A Finale for Now

I started blogging soon after beginning my freshman year at FSU. It was a ujournal account, I don’t even remember my username and it was paragraphs lamenting about how tragically I missed my boyfriend. I didn’t use capitalization because #artsy and I would probably vomit if I found those entries.

Cut to today and I’ve shared about college, marriage, moving away, moving back, becoming an actual real life writer, adopting a goofy puppy, saying goodbye to our fur baby and welcoming two kids into our world. Through large periods of both transition and monotony, much of my life has been recorded on these pages.

But here’s the thing. I am basic and boring. The first app on my new phone was PBS, followed very closely by Target’s Cartwheel and Starbucks. I was overly excited to find a high chair cover with a decently cute print on it. These are my victories lately. Having a blog and the (self imposed) obligation to maintain it has added a pressure in my head that asks, "Is this blog worthy?" Quite frankly, the answer is usually a resounding no. As I take stock of every week for Five for Friday, two things happen: I start to search intentionally for the joy, the tiny celebrations or the frustrations that maybe other women and other moms would appreciate. (This is the thread that continues to tug at me and why I’ve plugged away despite lackluster motivation and content.)

But I also become increasingly aware of how little I do in terms of "people are going to care about this." And, really, that thought has no place in my orbit right now. I’m worried about keeping my kids safe and engaged, taking a shower a few times a week, delivering creative and on-time work to my freelance clients and supporting my sweet husband. It’s not very much on paper, or a computer screen, but it fills my days and nights. And when I happen to have the time blogging requires, I want to funnel it elsewhere. Finally putting the Lego pool and patio set together with Addison. Reading a book to Asher. Working out. Starting that children’s book. There’s plenty to do offline right now without the pressure of a perfectly curated online presence. I want to be here, in this moment, while it lasts.

I’ve also started to feel the weight of an older Addison, a young girl with peculiarities and a very specific personality. Is her story really mine to share? I want to err on the side of conservative in that debate and, when she can really understand, allow her to choose her own (pre-approved, fully clothed, thoughtful, heavily firewalled) digital identity.

It’s difficult to step away because I do feel deeply the pull toward creating community, facilitating a space of honesty, of support, of recognition, of hope for the women who are running homes and careers and after crazy children that they sometimes do not like. After three years (first typed "tears" and ain’t that the truth) and some change in this mothering mess…just…wow. Pull up a chair and let’s dish because this sh$t is real. There is so much that "no one tells you" because THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN, SISTER. And the species would die off if they did. I’ve completely lost where I was heading, but eventually I would love to open that kind of dialogue. Sharing and gleaning and growing and returning to our messes a little bit refreshed. One day, maybe. But not this day.

I’m closing up shop for right now. Probably for good.  

So know that if you never commented or commented all the time (love you, Kisha!), read from the beginning or from a month ago, I appreciate every second you spent away from your life to read about mine. Now let’s go tear it up in our boring, unbloggable lives!

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Five for Friday

Addie was sick most of this week, so we didn’t make the usual rounds. It was tough to keep her calm in the house all day, so we still made it out for exciting field trips like the “wash car.”

1. I was proofing a project and read this:
No cut-off jeans or any other apparel, which tends to fray, is permitted to be worn in the pool or spa.

Naturally, I thought of this. I sure do miss Arrested Development watch parties on Mondays.

2. I really want to be on the York Peppermint Patty train because Clayton loves them. But every time I bite into one, I pretty much have this realization:

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I also wasted (invested?) a solid hour of my life on that account this week. Making sarcastic cards for a living is what one might call nirvana for me.

3. This week was the second time I used the Walmart grocery pick-up service and maybe it’s how I will buy the majority of our groceries until the end of time forever and ever amen. Or until my children don’t require multiple restraints and bribery to make it through a shopping trip without incident. It’s especially convenient for bulky items like diapers, cases of bottled water and detergent, which I literally have to carry around the store in one hand because there’s no space when I have Asher or both kids. First world problem to the max, but whatevs, throw it right there in the back of my SUV while I instagram this latte, thank you very much.

4. When dinosaurs and awkward torsos attack.

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5. When it’s so far past their bedtime you ignore that they’re recreating the EXACT scenario that appears on the warning label.

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(The top wasn’t on and it was sideways…I’m not that cray, guys.)

We are hoping to break in the kayak this weekend and suffer through another lackluster Florida State performance. Don’t even get me started on the Dolphins or the delusional fan that shares my home. Happy Friday the 13th!

Six for Saturday

Sorry I missed you fine folks yesterday. I was busy writing for people who actually pay me for it, so…sorry not sorry?

