The Circus | Built to Amaze

On Saturday, Matt, Audrey, & I met up with some friends to take the kids to the circus–the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Built to Amaze! show. I was so excited that to be invited, that I immediately said yes before checking with Matt (knowing animal cruelty is one of his big concerns, and he wouldn’t approve). I assumed that a nationally known circus would be respectable, and wouldn’t have the same practices as lesser known shows. Let’s just say I’ve been educated since, and we probably won’t be going back. :( It’s a shame, because they could truly put on a good show without the animals, and Audrey really enjoyed the performances!

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The kids were losing interest after about an hour, so we left at intermission and headed to Newk’s for lunch. Audrey and Colin are in the same class at school, and Becky and I “met” through an online mom’s club. She made the connection about the kids, and now we regularly meet for lunch. They’ve only been in Charlotte for a couple of years (and also both work in finance), and it’s been so nice to have someone to relate to and get advice from!

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Newk’s is a sandwich, soup, and pizza place. I had the chicken salad sandwich and baked potato soup, while Matt tried the chicken pesto sandwich and a salad. They weren’t bad, but I’d much prefer St. Louis Bread Company (fine, Panera). The pizza, on the other hand, actually looked really good! It’s really popular here, so next time we go I’ll definitely be trying the pizza.

Audrey started going downhill pretty quickly after lunch; it was nearly 2:30, and her normal nap is 12:45ish-3ish. We left our friends and headed back to the car. At that point we decided a short car nap was better than the potential of no nap, so we drove around Uptown while she fell asleep. We also made a stop for cupcakes at GiGi’s, Matt ran in to pick up a few things from Whole Foods, and then I convinced him to stop by Gap so I could use a Gap Cash reward and (hopefully) find something for Audrey’s pictures on Wednesday. Fingers crossed it works!

On Friendship

Do you have friendships that you can simply pick back up, no matter how much time has passed? You get each other on some deeper level; you could talk hourly or monthly, and the bond is still there. I’m so blessed to have just such a friend–Karen. We’ve been friends since fifth grade, through thick and thin, our parents’ marriages and divorces, high school, college, our own marriages, children. She’s a fantastic at being a friend, so it didn’t surprise me at all when her seven year old son Vincent shaved his head in solidarity with his own friend, who has leukemia.

Pretty awesome, huh? The story was picked up by the local TV station, and quickly spread: USA Today, the Telegraph, NBC News, and hundreds more. Vincent and Zac have been on the radio and had national TV offers. Isn’t that amazing?

Anyway. I just wanted to brag on Vin. He’s truly one of the kindest, most polite kids I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. It speaks volumes of his parents!

Checkout 51

I don’t know about you, but I love saving money. I hate clipping coupons, though–I always end up buying things I don’t need! That’s why I was excited when a friend introduced me to Checkout 51This is not a sponsored post. I just think it’s an awesome app!

It’s super simple. Each Thursday, a list of new offers appears in your app. Some are brand-specific, others aren’t. And you can buy from any store! You just upload your receipts (via your phone’s camera) and claim the offers that you think apply. The Checkout 51 team reviews the receipts to make sure you bought what you said you did, and then the offer amount is credited to your account. Once you hit $20, they mail you a check. How easy is that?!

This week I earned $3; $2 for uploading a grocery receipt in excess of $20 and $1 for purchasing a Clean & Clear product. It doesn’t always work that smoothly, though. Last week, I tried to claim an offer of $0.50 for purchasing a dozen eggs, but my receipt got denied. There’s a way to appeal, but I didn’t think it was worth it for $0.50. It was smooth sailing this week!

Happy shopping!

Day in the Life | January 2014


Sunday, January 26, 2014 | We’ve lived in Charlotte for four months | Audrey is 23 months, 3 weeks old

2:26AM | I wake up and try to convince myself I can just fall back asleep without leaving my warm, snuggly bed to go to the bathroom. My bladder says otherwise. I know I’ll thank myself in the morning, when I can lounge in bed for a bit longer!

6:55AM | Audrey is awake, and Matt brings her to our room for morning snuggles. I love weekend morning snuggle time!

6:58AM | Audrey is definitely awake now, and ready to get up. She plays with her hands, Daddy’s face, anything to annoy us into getting up.

