This morning my Thumbprint Pandora station was a little too in sync with my state of mind.

Back-to-back, these two songs played:

Everclear – Santa Monica

We can live beside the ocean
Leave the fire behind
Swim out past the breakers
Watch the world die

Tom Petty – Last Dance With Mary Jane

I feel summer creepin’ in
and I’m tired of this town againnnn

Ever fiber of my being wants to be on a beach somewhere. It’s been seven years since I was able to dig my feet in the sand and feel the sun’s warmth melt away all the weight on my shoulders and troubles in my head.

The Problem of Otherness

I believe the biggest problem in our society is Otherness.

It’s the mentality that other people are not like us, and we can disassociate what we do to them, and how we feel.

IMG_2846It happens in marriages too. I remember one morning was particularly stressful, showering scrubbing my hair and getting increasingly angry at my husband for all the things that were not getting done. I was pulling my weight! I was busy and stressed! I was going to tell him off!

As soon as I stepped out of the shower and his eyes met mine, I could see in him all that same stress and overwhelm. He was trying his hardest too. I cried and hugged him because he became instantly human again. Not the scapegoat of my frustration and self righteous indignation. His feelings were every bit as real and valid as mine.

This is our problem. From far away we see differences, division, otherness. Only up close do we see ourselves in others. Instead of allowing room for empathy, we build walls.

Part of it is self preservation – that pain is not ours to carry, and we have enough of our own so why should we help? Maybe it feels like too much to bear. Maybe we are audacious enough to believe we are immune to that same suffering because we are insulated by our money or where we live or our values.

Surely we, as “rightful” Americans, would never be faced with the separation families are going through at the border.

Surely I will not be faced with prejudice because I am straight and white. (As if it were a choice and not a lottery.)

Why should I worry about it happening to others?

I am safe and that is separate from me and mine and my life and my choices.

IMG_7592We should help because it is the right thing to do. We should help because God calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. We should help because as a parent, I can hardly stomach the thought of my own child being separated from me, even for a moment.

So often I am silent when it comes to politics – never wanting to offend. And as you can see from my last several blog posts, I keep it very light here. But this is not a political issue anymore. It’s a humanitarian one. The moment we began using a different set of standards for how it is acceptable to treat one group of people vs. another, it became so much larger than that.

And it feels wrong to stay silent.

So here I am, saying it. If you want to help, here are some resources.

The World’s Worst Unboxing Video

Editor’s Note: I’ve never, ever, ever, done a video before. Mostly because I’m 99% sure I’m 99% less witty that when I write. But there’s a reason people do unboxing videos – taking photos and typing it up was WAY too complicated.

I briefly considered waiting to do this video until I had makeup done, hair done, cute clothes on. But that + having the actual time to record it would pretty much never happen. So instead I chose to record it after putting to bed a toddler with a stomach virus (hey, at least he went to bed early!) and put my shiny, COMPLETELY makeup-free face in front of the camera, in two-day old hair and a pajama shirt.

Because I keep it real. (Sob.)

Also, for the record, here is my referral link:

PS – OCD people? That one errant strand of hair outside my messy bun? YOU’RE WELCOME. (Seriously, though, maybe don’t even watch this.)

Finally, here is a picture of the entire box, in case you wanted a better look:

PPS – This was the ORIGINAL unboxing video I saw that inspired the impulse buy to begin with. (Click through to Facebook) I would have killed for some nude lipgloss, Debra Lipman nail polish, and that cool tablecloth thing.

The Latest Trend For Your Inner Fat Kid: Circus Animals

There are some REALLY exciting things going on right now if you’re in a deep, committed relationship with sugar like I am.

Exhibit One: Grown fresh from the rainbow/unicorn creations trend everywhere, this Braum’s Circus Animal Cookie Sundae is about the fattest and most wonderful thing I’ve ever eaten. Blood glucose levels be damned, I didn’t even feel guilty.