1. Meet Coconut Bubba. He was a free gift we picked up at a festival a few weeks ago. Addison became attached to him immediately, named him (rather creatively) and has since been dressing him in complete outfits. She was wasting so many of her own clothes on C.B. that I had to pull out two buckets of her old baby clothes she could use instead.

IMG_0451Maya took a liking to Coconut Bubba, too, except that affection resulted in the loss of his eye buttons.

2. Related: If I forget to put out Addison’s outfit for the next day, she’ll pick up the slack and create her own ensemble. The problem comes when her choices are a bit…festive for school or open gym.

IMG_0448 I don’t like stifling her creativity, so I’m trying to delicately suggest alternatives to tutus all day every day. And other days, I’m more “Throw some leggings underneath and let’s go.”

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A future in fashion, perhaps? Or clowning. Much of my life is spent trying not to be a Mitch.

3. C’mon, man.

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There’s no sense in fighting it at this point. Clayton’s cleaning the pool this weekend, so at least there will be one outdoor activity I’ll consider. 

4. Halloween was hot. Like, temperature hot, not “wow, that mom looks smokin’ in that old nightgown barely covering her see through tights” hot. The first neighborhood we hit was unresponsive, so we bailed like the socially mature adults we are and came back home to walk around our neighborhood. Addie did quite well for herself in terms of the chocolate to pretzel packs ratio, though a hefty 35.7% Mommy Tax will be enforced daily.

IMG_0397IMG_0402IMG_0404IMG_04095. It’s well documented that I hate cooking, but when I do find some motivation, I consult this book a lot. Either I’m using the recipes or I’m flipping through the index for the page on “how to caramelize on onion” or “what is a meat mallet?”

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6. And this super exciting, very recent development brought to you by our Friday night.

Clayton spent the day at a charity golf tournament. It stretched on into the evening…

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but so worth the solo bath and bed time routine.

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Papa’s got a brand new KAYAK!!! Maybe not hating on those warmer November temperatures quite so much. Paddleboard + Kayak = true paddling love.

Today we’re breaking away kid-free for the first time this season to watch the FSU/Clemson game. So basically we’ll know around 6:30 tonight if this weekend will be a wonderful one or a terrible one.

Oh, who am I kidding? We have a freaking kayak, it’s a WONDERFUL weekend! 

Five for Friday

It’s late. What’s new.

1. I don’t always buy my lingerie at Goodwill, but when I do…it’s under $4. (Halloween prep at its classiest.)

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2. It was ALL KINDS OF HALLOWEENY up in here this week.

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3. Nightmares for days.

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Seriously, I watched “Beetlejuice” for the first time last week in anticipation of this costume and it is banana nuts! WTF is going on in that movie?!

4. We made our annual fall trek to the farm last weekend. It was significantly hotter this year than any other year we’ve gone, so while we tried our best to grin and bear it…

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by the end we all pretty much felt like Addie.

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“Are we done here?” But alas, any trip that ends at Capital Tacos is a trip well worth it.

5. And the scariest event of all is Asher deciding he’s almost ready to crawl.

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Not ready for ya, bro.

Halloween obviously has top billing this weekend. Per usual, we have a family theme and are planning to crush it. Mainly because we’ll be the only ones over 12 dressed up, but..details, details. And then the most glorious holiday on the calendar appears: November eat all the leftover chocolate week. 

Five for Friday

This week was a typical blend of fun, work and tantrums, with a little mini fall fashion shopping trip thrown into the mix. Even though it’s 88 degrees. I’m tryyyyyying, promise. 

1. Hello, lovers.

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(Source)

2. On Monday night I asked Addison what she wanted to do the next day. Without hesitation she said, “I want to go somewhere fancy and wear a pretty dress.” So that’s what we did. Despite the warning that fancy places involve a lot of sitting still and being calm, it was still a challenge to keep the butt in that pretty dress in the fancy seat for the entirety of our brunch. But there was spinning and browsing and grass lying, and it was one of my most favorite mornings.

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3. And then dinos! Any time we hang out with people, the friends are all about the stuff, and Addie is all about the friends. It works well.

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4. I really hope reefermane was sober enough to evaluate DC’s hammy accurately by his bowling technique. And also, STOP BOWLING AND KEEP FOAM ROLLING, DALVIN.

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5. Are you watching “Black-ish?” Clayton and I love it. This week’s episode about white and black church was particularly amusing since we can totally relate. I think they do a great job of making fun of everyone without creating those weird “am I allowed to laugh at this?” moments. Everyone is in on the joke. And Diane is tiny precocious perfection.

