.  (I have no clue how Pioneer Woman makes fancy recipe cards embedded into her blog and I have no interest in finding out so make peace with your screenshots.)

our netflix binge can be yours too

We love finding a good show that sucks you in and makes you watch three episodes in a row on a weeknight.  The one we’ve gotten into earlier in the year is a British crime drama called Broadchurch.  Don’t let the heavy accents throw you off; this show is worth watching and keeps you on the edge of your seat.  There are currently two seasons on Netflix or you can watch online here.  We just found out that Season 3 is coming to BBC America on JUNE 28 so naturally I have it in our iCalendar because that’s what normal people do.  You have less than a month to crank through the first two seasons of Broadchurch so you can catch the third and final season at the same time as the Barker fam.

broadchurch

Also, not on Netflix but- The Bachelorette.  Who else is watching this season?  Who else’s husband “doesn’t watch that show” but happens to be in the room making comments on half of the content? Watching the show always generates that age old question… “If I have Bible Study the same night as The Bachelor, which one cancels out?”  Just had to throw it out there that I’m hunkered down on Monday nights filling my mind with nonsense, so if you are too, let’s have a conversation about how “the whaboom guy” needs a life coach.  Stop trying to make fetch happen, Lucas!

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That’s all I’ve got, people.  Everything else in my life is regular and boring EXCEPT FOR the aforementioned book, podcast, app, recipe, and TV show.  They will take your summer to the next level and that’s a fact.  If you try any of them out, let me know what you think!  Now it’s your turn… what do I need to read? Listen to? Eat? Download? Watch?  Talk to me Internet!

One Year Blogiversary! {+GIVEAWAY}

You guys!  I can’t believe that one year ago- March 2016- I began blogging here at The Cat That Barked.

One Year Blogiversary {+GIVEAWAY!}

The first words of my first post were: “I didn’t realize 2016 would be The Year of the Blog.  It just kind of happened.”  There’s more to that story, so hang with me here… we boutta get deep for a hot minute.

The journey that led me here started well before the first post was ever published.  You see, months before I created this little internet space, I gave birth to our beautiful daughter.  She was sweet and easy from the very beginning.  My world had been turned upside down, in the most special, exhausting way, and I loved getting to spend my days (and nights, HELLO) with my girl.

It was about three months after she was born that my symptoms began: sadness, irrational anger, anxiety, very low self-esteem, and on the list went.  My husband… my sweet husband, y’all… he saw my crazy eyes and my unpredictable mood swings and loved me through all of it.  And it was during this dark season of postpartum depression that I rediscovered creativity and passion, through writing.  My PPD story could be its own post, and maybe one day it will be.  Once I was able to stabilize emotionally, thanks to my doctors and the people who loved me, I was able to move forward as a healthy, happy wife and mom. Writing became part of my healing process.

The irony is not lost on me that postpartum depression indirectly produced a humor blog.  As I celebrate a year of blogging, it means so much more to me than updating a website.  Each post- whether humorous or pensive, related to faith or parenting or man-colds or book recommendations- is my celebration of being able to see the world in vibrant color again, in all of its hilarity and beauty, and have the gift of time and talent to write about it.

These were some of my favorite posts to write this past year.  Get cozy and read any you missed:

When I Die, Spread My Ashes In Target’s Threshold Aisle
target

The Truth About Co-Parenting With Google
Google

Slow Clap For Teachers: The Saints of Society
teachers

People of the Beach: You Do You.
People of the Beach-

Calling All White People To The Dance Floor
dance floor

Want more?  Go here to read other posts from this past year.

Having an audience has been one of the most energizing pieces to blogging this past year, and so, I felt it was only appropriate to say thank you for being such an interactive and supportive crew of beautiful internet citizens.  In the spirit of celebration, who doesn’t love a GIVEAWAY?!

Here’s the deal.  I have four Target gift cards to give away, each worth $25 for winners to pick out a little somethin somethin courtesy of The Cat That Barked.  To enter, all you have to do is subscribe to the blog by entering your email address on the right side of the site.  Anytime a new post is written, it goes to your inbox and it’s as simple as that.  No quizzes, no random spam, no “Fwd:Fwd:Fwd: READ THIS” subject lines… just 2-4 emails a month with fresh content.  (Already my Email Buddy? Then your name is already submitted for one of the gift cards!)  The four winners of the giveaway will be randomly chosen and announced on the blog Monday evening, so make sure you’re entered to win by April 10, 2017 at 9PM EST!  Good luck!