Luckily you can also by the ice cream flavor as a standalone in a 2 pint carton, and cut out a few hundred calories you’d get in the sundae with the same level of enjoyment.

After a little “research” I discovered there are oh, about a million super-cute, delicious looking recipes involving this trend:

Frosted Animal Cookie Cheesecake

Circus Animal Popcorn

Circus Animal Cookie Dough Truffle Bars

Circus Animal Cookie Truffles (AKA Cake Balls)

In the non-edible arena, how cute are these DIY ideas?

Circus Animal Throw Pillows

Circus Animal Christmas Tree Ornaments

Easy DIY Circus Animal Halloween Costume


Five Things: New Year’s Edition

fivethingsFINAL2 copy

I’ve always loved the Five Things series from Cupcakes & Cashmere, plus I’ve been attempting to improve my photography lately, so I figured it was time to do another installment.

Thing One: Ringing in 2017 with neon accessories that seem to be more 80s than 2010’s.


Thing Two: The Christmas haul. (Okay, so it’s more than one thing, but each one makes me smile.)


Thing Three: MY FAVORITE CHILDHOOD TREAT HAS RETURNED! They stopped making these I believe in the late 90s and I have missed them terribly. Thank you, Walmart for testing them out again around the holidays. I hope they become a part of the permanent collection.


Thing Four: Socks I almost bought for every single friend and sibling I have, if my husband and budget hadn’t stopped me. Note: I didn’t take this picture… obviously…


Thing Five: My new project over at Texoma With Kids. Okay, so that’s not really a “thing” so much as a shameless plug. 😉


Blue, Blue, Blue Christmas

***NOTE: I just now saw this in draft mode and realized I never worked up the nerve to publish it after I wrote it during Christmas. I figured since everyone is talking about resolutions right now, it’s still relevant. It’s something I don’t really like talking about with others, but maybe putting it out there will be another reminder to me and help as I resolve this year to count my blessings along with my challenges.****


God is good, all the time.

I’m writing this now because that is what I feel at this very moment and know to be true. (And sometimes I need the reminder.)

2016 has been one FULL year. That is the best way I can think to describe it. It has been so very challenging and there have been so many times I wanted to just call it a day, curl up in bed, and have a good cry/pass out/while simultaneously drinking wine from a straw because I’m too tired to sit up and drink.

But it has also been SO incredibly full of blessings, the moment I want to give it to exhaustion and self pity, I know how very wrong it would be.

I have a healthy, happy, sweet, wonderful, SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT one year old. I have a one-year old (minus about two months) new job that has made me feel appreciated, intelligent, useful, creative, loved, valued, EXCITED to be there. Everything I could ever ask for, and a schedule that allows me to be home on nights and weekends to spend that precious time with said one year old.

But then after a weekend of catching up on house work and 24/7 full-speed toddler time (every. single. weekend.) with not a babysitter in sight or family member in town to give us a break, I feel drained.

And then from that wearing weekend I go on to have weeks like this. When laundry is everywhere and none of it is clean. And the dishes are endless and I often go home on my lunch break just to reduce the pile up in the sink. And at the end of the day I race home after work to catch 10 minutes of glorious alone time, collapsed on the bed, before my husband gets home with the baby. Only I discover the dog has thrown up on our bed. So I am changing sheets and cursing him when my husband rolls in. And we have nothing to fix for dinner. And the washer now smells weird after I was the sheets. And the baby just shoved dog toy bits in his mouth.2b36f1bb7f495482bf865a97ed55f6cf

And it doesn’t really feel like Christmas, it just feels like a countdown to putting the baby to bed at 7 and collapsing into bed about 7:30 because I’m too tired to really enjoy any sort of “me” time.

And I feel sad because we don’t have enough time off this year to travel and spend the holidays with our families. And I feel lonely. And like there is no relief. And I want things from my parents they are unable to give because of distance and illness and things none of us have any control over.

And in my head is a future so idyllic that nothing in reality could ever live up to it.

But then I remember.

