Jesse and I are in Austin for the next approx 50 hours. He's at a Jesus conference and i'm tagging along on skymiles, a dream and the miracle of free childcare (love you Dukes/Vincents!!!)

Okay so people who know, what must we see/eat/do?

Note: we're staying downtown and don't have a car while here. We must get our walk on.

So far: i have all day to myself and have binged (responsibly) on fabric and food trucks. In an ironic or perfectly hilarious followup post to the previous one, nothing about this is WW approved.  but this is our first trip in 3 years...ill eat raw cabbage all next week...worth it.

I didn't wake up at 5 am to fly 12 parsecs to order grilled chicken. PLUS I've already walked 4 miles today and thrashed my abs during a coughing fit on the flight, soooo yeah...I'm committed.

{if the pic won't show it's bc the phone posting is so flipping persnickety...you can see the pic on my Instagram here: http://instagr.am/p/WSWwZGIYjH/}

1. Getting my fab on at StitchLab // 2. Torchy's taco truck...OMG // 3. Gourdough's ($5!!!) doughnut...not overpriced, FTR // 4. Pretty history or something

in #4 I cropped out the jolly bum that was in this pic and proceeded to follow me basketball-defender style for a half mile (I have a wicked swim move pivot step and evaded like whoa). He thought I was the funniest person alive when I called him "Texan" in response to him calling me "Georgian." He was also fantastically intoxicated and wanted to be bar buddies.

So far Austin is as perfect as everyone says. Give me more reasons to believe in the city that Stone Cold Steve founded!


my not so sweet 16

i'd rather not talk about it because i'd rather it not be true. but since it IS true, i'm gonna talk about it.

when i went for my insurance physical i asked my doctor how much weight i had gained. i have never really cared about numbers, but i knew i had gained just because of how my clothes were(n't) fitting lately.

she looks at my chart and gets this squinty-pained look on her face and goes, "are you sure you really want to know?" 

and i'm like, WTF!?!?! youre my doctor! if youre playing the "ignorance is bliss, maybe you DONT want to know" card on me, it must really be brutal.

and it was. since the last time i had been there (6 months prior) i had gained 16 pounds.

um yeah. that is embarrassing as all to even type. because there's no baby, no injury, no sickness, no depression to explain it away. its just a big old ugly number (although it is a perfect square, i'll give it that) that sits there unflinchingly berating me.*

remember last spring when i first started caring about how i presented myself? even back then, i was struggling with a healthy body image (and this is pre-16). when i started being more intentional about my clothes and hair and makeup, i decided to let go of hating the parts of me that i found imperfect.

awesome, right? yeah it so was. 

but in typical keight all-or-nothing fashion, this quickly went from "i love me just how i am and wont be anorexic!!" to, "i deserve a lapful of PB m&m's, popcorn and milk after dinner NIGHTLY because i love me, yall!" and now here we are.*

so i joined the hive mind of resolutions and started weight watchers on new years. i had done weight watchers after giving birth to judah and within 3 months i was back to pre-pregnancy and feelin' fine. i wont lie, jennifer hudson is an awesome choice for spokesperson and her commercials really did motivate me.

even still, i did NOT want to talk about it. i think in the first month i maybe told 2 people total. i HATE giving off the impression that i need a fad diet or professional help in solving the non-mystery of weight. i hate that in my head i am still an uber-athlete but i'm signing up for a weight management program. that doesnt jibe with the stud i feel like i should be. 

you know how far feeling like a stud but acting like a slob will get you? about 16 lbs far. 

so i decided to live in reality, even though it hasnt been fun. better than deluding myself and still feeling miserable.

but i still planned to never ever blog about this thing. because of shame. because of, ugh, arent ladies on the internet supposed to have their mess together? to keep it tight no problem?

i made it almost 60 days of keeping a secret like this from the internet. thats a record for me. and it helps that i have had some success already so i can distance myself from that "before" chick so that it doesnt sting as bad (though after v1.0 is still bigger than i am in my head).

it's not been super fun. when youre losing weight youre supposed to feel hungry. this was not an easy lesson for me to learn. hunger is not an impulse i have a lot of practice suppressing or denying and millions of years of evolution have bred me to have a panic response to hunger and to stuff my face in times of plenty. thanks a NOT, darwin. 

but i am really committed to this. we are absolutely not having (or at least TRYING to have...jesus is captain) another baby until i can honestly say i am happy with my weight, fitness and overall image. that's a tall order right now, but i know that assuming you'll deal with it afterwards never works out as planned.

