Walmart Grocery Pickup

Walmart Grocery Pickup

You guys. Walmart Grocery Pickup is quite possibly the greatest thing that every happened to parents.  For those of you who haven’t heard, various Walmarts are now offering FREE grocery pickup.

How does it work? I’m so glad you asked.  All you have to do is go to their website or app, choose you pickup time and order all of the groceries you need.  Then, at your designated time, you simply go to the Walmart that you ordered from, pull into their pickup spots and call to let them know you are there.  Then the super nice Walmart employees bring you groceries out and load them into your car.  No extra fee, no tipping (per Walmart) and you get to be a grocery store hero.  If the ease of the situation isn’t enough to convince you here’s a list of the reasons I use Walmart Grocery Pickup.

Fifteen Reason I Love Walmart Grocery Pickup

  1. I don’t have to get out of my car
  2. My children don’t have to get out of the car.
  3. I save tons of money because I’m less likely to impulsively buy a box a nutty bars.
  4. My daughter and I don’t have as many opportunities to throw down over Shopkins purchases or lack thereof.
  5. I can order from my phone.
  6. Did I mention I can order from my phone?
  7. Its free if you spend over $30.  When don’t I spend $30 at Walmart???
  8. You get to pick when you are going to pickup your groceries.
  9. I check in from the app when I leave my house and then when I get there, they load my groceries into the back of my car.
  10. I can decide if I only want a certain brand or if I’m willing to substitute.  For example, we only eat Jiff at our house.  This is nonnegotiable for my eight year old.
  11. When I use the app, I can add things to my cart throughout the day as I remember what we need.
  12. The Walmart Grocery Pickup app saves my favorites. Every week I need to buy yogurt, milk, applesauce and Crystal Light Strawberry Lemonade.  I appreciate that my app has these items front and center.
  13. It is SUPER easy to use.
  14. Sometimes they call me when my order is ready early.
  15.  You can stay in the car.

So, check your local Walmart to see if they offer grocery pickup.  Game changer people.  Total game changer.

Curing the Winter Blues

I want to be somewhere tropical right now. Somewhere that the white sand is almost too hot to stand on barefoot. Almost too hot, but not quite. Somewhere that a colorful beach towel is perfect for taking a nap in the bright warmth of the sunlight. Somewhere that I can take a couple of steps and end up in the cool, bright blue, salty water, looking for turtles and fishies through a snorkel mask. Somewhere that a line of tall palm trees casts the perfect amount of shade and breeze.

I want to be somewhere that my only care is that my piña colada is going to melt too fast. Or that the sun is going to set too soon. Or that a coconut just might fall on my head. Or that my skin might maybe get a little too red.

Instead, I’m sitting in my tiny apartment. In the middle of suburban America. In the middle of a snowstorm. Where the space heater humming at my side isn’t quite warm enough and the sun has already set and there’s no hope of wearing a swimsuit any time soon. And my cares instead include worrying about what to cook for dinner this week, and when I’m going to finish all the piles and piles and piles of laundry or go grocery shopping, and wondering what bills will make their way to my mailbox tomorrow.

Instead of a piña colada and a suntan, I’ve got the Winter Blues*. In years past, I have cured my Winter Blues with some really fattening foods, as many chick flicks as I can handle, and a healthy dose of a patience, just waiting for longer, warmer days to find me again.

But this year, mostly for the sake of the blog and having something to talk about, I’ve decided to put together a list of 10 things, besides chick flicks and binge eating candy and cupcakes, that can help me through my Winter Blues. And luckily, if you’re reading this, I’m gonna let you use these ideas too. Gosh, we’re nice, huh.

WinterBlues

1) Keep Up on Your Resolutions — Odds are you had some resolutions you made a couple weeks ago when the New Year rolled around. And what better way to keep up on those resolutions than by trying to defeat your Winter Blues? Exercise more. Eat healthier. Work out a budget/get out of debt. Write letters (actual snail mail letters, people) to loved ones. Whatever your resolution may be, winter is a great time to try to achieve them, especially if you’re trying to defeat the Winter Blues. Instead of using winter and the cold and the shorter days as an excuse to get you out of your resolutions, use winter as a reason to actually accomplish those things. Find ways to motivate yourself. It will be worth it, I promise you.

2) Start a Recipe Group or Book Club — Get some friends from the neighbor or from church or from your kids’ schools and plan a time once a month or once every two weeks (whatever fits everyone’s schedules) and get together. Share recipes or read books together. It’s a great opportunity to get out of the house, socialize, meet new people.