Here’s to another great year of blogging with all of you wonderful people!

Calling All White People To The Dance Floor

Show me white people at a wedding reception and I will show you a dance floor that is on fire.
And when I say “on fire”, I mean it in the “everybody-evacuate-something-scary-is-happening” way.

For context, I am fresh out of a wedding weekend that will go down as one of the best.  A very dear friend married a Brit, which automatically makes the entire weekend primarily about waiting for the groom’s friends and family to say words of any sort.  When his sister told me her reception had “nibbles and Champagne”, I was like OF COURSE you had nibbles, you perfect woman.  I can’t be sure but I even think at one point in my rehearsal dinner toast, I asked if my husband and I could also marry into their family.  So there’s that.

The dance floor at their wedding reception was full the whole night.  We left our heart and soul out there, and possibly a little dignity and self respect, but who’s really counting.  This blog post is a product of everything amazing about their wedding reception, as well as nostalgia and memories from weddings gone by.

Back to where we started.  The breakdown looks something like this:
www.wheretonext.com

The following is a highlight reel of the music that makes us wanna move:

  • Beach music is typically a safe choice to start off the night to get young and old on the dance floor, especially here in the South.  (Moment of silence for telling the Brits that we might be “shagging” at the reception, then frantically backtracking to explain not THAT kind of shagging, but the American kind, where you dance to music.  Then feeling like everything just sounds like an innuendo at that point and giving up.  “IT’S A DANCE.”)
  • Then the DJ starts spinning songs from the NOW 12 CD and you see people look at each other like “oh no he di’nt” and race to the dance floor so they can emphatically act out every Backstreet Boys lyric.  Just to give you a visual of the dance floor at this point: lots of hand movements and arm waving, hands over the heart, and rhythmic pointing.  So much rhythmic pointing- purposeful yet unnecessary at the same time.
  • “Turn Down For What” comes on and suddenly there is a sea of white people bouncing.  The old people have resigned themselves to the seats around the dance floor, sipping their drinks and raising their eyebrows.  They are officially experiencing all five stages of grief as they process what’s happening on the dance floor.
    • DENIAL: The music is too loud.  This isn’t how dancing is supposed to look.  The world makes no sense.  Who approved this song?  It’s made up of four words and there are alien noises in the background.  No.
    • ANGER: “They don’t even know what they are turning down for!”  They are now mad at anyone under 35, mad at Lil Jon, mad at God.
    • BARGAINING:  “If we can go back to one beach music song- just one.. we’ll even take the YMCA…”
    • DEPRESSION:  They just need a good cry and a soft hug.
    • ACCEPTANCE: They will never be okay with what’s happening but they can learn to accept it.  And get turnt.
  • Somehow a human train has formed on the dance floor.  At least that’s what we think it is, but the front people are going so fast that the middle people are running to catch up.  The last people are left far behind and end up sing-yelling for everyone to c’mon ride the train, hey ride it woo woo!  And like every train wreck that’s ever been, no one can stop watching.
  • The DJ transitions to Katy Perry, “Firework”, and that’s all the girls need to know.  Once we hit the chorus, it’s Young Moms Gone Wild.  The kids are with babysitters and we’re finally able to be our ONE TRUE SELF.  (File this under “Arm Spasms And Laryngitis”.)  The build up to that chorus will get us so hyped; everyone just move out of the way because we need to unveil our choreography right here in the middle of this dance circle.
  • Moments later, Journey starts playing and people are bringing their church service to the dance floor.  That piano intro has hands lifted, bodies swaying, and eyes closed.  The high note- “somewhere in the niiiiiiight”, that one right there, you know about it- we hit the note and we can’t help but sense God’s presence.  “Don’t stop.. believin’!”  People have their arms behind each others’ backs but also jumping at the same time?  We’ve never felt so united as we do right now.
  • Somewhere around Usher’s “Yeah”, the guys have moved their ties to their forehead and someone has started passing out Mardi Gras beads.  Who says white people don’t know how to get down?  We are so down!  Extended family members are going rogue and trying to reenter the dance floor.  There’s just something really uncomfortable about watching Aunt Carol take that and rewind it back, “Ursher got the voice to make ya booty go (CLAP)”.  Can someone please escort Aunt Carol from the dance floor and take her back to Table 5?

