Five for Friday

Clayton’s two-week vacation began on Monday! Woop woop! Rather than a cliché trip to Europe or a tropical cruise, we decided to go all out and schedule meetings with a financial advisor and attend Addison’s preschool orientation. Go big or go home, right? Here are the wild ways we’ve been spending Vacay Week One. 

1. The kickoff to our subdued staycation was Addison’s birthday party last Saturday. It seemed like everyone had a good time, even though the rain switched up the “Fun in the Sun” theme to more of a “Fun in the Living Room” theme. For the few minutes we could venture outdoors, it was a smash.

addie slide1Let’s be honest, all you really need to placate most 2-3 year olds (and their parents) is food. Preferably food that involves icing.   

kids cake

2. Truthfully, I knew a single date night would make me feel like the vacation was a raging success. Two and a half months without a night out with my boo was feeling like an eternity. And by boo, I obviously mean this:

beer flightPic taken on an actual vacation when we were livin’ that DINK life hard.

So on Tuesday, we dropped Addison off at preschool and had ourselves a little day date (with our tiniest third wheel in tow). We explored Locale Market in St. Pete before heading to Cassis for lunch.

cassisThen we walked along the water for a bit taking pictures of ourselves.

st pete2

clayton nat st pete3. If that wasn’t indulgent enough, we even had a real live just-the-two-of-us date that night. My parents watched both nuggets while we FINALLY saw “Jurassic World.”

jurassic world

Did it rival the brilliance of the original? No. Did I love it? Yes. For such an ambitious undertaking, I thought it was a great resurrection of that franchise in 2015. And it certainly put those other crap sequels to shame. I want to see it again already.

4. I made a Cuban sandwich tray for the party and way, way overestimated how much ham and pork I needed. I hope my family enjoys a daily grilled Cuban as much as I do.

cubans5. I grabbed this bag on my way out of TJMaxx the other day because I was starving, impulsive and cranky from trying on bathing suits (a task that should be forbidden until at least six months after giving birth).

$8 snack

When I got to the car, I realized if was $8. Eight dollars for puffed nuts. A part of me died inside.

So far today’s plans include staring at the unending rain. Party on, Noas.    

Five for Friday

In honor of Addison’s birthday week, here is a special birthday edition of the weekly round-up! I hope all of her birthdays are filled with so many of her favorite things.

1. A birthday birdhouse. We took Addison to Home Depot and let her pick out the colors. Surprisingly, the mess wasn’t the Lilly-Pulitzer-meets-Texas-Chainsaw-Massacre disaster I was anticipating. We still have to buy bird food and put it out in the yard, but I think those birds are really going to enjoy feasting in such a bright, whimsical abode.

addie birdhouse

2. Sliding and bouncing with friends on birthday morning.

addie slide2

3. A very serious tattoo application. Clouded by the excitement of a free birthday tattoo, she pointed to the first one she saw: a skull and crossbones with spikes coming out of its head. Thankfully Addison allowed me to steer her away from her initial choice and she landed on a slightly less horrific bear with hearts.

addie tattoo4. Followed by tailgating with massive cupcakes and frosting for days.

addie frosting5. The birthday girl was able to choose between dinner at home (I even offered pancakes!) or going to “the restaurant.”

addie walrusWe ended the night with “Shrek” and a very flexible bedtime. This fantastic week is going to be capped off with a party this weekend. Birthdays are the best, especially when I get all the celebratin’ with none of the aging. Have some cake for Addison!

Dear Asher: Two Months

Dear Asher,
Last week you turned two months old! You get cuter and chunkier with each week!

You’re still so content most of the time, and I sometimes can’t believe how calm and happy you are. You are a smile factory when someone is talking to you, cooing and trying your best to talk right back. The squeaks and squeals are too much to handle.

asher smile1

You still hate the swing and the car seat, the two devices that saved my sanity with your sister, so logistically you’re a little more of a challenge during the day. Our options are limited to holding you or propping you up on the Boppy to chat until you can sit up on your own. Don’t worry—that’s a task you’re already working on and seem pretty determined to master soon.


It’s already been a busy summer for you, and this month we celebrated Father’s Day and Independence Day. Plus, you had your first trip to the zoo! Clearly, you were thrilled.

asher zoo2

And your first trip to the children’s museum, but you didn’t have the best view.

nat museum tula

With the whole family infatuated with Addison, I wondered how adding you to the mix would change things. Let me just tell you, little man: you could not be more adored by every single person who has met you, and even some who haven’t had the chance yet. Battles ensue over your snuggles and smiles, just as they should. No one can deny the draw to the chub.

c ash hanksIG

Even your sister is slowly becoming an ally with “baby Asher,” though I am in no rush to be on the business end of her evil genius combined with your brute strength.