3) Be IN Winter — Go out in winter. Don’t let winter keep you inside. Find an activity you enjoy despite the cold outside. Go snowboarding or skiing and snowshoeing. Go sledding or snowmobiling. Go ice-skating or find some ice castles. Go to the zoo. Just make sure to bundle up reaalllyyyyy well.

4) Learn a New Hobby — If you’re too afraid of #3 (understandable if you’re anything like me… I despise being cold more than anything), then stay in your house and learn a new hobby. Learn to sew or cook or bake or scrapbook. Take a class online to help you learn photography or web design or graphic design. Learn how to draw or write calligraphy. Pretty much anything. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to do but just haven’t found the time, why not start now, while you’re sitting in your house feeling sorry that it’s just so darned cold outside.

5) “Spring” Cleaning — Why not get a head start on cleaning your entire house? That way, once spring does actually decide to roll around, your house will be spic and span and you’ll be ready to go outdoors and enjoy the fresh, warm weather!

6) Binge Watch a Show — This is one of my favorite things to do, I admit. It’s bad. I really should do something more productive with my life, but when it’s cold outside and I just wanna curl up under a blanket, Netflix becomes my best friend. Sign up for Netflix or Hulu or even buy a season of that show you’ve heard is soooo good, but you just never had time to watch it.

7) Write in a Journal — I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. Write about whatever you’d like. Things you’ve done. Goals you have. Ideas you’d like to share one day. About how much winter sucks.

8) Create a Photo Book — Websites like Shutterfly, Mixbook, or Snapfish are great tools to help you organize your photos into cute, personalized books. Make a book of your last family vacation, or what you did last summer, or what you did over Christmas break. I guarantee looking through all those pictures will chase those winter blues right away.

9) Serve! — Volunteer at shelters or food kitchens or nursing homes or even your kid’s school. Go by yourself or with friends or with kids. Seek out people who may need your help. I know from experience that the best way to keep you from thinking about yourself is to help someone else in need.

10) Plan a Trip — If all else fails, and you happen to have some money you’ve set aside for a rainy day (or in this case, a snowy day?), go on a trip. Take a staycation for a weekend somewhere close. Take an extended weekend somewhere slightly further away. Take a weeklong trip somewhere you’ve been dying to go. Go somewhere warmer than where you are if that’s what your heart desires. Or go to the mountains somewhere and lock yourself up in a cabin and do any of the ideas above.

Let us know what your favorite things to do to cure your Winter Blues are. And if none of the 10 ideas work for you, just appreciate how beautiful winter can be. My husband took this picture with his iPhone after a snowstorm earlier this month. Whoooaaa. Good job, Kent!

IMG_4172

*Winter Blues in its most severe form is sometimes referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s a real thing. This post is not meant to belittle or demean that condition or anyone who suffers from it. We are not doctors, and our advice/opinions are not meant to imply that we are. We merely want to share our very unqualified opinion about some things that help us brighten up our own dark winter months.

Stocking Stuffers Under $50

So the holidays are NUTS, am I right? And apparently that makes us bad bloggers. And for that, we are really, really sorry. Things like trips and weddings and shopping for gifts and spending time with family and baking for neighbors (and baking for myself) and making Christmas cards and in Tracey’s case editing photos and sitting in holiday traffic and packing for holiday trips… it’s actually all what makes the holidays the best! But it’s also what makes us bad bloggers. Come January, we’re gonna be back at this thing full force, arms a swingin’, dukes up, that sort of thing. (Along some pretty exciting changes too. At least that’s what we’re aiming for.) But, until then, enjoy a few posts sprinkled in here and there, like you enjoy some cinnamon and marshmallows sprinkled on top of your favorite hot chocolate. Today’s post was actually written last week, but hasn’t been ready to post until today. That’s how nuts these here holidays have been.

I am so excited about today’s post! We have stocking stuffers! Who doesn’t love opening their stockings on Christmas morning? I would argue it’s one of the best parts of Christmas. I love seeing what’s going to be stuffed inside that giant, fuzzy sock. Not to mention I love love love all the items I’ve picked out. I can only hope my stocking looks this good on Christmas morning. And I can only hope the same for my husband, also. Guess I better get on that, then.

All these items are under $50. And you’re welcome for that. What are some of the things you guys are going to put in your stockings this year?

stockingstuffersHER

01 . 02 . 03 . 04 . 05 . 06 . 07 . 08 . 09 . 10 . 11

01 and 02 – Bath and Body Works has some great stocking stuffers. And they always have great sales! And I die over all their Christmas/winter scents. The candy apple Christmas one might just be my favorite.