7:16AM | I grab my phone from the dresser and start documenting for our DITL post. I check my email, and spend a little time on Facebook and Instagram. Always my first stops!

7:38AM | I roll out of bed and head for shower, leaving Matt and Audrey to fend for themselves for a bit. The air has been so dry lately; I spend some quality time with my coconut oil trying to combat my dry, itchy skin.

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8:02AM | Matt and Audrey are locked in battle of wills over pacifiers. She no longer uses a pacifier at nap time, but has regressed a bit at home. She’d have one all the time if we let her! Matt’s more adamant than me, but we stick to bed time unless she’s sick.

8:18AM | Strip sheets, and put away the Audrey laundry from the load I folded after she was asleep last night. I love Clean Sheet Day!

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8:31AM | The laundry is started, Matt’s in the shower, and I attempt to stop the whine with a little milk and yogurt prior to breakfast. It works! For the most part.

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8:22AM | We go upstairs and brush Audrey’s “teep.” The kid takes her dental hygiene very seriously.

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8:32AM | I empty the dishwasher and pick up the kitchen.

8:56AM | Epic meltdown. Audrey is both done and not done with her yogurt. Matt calms her down while I head upstairs to put away yet another load of laundry.

9:00AM | Breakfast is served! Our standard weekend fare of eggs and bacon. We’ve been having pancakes lately, but skipped them this morning. I’m still hungry, so I round up a banana and eat it with some peanut butter. Delicious!

9:06AM | Audrey realizes we ate eggs and bacon without her. The irony? I’ve tried to get that kid to eat eggs and bacon for nearly 18 months, and she doesn’t like them. She eats the rest of my banana and a little peanut butter.

9:13AM | Audrey decides she must drink out of a cup. We’re working on this new skill at home and at school, but she still usually uses a straw cup. She makes a mess, of course!

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9:27AM | Upstairs for a diaper change and to get Audrey dressed for church.

9:34AM | Mama steals a little internet time while G reads Emeraldalicious, a new book, to occupy Aud.

9:42AM | Hallelujah! Internet time has paid off. I found the perfect baskets to corral the mess in the play room! We have a storage system, but right now the cubes are just functioning as shelves. It doesn’t look clean and organized, and the cats have a bad habit of stealing the felt food. Darn cats!

9:43AM | I text my sister-in-law that I thought of another idea for Audrey’s birthday next week. I’m trying to avoid new toys because we were inundated at Christmas, and had previously suggested clothes and books. I know, I know, every kid’s dream, right? Ha! But it occurred to me that Audrey will be old enough for TV and movies soon enough, and we’d like to get a good Disney collection going. Katie is happy to oblige, and says she’s sending Tangled, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid. Perfect!

10:11AM | I head upstairs to dress for church! We haven’t settled on a church home quite yet. To be honest, we’ve never been in church every Sunday, but I want to make more of an effort now that we have kids. In addition to the obvious, a church should help us meet some friends!

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10:29AM | Finally in the car.

10:48AM | We walk in to the church and almost walk right back out. We decide to give it a chance since we’re already there, and get ready to tough out the service.

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12:05PM | We sneak out after communion. Need lunch!

12:19PM | Get home, start a frozen pizza for lunch. Throw together a quick salad.

1:15PM | Audrey is down for her nap, and I decide to read on the couch. I had grand plans to clean all the things (in particular our floors–Julia inspired me!), but I’m never that motivated when nap time actually comes. Sigh.

1:28PM | I convince Matt to watch an episode of Downton Abbey before he heads upstairs to work out.

1:37PM | I am completely distracted by how messy our play room is. I hope the baskets ship quickly! I also decide we’ll squirrel some more toys away out of sight once Audrey’s in bed.

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1:42PM | Hmmm. I add Girl Scout cookies to my to do list. Can’t forget to order those!

2:12PM | Audrey stirs, but falls back asleep. I love when we luck out like that!

2:21PM | Since Audrey just fell back asleep, Matt takes one for the team and postpones working out for another episode. This show is so good!

2:48PM | Someone rings the doorbell. Oh, no, they didn’t! Ugh. It’s Girl Scouts. I know I just put cookies on my to do list, but I need to order them from our niece in St. Louis. Matt takes pity on them and orders a box from each.