I have a job I love. A husband I love. With a job he loves. And two dogs I love like children. And a happy, healthy child that made my heart grow in ways I didn’t know it could. And we have a nice roof over our heads that we can call our own. Cars we can rely on to get us to work, and trafficless commutes each day. A daycare full of people that love on our little one like one of their own.

How dare I think my life anything less than absolutely wonderful? How dare I be anything but thankful for every minute?

I share the quote in the photo here not because I feel like I’m waiting for God to open a door, but more because I feel like I am in the hallway of life right now. (A crowded middle school hallway after the bell rings and everything is chaos, haha.)

I share it because even when we have trouble seeing it, God is good, all the time.


Babycare, Level: Expert

To mix some metaphors, parenting is a lot like a circus act. You’re juggling two apples, three apples, four. One falls, you lose your rhythm, but you pick it up and start over. The next time one falls, you’re able to pick it up while keeping the other three in motion. You keep going. Eventually no apples drop your entire act, and you breathe a sigh of relief.

Then, they up the ante on you.

Some crack-pot ringmaster throws in a fifth apple. A sixth. Maybe a poodle. And a flaming baton. Sometimes a bowling ball.

But you just keep going, and hope that poodle doesn’t catch on fire too.

Two case studies:

  1. Diaper changing. First, you’re just trying to get the hang of it with a baby that lies there, practically motionless. The first couple of days it takes you a solid 10 minutes for the whole process. Months pass, and you gain confidence and skill akin to a pit crew at the Indy 500. Tires off, tires on, back on the track. Then, they get wiggly. And curious, and indignant. And it’s like wrestling a bowl of spaghetti to get them to lay flat on their back for longer than 3 seconds. (And you only need 15 seconds, if they could just hold on that long, dangit!) To the point where we now keep toys on the changing table specifically to hand him as a means of distraction. (Which he has now grown accustomed to and starts screaming immediately upon being laid flat on the table until you hand him his toy.) His toy, by the way, is an old prescription pill bottle filled with three pennies. One, because it makes a great noise when shaken, and two, because…
  2. Baby toys. I remember trying to get Teddy to play with toys when he was just a couple of months old. Even just getting him to reach or grip was a success. We would dangle the toys and play with them and ooo and aaaa to try to get him interested. Now he is a swift and unrelenting pick-pocket with an innate knowledge of which things exactly he is NOT supposed to play with. Turn your back for a second, he is chewing on one of those real antler dog bones. Or crawling for the electrical cords. Or, his absolute favorite, chewing remote controls. We’ve now learned our lesson. We don’t introduce toys anymore as exciting or fun. We introduce them as something mundane that he is not allowed to play with. Last week, we bought a universal programmable remote with absolutely no intention of programming it. Instead, we pretended to change the channel with it and then absent-mindedly leave it in places he could reach. Yes, we really did this. (Can’t believe I’m admitting to it…) He spent the rest of the day crawling around with it sticking out of his mouth, happy as a clam.

Yep, it’s amazing what a difference ten months makes. And if that isn’t enough, just look at these photos comparison:






Baby Step 1.2: Embracing the Generic

This weekend, I finally stopped resisting and embraced the inevitable: I am becoming my parents.

(Thanks, Dave Ramsey.)

More specifically, I am becoming my dad and adopting his complete color-blindness when it comes to grocery shopping name-brand vs. generic. The man only sees prices, and he goes for the deal every time. (Unless it’s Blue Bell, because he learned his lesson the hard way on that after the Bravenec girls revolt of… whenever it was. The sooner forgotten, the better.)

So, last Sunday afternoon, my husband and I did all our grocery shopping at Aldi.

I have to admit, once you relinquish your brand loyalties (something that’s VERY hard for me to do as a marketing person), the shopping experience is actual rather pleasant. Oh, you need shredded cheddar? Here it is. There is one choice and only one choice for each product. It makes shopping simple. And quick.