and i realized that a lot of the heart-yuckiness i talked about here was coming up as a response to how i felt about my own body. that i was becoming bitter when i saw my fit or hot-looking friends or even just a random pinterest lady looking good.  16 lbs is one thing, but when my weight starts interfering with how i show the love of jesus (even in my own silent thoughts) then its time to do some soul searching and probably make some changes.

so that is where i am now. i have a whole set of BEFORE pics in various outfits (mega password protected for the skimpier ones) and am working daily of crafting my new afters.

 let's be clear: skinny isnt the answer. living fully with what jesus has given me is. all the resolutions and works in the world dont matter if there isnt a heart change sustaining them (thats bible AND biggest loser, so you can believe it!). i already talked about the heart change i'm experiencing and 1/1 felt like the right time to start the outward work too.

i'll try to keep yall updated on how this process is going. these pics were taken at -9 lbs at the beginning of february. my realistic goal is -25 and then my super goal is -40. dang those look like insanely huge numbers when i write them on the internet.

 if i look happier in the BEFORE pics, it probably because i just ate a whole pizza.

yikes. putting this out there is terrifying. truth.

finding the balance between healthy self-love and constant self-indulgence is extremely difficult for me. anyone been here before? (not necessarily a weight-specific issue!) verses, wisdom, experience to share?

*also, i have a theory that when i turned 30 on october 2, my metabolism downshifted by 20% and now i am fighting an even tougher battle.


dash & friends

judah was invited to his church BFF's 5th birthday party on sunday. it was superhero themed and naturally i didnt think about what he might wear until 30 minutes before we had to leave.

luckily, we were more than prepared, still having all of the pieces to his amazing homemade incredibles costume. but since layla was coming to the party too, we needed to rig up something for her. i let her pick her favorite from a selection of heroes that i thought i could reasonably whip up in 30 minutes from stuff around the house. she chose, i made, we left.

dash is back...and picking his wedgie?

the party was so awesome. homemade, but EASY. laid-back but such fun for the kids. i will be taking a page from the bday mom's brilliant book and going the chill, sanity-preserving method for bday parties. unless i get a bananas delusion to build mega-slide again.

a bunch of bad-A little dudes. villains, beware.

the bday boy is seriously one gorgeous boy. (but dont tell him i said that...superman has an image to keep up).

judah decided to give his birthday buddy an added gift for free: the chance to practice grace--when he swooped in at the magic moment to blow out marc's number 5 candle for him.

the smoking gun candle. captain america and i could only look on in horror. 

yall, but here's the proof that marc's parents are getting it right. instead of raging out on judah for stealing his birthday blow, marc immediately looked at judah and said, "now yowh five too!" freaking adorable and christlike! all points to marc.

after seeing that picture i went back and looked at the ones i took in the same candle-blowing sequence, and it turns out that judah DIDNT usurp the candle (though he 100% meant to). this photo-finish from a second before proves that marc did get the candle and judah was a little late on the steal. shwew:

thank heavens. as the awesomely biblical and hilarious parents noted, we almost had a jacob/esau situation unfolding here with a birthright being stolen from the older kid.

happy birthday, marc. we love you!

hmmmm, it feels like i am forgetting something. oh right! what did layla dress up as?

well, in perfect lay-lay fashion, she managed to upstage all costumes by rocking her ghetto-rigged one with her baby bod and firecracker personality.

yall, she was batgirl, and she was exquisite:

um, yes. a million times yes. 

as i was taking the above picture, it's like she knew the exact character she was supposed to be playing and did the most flawlessly executed superhero-run-away maneuver and i am happy in my soul to have captured the athletic prowess of the moment:

there are no words.  but i am dead. dead of cute.

actually, there is one word. and it looks like this:

whoosh indeed. that first step is lightning-quick.

and what is batgirl's super-power that strikes fear in the heart of all evil-doers?

the belly bounce!  capable of knocking over small buildings and much larger children in a single arch of her back.

now a bunch more shots of how mother-freaking HILARIOUS this child is.

the game is afoot! follow me!

at terminal velocity down the hill.

she has cornered her quarry

but with her limited 2-year old agility and mask-impeded peripheral vision, he escapes!

batgirl must trudge back UP the hill alone:
 our tiny caped crusadette learns that it's a little harder than going downhill.

"my back! oh my back!"