I took Addison to the playground the other day, just the two of us, and we were the only ones there. On the way home, I told her how much fun it was going to be once you were older: she would always have a friend to play with at the playground. I am eagerly looking forward to those days, with the pair of you screaming and chasing and tagging and making the sweetest (and some sour) memories, just like I did with my brother.

But not yet, okay? I am not ready for those squishy thighs to straighten out, or that wobbly head to stay upright just yet. I am having too much fun with baby Asher. I am caught off guard by how much I enjoy being needed this way again, how hearing my voice or feeling my arms can comfort you when no one else’s can. When my shoulder is what that nuzzling nose is searching for and my sounds are what those gray-blue eyes are reacting to. Running and jumping and playing with you is going to be amazing, I know.

Today, though, I want exactly this moment for just a little longer.


From My Whole Heart,

Five for Friday

One of these days I might actually blog on a day that is not Friday. Today is not that day. While we’re enjoying pancakes and play dates, you can enjoy these little things that made me happy this week.

1. Fresh flowers in the kitchen and bathroom. I always intend to pick up flowers every week, but file that under Things That Only Happen When In-laws Come To Town.



2. When your rehab exercises are a little too close to the coloring book. “I colored the little boy blue.” Yes, yes you did.

photo 1

3. I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is.


4. Five years (and five tax seasons) later, I’m finally getting my act together.

business acct Now who do I speak to about the free puppy with purchase?

5. I can’t believe I haven’t shared this sooner, but my all time most favorite coffee mug ever. I received this mug as a gift for my 30th birthday last year, and the excitement has not worn off yet. When the mug is cold, the dinos are all walking around without a care in the world. (Well, that little one being pursued by the T-rex may have one concern.) Coffee goes in and bam—total extinction!

mug cold collagemug extinct collage

I actually love it so much I save it and only use it on Fridays…thereby confirming my absolute nerd status.

Five for Friday

My mother in law is in town for a quick, impromptu visit to meet our little man and Clayton is off today, so my normal lazy Friday is out the window. Let’s jump in so I can get back to our holiday weekend.

1. When the in-laws are here, it’s time to dust off those pots and pans and present a finely crafted illusion of domestication. At least the rouse provided my family with one full, well balanced meal this week.

 mil meal

Sorry if that half cooked meat grosses you out. I am imagining my pregnant self seeing that picture, and, well, gag fest. Still not changing it, though.

2. My dad took the day off Monday, and we took the troops for lunch and exploring at the park. This is a park we frequent, and I’ve always assumed the “beach” was saltwater. My mom thought it might be fresh water, so naturally we Googled and it turns out it does get fed by a lake on one end and Tampa Bay on the other. I say all that because saltwater = no alligators and fresh water = alligators. Thanks a lot, Mom, for that new red alert at our favorite park and paddleboard locale. I’m hoping the water is more brackish and the only possible threats would be bull sharks (which I am always on the lookout for while on the board because I would exaggerate the mess out of that story) and, worst of all, razor burn after getting in too soon after shaving. This one I can actually attest to after Monday.

pawpaw addie park

Ain’t no nap like a picnic table nap ‘cuz a picnic table don’t stop.

Or something like that.

table nap

3. Major Gap sale happening. In the store, the clearance sections were marked down an additional 50%. Hello, $5 kids clothes. My finder’s fee was an outfit for myself.

4. We went to the children’s museum this morning.

musem view ig

I could talk about how fun it was and how we stumbled on a secret patio overlooking the University of Tampa for lunch, which is true, but the reality is that we couldn’t find Addison for several minutes. I don’t know exactly how long it was because the seconds stretch on for eternities piled on top of eternities when that happens. It was probably close to 10 minutes. If anything like this has happened to you, 1. please let me know so I feel less like an absolute failure as a mother and 2. you know how long 10 minutes can be. I can’t talk more about it because it’s still too fresh and I can feel the remnants of that terror lingering in my wobbly legs and fingers.

5. I don’t want to end on that note because THANK GOD Addison is home, in her bed, napping peacefully. Instead, let’s get frivolous and celebrate this national treasure that starts Sunday! In related news, Florida is becoming a bit of a hot spot for great white shark sightings. Because gators and stingrays and pythons and panthers weren’t enough. We caught ourselves one a few years ago.

shark week

It was a wild one.