3:10PM | Matt gives up on working out during nap, and we start yet another episode of Downton Abbey.

3:58PM | I can’t believe it, but we have to go upstairs and wake Audrey up from her nap. We try not to let her nap past 4:30PM, or else bed time gets tricky.

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4:14PM | Walk time! I love walking our neighborhood. The houses are just so stately, the trees are gorgeous, the lake is beautiful, and the neighbors are friendly! I can’t wait until it’s light longer (and, you know, closer to average North Carolina temperatures), so we can walk in the evenings after work.

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4:54PM | Grandma calls to FaceTime right as we get home from our walk. Audrey gets such a kick out of FaceTiming with her St. Louis family! We discuss Grandma’s upcoming trip to visit for Audrey’s birthday.

5:12PM | Audrey plays with her musical instruments in the living room. My favorite quote of the day, courtesy of Matt, “No, Audrey, kitties can’t play harmonicas…” She was sharing!

5:43PM | Change Audrey, make the bed with clean sheets, and have Audrey try on the new pants we bought for her two year pictures next week. They fit, and they are super cute. I can’t wait!

6:03PM | We decided to clean and purge the play room while dinner finishes cooking.

6:33PM |  Audrey eats. Matt and I decided that we wanted to eat chips and dip for dinner, so we’re waiting until after she’s down for the night to indulge.

6:44PM | Upstairs for bath time!

6:48PM | Audrey’s in the bath tub with Matt watching, so I run downstairs and start washing the diapers.

6:52PM | My dad calls to chat, and Matt steps in to finish bath time. Usually I do the washing, but he is happy to step in.

7:15PM | I pick up a little more, start making our chili dip, and then head back upstairs to read a book with Audrey.

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7:18PM | Kennedy calls! She wants to thank us for ordering cookies, and she spends a good five minutes FaceTiming with Audrey. I think they both thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. :)

7:27PM | Lights out!

7:32PM | More Downton Abbey and some delicious chips and dip. Mmmmm. So good! We watch the rest of Season 3, except for the finale. It’s an hour and a half, and I have to work in the morning.

9:35PM | I head upstairs to lay out my clothes, wash my face, and collapse into bed. I usually spend a few minutes reading a book or Time before I fall asleep, but I don’t think I even made it through more than a paragraph or two. I’m beat!

Audrey’s Room

We were Team Green during my first pregnancy. For the uninitiated, that means we had no idea if we were having a boy or girl–until out came Audrey! The most common question about our decision is the nursery. How does one prepare a nursery without knowing whether it’s occupant will be a boy or girl? We went with gray and white, and once she was born we added a few pops of light pink: sheets, paper lanterns, and the like. Our last house, the house to which we brought Audrey home, we purchased out of foreclosure. Everything about that house was a labor of love, but especially the nursery. It was made especially for her.

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Nursery CollageIt was bittersweet to leave, and I was anxious to make a new room for Audrey, to make her feel at home. Her new room has turned out better than I could have imagined, and I would say it’s only 75% done! We went with Silver Peony by Sherwin Williams on the walls, and I love how soft the color is.

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My favorite part is how much Audrey loves her room. One night, when we were reading stories before bed, she laid back on the carpet and made a sort of carpet angel, all while saying, “room, room!” It was beyond adorable, and made my heart swell to know that she feels at home.

Future plans for the room include

  • New ceiling fan or light fixture
  • Convert crib to full-size bed
  • Add full-size bedding (comforter, shams, pillows, etc.)
  • Rug under bed
  • Swap out the last two gray-themed frames over the bed
  • Replace blinds
  • Replace brass door hardware

I am far from an interior designer, but I love when a room starts to come together!

 

 

The Case of the Missing Nook

I found out I was pregnant with Audrey a week before Matt and I were scheduled to go on a week-long vacation with his family. We were still in shock ourselves to have that +, after nearly a year, and we were definitely not ready to share the news with anyone else quite yet. But, duh, I was about to be on vacation for a week and I needed to spend that time reading every baby book known to mankind. Obviously. To accomplish this on the sly, I marched right out to Barnes & Noble and bought a NOOK Simple Touch. It was fully stocked with books before we left, and I arranged a trip to somewhere with WiFi to purchase a couple more midway through the week. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

I resisted the e-reader trend for a long time, because I liked books goshdarnit. Not some new-fangled back-lit monstrosity that would kill my eyes. I’m a CPA; my eyes get plenty strained staring at Excel all day, and I certainly didn’t need an e-reader adding to the problem. And, well, books! I love everything about them. The crisp pages, the smell of the ink… It’s perfection. Alas, I needed the secrecy and the Simple Touch was the perfect, non-back-lit solution. I love the immediacy of purchasing new reading material (just download!), and it’s certainly easier to throw in my carry on.