"i think i slipped a disc!"

a dollop (or more) of icing makes it all better

layla, please be my best friend because you are the funniest, sweetest, spiciest and sassiest little goofball i've ever met.


going with the Tide

i own two of the exact same sweater. well, i should really say that i bought two of the exact same sweater. i still own both of them but they are quite different at this point. 

the sweater i speak of is actually the pink/coral colored one pictured in my first ever fashion post from almost a year ago. at 29.5 i decided to start caring about how i present myself and what my style says about me and how it can affect my day to day emotional well-being. 

that sweater and ombre tank top combo have for almost an entire year held the place of my security blanket outfit. whenever i am having a self esteem spiral or "can't find anything to wear!" i can always count on that duo to bring me through and just make me feel good until i climb down off the ledge.

so imagine my horror when last summer i got my sweater out of the dryer to find that it had faded oh so badly. it was at best a diluted imitation of its original color, and at worst a pastel salmon monstrosity.

i am not very good at laundry.  i always buy the biggest, cheapest detergent there is, dump a ton of it in the washer and run everything on warm. 

*(we haven't dry cleaned one piece of clothing in over 6 years of marriage and if a tag says "dry clean only" i read it as, "DO NOT BUY THIS KEIGHT." 

the few times that i have ignored my own tendencies and bought a dry clean only garment have ended with me wearing it until the stains or pit-smells make it unwearable and then putting it on top of my dryer for about 2 years. then i take it down, smell it and usually 700 days of sitting there have knocked all of the smelliness out of it and i start the cycle again. 

i feel like that's not an ideal system. so yeah: machine washable is CRUCIAL).*

i agonized over buying a duplicate replacement sweater and finally decided it was worth it. the day i paid for the same sweater for a SECOND time, everything changed. 

the death of a garment changed me, y'all.

since then i wash everything i care about on the delicate cycle and in cold water. i don't know if this is right exactly, but i've been burned and traumatized (overstatement?) by losing things i love and have spent money on, just to have them fade or become permanently stained after a few washings.

the one thing that i didn't change was my detergent. i am frugal to the max and just kept buying the 50-gallon (exaggeration) containers of the no-name stuff. so when Tide offered me a chance to try their 3-in-1 detergent Tide Pods, i accepted, thinking that surely a little nugget of goodness couldn't really be that much better.

best believe some of the syrup glistening on that bear plate made it onto little clothes.

first off: the ease of the Tide Pods is seriously wunderbar. if you recall, our washer/dryer are stacked. this is awesome for the most part, but since our detergent lives atop the dryer, it's kind of a pain to reach up there on my tippy toes and then go through the rigmarole of filling up the cup with the messy liquid stuff (which inevitably drips down onto the pantry floor and pushes me closer to the grave when i see that slimy goop).

so being able to just grab a pac from the bag and toss it in really had a benefit that i didn't expect.

very pleasingly blister-like (that panda peeking out of the machine is about to get slapped in the face by freshness)

okay so then there is the triple chamber design of the Tide Pods that promises to clean, brighten and fight stains better than 6 caps of the liquid stuff (based on stain removal performance of one pac of Tide Pods vs. 6 doses of the leading liquid bargain brand base variant in a standard top loading machine.)  here's where i was skeptical.

BUT in the interest of a seriously honest review, i decided to trust the promise. so i grabbed a bunch of my most vibrantly-colored pieces of clothing out of the dirty clothes, checked them for smelliness (check! my social anxiety manifests as charming pit-moisture) and stains (double check! i am a vigorous eater and sometimes there be shrapnel) and put them all in one load.

i threw in a pac (so much squishier than i had expected), crossed myself (not really though) and set the washer on the regular color cycle rather than delicates.

i am thrilled to say that my ruby cardigan is still ruby. not only are the colors just as bright as when i bought them, but the stains came out completely, which was really surprising given the tiny pac versus the huge cup of liquid i usually use (which still wasn't getting stains out effectively).

i also kept detecting the most pleasant smell. i kept looking around for a charmingly beautiful and nice rich lady who was fresh from a mountain glade. i eventually realized this smell was coming from ME! the scent the pacs imparted to my clothes is so nice and it has staying power.

i think this is the beginning of a beautiful love affair between our stinky laundry and Tide Pods. 

so what have i learned? machine washable fashion is the only way i roll and Tide's 3-in-1 detergent pacs, the only 3-chamber unit dose on the market, are the easier and more efficient way to keep my style fresh and bright. 

pop in a whole new kind of clean with Tide Pods.

with spring around the corner (at least in schizo georgia where we are sure to get a 75 degree day in february and at least one 30 degree day in april) i put together a little 3-in-1 fashion magic of my own, showing how i would take just two affordable, machine-washable pieces and create three fresh spring looks.

so yeah, i'm pumped that mint, yellow, navy and coral are an on-trend combo in the 2k13 and plan to rock it every which way. 