03 – Candle. Because.

04 – And perfume. Because. This one from Victoria’s Secret is the perfect little size to fit into a stocking and it smells amazing. I carry this exact one in my purse. It’s perfect for on-the-go.

05 – Who doesn’t want to spice up their passport a little bit? A passport case is such a cute way to do it.

06 – Jewelry box on the go? This is a perfect idea and I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner. The perfect size for your stocking!

07, 08, 09, 10 – CLOTHES! When you were 7, getting clothes for Christmas was THE worst. Now? Probably one of my favorite things to get. Funny how that works, eh? Chunky scarfs, pack o’ belts, cute accessories, and stripey socks? May your stocking look this good and you have a happy new year.

11 – A ticket stub book, to keep all your tickets for 2014. Amazing.

stockingstuffersHIM

01 . 02 . 03 . 04 . 05 . 06 . 07 . 08 . 09 . 10 . 11 . 12 . 13 . 14

01, 02, 03 – Mancessories. Men just need pocket knifes. Odds are your man already has one. But if not, go get him one stat. He is a man after all. iPhone wallet or money clip… depending on what your man prefers to carry. Both are practical. Both are perfect stocking stuffers.

04, 05, 06 – Because usually men just stink. It’s just part of who they are. So poo-pourri because nobody wants to deal with smelling thaaaat. ManCandles, just because. And Sasquatch soap, mostly because this one made me laugh.

07 – Sometimes people think I’m joking when I say I love bowties. But aren’t they just the cutest! If your man thinks he can’t pull off a bowtie, stick one of these suckers in his stocking this Christmas and prove him wrong. Which just happens to be one of the things we women do best.

08, 09, 10, 11 – Not sure how many men love getting clothes for Christmas. But sunglasses, sports socks (that look like shoes, hello!), beanies, and gloves are so super practical. You just can’t go wrong with these as stocking stuffers.

12 – Portable fire starter. See 01 about being a man.

13  – Bacon toothpicks!!!!!! (That many exclamation points is still not enough)

14 – Retractable auxiliary cord. I actually got one of these for Christmas from my man last year and I love it. Seriously. Love it.

The Christmas Card Procrastinator.

Christmas Card
Pixelated to protect the identity of innocent children.
Card design by www.birdesignshop.com Photography by www.samstowndesigns.com

Still trying to decide what to do for your family holiday card? Well, you’re not alone. In fact, Hey Megan is here to tell you about how this year may be the year that she becomes a Christmas Card winner.

Oh, the season is upon us. Black Friday (which started Thursday and was still going strong on the Saturday after Thanksgiving) is just about over. Today is Cyber Monday. Incredibly, my Christmas decorations are up… mostly because it took so long to get my Halloween decorations put away that I told my husband just to bring down the Christmas stuff while he was up there (in our very icky storage space above the garage). So, if that opener didn’t make it clear, I am a procrastinator. And I am not very creative, or organized, nor do I have an eye for home decor. But to be more clear, 90% of my Christmas decorations are gifts from other people. I just put them up wherever the kids want them every year. Not that I don’t love the season—I LOVE this time of year. I’m just not…well…my sisters. They got all of the genes when it comes to beautifying their houses and designing fantastic Christmas cards with adorable letters inside.

So, I ask you. Where are you when it comes to Christmas cards? I am positive our own Tracey will have ADORABLE pictures of her kids in matching outfits doing something priceless and poignant on her Christmas cards. Most years I am happy I get some kind of picture of at least 75% of my kids out to enough of my family members. Don’t get me wrong. I love getting everyone else’s Christmas cards. I love seeing how everyone has changed (She lost weight! They had ANOTHER kid! Thank goodness that one grew into his looks, etc). I also understand that Christmas cards are a great way to keep in touch with people you NEVER keep in touch with other than FB stalking. Clearly, I am not against Christmas cards, I’m just not any good at them!

Every Thanksgiving I think, “This is the year my Christmas cards is going to be outstanding and include a fabulous letter about all the goings-on at the Peterson home.” Then, three days before Christmas I am stuffing envelopes at the post office while buying stamps. My card is a picture of my kids wearing… clothes, doing… something in the same general vicinity of each other… usually slightly out of focus. Urg. Fail. Again. And this after reading a darling poem about all of the great things my nephews have done this year. Or staring for weeks at my sister’s three kids, dressed to the 9’s striking adorable poses in a card that is practically a short photo book. Fail. Again.

