Friday Faves

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I haven’t done a Friday Faves post in a long time, and I’ve been carrying around this love for worldly things that have been making me happy with no place to let it spill. Worldly as opposed to, you know–love and joy and health and nature. If you already have those, then might I suggest a cute hat to go with them. I must add, Brett walked in as I was putting this together and the conversation went like this:

Brett: What are you doing?
Me: Doing a favorite things list for the blog.
Brett: When are you going to let me do one of those for the blog?
Me: You want a favorite things list? For real?
Brett: Yeah, I’m serious. I even have a name for it…”Brett’s Picks.”
Me: That’s amazing. Wow. Good name.
Brett: You’re mocking me.
Me: Not at all. But, like, what would you put on this list? Because all you buy are gadgets and weird things. Like those hairy monster feet flip-flops you got might not go very far with my blog readers.
Brett: I’ve found lots of cool stuff and you know it.
Me: Name one.
Brett: That clip-on pot strainer thing. You have to admit, that was a jackpot. Maybe the best thing we bought all year.
Me: Really, the pot strainer? I’ll think about it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you BRETT’S PICKS: A POT STRAINER.

Now on to mine.
(for the record, I told him I’m happy to share more when he’s ready) 

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1. 52 Lists for Happiness. I love this little journal so much because it’s a no pressure journal. The open-ended possibilty of blank pages is wonderful, but sometimes it can be overwhelming. If you’re in a journaling rut, this is the perfect way to get writing again with creativity training wheels. The lined pages (with sweet little watercolor illustrations) present list prompts–like “List what makes you happy right now” or “List the things in your life you are actually able to control” or “List the movies, books and TV shows that make you feel happy”–and all you have to do is add things that come to your mind. I keep mine (with a pen hooked to it) on the coffee table, and I pick it up often–starting new prompts as well as going back to add to old ones. And when you’re finished with it–a great keepsake to look back on or pass to your kids.

2. Giant Bubble Mix and Wand. Spring and summer are a great time to add some new outdoor activities. You can make these giant bubble wands with some dowel rods and thick string and the solution with Dawn dish soap, baking powder, corn starch and glycerine. But, if you want the easy route as we did, this kit has everything you need. My kids have so much fun with this. The bubbles are HUGE–like people could climb inside them. And they seem to be a bit more stable than regular bubbles, so they actually hold their shape as they float off.

3. AMAZING Cosmetics Concealer. My favorite thing in my make-up case. I switch up make-up a lot and try new things, but once I found this, it was a done deal in the concealer department. You only need a tiny bit, so the tube lasts forever. And this concealer doesn’t budge–doesn’t smear or rub off or get cakey. I just dot the itty bittiest dot where I need it and blend it well with a foundation brush.

4. The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic: A Step-by-step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in and Over Entitled World. I’m not a huge parenting book reader and am often put off by parenting advice books just because there’s no “right way” to raise kids, and I’m wary of people who think they figured it all out. But this doesn’t come from that approach, and the advice and tips and stories are such great prompts to keep in the mindset of  “Un-Entitling” as the author calls it. From the intro: “There’s a force that can rob from our kids not only their imagination, energy and determination, but also their ability to live rich, fulfilling  lives. It’s the forece of entitlement, the idea that life owes us something, and it’s wreaking havoc on our kids’ generation. Children of all ages feel entitled to receive the best of what life has to offer without working for it, to have their whims catered to by their parents and a path paved for success.” I’m slow reading this book (picking it up off my nightstand in between the other books I’m reading), and loving how it’s making me think.

5. Revlon Matte Balm in Enchanting. Current favorite lipstick. The perfect nude–a nice saturated matte with a nice peachy pink tint. Smooth and minty and at about $6, you can get one for your purse and one for your bathroom.

6. Auric Blends Love Perfume Oil. Long story, but I have a friend who wears the most wonderful perfume that so set her a part, even my kids would catch a whiff, smile and say “smells like Aunt Rebecca.” She paid a pretty penny for it from a little Midwest boutique, but somehow–in a quest that involved another friend equally obsessed– we found what we swear is the same perfume in a glass vial on the shelves of Whole Foods. Best part? It’s $7. I can’t find it at our Whole Foods anymore, but I did found it on Amazon for less than $10. I keep mine in my car for when I forget to put perfume on.

7. Childhoods Clothing Tank Romper. Every summer, I find a piece for Dash that becomes such a favorite, we wear it and then wash it fast so we can wear it again. This is definitely our piece this year–so much that we got one in two different colors. I love the ease of one-pieces, but they’re often hard to find in sizes about 3T. This one goes up to 5T, is super soft and comfortable, and he can easily take it on and off himself to use the bathroom without undoing any buttons.

8. Straw Summer Boater Hat. I’ve been looking for the perfect summer straw hat and wanted a stiffer boater style, but every time I found one, it was sold out. I had my eye on this beautiful one from Gigi & Pip, but it’s unavailable. This Sole Society one is a close second and has a great price.