ACORN

After the last song is played and the bride and groom make their grand exit, you’ll see lots of discreet calf stretching and girls complaining about putting heels back on.  The DJ will pack up the equipment and the venue will slowly empty.  At the end of a memorable evening, the wedding crowd will trickle back to their cars with sore muscles, hoarse voices, and ringing ears, disappointed for the night to end but still feeling a massive high from the dance floor.

Somewhere there’s a wedding photographer quietly flipping through photos from the evening, smiling to herself because Lord only knows those people can’t dance but they left it all on the dance floor.
And she has the pictures to prove it.

The Olympics: I (do not) Volunteer As Tribute

The Summer Olympics are here in all of its glory and I am completely on board with the hype.  America really needed this right now, something positive of this magnitude to unite us all together. It’s like we collectively threw a Phelps Face to the Donald Trump headlines and realized we are better than this.
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The Opening Ceremony was the part of the Olympics where Brazil was like “Guys, don’t hate us!  We gave you Gisele!”  There was lots of music and fanfare but I was living for the entrance of all the countries with their flags.  Aside from the fact that I felt certain the same blonde white girl kept recycling back through the line up, each country showcased such unique and beautiful athletes.  It fascinated me how they are all different, yet so very similar.  Don’t even get me started on the Refugee Olympic Team.  AMAZING.

So basically this is where I’ve been the past week with the rest of America: planted in the living room, cheering, marveling, fact checking the commentators on Google.

You know when you’re watching the Olympics and the athletes make their event look way too easy?  Like you sit there and think, “I could probably swim that fast if I felt like it.”  I loved this tweet:
Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 2.13.19 PM
Y’all.  How much would the Internet die if this happened!?  How do we make this happen for Tokyo 2020?  Do we all change our Facebook pictures at the same time? Can we write a Congressman?  Do we hold a Hunger Games Reaping Ceremony to decide who competes?

While some people may be thrilled to represent the regular people in the Olympics, I am not one of those.  After much deliberation and prayer, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration as the average person in the Olympics.

I repeat: I DO NOT VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE.

In all potential scenarios where I represent the USA in a sport as the Average One, I either physically die or bring embarrassment to everyone who’s ever lived in America.  Plus a swim cap doesn’t do much for anybody.

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In the extremely unlikely scenario that I competed against Olympic athletes in their sport, here’s probably how it would all go down:

Olympic Swimmers: Set world record, do treading water hugs with teammates
meanwhile..
Me in Rio: Doggy paddling 1/3 way through my first lap, looking for dive rings on the pool floor

Olympic Divers: Dive off the platform doing two and a half twists, return to pike position, check text messages mid-air, one and a half somersaults, dive into the water 
Me in Rio:
Foot cramp while standing backward on the diving board edge, wow the crowd with my backward Pencil jump, yell out SKITTLES!!!!! before hitting the water
(because how can anyone jump off a diving board and not play Categories? This is beyond me.)

Olympic Gymnasts: Balance beam dismount- Double back tuck full twist
Me in Rio: Walk 3 steps, try to pivot, flail limbs in every direction, R.I.P.

Commentators on Olympic Beach Volleyball Players: “Kerri Walsh Jennings makes a phenomenal dive into the sand to keep that ball alive.  Her experience on the court and her sheer determination just make her an unstoppable force here in Rio.”
Commentators on me in Rio: “She collapses into the sand after it appears the Aussie spiked the volleyball directly onto her body.  Is she laying in the sand in her two piece in the fetal position?  Let’s take a look at the slow motion replay to see what’s happening here.. OH! OKAY AVERT THE EYES!! EVERYONE THIS IS NOT A DRILL.  THERE IS A LOT OF FLESH EXPOSED.  CAN WE ALL AGREE TO UNSEE THIS?  CUT TO RYAN SEACREST DOING NOTHING ON A BEACH.”

Olympic Sprinters: Completing the 100m in 9.81 seconds to win gold
(For reference, it takes me 9.81 seconds to remember how to spell and write my name)
Me in Rio: Explode out of the starting blocks onto the Pocket Rocket for a 100m piggyback ride

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As you can see, it would be a tremendous disservice to choose me to participate in any Olympic sport.  Just to be clear though, my patriotic nail art would entirely make up for what I lack in skill.

I may not ever compete in the Olympics and I’m more than okay with that.
I’ll just have to settle for being an Olympic judge from the convenience of my couch, casually saying, “I could do that”.