But this year I am on tops of things. Yep. I got Tracey to take our family pictures in June (yes, I wanted bluebonnets, but like I said—procrastinator). So, gorgeous pictures of my kids smiling and wearing coordinating outfits? Check! And my good friend Sara gave me this cute little notebook to write down all of the cute things my kids said and did (yes, I know she gave it to me years ago—procrastinator). I finally started writing stuff in it! Material for a cute letter? Check! Wahoo, I’m on a roll! Now all I have to do is get the pictures downloaded from the disk to a photo site (I know, I know, Tracey! I still haven’t done that!), order the cards, write the letter, stuff the envelopes, print up the addresses . . .

Oh, man. This might be another fail . . .

Stay tuned!

Guest Post: Home Decor with Erin


erin
You guys, today we are so excited for our second guest poster ever! Erin is one of my greatest friends. She’s possibly one of the sweetest, most caring, most selfless, funniest, most outgoing people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, and I’m thrilled that our friendship has lasted as long as it has! I am also thrilled that she agreed to share her opinions on home decor today. I hope you guys will love her as much as I do. Thanks for posting today, Erin : ) (And also, I’m hoping that she’ll forgive me for stealing a picture from her Facebook to use… I just really wanted you guys to see how cute she is!)

My name is Erin and I live in Northern Alberta, Canada with my husband. We have lived here for about a year and just purchased our first home!

I am that woman who pins bucket-loads of home decor ideas on Pinterest. And now I can finally apply some of those pins to our home.

Decorating our home is actually a difficult task. First of all, my husband likes input and he never wants anything that looks too “girly.” I suppose that alone limits the type of decor that ends up in our home. Second of all, we live in a very small town where Wal-Mart is pretty much the only available store for acquiring home decor items. Thankfully, there is a store called Home Sense (which is equivalent to the US version of Home Goods) in a town roughly 2 hours away. If you have never stepped food into a Home Goods or Home Sense store, let me forewarn you for the day you do.

GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF TIME! — The store carries everything you could imagine and more. My husband and I spent about 30 minutes just in the pillow section.

YOU WILL LEAVE WANTING EVERYHING! — Go in with a budget already set. It will help limit what you can and can’t buy in the end.

With those words of wisdom now under your belt, you’re ready to start decorating. Stores likes Home Sense/Home Goods, Target, and Wal-Mart can be great sources for finding affordable home decor. Below I am going to show you some examples of pieces you might see in a design and decor magazine, or even on Pinterest, that aren’t necessarily going to be a friend to your wallet. I will also show you similar pieces that you can find at a much more budget-friendly price at a stores like Target and Wal-mart.

Home Decor

Pinterest Pricey images found here: 1 2 3 4

Wallet Friendly items can be purchased here: 1 2 3 4

There is no need to spend your entire savings to decorate a home. Here are a few steps I follow when looking to update my own home décor:

  1. Pick one room at a time. I usually start with the entertaining spaces and guest bedroom and leave the master bedroom and office for last.
  2. Set a budget. We went from a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment to a four bedroom, two bathroom house. You can begin to imagine the extra space and walls we have for filling. Each month we set aside a certain amount of money we will use towards home renovations or décor.
  3. Don’t limit your options. Shopping in person is always nice, but don’t forget about the amazing deals you might find online.
  4. Check out the antique store. Unfortunately, we don’t have an antiques shop here in our small town, but I lived in Phoenix before I was married and I was able to find some of my most loved pieces of furniture while antiquing. Check out several in your town until you find your favorite place and don’t hesitate to ask your family and friends for their favorite shops.

Thank you for letting me share my unqualified opinion on home décor! If you have any fun tips on how you get inspiration for your home or perhaps you have some treasured shops you would like to share with us, go right ahead in the comments below. I know I (and the girls at OUO) would love to hear from you!

10 Tips for Staying Organized

P1000894 copyConfession. I have a little bit of OCD. I mean, I’ve never been officially diagnosed by a real-life doctor of medicine. But I have been self-diagnosed. (Where my other WebMD’ers at?) And in my book of medicine, it’s a real thing. Real, but not necessarily bad. The truth is, I kind of like it about me. I kind of like the way I am, undiagnosed OCD and all.

And one of the things I’m most OCD about is organization. Left-brainers unite! I like order and cleanliness and knowing exactly where something is when I need it. I like structure and function and system and arrangement. I do not like chaos or clutter or messiness. I do not like when things are out of order or do not make sense. Organization just makes sense. Which is, I guess, what it’s all about.

