Enjoying: One Painted Hand

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Over a year ago, I regressed back to a bad childhood habit–biting my nails–but strangely, only my right hand. I justify my habit with the fact that it’s only a halfway relapse and don’t consider myself a true nail biter because my left hand is still groomed with nails that are perfectly filed and shellacked with a nice shiny clear coat to compensate for the jagged cuticles and fingertip skin show on the right. This counterbalance pops up in other areas of my life as well–like my clean kitchen with the shiny counters and the candles and the diffused lemon oil to distract you from my office, the current designated room for hiding laundry baskets and mail piles and random objects that can’t seem to find their place in our home. I’ve always been a self-deprecating compliment deflector, armed and ready to show you my failing side lest that clean kitchen tip the scales toward a too put together image (“That’s because everything’s hidden in the junk drawers!”). But right now, perhaps simply for self preservation when things are inevitably going to be imbalanced, I’m trying to look at the left hands in my life.  The kitchen I take time to keep clean, the hours we spend reading with our kids, the french braid I nailed the other morning, the fact that I stacked the lunch boxes on their designated shelf and haven’t had to go searching for them for the past five mornings in a row. It is a given that there’s always an untidy corner, a place we could be doing better. But look! That left hand, man. It looks good.

I haven’t done an Enjoying post in a while, and it’s funny–Brett and I were talking the other day about how we used to do so much more with the kids before school schedules and how much we miss those moments. I don’t pick up my camera as much as I used to, and sometimes it feels like the small things I love so much get lost in a sea of responsibilities. When I finally made time to go through some photos I had been saving from the past couple weeks, I was reminded of how much love and creativity and color and light and small beautiful moments are still there. Look at that left hand, man.

Lately enjoying…

Taking time to color something. On paper…

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Or cement…

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…and my own stash of “mama’s chalk”

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Bravery for new tasks. He wants to learn how to skate so bad. He falls every time but never fails to put those skates back on and try again.

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A house for Latte.

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Afternoon walks to the lake like we used to do.

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George the dinosaur who accompanied us everywhere we went for one full day, then flew away.

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Our repeated failure with picking strawberries in Florida (picked over, got nothing, still had fun).

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Dirty feet as measures of how much fun you’ve had on a weekend.

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His weirdness that makes him awesome.

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When they play games and don’t throw the pieces everywhere.

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Morning light.

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New drama in Barbieland. Apparently, Paquel was mean to Kiki this week, but then they worked it out because they went to Target where Paquel bought Kiki some goldfish crackers and Nutella. But then they had a sleepover where Dash pulled Paquel’s leg off, and things got real bad. She’s recovering after a reattachment though so, I’m sure they’ll be back at Target soon. Whew. It’s a like our own live soap opera.

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When he’s not pulling legs off Barbies…

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Breakfast on the run.

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Catching lizards (and yes, letting them go).

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Going through her Valentine box with her friend from school.

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Getting as many beach days in as we can before Florida turns hot and humid soon.

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And an afternoon spent alone with my three at Botanical Gardens.

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Nella pushed Lainey into a rocky pond at the end of our trip, and it was NOT PRETTY.

But we’re focusing on the left hand with the painted nails.

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We are off to Colorado today for some family fun. Happy almost weekending.

Dash’s 4 Year Trash Bash: A Garbage Truck Party

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I used to record what my kids were loving every single month, scratching endless notes on loose leaf paper and tucking them in the baby book where the given lines under “monthly milestones” couldn’t contain all I wanted to remember. Things like…

You love avocado now. You run into the kitchen when you hear me doing dishes so you can climb in the dishwasher, your favorite place for mischief. You love Goodnight Moon and Twinkle Twinkle. You’d eat scrambled eggs for every meal if we let you. You love your new blue flip flops. You like to pour your own bath soap, and we let you.

Every single month, I wrote them down–a page for each child–until life with three kids got too busy, and I recognized my effort to write down every love, every month, for every child was another way of hanging on too tight to what would never stop changing…time.

There are still occasional notes written down and tucked in the books–things that are too good to let go, too funny to forget. And the rest, we summarize in our birthday parties–a celebration of what our kids love and who they are. For Dash and his fourth year, it’s garbage trucks. Or, as he shouts every Tuesday and Friday morning as he runs to the viewing perch at his bedroom window, “The jerbage truck is coming!”

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The bonus in choosing a garbage truck theme for a party? EASIEST. PREP. EVER. You decorate with…wait for it…

trash.

As in, save some newspapers, egg cartons, tin cans and milk jugs, and then pile it up and call it decorations.

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I’m learning where to cheat and save my energy for where motherhood needs it most right now, so I bought a store bought cake (Wynn Dixie chocolate cakes are so good!) and decorated it in FIVE MINUTES. Scrapped off the top, dumped some crushed Oreos and arranged a toy garbage truck and a few dollhouse miniature newspaper and groceries.