THE OLYMPICS-

5 Tips for Maximizing Your Costco Experience (and Making it Out Alive)

If you’ve ever been to Costco at 1pm on a Saturday, then I’m also going to assume you wore a helmet and knee pads, parked in a different county, and got hustled into buying BBQ sauce at the sample table.

Let’s be clear.
I heart so much about Costco.  The gas prices, the products, the samples, the $1.50 hot dog and soda deal.

My emotional journey in Costco tends to look something like this:
-empowered (filling the cart with bulk packages of apples and spinach),
-confused (that teddy bear is literally 93″ tall. why.),
-discouraged (putting the 72 count Bagel Bites into the cart as far away from the spinach as possible),
-confident (pushing an enormous cart filled with items in bulk + a wiggling toddler in front. I can conquer the world.)
-surprised (the check out line was way quicker than it looked),
-relieved (having an introvert moment that I can finally escape the masses)

If you plan to visit Costco, you’ll need these five tips to maximize your experience:

DESIGN

Tip #1: Make sure your personal, legal, and financial affairs are in order before you navigate the parking lot on a weekend.
Friends don’t let friends try to park at Costco without a game plan.  As your friend, I need to remind you it’s okay to get aggressive and make a power move toward an open parking spot.  Box out Granny in her Buick.  YOU NEED THAT SPOT.  Otherwise you’ll end up parking in the far corner that’s technically still on the Costco property, but requires Siri to locate the store entrance.  People be cray trying to park over there.  For the sake of the people who love you and will have to sort through your estate if you don’t make it out, make sure your life affairs are in order beforehand.

Tip #2: Embrace the security detail.
Like any decent club, there is a bouncer on the way in, someone checking for shifty eyes on the way out, and you end up getting carded.  This isn’t the time to get all hot and bothered about the procedures.  You have an exclusive membership.  It is a privilege to walk the aisles here.  Get to know Pamela the bouncer.  Have your receipt ready on the way out for Steve.  Embrace the security measures in place because all of this ensures that you don’t accidentally rub shoulders with a Sam’s Club or BJ’s commoner.

Tip #3:  The carts: go big or go home.  
In some ways, Costco is kind of like Texas: you don’t mess with it and everything is bigger.  Even the carts.  As you walk through the store pushing a cart, if you don’t have the proper cart technique and hand placement then you’ll give my heel a flat tire and I will cut you.  Place your hands at a wide “9-and-3” on the steering bars and stay on high alert for braking for pedestrian traffic jams.  If someone tries to give you a spiel for gutter guards, let them talk to your one year old while you walk away from the cart and pick out office supplies.  When turning the cart and navigating around fellow shoppers, you are living the lyrics to the Cha Cha Slide:  Turn it out/ To the left/ Take it back now yall/ One hop this time/ REVERSE REVERSE/ Slide to the left/ Slide to the right/ Pop a wheelie around Family of Six/ Take it back now y’all/ 

Tip #4: Disregard societal norms and park it in front of the sample tables for a free lunch.
If Costco wants us to spend our afternoons shopping at their store, testing out all the patio furniture and such, then we’re gonna need to fuel up at the Sampler Station.  It will be the most random buffet you’ve ever had: flavored mashed potatoes and bruschetta and granola bar samples.  Walk around til you find some red velvet mini-cakes for dessert and you’re set to food coma right on that patio lounger.  On your way out, if you’re still hungry, you can buy a smoothie or a turkey wrap at the concessions area.  Then again, that costs money, so.. NAH.

Tip #5: Don’t pull a Target.
Y’all know what I’m talking about.. when you get to Target needing to buy four things and you walk out with a new outfit, a shower curtain, and a freakin teepee for the playroom.  (Read my Target post here.)  I’m talking about going into Costco and sticking to the list.  This is not the time to decide you want to “try” an 84oz bag of veggie straws.  Buying in bulk is helpful when it’s for a purpose.  Buying in bulk is not helpful when you throw a pack of 24 count Sharpies into the cart “to see what that shade of green looks like”.  Save yourself some time and just take a $20 bill and throw it up in the air and walk away.  Here, Costco- FREE MONEY.  That’s what happens when you start experimenting off of the list.