I love to organize just about everything. My house, my room, my car, my closet, my desk, my nightstand, my purse, my drawers, my shower caddy, my email. The list of things I organize goes on and on. And I daresay I’m pretty good at it. The whole organizing thing? I’ve got it down pat. And I’m going to share with you some of my tips for staying organized. You can thank me later ; )

organized

1) Organize your organization — What?! Does that even make sense? Just stay with me… it will. At least, I hope it will. Odds are, if you’re reading this post, you’re looking for ways to be more organized, which means you may not be the best at organizing to begin with? So, you need to start somewhere. And what better way to begin organizing your home or your car or your life than by organizing your thoughts on how you want to organize? Make a list (I will get to this later) of the things you want to organize. For example:   Once you have your list, it will be that much easier to get started on the actual organization. (Is the word “organize” beginning to look weird to anyone else!)

2) Make a list — As I mentioned briefly above, one of the best places to start being organized is by making a list. Some people may say your list can be mental, but as a left-brainer myself, I prefer a physical, written-out list (or sometimes a typed-out list, on my phone… either way works). I can make a very strong argument for that an actual list is more effective. I make lists for everything. I write To-Do lists every single morning; I write grocery lists each week; I have lists of items I want to write about on the blog. When writing lists, remember these key things that I think will help you in being organized.

A) Put items in order, maybe of importance or chronology. Pick some sort of order that works for you, that you will remember. For example, I put my To-Do lists in chronological order of when I want to accomplish things by. I put my grocery lists in order of where the items are in the store.

B) Actually check or cross things off. Don’t just try to remember that you’ve accomplished an item. Plus, there’s something super satisfying about crossing something you’ve accomplished off your list.

C) Make it readable. If your list looks unorganized, you’re probably going to be slightly less inclined to follow it. And thus, your efforts to be organized will be thwarted.

D) Once you have your list, stick to it. Self control! Don’t be sidetracked. Which brings me to #3 tip to be organized.

3) Do it RIGHT NOW! — Don’t procrastinate. Procrastination is organization’s #1 enemy. If you decide you want to be more organized, just start right now. If you take your shoes off in the entry way, just pick them up, take them to the closet, and put them away before you do anything else. If you have a pile of dirty dishes in your sink after dinner, just do them before sitting on the couch. If you have a stack of bills that you just paid, file them before they get scattered and lost. Do the things you don’t want to do before you run out of what little motivation you may have had to begin with. Don’t delay! Organize today!

4) Simplify — Organizing is going to simpler if you actually have less to organize. So don’t hoard. Decide which things you actual need and which things you don’t. Even though I consider myself a really organized person, there are some things I’ve had to learn. I particularly struggle with items of clothing or things that have sentimental value, like birthday cards. If there’s something I haven’t worn for several months, or even years, when I go to put it in the Goodwill pile, I find myself second-guessing that decision. “But what if I want to wear it tomorrow?” or “What if I throw away that card and I forget that she said that nice thing to me?” I’ve had to learn which things really are important or valuable or worth keeping and which things aren’t. Odds are if you haven’t worn it in a year, you’re not going to start tomorrow. Get rid of it. But if you really don’t want to forget the nice sentiment in that card from years ago, find a place to store it that makes sense. Which brings me to number 5.

5) Baskets, Buckets, and Boxes, oh my! — This is probably one of my favorite parts of organizing. Figuring out where to put things. This part is kind of fun. You get to decide where you like things or where it makes sense to you that things go. And one way to help you do that is to use baskets, or buckets, or boxes. Which is a practical and potentially a very cute way to help keep things organized. I have baskets everywhere! And every time I bring home a new basket, Kent (the husband) just rolls his eyes. He thinks I’m basket crazy, and he’s probably right. Michaels and Hobby Lobby both carry a wide selection of baskets, and they are on sale (usually for 50% off) more than half the time. Here are some of the many baskets I have around my apartment to help keep us organized.

baskets

6) Order! Order! — Once you have a place for everything (see #5), the next step would be to find an order that works with the way you think. For example, my closet is organized first into seasons (split between winter and summer items). And then within those categories, the clothes are organized by color (as in, colors of the rainbow). As another example, all my DVDs are in alphabetical order. Now, I’m not saying you have to get as OCD about your organizing as I am. Obviously, I have found ways of ordering things that work for me, so play around and find order that works for you also.

7) Label — I don’t think this step in the organizing process is necessary, but it certainly helps. Especially if you’re more of a visual person. Just label the boxes or baskets that you have to help you remember what that particular box is for. The only thing I label are the files in my file cabinet, but if you think it’ll help to label the boxes in, for example, your closet (belts, socks, hats, etc.) then go at it! Or label the shelves in your pantry. Or the insides of your cabinets. The sky is the limit. And you can do it whichever way works well for you. Sharpie on a piece of tape. A label maker. A post-it (although this one might not be the best idea if you want to make it permanent). There’s even this cute idea on pinterest.