One of my issues I held on to briefly before this conversion was the fact that I often compare nutrition facts on labels in an attempt to make healthier choices. It makes me shudder that the only spaghetti sauce Aldi offered had a whopping 480 mg of sodium. But the solution is something I’ve needed to do for a while: turn away from packaged goods! If I just stayed with fresh ingredients I wouldn’t have to compare incremental differences in preservatives and saturated fat, I could eliminate them altogether.

Meanwhile: A cup of low-fat yogurt for 26 cents? I think I can handle the fact that it’s not Chobani.

By the end of it, we had bought EVERYTHING we needed for a week (probably more) of meals, including snacks for the baby, produce, raw chicken, deli meat, at least 4 boxes of cereal, and some other splurges like seasoned mozzarella, brie, sweet potato chips and English toffee – 66 items in total – all for $120.

Note my glamorous bruschetta snack made entirely from Aldi products:




I think there are still some things we will have to go to Walmart for, like the hypoallergenic laundry detergent we use, our favorite brand of toilet paper, and a few other toiletries, but after this experience, I am a total convert.

It may be a while before I conquer Baby Step #1, but I am certainly feeling a little more peaceful about my finances already.

Baby Steps

e34ac280436af29d71053b064df9255eThis week, I attended the first of a nine-session course called Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. (Which I knew was long overdue, but even more so after seeing this chart on compound interest and saving money. Ouch.)

The course is divided into six baby steps to financial peace. Baby step #1 is to save $1,000 as quick as possible for an emergency fund.


I have literally no idea where all that extra money is going to come from, but I do know we get fast food WAY too often and like to shop a little too much, so I’m starting there. (I also posted some shoes that don’t fit on a local Facebook trading post, so fingers crossed.)

And Baby Step #1/2 that I came up with myself is to UNSUBSCRIBE for all the emails that tempt me to buy things. So far this week, I’ve unsubscribed from Carters, Babies R Us, ModCloth, Petco, Keds, Kate Spade, Cartwheel by Target and Kohl’s.

Then I took a shot of whiskey. (Just kidding.)

I’m already pretty thrifty in the sense that I refuse to pay full price for anything if I can help it, and I love to coupon. So I figure if I subscribe to these newsletters I will get the best deals, but it’s a two-edged sword of purchasing more often to get the deal in the first place. And in the words of my father, “Yes, you saved 40%, but if you didn’t buy it at all you would save 100%.”

I have always hated when he said this.

But as I learned in the class last week, we cling hard to our bad habits. We are “like a baby in a dirty diaper – it’s stinky and it’s wet but it’s ALL MINE.”

So, my husband and I are all-in and we are going to try to break our habits so that we can maybe pay off our student loans before dementia sets in and we forget everything we paid to learn.

With any luck, we will end up like Bill Murray in What About Bob, and not so much like Richard Dreyfuss.

In The Middle

About two months ago, I bought a new car.

Yeah, I know, I’m really good about announcing things as they happen. Long story short: the Jetta lived a good nine years and 99,870 miles, but in the last year of our relationship, she cost me over $3,200 in repairs, which was coincidentally more than the value of the entire car.

After being stranded in 100 degree weather with a baby in the backseat, and a $1,400 “doctor” visit in July, we parted ways.

Since then, I’ve been using my three-month free trial of XM Radio to relive my youth and listen to all the music I couldn’t afford to buy on CD in middle school. Yep, the dial pretty much never leaves the 90s and Pop2k stations.

Driving home today, a 2002 “classic” from Jimmy Eat World came on, and suddenly I was seventeen again and the memory of the newness of driving came back to me in a flood.

I had completely forgotten.

Remember the novelty of being in the car alone? How scary and exhilarating and liberating to be the only one? Totally fresh, brand new freedom? Taking to the streets, I was like a wobbly-legged baby deer (and just as good at navigation).