If you follow those five basic guidelines, I can guarantee that on a Saturday at 1pm, you will leave Costco:
1) Alive to tell about it,
2) Facebook friends with Pamela the bouncer,
and
3) Fat and happy off of fourteen helpings of the toaster strudel samples.

Godspeed Costco shopper.

A Tribute to Soul Sisters

girl friendsThere are different levels of friendship, ranging from
I Will Like Your Facebook Picture But We Probably Won’t Talk In Public For More Than Four Minutes”..   to..
I Will Text You A Three Line String of Emojis And You Will Clearly Know The Depth Of My Anguish At Watching The Parenthood Series Finale”.  

The deepest level of friendship: a soul sister.  The same person who knows the Social Media You and also knows what you look like twelve haircuts ago wearing retainers to bed.  They love you and they like you.  Most days.  Seasons of life have passed by with friends like this- walking to class together, buying the bridesmaid’s dress for her wedding, holding her firstborn.  And because life isn’t perfectly packaged, sometimes it means I will leave for my vacation three days late to be at your Dad’s funeral.  I will walk with you through depression, miscarriages, the messy and the baggage.  A friend like this is someone worthy of your priorities and deserving of your time.

A group of my college friends have gotten together the past five years for an annual girls’ weekend.  We find the cheapest (read: FREE-EST) house in a different city and go sit on that couch eating lots of food.  It’s awesome.  This year we had 13 girls staying steps away from the beach.  We’ve done mountains, lake, small town, big city, and now- the ocean.
Some highlights of those in attendance:
-preggo road tripping from DC with zero bathroom stops
-Chickfila owner/operator coming in HOT from Illinois
-chief resident of Emergency Medicine at a Nashville hospital (kinda important. humble brag on her behalf.)
-one wearing an engagement ring, months away from marrying a Brit and moving to The Land Of Fish And Chips, and another unknowingly about to be engaged two weeks later
-stay-at-home Moms raising precious little ones, past roommates and current roommates, saucy Gingers in abundance

Here’s the moral of that story: Spending time with these friends is life-giving, refreshing, and encouraging.
I was sitting among them, eating my ham biscuits, thinking: Yes. This.  People need more of this in their lives.  No drama, no toxic negativity, just a group of women who have memories spanning from flip phones to dating apps, who genuinely get each other and enjoy life together.  The blog post was already turning in my head.  (The poor people in my life now ask me, “Are you going to write about this?” like I’m the Taylor Swift of the blogosphere, poised to put all triumphs and angst to paper.  “Yes.. I will write about this.  And one day when my guitars are being sold on eBay and I’m feuding with Kanye, I will remember all of you little people.”)

You don’t have to collect an enormous friendship squad.. I honestly don’t even like 8 of those people that go on our trip.  (Just kidding. But seriously, it’s like at least five.)  I do think there’s such value in women having healthy female friendships that are deep, authentic, and energizing, whether with one person or several people.  Choose friends who are willing to come over and real-talk with you over Chipotle, but also look up YouTube videos of “people falling” before they leave.  They’ll tell you they’re praying for you and actually mean it.  They will back you up so hard when life gets messy and prank you so hard when you least expect it.

This post is a tribute to soul sisters- that person, those friends, your biffs- who have always been ready for an adventure and continue to be constant, perceptive, and thoughtful.  YOU DA REAL MVP.

A tribute to soul sisters

For Better or For Worse (or For Dishwasher Wars)

ImageChef Meme Maker - ImageChef.com

We were just babies when we walked down that aisle seven years ago.
Giddy and fresh out of college, starting our journey together into the world of bills and taxes and a mortgage.  (Also known as being an actual adult that doesn’t use your parents’ money when swiping a college I.D. card to buy Combos at 1am.)

We recited vows that are traditional and familiar, but no less meaningful and weighty.
For better or for worse- even when you have to hang pictures on the wall together.  (Lord Jesus, be near..)
For richer or for poorer- “Mo money, mo problems”, but also “Need mo money because we overdrafted”.
In sickness and in health- Truly so thankful for good health and minimal sickness.

Somehow, seven years feels both long and short.  It feels familiar.  I’ve memorized our comfortable rhythm and know him better than the lyrics to my Summer Mix CDs from high school.  (And I know my Summer Mix lyrics.)  Kind of like I know that he’s going to get a glass of orange juice every night around 10pm.  He’ll get home from work and kiss his girls saying “This is the best part of my day”.  When we hear someone talk about Martin Luther nailing the theses to the door, I’ll smile to myself because I know we both heard the word “feces”.  (By the way, we’re allowed to raise a child.)  I see the side of him that few people get to see, but I guess that’s because they don’t know to turn on 90’s rap music in the car.  He knows what time my favorite gym class is… my go-to lunch at home… the songs I can’t get out of my head.