8) Plan — Sometimes, the best way to stay organized is to plan ahead. For example, if you’re going on vacation, make a list of what you need to pack. If you’re going to the grocery store, make a grocery list. Things like that. Planning ahead is never a bad thing, especially when it comes to being organized. I think any left-brainer would agree.

9) Everything has a place — This is my #1 rule. Everything has a place and the only time it’s out of its place is when you’re using it. Otherwise, it goes back in its place. Find a place for things and always put things back when you’re not using them. Abiding by this rule will make your house look better and will eliminate the stress of ever losing anything or having to look for it.

10) Be creative, be consistent — Have fun with it! Be creative with how you organize things. Make your lists pretty and personalized. Buy cute baskets or make your own. Make a game out of it if you have to. And be consistent! That’s the best advice I can give. Don’t give up. And just have fun. It will be worth it!

Schools Going Green! Or is it Saving Green?

IMG_6738-copyWhatdaya know?! Today we have our very first guest post. In fact, we have a couple lined up but we thought we’d start with one of our favorite people around the blog, Hey Megan. Megan, as she is known to those who actually have the privilege of knowing her, is the mother of four (two of which are twins), wife of one, runner extraordinaire and hands down one of my favorite people in Austin. She’s also super smart. Aaaaand funny. Best of all, she tells it like it is. Megan’s been asking us to post about schools going green for months, but since I’ve been moving (and I’m lazy) I asked her to do it us. Enjoy! 

(Also, she’s probably just noticing I stuck this darling photo of her on the blog. Isn’t she cute!?)

Before I start my rant on schools going green, I need to say I am seriously missing my Hey Megan buddy. I am thinking of jumping on the next flight to NC, except I think I’ll wait for Tracey to get some good eats under her belt there first. But since I am no longer actively engaged in pursuing all the best food in Austin with Tracey, I am going to write up a little post for her. This is something that I’ve been trying to decipher for a few years….

So, my oldest kids are 9. They started going to school when they were 3. And they’re twins. Twins means you get two of everything—two cribs, two car seats, and two of EVERY single school note, paper, school coupon, everything. I mean two of the exact SAME everything.  That adds up to a lot of paper fast. So, I had a system, I would rifle through the papers from one folder and then throw away all of the papers in the other (minus the projects…well maybe a few of the “art work” got thrown away by accident. I got a lot of “blue scribble on white paper” back in the preschool days).

So, for a few years that was our routine. I got two folders home from school every day with IDENTICAL paper in it and I’d throw half of it away. Then, my twins hit first grade and a note came home saying the “school is going green!”  I was really excited. And not just because saving the environment is good. I was excited because I no longer had the two folder conundrum. I remember discussing this with other moms—moms of singletons were only slightly impressed. Moms of twins—they felt like I did.  

It was great. No more folders filled with double notices or homework papers. No more throwing half of everything away. I could just respond to everything on email. Homework through email, fill out forms online, great! Right? Wrong. I slowly came to realize that a “school’s going green” means I get to print everything out. That’s right. I am now printing out all of the homework and forms. I am still handwriting these forms and sending them back to the school in my kids backpack. That doesn’t sound like going green to me. That sounds like “you use your money and your paper and your ink so we don’t have”.  

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem helping the schools out. But just call it like it is. Don’t get me excited about finally being able to do everything electronically and then say “nope, we’re going to let you cover the cost of paper and ink this year.”  Hmm…

But there is a bright star in all of this. Six years later I finally got a teacher that calls it like it is. My son’s math teacher. Love her. She did not say she was going green. She said “Hey guess what? The district said they won’t pay for any more paper so can you guys print out the homework? Thanks.”  Love the honesty. If someone had said that from the beginning I wouldn’t have need to rant. Now if they could only figure out how to do homework electronically I wouldn’t have to fight my kids over messy handwriting…

An Ode to Husbands

On this day, exactly 27 years ago, my life was changed forever. And I wasn’t even born yet. On this day 27 years ago is when my husband made his grand entrance into the world. On this day 27 years ago, the world got a little bit sassier. A little bit funnier. A little bit cuter. A little bit better. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the face of my future children.

kentThat face! Does that face just not make your ovaries ache? (Unless you’re, in fact, not a female… in which case, you have no ovaries.) On this day 27 years ago, the infant that became this adorable face, that became the accident-prone teenager, that became the sassy young adult, that became the best choice I’ve ever made, was born. Maybe for the sole purpose of becoming my husband.. I don’t know. But my husband he did become.