I’m now on my 15th year of driving and my fourth car, and yet the lyrics of that song still mean everything they did when I first heard them:

(I know, posting lyrics to a song – a total throwback move in itself…)

Don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on
Just try your best
Try everything you can
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves when you’re away

It just takes some time
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be all right

You know they’re all the same
You know you’re doing better on your own so don’t buy in
Live right now
Just be yourself
It doesn’t matter if that’s good enough for someone else

It just takes some time
Little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be all right

Almost 31 years old (in just four more days) and I’m still right there in the middle of the ride. And things are crazy. And I feel stressed. And sometimes I don’t know what to do with myself or my life or that new little creature that calls me mom. But I know everything will be just fine. Everything will be all right.


Furniture Project Fails

Since college, I have redone or painted, let’s see… at least 7 pieces of furniture:

hutch1-nostuff ombre babygreen
graybeforeafter before-after


And the one that started it all…


Then, during all the baby-having madness, I took a long hiatus.

Somewhere in that time period, I must have lost my knack for bargain hunting, because I have really been striking out lately on furniture projects lately.

Fail #1:

About a month ago we started looking for new nightstands for our bedroom so we’d have more storage, and we found some great ones on Wichita Falls Trading Post for only $20.

It wasn’t until we got them home that we realized they absolutely REEKED of smoke.

Overnight airing out wasn’t enough, neither was three more days of airing out. After researching ways to get rid of the smell, we realized we’d have to coat every square inch with Kilz and it might not even completely take away the smell. (And painting just to find out would cost us more than we spent on them to begin with.)  I thought about bringing them back, but honestly $20 wasn’t enough to shame the lady about her unhealthy habits and reload them back into the car. And I couldn’t just sell them to the next unsuspecting person.

So we did the only thing we could – we put them in the trash.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is how disgusting smoking is.

Think about it – if that’s how much it permeates solid wood in your home, imagine what it is doing to your lungs.

(Okay, rant from a former American Cancer Society employee officially ended. But if you do smoke and want resources for quitting – click here.)

Fail #2:

This week, I found a large dresser on Facebook that I thought could replace one in our bedroom that I have never liked. Even better, it was already painted in a color I liked, so for the first time in my life, I was just going to buy something someone else had redone and leave it as-is.

Well, it was $135 for a reason because the paint job was not smooth (I doubt there was any sanding involved), there were a few splintered away section on the drawers where there was no attempt made at patching, they were simply painted right over, and even worse, all the cute knobs and drawer pulls we liked in the picture ended up being cheap plastic and all need to be replaced.

So right now I’ve got two nightstands in the trash and a major project waiting for me in my garage.

Maybe this is a sign?




Five Things: Trending.

fivethingsFINAL2 copy

I stole the idea of a “five things” blog post a while ago from the series on Cupcakes & Cashmere, and decided why not continue it. So, I present to you, for your amusement, the five things I am obsessed with right now:

  1. For the Love of Pineapples! (They seem to be everywhere these days!) How awesome is that blue pineapple lamp?
  2. Metal/Enamel Camping Mugs – I’m in charge of ordering promo items at my job, and I’ve been really tempted to slap our logo on a few hundred of these bad boys. But I’m afraid the style might be a little too specific to appeal to a large group of people.
  3. La Croix “Curate” – My favorite flavors are Blackberry Cucumber and Watermelon Kiwi, and although I have yet to attempt it, I can see how they could be the basis for some fabulous cocktails.
  4. Lumberjacks – Because Teddy’s first birthday is a MEAGER three months away and I have already started planning. And all the buffalo plaid and forest creatures are just too cute to resist.
  5. Frank & Joe’s – We don’t have that many truly local coffee shops, and this is a brand new one that just happens to have some fabulous graphic design. And it doesn’t hurt that they’ve chosen a signature color I *might* be addicted to as much as I am the caffeine they’re serving.

Bonus #6 – Cacti are the new succulents. (Also, they actually ARE succulents, just tougher. So I’m not sure it counts as a separate trend to begin with, but there you have it.)



I’m currently sitting in my living room, about an hour into listening to Teddy “cry it out.”