9. Sam Jones Off Camera Podcast. My friend Katie texted me a couple weeks ago and told me she was obsessed with Sam Jones Off Camera and knew that I would be too. You can watch the episodes on Direct TV, but I prefer the podcasts so I can work while I listen. SO many great intimate discussions (I’m only 3 in but want to listen to them all) with artists and how they fearlessly create, free on iTunes.

10. Who What Wear Eyelet Dress. Don’t get me started on this line. In fact, when I pass the Who What Wear racks at Target, I have to whisper to myself, “Just keep walking, just keep walking.” I don’t think there’s one piece I wouldn’t wear–designer style details at Target prices. I love “wow” embellishments, and there are so many in this line–unique details on necklines, sleeves; ruffles, neck bows–all of it. I’m in love with the sleeves on this dress, and they make it in a shirt as well.

11. Fake Bake Flawless Self Tanning Liquid. So, I’m not sure if the ingredients in self tanning lotions are good for your skin all the time, but for occasional sun-kissed moments, I’ve never used a better sunless tanning product. It’s actually a liquid you spray on and comes with gloves and this mitten that’s key for blending.

12. dv Grommet Slides. Target’s getting out of control with their cool stuff. The metal grommets on these slides give them a nice edge, and I love that they slip on without bending down to adjust straps or ties.

13. Cheese Cutter. I was at Heidi’s one afternoon when she started making me an appetizer plate–as she does for anyone who stops by–and she rocked my world when she pulled these out and effortlessly cut some sharp cheddar into perfect squares in a matter of seconds. “What are those and how do I get some?” They’re kitchen scissors with a built-in cutting board in the blade, and they have completely transformed how we make cheese plates. When my sister visited, she saw me use them and quickly pulled her phone out to order some, and now I feel like it’s the information I’ve been given to disperse to the world to change lives.

 

*This post is not sponsored and I don’t get anything from anyone for linking to them but, as always, if I use an Amazon link on this site, it’s an affiliate link that kicks a tiny bit back to our family. I won’t link to something unless I love it or find it useful, which is why I didn’t link those damn hairy monster flip flops because, Dear God, you don’t need them and neither did my husband.

Capri Sun

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Suddenly it feels like summer. Not the weather so much as there’s not enough shift here to distinguish one season from the next, but more the vibe…the anticipation of summer which, like looking forward to Christmas, is a season itself. Looking forward to seasons before they arrive is half the fun. Which is why I’ve started to line up some June family fun, map out our summer road trip, search popsicle recipes, look for summer camps, create my summer reading list and practice my s’more techniques.

We dipped our foot in the shallow end of summer this past weekend by returning to one of our favorite Southwest Florida spots, the Capri Fish House on Isles of Capri.

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It delivered, as it always does, with a show of Florida’s finest sea life–shells, crabs, sea stars, a dolphin sighting and for the first time in a long time, a manatee–just a baby–that hung out near the dock for a good thirty minutes or so. The kids were getting ready to jump off the dock and then stopped when they say a large mass surface the water slowly and then go back down. Lainey made it clear that she was “NOT going in there,” and as the mass continued to surface and make its way closer to the dock, I was all “damn straight you’re not.” When we finally realized it was a manatee, I wanted to jump in and swim with the unicorn, but I held myself back.

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My favorite thing about Isles of Capri is the colors–rainbow kayaks, painted boats, buildings and fruit stands and bait shacks that don’t have to abide by the same strict must-fit-in regulations of surrounding cities (a.k.a. mine).

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New to Isles of Capri: Barbie’s Hot Springs Lagoon, best enjoyed in the nude, of course.

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We’ve been talking a lot lately about family adventures–how to make them such a natural part of your life that your kids enjoy them well through teenage years. Or is it a rite of passage to do the whole “I don’t want to go” thing when you’re 15? Our kids are all still in the “all in” phase, but I look ahead with reference to the boys when they got to Isles-of-Capri-isn’t-fun days (the blasphemy!) and to my own teenage years when–given going to Paris with my family (mind you, we were a little busted up in the family department) or sitting at home–I wanted to sit at home.

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Naturally, we do a lot with friends which makes just about any adventure fun, but I also want my kids to love just us time and not always feel a need for friends in order to have fun. For Lainey, that sometimes leaves her hanging as the little two are so compatible and run off together. I say things like, “But Mom and Dad are fun! We’re your friends!” which–in case you were wondering–elicits the eye roll of the century.When we’re in Michigan, a good portion of our trip includes cousins which is so great for Lainey–she’d really miss kids her age for that long of a period. But I’ve also heard her affectionately reflect on quiet little adventures we’ve made with just us. “Remember when it was raining at the cabin for two days and just you, me and Dash played games and watched movies? Can we do that again?”