And, how cliche is it that he really is the best choice I’ve ever made? All the stupid, ignorant, heart-breaking choices I had made up until the day his name became my name were totally, 100% worth it. How great of husbands to do this for us, right? How amazing is it of them to make our miserable, self-wallowing, awkward teen years worth every second? I know I speak for wives of incredible husbands everywhere when I say, thank you, husband, and I love, love, love you.

And so, this is my ode to husbands. (And by “ode” I mean “declaration of gratitude and love.”)

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To the best choice I ever made. Thanks for being that for me. Thanks for making it so that I don’t doubt “us” for a single second when I am with you.

To the friend who doesn’t leave my side for anything. Thanks for being with me. I’m not quite sure what I did to deserve having my best friend by my side, always.

To the comedian who makes me laugh when I’m sad. Or when I’m already happy. You make me happier. You make me the happiest. You get me.

To the cuddle buddy who, well, cuddles. Thanks for the snuggles. And the kisses. That’s pretty much that.

To the ear that listens when I just need to talk. Thanks for listening. Or for pretending to listen, as the case may sometimes be. Sometimes I’m just chatty, I love ya anyway.

To the confidant to whom I can tell my secrets. Thanks for the trust. I like knowing I have somewhere to vault my secrets, my desires, my doubts, my fears, my joys.

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To the sass-mcfrass who sometimes makes fun of things I do or say. Thanks for keeping me humble. For keeping me on my toes. I know it’s all in jest — usually. Never a dull moment with you.

To the dynamo who works harder than anyone I’ve ever met. Thank you for your hard work and your motivation and your dedication; it is literally the sustaining force behind our small little family of two.

To the accident-prone teenager of your past. I know you think you just had a “bad year” on your dirt bike. But, anyway, thanks for being alive. And don’t you dare have a “bad year” again. I don’t do blood.

To the brother who brought me into his family for good. Thanks for having the most wonderful family. I love being able to call your parents my parents, and your siblings my siblings. I love them as I love my own family. I am the luckiest ever.

To the alpha-male in you. Thanks for changing my oil, checking my breaks, getting me new tires. Thanks for grilling dinner. Thanks for hanging shelves. Thanks for fixing the toilet and the faucet and the water heater. Thanks for doing man-stuff. You keep doin’ your thang, because I sure can’t.

IMG_0505bwTo my other half. Thanks for being human. You’re not perfect. And I am most definitely not perfect. We’re human, we make mistakes. Your mistakes remind me that it’s OK to struggle on occasion. We learn and we grow, but we do it together. And, anyway, the struggles remind me that the good times we have are the absolute best.

Because you really, truly are the best thing that’s ever happened to me. My best choice ever. I pat me on the back. Good job, self.

Happy Birthday! And thanks for being in my life, husband.

My Love Letter to the State of Texas

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Thanks to Erika, the blog is rolling on as my family and I are rolling out of the state of Texas. In what has been a quick (and miraculous) couple of weeks we have gone from being potentially unemployed to finding a fantastic job and home in Raleigh. The downside? We have to leave my beloved Austin.

Emotions are mixed. Children are confused and I am EXHAUSTED. We managed to pull off this move in less than three weeks. This translates into me sneaking out of Austin like a thief in the night. So in the early morning hour, as my family snores around me in my Shreveport Hotel I thought I’d take a minute to write Texas (and Texans) a love letter.

Dear Texas,

I knew from the second that I ordered a Diet Dr Pepper at McDonalds that you and I were going to be good friends. It didn’t hurt that when I walked into church the first Sunday you sent an old work friend to ease the social transition. And then you brought my aunt to Texas at the same time?! Nicely done.

You must have known about my love affair of food because you certainly pulled out all of the stops on Austin. BBQ, Tex Mex and food trucks? Oh, my! We literally ate our way through this town and enjoyed every single calorie. My only regret is that I didn’t get to take Hey Megan to all of our faves. I promise to share a list soon!

Since we did more than just eat while we were here, thanks for all of the fun things you offer as entertainment. We loved our trips to Port Aransas (Port A to the cool kids) Dallas, Houston, San Antonio. The sweet little towns of Fredericksburg and Marble Falls were darling. Ben even managed to hit a bunch of little BBQ towns like Lockhart. Completely worth the gas. . . used to fuel my car. (I have to clarify for my super mature siblings.)

