Help! I Suffer from PDHE–Public Display of Holiday Enthusiasm

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Well, it’s officially September, so I guess I can say this: Happy Fall. That’s right, I’m calling it, two weeks and two days early which is hardly significant if you suffer from PDHE. I’ve had it since I was little–Public Display of Holiday Enthusiasm–and a common side effect is launching into seasonal festivities before they’re actually due. Forget this “Official First Day of Season” crap. The calendar I measure all things in life by is the one Target sends out to their set-up crew employees for those specialty back aisles erected three months before the holiday they’re promoting. In fact, I got so excited for the Christmas aisles going up the day after Halloween last year, that I was with the set-up employees as they put them up: “Um, ma’am, we’re not quite ready yet. You might want to come back tomorrow when we’re finished.”

“What’s your name tag say? Phil? Yeah thanks, Phil, but no. Let me help! Pass me that box of tinsel. OH MY GOD, PHIL! THESE REINDEER PILLOWS!”

The fact is, one day is simply not enough to celebrate my enthusiasm for holidays. Remember, I’m a minimalist. Just kidding. Honey, there are 18 tricycles, 9 scooters, a bike with a broken chain and two pogo balls in my garage on the off chance we’ll host a big driveway party and need them all to make sure every kid feels included and has a toy. Minimalist genes don’t run in my family, and PDHE certainly doesn’t jive well with KonMari’s approach because, in case you haven’t noticed, ALL the holiday things bring me great joy. All of them. My life motto: MORE TWINKLE LIGHTS, and Marie Kondo can whittle down my collection of holiday knick-knacks when she pries them from my cold, dead hands.

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I find this time of year gets a little tricky though with PDHE. There’s a split crowd, and the ones fighting for the preservation of “the season it still is” aren’t always so understanding of premature ejaculation of holiday spirit. Listen, we can’t help it. It’s a condition. I once knew a girl (who shall not be named to protect her identity) who posted a photo of a Christmas tree on November 1 with the caption “Yay! It’s that time of year!,” and her social media community paid to have her killed. Okay, I made that up. But I thought I should be transparent here and tell you and that late August, when I post a picture of a beach on my Instagram to appease the “Too Early!” crowd, just know that my caption “Still loving summer!” is code for “I’ve already put in 6 hours of research on ways to decorate with hay bales, and there’s a pumpkin pathway up my driveway.” K? Good, glad we’re straight.

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Another problem with PDHE is that we’re not really into the subtle decorating thing. I see your simple white-pumpkin-against-white-walls scene that subtly whispers “faaaaaaallll” (Does it?), and I raise you some decorating vomit of a giant “HARVEST” sign next to my cornucopia of glittered pumpkins in the room I just painted “Autumn Blaze Orange” for this very occasion. Why whisper “Fall” when you can scream it? Listen, I don’t do surface relationships well. I want intimacy, and this year will be my 38th year with Fall. “Subtly” isn’t how I want to celebrate; we’re past that. Go ahead, September. You can touch my boobs.

4-foot “HARVEST” on barn wood sign. Too much? I kid, I kid.
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The problem with living in a tropical climate though is that we don’t have weather shifts to signal seasonal changes and upcoming holidays. The only thing we really have to launch us into festive displays of enthusiasm are shop aisles and the release of merchandise that leaves no room for questioning the calendar. Who needs the sight of the first robin to mark spring when there are 200 packages of pink sugar-coated Peeps that told me in Target three weeks ago?  Our cider mills, our hay rides, our pumpkin patches, our tree farms? Why, we find them in the aisles of Hobby Lobby, in the end caps of Target, in the wreath rows at Homegoods. These places are Messengers of God to a PDHE living in the hot holes of southern Florida, and because he’s a gracious giver, he grants us access early–pinecone turkeys in September, snow-dusted evergreen boughs in October.

Hey Mom, can I have this pumpkin? Thanks.
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These establishments are holiday churches in a way, and walking through the garland-strung aisles of fall splendor in any of these stores sets off a rush of dopamine that puts me in a full-flung pleasure stupor. The pumpkin-shaped molds for little individual spice cakes? Great joy. The Halloween cat tights and dangly skeleton earrings? Great joy. The wheat bundles I have no idea how to decorate with but love them just the same? Great joy, great joy, great joy.

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So, forgive me now as I prematurely break forth into Seasonal Festivities Mode. From here to forth, you may see me wearing tights on hot days, skipping beach outings to bake pumpkin bread and throwing around the word “cozy” far more times than you can handle. “Tone it down” isn’t a phrase you’ll hear around here until the last of Target’s Christmas aisles are picked over and cleared out. It’s time to dial it up–because, after all, it’s Fall.

Happy September, folks.

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Step Forward: New Running Goals

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This post is sponsored by Famous Footwear.