In case he hasn’t fully come to question what he’s gotten himself into by marrying me, I made sure to bombard his SnapChat with mature pics and filter choices on our anniversary.  Just to note, these were sent while he was responsibly working to provide for our family and I was sitting on the front porch looking like a Certified Millennial taking selfies.  Hayy neighbors.  In case anyone needs some MARRIAGE GOALS—

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I want to point out that his response to the “Check __yes ___no” snap was “If your dome was that big and your eyes were in the middle of your head, then absolutely not.”  So apparently one of us meant their vows and the OTHER ONE DIDN’T!!!  Awesome!

 

Our seven years have not been charmed and we are both far from perfect.  Many others have had to walk much harder and more challenging journeys in their early years of marriage.  And yet, all that to say, I am proud that we’ve survived- and by the grace of God, even thrived- in our seven married years together.  This post is simply a celebration of love, ending with a renewal of vows to recognize the commitment we’ve made and our future together:

BAE, I take you as you are, loving who you are now and who you are yet to become.  I vow to teach you the right way to load the dishwasher and will try my best not to be a backseat driver.  I promise to listen to you and learn from you, unless you start talking about baseball stats and pinch runners and earned run averages, and then I will have to think about other more interesting things like Anna Kendrick’s Twitter feed.  

I will celebrate your triumphs and mourn your losses as though they were my own.  (However I cannot mourn the loss of the shirt with armpit holes that I threw away.. but we can discuss this later.  “If you love something set it free.”)  I commit to being FOR you in every way.  As you pursue your passions and grow in godliness,  I will proudly stand by you and cheer you on.  When our journey leads us down painful paths, I will choose to continue fixing my eyes on Jesus first and on you second, because that is the most loving thing I could do.  

I promise to keep almonds in my purse to curb the hangry, to cheer for your sports teams (for better or for worse), and to love you as deeply, richly, wholly, fully, and completely as I love dropping ca$h in Target.  Here’s to many more! xo! 

For Better Or Worse

Slow Clap For Teachers: The Saints of Society

Teachers,
I was once in your midst- copying papers, squatting next to desks, sitting through meetings, greeting students with smiles. I know about your long hours and I remember what it’s like to grade the never-ending stack of papers.

You had a year to remember, complete with triumph and a few tears.  Somehow in the middle of assessments and bureaucracy, you were given the gift of being able to sit back and quietly remember why you became an educator in the first place.  Now, summer is just in reach and you’ll finally get to sip your coffee and leisurely watch the Today Show.  But before you fling yourself too quickly out of the school doors into the summer break that awaits you, I hope you’ll take a moment and hear this important message.
Very simply: thank you.

Thank you for taking time to get to know your students’ personalities and interests, and sitting and listening to what they have to say.  You heard knock-knock jokes from the little ones, you heard all about an older student’s winter formal dress.  You went out of your way to pay attention to them and they noticed.

Thank you for keeping change in your desk drawer for the child in tears without lunch money.

Thank you for thinking outside of the box to reach your students, for incorporating technology when it’s easier to hand out a packet, for integrating art and music into your literacy instruction, for making a lesson come to life on the basketball court.  Thank you for going out of your way to be an excellent educator and fostering an environment that produces thinkers and learners.

Thank you for remembering that a standardized test score is a number on a piece of paper that cannot fully measure the growth of that English Language Learner.

Thank you for going to that student’s soccer game and hugging their sweaty neck afterward.  They’ll remember that, you know.

Thank you for keeping your chill while you deal with PENCILS.
“Can I borrow a pencil?” No.
“Can I sharpen my pencil?” No.
“Can I write in colored pencil?” No.
“Can I click my mechanical pencil a hundred times?” No.
“I forgot my pencil.” No.
“Can I take notes with this 2mm long pencil that has both ends sharpened?” WHAT. JUST NO.

Thank you for remembering that your students- whether 5 years old or 15- are still children.  As they grow and figure out the world around them, your influence will stay with them for years to come.

Thank you for keeping a straight face during your reading group when you received the handwritten note saying, “I was trying to fart and I pooped on my self can I get new pants from the office.”  Teacher, you deserve your summer.