Lots of fall-infused fun this weekend! Hopefully I don’t sweat through my plaid.

Five for Friday

Yesterday was supposed to be a stay-home-and-veg kind of day. It ended up turning into a stay-home-and-try-not-to-evict-my-toddler-while-scrubbing-baby-poop kind of day. And so it goes. However, the rest of the week has been rather delightful. Let’s focus on that.

1. Happy Columbus Day to us! My dad had the day off, so I picked Addie up early and off we went. The weather by the water was perfect, but my calves are still sore from the jaunt up the huge hill with Asher strapped to me. The gym is calling my name again.

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2. Tuesday we were up and out early for Addison’s school pictures, so we made a day of it and went to the museum. They were making blubber, woop woop! It was awesome until it found its way onto our carpet, all up in some fingernails and onto Clayton’s outdoor “practice facility” aka his putting green (a whole post in itself).

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3. As I get older, I realize I only want the types of friendships where I can show up early for a family dinner, let myself and my kids into their house and start making a pot of black beans before they ever come home. And when they walk in, they’re not even surprised.

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4. Thursday night goals vs. reality (See intro above.)

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5. This woman devoted her life to her children and grandchildren. She is in the process of moving out of the house she has lived in for decades, and I imagine it’s a surreal, uncomfortable transition. But baby cuddles cure a multitude of ills.

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What I’m most excited about this weekend is pizza.

Dear Addison: Three Years + Three Months

Dear Addison,
We ran to the Halloween store to pick up a lace fan you needed for a Spirit Week outfit last week. The fan has since been ever-so-delicately Scotch-taped together because I made the mistake of giving it you in the car, but I digress. It was approaching lunch time, so we went to Chick-fil-A for their nuggets and air conditioned play area.

After polishing off your meal, you skipped off to play while I stayed at our table with Asher, watching you through the glass wall. You scaled the apparatus quickly, waving to me from the very top, a proud smile beaming on your face.

After a few minutes I went into the play area for the last leg of play time. I didn’t spot you for a bit, and then one of the other kids said, “She’s crying.” And after some probing (5-year-olds aren’t the most expansive conversationalists), I realized he was talking about you, “the girl in the green shirt.” And then I heard you crying at the top of the jungle gym.

I tried to speak to you, but all the voices in the tiny space bounced off of all the surfaces, jumbled together, making it nearly impossible to hear you. But I knew the cry. You were scared. You wanted me to appear at your side, let you curl onto my body and scramble safely back down together.

For lots of reasons—the narrow opening between the platform steps, Asher being left alone, my inflexibility and poor lung capacity—I wasn’t prepared to climb up to you.

Another mom sweetly tried to coax her older son to help you down, but in the middle of that debate, someone said, “She’s coming down. That girl is helping her.” Sure enough, I caught a flash of your green shirt, and then your tummy as Caroline, your new friend and my new hero, tugged on your top to keep you moving ahead. You were doing it. Caroline was making sure.

After much effort, there you were at the last descent, only dangling legs and two sets of dirty little girl feet with chipping toenail polish. You didn’t want to drop that last inch. You couldn’t see the step, and you couldn’t feel it, no matter how hard you stretched your tiny toes toward the floor. I told you it was RIGHT THERE. I promise, if you let go, you’ll land on your feet. And you did it. You squirmed, millimeter by millimeter, until those soles touched the ground.

Of course, as I stood fighting back tears at my embarrassment of not being your rescuer, of all the things I was certain everyone must think about me, of what you must think about me, you didn’t waste a second worrying. You were off, tagging along right behind Caroline, on to the next adventure.

**********

So that’s what a lot of the past year has been like for us. To me, it has felt like either I was fighting my own battles and mentally distracted, or I was pregnant and physically exhausted and disconnected from you. I have felt both drawn to you as your rapid changes and maturing reminds me what a blip we have together, and also stuck in my own head, unable to fully match your unquenchable energy.

But oh, what heroes we have in our corner. Our village has been friends who have raised kind, thoughtful little boys who are some of your most favorite people; grandparents who will move heaven, earth, schedules and overflowing chocolate milk to spend time with you; an uncle who adores you and a daddy who embodies selfless, unconditional love.

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It’s been a roller coaster. Not necessarily a fun one, or a thrilling adventure. Just plain scary and overwhelming and unstable. A big part of me looks back at the past year and worries about the time I wasted, wondering if you will remember that person, that version of me. I hope that you don’t. All of my effort and energy spent getting back to a healthier, more whole me is motivated by being a mom and a woman that you can be proud of, a person that you’d want to emulate, a presence that you’ll always want in your life.