I get my greatest mom advice from my sister. She laid the stones for this path several years before me, and the stones are now settled and weathered so that all I have to do is step where she’s already walked. Her parenting mottos have become mine, and we laugh that one of the most repeated ones would make a horrible t-shirt: BE SELFISH. Because sometimes we forget to think about ourselves when, since the moment we knew a baby was on the way, every cell in our body changes its programming to take care of them first.

As awful as “be selfish” sounds, it’s the most loving thing we can do for our families. When we don’t make time and space for our own well being, we’re giving a shabby version of ourselves to our kids. I know it because I’ve felt it–pushing aside the little voice inside that says “Pay attention to me! Listen to me! I have needs too!” to sign the kids up for another activity, help with homework, make a lunch, read a book, prep the dinner, clean the house, put away their laundry. That voice, if left unattended, can scratch us up inside so that we’re resentful, ill-tempered, short-fused. It all comes out ugly in the end.

This time of year is the danger zone. Back to school puts added demands on our families, and new routines require more of us. I’m thrilled to be joining Famous Footwear in helping us remember to take care of ourselves in their Step Forward campaign, encouraging women to make sure one of the new routines you’re taking on this season is FOR YOU. Try something new, set new goals, make some space for an activity that’s strictly for your own well being. September is New Year’s for moms.

My step forward this season?

I’m picking up my running game. I’ve never considered myself “a runner,” but I run–not necessarily to stay fit, but because I find it works to reset everything inside me to “All Clear.” When I’m frustrated with my kids? Running calms me. When I’m anxious about the future? Running assures me. When I’m feeling icky and tired, lazy and gross? Running makes me feel powerful and productive and strong. So I run. But waiting to find a good time at the end of the day isn’t working for me anymore–it’s getting pushed aside.

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New goal: RUN IN THE MORNING. I’m setting my alarm to wake up before my family. Just 30 minutes. Because I’m selfish like that. I find that when I run FIRST THING, it sets the tone for a super productive day. I eat better, I drink more water, I answer more e-mails, write more stuff, keep my house cleaner, think of new ideas. Because “I ran today” powers me through. I prove to myself first thing in the morning that I can do something hard–everything else is cake.

A few things that help me?

Use a running app. I love Nike’s Run Club app. It keeps track of all your runs, lets you rate them, cheers you on (celebrities like Kevin Hart pop in to give you a pep talk while you’re running), and allows you to compete with other runners as well as yourself.

Make a good playlist. I continually add songs to my Spotify running playlist and know which songs to use to motivate me when I think surely I’m going to die.

Get a running friend. Stay accountable with your runs and workouts by inviting friends to share your goals. On Wednesdays, I run with a friend in her neighborhood. On other days, I call my sister to compare running goals.

Stay flexible. I don’t beat myself up if something shifts in the plan and have alternatives for when things change. When Brett’s gone on a work trip, instead of running, I lay a yoga mat out early in the morning and do a home workout instead.

Let your kids see you being selfish. It’s SO good for kids to know we take care of ourselves first. When I’m running out the door for self care or headed on a run and one of my kids cries for me to stay or wants to go with me, I get down next to them and tell them, “Mom’s going to go listen to her heart for a little bit so I can use it to love you better when I come back.”

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Running buddies! Step forward with me. Meet you on the pavement tomorrow morning.

*I’m wearing the Nike Flex Contact running shoes from Famous Footwear in this post.

Hair Ye, Hair Ye: Girls’ Hair Accessories for the School Year

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I’m not going to lie, one of the first things I thought upon finding out I was going to have a girl all those years ago was, “I get to do her hair!” And then another one came, and I was like “TWO! Two little heads of hair begging to be braided and twisted and fishtailed and tied up with ribbons and bows and all the hair accessories in the land!” Now that school’s rolling, we’ve stocked up on all our favorite hair accessories to make getting ready in the morning much easier rather than the end-of-the-year army crawling under beds to scour the floor for a possible hidden ponytail holder because everything’s missing (every day of our lives come May).

For the most part, my girls’ hair is up every day because A: Nella will be distracted and play with hers if it’s down, and B: I was a teacher once, and lice prevention is my jam. Lice prevention goes like this: Keep it dirty; keep it up. Therefore (I threw a “therefore” at you!), we don’t wash it every day. Although I will say some people (not naming names, but it rhymes with “Krett”) take that a little too far, because I rolled up in car line to pick up the girls after “Krett” held the fort down for my 4 days away last week, I saw Nella, and I was like, “DEAR GOD. HER HAIR.” It looked like someone washed it with a CAN OF CRISCO.

How do you get a kid to let you do her hair? I get asked this a lot, and my answer may not work for everyone, but it’s how we play the hair game: it’s non-negotiable here. As they say in the south, “No bow, no go.” Lainey does her own hair now, but starting with preschool, my girls have always known that hair’s gettin’ done, end of story.