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We did make the cupcakes, but they were easy too, thanks to tipped over garbage can cupcake toppers (there’s a list of links for all the party details at the end of the post).

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Party favors: treats in a trash bag.

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Some favorite moments from his party:

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We played a trash toss game…

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…and had an art station where kids were encouraged to make new treasures out of old trash. On one side of the table, I piled up recycled bottles, cans, cartons and cardboard, and on the other side, put out a bunch of craft items I found in my craft closet–tissue paper, pipe cleaners, moss, beads, pom poms, fabric and paper scraps, sequins, glue, washi tape, etc. And then it was a Project Runway challenge…except with garbage.

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The kids got creative and made sculptures, vases and collages with their garbage.

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The little ones’ favorite game was the Trash Pick-up Relay–two teams that raced to fill their garbage can first, collecting and dropping one piece of garbage at a time using a grabby hand picker-upper. That’s the official name for it, right?

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Dash is still adamant that he’s not four and will stay three, so he blew out 3+1 candles

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Last one at the table eating…that’s my boy.

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Another candle, another year, another shoe size–so happy to celebrate our boy and everything he loves right now: balloons, wearing “handsome man” cologne like daddy, grapes in his lunch box, cutting his own hair (once–dear God, the scissors are hidden now), his train pajamas, having his hand tickled while he falls asleep, being kissed on his eyelids…and big, loud “jerbage” trucks.

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Dash’s garbage truck t-shirt
Garbage truck garland
Trash can cupcake toppers
Mini trash can and recycle bin set (we used as cups)
Black plastic favor bags

Find Your Vacation

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This post is sponsored by Born Shoes.

There are two hilarious text threads with my friends that basically sum up our lives right now.

One is simple and goes like this:

Friend: Brunch this Saturday?
Me: Kids or no kids?
Friend: ROFL. Oh my God, NO KIDS. For the love of God, PLEASE. NO KIDS.

The other, expanded to include more friends in one invite, goes like this:

Me: Brunch next Saturday?
Friend 1: Sure, any time after 10:30. Soccer game.
Friend 2: I can any time before 10:30. House showing.
Friend 3: Piano lessons until 12.
Me: How about Saturday night instead–sunset?
Friend 5: We leave Saturday morning for the weekend, so I’m out. I can Friday night though!
Friend 2: Can’t Friday night. Dinner plans.
Me: How about Sunday morning then?
Friend 3: Birthday party. Can’t. I can after 2 though!
Friend 6: Can’t after 2. In-laws coming.
Me: CAN YOU ALL JUST MEET ME AT THE 24-HOUR TRUCK STOP ON 75 AT 2 AM ON MONDAY MORNING FOR A CUP OF COFFEE?

This needful, soul-filling, priceless thing–time with our friends–is so much harder to find with competing demands of our families and their schedules. But every time my friends and I fight to find the time, even if it’s enjoying a quick cup of coffee together after school drop-off, we admit we are restored in ways that make us better wives, better moms and stronger women. I recently escaped to the Bahamas with five other women for a wellness weekend of yoga, workshops and mediation, and do you know what every single woman said was her favorite part and the most important thing she’s taking home? The fullness we got from the time we spent talking to each other. It was a Deepak Chopra workshop, people, and GIRLFRIEND TIME BEAT OUT DEEPAK!

We women are good at that though–restoring, nurturing and empowering each other in the ways that we listen, support, relate, tell stories, admit vulnerabilities, and encourage with our “Me too”s and “It’s okay”s.

How do we keep these friendships strong? It’s less about finding time to be with our friends and more about making time.

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Last week, we made a friend mini vacation happen on the beach.

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We didn’t pack bags or stay overnight, and we all arrived at different times–fighting schedules, traffic and finding a parking spot–but we did get away long enough to have dinner together (tried those bacon deviled eggs), vent (this math curriculum!), laugh hard (“Heidi, tell that story again!”), get a bone break remedy (“Here, put these under your tongue”), be reminded that we’re not alone and that–though we might not need it now–there’s an army behind us, ready to show up at any time if we need it.

They come wearing cute shoes because our friends at Born Shoes are all about helping women find their vacation this season, and whether that’s sitting on the beach with friends or hiding from your kids in your own back yard for a 5-minute vacation with a box of Thin Mints and the new Us magazine, Born supports you…specifically your feet.

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We tried out some of their new spring styles–the Malena driving moccasin in fun spring color pops, the Havana heeled sandal (in the prettiest spring blush color!), the classic Bima, and the lace-up Dakar–and the verdict is? We love them. Comfortable, stylish and versatile–the perfect picks for your spring break suitcases.

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The best part about getting away with friends? You come home fuller, with more love to give.

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