Tide is giving one of you a chance to beef up your wardrobe for spring with $100!!

*giveaway now closed! Jessica To is our winner!

Tell me about something in your wardrobe that's versatile and provides 3-in-1 style. By leaving a comment, you'll be entered for the chance to win a Visa gift card for $100. Pop In. Stand Out.

No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post.
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion, including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: "#SweepstakesEntry"; leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post.
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post.
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 2/19/13 – 3/19/13. Be sure to visit the Tide Pods brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!


a recurrence of herringboner

when i considered what to do on the walls in the NEW! office, my first thought was a stencil of some sort. i have a few girlfriends who have captured the hearts of the internet with their seriously amazing stencil-anchored room makeovers (birch trees! moroccan tiles!) so i was sniffing around the wall stencil websites for a promising scent.

i knew i wanted something graphic and linear and modern. now, i love a good chevron and am so glad that the chev-rage is still pretty de rigueur. but you know that really tense feeling you get when a game of bingo or jenga has gone on with no winner for way longer than it should and, eeeeeeeeeeeeeee! certainly someone is going to yell BINGO! or the tower is going to fall at any moment, and your butt is just so clenched and every nerve ending is frayed from the electricity? yeah well that where i am on chevrons (also: this is why i'm not super fun to play games or see suspense movies with...tightly wound, anyone?). i feel like at any moment chevrons are going to be played out, so as much as i love them, i am not cementing them in to my 5-year plan. my wall plan, as it were.

you may have been scarred for life by remember my erotic love note to our new couch. that beautiful beast was the first herringbone specimen in our house. i love how subtle it is, but that the pattern itself is graphic and unique, but timeless and chic.

so when i saw that stencil i was purring like a smitten kitten and knew that i must have the bone. but then my impulsive frugal wheels started turning and i thought, it's just straight lines, do i really need a $40 stencil (plus shipping and the clip on level) to make this happen? also, if i just do the design myself, i can STARTRIGHTNOW!

jesse does not love this feature of my personality.

but he had been gone all week at a conference while i was home with the kids and so he knew better than to say no and set off the inner meth-addict that i become when i've been single parenting/working/stressing for a few days.

so with the kids packed off to the grandmas (back to back days!) i got down and dirty.

i tried to map it out in the most geometrically pleasing way so that i could conserve tape, time, and effort. this started with sharpies, graph paper and highlighters and ended with me saying, "screw this. i'm just gonna start drawing on the walls."

i'm going to do a tutorial on how i got the pattern on the wall and full blown after pics  i have a few more columns to finish up the whole she-bang), but here is a little sneak peek that i put on instagram:

it's so pretty and i love it forever (or approx 2-3 years). 

herringboners unite!

have yall ever done (or wanted to do) a stencil or a fun design on your walls?


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re: the other side of the pillow

this moment just fell into my lap (literally) yesterday afternoon. 

i think it's kind of flawless. i have no complaints about my own appearance that might get in the way of fully appreciating the moment: her perfect baby mouth, her pudgy hand holding my necklace, her sweet little mullet upswept into a high pony by my hand, and even the 3rd volume in my teddy roosevelt biography series looking on.

best believe i plastered this baby all over tarnation.

but lest this picture pull an internet/pinterest/social media trickaroo on you (like when i see a beautiful picture of twins on there and think, "oh i wish i had some!" based on one single frame) and you run off looking to get your most fertile egg nice and fertilized by the closest sperm within boinking distance--because, OMG motherhood is such a righteous snugfest!--let me show you just why the above photo is the elusive needle in the proverbial haystack of the moments that dont often get pinned:

4 minutes after the first picture, she woke up.  ponysprout erection, slack-jawed grog face, sweaty bedhead. she's still perfect and amazing but in a less "pin it!" kind of way

and then her personality wakes up:

 and yes. we are back in the wheelhouse.

i think the reason so many "perfect" pictures get internet love is BECAUSE they are the exception. just like the stories on the news are always about the 1-in-a-million thing that happens rather than exclusive interviews with the 6.5 billion people who had a normal day, didnt get murdered, win the lottery, or pull a balloon boy.

but the same tricky lies that convince us to fear those freak stories, or to waste our money on the statistically impossible (though i will always buy a $1 ticket when those jackpots get huge just to join in the fun) can mess us up, but in the opposite direction.

let me explain.