Also, can we talk about your weather? Other than a couple of months in the summer, you can’t beat it. I even kinda like the humidity. The summer is almost bearable as long as you take advantage of fantastic pools, splash pad and the occasional “Girl’s Night Out” wake-boarding on the lake. (Who knew we had such mad wake-boarding skills or in my case wake board boat driving skills?) Then there is SPRING! The only thing I love more than Texas in February is Texas in March. Hello?! Bluebonnets!

And speaking of March, thanks for the fantastic medical care that brought us our own little Texas bluebonnet. She is as delightful as the sweet friends she shares we middle name with.

Oh, the friends. A couple of days ago Hey Megan was saying that when you move to a new place it takes about a year to really make friends and another year before those friends feel like family. Well, you certainly upheld your end of the moving bargain because you gave us great friends, many of whom I would happily claim as family. While there are too many to mention, (and most would be super embarrassed) I have to say, it is the people of Texas that I love the most. I couldn’t bear to say goodbye to most so I just kinda mentioned it on social media and did my best to avoid tears. That is until Sarah’s stinking mom started tearing up! And letting people at church know we were leaving a week early?! Foregetaboutit. Words cannot describe the love and warmth that I have felt in Austin. Even random people in HEB (Oh, wonderful grocery store, I’m going to miss you too!) are warm and friendly. Ben says that I should have been a Texan my whole life.

Then there is the love you have shown my children. I firmly believe that we moved to Austin for my kids. Sam was embraced by wonderful teachers, therapists and a fantastic school. Each of them changed our lives for the better. As I walked him out of school yesterday I had teachers I didn’t even know telling me how much they were going to miss our little guy.

Well, guess what Texas? We are going to miss you too. We love you wish you nothing but the best and can’t wait for the opportunity to return to you loving arms. Even if it is just for a visit. You will always hold a place in our heart comparable to your square mileage.*

Love you more than breakfast tacos,
Tracey

*Seriously?! I never thought we would see the state line. Nothing takes longer than driving out of the state of Texas. This may not be a bad thing.

Thoughts on Fall

You guys! I know I’ve been MIA lately (let’s all give Tracey a digital pat on the back and round of applause for all the posts she’s posted in my absence—shower flowchart anyone? so good!), but I’m back and oh, what perfect timing. It’s fall!! And I just love fall. But come now, who doesn’t?

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(image via Pinterest)

How perfect is this saying? I’ve seen it floating around Pinterest, and I just love it. I’ve always loved fall, since as far back as I can remember. I spent a lot of my growing up years in places that don’t really have a “fall” necessarily — Puerto Rico, where we went swimming in the ocean on Christmas Day; Arizona, where they have two seasons: hot and hottest; and South Africa, which has fall, but it’s in March and April… hello, southern hemisphere! But I’ve always loved October. And here we are, yet again. October!

October! Because of the pumpkin (only, I just discovered that I love pumpkin last year when my in-laws dared me to try pumpkin pie, even though I tried it as an 8 year old and sure didn’t like it then, but apparently my 25-year-old palette had changed a bit, and now onward with the pumpkin, because!), and all the other fall food that’s making my mouth water just thinking about it, and the leaves changing (you don’t get that in Arizona so much, or Puerto Rico, so onward with fall in Colorado and Utah!), and the cooler weather (again, not so much with that in South Africa), and the cute boots and the scarves and the sweaters and the jackets, and all the good TV shows back on TV (Scandal anyone? I mean, last season’s cliffhanger ending was enough to leave me drooling! Can I get an “Amen”?), and the spice in the food and the smells, and the decorating for Halloween and eventually for Thanksgiving and for Christmas and anything else you may choose to celebrate! I love everything that fall stands for. Family and friends and celebration and warmth amidst the cold and joy and colorful.

Not to say that I don’t love any other season. Mostly, I hate winter and what happens after New Years. But I always bid a very fond farewell to summers. Summers are definitely my favorite — with the sun and the heat and thunderstorms and the green everything, and summer has its own great food and smells and holidays and such. But, oh, with fall. It is with open arms that I welcome this time of year now. I had a wonderful summer, and I took all of September to say goodbye to it (I laid out as long as possible). But last week I bought some new boots and sweaters and so, welcome fall! Welcome, the memories of falls past the come to mind, and also welcome, the excitement of fall present and falls future where memories are just waiting to be made.

And also, not to give anything away prematurely, but we’ve got some pretty exciting fall stuff comin’ up over in these parts. I mean, maybe the word “giveaway” has popped up a time or two…. So stay tuned to see what we’ve got comin’! (Speaking of cliffhangers….)

Let us know, what do you guys love about fall?