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It helps that I started doing their hair when they barely had enough to do, so they’re so used to it and never complain. Occasionally, if I’m doing something that’s a little more time-consuming or annoying, I’ll do it in front of the T.V. or hand Nella an iPad, but for the most part she doesn’t hesitate and gets involved in how she wants it done. “I want a fishtail!” “I want honey pots!” (two buns–got that term from a blog reader years ago).

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And on weekends when it doesn’t matter, we let her wear it wild and free and down if she so chooses so she can swing it around like a diva.

As for storing and organizing our hair accessories, we have tried everything over the years from those big ribbons you use to snap on all your clips to labeled containers. We finally settled on what works for us (and actually keeps us from losing as much as we used to)–an entire top drawer of a dresser with a compartmentalized drawer organizer in it.

As for our hair products and accessory stash, I’m sharing some of our favorites today.  There are some handmade shops out there that make the most beautiful hair accessories, and we’d love nothing more than to have our entire selection be made up of these gorgeous goodies, but we’d be broke. So we do hair stuff with a half-and-half approach–we splurge on the really pretty-pretties we love for a nice foundation to our stash, and then we stock it with inexpensive fillers, especially when it comes to trendy stuff.

As for the basics, we always keep bobby pins on hand and use them for buns, braids and up-dos. For the ends of braids, we use clear mini bands.

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I always buy a spool of narrow red grosgrain ribbon to tie in ponytails and at the end of braids (red goes with everything) as well as a spool of some gingham check to keep on hand (Joann’s or Michael’s or any fabric store). The ribbons fall off and we lose them from time to time, so the inexpensive spool replenishes our stock.

And the rest? Here’s what we’re currently loving for our mane game:


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1. Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel Lice Prevention Spray. As a former teacher, I’m a bit of a lice prevention freak. I spray this on my kids’ hair every day (it doubles as a detangler) before I do their hair.

2. Rabbit Ear Ponytail Holders. Lainey LOVES these for her ponytails. They’re super inexpensive (20 of them for $7), won’t damage hair and turn an ordinary ponytail into something a bit more special.

3. Giddy Up and Grow Barrettes and Accessories. Basically, I want everything in her shop. We have several goodies from Giddy Up and Grow, and they are so beautiful–all handmade with the most beautiful materials. Her clips are super fun (Nella wore the popcorn and cotton candy ones to the fair this year), and her headbands are intricately designed and absolutely stunning. And her fall and Halloween line this year–Gah! Adorable.

4. Glitter Snap Clips. I mean, it’s glitter. You can’t go wrong. And it’s a 9-pack for only $10. Tight snap, great for bangs that are growing out or securing flyaways from braids. Or, in Nella’s case, chunks of uneven hair that she cut herself.

5. The Wet Brush. It took us a while to get one of these but after every kid who came over for a sleepover pulled one out of her bag and was all, “What? You don’t have a Wet Brush?!?”, we finally got one, and we’re in the cool club. By cool, I mean not crying from ripped tangled hair.

6. Hello Shisho Clips. Maybe it’s my miniature loving heart, but their coordinating themed clips? Obsessed. And they’re so cute when worn as a pair. Little conversation starters and the perfect accessory to any outfit. The fall acorn and leaf? The chicken and the egg? I CAN’T.

7. Sweet July Clips. These have been our signature clips since Nella was a baby, and if you look back in the blog archives, these babies pop up on my girls all the time. My good friend right here in Naples makes them, and I love to go to school and see all the other kids wearing them as well. They stay put–my favorite part. Even when Nella was little and took swipes at her hair, these suckers didn’t come out. Lots of fabric and size choices as well.

8. Pom-Pom Pins. Forever 21 is one of my favorite places to stock up on inexpensive hair stuff for the girls, especially the trendy funky stuff Lainey’s more into now. Also it gives me an excuse so when we walk in the store and Heidi tells me, “Dude, we’re like minivan-driving moms; we don’t belong in here,” I can snap back with, “I’m just here for the hair stuff…for the girls, of course.” (shhhhh…and also a bedazzled crop top). These pom-pom pins are super cute–shove a couple in a bun for a pop of color.

9. Miss Magpie Originals. You can’t go wrong with classic simplicity. Everything in this shop is timeless. These sweet bows are hand tied and made from high quality materials. Pair with a Peter Pan collared dress, bobby socks and Mary Janes, and then climb into the pages of a Dick & Jane book.

Also, Lainey is all up in those giant Jojo whats-her-name bows perched at the top of a ponytail cheerleader-style, but they’re like $16 a pop. We’ll pick one up on sale every once in a while because they do have some snazzy rainbow sequin stuff you can’t find anyplace else, but Lainey’s been happy with this set for way less.

And one from the archives to close…Gahhh! That itty itty bitty barrette!

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