i have spent a lot of my adult life praying and wrestling and cowering my way through the crippling wound of fear. like paralyzing, imagination-on-a-rampage-until-i-am-full-on-catatonic fear. i have clung HARD to the the promises of god that i dont need to be afraid because he is with me. the exercise of NOT going there in my mind to the one in a million scenario, of taking captive those thoughts before they steal any more moments of my life has been grueling and so worth it. 

i set a boundary in jesus' name and refused to live my life a slave to the highly unlikely. if any of those things do happen, well that will suck, but jesus will drag me through it and somehow i just trust that glory will come.  but i wont live in that place until i am actually living. in. that. place.

the big scam was that i was mortgaging thousands of my here-and-nows to try to avoid one or two probably-nevers. what an easy payout for satan. i locked myself right up for him.

but in the opposite but equal way, beautiful things can steal our lives too. instead of living for the purpose of avoiding a single event, moment, or image, we can go the other way and mortgage our minds in seeking something that is just as fleeting or unlikely. 

just as much as i really couldnt stop someone from hurting me if they truly wanted to, i also can never be that effortlessly beautiful, perfectly photographed, impeccably styled mom that i see on a blog. because the reality is that A: thats just not who i am and B: it's probably not who she truly is 90% of the time either. 

when all we see is a slice, a picture, a post, a story, clip, we should be careful not to project it onto all of the stuff behind the scenes of that person nor onto ourselves. media (social and otherwise) is tricky because it reports and glorifies the exception. 

if i watch the news nonstop and look at pinterest all day i will see a ton of crime and gobs of really beautiful, relaxed, confident women. my dumb ass will instantly project this out in 2 opposite vectors: one of comparison, "how terrible! that could totally happen to me," and one of contrast--"how beautiful! but i will never be as XYZ as that," until i am some freak hanging by my mental fingernails onto sanity and unhappily convinced that i am just some ugly, frazzled, future murder victim.

WHAAAAA?!?! how did i get here!?

i have read some of the popular rants against certain kinds of pins or blogs. they typically say that these "supermoms"  make we the "normal moms" look and feel bad about ourselves because we dont concoct homemade, organic, pokemon-shaped lunches for our kids everyday and look like meg ryan (in the 90's) doing it.  

while i am all for, dont be so hard on yourself, i feel like we are missing an opportunity for introspection if we make it "their fault." no picture, post, or story can MAKE you feel anything.  but they can bring something across your radar that snags on a piece of your brokenness.

it seems to me that that's what we need to be exploring...not if that certain blogger's picture  is photoshopped or saying things like, "yeah well i bet her husband cant stand her."

this is like 1st grade sociology: the tearing down of others to build ourselves up. spoiler alert:: it doesnt work.

why does a picture of a woman with hot legs and a thick head of hair eating a picnic of carrot charizards and cucumber squirtles in a wooded vale with her 7 adoring children (3 of them adopted!) and disney-prince husband make me feel less? did the pixel-synthesizer (official term) in that camera  require a chunk of my security to create the picture?  um, i doubt it. and is it the woman's fault? hell no! she isnt trying to make a statement about what a mom in 2013 should be, she probably just wanted to look pretty and create and capture a picturesque moment for her family..

so rather than putting up my deflector shield about these things and blaming someone else for my insecurity, or rather than just giving in and drowning in the fear, i have really tried to lean into the pain that arises for me in these situations and to figure out where it is coming from within. to discern where the cracks and wounds and brokenness are in my own life that somehow have me NOT believing jesus and what he says about my life and who i am.

he says i am awesome. he says i am enough. he says my hope is built on him. he says he loves me. 

we are commanded to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (rom 12:15). there is some sneaky evil going on in my life that makes my first reaction sniping about or cutting down others and feeling less about myself when i see my peers rejoicing (succeeding, looking good, being happy), and fearing for myself and drawing away ("i wont LET that happen to us...everyone to the bunker!") when i see others mourning. 

i really want to press in to the biblical formula for rejoicing and mourning and ditch this stupid backward one that steals joy and maturity on both sides of the coin. i want to live wholeheartedly, to explode love and joy and encouragement onto others when they are up and to walk with them in the sewers when the shit comes pouring in. 

the capitalist accountant in me says that is a fast way to have nothing left over for myself on the balance sheet, but thankfully i have bought into the upside down, backward, magic awesome economics of jesus which say that giving always leaves you with more of what counts and holding back leaves you with less. (remember his tricks with the 2 fish and the hoarded manna?...yeah, he's for real on this.)