Reflecting back now, I realize how much change was thrown at you in such a short period of time. Pre-school, potty training, a sibling. We all certainly know I haven’t managed my chaos with any semblance of sanity, so your quirks must be expected.

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But you were a pretty interesting version of you for the past 18 months, too. Probably not one that we’d ever choose, if able. You hit toddlerhood hard around 20 months and never looked back. I kept waiting for the taper, and it never came. Tantrums—intense, lengthy and frequent—colored our days, every day for awhile. I believe we’re out of those woods. For the most part, since Asher arrived, you haven’t maintained that level of impossibility. There are certain moments, and certain days, but the pervasive displeasure has waned, thank God.

Sure, there were lots of things your Daddy and I could have done better or differently to ease some of the issues, but I really think that your third year was the perfect storm of personality, developmental changes, growing independence and frustration with my decreased participation when I was pregnant. And you know what? We still made it. A bit worse for wear, but here we are. Still moving, still laughing, still snuggling.

IMG_7683Your tastes change with the days, so it’s nearly impossible to name a favorite food outside of cake, the only food group with any staying power. I’m always worried you’re not drinking enough water.

We thought we nailed the potty training in a few weeks’ time. We were wrong. Like all the other developments in your life, you called the shots and regressed for a few months before deciding that you were good and ready to commit to a life without pull-ups. And once that’s what you wanted, it was smooth sailing, to the point where you now try to lock me out of the stall in public bathrooms because, back off mom, I can handle this.

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The term threenager exists for good reason. You are three going on 23. You’ll pick up on sarcastic phrases and voice inflection and use them right back at us in the appropriate context. Some examples: “Have you lost your mind?”
“I didn’t see that coming.”

It’s a little tricky to discipline you for adopting our way of speaking, but don’t worry—we still do. I am a little glad that you get it, though. We are going to banter like it’s our job when you are a real teenager.

I am at a complete loss as to how to manage your unruly hair. Your Daddy and I can’t bear to cut off the curls, so we let it fly and tangle and frizz for now. You’re quite opposed to any styling or combing, so usually it’s a hair clip or a loose ponytail and you’re off. You don’t want anything that may make you “like a boy.”

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You love princesses, pink and parties; your BeeMa, PawPaw and Kunkle; girls’ night with a movie and popcorn; any night with a move and popcorn, actually; running, roaring (at friends and strangers) and racing your Daddy; Max and Everett to the moon.

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When you wake up in the morning, you put on an entire outfit, complete with shoes, before coming out of your room. It’s always a dress, and always the most sparkly shoes. So now I lay out your clothes the night before, and by the time I’m awake, you’re already dressed for the day. That’s one small way I’m learning to work with your personality rather than fighting it. Because let’s be real: you’re already so much stronger and braver than I am, Addison Brooke.

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When I worry about my failings, the full depth and magnitude of all the “what if I’d done this” labyrinth, your very presence assures me that I have not failed in the ways that matter. I have not given up. I have not given in. I have not un-loved you for one second. My heels are dug deep in the soil of this season, holding steadfast to the most basic, most calming truth that we are in this together, in this forever.

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Like most things right now, I wish I had more time. Time to keep telling you how spectacular I think you are. A beautiful, infuriating, hazel-eyed whirlwind of raspy giggles, sweaty curls and bruised knees. Running around the playground in shoes that are supposed to be for church. Walking into the mall with a “Sophia the First” purse on your shoulder. Furrowing your eyebrows at me from the the back seat. Wanting everyone at the park to play with you and not understanding when they won’t chase you. Calling me a princess when I put on a dress. Holding your palms up to mine to examine all the ways our outlines are so similar and how much space you have left to grow into this world of womanhood.

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You are fire and strength and power. You are sensitive and silly. You are strong-willed and independent, girly and mischievous. You are a little girl that I am so extremely proud of. You make our lives louder and crazier. You make our family bonded in the battles of raising a tiny dictator. You make our minds alive with thoughts of the greatness you will achieve when you harness all that brilliance. You make our love well-worn and sturdier. And you make my heart so very full.

From My Whole Heart,
Mama

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Five for Friday

It’s cute that all over the country people are donning their plaid and “enjoying the weather before winter comes,” but…

1. If I hear one more person that lives anywhere near my zip code say anything along the lines of, “Fall is here!” or “I’m so excited it feels like fall outside!” I may lose it.

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This does not a fall day make. We should probably move. Again.

2. But it’s not all sour grapes over here. Last Saturday was particularly gorgeous (but still, it was like a spring day, not a fall day). We made a little trek to what was advertised as a big festival-type event, but the ad way overpromised. Our first clue that the content was copy/pasted from a previous event should have been the part that mentioned meeting Santa Claus.