Have a festive July 4th! I hope the hot dogs are delicious and the fireworks are spectacular and, if you have kids or a dog, are over by 9 p.m.

Five for Friday

1. This cheeky little list notebook from my second home.


2. The only candles I’ve ever found that are strong enough for our main living area (family room, kitchen and living room are all open to each other) are the Bath and Body Works 3-wick candles. They are stupid expensive, so I was giddy when I saw them on clearance for 50% off. It was exceptional timing since the trash was rancid. I went home, fired up one of those bad boys, waited for Clayton to get home and made him take the trash out.


3. We hit up the zoo last Friday in the late afternoon and the orangutan was all, “Make this show worth my while, suckers.” Addison and I have been throwing this hand motion at each other randomly ever since.



asher smile11asher smile13

5. The Bachelorette is annoying me to no end. Not even because of all the making out and sex, but all the cliffhangers are obnoxious and the dude drama seems completely contrived (looking at you Clint and JJ). But alas, I will suffer for my addiction.

Off the faves list: Chris, the Nauseatingly Sweet Dentist.

dentist nope

Added to the faves even though they will definitely not be in the final episodes: Self-deprecating Tanner


and adorable, sweet and supreme Bachelor material Ben H.

ben hJury is out on Shawn. He’s getting a little neurotic, but with good reason, no?

And just…stop.

nick v noOkay. I feel better getting that off my chest.

I may be back on the paddleboard this weekend for the first time in like a year! Eeee! Hopefully I can locate some balance and cardiovascular endurance, which have also not been employed in the same amount of time.

An al fresco summer

This weekend we got out of the house more than my reclusive tendencies have been allowing lately. Friday night we were considering going out for an early dinner, but Addison snoozed for longer than expected and we got lazy. Enter a crazy idea from Mama: picnic dinner at the park.

We picked up some food and headed to a shaded park (because it was still 85 degrees at dinner time) with some grand plans of summer fun. With the exception of two falls with subsequent meltdowns, one flat on the mulch tantrum, one bruised cheek, three ant bites on my foot, one mosquito bite on the infant, one wasted kids meal and an hour late bedtime, it was a complete success.

park dinner

Despite the inevitable difficulties, I keep thinking, “This is it. These are the nights and moments that you will look back on. What will you remember?” I know my life is not the brazen string of exploring and adventures I once imagined. I am happy I had my fair share of those and don’t truly believe I’m fully done with that brand of trekking either.

For right now, though, the exploring hovers close to a suburban, single family home. My adventures involve a packed SUV instead of an overstuffed backpack and overflowing passport.

But these days are no less memorable. In many ways, they are more so. And I want to remember a husky laugh echoing from the swings, a breathless “Mommy, look at me touching the sky!” I want to soak in a summer night that radiates the thrill of breaking from routine, to take advantage of days that pour sunlight over the witching hours and draw us out of a physical and mental hibernation.

I want to borrow my daughter’s immediate agreement to new ideas: “Sure!” And then go. Do. Create. Swing, climb and jump. Maybe not across the world, maybe in no way that garners attention or envy. But in our way, the way that will linger in our minds throughout any looming winters. In the way that these four souls will remember long after the mulch has been washed from stringy, sweaty hair and the ant bites have healed and the bruises have faded and so has the thrill of playgrounds or hanging out with your parents on a Friday night.

addie clayton park2

So yes, it was muggy and strenuous at times and my toes itch like no one’s business right now, but it was a really good summer night.

Five for Friday

Someone is fussing up a storm and looking right at me like I’m responsible for righting the whole situation, so enjoy some tidbits from this week while I tend to the tiny boss of the house.

1. Eating my feelings during a disappointing Game 6. However, I think the Lightning have at least one new legitimate fan after that playoff run. I’ve also started to come around to the idea of taking Addie ice skating soon despite the threat of razor sharp blades inches from her delicate baby skin.


2. I decided to work on a few projects over the last two weeks, and every day is take your baby to work day.

asher comp

3. There are not many joys greater than that of an unexpected chocolate chip cookie. “It’s the biggest cookie of my whole life!”

addie cookie1

4. Season 4 is heeeeere! Happy Father’s Day weekend, Clayton. Hope your ideal plans involve binge watching a political soap opera and swooning over Jake Ballard.


5. As great as I’ve been feeling during this postpartum period, I can’t deny those wacky hormones are still bouncing around all over the place sometimes. Here are two movies that made me cry this week:

the croods


Totally rational adult behavior.