I haven’t figured the balance of this out–just something I think about, wondering what we can be doing now to make a good foundation to preserve together time when later it’s not necessarily met with jumping up and down responses. I’ve seen far too many movie scenes where the family station wagon is all packed up to go to grandma’s, and the sulky teenager with the headphones on is refusing to go while the dad’s all “Dammit, get in the car. You WILL go to Grandma’s.” The positive unicorn in me smiles and says, “That will never be us.” But maybe it’s just part of life, and a softness for that sulky teenager will grow with time.

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This I do know: Adventure often with family. Instill such a sense of love and togetherness in these outings–whether they are road trips or picnics in the back yard–that they become the best part of life, the fountain your kids will run to drink from when life leaves them thirsty. For the record, middle school is a thirsty time. And maybe slip in a few stealthy brain-washing phrases during these adventures like, “Look how much fun we’re having! We are such a fun family! You are so happy right now!”

If all else fails, I guess there’s always “Dammit, get in the car. You WILL go to Isles of Capri, and you will LIKE it. Frolic, by golly! FROLIC! You’re having fun!”

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Hear that, Nella?

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I kid, I kid, but I do make a point to deliver a short sermon–the preacher’s daughter in me–whenever we’re blissed out on nature and I can tell everyone’s achieving a good 10 on the fun scale. “Feel that sun? That breeze? See those clouds, that sunset…smell that air? It’s heaven, isn’t it? It’s the best life has to offer. Don’t ever forget that.”

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And all God’s people said Amen.

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A Tale of Two Shoes

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This post is sponsored by Børn Shoes

It is no secret that the fate of our little family was almost ruined by a pair of shoes–sandals, to be exact–closed-toe fisherman sandals that looked like something Jesus would wear, except Brett was wearing them on a date in 2004 when everything was still being analyzed as possible red flags to boot him from the “guys I could be with” status.

“He’s super nice,” I told Heidi after one of our first dates, “and so good with his kids. But there is this one thing,” I admitted, “…I hate his shoes.”

“Oooooh, that’s a tough one,” she replied. “What, were they, like, double velcro old man tennis shoes?”

“God, no–not that bad,” I answered. “They’re just–I don’t know–really Jesus-y. Like woven lattice sandal things that had a buckle and covered his toes.”

“Totally overlookable,” she assured, “Go on another date. We can fix the sandals situation.”

Curtain fades.

Act 2, thirteen years later. Let’s talk about “overlookable” for a moment.

Scene: Our bathroom. Crusty old toothpaste is glued to Brett’s sink where my straightener and hair dryer are resting, despite the fact he continually reminds me that I have my own sink. Tangled cords dangle from the counter top, makeup is strewn everywhere, and an empty bottle of hairspray sits next to the soap dispenser. I’m wearing my favorite granny nightgown, and my hair is pulled back in a headband so that my charcoal mask doesn’t get in my bangs. “CAN SOMEONE GET ME A ROLL OF TOILET PAPER?!” I yell, except I’m wearing my retainer so it sounds more like, “SHAN SHUM ONE SHKET ME A ROLL OF CHOILET PAPER?!” There’s nothing but shreds left on the cardboard roll…again.

Brett walks in wearing the t-shirt the neighbors got him for a joke–the one that says “My Favorite People Call Me GRANDPA”–and a pair of boxers he’s had for four years. He throws me a roll of toilet paper but reminds me that I might want to clean the seat first because Dash used it last. He flosses his teeth before he exits…stage right.

And I was worried about a pair of bad sandals once.

This is our life. And we love it. Here’s the thing though. Shoes are still important. In fact, when we’re buried in scattered toys and spending Friday nights singing along to the Moana soundtrack in the car while we schlep kids to friends’ houses for sleepovers, it’s little things like good shoes and hip sunglasses and occasionally switching the station to 80’s rock that keep us from feeling entirely overlooked. We’ve evolved as a family over the years as have our priorities, and while that may mean I’m not so shallow as to throw a date with a great guy out the window over his shoes, it doesn’t mean I have to completely abandon style and my love of good footwear.

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We find what makes us feel good, both in and out of our roles as “Mom” and “Dad,” and our friends at Born Shoes always have something that fits us both, in style and comfort.

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(Brett’s wearing Born Allan loafers; I’m wearing their Tegal sandals.)

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As always, Born doesn’t make you pay a comfort price for style. They know parents spend enough time sacrificing comfort getting kicked in the face from kids in the family bed, bending over to pick up stray Shopkins and lugging tricycles home on walks where their kids abandoned what they promised they’d ride the whole way…they’ll at least keep your feet comfortable while you’re in the trenches.

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The Jesus sandals might be gone, but miracles of biblical proportions happen in our home every day–like this morning, when I turned around an almost ruined day from a ponytail that was supposed to be “HIGH high” and only ended up “kinda high.” Hallelujah, glory be. As for the mess in between the miracles? Totally overlookable.

I’m so happy I overlooked his sandals thirteen years ago.

Thank you to Born Shoes for adding style and comfort to our beautiful mess.