Thank you for wearing all the hats of an educator: counselor, nurse, life coach, housekeeper, judge and jury, public relations manager, cheerleader, advocate, policeman, historian, technology troubleshooter, coach, and friend. You should be making a gazillion dollars, but you don’t need me to tell you that.  You already know.

 

When you look back on this school year, it could be easy to remember the heated conference you had with a parent or the kid who flipped over a desk or the IEP meeting that lasted until dusk.  Make the effort to also remember the parent who fought tears explaining what you’ve meant to their family.  Remember the kid who would barely talk at the beginning of the school year and bravely gave an entire PowerPoint presentation in May.  And remember those lessons that you knocked out of the ball park, observing students as they make connections and ask meaningful questions.

May your summer break include a lunch break that lasts longer than 20 minutes and quality time with friends and family without a broken pencil in sight.

You certainly deserve it.

Slow Clap For Teachers

When I Die, Spread My Ashes in Target’s Threshold Aisle

Being of sound mind and body, I hereby publish the above blog post title to fulfill a lifelong wish of being permanently one with Target.  Please also spread some of my ashes in figure-8 patterns through Women’s Apparel to commemorate my mindless wandering past the Xhilaration Lace Fringe tops and Merona pencil skirts.  May it be so.

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When you have to go to Target… {Behind the Scenes Exclusive}

BEFORE A TARGET TRIP
What my husband says: “Would you grab deodorant and a pack of Gatorade at Target today?”
What I hear my husband say: “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves spending under $15 and no more than ten minutes in Target.  It is essential that you are to only purchase deodorant and Gatorade.  Should you arrive home with eight plastic bags of merchandise I will personally self destruct.  Good luck.”
Me: “Wut.”

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DURING A TARGET TRIP

I walk in to Target (determined not to need a shopping cart) and chant my mantra: “Deodorant, Gatorade, Deodorant, Gatorade, Deodorant, Gator– ooooh Dollar Spot!!!”  Suddenly, I start to rationalize the necessity of purchasing embellished clothespins and mini chalkboards and something that says I can grow thyme.  I don’t even know how to use thyme to flavor dishes…  does it go with baked potatoes?  soup?  cereal?  Whatevs, it’s only $3!  I load up my left arm with Dollar Spot swag and take the long way to the Gatorade.

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While he did not think this sweater was cute, I texted four other friends who confirmed: so cute.  Several aisles and many minutes later, I make it up to the register with nine pounds of merchandise balanced across my upper body.  The cashier scans …and scans… and scans… and declares, “That’ll be 164.33.”  I just black out.  I don’t even know what she just said. Swipe.

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AFTER A TARGET TRIP
*Husband looks at receipt*
Me
: WHATHADHAPPENEDWAS..

This is the part of the story where you have to explain why you forgot to buy deodorant but purchased the pack of Gatorade and Dollar Spot items plus wrapping paper, hand weights, 2 storage bins, a cardigan, contact solution, new flats (ON SALE YOU’RE WELCOME), and a Threshold accent rug.  “You don’t know my life!!!!!!!”

What my husband says: You are banned from Target indefinitely.
What I hear my husband say:    target meme

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In life there are two kinds of people: the ones with a Red Card and then the other people.  If you have a Red Card, you understand what I’m saying.  You know what it’s like to end up as a squatter in Aisle B12’s Promised Land singing “Jesus Take the Wheel”.  The other people… they were at Walmart on Black Friday elbow dropping for a crockpot. At Target, we don’t wait in long lines just to get physical.  Unless it’s Lilly for Target.  In which case, you will get boxed out for a tunic that’s two sizes too big by a blonde in a tennis skirt so she can get it tailored to size or sell it on eBay.

Please remember, this isn’t meant to be morbid, I’m just preparing for all potential scenarios.  If the battle for a tunic gets too physical and I don’t make it out, honor my memory by spreading my ashes in all of my favorite Target places: Women’s Apparel.. the Greeting Card section.. all of the Threshold aisles.. that wall of nail polish.. also the aisle with the cat feather wands.. Grocery.. that little section with all the baby shoes for newborns.. sprinkle a little on the Nate Berkus collection because I’m somewhat interested but not committed enough to purchase.. the Icee machine.. and not to be forgotten, the Dollar Spot that always ends up costing me many, many dollars.