Saturday Clayton has a free pass to spend all day away from his children celebrating the fact that he is a father, and Sunday we’re grilling out with my dad. Have fun spoiling the dads in your life this weekend!

Six for Saturday

Since I’m a day late with Five for Friday, you lucky ducks get a bonus!

1. Band-aids on babies = sadness.

asher bandaid

2. The Rend Collective Experiment Pandora station. Around 4:30 every afternoon, things start to unravel. My patience is depleted, I stare blankly into the refrigerator attempting to will a dinner to appear, Addison has far surpassed her t.v. time for the day but refuses to play in her room with the meager 1, 263 toys she has (see #3), Asher is eating or will need to eat any second, and Clayton won’t be home for what seems like an eternity.

Instead of handling all that to the tune of my own frustrated screaming, I’ve been turning on the Rend Collective station that Clayton introduced me to. Frankly, we find most mainstream Christian music to be way over the top cheesy or the lyrics ridiculously idealized. This station plays lesser known artists that are more our musical style while creating a positive vibe during one of the most challenging parts of the day.

3. When you can’t find the floor and no toy escapes with all its parts in tact, you’ve achieved play date success.

photo 1photo 2 4. I picked up our photos from Asher’s newborn session. In love with them. Life Long Studios always makes the experience as relaxed as possible for new parents, too.


5. Poor sad, neglected Maya. Make us feel bad, why don’t you.

maya ball

And for your judgmental pleasure…

6. I was cleaning out Addison’s backpack after school and found a bottle cap. From a Dasani water bottle? Nope. From a Diet Coke, perhaps? Not quite. From a Yuengling. Our two-year-old trotted into her ultra conservative Baptist pre-school with a beer bottle cap in her backpack. Can parents get detention?


And with that, I’m off to a bridal shower with both of my offspring. Prayers and Yuengling appreciated.

Dear Asher: One Month

Dear Asher,
This weekend you were one month old! These past four weeks went lightning fast, and every time I tried to remember how many weeks it had been since you were born, I was sure I was doing the math wrong.


There was only a small respite before we had to continue on with life. I was sick and had to go to the doctor when you were four days old, we had to take Addison to school a week after you were born. We didn’t have a lot of down time, but you have been wonderfully flexible.

Besides being a little sleepy at first, you’ve been a great eater and had already surpassed your birth weight when you were five days old! Every few days we will look at you and you will seem twice as big as the day before. Your one job right now is to plump up, so way to go, champ!


Days are sort of a breeze. You don’t really cry at all unless you absolutely hate something, and instead fuss a little to let us know when you’re unhappy. You do seem to get bored quickly with the same thing, like the swing or sitting on the Boppy. You much prefer to be held where you can see what’s going on around you. If we really want to keep you occupied, we’ll give you a nice view of the fan, your favorite.


I’d think having to feed you and hold you and reposition you and entertain you so frequently would wear on me—and sometimes it does, of course—but mostly I am relishing this fleeting phase of being needed so completely. I’ve been here before, and I know when it’s gone, it’s gone. You’ll never return to this itty bitty size, you’ll never again squeak at me like this when you’re happy, you won’t stare straight into my eyes with those big, blue-gray, straight from your Daddy eyes and immediately calm us both. I know it’s already slipping from me, sweet boy, and I refuse to miss it.


Nights on the other hand…those are tricky. You are so uncomfortable lying on your back (thanks to a sensitive, still developing tummy) and will grunt and strain and strain and grunt for hours. The noise combined with feedings every two and a half hours is not a recipe for sleep success. I try multiple locations and positions every night, hopeful that eventually we will stumble on a system that works for all of us. No such luck yet, but we’ll get there. I have to keep reminding myself of that around 4 a.m.: we will get there one day.


But hey, at least you’re not screaming.

I only believe that you are my child because I had a front row seat at your first appearance. Otherwise, I’d assume your Daddy handled the whole thing by himself since you look nothing like me and everything like a Noa.


It sounds so funny to say out loud, but you have no idea how much we needed you, Asher. You came on the heels of an emotionally chaotic and complicated time. More than a distraction, you’ve been a grounding force for our family. A lot to take on at eight pounds, but you don’t seem to mind.

I will always be grateful to you for how you helped pull me back into a place of hopefulness and joy. I hoped for you, Asher Wylie. You are my joy, grunts and all.

nat asher kiss2

From My Whole Heart,