Which is how I lost it, at least temporarily. I had every intention of carrying it with me en route to Charlotte, both to occupy my flight time and to keep with me in temporary housing. But the packing process, as you might remember, was chaotic. We opted to stay in our house instead of a hotel while they packed us, and we just kept rearranging our dwindling pile of belongings from room to room to escape the packing boxes. My Nook, somehow, got lost in the shuffle and was packed. (Cue the ominous music!) I was devastated when I initially realized it, but we were literally on our way to the airport and there was nothing to be done.

I thought for sure it would turn up when I unpacked our bedroom (I keep it in my nightstand), but nope! At that point I was at a loss. I resigned myself it was tucked away in a box in the basement, and Lord knows when we’ll make our way to those. I briefly even worried that one of the movers had stolen it. But I pushed it to the back of my mind as we settled into the house, because it’s not like I have a lot of leisure time for reading anyway.

Last week, we were basically given a little assigned reading at work. All of the upper level managers were given a book, American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company by Bryce G. Hoffman. My manager gave us a synopsis, and a lunch and learn session was established by the department to discuss, so really…we need to read it. Let’s all take a moment to consider the irony of the executives receiving the book for free, while we’ve been left to our own devices, shall we?

Long story short, our local Barnes & Noble is sold out (ahem, because our whole company was told to read it!), so I mentioned the Nook solution to Matt. Who proceeded to walk upstairs, rummage around in the office, and plop my Nook down in my lap. In less than five minutes. Seriously?! Clearly he’s good at tuning out my complaining voice, because I know I’ve whined about the Nook a dozen times since we bought this house in November.

Oh, well. My Nook is happily charging on the end table and I’ll be able to read my assignment. And as an added bonus, I’ll finally be able to finish The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling). I’ll be well on my way to my six book goal in 2014!

Let’s Talk Fitness

First, a confession. I haven’t worked out since we moved to Charlotte. Four months ago. Whew! It feels good to get that off my chest. I’ve never been someone who works out every day, but the first half of 2013 was good to me. Audrey was finally sleeping all night so I had energy, and at the beginning of the year I signed up to run a marathon relay with three friends. Once I built up to that seven mile run, I decided it wasn’t that crazy to register for a half marathon the following month, and I finished my first (only?) 13.1 on Mother’s Day. A pretty bad ass way to celebrate motherhood, if I do say so myself!

After that, I was over running. I injured my knee while training, plus I wanted a workout I could do in less time. I started Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution, which has 15 30-35 minute DVDs. I felt great, I was toned, and I was probably in the best shape of my life. And then we moved. Schedules changed, we lived in an apartment, we moved into the house, etc. and life got in the way. I lost muscle tone and gained a few pounds, but what I truly miss is the way working out made me feel. Endorphins are real, and I want them back in my life!

Plan of attack? Matt’s setting up our sitting room to function as a workout room this weekend. I’m going to get up early two or three weekdays and use the elliptical for 30-40 minutes. I’ll work in strength training once or twice in the evenings or on weekends. I have plenty of friends who work out daily (and I’d love to get back to that!), but I need to set small goals for now or else I’ll give up.

Once we sell our house in St. Louis (anyone looking?) my goal is to join the local YMCA. It’s only two miles from our house, and it’s massive. They offer a ridiculous number of classes, and they have childcare! To minimize cutting into family time, I’d probably stick to classes before work, after bed time, or during nap on the weekends, but it’s nice to know we have options. I like that the Y offers classes for Audrey like swimming and dance, and I think it would be a fantastic place to meet some new friends in the area. Poor Matt works from home and hasn’t met anyone besides our neighbors. We need some friends in our life!