There wasn’t much going on, so we quickly hit the hot spots (free teddy bear that Addie is still carrying around), picked up lunch and drove to a nearby park.

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3. Since I somehow missed that genetic mutation for white girls making them obsessed with pumpkin, I actually don’t like it. However, I’m not above the magnetic draw of a Starbucks seasonal flavor. I want a toasted graham latte every single day until March.

4. We hit up the farm this week with some friends. I assumed that because the horses were all out in the open, completely accessible with no signage beyond “Hi, I’m Mabel,” that they were safe to pet or, I don’t know, stand next to. And then this beast tried to nip the fingers off my kid.

IMG_9875Okay, truthfully I know nothing about horses; maybe it was trying to sniff her or whisper something to her? But I do know that it sort of sputtered, jerked its head toward her and I saw teeth. Thank you, Thunder, for the lifelong equine phobia my daughter has to look forward to.

But these two were the sweetest together, so there’s that. It’s really insane that in a few months, they will be the same age as my friend and I were when we met.

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5. I may sound like a bitter autumn scrooge, but look at me being festive.

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This weekend’s to-do? BEAT MIAMI.

Dear Asher: Four & Five Months

Dear Asher,
A few weeks ago you turned four months old! And I kept thinking about how I needed to write you a letter, and then all of a sudden you are five months old.

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You’re still snoozing well at night with one wake-up around 3 or 4 a.m. You’re growing like a weed but shaped more like a tree stump.

You are noticing people and things around you, and your favorite faces are Addison’s and Maya’s. Addison makes you jump and squirm with excitement, and Maya’s shaggy, always-slightly-damp, furry face fascinates you. You patiently let her sniff your legs and lick your ears. I hope she returns the favor when you become mobile.  

IMG_9534You can’t crawl, but you are still a rolling force to be reckoned with. I had to buy mesh bumpers for your crib so you’d stop waking up with your limbs stuck. Two rolls and you’re off the play mat, wobbly head looking around, big gray eyes blinking in confusion, wondering where all that giggling is coming from.

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One thing I knew I wanted to tell you this month is the story of your name. I suggested Asher several months before you were born, and your Daddy and I both liked it. We weren’t totally sold, but we kept it at the top of the list. As your arrival became closer and closer, we narrowed the list down to two names. Your dad was all about “Asher.” I kept waffling, and we even arrived at the hospital without knowing for sure what we’d call you. To help me decide, I looked up the meaning of the name.

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Your name means happy. I couldn’t help but love the idea of planting such a simple but transformative foundation for your life. I am not perky, not overly bubbly or cheery. But you, my little light, are so very happy. You are content and calm and the picture of happiness. Of course there are many months and years ahead for you to discover death metal and black eyeliner, but these past few months have been filled with the radiance of your pure, innocent joy. I want to bottle it or snort it or bathe in it—whatever is less weird. Basically, I can’t get enough.

IMG_9468From the moment I come to scoop you out of your crib in the morning, your day is filled with gummy smiles, delighted squeals and calm observation. You have lived up to your name more than we could have ever thought, and I’m certain you were always my Asher. When my reserves are running thin, and I’m scraping at rusted tin trying to scoop out some joy for the day, you have so much to spare.

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Thanks for all that happy.

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From My Whole Heart,
Mama

Five for Friday

Just kickin’ it watching “Box Trolls” with the fam on this Friday evening.

1. Really wishing the Rays had scored six runs last night because ain’t nobody getting up from pretend sleeping on the couch to cook dinner tonight.

2. This week was Spirit Week at Addie’s school, and you know we are all about some costumes.

Sports Day

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Definitely vetoed the Dolphins cheerleading outfit after their piss poor start to the season.

Around the World Day (she was a “flamingo” dancer)

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3. Asher’s first dip in the pool last weekend.

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His reactionary spectrum is pretty much
“I’ll allow it.” <——————————–> “I’m into it.”

Because of his general mellowness, it’s often hard to tell where he falls. From this picture, it’s unclear if it was the best or worst experience of his life.

He’s cute, so he gets a free pass on being emotionally unavailable. (Said every lead actress in a romantic comedy.)

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4. Becoming best buds one elbow to the face at a time.

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5. Bought some new post baby jeans (these and these) and learned the very hard way that, on me, distressed boyfriend jeans look like my boyfriend is an obese contractor morally opposed to doing laundry. Also: low rise, you’re dead to me, you foul skin squeezing confidence sucker.

GUYS. It’s not going to be 90 degrees this weekend! Watch out world, the Noas are coming out to play.