Although I’ve read mixed reviews, criticisms, and techniques on how to get a baby to sleep alone, in his crib, through the night, without strapping him into a particular bouncy chair (amen!) the general consensus is you’re going to have to tough it out at one point or another, and you should do it before they learn real words and scream “WHY MOMMY WHYYYY” while you do.

The problem is we’ve already gone through this, oh, about EIGHT times because the poor kid keeps getting sick, so we revert back to his chair in our room so he’s upright enough for his sinuses to drain and we can tend to him the five or so times he wakes up throughout the night. All good sleep habits die hard.

Hello, month nine.


Yep, we are still at it. Not sleeping. Praying for a day that my alarm clock actually wakes me up at 6 am, instead of the baby at 4:30. (I still set it every night. Either because I am an optimist who believes that day might actually arrive, or a pessimist who still fears I will manage to be late regardless of the circumstances.)

At any rate, I am in need of distraction at the moment. So I figured I might as well blog about, whether or not anyone wants to read about it.


Holding my breath.

The room falls quiet and my heart races towards hope as I think his strong will has bent to drowsiness.

Ohhh, no. Nope. Mistaken. He was just pausing to take a breath before launching back into it at 135%. Nothing but a pitstop.

He was just refueling.

The First Thing I’ll Say About Becoming A Parent

There are so many things they don’t tell you about parenting.IMG_5586

Probably because no one ever decided who “they” was, and the ones who should probably be saying those things you need to hear are too exhausted to remember if they fed the dogs today or bathed within the last 48 hours.

Then there are the experts. Either professionally titled or self-proclaimed, they say far, far too much. Not just in more graphic detail or with greater fervor than you ever wanted, but in terms of sheer volume of information.

They take the idea of internal locust of control to the nth degree. They count their macros and micromanage and insist that you can schedule and flowchart your way to the perfect child.

What To Expect When The First Year is 783 pages, not including the index in the back. And that’s assuming you ever graduated from pregnancy to child-rearing books.

What I desperately wanted at the time of having my now eight-month old child was more like a pamphlet. A tri-fold brochure you’d find on a rack in a hotel lobby. “How To Keep Your Baby Alive For 12 Months, The Highlights.”

I’m a big-picture person. I appreciate a good overview.

In preparation for this blog post, I tried to think if I could be a good and virtuous “they” and offer anything helpful to those that are a couple of steps behind me on the mom marathon.

The truth is, I got nothing. I have very few tricks, tips, Lord knows I haven’t found any shortcuts, but I can say this –

Don’t let yourself feel guilty. It will make you crazy(er than you already are).

Don’t do it. Don’t let yourself get mired in feeling you could or should have done something different or better.

For returning to work too early, for staying home from work too long. For not returning to work at all, even though you swore you would.

IMG_5580For not breastfeeding, for not breastfeeding long enough. For breastfeeding beyond common social standards.

For wondering if that sushi you ate while pregnant is the reason your baby is the last one at daycare to start crawling.

For wishing they still took healthy babies to the nursery so you could get some SLEEP while you’re still in the hospital. For crying when they take the baby away, just for a minute, to get a hearing test.

For letting them cry it out. For snuggling them at night and letting them fall asleep in your arms.

For not reading enough, and instead Googling things from your phone while holding a crying baby.

IMG_5581For telling your family to give you space. For telling your husband he’s just going to have to put up with your family all up in everyone’s space because you need them more than you thought you would.

For taking time to yourself when you need to escape. For temporarily abandoning hobbies that meant so much to you before baby.

For feeling like you’ve completely lost it.

(For scribbling your ideas for a blog post on the back of a note from your daycare while you sprinkle rice puffs in front of your baby to distract him.)

For all the thousands of things that make up your new life as a parent. Because your life is going to get reallllllll messy and you don’t have to have it all instantly figured out.

Just stick in there. You’ll find your way.

And eventually, you’ll find a day to squeeze in a good shower.