Another option is joining Flex + Fit, the gym in my office building. It’s much more expensive–classes are $20/each, or you can join for a month for $100–but I know that I could (and would) go at lunch. I’m trying it out with a coworker that’s a member in the next couple of weeks. While it’s not something I could afford (or would want to afford) all the time, I would definitely be interested in purchasing, say, a pack of ten classes to use over the course of several months. I get bored doing the same thing, and they offer such a large variety of classes that it would be easy to find a new challenge.

On top of traditional exercise, my goal is for my family to be fit. As spring rolls around, I want to make sure we’re going on walks before dinner. We are lucky to live in a gorgeous part of the country, and we should be outside enjoying it! Whether that means exploring the greenway trails, hiking in the mountains, rafting at the Whitewater Center, or biking on the beach (okay, the beach is kind of far…), we should be out there taking advantage of the natural beauty. What better way to set an example for Audrey than to make fitness fun?

Yup, 2013 was an awesome year for me. But I’m going to rock 2014, too.

New Year’s Resolutions

I absolutely love the fresh start of a new year. It’s filled with so many possibilities, so much opportunity. While I’ve never been great about having a list of resolutions ready to go when the clock hits midnight, I do appreciate the time to reflect on my successes and failures, and ruminate on what I can improve in the coming year.

2013 was full of change by virtue of my new job, our new city, and our new home. It’s funny; Matt and I both grew up in St. Louis, but I feel so comfortable in Charlotte already! We’re still meeting people and in search of friends, but I truly feel this is where we are supposed to be. What more can I ask of 2014? Perhaps less change! I’m looking forward to settling in and making this house our home. Other goals for this year include:

  • Read more. Fiction, nonfiction, it doesn’t matter. I’d like to read six books in 2014, and I’m open to suggestions!
  • Eat less meat. On any given day, I generally only have meat at dinner. But for our health and for our pocketbook, my goal is to serve at least one meat-free dinner each week. It will force us to try new things!
  • Stay in touch. Moving halfway across the country doesn’t have to harm our friendships. Quite frankly, we didn’t get out all that often when we lived in St. Louis so not being there shouldn’t be a deal breaker! I bought some pretty stationery yesterday, and my goal is to send one handwritten note to a friend each month. After all, who doesn’t love a surprise in the mailbox?
  • Show hospitality. I’ve never had house guests before! I hope to improve our guest room and my hostess skills for each new visitor 2014 brings.

What (Not) to Wear: Wedding Edition

We have a wedding to go to at the end of December, and I’m trying to narrow down my dress options. I’ll be using Rent the Runway yet again. I cannot rave about the service enough! You get two sizes of whatever dress you choose, and the size & fit guide along with real reviews make it a breeze to choose flattering dresses. I’ve rented for weddings, showers, vacations, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Like most women, my size fluctuates–especially during and after pregnancy–and Rent the Runway offers the perfect fit for whatever size I am at the moment. Love!

Dress Collage

I like the idea of long sleeves for a winter wedding, so that’s how I chose most of these. It’s an evening ceremony with the reception immediately following, so I feel comfortable being a little more…glamorous? than I otherwise would be. I’ve had my eye on the Sequin Bell Sleeve Sheath forever, but I’m worried it might be too white for a wedding. Although plenty of reviews claim it’s more of a pink / nude color in person, and lots have worn it to weddings. Avril gives me a Black Swan feeling, but I love the feminine feel. Very glamorous. Midnight Kiss has a v-back, and Mini Sequin Pixie has an exposed zipper. I’m not sure how I could accessorize either of those, although I guess that much sparkle doesn’t need much else. Such a Duchess is lacy and classy and my favorite color. Decisions, decisions!

Thankful Thursday

You know what I’m really thankful for right now? My washer and dryer. Well, not mine, although I can’t wait to have my HE machines back. But the fact that our apartment has a laundry room with a washer and dryer. We do an insane amount of laundry–seriously, two loads a day plus sheets on Sunday–and I cannot fathom having to deal with a laundromat. Or a communal laundry room. I like to have my laundry all to myself, even if the sheer volume is kind of ridiculous. These machines have longer cycles than our HE machines, so I’m struggling to keep up right now. Both loads definitely do not get put away each night. Heck, last night, neither load got put away. But at least they’re here, and I can deal with it on my own terms!